The Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD,, a think tank dedicated to the sustainability of democracy and development in West Africa has berated the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, for verbal attack on judges who nullified the country’s August 8, 2017 presidential election.
On September 1, a panel of Kenya’s Supreme Court judges led by David Maraga ruled that the result of the election was null and void after challenge filed by the country’s opposition leader, Raila Odinga.
The court subsequently ordered the country’s electoral commission to organise another election within 60 days.
A statement by CDD director, Idayat Hassan, said the organisation has been closely monitoring developments in Kenya after the nullification of the election and was worried by the “unwarranted attacks” on the judges by Mr. Kenyatta, who was announced as the winner of the annulled election.
Describing the decision of the judges as a “watershed in the history of elections in Kenya and Africa” the think tank stated that the courage of the judges is worth emulating by countries interested in “deepening their electoral process and democratic governance in the continent.”
Thus it called on Mr. Kenyatta and his supporters to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner and eschew the use of foul language in describing the judges following the court’s ruling.
“We absolutely condemn his unwarranted attacks against the judges; referring to them as Wakora(meaning “crooks/thugs” in Swahili). This is entirely unacceptable, especially coming from a presidential candidate of a respected nation like Kenya,” the organisation said.
“The judiciary has an important role to play in protecting the sanctity of democracy; its core principles and fundamentals.
“Effective performance of this responsibility predicates on its independence from the executive and the uprightness of the occupants of the office.
“This judgement is apparently unprecedented in Africa and is a beacon of hope for the continent on the role of the judiciary in reclaiming the people’s stolen mandate.
“We stand by the judgement of the Supreme Court and implore all concerned parties including the candidates, the electoral body, security institutions, citizens and other stakeholders to respect the institution and independence of the judiciary and work towards peaceful fresh election on 17thOctober 2017,” the CDD added.
In the same vein, the CDD warned Kenyans politicians to desist from using incendiary language in the run-up to the re-run election saying their unguarded comment is likely to over-heat the political system.
“A lawmaker was quoted as referring to the head of the opposition, Raila Odinga, as ‘a demon…[who] needs to be whipped by a man and whipped by a woman…’ More so, according to a news report, the opposition leader also called the President a drunk.
“Such unacceptable language may heavily deepen ethnic divides that have characterised elections in Kenya and, if politicians continue to toll this line, it may be counter-productive to the conduct of peaceful fresh election. Hate and dangerous speech must be avoided in the build-up to the election.”
Kenya has a bloody history of election violence. After the results of the December 2007 presidential election were disputed, scores of people were killed in the ethnic charged violence that erupted in the country.
At least 24 people, including a six-year-old boy have been killed after the annulment of last August election.
The CDD then advised the country’s electoral commission to learn from its past errors and ensure that the rerun election is devoid of themalpractices that led to annulment of the last election. It also called on Kenyans to shun violence as they observe their civic responsibility of choosing the candidate of their choice on October 17, the date for the rerun poll.