18 January 2013

Kenya: Victors, Losers Lock Horns Over Nominations

Nairobi — The crowds of people cheering or jeering were consistent at the Nyayo Stadium basket ball gymnasium, the venue of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Nairobi tallying centre following party nominations on Thursday.

It was filled with people ferried from Starehe, Mathare, Embakasi North, Embakasi West and Makadara constituencies waiting for their results to be announced, explaining the rows of buses parked outside.

A group from Embakasi North held centre stage and was being led in a victory song by a gentleman clad in an orange straw hat. Their candidate had won.

Not far off voices were raised not in song but in frustration, "they have denied our ward representative entry," an elderly lady explains, "he might be small in stature but he is our leader."

Two police officers were trying to keep irate supporters at bay. They were the only thing standing between the ODM Nairobi county nomination coordinator, Jackline Kohanya, and the irate crowd.

The situation became even more volatile when a group of 50 entered the hall chanting and holding placards that read 'NO JERRY, NO RAILA.'

Jerry Obila vied for the Embakasi West Member of Parliament (MP) nomination but lost to Brian Weke.

"Weke's victory is clear," Kohanya said, "that is when you are judging by the results."

The results, Obila's supporters insisted, were not credible, "There are still uncollected ballot boxes in Umoja. How can they have declared Weke the winner?"

Soon the two policemen were not able to control the crowd baying for Kohanya's blood. I heard someone beside me say, "You'd think that was the way to heaven."

I see a group of about a dozen policemen wielding sticks and wearing hard hats enter the hall and soon the aggressive supporters turn docile.

There is a near stampede as the supporters push and shove to get out the door. They continue their demonstrations on Langata road.

Pretty soon, the hall seemed haunted as the wind rustled the ballot papers strewn on the floor in the empty hall.

It didn't take long for the deathly quiet to turn into a raucous once majority of the policemen left the building.

The results from Kibra constituency arrived and the women in the building quickly make a grab for the plastic buckets that accompanied them.

Buckets the outgoing Kisumu MP Shakeel Shabbir did not consider an appropriate substitute for ballot boxes, "What's the point of sending plastic buckets from here to Kisumu? We could have just as well bought plastic buckets in Kisumu."

Shabbir had come all the way from Kisumu in search of his nomination certificate.

In his pocket were the results from Kisumu East showing him to have clinched the ODM MP's nomination.

Unfortunately, his trip to the Nyayo national stadium was in vain. Kohanya was no longer in the hall having escaped in the melee.

"I'm going to sleep," Shabbir declared, "I've been up all night."

But he didn't leave before making his displeasure at the nomination exercise known, "We are not organised. It is not rocket science to know that you have to send to Kisumu so many ballot papers."

In irony, one of thousands of unfilled ballot papers strewn all over the Nyayo National Stadium was picked up by the wind and followed Shabbir's exit.

Copyright © 2013 Capital FM. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.