Kenya’s appeals court on Thursday quashed a ruling cancelling a contract to print presidential ballot papers, a victory for the electoral commission less than three weeks before general elections.
The decision comes two weeks after the high court ordered the electoral commission to start a tender process from scratch, arguing a lack of transparency in the awarding of the printing contract to a Dubai-based firm.
The pending court case raised tensions in the lead-up to what is set to be a close battle between incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga on August 8, with observers on high alert for possible violence.
However, the five-judge bench at the appeals court quashed the ruling.
It said Odinga’s opposition coalition NASA had failed to prove that there were links between the Dubai-based firm and Kenyatta.
In addition, “the trial court erred when it imposed requirement for public participation”, said the judges.
August’s elections come a decade after politically-motivated ethnic violence left over 1,100 people dead following a disputed vote in 2007 between Odinga and former president Mwai Kibaki.
Kenyatta and Odinga previously went head-to-head in the last election in 2013, with Kenyatta winning with a knife-edge 50.07 percent of the vote in the first round.
Heated campaigning has seen Kenyatta accusing Odinga of using all means to create a political crisis and incite Kenyans against each other, often harking back to the violence of 2007.
Meanwhile Odinga says he is “poised for an outright win” and insists Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party is planning to rig the elections.
Voting in Kenya takes place largely along tribal lines, with tensions fanned by what is seen as a winner-takes-all political scene.
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