Hello readers, welcome back to my blog.
If you managed to read my post yesterday about trade policy and the ideas of absolute and comparative advantage, I hope you found this worthwhile and now understand the economics behind international trade, as well as how economies function.
In this post I thought I would discuss the announcement that was made, just today, that Kenya’s Supreme Court has nullified and cancelled the country’s 8th August election in a landmark decision, calling for a rerun within 60 days. If you have been reading some of my other posts on development and corruption, or have read my EPQ, you will have noticed that many of my case studies and examples are of Kenya. If you are wondering why I place such a big interest and emphasis on Kenya as opposed to other similar African nations, it’s because I have active family connections there and I like to discuss the country’s current affairs and relevant economic issues, having visited the country a number of times and witnessing first hand the issues of corruption, poverty and instability. I will briefly outline the nature of Kenyan elections and will explain exactly why this has happened. Although I had planned to discuss something very different in this post, I could not refrain from posting about such a shocking issue. That’s one of the reasons why I find economics interesting; things are always dynamic, new and unexpected issues arise every day, and it’s down to economists to look further and understand why, how and what should be done to control the economy and regain stability.
For those of you who are unaware of how the elections are done in Kenya, I can assure you that it’s not like England, where everyone agrees to have controlled debates, well not everyone (Theresa May?!), discusses issues in a stable environment with a clear cut polling system. In Kenya there is usually violence, corruption on an extreme level with many allegations that the outcomes are fixed, as well as riots, muggings and murders, whereby many citizens attempt to show their frustrations with the current set up.
So what actually happened?
The ruling comes after opposition candidate Raila Odinga filed a petition to the court, claiming President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election win was fraudulent. Supreme Court Chief Justice David Maraga said today that the election “was not conducted in accordance with constitution”, and declared it “invalid, null and void”. He said the commission had committed irregularities “in the transmission of results”, adding that the court would provide details in a full judgment within 21 days. On a side note, I couldn’t help but notice that the supreme court chief is called Justice. Lets hope he does get Justice for what has been revealed. He said the verdict was backed by four of the six Supreme Court judges. The announcement drew cheers from opposition supporters both inside and outside the courtroom. The court ruling did not attribute any blame to President Kenyatta’s party or campaign. 400 international election observers monitored the election, including former US Secretary of State John Kerry.
East Africa’s biggest economy has a history of disputed elections. A row over the 2007 poll, which Odinga challenged after being declared loser, was followed by weeks of ethnic bloodshed in which more than 1,200 were killed. Mr Odinga said the ruling marked “a historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension for the people of the continent of Africa”. He added that he had “no faith at all in the electoral commission as currently constituted” and called for the prosecution of its members. President Kenyatta, in a televised address, said that it was “important to respect the rule of law even if you disagree with the Supreme Court ruling”. He called for unity, saying: “Your neighbour will still be your neighbour, regardless of what has happened… My primary message today to every single Kenyan is peace. Let us be people of peace. President Kenyatta who thought he had defeated his challenger by 1.4m votes (9.5%) will now be dragged through the courts.
Mr Odinga had initially refused to challenging the results, arguing that the supreme court had proved itself to support the current president and after it rejected his petition five years ago to contest Kenyatta’s first election victory. It appears he changed his mind, due to international pressures and after at least 28 of his supporters were killed by police during violent protests.
Already the Kenyan shilling has weakened by 0.44% against the dollar and whatever the consequences of the decisions it is clear that the supreme court has made legal and political history in Africa by making a ruling once believed to be unthinkable, one that could embolden other courts on the continent to follow suit.