Carter Center Urges National Dialogue After Supreme Court Upholds Results of Oct. 26 Fresh Presidential Election

Contact: In Atlanta,
In Nairobi,

NAIROBI — The Carter Center urges all parties to respect today’s unanimous decision by Kenya’s Supreme Court to uphold the results of the Oct. 26 fresh presidential election and calls on political leaders to initiate a process of sustained national dialogue to heal the wounds aggravated by the often tense and tumultuous electoral period.

The court consolidated two petitions filed challenging the conduct of the fresh presidential election. It heard oral arguments from all interested parties in an open and transparent manner that afforded due process to all litigants. The court dismissed the petitions, finding that they were without merit, and will issue a detailed opinion within 21 days. The petitions raised several issues related to the Oct. 26 election, including a failure to conduct fresh candidate nominations, the impact on the process of the withdrawal of the National Super Alliance candidate, and a failure to conduct peaceful polls in all of Kenya’s 290 constituencies.

The events surrounding the Aug. 8 general election and the re-run in the Oct. 26 fresh presidential election undermined the rule of law in Kenya and the country’s democratic institutions. The extended electoral period was characterized by strident political rhetoric and harsh attacks by political leaders on Kenya’s judiciary and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), and election-related violence that resulted in numerous deaths, injuries, and damage to property. In resilient democracies, elections are centered on peaceful competition and the orderly transfer of power, not weakening democratic institutions and life-and-death clashes.

The Carter Center takes note of the violence during demonstrations in the last few days that resulted in several deaths and the destruction of property. We urge the government, especially the security forces, and demonstrators to exercise restraint in the coming days. We remind the Kenyan government of its obligation to protect the constitutional rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and security of the person, to enable inclusive participation in the country’s political and dialogue processes.

While the 2017 elections represent a clear setback for democratic processes in Kenya, going forward it is incumbent on political leaders and their supporters to seek common ground. President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has a fresh mandate to lead all Kenyans, should reinitiate the national dialogue that culminated in the 2010 constitution. A renewed dialogue should result in additional measures to address the ethnic and tribal rifts that have long characterized Kenya’s politics, while ensuring the protection and fulfilment of the rights of all Kenyans.

The Carter Center has had a core team of experts in Kenya since April, monitoring key parts of the electoral process, including voter registration, campaigning, electoral preparations, and the recent resolution of disputes in the courts. That team was joined by a large group of observers who helped monitor voting, counting, and tallying in the days surrounding the Aug. 8 election. Following the Sept. 1 decision by the Supreme Court to annul the August election, the Center was invited by the IEBC to extend its presence to observe the Oct. 26 fresh election.

Because of insecurity surrounding the polls, the uncertain political environment, and the lack of a fully competitive election, the Carter Center deployed a limited election observation mission to assess the Oct. 26 polls. The team was limited in size and geographic scope, and long-term observers were deployed to specific pre- and post-election processes. Given these factors, the Center did not conduct a robust assessment of polling station level processes on election day.


"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

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