EDITORIAL: Getting ready for poll petitions wise

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The Judiciary found itself in the eye of a storm in 2013 after the presidential election results were disputed by the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord), which subsequently challenged the outcome in the Supreme Court.

This was a precedent-setting case and the country keenly watched the proceedings and the verdict, which had far-reaching ramifications.

The court ruled that the Jubilee coalition had been validly elected and, therefore, had the mandate to take the reins of power.

We are again facing a competitive election where the results are likely to be contested at various levels.

Therefore, the Judiciary will be called upon to arbitrate and resolve disagreements.

With the benefit of hindsight, the Judiciary is now acutely aware of  the challenges ahead and the necessity to prepare adequately to deal with them.

This is precisely the statement Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu made in Mombasa this week, stating that the Judiciary expects to receive an avalanche of election petitions and has put in place systems to handle them quickly as stipulated in the law.

And there are clear indications for this.

BUNGLED PARTY NOMINATIONS

Following the bungled party nominations in February, the Judiciary found itself assailed with so many petitions that it was forced it to work throughout weekends to conclude the cases within set electoral deadlines.

So far, the Judiciary has set up a standing committee on election arbitration and we believe this has been instrumental in expediting discharge of petitions.

Yet, the outcomes of elections should ideally not be determined in the courts, but at the ballot.

In a situation where we anticipate so many petitions, something seems to be amiss.

This is a damning indictment of the electoral process inasmuch as it reveals the litigious nature of politicians; most of whom believe elections are never lost but stolen.

Even so, it is encouraging that the Judiciary has organised itself to deal with petitions.

However, the electoral process must be watertight to avert a situation where courts are inundated with petitions and become the determinants of results.

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