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Kenya high court demands silence over 2013 election case

The Supreme Court of Kenya [official website] on Wednesday ordered the parties involved in the March 4 election dispute to restrain from making public statements with regard to the case. The court also warned [WP report] civic groups and journalists that they could face punishment for biased statements that could undermine the court's authority. According to the court, journalists should limit themselves to fair and neutral reporting. The court noted that it had received three separate petitions challenging the election result in which Kenyan politician Uhuru Kenyatta [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] defeated Prime Minister Raila Odinga [Al Jazeera profile] by 50.07 to 43.3 percent. Odinga requested that the result be nullified because the voting system was biased, giving his opponent unfair advantages. The court is required to rule on this case by Saturday of next week.

The challenge to the election results [JURIST report] came amid the decision by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) [advocacy website] earlier this month which has reportedly called the elections complex but credible and transparent, and has urged the candidates to accept the commission's official results. Last week, Odinga appealed [JURIST report] the decision to the country's Supreme Court. Odinga has accused electoral authorities of "electoral theft" [press release] and stated that he is appealing the results of the election to "ensure elections count." Police dispersed [BBC report] a crowd of Odinga's supporters outside the Kenyan Supreme Court after they were told that they would not be allowed to congregate. Odinga called on his supporters to not resort to violence and stated that he would respect the decision of the Supreme Court, whatever the result. Kenyatta has been charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] with crimes against humanity arising from violence following Kenya's disputed 2007 presidential election. Earlier this week, Kenyatta asked [JURIST report] the ICC to drop the charges against him for lack of evidence. The request came amid the withdrawal of charges against Francis Muthaura [case materials] on the same day.

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