On September 1, 2017, Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the Presidential election of August 8, 2017, on grounds of irregularities in tallying the votes. The Court noted that the election “was not conducted in accordance to the constitution and applicable law.” This is a historic event in African democratic culture and certainly a rare event in the world in recent memory.
Kenya’s Supreme Court ordered that a new election be held within 60 days. Whoever wins the next election, one thing is certain: Kenya has modeled the rule of law in this matter, something to be emulated by other African countries, and a signal to the world to take note that it is not business as usual.
Over the past five years, the Africa Faith & Justice Network (AFJN) through workshops, seminars and town hall meetings on the continent has promoted just governance and the common good as the way to address the perpetual challenges that beset communities throughout Africa. Incidentally, the project, after a test run in Ghana, was launched with a continental conference in Limuru, a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, in November 2015. AFJN has conducted similar gatherings in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania. We hope that the Kenyan example will have a ripple effect throughout the continent.
Basic to just governance is the rule of law that is applicable to the highest and the lowest ranking, the materially richest and poorest members of the society, men and women alike. Kenya’s Supreme Court in its decision to nullify the presidential election has demonstrated the value of the rule of law.
Thanks are due to opposition candidate Mr. Raila Odinga who impressed on his supporters the benefits of using appropriate peaceful channels to address the disputes surrounding the election. Thanks are also due to President Uhuru Kenyatta for adhering to the decisions of the Supreme Court. The peoples of Kenya and the rest of the world have witnessed the independence of a judiciary. Please keep it up.
The Africa Faith & Justice Network commends Kenyans for taking the high road and adhering to the rule of law to address their grievances. We further call on Kenyans to maintain this same decorum in the forthcoming presidential election and after the results have been announced.
The Kenyan situation, coming on the hills of Nigeria and Gambia where the incumbents lost elections to their challengers, challenges the common notion of the all powerful incumbent in Africa’s presidential election. We call on the international community to listen to the peoples of Africa, to work with Africans as partners and engage issues that promote the common good.
Kudos to Kenya!
By Rev. Aniedi Okure, OP
Executive Director, Africa Faith & Justice Network