Kenyan assets drop after court declares election result invalid

PUBLISHED: Fri, 01 Sep 2017 17:35:08 GMT

Kenya’s shares and dollar bonds plummeted on Friday while its shilling currency fell after the country’s Supreme Court declared President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election win invalid.

Analysts said the ruling signalled new uncertainty for East Africa’s most developed economy. Another vote must be held within 60 days, according to the constitution.

In Nairobi, stocks fell sharply before recovering some ground, and trading in the shilling followed a similar pattern.

In London one Africa economist, John Ashbourne at Capital Economics, cited the risk of a violent reaction.

However, a lawyer for Kenyatta, Ahmednasir Abdullahi, said the court’s decision had to be respected. “Let’s go back to the people and (they) …will express themselves again,” he said.

There were also no signs of tension in Kenyatta’s ethnic strongholds, while supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga celebrated peacefully in the streets in areas that had voted for him.

The stock exchange halted trading briefly midway through the session after blue chip shares plummeted.

Trading restarted at 1000 GMT, exchange chief executive Geoffrey Odundo told Reuters. He said shares had fallen by the maximum daily limit of 10 percent, which requires a trading halt.

Real time data is usually not available for the market apart from for individual stocks.

Telecoms operator Safaricom SCOM.NR, the biggest company by market value, fell 4.9 percent to trade at 24.00 shillings ($0.2328) per share, traders said.

“No one likes uncertainty especially if the uncertainty period is as long as 60 days,” said Ken Minjire, head of securities at Nairobi-based Genghis Capital.

The shilling partly recovered after an early slump to trade at 103.10/20 per dollar, down around 0.4 percent from Thursday’s close of 102.75/95.

Kenya’s $2 billion sovereign bond maturing in 2024 fell 1.33 cents, according to Tradeweb data, its lowest since mid-August. The 2019 issue fell 0.75 cents to 102.75 cents.

Kenya’s average yield premium over Treasuries blew out 25 basis points (bps) on the EMBI Global Diversified index to 411 bps. The underlying emerging debt index was unchanged.

“People will be looking at the tone the president takes,” Ashbourne added.

Kenya has a history of disputed elections. A row over the 2007 poll, in which Odinga also lost out, was followed by weeks of ethnic bloodshed in which more than 1,200 were killed.

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