Africa

Kenya elections valid but by no means 'perfect': court

AFP

Kenya's presidential elections in March were marred by problems but they were acceptable overall, the country's supreme court has said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, one of Africa's richest men and the son of Kenya's first president, won the March 4 polls by more than 800 000 votes. (AFP)

"The evidence, in our opinion, does not disclose any profound irregularity in the management of the electoral process, nor does it gravely impeach the mode of participation in the electoral process," the 113-page ruling on Tuesday read.

However, it did accept that there had been multiple problems in the March 4 vote.

"We came to the conclusion that by no means can the conduct of this election be said to have been perfect," the ruling added.

The ruling details why the six judges last month threw out a petition over irregularities brought by defeated prime minister Raila Odinga, as well as challenges by civil society groups.

Odinga conceded defeat for the sake of national unity, while Kenyatta was sworn in as the country's fourth president on April 9.

The court, which had ordered re-tallying of presidential votes in 22 polling stations, said discrepancies were found in five centres, the report revealed.

Complaints were also raised that voter registration figures had been tampered with, but the court said that while there were "many irregularities", these were "not so substantial as to affect the credibility of the electoral process".

Uhuru Kenyatta
Kenyatta, one of Africa's richest men and the son of Kenya's first president, won the March 4 polls by more than 800 000 votes from Odinga, his nearest rival, but narrowly avoided a second round vote by taking a majority of just 50.51%.

The 51-year-old is Kenya's youngest president. He faces trial in July at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity related to post-election violence five years ago when more than 1 100 people were killed.

The polls were peaceful apart from isolated incidents, avoiding a repeat of the ethnic killings and widespread violence that followed the 2007 election, when several hundred thousand people were forced to flee their homes.

Petitioners complained at a widespread failure of an electronic transmission system for sending the votes to the national centre, but the report said it concluded "tallying was indeed conducted in accordance with the law".

However, it said that the purchase of the electronic kit was likely "marked by competing interests involving impropriety, or even criminality," and recommended the issue be investigated for the "possible prosecution of suspects". – AFP

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