Kenya dispatch: multiple election petitions flood Supreme Court as presidency hangs in the balance Dispatches
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Kenya dispatch: multiple election petitions flood Supreme Court as presidency hangs in the balance

Aynsley Genga is a JURIST Staff Correspondent in Kenya. She reports from Nairobi. 

Kenyan elections are like a movie – a really good movie, in fact.  We have the theatrics and the suspense element and our elections have enough plot twists to leave the whole world at the edge of their seats as they wait to see what will happen next. One thing I have learned in this election period, as well as in the previous elections, is that nothing is impossible. There is no limit to the madness or drama that can happen.

Today, Monday August 22nd, was the final day for interested parties to submit petitions with Kenya’s Supreme Court regarding the presidential elections. People expected only Raila Odinga, the Azimio La Umoja presidential candidate, to file a petition, so imagine the shock on everyone’s face when not only one but eight petitions were filed at the Supreme Court registry at Milimani Law Courts today. John Njoroge submitted his petition early in the morning. He sought clarification from the court in regards to whether Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati erred in announcing the results while four of his fellow commissioners had rejected the results. If he indeed erred John wants the court to remove Chebukati from office and ban him from ever holding such a position ever again.

A lobby group led by Daniel Kariuki also filed a petition. The Youth Advocacy Africa Group filed a petition demanding that the elections be declared null and void since they said they had evidence proving that there was indeed manipulation of the poll outcome. Reuben Kigame, a gospel artist as well as a member of the National Council of Persons Living with Disabilities who had been running as an independent presidential aspirant also lodged a petition. He sought prayers that the court declare the elections null and void due to the unreasonable IEBC deadline requirement allotted for all presidential aspirants to submit copies of at least 48000 identity cards. Moreover, the identity cards had to belong to registered voters in order for an aspirant to run for the presidential seat.

Okiya Omtatah, the current senator-elect for Busia County also handed in his petition today. He demanded the nullification of the presidential election results due to the tabulation done by IEBC being incorrect. He claimed that at least 140,028 votes were not tallied. Furthermore, he argued that if the votes were tallied then no party would have meet the 50+1% threshold. Public interest litigant Khelef Khalifa also sought the nullification of the presidential results. Khalifa together with three other petitioners want the court to grant them access to the KIEMS kit (Biometric Voter Registration System) that they believe was used to alter the results. They want a forensic audit of the KIEMS kits to be conducted. Khalifa was also in the 2017 case when the Supreme Court declared the presidential elections null and void. This time he hopes that the court will draw the same sword once again since he believes that the general elections were marred with massive irregularities.

We also had Moses Kuria, Chama Cha Kazi party leader, who filed a petition seeking that the court dismiss Raila’s petition. He claims that Raila was involved in the chaos that occurred in the Bomas of Kenya tallying center because his chief agent Kanchory and Ledama Ole Kina (Narok County Senator-elect) physically assaulted Chebukati. He further alleges that the said agents were armed, which many Kenyans including myself find strange since we were all watching when the chaos erupted in Bomas and there was no instance where I can recall the two agents having any weapons. In fact, the only people who were carrying weapons were the security personnel. Moreover, many Kenyans are wondering how Kuria have any proof that it was in fact Raila who told his agents to beat up Chebukati. Many are saying the case will probably be thrown out before it even begins. His supporters have started spreading false information online that the two agents even had guns, which is quite hilarious.

