Kenya’s top court to rule on hacking allegations, votes disparity in election dispute

By Thomson Reuters Aug 30, 2022 | 6:27 AM

By Duncan Miriri

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya’s Supreme Court on Tuesday laid out eight questions it will answer when it rules on this month’s disputed presidential election result, including whether the commission’s website was hacked.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is seeking the presidency for the fifth time, is contesting the result of a tight vote after which the election commission chairman declared Deputy President William Ruto the winner. Four out of the seven commissioners disowned the result.

The disagreement has raised fears it could trigger the type of violence that followed disputed polls in 2007 and 2017.

Odinga’s legal team lodged a case alleging that a team working for Ruto hacked into the election system and replaced genuine pictures of polling station result forms with fake ones, thus increasing Ruto’s share.

Ruto denied the allegations. The election commission has filed competing responses, with three commissioners supporting the process and four questioning it.

The Supreme Court will also decide if the polling station returns were interfered with and whether the postponement of eight gubernatorial and legislative elections disadvantaged any candidate, said Chief Justice Martha Koome, the president of the seven-member court.

Kenya is a key western ally in an unstable region and it hosts the regional headquarters of many global companies and organisations.

The court, whose decision on presidential election petitions is final, will also consider if there were unexplained disparities in votes cast for presidential and other downballot races like for members of parliament, she said. It will also decide if the tallying of presidential votes met the constitutional standards.

The court will also decide if Ruto attained the constitutional threshold of 50% plus one of the votes cast, Koome said, and whether any irregularities were substantial enough to nullify the poll.

The court will issue its verdict on those questions on Monday.

(Reporting by Duncan Miriri, Editing by Katharine Houreld and Ed Osmond)