No constitutional crisis if Kenya polls delayed

NAIROBI: Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta will remain president until a new leader is sworn in, the country's attorney general said Friday, seeking to assuage fears of a constitutional crisis if elections are delayed further.

Questions have mounted over the status of the government after the Supreme Court annulled Kenyatta's victory in August's presidential election due to widespread irregularities.

A planned re-run for Oct 17 has already been delayed once – the vote is now set for Oct 26 – prompting fears of a constitutional crisis if the polls are not held within the 60-day limit that expires Oct 31.

"I wish to state categorically that there is no room for doubt as to what the constitution provides," Attorney General Githu Muigai said at a press conference, called to clarify the law on the issue.

"From the day a general election is declared to the day a new president or a re-elected president is sworn in, government continues without lacuna, without any void."

Muigai said Kenyatta would retain full executive authority, but would not be permitted to make certain appointments or dismissals.

"Even in the very unlikely event that the election wasn't held on the 60th day, that does not delegitimize the constitutional order," said Muigai.

He said there were various methods of expanding that constitutional time period under the guidance of the Supreme Court.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) faces a mammoth task in organising a fresh election in a little more than a month after being excoriated by the top court for its bungling of the Aug vote.

The opposition, which accused the commission of rigging the poll in favour of Kenyatta, has demanded that top officials be sacked and that providers of election materials and technology be changed.

The Supreme Court said the IEBC had announced Kenyatta's victory over opposition leader Raila Odinga without properly verifying the result, outlining a tallying process that had gone "opaquely awry".

Kenyatta in turn accused the court of staging a judicial "coup", saying it had undermined democracy by arguing that "numbers don't matter, it is processes that matter."

The botched election has plunged the country into its biggest political crisis since a disputed poll in 2007, which led to violence that left more than 1,100 people dead. — AFP