Moves to amend election law in Kenya

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Kenya’s ruling Jubilee Party presented parliament with proposals intended to prevent the Supreme Court annulling the results of a coming re-run presidential election as it did the last vote in August.

The court struck down President Uhuru Kenyatta’s poll victory then, saying there were illegalities and irregularities in transmission of results.

Kenya used two systems to transmit results from polling stations: paper forms and the electronic transmission of the vote tallies plus scanned copies of the forms. The court found flaws in both.

Jubilee’s proposed amendments to election law would stop the court from invalidating results if the electronic transmission again fails to work smoothly. The manually transmitted results would be final, a copy of the amendments seen by Reuters showed.

The re-run vote is scheduled for October 26 and opposition challenger Raila Odinga’s coalition said it will not take part unless proposed changes are dropped, calling them “sanitisation of the flaws of the August vote”.

The amendments would also prevent the court from voiding an election on the grounds of non-compliance with the law, provided the poll was in line with constitutional principles and non-compliance did not affect the result of the election.

The president, two dissenting Supreme Court judges, and some legal commentators have faulted the court’s majority ruling for failing to explain how the illegalities cited interfered with the election result.

Kenyatta said last week the ruling by the Supreme Court threatened to thrust the country into “judicial chaos”, as lower courts use the precedent to invalidate other elected positions.

The dispute over the election law changes adds to a war of words ahead of the repeat election.

Odinga called for street protests to force out senior officials from the electoral board, while Jubilee said the election will go ahead even if Odinga refuses to take part.

Hundreds of University of Nairobi students fought running battles with police around their campus on Thursday, as they protested detention of an opposition legislator.

Paul Ongili Owino was re-arrested on Wednesday, shortly after being released on bail on charges of subversion for calling Kenyatta a “son of a dog” at a campaign rally.

He was arraigned again in court on new charges of an assault causing “grievous harm” to a voter during the campaign for last month’s election.