Notes For Other African Countries From Kenya Elections 2022

Chief Justice Martha Koome used to be a women's right activist before becoming the Supreme Court chief justice (Photo credit BBC)
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President-elect William Ruto in a celebratory mood after the ruling by the Supreme Court on the Kenya Elections 2022 (Photo credit :Twitter/@DrEssaKayd)
President-elect William Ruto in a celebratory mood after the ruling by the Supreme Court on the Kenya Elections 2022 (Photo credit: Twitter/@DrEssaKayd)

Kenya Elections 2022 was no different from previous elections in the sense that it was the supreme court that had the final say. The ruling by Chief Justice Martha Koome finally brought an end to the uncertainty on who becomes Kenya’s fifth president.

Key Takeaway

  • Chief Justice Martha Koome on Monday, September 5, 2022, ruled that William Ruto won Kenya Elections 2022 by 50% + 1 of the total votes cast
  • William Ruto will be sworn in as Kenya’s 5th President on Tuesday, September 13, 2022
  • African countries need to build strong institutions that will be stronger than individuals for a sustainable democracy

After the country’s electoral body had declared William Ruto the elected president, the main opposition, Raila Odinga alleged that the election was marred by irregularities. According to reports, Mr. Odina brought a truckload of evidence before the country’s Supreme Court to file for redress.

However, while delivering the ruling on Monday, September 5, 2022, Chief Justice Koome said some of the evidence brought forward by the opposition was falsified. The Supreme Court upheld that Mr. Ruto won the Kenya Elections 2022 by 50.5% in the closely-fought election.

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With this ruling, the 55-year-old fifth president-elect will be sworn in on September 13, 2022. After the Supreme Court verdict, Mr. Ruto promised to extend a hand of friendship to all the opposition politicians. He also praised the electoral commission and the judiciary for upholding the people’s will.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s response to the ruling

President Uhuru Kenyatta failed to congratulate William Ruto after the Supreme Court Ruling on the Kenya Elections 2022 (Photo credit: DW)
President Uhuru Kenyatta failed to congratulate William Ruto after the Supreme Court Ruling on the Kenya Elections 2022 (Photo credit: DW)

Kenya’s outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta for the first time has commented on the outcome of the Kenya elections 2022. His comments came after the Supreme Court verdict. During the 7-minute long speech, President Kenyatta did not mention the name of the president-elect or congratulate him.

“When I was sworn in as your president,” he said, “I made a pledge to the country, a pledge to uphold the rule of law and the decisions made by the judiciary on all matter patterning to our governance.”

It would be recalled that the outgoing president had backed Mr. Odinga in the lead-up to Kenya elections 2022 instead of his deputy, Mr. Ruto. The outgoing president promised to uphold the rule of the law but asked Kenyans to hold their institutions to account.

“Today, the Supreme Court made a ruling on the Kenya elections 2022 dispute. It upheld the result announced by the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission on the 15th of August 2022. In keeping to the pledge that I made to uphold the rule of law when I took the oath of office, I commit to executing the orders of this court to the letter.”

Mr. Kenyatta maintained calm throughout the speech. However, he questioned the ruling of the Supreme Court without directly condemning it. In 2017, his initial election was overturned by the Supreme Court.

“Is it about numbers or is it about the process? Which of these two is it? Can our institution rule one way in one election and another way in another election without scrutiny?” he asked.

ALSO READ: Kenya Elections 2022: Why William Ruto Won. Expectations For The New President

Findings of the Supreme Court on the Kenya elections 2022 petitions

Chief Justice Martha Koome used to be a women's rights activist before becoming the Supreme Court chief justice (Photo credit: BBC)
Chief Justice Martha Koome used to be a women’s rights activist before becoming the Supreme Court chief justice (Photo credit: BBC)

The Supreme Court comprising of seven judges headed by Justice Koome unanimously dismissed the eight petitions challenging the outcome of Kenya Elections 2022. According to Justice Koome, some of the documents were either forged or contained “sensational information”.  

The court also maintained that the was no credible evidence to prove that the electronic voting transmission system was compromised by an alleged “middle man”. Justice Koome maintained that Mr. Ruto satisfied the provisions of the constitutional threshold of getting fifty percent plus one vote cast.

Mr. Odinga and the other opposition politicians bolstered their case with the fall out of four of the seven electoral commissioners with the chairman. It would be recalled that four of the seven commissioners disowned the result of the Kenya elections 2022. Reading out the landmark ruling, Justice Koome said,

“Upon considering all the pre-reading submission and the ICT scrutiny and the inspection tallying and count report…, we are not persuaded that the technology deployed by IBC failed the standard of article 86A of the constitution on integrity, verifiability, security, and transparency.”

