The split within the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) during the 2022 election continues to have implications for the future of the institution. On 2 December, following a recommendation from the National Assembly, President Ruto suspended the four commissioners (Juliana Whonge Cherera, Francis Mathenge Wanderi, Irene Cherop Masit and Justus Abonyo Nyang’aya) who had disputed the official results of the election, and appointed a tribunal to investigate allegations of misconduct. After this, three of the suspended commissioners resigned, thus avoiding participation in the investigation. Masit did not resign and appeared before the tribunal in late December. The tribunal is expected to conclude on 27 January. The remaining three members of the IEBC will conclude their non-renewable six-year term in January 2023, meaning a complete replacement of the IEBC commissioners may take place.
In a decision described by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as “ground-breaking”, Kenyan prosecutors charged twelve police officers with crimes against humanity for their role in the violent suppression of post-election protests in 2017. According to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the violence that followed resulted in 94 deaths, 201 cases of sexual violence and more than 300 injuries, most of which it attributed to the security forces. The charges include rape, murder and torture and are the first under Kenya’s International Crimes Act. It is also the first instance in which electoral-related sexual violence has been criminally prosecuted in Kenya. Newly inaugurated president, William Ruto, has vowed to reform the security sector in order to end the enduring problem of security force violence in the country and in October disbanded the Special Services Unit, a 20-year-old police unit accused of extrajudicial killings and torture.
The Kenyan Supreme Court unanimously dismissed all of the petitions challenging the outcome of the country’s presidential election. In its judgment, the court found that no evidence was produced to prove that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairperson had been part of a conspiracy to subvert the election, as had been alleged by Raila Odinga (a losing presidential candidate and one of the petitioners), and that the “illegalities and irregularities [pointed out by the petitioners] were not of such magnitude as to affect the final result of the presidential election.” The decision cleared the way for President-Elect William Ruto’s inauguration, which took place on 13 September. Raila Odinga stated that he “respected” but vehemently disagreed with the court’s decision.
Kenya held its general elections on 9 August. The winner of the presidential contest was William Ruto, who narrowly beat Raila Odinga by 50.5 per cent to 48.8 per cent. Voter turnout, which was 64.8 per cent, was significantly lower than in the two previous presidential elections. The preliminary findings of international observers praised the elections for being largely peaceful and transparent and stated that electoral processes were generally carried out in accordance with procedure. They did, however, raise several concerns, including the poor informational environment, the misuse of state resources and low registration rates among young Kenyans. Alongside several other petitioners, Odinga has challenged the election result in the Supreme Court, alleging “criminal subversion of the…electoral process” by the Chairperson of Kenya’s election management body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which was split over the election result. Judgement is expected in September.