Kenya’s top court upholds Ruto’s presidential victory

Supporters of William Ruto celebrate on the street in Nairobi, Kenya on Sept 5, 2022 after the contry’s Supreme Court unanimously rejected challenges to the official results of the presidential election and upholding Ruto’s narrow win in the presidential election. (BRIAN INGANGA / AP)

NAIROBI – Kenya's Supreme Court on Monday dismissed petitions challenging William Ruto as president-elect, citing a lack of tangible evidence produced by the petitioners, including veteran opposition leader  Raila Odinga.

Chief Justice Martha Koome said a seven-judge bench unanimously dismissed consolidated petitions challenging Ruto's victory for lack of merit alongside a failure to meet the evidentiary threshold.

The petitioners also failed to prove that the voting exercise was marred by irregularities that could have compromised the outcome, the judges said.

ALSO READ: Odinga says presidential election result a 'travesty'

"We find that no evidence was submitted to show that William Ruto did not attain the 50 percent plus one vote requirement," Koome said, reading a summary of the judgment.

The court found that the illegalities and irregularities pointed out by the petitioners were not of such magnitude as to affect the final result of the presidential election.

Martha Koome, Chief Justice, Kenya 

The 77-year-old Odinga, who was making his fifth presidential bid, backed by the outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta in the Aug 9 election, challenged the presidential election results announced on Aug 15 by the head of the electoral body, who declared Ruto, his main competitor in the race, as the winner.

“The court found that the illegalities and irregularities pointed out by the petitioners were not of such magnitude as to affect the final result of the presidential election,” Koome said.

Odinga's running mate, Martha Karua, said even though she did not agree with the apex court's judgment, she would respect it.

“The court has spoken. I respect but disagree with the findings," said Karua, a seasoned lawmaker and gender rights campaigner, on social media.

In their petition, both Odinga and Karua alleged that the final results announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman were not complete, adding that there were gross disparities in results captured by electronic kits and physical forms.

Kenyans had waited anxiously for the apex court's ruling on consolidated petitions challenging Ruto's victory filed by Odinga and civil society activists.

The consolidated petitions alleged that the polling exercise was marred by infiltration of votes' transmission technology, voter suppression, and ballot stuffing.

According to Odinga, there were inconsistencies in voter turnout as captured by Kenya Integrated Election Management System kits and those captured manually.

He said that the digital kits captured 14.45 million voters, representing 65.4 percent, but in the final results captured in the recorded forms, the total number of voters stood at 14.2 million.

Odinga and his allies said that the IEBC was unable to account for more than 250,000 votes that were cast, excluding votes captured manually.

The Supreme Court, however, said that it found no significant differences found between forms uploaded on the web portal and forms delivered to the IEBC national tallying center.

ALSO READ: Kenya presidential wildcard vows to erase debt with 'ganja solution'

"We cannot upset an election in which the people have participated without hindrance just because of dissonance at IEBC," Koome said.

She said the court will give the full judgment in 21 days.

From left, Kenya's Supreme Court judges Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mbete Mwilu, Chief Justice Martha Koome, and Mohammed Khadhar Ibrahim, deliver the judgement in the electoral petition at the Supreme Court in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept 5, 2022. (BEN CURTIS / AP)

"None of the parties has flagged anything so significant that it would have affected the outcome," Koome said. "There were no unexplainable variances in votes cast for president and other elective positions."

The judges described some of the allegations made by the petitioners as implausible, devoid of merit, and bordering on hearsay.

Soon after the ruling upholding Ruto as the incoming president, thousands of his jubilant supporters thronged towns and villages in his strongholds of the Rift valley and central Kenya to celebrate.