NAIROBI (Reuters) - A Kenyan court said on Friday that presidential election results announced at the constituency level across the east African nation would be final and no further changes allowed, in an ruling intended to reduce the risk of malpractice.
Kenya will hold a presidential election on Aug. 8.
The appeals court was ruling on a complaint from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which said only its chairperson could announce the final results.
The IEBC was angered by a high court ruling in April that announcing the results as final at each of Kenya’s 290 constituencies would reduce the risk of them being altered once they were announced at the national tallying centre.
Upholding the April ruling, Appeals Court Judge William Ouko said it would be “illegitimate” to suggest that the IEBC chair alone was empowered “to correct, vary, confirm, later modify or adjust the results electronically transmitted to the national tallying centre” from the constituencies.
“Such a suggestion would introduce opaqueness and arbitrariness to the electoral process, the very mischief the constitution seeks to remedy. There is no merit in this appeal, which we accordingly dismissed,” he said in his ruling.
Three lawyers initially went to court in May 2016 to challenge a stipulation in the law that allowed the IEBC’s chairman to have the final say in announcing the presidential results.
The opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy later joined the case.
In challenging the results of the 2013 election, opposition leader Raila Odinga had cited discrepancies between the constituency tally of results and those announced by the IEBC after a failure of the electronic system meant they had to be delivered by hand.
At the time, the IEBC denied Odinga’s accusation of electoral fraud.
Odinga is now the flagbearer of the opposition National Super Alliance coalition and is seen as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s closest challenger in the August election.
While the 2013 vote passed relatively peacefully, more than 1,200 people were killed in 2007 after Odinga called for protests following the election that year which later degenerated into ethnic-based violence.
At the time, electoral authorities had abruptly stopped tallying votes and announced then-incumbent president Mwai Kibaki as the winner.
(This story corrects date of election to Aug. 8 not Aug. 10)
Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Gareth Jones