Kenyan Election Body Urges Court to Uphold Kenyatta's Win

(Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s election commission urged the Supreme Court to uphold the results of this month’s vote that returned President Uhuru Kenyatta to power and dismiss a legal challenge by his political opponents, saying the process was “impartial, neutral and accountable” to the constitution.

The Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission called on the court to throw out a petition filed by the opposition National Super Alliance challenging Kenyatta’s win against former Prime Minister Raila Odinga in the Aug. 8 vote. That petition “lacks merit and should be dismissed,” the commission’s lawyers said in opposing papers filed at the Supreme Court.

The elections were conducted according to the constitution and the president was “validly elected,” the IEBC’s lawyers said. Discrepancies cited by the opposition “did not materially affect the outcome of the presidential elections,” they said.

Kenyatta, 55, won a second term with about 54 percent of ballots cast while Odinga, 72, garnered almost 45 percent, according to the IEBC. A panel of judges will rule on the opposition’s challenge on Sept. 1 and, should Kenyatta’s victory be nullified, the East African nation would have to hold new elections within 60 days.

Odinga has failed in three other attempts to win the presidency in Kenya, the world’s largest shipper of black tea and a regional hub for companies including Google Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. A dispute over the outcome of a 2007 election triggered two months of violence that left more than 1,100 people dead and forced 350,000 to flee their homes.

Electoral Fraud

Clashes between security forces and supporters of Odinga’s five-party political alliance have claimed 24 lives since the result was declared, according to the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights. The opposition says security forces killed more than 100 people during protests, while police have confirmed 10 deaths in Nairobi and say they are still investigating reports of fatalities in the rest of the country.

The Supreme Court comprises seven judges. The opposition alleged in a petition filed last weekend that the election was marred by “massive, systemic, systematic and deliberate non-compliance with the constitution” and such flaws “significantly affected” the result.

“There is no point in holding elections if the law, procedure and regulations to govern their conduct will not be respected and adhered to,” the opposition’s lawyers said in the petition. “Instead of giving effect to the sovereign will of the Kenyan people, the IEBC delivered preconceived and predetermined computer-generated leaders.”

The opposition has a “bombshell” of evidence that it’ll use to demonstrate “electoral fraud of monstrous proportions,” James Orengo, one of the alliance’s leaders, said after the party’s lawyers submitted additional supporting documents on Friday.