Maina Kiai: The man whose case has swayed presidential petitions

Maina Kiai. In the last few weeks we’ve heard this name more times that we could count. From the day the petitions were filed all through to the hearing and finally the judgment… So just who is Maina Kiai and what’s this case that’s always referenced?

Maina Kiai is a Kenyan lawyer and renowned human rights activist who co-founded the unofficial Kenya Human Rights Commission in 1992. Kiai has been known to having dedicated his career to human rights activism. He went to become the Executive Director of the International Council on Human Rights Policy in 2010 to 2011. In Kenya, Kiai supported political reforms aimed at combating corruption and fighting impunity especially in the 2008 PEV. His work is internationally recognized having won him the Freedom Award in 2014 from Freedom House. Among other winners of the same award include Dalai Lama the highest spiritual leader and former head of state of Tibet.

The Maina Kiai case of 2017, whose 2022 presidential petition was founded on determined that election results at the polling station were final and could only be altered by the Supreme Court. Back in 2017, a judgement by the Court of Appeal in IEBC vs Maina Kiai and 5 others affirmed a ruling that had previously been made by the High Court.

The context in the Maina Kiai case where the IEBC chairman went ahead and ‘ignored’ the results from the polling station, hence Maina Kiai’s case had the results from the polling station final.

“Tt is declared that the presidential election results declared by the constituency returning officer are final in respect of the constituency, and can only be questioned by the election court… The lowest voting unit and the first level of declaration of presidential election results is the polling station. The declaration form containing those results is a primary document and all other forms subsequent to it are only tallies of the original and final results recorded at the polling station.” reads in part the ruling made on 23rd June 2017, barely two months before the 2017 presidential election.

Did the first and second petitioner in the 2022 presidential petition benefit from the Maina Kiai case given their petition was founded on it? In all 9 issues of determination by the Supreme Court of Kenya, the petitioners did not capture any irregularities and illegalities of such magnitude as to affect the final results of a presidential election. The same case was. used after the 2017 general election to overturn Uhuru Kenyatta’s and William Ruto’s win.

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