, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 18 – The delayed adoption of a transcription system in election courts has been cited as a key impediment to the timely resolution of poll disputes in the country.
According the Judiciary Committee on Elections (JCE) Annual Report (2017) presented to Chief Justice David Maraga recently, hand written recordings of court proceedings coupled with the shortage of typing staff led, in some cases, delay judgments in respect to election petitions.
“While it had been envisaged that election courts would be served by the transcription system, it did not work as envisaged. This meant that the gazetted election courts had to revert to hand writing of proceedings,” the report reads in part.
The Justice Msagha Mbogholi-led committee also noted in its report the negative implications the late amendments of election laws had on Electoral Disputes Resolution (EDR).
The report pointed out that by the time the National Assembly was amending the election laws on October 11; EDR rules had already been gazetted in June, the new changes making it difficult for stakeholders in the electoral process to familiarize themselves with rules of engagement ahead of a repeat presidential poll on October 26.
“It also goes against international best practices of completing amendments to electoral laws at least six months before an election,” JCE noted in its report.
“Further, the amendments meant that IEBC had to keep revising the timelines for elections that they had prepared, which gave rise to a few pre-election disputes,” the committee observed.
The committee also pointed out the failure by the National Assembly to consider some of the amendments it had fronted including a proposal to limit election appeals to one tier and extending the time within which the Supreme Court is to determine a presidential election petition from fourteen to twenty-one days.
Under the current legal framework, election petition appeals originating from the High Court have found their way to the Supreme Court with parties often appealing Court of Appeal decisions.
The Machakos gubernatorial election petition is one instance where election appeals originating from the High Court have ended up at the Supreme Court.
Governor Alfred Mutua moved to the highest court in the land after the Court of Appeal on June 8 granted his competitor’s plea to have the gubernatorial election nullified on grounds of malpractices.
Mutua’s arch-rival Wavinya Ndeti had moved to the Court of Appeal after she lost the petition at the High Court in February.