Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday sought the sacking of several election commission officials and set other conditions for taking part in an October presidential vote re-run, after the landmark scrapping of last month’s poll.
Supreme Court Chief Justice David Maraga made history in Africa on Friday by declaring the victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta in the August 8 election “invalid, null and void”, citing widespread irregularities in the electronic transmission of vote results.
It was the first time a presidential election result has been overturned on the continent and follows three previous failed bids by 72-year-old Raila Odinga for the presidency — in 1997, 2007 and 2013.
“There will be no election on the 17th of October until terms and conditions which we have spelt out in this statement are met,” a combative Raila Odinga told reporters.
He said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had set the new election date after consulting only Kenyatta’s Jubilee grouping and not Odinga’s National Super Alliance (NASA).
“We find this a contemptuous action,” he said. “It is Jubilee that decided on the date and not the IEBC.
“A number of the election officials should be sent home and some of them should be investigated and prosecuted for the kind of heinous crimes they committed in the last elections. Their names are known,” he said.
“These officials should not conduct elections.”
Late Tuesday, the electoral commission announced the nomination of six new directors that appeared to address some of Odinga’s concerns, including a new project coordinator, IT manager and operations director.
But the commission did not comment on whether it planned to sack its chief executive Ezra Chiloba or IT director James Muhati, as demanded by Odinga.
New vote ‘no run-off’
Raila Odinga also said all eight presidential candidates who took part in the earlier poll should be allowed to contest the re-run.
“This is not a repeat of a presidential election where number 1 and number 2 goes for a run-off,” he said. “Therefore any Kenyan eligible to run can run.”
Raila Odinga said the IEBC had not given the opposition access to its servers despite a Supreme Court injunction and called for a revamp of the system.
“Basically by law the technology system that is being used by IEBC should be accessible by law to everyone, all the stakeholders,” he said.
“We are not ready to participate in elections on October 17 without legal and constitutional guarantees. Because you cannot do a mistake twice and expect to get different results,” Raila Odinga warned.
French firm OT Morpho, which provided the Kenyan electoral commission with biometric recognition and result transmission technology, defended its products.
“The system which was deployed to transmit results is a system which uses proven technologies which we have already used for elections in other countries,” the company told AFP.
After the court’s shock ruling, an enraged Kenyatta said he would respect the decision but lashed out at the judges, saying: “Every time we do something a judge comes out and places an injunction. It can’t go on like this… There is a problem and we must fix it.”
The 55-year-old president also branded the judges as “hyenas” and “crooks”, sparking a strong reaction about his “veiled threats” which they called an “assault on the judiciary”.
The electoral commission has vowed to make “internal changes” ahead of the new vote, though its chairman, Wafula Chebukati, ruled out resigning himself.
The current crop of IEBC commissioners took office only seven months before the election, after their predecessors were forced to step down following widespread protests.
The previous commission had been tarnished by a corruption scandal and its handling of flawed 2013 elections, which saw a series of high-tech safeguards failing on election day.
The court ruling has been hailed at home and abroad.
African Union chief Alpha Conde said it honoured Africa and showed that democracy was taking root, while the European Union’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini said it was a “strong demonstration of the independence of the Kenyan judiciary and the strength of national democracy”.