Kenya not at risk of constitutional crisis ahead of election re-run: top legal official

22nd September 2017 By: Reuters

Kenya not at risk of constitutional crisis ahead of election re-run: top legal official

Kenya will not face a constitutional or political crisis even if a planned re-run of its presidential election is delayed beyond the end of October, the attorney general said on Friday.

The Supreme Court this month annulled President Uhuru Kenyatta's August 8 election win and ordered the election board to organise a new poll by the end of October. Kenyatta is expected to face off again with opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Odinga's lead lawyer in a petition that led to the invalidation of Kenyatta's re-election, James Orengo, said on Wednesday that if the election were not held by the end of October, Kenyatta's term in office would cease, thrusting the country into a deep constitutional crisis.

"The government now in office legitimately remains in office by full force of the constitution until the fresh election is complete and the new leader sworn in", Githu Muigai, the attorney general, told a news conference.

"(Any delay in poll) does not delegitimise the constitutional order of the day... There is absolutely no chance of a crisis around the date because the election did take place and... we are again inside the election cycle," he added.

Kenya has the region's richest economy and is a key Western ally in a region often shaken by violence. The repeat election is being closely watched for signs of tension that could spark violence as in 2007 when more than 1 000 Kenyans were killed.

This week Kenyatta accused the Supreme Court of staging a "coup" against the will of the people when it annulled his win, in a sign that the political rhetoric is heating up ahead of the new poll.

On Thursday the election board pushed back the date of the election re-run to October 26 after a French firm whose technology is being used in the polls said it was nearly impossible to be ready for the originally scheduled date of October 17.

Odinga has said he will not take part in the new poll if a series of demands, including the sacking of senior staff at the election board, is not met.