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Court DID question Kenyatta’s vote total, saying ‘numbers must just add up’

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After the country’s election commission declared him winner of a repeat presidential election, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta revisited the historic court decision that annulled his initial victory.

The supreme court had actually “validated” his first win, Kenyatta said in his acceptance speech of 30 October 2017, as only “the process” and not his vote total was questioned.

“The court did not challenge my overwhelming [8 August 2017] mandate of 54%. The numbers were never questioned,” he said.

We revisited the court records to check if this was the case.

‘Based on supreme court’s conclusion’

In that annulled election, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission said that Kenyatta got 8,203,290 votes, or 54.27% of the total reported.

The presidency told Africa Check that this claim is based on the “conclusion of the court decision”.

“My response to your question is that in the conclusion, the court cited the processes, not the numbers,” presidential spokesman Manoah Esipisu told Africa Check.

The supreme court voted 4-2 to invalidate the election. In that majority decision, we found at least four instances where judges queried the numbers:

  • In paragraph 245, the judges revisited admissions of the electoral commission and its chairman that number discrepancies between Form 34A (which bears declared polling station results) and Form 34B (which bears results declared at the constituency) were due to “human error and fatigue of the election officials”.

  • In paragraph 273, the judges questioned how the elections agency declared Kenyatta the winner before it received “authentic Forms 34A from 5,015 polling stations representing up to 3.5 million votes”.

  • In paragraph 281, the judges queried why the total votes for candidates lower down on the slate, such as governors and members of parliament, were less than those cast for the presidency. “No satisfactory answer was given to the … issue and we must also hold the [electoral commission] responsible for that unexplained yet important issue.”

  • In paragraph 296, the judges said the elections agency is expected to provide access to the required information for verification by voters and candidates (which it did not do with 11,000 forms). “In other words, ‘the numbers must just add up’,” the judgment stated.

‘Very questionable’ to say court validated win

While the judges did not say how many votes were problematic, it is “very questionable to argue on the basis of this [that] the supreme court validated his victory,” professor of democracy at the University of Birmingham Nic Cheeseman, told Africa Check.

“Rather, I think that what the supreme court was saying was that they could not tell how right or wrong the official results were, not that the numbers were correct,” Cheeseman, who writes extensively on Kenya’s politics, said.

Kenyatta’s victory had been annulled on concerns that the process clearly could have affected the number of votes for each candidate, he added. The president’s claim in his acceptance speech therefore did “not appear to be consistent with the court's final decision to require a ‘fresh’ election”. - Alphonce Shiundu (06/11/2017)


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