21 January 2013

Kenya: Chaos Rocks Nyanza Over Nominations

Photo: IRIN
Post-election violence (file photo).

At least 10 houses and shops were torched in Rodi Kopany, Homa Bay county as riots rocked Kisumu and other parts of Nyanza as ODM members yesterday protested the outcome of the party's primaries.

In Homa Bay, property of unknown value was destroyed as locals protested the declaring of Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang' the county's ODM senator candidate.

There was chaos in parts of Nyanza after word went round that some former MPs and Prime Minister Raila Odinga's sister Ruth Odinga had been declared winners in the shambolic party nominations.

Youth supporting those said to been rigged out took to the streets, blocked them and lit bonfires as they demanded that the party's National Elections Board chaired by Franklin Bett issue certificates to the true winners.

Ruth was declared winner at the Tom Mboya Labour College hall by someone, who turned out not to be the returning officer. The demonstrators said there was a plot to rig out Jack Ranguma who was the frontrunner for Kisumu governor.

Carrying banners reading "No Ranguma, No Raila" the demonstrators vowed not to let the ticket go to Ruth whom they accused of using her brother's name to clinch the party nomination.

The riots forced Bett to issue a statement in which he insisted that the party had not ratified any controversial results especially those for Kisumu.

"The board categorically states that it has not issued any information regarding the Kisumu gubernatorial contest and urges the residents of Kisumu to remain calm and maintain peace.

"The NEB says that reports in the mainstream media and information that is trending on the social media should be treated as rumours and therefore urges the public to ignore them.

"The board chairman and his entire team will issue a comprehensive statement later in the day which will also include news on the Kisumu County nominations exercise," said Bett.

Despite Bett's assurances, youth from Kondele barricaded the Kisumu-Kakamega highway. They lit bonfires at Kondele, paralysing transport in the area before armed security officers dispersed them.

"We are not happy with the manner ODM has carried out its primaries. It is unfortunate that the party simply selected its preferred candidates," said Haggai Kadiri, a protestor.

By the time Ruth was declared winner, vote counting was still ongoing in Seme, Kisumu Town West, Nyando and Muhoroni constituencies.

The protests yesterday attracted more drama and confusion as another group of voters turned out at Oile and Kibuye market in support of Adhiambo as the winner for the gubernatorial seat.

Similar protests were witnessed in Ahero, Nyando constituency where voters refuted the announcement of outgoing MP Fred Outa as the ODM winner. They said their preferred candidate Jared Okelo won the nominations.

In Muhoroni constituency, residents protested the announcement that former Education assistant minister Ayiecho Olweny had won the ODM ticket. They said James Onyango Koyoo had been denied victory.

Similar complaints also arose in Kisumu Town West constituency where outgoing MP Olago Aluoch had been declared the winner. Rosa Buyu is said to have won the ODM ticket to run for the parliamentary seat.

At Nyakwere area bordering Kisumu and Homa Bay County, voters barricaded the road to protest claims that former Rangwe MP Philip Okundi and Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang' had won the ODM ticket to run for the governor and senator respectively.

"They blocked the road and said they would only open it once their wishes are addressed," said David Okombo, a protestor. Raila's former ally Tony Gachoka asked the Prime Minister to respect the people's will.

"Even more grave is the recurrence of electoral violence. The PM must do more to end the culture of impunity in his sphere of influence. The whole world is watching Kenya in the conduct of the 2013 elections," said Gachoka.

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