"The reactions following the declaration of results of the presidential election of August 9, 2022, show that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has not yet garnered universal public confidence and trust in the internal management of the commission and elections," Justice Koome said Monday in her preliminary remarks before reading out the verdict.
Confidence in the electoral body has not always come through the courts. Despite the Supreme Court upholding President Uhuru Kenyatta's election in 2013, the opposition, led by Raila Odinga, successfully lobbied chairman Isaack Hassan's IEBC exit.
It was the general feeling among Raila's supporters that the 2013 election was rigged, as it certainly is the feeling among the former prime minister's followers this time round. In a statement released Monday, Raila said he "vehemently" disagreed with the judgment, a message that most likely resonates with his supporters.
Top among Raila's grievances in his petition was the split within IEBC, brought to the fore on August 15, when the result of the presidential election was announced and made for a circus at the Supreme Court.
The apex court proposed 'far-reaching reforms", with Justice Koome saying they would lay out in their detailed judgment expected in 21 days.
For starters, the judges declared that the IEBC chairperson cannot unilaterally verify and tally results, meaning that one of the reforms could involve striking against an imperial chairperson of the IEBC and offering solutions to averting a future dysfunctionality of the IEBC.
Chief Justice Martha Koome. [Samson Wire, Standard]
Whenever the country's election agency has been as dysfunctional as the current one is, its conclusion has been the same - a disintegration that has resulted in lowered public trust in the institution.
It was the case when four commissioners walked out of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Chebukati after the nullified presidential election of 2017, after months of constant wrangling.
Chebukati's commission is the only one that has resisted ouster since the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution, with previous commissions caving under the weight of immense pressure following disputed elections.
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Before Hassan and his team exited in 2016, Samuel Kivuitu, who oversaw the 2007 election, walked down the path.
Postscript: There could be some light at the end of the tunnel. On Tuesday, the rebel commissioners led by Vice Cherera said they accepted and respected the Supreme Court verdict ruling upholding President-elect William Ruto's victory.
"After the Supreme Court of Kenya made her ruling yesterday on the presidential election petition, particularly concerning our role as commissioners, we wish to convey our appreciation to the honourable judges of the Supreme Court of Kenya and confirm that we respect their collective decisions," they said.
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