Jubilee seeks to slash court powers on annulling of future presidential election

Jubilee seeks to slash court powers on annulling of future presidential election
Judges of the Supreme Court during hearing of the August 8 election petition

The Jubilee Party (JP) threats to tame the powers of judges in determining future election disputes could assume reality earlier than expected, with the ruling coalition now determined to utilize its numerical muscle in the National Assembly to force through amendments to the Elections Act on Tuesday, September 26 to take away judges power to annul disputed elections.

At the heart of the National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga’s successful presidential election petition was anomalies in the electronic transmission of results, from the polling stations to the national tallying centre, with JP now seeking to tinker with section 44(1) of the Elections Act, in a bid to cure any ambiguity on use of technology in identification of voters and transmission of poll results.

In the amendment bill that will be published next week, Jubilee wants the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to publish the complimentary mechanism it would resort to, should it encounter challenges in transmitting results, as happened last month, where up to 11,000 polling stations were not covered by 3G or 4G technology.

“The judgment alluded to the fact that it may be necessary to address some of the legislations to get rid of any ambiguity that has been created by the Supreme Court ruling,” said JP Secretary General, Rafael Tuju.

IEBC on its part says provisions for use of a complementary mechanism exist, though require clarity, with Commissioner, Roslyne Akombe, insisting that the complimentary is simple to the electoral commission and it means that if there is no technology then the returning officers should bring the election results forms physically to the national tallying center.

On determination of presidential election petitions, JP is planning to use its numerical muscle in both the National Assembly and Senate to slash key powers from the courts. After the highest court in the land invalidated President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election, citing anomalies in the electoral process, the ruling coalition is planning to amend section 83 of the Elections Act to establish qualitative and quantitative indicators, as well as the threshold for annulling a presidential election.

Jubilee proposes to substitute the word ‘or’ with ‘and’,  to compel the supreme court to consider elections results, and the effect any non-compliance with electoral laws would have, before invalidating the results. The proposed amendments tallying with President Kenyatta’s anger with the Supreme Court, after his re-election was annulled.

The proposed changes could be the next frontier between Jubilee and the opposition, with 32 days before the presidential repeat polls.

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Story By Francis Gachuri
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