March 20, 2013

Kenya’s Supreme Court Warns Politicians Against Post Poll Comments

The Supreme Court of Kenya has barred politicians from making comments and utterances on the disputed poll results outside the court room. Dr. Willy Mutunga, the chief Justice of Kenya issued the order on Wednesday morning while hearing the mention of the petition filed by Raila Oginga Odinga, the CORD alliance president candidate challenging the poll results.

Raila contested the 4th March polls and lost to Uhuru Kenyatta, the Jubilee Alliance candidate. The Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission declared Uhuru president elect with 6.1 million votes against Raila’s 5.3 million votes. But Raila refused to concede defeat and petitioned the Supreme Court seeking for an annulment of the poll results.

Raila contends that the vote tallying process was flawed. The petition before court has elicited public debate in Kenya. Both Uhuru and Raila Odinga have been engaged in a war of words over the past few days over the disputed poll results. Raila threw the first salvo claiming that he had won the elections.

He also asked Uhuru not to use state resources such as the presidential motorcade, security and the air crafts until he is sworn in officially. While in Mombasa and later in Nairobi, Raila claimed he had won the elections by 5.7 million votes against Uhuru’s 4.5 million votes.

He also claimed that the Jubilee alliance had hatched a plan long before the elections to steal votes. In response, Uhuru asked Raila to stop politicizing the court process and pleaded with him and his supporters to wait for the outcome of their court petition.

Now, Justice Willy Mutunga has issued an order barring any public utterances on the petition, adding that there would be consequences for those found guilty of making utterances outside the court room. Dr. Mutunga has directed the lawyers of the petitioners to advice their clients accordingly on matters regarding their conduct and statement that may undermine the court authority.

He says some of the utterances on the petition may be prejudicial to the petition before court. The Supreme Court has also cautioned the media against taking sides on the election petition.

Dr. Mutunga notes that while it is the duty of the media to inform the public, it has to act within the professional code of conduct. He asked the media to be impartial, fair, just and objective in its coverage of the court proceedings. Both parties are expected to file their responses by 23rd March ahead of the conferencing of the cases on Monday next week.

Security was heightened outside the court room this morning to prevent the re-occurrence of the scuffle that broke out on Saturday during the filing of the petition. Police restricted entry into the court and subjected members of public to body searches before they were allowed into the court room.

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