The Supreme Court has started the formal process of adjudicating over the presidential election petition filed by the National Super Alliance challenging President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory.
It convened a pre-trial conference on Saturday night whose objective was to distil the issues in contention and set the rules of engagement.
Kenyans are waiting eagerly for the ruling as it serves to determine the authentic outcome of the elections and bring to a closure a contest that has divided the country right down the middle.
At the outset, it is pertinent to underscore the caution issued earlier in the week by Chief Justice David Maraga, who warned President Kenyatta and his challenger, Raila Odinga, against commenting on the petition that is live before the court.
It is presumptive and contemptuous and brings to question their fidelity to the rule of law. Court process is sacred and parties must respect its independence.
Second, the petition is bound to go either way — one party will win and the other will lose. Parties to the suit must anticipate any outcome and socialise their followers to be ready to accept the verdict. We say so because there is already tension all round, with some parties sending signals they may not respect the court’s judgment. In a civilised State like ours and which has committed itself to the sovereignty of the Constitution, judicial decisions are binding.
Third, the Supreme Court itself is on trial. Initially, Nasa had expressed scepticism about taking the matter to the court expressly because it did not believe it can secure justice there.
And this was informed by the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that threw out volumes of evidence from the complainant, then Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord), largely on technicality without examining the substance.
The judicial discourse then was that in determining such a momentous dispute like presidential election results, the Supreme Court ought to give leverage to substance and not technicality.
With this background, the court has to reflect seriously about its role in institutionalising constitutional order; that in dispensing justice, it must solely be guided by the weight of evidence or otherwise.
Lastly, Kenyans must keep their sobriety as they follow the proceedings and await the verdict. It is at such moments that we are called to reason and give chance to the rule of law.