17 January 2013

Kenya: Disorder, Frustrations in Nairobi Constituencies

Photo: D. Hakes/Carter Center Photos
A man has his finger dipped in ink after voting (file photo)

Nairobi — Voters on Thursday were frustrated and confused in Westlands, Kibra and Langata constituencies after ballot papers arrived late in the afternoon in almost all the polling stations.

In Kibra, the first Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ballot papers arrived in the afternoon as thousands of voters waited in winding queues to cast their votes.

Even though the ODM secretariat had pledged that there would be no direct nominations, Capital FM News confirmed that there were only gubernatorial, County Representative and Member of Parliament ballot papers.

There were no women representative and senatorial ballot papers.

"We have to let them vote using what we have. We do not have ballot papers for the women representative and the senator. Like you can see this crowd is getting anxious and we cannot keep them here," an official at one polling station said.

As late as 4pm, most of other places in Kibra constituency were yet to start voting.

However, security remained tight in most of the areas as voters expressed anger with their parties.

At Nyayo Highrise, chaos erupted when Morris Akuku an ODM candidate led a crowd of his supporters to demonstrate against the long delay in delivery of ballot boxes.

Akuku said ballot papers meant to have been taken to South B were instead ferried to Kibera.

"ODM pull up your socks, you cannot bring us ballot papers at a time when people are tired and then you bring different papers from the ones we were expecting," he complained.

However, calm was restored after a lorry packed with General Service Unit officers arrived in the area and voting started around 5pm.

By 6pm on Thursday, most ODM polling centres remained flooded with tired and determined people who were undeterred by the delays.

"Even if they bring the ballot papers at 2am, I will be here... I will wait until I vote. This card is for voting and it has to do this today," an ODM supporter at Olympic Primary in Kibra said.

In Westlands County, voters were also ready to vote as early as 6am but they had to wait until late in the afternoon when ballot materials were brought.

The National Alliance (TNA) party frustrated them even further after it postponed some of the nominations to Thursday.

"I came here at 6am, TNA said they will open at 6, where are they? Have you seen them or did they send you with the material. We are tired, it is already 11am, are they coming?" an elderly TNA member wondered.

Only the United Democratic Forum party had its polling centres open in parts of Westlands and Kibra constituencies.

Despite many pledges that nominations would be free and fair, the long delays worried many Kenyans some of whom gave up casting their vote during the nominations.

However, they may have a chance since the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission extended the deadline for handing over nominee lists from Friday to Monday.

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