Supreme Court Announces Timelines for Challenging Presidential Results

  • Martha Koome during her swearing in on Friday, May 21, at State House.
    Martha Koome during her swearing in on Friday, May 21, at State House.
    PSCU
  • Chief Justice Martha Koome on Sunday, August 7, released the presidential election petition timelines, as the Supreme Court readies itself to handle disputes that may emerge from the election slated for Tuesday, August 9. 

    According to Koome, Presidential candidates will have only 7 days to file the petition challenging the election upon the declaration of the official results.

    The 7-day timeline is provided under the current constitution and Supreme Court presidential election petition Rules published in 2017.

    The regulations detail the contents of the petition - such as the name and address of the petitioner, date when the election in dispute was conducted, date of declaration of results and the ground on which the petition is presented.

    undated image of Judiciary entrance of the Supreme Court building in Nairobi, Kenya
    Supreme Court building in Nairobi, Kenya
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    After filing the petition, the petitioner will have 24 hours to serve the parties in the case. The petitioner will also be required within 6 hours of petitioning to serve the respondents in the case with the petition through electronic means, nationwide circulation of newspapers or serving it directly to the respondents.

    The President of the Supreme Court further directed that upon parties being served, they will have 4 days to file their responses.  They may be accompanied by replying affidavits sworn by the respondents and any witnesses, setting out the substance of the evidence relied on.

    If the parties request specific orders in the case, they should do so within 24 hours from the date of filing a response to the petition as stipulated under the Supreme Court presidential election petition rules released in 2017. 

    Consequently, petitioners have a timeline of 24 hours after requesting the orders. The requests, known as interlocutory applications, require court approval that helps to ensure that a fair trial occurs. 

    Third parties or friends of the court are also required to file and serve an application within one day from the date of filing a response to the petition. 

    A pre-trial conference will be held eight days from the date of filing the petition as provided under Koome's notice of the timelines. After the pre-trial conference, the hearing of the petition starts immediately. 

    The Supreme Court will determine the petition within 14 days from the date of filing - in line with the constitutional requirement meant to ensure such petitions are resolved in good time. 

    The Supreme Court of Kenya is established under article 163 of the constitution and it is the apex of the Judiciary tasked with the final arbitration of disputes in Kenya. It also has solo jurisdiction over any disputes arising out of the presidential election. 

    Supreme Court Judges during a past court hearing
    Supreme Court Judges during a past court hearing
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