The greatness of a nation lies in its fidelity to its constitution and a strict adherence to the rule of law, and above all, the fear of God. These were the words of Kenya’s Chief Justice David Maraga the president of the Supreme Court who was part of the judges that ruled on the election petition brought before the Supreme Court.

The hearing of the petition was concluded on the 29th of August after 9pm when the judges deliberated on the election contestation. The issues raised were: whether the 2017 presidential election was conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in the constitution and the law relating to elections, whether there were irregularities and illegalities. The Supreme Court bench also considered if there were irregularities and illegalities what was their impact, if any on the integrity of the election, and what consequential orders, declarations and relieves should the court grant if any.

Read: Why the 2002 Kenyan Elections remain a point of reference

Kenya’s opposition party National Super Alliance (NASA) challenged the re-election of Uhuru Kenyatta. The hearing, which kept the country glued for two weeks was eagerly followed. The ruling on the case nullified the elections, with four of the judges voting in the majority against the remaining two judges. CJ Maraga declared, “the third respondent (Kenyatta) was not validly elected and declared as the president elect and that the declaration is declared null and void.”

Supreme Court
The President of the Supreme Court Chief Justice David Maraga who was part of the judges that ruled on the election petition brought before the Supreme Court. Photo: Twitter/@dkMaraga

Towards the elections, anxiety clouded the country and tension was heightened with the death of Christopher Chege Musando, a senior manager in information technology at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

During the reading of the ruling, CJ Maraga said “an election is not an event but it is a process from the beginning to the end.” For those that saw the nullification of the elections as a win for the main opposition leader Raila Odinga, the court rulings were more of a victory for the process of democracy. CJ Maraga further said while reading the ruling, “we were satisfied that the election was not conducted with the dictates of the constitution.”

He then ordered the IEBC to conduct a fresh presidential election in strict conformity with the constitution and the election laws within 60 days.

The decision by the court comes after international observers declared Kenya’s elections free and fair despite the outcry of opposition leader Raila Odinga. The reception of the decision by the court has rang a loud bell all over the continent where political groups in countries such as Zimbabwe, Uganda and others have contested election results in the courts.

Read: Kenyans voting in tightly contested presidential election- Picture Essay

Kenyatta said he disagreed with the ruling but will respect it. He said “I disagree with it because millions of Kenyans… made their choice and six people have decided that they will go against the will of the people.”  The annulment of the presidential elections is the first in Kenya and in Africa where an opposition took the ruling party to court and came out successful. The Supreme Court will publish its full ruling within 21 days.