The presidential election due to take place in Kenya on Thursday has no legitimacy because of a High Court ruling that the appointment of constituency-level electoral officers were illegal, an opposition lawyer said on Wednesday.
“It would be illegal and unconstitutional for them to move ahead with the election,” lawyer James Orengo told media outside the Supreme Court after that court said it could not hear a petition to delay the election because not enough judges were available.
The High Court ruling was earlier on Wednesday, but only the Supreme Court has the power to delay elections.
Earlier, Kenya election board lawyer said that the repeat presidential election will take place as the Supreme Court was unable to hear a petition to delay it.
Lawyer Paul Muite told Kenyan television station Citizen TV: “it means elections are on tomorrow. There is no order stopping the election.”
Those who filed the petition are Khelef Khalifa, Executive Director of Muslims for Human
Rights; Samwel Mohochi, Executive Director of the International Commission of Jurists; and Nahason Kamau.
They said that the credibility of the vote is not assured, citing political interference among other concerns.
Streets around the court in downtown Nairobi were blocked by police barriers and officers in anti-riot gear.
The court, created by a 2010 constitution that followed a violent political crisis three years earlier, was due to hear several cases challenging the legality of Thursday’s election, which is being boycotted by opposition leader Raila Odinga.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who won the August election before it was annulled due to procedural irregularities, has made clear he wants the vote to go ahead although some in his party fear Odinga’s boycott will undermine the credibility of any victory.
One petition, brought by prominent human rights activist Khelef Khalifa, is calling for a delay in the vote on grounds that the election board is not sufficiently prepared.
Around 1,200 people were killed in ethnic clashes after the disputed election in 2007.
Since the August vote, nearly 50 people have been killed in the political unrest, almost all of them at the hands of the police.
Tensions have been mounting in the East African country ahead of the poll rerun, with almost daily mass protests and foreign diplomats warning a fair election cannot be guaranteed.
On Aug. 18, a senior official in the country’s electoral commission fled to the U.S. saying she had received death threats.