Millions of Kenyans went to the polls on Tuesday and with the results more or less out, the potential of disputes and petitions is rising. The judiciary is the next step for most of them.
To this, the judiciary has sought to assure Kenyans that it is ready to handle any disputes or petitions arising from the elections.
Chief Justice David Maraga says that the halls of justice have activated all the necessary mechanisms to handle the electoral petitions.
One such measure is that over 400 judges are on standby to handle any election petitions as they arise.
Additionally, the Judicial Review Commission revealed that all other petitions apart from the presidential petition would be handled by the lower courts and the high court.
Only the Supreme Court would handle the presidential petitions.
For the presidential poll the petitioner is expected to file a petition within seven days of declaration of the presidential results and has two days to serve the respondents thereafter.
The respondents have four days to file submissions before a pretrial hearing which comes 8 days after filing of the petition.
Immediately after the pretrial conference, a hearing is then set to begin and a determination delivered within fourteen days of filing of the petition.
What that means is that a presidential petition may only take at least two weeks before determination.
It is not all agreeable for the aspirants, as the judiciary had earlier gazetted stringent measures to ‘curb’ the number of petitions and weed out ‘time wasters’.
The new rules gazetted and circulated in June have those challenging the presidential election paying a security of 1 million shillings and a further 500,000 as filing fee-non refundable.
The new rules are a replacement to the elections-parliamentary and county- petition rules 2013 and state that an appeal from the magistrate’s court will be heard and determined by the high court within a period of 3 months.
After each petition, any party that files a response will need to pay 20,000 shillings for the Supreme court to consider the response plus an additional 4,000 shillings as filing notice on intention to oppose the election.
For any petitions on the gubernatorial, senatorial, women representative and parliamentary elections, a fee of 30,000 shillings will be paid to the high court.
For the MCA’s the fee will be 15, 000 shillings.
These amounts are independent of a 100,000 shilling security deposit which is refundable.
The opposition coalition NASA has not only termed the election results as fraudulent but has gone ahead to declare themselves the winners of the hotly contested presidential election.
The courts, pundits say, are the next logical step for the disgruntled to resolve any grievances they may have from the process.
A number of candidates have already conceded defeat even as the results came in, but equally, others have refused to accept the results and have claimed the election was unfair.
Meru governor Peter Munya, who was felled by Senator Kiraitu Murungi is one such leader who has refused to concede his loss in the election.
Murang’a gubernatorial candidate Moses Mwangi has also disputed the results that have incumbent governor Mwangi wa Iria ahead, joining the likes of Mr. Munya, Kisumu governor Jack Ranguma among others, who have refused to accept the IEBC’s results in their respective turfs.
The legal avenue appears to be the only options available for the dissenters, and with this the courts are set for a large wave of petitions coming their way.