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Kenyan Election Ruling: Opondo Slams Uganda’s “Unprepared” Judiciary

Yesterday’s unprecedented nullification of Kenya’s flawed presidential vote gave her immediate neighbours, the nations across the continent and beyond something to ponder.

Across the globe the Kenyan judiciary has been praised for affirming its independence, defending the integrity of Kenya’s electoral process and bolstering the confidence of voters.

In Uganda, the spotlight is now being shone on the judiciary, largely revealing the contrasts therein with the Kenyan counterparts.

Analyses so far, of the historic Kenyan Supreme Court ruling, both from government and the opposition in Uganda seems to reflect praises to the Kenya’s judiciary, but also sentiments that perhaps the Ugandan courts have been toothless and unprepared when faced with such serious  decisions.

Uganda‘s main opposition figure Col. Dr Kizza Besigye termed the court ruling as “momentous.”

He said in the two attempts he made at overturning results of the botched elections of 2001 and 2006, the Supreme Court, just like that of Kenya, found glaring cases of abuse of the constitution and electoral laws, but shied away from annulling the results.

Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo this morning expressed his discontent with Uganda’s Judiciary, terming them as “unprepared.”

He noted that unlike in Uganda, the Kenyan Supreme Court led by Chief Justice David Maraga took time to prepare for the election petition.

“Justice Maraga, before he became Chief Justice, had chaired a judiciary subcommittee on election petitions. For three years they were auditing electoral processes in Kenya with the view of making election petitions better in the future,” Opondo told the Capital Gang talk show.

The Kenyan judiciary as an institution, Opondo stressed, was much more prepared than Uganda’s.

“Since we started direct presidential elections in 1996, in each one of them we have had election petitions, and parliamentary petitions.  But our judiciary to the best of my knowledge have not had any retreats or at least a semi-permanent committee to look into the major trends in our petitions so that they may handle them expeditiously.”

While there are things beyond the control of the judiciary, such as ensuring implementation of the various recommendations that Supreme Court judges  have made to government  in the past in bettering Uganda‘s electoral system; Opondo says there are other things they could do which are in their control.

For instance he said, they could have gone out of their way to seek more evidence than the litigants provide the as the Kenyan judges did.

The Kenyan Supreme Court judges appointed a team of IT experts who examined Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission servers and forms 34A, 34B and 34C that were used to declare Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of the August 8 election.

The team’s findings — which among others unearthed evidence of possible hacking of the IEBC servers — are believed to have been the cornerstone of the court’s decision.

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