But by 2016, both cases had collapsed, following what one judge called “a troubling incidence of witness interference and intolerable political meddling.”
Other Kenyan elections have resulted in courtroom disputes that ended with judges overturning the results. And days before the last poll, in 2017, a senior election commission official was found brutally murdered in a remote wood outside Nairobi.
The case was never solved.
This time, worries about widespread, election-related violence are lower, human rights monitors say. But in recent weeks, some residents in ethnically mixed areas, especially in the Rift Valley which saw the worst unrest in previous polls, have voluntarily moved to the safety of larger towns.
Much will depend, though, on the final result. Kenya’s election commission has one week to declare a winner, although analysts expect that the losing side will lodge a legal challenge, prolonging the contest.
One bright spot, amid the mudslinging, is the potential for a sea change in the corrosive ethnic politics that have dominated Kenya for decades. The shifting alliances mean that, for the first time, millions of voters are expected to cross ethnic lines, especially around Mount Kenya where, for the first time, Kikuyus will have to vote for a candidate from another group.
“I love that man,” Michael Muigai, a self-identified “hustler,” said after the rally for Mr. Ruto in Kangari.