Kenya’s Top Court Orders Odinga, Kenyatta Silent Over Vote Case

Kenya’s Supreme Court ordered President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to refrain from discussing in public the lawsuits filed to overturn the results of the country’s March 4 elections.

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga ordered all parties to “desist from prosecuting the merits of their cases in any forum other than this court,” according to a copy of directions, which he signed with the court’s five other judges, given to reporters today in the capital, Nairobi.

The lawyers must advise their clients “about the consequences of conduct or statements that can undermine the authority of this court,” the judges wrote. The order follows public comments by Odinga and Kenyatta about the election’s outcome.

Odinga, 68, petitioned the court on March 16 to overturn Kenyatta’s victory, arguing the election process was beset by technical faults, fraud and manipulation. Kenyatta,the 51-year-old son of the country’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, won 50.07% of the ballots, just enough to avoid a runoff. The outgoing premier, whose father was the elder Kenyatta’s vice president until they fell out, got 43.3 percent.

The court has 14 days to deliver a ruling in Odinga’s case. Two other cases challenging the results have been filed and a pretrial conference will take place on March 25 for all three. Submissions by all parties must be filed two days earlier, according to the the court order.

The shilling which rose by 0.9 percent from March 4 to March 13, has since weakened by 0.3 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It close at 85.50 per dollar in Nairobi.

“There is some anxiety in the market ahead of the petition,” Nairobi-based NIC Bank Ltd. said in a note to clients today. The shilling is “expected to oscillate between 85.50 to 86.10 levels”.

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