What you need to know:
- Dr Mutunga has welcomed Cord’s decision to seek redress in court, saying he was glad that Kenyans, politicians and political parties had confidence that the Judiciary would handle electoral disputes
- The Supreme Court registry will remain open from 7am to 8pm every day to enable any person challenging the presidential election outcome to file their cases
- Makueni senator-elect Mutula Kilonzo, who is a member of the 10-man team working on the petition, said the case was an enormous undertaking with varied implications and could not be rushed
The Supreme Court is ready to hear petitions challenging the results of the just-concluded General Election, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said on Monday.
He spoke as Cord leaders Mutula Kilonzo, James Orengo and Anyang’ Nyong’o accused the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of failing to provide them with crucial documents they need to challenge the results of the presidential election.
IEBC chairman Issack Hassan on Saturday declared Jubilee coalition candidate Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of the presidential election. Cord’s Raila Odinga, who was second, rejected the results and said he would challenge them in court.
On Monday, Mr Hassan gave copies of the winner’s certificate to the Chief Justice and President Kibaki.
After receiving his copy, the President said he refrained from making a statement when the voting and tallying was going on because he did not want anyone to say he interfered with the outcome of the election.
“I followed the voting exercise closely. I commend the IEBC for their diligence and hard work and thank Kenyans for being peaceful,” President Kibaki said.
Dr Mutunga said: “We at the Supreme Court are prepared to hear any petition that may be filed impartially, fairly, justly and without fear, ill will, favour, prejudice or bias and in accordance with the Constitution and our laws.”
Cord lawyers had been expected to file their petition papers on Monday, but they were still putting final touches to the documents which they are likely to file on Wednesday.
The Constitution allows anyone dissatisfied with the results of a presidential election to challenge them in court within seven days after the announcement of election result. It also gives the Supreme Court 14 days to hear and determine such a case. The decision reached would be final. If the court rules that the election was invalid, a fresh one must be held within 60 days.
Dr Mutunga welcomed Cord’s decision to seek redress in court, saying he was glad that Kenyans, politicians and political parties had confidence that the Judiciary would handle electoral disputes.
He assured all parties that the six judges in the Supreme Court, who will hear the petitions, will do their duties impartially and will not be influenced by any ethnic, religious, regional or generational bias in reaching their decision.
The Supreme Court has Dr Mutunga sitting as its president, and Judges Philip Tunoi, Jacktone Ojwang’, Mohammed Ibrahim, Dr Smokin Wanjala and Njoki Ndung’u as members.
Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal, who was recently appointed deputy Chief Justice, has not been sworn in and cannot sit on the bench.
The CJ has also published rules and timelines, which will guide the determination of any petition challenging the election of Mr Kenyatta as the fourth president of Kenya.
The Supreme Court registry will remain open from 7am to 8pm every day to enable any person challenging the presidential election outcome to file their cases. The registrar will have three days to publish the petition while the petitioners will also have three days to serve the respondents. Upon being served, the respondents will have another three days to file and serve their response.
On the ninth day after filing the petition, the judges will hold a pre-trial conference during which they will agree on the modalities to be followed during the hearing.
The judges will then have two days to hear the petition. It will be a race against time since the judges will have only 14 days from the day the petition is filed to either throw out the petition or nullify the results and call for a fresh election.
On Monday, Cord accused IEBC of withholding crucial documents that it needs to file its case against the declaration of Mr Kenyatta as winner of the presidential election.
Makueni senator-elect Mutula Kilonzo, who is a member of the 10-man team working on the petition, said the case was an enormous undertaking with varied implications and could not be rushed.
“But I also want to disclose that certain information from IEBC has not been forthcoming and has caused a delay,” Mr Kilonzo said and demanded that the electoral commission release the information under Article 35 of the Constitution, which allows anyone to demand information from a public institution.
However, Mr Kilonzo did not disclose the nature of the information.
“By not allowing access to this information it obviously means there was something wrong,” Mr Kilonzo, who is also the Education Minister, said.
He warned that “those who were in early celebrations may be in for a rude shock.”
Another Cord senator-elect, Mr James Orengo, said the coalition was also demanding an investigation into how the electronic systems failed during the tallying of provisional results.
Later in the day, Cord lawyers met with Western diplomats and informed them of the challenges the coalition faced in the March 4 election.
Cord is accusing IEBC of ignoring its complaints of “serious irregularities” and “massive tampering” in the tallying of the presidential vote.
Meanwhile, three presiding officers were yesterday charged in a Nakuru court for concealing ballot papers and boxes.
Sally Jebet, John Cherutich and Kennedy Nyariki, who were stationed at different polling stations in Rongai constituency, Nakuru, were charged before Chief Magistrate Samuel Mungai with concealing ballot boxes and papers at their respective stations.
Additional reporting by Wanjiru Macharia, Lilian Onyango and PPS