Why standoff could run into 2018

An Opposition protestor outside the gates of the Supreme Court in downtown Nairobi as NASA filed its presidential petition on Friday. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

?Kenya is once again facing several scenarios following the decision by the National Super Alliance (NASA) to file a petition at the Supreme Court to challenge declaration of President Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner of the 2017 polls.

The Supreme Court — comprising seven judges — will now decide the poll outcome in the next 14 days.

The bench could dismiss NASA’s application or hear it and if the outcome is in NASA’s favour, elections would have to be held again after 60 days.

The country will be glued to the Supreme Court as it hears submissions by the applicants and the respondents — the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Jubilee Party and other interested parties that may want to be enjoined in the case.

Judges have exactly 14 days to allow parties to serve respondents and for the respondents to file their rejoinders, hear preliminary objections if any and listen to arguments by all parties before making a determination on the matter.

The bench at Supreme Court comprises Chief Justice David Maraga, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Judges Isaac Lenaola, Jackton Ojwang, Njoki Ndung’u, Smokin Wanjala and Mohammed Ibrahim.

Marathon submissions

If the majority of the bench — four out of seven —  rule against the petition filed by NASA, that will mark the end of the litigation process of challenging the presidential election and clear the way for the swearing-in of Uhuru for his second and final term in office.

“The Supreme Court has two options in matter. Only two. To allow the petition, which means we have to go for another round of presidential elections or disallow it. The effect of the second option is that it would then pave way for swearing-in of the President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta,” lawyer Kibe Mungai told Saturday Standard.

Should the petition succeed, several other scenarios will swing into play.

First, there will be another presidential contest in 60 days’ time. This will essentially be a run-off involving Kenyatta and NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

The country will then be sent back to on campaign mode for at least seven weeks. This race, the second round of presidential elections, will be purely simple-majority based. This means that whoever garners the majority of the total votes cast wins the race.

Given that the first presidential petition was filed yesterday, a decision on it must be delivered by September 2. If the court rules in favour of the petitioners, Kenya will hold another round of presidential elections by November 2.

The outcome of this contest will be declared within seven days, that is by November 9.

Fresh polls

Should the losing presidential candidate petition the outcome of this election, it will mean that the country will once again go through a second round of presidential petition following the same pattern as the original case filed on Friday.

In this case, the petitioner will have up to around November 17 to file the second presidential petition and the courts will have to determine it by December 1.

It is, however, worth noting that the pattern of events around NASA’s presidential petition largely depends on the decisions taken by the Supreme Court.

Before the August 8 elections, some political watchers had ruled out a run-off in the first round of elections, saying that given the other six presidential candidates would barely raise a blip in the radar, it was likely that there would be a first round win.

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