Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta said the country’s Supreme Court staged a “coup” against the will of the people in annulling his win in last month’s presidential election, his toughest rhetoric yet in the wake of the vote.
His remarks came on the same day the election board announced the repeat election had been delayed until October 26.
The president’s criticism comes as Kenya’s political temperature heats up, reviving fears of political violence. Clashes killed around 1,200 people following a disputed 2007 presidential vote.
“A coup in Kenya has just been done by the four people in the Supreme Court,” Kenyatta said in a televised meeting with supporters, delivered mostly in Kiswahili. “(The court is saying) ‘numbers don’t matter, it is processes that matter.'”
Immediately following the court’s September 1 ruling to annul the vote, Kenyatta called for calm and respect for the ruling. But he later started to criticise the court.
The decision to nullify the vote on procedural grounds was the first time a judicial body cancelled the election of an incumbent African president.
Kenya, a Western ally, has East Africa’s richest economy and is a hub for diplomacy, security and trade in a region often battered by conflict. Any sign of political instability sends ripples through the region.
The election board had said last month that Kenyatta won the Augist 8 vote by 1.4 million more votesfrom his chief rival, veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, who contested the result in court.
Four judges and two dissenting judges gave a detailed case for voiding the election — or upholding it — in a marathon 12-hour court session on Wednesday.
Kenyatta said in a televised news conference the court failed to adequately examine evidence that would have buttressed his win.
“The Supreme Court owes Kenyans an explanation how such a monstrous injustice took place,” he said. “It (the ruling) has the potential to throw our country into judicial chaos.”
He said lower courts could follow the precedent and overturn the will of voters in other electoral contests, like local or legislative seats, adding he asked parliament to address issues raised by the judgement.
On Thursday, the cabinet approved 10 billion shillings ($97 million) to fund the repeat election.
Odinga has said he will not take part in the repeat vote unless a list of demands, including firing of senior staff at the election board, are met. The court said it found no evidence of individual culpability by the staff of the board.
The country must hold the election by the end of October to avert a constitutional crisis.
The court’s detailed judgment given on Wednesday hinged on the failure of the election board to check electronic tallies, vulnerable to typos, against paper forms intended as a failsafe backup before announcing results. Judges did not say they found evidence of rigging.
Kenyatta said he would respect the court’s decision but said it subverted the will of the people.
“We have reversed everything in this country by the decision of a few people. I don’t know how history will judge these gentlemen,” he said. “The citizen has been told he does not have a voice … If that is not dictatorship, I don’t know what to say.”