Finally, we have the petition that everyone was waiting for, the Azimio La Umoja petition, also titled The Peoples Petition. It is all everyone has been talking about, everyone wanted to know what Raila was going to lodge. It did not matter if you were an Azimio supporter or a UDA supporter because in the end this is a matter that will affect the entire country. Every time you would hear a new petition is being filed you would tune in hoping to see it is Raila’s only to find out it is someone else’s. So when Raila finally arrived at Milimani Law court everyone knew and Raila definitely made an entrance. Honestly, who would have thought he would come with a lorry stacked with evidence needed for the case – surprisingly, the lorry was actually full with stacks of boxes. We were all left wondering what exactly was in those boxes while others commented on how it finally made sense why Raila’s legal battalion was comprised of over 30 senior counsel. There was no way all that evidence would have been accumulated if he was relying on just one legal counsel. The court was buzzing with excitement. When James Orengo (Siaya governor-elect), one of Raila’s senior counsel, was asked about the case he described it as a bombshell. He stated that they had more than enough evidence to prove that the elections were rigged and is confident that the court’s determination will be in Azimio’s favor. He further stated that if elections are to be conducted in such a manner ever again then there is no point in our country ever holding another general elections.

Once Azimio lodged their petition, they went to KICC (the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi) to hold a press conference. The crowd that was with them in Milimani Law Courts followed Raila and his team to KICC where they joined another crowd that was already waiting for the Azimio team. Raila Odinga held his press conference where he informed everyone that this petition was for the people of Kenya, the people who believed in the rule of law. He further stated that this petition is a war against corruption, a do or die war against the corruption cartels in Kenya. Raila went on to confidently state that he would not just stop the corruption cartels. Rather, he planned to crush them completely since he believes that a nation run by corruption can never truly prosper. The Azimio leader then declared that they had enough evidence to prove that the election was rigged. He concluded by thanking Kenyans for maintaining peace during this period and for keeping the faith.

As the day progressed, Raila posted a copy of his petition on Twitter and it spread like wildfire. Everyone wanted to go through it. I have gone through the petition and I can see that Raila, Martha Karua and the rest of the Azimio team have made various prayers, such as the rejected and spoilt votes cast to be included in the total votes cast as well as for the Supreme Court to order IEBC to tally and verify the votes upon nullification, and once that is completed, Raila and Martha (his running mate) to be announced as the legitimate winners of the Presidential race. They have also sought orders for Chebukati to be removed from office and that the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) be summoned and ordered to produce the laptop(s) allegedly retrieved and seized from Koech Geofrey Kipngosos, an agent of UDA party. The prayers sought are many, but one thing that anyone can pick up after going through the petition is the fact that if Azimio wins this case there is no hope for Chebukati. Chances of him being jailed are extremely high. Many are in support of his arrest and are hoping he will serve as an example for future electoral commissioners.

Something else that has caused excitement on Twitter is the fact that John Githongo will be testifying as a witness for Azimio. Honestly speaking, nobody saw this coming. John Githongo is an activist who has fought against corruption in this country for many years.  The mere fact that his name is in the petition has brought smiles to many Azimio supporters. There’s also the fact that the evidence adduced has shown so many incidents of rigging, especially in the Mount Kenya region. The petition also provides evidence of how the governor results were altered in order to ensure UDA had a majority in the council of governors. Many are agreeing with Orengo’s sentiments that if this is how elections will be conducted, then there is no need for any other general elections.

As it stands, people are now waiting for William Ruto to lodge his defence so that they can determine which party has better chances of winning the presidential contest. We also have various areas such as Mombasa County and Rongai Constituency where they did not vote for either their Governors, Members of Parliament or Member of County Assembly. They are now waiting to do their by-elections on 29th August 2022. This was determined by the IEBC commissioners earlier on in the day. It was easy to tell that the commissioners were not seeing eye to eye with their chairman; the situation looked tense and uncomfortable for all of them.

Sadly another IEBC Returning Officer died on Monday. According to Kirinyaga County IEBC Coordinator Jane Gitonga, Geoffrey Gitobu collapsed and died at 2pm on Monday. The cause of his death is still unknown. Especially after going through the Azimio petition, many are speculating he was assassinated since Kirinyaga was one of the many areas in the Mount Kenya region where rigging took place according to the evidence provided in the petition. It is truly saddening and now all we can do is pray for his family and hope that if indeed this was an assassination, that all those involved will be brought to justice.