Kenya court to rule on presidential election cases on Monday

Kenya’s Supreme Court will rule on Monday on cases that seek to nullify the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta last month and the judges could order a fresh vote or clear the way for the incumbent to be sworn in for a second term.

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The two cases appear to represent a final chance for legal scrutiny of the Oct. 26 election and the ruling could end a protracted political crisis in which more than 60 people have been killed. Kenya is a hub for trade, diplomacy and security in East Africa.

“We will deliver judgment on the 20th,” Chief Justice David Maraga told lawyers at the end of a hearing on Thursday.

Kenyatta defeated opposition leader Raila Odinga in August but Odinga challenged the election and the court voided it citing procedural irregularities and ordered a fresh vote. The court’s decision was the first of its kind in Africa.

Odinga boycotted last month’s poll, saying the election commission had failed to carry out sufficient reforms. Kenyatta won with 98 percent of the vote.

Lawyers for the petitioners, a former lawmaker and two human rights activists, urged the court to nullify the repeat poll due to a lack of fresh nominations for candidates and violence in some areas that prevented voting.

Their counterparts for the election board, its chairman and Kenyatta, rejected the petition and urged the court to uphold the result to help end a crisis that has hurt the economy.

The Supreme Court was created by a 2010 constitution that followed a crisis over a disputed election in 2007 in which around 1,200 people were killed in ethnic clashes.

Analysts said the September ruling by the Supreme Court could embolden other judiciaries in Africa. This month, Liberia’s Supreme Court halted a presidential run-off until the election board investigates claims of fraud in the first round of voting.

Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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