“Kenya‘s Supreme Court today ordered a recount of votes cast at 22 polling centers, after presidential elections in which a second-round run off was only avoided by the narrowest of margins,” AFP reports:
The court also ordered the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to provide the voter registration list it used in the tally of the presidential vote after an electronic system failed.
Outgoing Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s party and civil society groups have filed separate legal challenges in Kenya’s highest court alleging widespread irregularities in the polls. The panel of six judges has until Saturday to decide whether Kenyatta should be confirmed as Kenya’s new president or whether new elections should take place — a high-stakes test for a country still traumatized by deadly violence after the last polls five years ago.
“People are relieved that violence hasn’t broken out, and that is something to celebrate. But this has not been a satisfactory election,” Kenya expert Michaela Wrong told the UK’s Overseas Development Institute.
The case challenging the election results is being streamed live online by the InformAction NGO here.
“Did the election pass the test? The answer depends on your level of optimism,” analyst Alina Rocha Menocal writes on Foreign Policy, suggesting what the election says about the health of Kenyan democracy.
Civil society activists are disturbed by the prospect of ethnic strife arising from the contested election and by fears that specific democracy advocates are being targeted for reprisals.
Some sinister groups have published what they call an Evil Society Web (above), claiming that civil society groups comprise “a movement of privileged local elites fully funded by foreign states,” in an ominous echo of xenophobic attacks on pro-democracy NGOs in Russia and Egypt.
One of the activists targeted is InformAction’s director Maina Kiai, who said his group is streaming the Supreme Court proceedings to ensure freedom of information and accountability.
“The last few weeks has seen the domestic media taking on a role that reminds us of dictatorship in Kenya – we believe it’s important that as many people as possible in Kenya and across the world get to hear the evidence and reach their own conclusions,” he said.
The election attracted controversy before it began, InformAction said in a press release:
The International Criminal Court (ICC) had indicted two of the principal candidates – Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto – for Crimes against Humanity, relating to violence in the last election. The two formed an alliance after facing challenges over their integrity to stand for public office.
In the disputed 2007 presidential election, more than 1,300 people were killed, and hundreds of thousands displaced. As a result, strong recommendations were made to ensure public confidence in the next election. A successful process was seen as critical to the peaceful future of the country. The IEBC was equipped with biometric voter registration kits and a system of electronic transmission to comply with the post-Crisis recommendations. But the kits failed as soon as polling stations opened, and the transmission of results collapsed the following day, even though less than 50% of the polling stations had reported.
“The I.C.C. was definitely a factor in this election, but not necessarily the factor you would expect,” said Kiai (right), now the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of association
“We have a newly-minted election body that has failed the test. The elections were eventually conducted in the same way as the 2007 elections, even though the IEBC was constituted to do it differently,” he said.
“A fair election process is the only way people in this country have a peaceful right to change governments and express their choices in a fair and transparent way.”