Uhuru Kenyatta calls Supreme Court election ruling a ‘coup’

Odinga and Uhuru
Kenya president, Uhuru Kenyatta with his 2017 presidential election main challenger Ralia Odinga

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Thursday the country’s Supreme Court staged a “coup” against the will of the people when it annulled last month’s presidential election that he won.

“A coup in Kenya has just been done by the four people in the Supreme Court,” Kenyatta said in a live, televised speech delivered mostly in Kiswahili. “(The court is saying) ‘numbers don’t matter, it is processes that matter.’”

The court’s decision on Sept. 1 was the first time a judicial body has canceled the election of an African president and the ruling sent shockwaves through the country and beyond.

The court ordered a re-run within 60 days between Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who had rejected the result of the Aug. 8 vote and challenged it in court. The election board had declared Kenyatta the winner by 1.4 million votes.

The re-run is tentatively set for Oct. 17 in a vote being watched for any sign of instability. Kenya, a Western ally, has East Africa’s richest economy and is hub for diplomacy, security and trade in a region often battered by conflict.

The date for the re-run now looks unlikely since election officials lack time to prepare.

The court’s detailed judgment given on Wednesday hinged on the failure of the election board to check electronic tallies, which are vulnerable to typos, against paper forms intended as a fail-safe backup before announcing results. Judges did not say they found evidence of rigging.

Kenyatta said he would respect the court’s decision but said it subverted the will of the people.

“We have reversed everything in this country by the decision of a few people. I don’t know how history will judge these gentlemen,” he said. “The citizen has been told he does not have a voice … If that is not dictatorship, then I don’t know what to say.”

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