Election Petition Updates
The immediate aftermath of the General Election held in December of 2007 highlighted the fragile link between the application of electoral law and the stability of the country’s socio-economic and governance structures. Considerable public debate was generated on the condition of Kenya’s electoral law and the role of the justice system in the resolution of disputes emerging from an electioneering exercise.
The March 4, 2013 election was unique and unprecedented in both scale and complexity. Each Kenyan citizen was required to elect a total of six candidates for the post of President, Senator, Governor, Member of Parliament, County Representative and Women Representative as opposed to the previous elections where the elective posts were comprised of President, Member of Parliament and Councillor. The run up to the elections was also contested on almost every level and this included:
a) The promulgation of the Constitution
b) The selection of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission(IEBC) Commissioners
c) Delimitation of boundaries under the Constitution of Kenya, 2010
d) The electoral laws and their inconsistencies with other laws
e) Procurement of the Biometric Voter Register (BVR) Kits
f) Political Party nominations
g) Election Petitions etc.
The elections were the first under the new Constitution, 2010, and were conducted under the IIEBC with the appointment of new members including the Commissioners who are on a contractual term of 6 years, after the ECK was disbanded. The commission is responsible for conducting and supervising referenda and elections to any elective body or office established by the Constitution and any other elections prescribed by an Act of Parliament.
The Judiciary took an active role in conjunction with other stakeholders to prepare for the elections through sensitization of the public on their role as patriotic Kenyan citizens and their right to vote and maintain peace. The judiciary also assured Kenyans that they had put in place all the necessary mechanisms to hear and determine all election petitions that would be filed after the declaration of the results of the Presidential Election 2013, within the constitutional provision of 6 months after the declaration of the results in order to ensure that justice is served. As part of Judiciary’s preparations to create and implement effective mechanisms and capacity to resolve electoral disputes and deal with electoral offences, the Chief Justice appointed an eight-member team to design and execute a Judiciary programme to build the capacity of judges, magistrates and other judicial officers on electoral matters, and suggest ways of working with other stakeholders. The Judiciary Working Committee on Election Preparations (JWCEP) was unveiled on the 10th of May 2012 and the Committee was to operate under the aegis of the Judiciary Training Institute but report to the Chief Justice.
Since the inception of the JWCEP, there have been various training secessions organised for the Judicial officers to equip them with the knowledge and skills crucial for the efficient and effective disposal of the filed election petitions as well as to ensure a comprehensive appreciation of the electoral process and the underlying principles and objectives.
Out of the need to provide the information necessary to inform and guide the Kenyan citizens and recognizing that informed and timely judicial decision-making contributes to socio-economic stability, Kenya Law has prepared a comprehensive collection of literature by various judicial officers on issues regarding the electoral law, the Kenya Gazette which appointed the judicial officer who would preside over election petitions and also an updated report on the status of every election petition filed after the declaration of the March 4, 2013 elections.
Currently available are three volumes of the Election Petition Law Reports which trace the development of judicial interpretations of the laws governing the conduct of presidential, parliamentary and civic elections in Kenya from as early as the 1960’s. The same has been consolidated and is also available in a CD-R Computer E-Book.
Emma Kinya Mwobobia