At 77 years and after losing his fifth attempt at the nation’s number one job, Mr. Odinga’s political future is uncertain. It is hard to tell if he will remain active in opposition politics. However, in his speech on Monday after the judgment, he lambasted the ruling and promised to sustain the “struggle for transparency, accountability, and democracy”.

Notes for Africans from the Kenya Elections 2022

While the environment remains tense in Kisumu which is Mr. Odinga’s stronghold, several other parts of the nations have been jubilating the Supreme Court ruling on the petitions against the Kenya elections 2022.

Amidst all the jubilations and glooms, the Kenya Elections 2022 outcome presents a lot of messages for other African countries as they go to the polls in the future. Kenya Elections 2022 presents a blueprint that can help to strengthen Africa’s democracy.

African countries should focus on building strong institutions

If you take a snapshot of most African countries, the first thing that comes to view is the large number of strongmen strewn all over the continent. These ‘so-called strongmen’ are stronger than the constitution, regardless of the country where they find themselves.

These strongmen are often too strong that they subvert the will of the people. When it is time for elections, they easily muscle their way to the top without fear, knowing that they can easily have their way in the court.

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However, the bold stance of the Kenyan Electoral and Boundary Commission chairman in the face of intimidation—even among some of his members—and the ruling of Justice Koome-led Supreme Court justices shows that the voice of the majority can reverberate.

All it takes is a strong institution that is unwilling to bend to the will of any ‘strongman’. When countries build strong institutions, the elites will have no option but to bend to the will of the state.

Kenya’s election system is regarded as one of the most transparent in the world. Although that did not prevent conspiracy theories, it made the decision of the judiciary easier.

Electoral campaigns should be issue-based

In the majority of African countries, election campaigns are mostly based on religious or ethnic sentiments. Consequently, the electorate vote along those lines without asking the politicians pertinent questions on how to solve the nation’s pressing issues.

This pattern has led to the churning out of leaders that the people cannot hold accountable. Subsequently, these leaders know that it will be hard to impeach them since the majority will not want a candidate from a minority tribe or religion to take over the office. Backed by this assurance, all the leader needs to stay in power is sub-optimal performance.

Mr. William Ruto changed the narrative by emphasizing an issue-based campaign rather than a campaign of trivial sentiment. Perhaps, it was his strong focus on addressing the issues facing the nation that appealed to the majority of the youths. Consequently, they turned out in mass and voted overwhelmingly for him.

Africa can have a violence-free election

Prior to the Kenya Elections 2022, the media emphasized how previous post-election violence has become a sort of norm in the Kenya political space. Kenya Elections 2022 clearly veered off the expectations.

Even when William Ruto—who didn’t have the backing of the outgoing president—was announced the winner, the expected violence never happened. The same calm followed the Supreme Court ruling.

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What Africans should understand when going to the polls is that post-election violence will only set the nation back. Every grievance or dispute should be addressed by the court. However, we also understand that people will always resort to self-help when they think they will not get a fair hearing in court.

Politicians should always show restraint

Raila Odinga disagreed with the Supreme Court Ruling on Kenya Elections 2022 (Photo credit: BBC)
Raila Odinga disagreed with the Supreme Court Ruling on Kenya Elections 2022 (Photo credit: BBC)

While we rejoice with the incoming president, we also reserve our respect for the major opposition candidate. After the announcement of the result of the Kenya Elections 2022, he called for calm and assured his followers that they will head to court for redress.

Although Mr. Odinga clearly showed his displeasure with the court ruling, he stopped short of calling his supporters to take to violence. Also, the outgoing president openly promised to uphold the decision of the Supreme Court.

African politicians should learn to exercise restraint. The use of inflammatory statements that incite followers to revolt against the state should be strongly condemned. Also, politicians that resort to such tactics should be sanctioned and made to take full responsibility for whatever actions taken by the followers they agitate.

Conclusions

In some African countries, post-election litigations stretch on for months. However, the case was different in the Kenya Elections 2022. Every issue pertaining to the elections was concluded within 3 weeks.

Other African countries should adopt this strategy since it helps to return the country to normalcy as fast as possible. The longer post-election litigations stretch, the longer the polity will stay tensed.

The Kenyan Elections 2022 are now over, including any uncertainty concerning the rightful winner. However, we will be pulling out our scorecard and following up with the new president on his electoral promises. Leaders need to be held accountable. In the absence of accountability, even the best leaders can easily become dictators.

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