Kenya’s historic verdict a lesson for all

Monday, September 04, 2017

Friday, 1 September 2017, was a historic day in the annals of African democracy when the Kenyan Chief Justice, Justice David Maraga, and three of his colleagues made an unprecedented surprise ruling of the 8th August election by declaring it null and void.

He said the election had not been conducted in accordance with the constitution declaring it invalid, null and void. The court cited numerous irregularities and a new election within sixty days.

This brave and honest act must be applauded by all those who stand for the truth and the rule of law in the world, as also this is the first time in Africa that a court has ruled against the election win of an incumbent based on a court challenge by the opposition.

Kenya is the third country in the world after Australia and Ukraine for annulling election results.

The electoral commission declared Uhuru Kenyatta winner by a margin of 1.4 million votes which Odinga, opposition leader, challenged in the court despite statements by the African Union, the Commonwealth and several independent organizations saying the election was free and fair.

Kenyatta said: “I will respect the ruling and call for calm.” This also speaks good of Uhuru Kenyatta, as he has shown respect for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. He therefore deserves applause.

However, whilst opposition leader Odinga wants the commission to be replaced saying it has lost its credibility, President Kenyatta has refused that demand.

 It is also vital to note that the Kenyan judiciary has paved the way for all African countries that the courts can and are independent and doing their job in the interest of justice. This trend should be followed by other judiciaries in Africa and the rest of the world; that is to say fair and just results, whether it goes in the way of the incumbent or of the opposition, must be upheld and defended.

David Maraga, the Chief Justice of Kenya, should be declared man of the year and national hero for having the courage to declare the results null and void. This historic verdict will be mentioned always in the world of democracy. His move will encourage independent electoral commissions to do their job properly.

When we talk about elections in Africa, our own Alieu Momar Njai, chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, is a role model in African democracy. In politics, players must accept defeat.

“The rule of law is the basis for any democracy. And without the rule of law in democracy, you have chaos.”

Meles Zenawi