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Confusion and violence mar party nominations

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by MzalendoHalisi, Nov 17, 2007.

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    MzalendoHalisi JF-Expert Member

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    Confusion and violence mar party nominations

    Story by SATURDAY NATION Team
    Publication Date: 11/17/2007
    Chaos, violence, delays and claims of vote-buying on Friday marred the nomination of parliamentary and civic candidates by the three main parties contesting the December 27 General Election.

    Voters help an ODM civic aspirant to jump over a fence at the party headquarters yesterday to protest over delayed nominations. Officials of various parties blamed heavy rains for delays in the nominations which were also marred by violence and poor organisation. Photo/PHOEBE OKALL
    Supporters of the PNU, ODM and ODM-K across the country complained about delays in starting the nomination, lack of voting materials and disorganisation.

    All the major parties had left their nominations until the last day in the hope of stemming defections by those dissatisfied with the exercise.

    But the strategy turned into a nightmare, with some stations going without polling materials for more than half the day.

    Ballot papers

    Violence was reported in Westlands, Ugenya, Kanduyi, Amagoro, Bondo and Mt Elgon.

    In Malindi, six ODM aspirants Gideon Mung’aro, Justin Baya, Karisa Fagio, Athman Seif, Edward Karani and George Mweru decided to print their own ballot papers after waiting in vain for the ballot papers to be delivered. They quickly moved to a cyber cafe to design the papers only for the ballot papers to arrive at midday.

    There were some smiles for Cabinet minister David Mwiraria when two of his rivals stepped down to allow the Environment minister to be nominated unopposed as the PNU candidate in Imenti North.

    In Western Province, Cabinet minister Moses Akaranga was given PNU tickets for the Sabatia constituency seat.

    Two victims of violence were on Friday night fighting for their lives.

    The two, Mr Pascal Okiru and Mr Ipara Onyango were taken to hospital by police after supporters of outgoing Amagoro MP Sospeter Ojaamong and those supporting his rival in ODM, Mr Albert Ekirapa clashed.

    Four presiding officers were also injured in the process as irate supporters attacked them on grounds that they were favouring one of the aspirants.

    Many aspirants are likely to be locked out of the elections after ECK chairman Samuel Kivuitu declared that the commission would not accept names of candidates nominated after Friday’s deadline.

    The commission was expected to issue a statement dismissing reports that it had extended the deadline to midday today.

    Aspirants and voters across the country blamed their party headquarters for failing to prepare adequately for the nominations and expressed fears that the most popular candidates may not get their names on the ballot papers come December 27.

    And in Westlands constituency, Nairobi, scores of people were injured when supporters outgoing MP Fred Gumo fought sporadic battles with those of his ODM rival, Mr Amin Walji. The two aspirants differed over the mode of nominations with Mr Gumo preferring the queue system while Mr Walji rooted for secret ballot.

    “A fight ensued leading to the destruction of voting materials at a polling station in Parklands ward,” said one witness.

    Mr Moses Ogola, the presiding officer said Mr Walji’s supporters stormed his office and destroyed everything.

    Injured in skirmishes

    More cases of violence were also reported in Ugenya constituency where outgoing MP Stephen Ondiek and a presiding officer were injured in skirmishes as an aspirant for the seat, Mr Steve Mwanga and his supporters protested at the failure to include his name on the ballot papers. He stormed a polling station, grabbed the ballot papers and threw them in a pool of water.

    In Mt Elgon, ODM nominations were cancelled after five people, including a returning officer, were injured. Local ECK coordinator Jeniffer Mbatiany said the chaos broke out in Kopsiro division of the clashes-hit district. Ms Mbatiany said some people had attempted to burn ballot papers at the Kapsokwony headquarters.

    However, PNU and ODM Kenya said that their nominations took off without hitches in most parts of the country although they were delayed for hours in many areas.

    ODM’s elections board blamed the delays on heavy rains.

