NAIROBI- Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday unanimously upheld the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta in last month’s repeat presidential vote, paving the way for him to be sworn in next week.
Chief Justice David Maraga said all six judges dismissed the two legal challenges to the vote, but the opposition NASA coalition insisted the government was illegitimate.
Kenyatta’s main challenger, NASA’s Raila Odinga, said in a statement by his adviser Salim Lone that the ruling “did not come as a surprise” and said “it was a decision taken under duress”, without giving evidence.
“We in NASA had repeatedly declared before this Supreme Court ruling today that we consider this government to be illegitimate and do not recognize it. This position has not been changed by the court ruling,” the statement said.
Residents in the western city of Kisumu, where Odinga has strong backing, youths barricaded roads in protest at the court’s decision, but there was no immediate response from the police, according to a Reuters witness.
Monday’s ruling clears the way for Kenyatta’s swearing-in on Nov. 28, but, given the opposition response, it is unlikely to end the worst political crisis in East Africa’s richest and most developed economy in a decade.
Odinga had called for a “National Resistance Movement” after Kenyatta’s election victory last month. It was unclear what shape that movement would take following the court’s ruling. Kenyatta had said he would not engage in dialogue with the opposition until “constitutional options” had been exhausted.
This year’s prolonged election season has disrupted the economy and forced the government to cut its growth forecast. Human rights groups say at least 66 people have died in bloodshed surrounding the votes in August and October.
The petitioners had argued, amongst other complaints, that the outcome should be voided because the election board did not seek fresh nominations after the Aug. 8 poll was invalidated, and because the vote was not held in each of Kenya’s 291 voter constituencies.