Uhuru Kenyatta to court: ‘We shall revisit this’

Uhuru Kenyatta says ‘we clearly have a problem’ as he vows to ‘fix’ judiciary after Supreme Court nullified election.

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses supporters after his election win was declared invalid on Friday [Thomas Mukoya/Reuters]

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Saturday the country has “a problem” with its judiciary that must be fixed.

He was speaking a day after the Supreme Court annulled his election win last month and ordered a new poll within 60 days.

“We shall revisit this thing. We clearly have a problem,” he said, referring to the judiciary.

“Who even elected you? Were you? We have a problem and we must fix it,” he said, speaking on live television at the State House in Nairobi after he met governors and other elected officials from his Jubilee party.

READ MORE: Kenya Supreme Court annuls result of presidential polls 

Kenyatta, however, also repeated his message from Friday that he would respect the court’s ruling.

The decision to annul the election was an unprecedented move in Africa where governments often hold sway over judges – and the first time on the continent that a court ruled against the electoral victory of an incumbent.

Analysts viewed the president’s latest comments on the judiciary as a worrisome development.

“It’s extremely unfortunate that Kenyatta seems to be issuing veiled threats at the judiciary,” said Murithi Mutiga, a Nairobi-based senior Africa analyst at the International Crisis Group.

“This was a tremendous moment for Kenyan democracy, where the court upheld the rule of law. Politicians should be careful not to incite the public against the judiciary.”

The president’s latest comments mark the second time since Friday’s ruling that he has spoken critically about the judiciary in public. On Friday, during an impromptu rally in Nairobi, he accused the court of ignoring the will of the people and dismissed the chief justice’s colleagues as “wakora”, or crooks.

Kenyan parliamentarian Kimani Ichungwa accused the opposition of intimidating the Supreme Court.

“Problems do exist in our judiciary. I do believe there is a serious cartel within the judiciary – a cartel controlled by other corruption cartels funding our competitors. We must get rid of these cartels in the judiciary,” Ichungwa told Al Jazeera.

“We have a judiciary that is still not very independent … They have yet to get independence from corruption cartels that run this country, that have tried to influence affairs of this country.” 

The president’s public appearances since the ruling suggest he intends to campaign rigorously in advance of the re-run of the August 8 poll.

He said via Twitter on Saturday: “For now let us meet at the ballot.”

Observers have warned the new election could bring even more tension to a country where politics is largely divided along tribal lines.

“Kenya just had a difficult and controversial election, and this decision pushes it right back into another electoral campaign,” said analyst Nic Cheeseman of the University of Birmingham.

“The outcome of the next election may be controversial again.”

READ MORE: Kenyans on social media react to ruling annulling polls

Attention now turns back to the election board. The court ruled it had “failed, neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the Constitution”.

Raila Odinga, the veteran opposition leader whose coalition brought the petition against the election board to the Supreme Court, said on Friday some officials from the commission should face criminal prosecution.

The chairman of the election board said there would be personnel changes, but it was not clear if that would be enough for the opposition. Sweeping out the whole board would complicate efforts to hold a new poll within two months.

Last month’s election – which included the presidential poll in addition to races at other levels of government – was one of the most expensive ever held in Africa. Before the vote, Kenya’s treasury said preparation and execution of polling would cost the equivalent of $480m.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies