1 December 2012

Kenya: Kongowea Youths Vent Anger Over Voter Transfer

Angry residents in Nyali constituency yesterday threatened to burn a public service vehicle for importing voters from Changamwe constituency.

The youth deflated the front tyre of the matatu that had transported a group of about 11 women from Mikindani. The women registered as voters at Uwanja wa Mbuzi in Kongowea.

One of the youth, identified as Beka, and who admitted to police that he deflated the driver's seat tyre, was arrested and taken to Nyali police station.

However, there was confusion over the matter with voter registration assistant Mariam Salim, who is in charge of the Uwanja wa Mbuzi centre saying voter importation has been allowed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

"I was called by the officer manning the centre after the incident but we had received information from our superiors that voters can be imported so long as they vote at the centre where they registered," said Salim.

Salim said voter importation was banned initially at the start of the registration but that that had changed two days ago after a meeting at the IEBC headquarters.

However, the commission's public relations officer Andrew Limo appeared to contradict Salim saying the practice is prohibited. He defined voter importation as the facilitation of registration of voters from a different constituency by an interested person.

"It is very difficult. Voter importation is not allowed. But at the same time, the law says one can register and vote anywhere in the country," said Limo.

One of the concerned residents, Abeid Hadi said the women at the centre of the dispute were hosted by a resident who is said to be a relative of one of the aspirants for the Mombasa senatorial seat.

The driver of the matatu, which plies the Mikindani-Docks route, said he was approached by the women who wanted to be transported to Kongowea.

"I could not refuse because what I was looking for was money as this is a business," said Mwangangi Kilunda adding that he ran into trouble when he returned to pick up his fares. "A group of youths started shouting at me. They took away the car key and deflated the tyre," said Kilunda.

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