27 July 2013

Kenya: Junior Set to Win Makueni By a Landslide

Photo: Mutula Kilonzo Jr
CORD candidate Mutula Kilonzo Jr. with the coalition's leaders former PM Raila Odinga and former VP Kalonzo Musyoka.

MAKUENI by-election appeared inevitably headed back to the courts as Wiper candidate Mutula Kilonzo registered an early lead last night.

By the time of going to the press, Junior had stretched his lead by 110,000 votes. The highly litigious Mwau did not wait for the poll to conclude to announce he was headed to the courts. He made the announcement early in the morning after casting his vote at Tangu Primary School at 6:45am.

Mwau said the process was "flawed from the word go." He said Junior's embossed sticker stood out among the names of the other candidates giving him undue advantage. "In order to develop democratic elections in this country, such violations must be taken to a court of law," Mwau said.

He said both the media and the IEBC had pre- rigged the by-election by favoring Junior. He accused the media of failing to provide fair coverage to all candidates.

Mwau said the IEBC Commissioners should be surcharged for being irresponsible, inefficient and corrupt as this was the only way to ensure elections in the country were democratic, free and fair.

IEBC chair Ahmed Issack was optimistic by the outcome of the poll which he said was done well and did not have any mishaps.

One person was however arrested after he was caught buying identity cards from voters in Ndueni in Mbooni West District and locked up at Kikima police station.

Another one who was arrested in the same place had photocopies of IEBC forms S60 bearing the names and contacts of voters. Area police boss James Barasa confirmed the arrests.

There was a high security presence at all the polling stations which opened at 6.30am and voters seem satisfied with the exercise including Junior who voted at Uma Polling Station in Mbooni at exactly 11am.

The station is a few kilometers from the home of his late father Mutula Kilonzo Senior who died on April 27 occasioning the by-election.

Junior said despite a few hitches, the process was handled professionally by the electoral body as opposed to the March 4 general election. He was confident of winning by a huge margin.

In some polling stations however, voters were handed ballot papers without his sticker. These were however recalled and replaced with ballots embossed with Junior's name,party and symbol.

Jubilee's Philip Kaloki cast his vote at the Ngwata polytechnic polling centre in Kambu, Kibwezi East at noon and was also optimistic of winning the seat. Kaloki who defected to Jubilee from Wiper party immediately after the conclusion of the March 4, General had wooed voters by promising to 'take' them to the government.

Other candidates in yesterday's race are Urbanus Katumo (Independent) and Jane Kitundu (Labour Party of Kenya) also cast their votes yesterday. They both hoped to win the race.

The by-election was the first testing ground for both Jubilee and Cord. For Cord, it was about reaffirming it's popularity and ensuring it did not lose its seat to Jubilee. For the latter, winning the senate seat would mean getting a foothold in a region which has emerged as a Cord stronghold.

The by-election is expected to set the tone for the numerous by-elections that might arise following the determination of the numerous petitions which are being considered by the courts and which have to be concluded by September.

Ndhiwa MP Agostino Neto was cautious about the outcome but was confident that Junior would win. He said Junior's win was "a good indication that Cord is still the coalition to beat in the 2017 polls

The election was marked with low voter turnout even though there were numerous polling stations. There were shorter queues in most of the polling centres in Kilome, Kibwezi East and Kibwezi West constituencies unlike the meandering lines that were witnessed during the March 4 general elections.

Governor Kivutha Kibwana attributed the low turn out to the fact that yesterday was a market day for majority of the trading centers in the area.

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