Will Kenya's court ruling on poll results set precedent in region?

Saturday September 2 2017

Kenya's Supreme Court judges. PHOTO | JEFF

Kenya's Supreme Court judges. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The nullification of Kenya’s presidential election is unprecedented in Africa and legal experts say it may have a significant bearing on presidential election petitions in the region and Africa.

Immediately after the Supreme Court nullified the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta, opposition leader Raila Odinga said it was a historic day for Kenya and Africa.

“This is a triumph for the people of Kenya and Africa in general. For the first time in the history of Africa, the courts have nullified the election of a sitting president. This ruling has set a precedent and it is for the posterity of the people of Kenya,” he said at the court compound soon after the court ruling.

In a joint statement, western diplomats based in Kenya said the Supreme Court ruling “has demonstrated Kenya’s resilient democracy and commitment to the rule of law.”

Mr Odinga’s petition against President Kenyatta in 2013 was thrown out by the Supreme Court, where President Kenyatta’s lawyers submitted that the court did not have a precedent to draw from and urged the court to keep the tradition of maintaining the status quo.

In Uganda, the courts have upheld the elections of President Yoweri Museveni since the re-introduction of multi-party elections in 2001, despite finding many irregularities.

In the 2001 and 2006 petitions, the petitioner Kizza Besigye lost in the ruling. In 2016, in a petition filed by independent presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi, all the nine justices of the Supreme Court led by Bart Katureebe unanimously agreed to dismiss the petition.

In Tanzania, the law does not allow the challenge of presidential elections in court.

In Ghana, a petition against the election of former president John Dramani Mahama in December 2012, was thrown out. It was filed by current president Nana Akufo-Addo.