Tight security at Kenya Supreme Court


The Kenya Supreme Court was preparing to review petitions challenging President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in last month’s presidential election, in what may be the last chance for legal scrutiny of the vote.

Security was tight outside the court, which has been centre stage for Kenyan politics since it nullified the results of August’s presidential election. That decision led to the re-run election on October 26.

The court has not convened since the day before last month’s election, when it was due to deliberate on a last-minute request to delay the vote. That hearing was cancelled because not enough judges showed up to make a quorum.

The judges demanded more security after the bodyguard of the deputy chief justice was shot the day before the hearing and said they would refuse to attend hearings without it, a judicial source said. The government turned them down, the source said.

The chief justice later denied the Reuters report on the security issue and said police “enhanced” the judges’ security.

All six judges showed up for Tuesday’s meeting. They are expected to announce when proceedings will begin and whether it will hear all three petitions filed — one by a former lawmaker and the other two by civil society organisations.

Uhuru Kenyatta came to power in 2013 and won a second and final term in August, defeating opposition leader Raila Odinga by 1.4 million votes.

Odinga did not contest the repeat vote, saying it would be unfair because the election commission failed to implement reforms. Kenyatta won with 98% of the vote, though opposition supporters staged a boycott and prevented polls from opening in the west of the country.

Kenya is a regional hub for trade, diplomacy and security and its prolonged election season has disrupted its economy. Human rights groups say at least 66 people have died in bloodshed surrounding the two elections.

The Supreme Court was created by a 2010 constitution that followed a violent political crisis three years earlier. Around 1,200 people were killed in ethnic clashes after the disputed election in 2007.