Kenya’s top court nullified the outcome of last month’s presidential elections, upholding the main opposition’s complaint that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory was aided by rigging, in a landmark ruling that may reshape the political landscape of East Africa’s largest economy.
Kenya’s Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission “failed, neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the constitution,” Chief Justice David Maraga told a packed courtroom in the capital, Nairobi, on Friday. The ruling was backed by four of six judges who considered the case, he said, ordering a new vote to be held within 60 days.
Lawyers acting for Raila Odinga and his National Super Alliance, a five-party opposition coalition, argued that the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission’s computer systems were hacked to secure Kenyatta a second term. Vote tallies didn’t correlate with results released at polling stations and requisite forms weren’t available to authenticate the outcome, they said.
Odinga, 72, has failed on three previous occasions to win the presidency in Kenya, the world’s largest shipper of black tea and a regional hub for companies including Google Inc. and Coca Cola Co. In all instances he alleged foul play, and a dispute over the outcome of a 2007 election triggered two months of ethnic violence that left more than 1,100 people dead.
The shilling erased its earlier gains and traded 0.3 percent weaker at 103.23 per dollar by 12:30 p.m. in Nairobi. The yield on the country’s Eurobond jumped 20 basis points to 6.22 percent. Most stocks fell, led by Kenya Power Ltd, which was down 9.7 percent.
The prolonging of the election period raises investor uncertainty and is likely to weigh on the economy, said Lisa Brown, a risk analyst at Rand Merchant Bank in South Africa. The government expects the growth rate to ease to 5.5 percent this year, from 5.8 percent in 2016.
“Economic activities and decisions will likely be delayed until the new administration is in place,” Brown said in an emailed response to questions. “This further dampens growth from already relatively depressed levels.”
The ruling is unprecedented in Africa, where there are no previous examples of presidential elections being overturned by a court, said Emma Gordon, an analyst at Bath, England-based risk adviser Verisk Maplecroft.
“This is a very historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension for the people of Africa,” opposition leader Odinga said after the ruling. “For the first time in the history of the democratization of Africa, the court has nullified the election of a president.”
A former prime minister, Odinga waged unsuccessful presidential campaigns in 1997, 2007 and 2013. The Supreme Court threw out his allegations of rigging in the 2013 vote that propelled Kenyatta to power, a ruling Odinga has previously described as a “travesty of justice.”