Judges no-show, Kenya poll to proceed

• Protesters in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu chant ‘no election’ as they demonstrate in the streets

• Protesters in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu chant ‘no election’ as they demonstrate in the streets

Kenya’s Chief Justice has said the Supreme Court is unable to hear a petition calling for a delay in Thursday’s presidential re-run.

David Maraga said not enough of the court’s seven judges were available to hear the case.

The deputy chief justice was not available after her bodyguard was shot by unknown gunmen on Tuesday.

The BBC’s Alastair Leithead in Nairobi says the election is now expected to go ahead as planned.

The Supreme Court annulled the original election in August, by a 4-2 majority, saying there had been “irregularities and illegalities”.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga is boycotting the re-run, saying nothing has changed.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is seeking a second term, has said the ballot must go ahead.

Five judges are needed for a quorum but Mr Maraga said that Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu “was not in a position to come to court”.

Her bodyguard is receiving treatment at a Nairobi hospital.

This is a big blow to an institution that was recently being hailed the world over, especially in Africa, as a beacon of judicial independence.

Some will view today’s development as evidence that the Supreme Court has shirked its responsibility and told Kenyans that they are effectively on their own.

The excuses that three judges gave for their absence, denying the court a quorum, are pretty flimsy.

While a fourth was presumably in shock after her bodyguard was shot.

It now seems that when Chief Justice David Maraga said a few weeks ago, amid intimidation following the annulment of the August election, that the judges were ready to pay the ultimate price to defend the rule of law, he was not widely supported.

It is now almost certain that the repeat presidential election will go ahead as planned.

Its credibility is however in doubt, as even the chairman of the electoral commission has admitted.

Some international observers have reduced their involvement in the poll because they say the conditions are not conducive for a free and fair election.


The lawyer for the electoral commission, Paul Muite, told Kenya’s Citizen TV that the absence of the Supreme Court hearing clears the way for today’s poll.

“It means elections are on tomorrow. There is no order stopping the election,” he said. However, Anyang Nyong’o, governor of the western Kisumu county, an opposition stronghold, said people would be justified to rebel if the vote went ahead today. -BBC

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