    The party’s elections board secretary Josephine Kuluo said incidents of violence and irregularities had been reported and they had set up a command centre to “deal with them as they arise.”

    The board cancelled the morning exercise in Makadara, Dagoretti and Kasarani and ordered a repeat from 5 pm due to inadequate voting materials.

    PNU’s elections board secretary Ken Nzioka said the exercise took off as scheduled although reports from the field showed otherwise. However, he attributed the delays in some places to the rains that pounded parts of the country in the morning.

    “The nominations are going on well in the whole country although there are several delays. The ballot papers for Nairobi, Central and part of Eastern provinces arrived late due to the weather conditions,” he said.

    In ODM- K secretary general Mutula Kilonzo said the exercise had gone on well in most parts of the country although it was disrupted by rains in some areas. He singled out Kibwezi constituency where the car ferrying materials from Nairobi broke down.

    “In my capacity as the secretary general, I have allowed them to conduct the exercise tomorrow (today),” he said.

    He said there have been reported cases of infiltration in some areas that he declined to name.

    In Rift Valley Province, police arrested South Rift ODM elections co-ordinator Sirere Koikai on claims that he was found printing Narok South nomination ballot papers. CID officers went to a cyber cafe where complainants claimed Mr Koikai had been seen typesetting the papers.

    Police confiscated a copy of the ballot papers from a computer.

    In Kuresoi, supporters of outgoing MP Moses Cheboi and those of his rival, Mr Zakayo Cheruiyot clashed even as the exercise started late. At Olenguruon, a group of irate supporters burnt ballot papers claiming that the returning officer had been compromised.

    In Central Province, a PNU presiding officer in Kieni was also arrested last evening with hundreds of ballot papers.

    The officer was spotted hiding the papers near Mweiga Catholic Hall where tallying of all the votes from the entire constituency was to be conducted.

    In the three districts of South Nyanza— Migori, Kuria and Rongo — supporters of various aspirants claimed the delay in the delivery of the ballot papers was part of a wider scheme to vote in unpopular candidates. They thronged the Migori District headquarters where the delayed material had been delivered by a Kenya Bus Service bus and threatened to attack anybody who attempted to rig the elections.

    In Bungoma, police stepped in to stop a two-hour fight between ODM and PNU supporters as the former said that they could allow the latter to go on with their nominations.

    By noon, impatient ODM members started leaving stations in protest over the delay.

    PNU nominations were also marred by confusion as the party headquarters failed to send clerks to conduct the exercise. Although the Electoral Commission officers were on the ground, there were no ballot papers until midday.

    Outgoing Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi said: “There is a lot of disorganisation in most stations and incidents of violence have been reported. The PNU headquarters is to blame for this mess.”

    In Wundanyi, the nominations nearly turned chaotic when Narc Kenya aspirants Mwanyengela Ngali attempted to declare himself the sole candidate. But the Kanu aspirant, Mr David Mkalla, arrived with his supporters soon after.

    In Kirinyaga Central, police ejected an agent for former State House Comptroller Matere Keriri from Thaita polling station after he was confronted by supporters of the outgoing MP, Mr Daniel Karaba, who accused him of bribing voters.

    In the neighbouring Gichugu, delays caused confusion among voters who had started streaming to polling stations as early as 6 am.

    In Runyenjes, outgoing MP Nyaga Wambora and assistant minister Cecily Mbarire traded accusations over claims of rigging.

    Claims of bribery and irregularities also clouded the PNU exercise in Tetu constituency forcing Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, the outgoing MP, to threaten to withdraw from the nominations.

    Prof Wangari was furious that one of the aspirants was dishing bundles of money to voters at polling stations.

    In Kericho, irate voters burnt more than 5,000 ODM ballot papers that were being transported in a private car to an unknown destination.

    In Wajir South, one of the aspirants for the ODM ticket was accused of taking off with the ballot boxes after colluding with one of the nominations supervisors.

    Fellow aspirants led by Mohammed Haji Dahir petitioned the headquarters to nullify the results.