Kenya’s opposition leader challenges violation of polls laws

Kenyan Supreme Court judges arrive for a hearing of a petition challenging the election result filed by the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition and Human Rights groups at the Supreme Court in Nairobi, Kenya August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Kenya’s Supreme Court Monday began hearing veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga’s challenge to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election earlier this month.

The official results showed President Uhuru Kenyatta defeating Raila Odinga by about 1.4 million votes.  Odinga has charged that Kenyatta won the elections by fraud. But since election day, the National Super Alliance, or NASA, opposition coalition has argued that the voting system was hacked, leading to what they call a “stolen election.”

Odinga’s lawyers Monday charged that the original voting results forms were replaced with forms lacking security features such as a bar codes, watermarks and stamps. Most international observers have said the election results are credible.

The Supreme Court’s first order of business Monday was the opposition’s request for access to the electoral commission’s servers, which NASA says will provide the necessary evidence to support their argument.

“It is our order that the petitioners [Odinga’s representatives] as well as the third respondents [Kenyatta’s representatives] shall be granted a read-only access, which includes copying if necessary, of the following information,” said Justice Isaac Lenaola.

Some of the information that Lenaola listed included firewalls, password policy, system user types and levels of access and GPS locations from each electoral kit.

Lenaola also said the parties would be given access to the official tally forms from the polling stations and constituencies. The court registrar will supervise these exercises, in which each party is permitted two agents to observe. Three court-appointed information and communication technology, or ICT, experts will also be present.

The opposition leader rejected the August 11 electoral commission declaration that Uhuru Kenyatta won the presidential race with 54 percent of the vote.

“The brutal crackdown on protesters and residents in the western counties, part of a pattern of violence and repression in opposition strongholds, undermined the national elections,” said Otsieno Namwaya, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “People have a right to protest peacefully, and Kenyan authorities should urgently put a stop to police abuse and hold those responsible to account.”

The rest of Monday’s hearing was scheduled for Odinga and Kenyatta’s lawyers to argue their sides of the case, as well as the electoral commission to defend the integrity of its voting systems.

The Supreme Court has until Friday to give its final ruling.

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