During the summer of 2017, election season put all eyes on Kenya. Although a decade ago, the unprecedented violence of the 2007 elections that left an estimated 1,400 people dead remains in the memory of the Kenyan people. Given this tragic recollection, apprehension was high going into this election season. The two main rivals, Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of the first post-independence leader, Jomo Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, and Raila Odinga, son of Odinga Odinga, a Luo, are no strangers to conflict. Their tribal identities were divided long ago by colonialists and their families are long-standing political rivals furthering divisions among some of the largest tribes in Kenya.
The two politicians went head to head this election cycle and the results shocked the nation. While violence did not erupt amongst the public prior to the release of poll results, an Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) official Chris Msando was discovered tortured and killed a little over a week before the election. Despite this shocking event, the Kenyan people voted peacefully and on time. Kenyatta won 54% of the vote to Odinga’s 44% in a tight race.
However, violence broke out the day after the results were released, leaving 24 dead. Odinga’s team claimed that the online tallying system “lacked integrity” and therefore did not properly count the votes. The death of Chris Msando further compounded a lack of faith in the legitimacy of the election results. Odinga’s team then petitioned the supreme court for a recount. In 2013, Odinga’s team made a similar petition to the court based on claims of voter fraud, which was rejected. This time, however, the court decided that the basis of the petition was legitimate enough to warrant a complete nullification of the election results on September 1st.