15 March 2014

Kenya: Rough Road Ahead for Ex-Governor Munya

Immediate former Meru governor Peter Munya could be the first governor to lose in a by-election if the public mood and political climate in the county is anything to go by.

News of nullification of the election of Peter Munya as the governor spread like bushfire across the county and many neighbourhoods burst into celebration.

Munya's trouble began soon after his election when allegations of election rigging arose in South Imenti Constituency at the Kaguru tallying station.

It took the intervention of Senator Kiraitu Murungi, Women Representative Florence Kajuju, IEBC officials and other leaders to resolve the issue.

However, the same allegations resurfaced during the hearing of the petition at the high court sitting in Meru. A voter, Dickson Mwenda filed the petition under sponsorship of Munya's rival Dr Kilemi Mwiria, who lost to Munya by a close margin of nearly 4,000 votes.

The South Imenti returning officer Kennedy Onditi while appearing as a witness for Munya confirmed that errors occurred during entering of the results in forms 35 and 36 but dismissed the possibility of the final results of the election being altered.

Onditi said it is not a serious offence for a tallying officer to increase or decrease a candidate's votes.

"I don't know if such an act would bring the integrity of the electoral process into dispute," he said, when he was being cross examined by Muthomi Thiankolu, the petitioner's lead counsel then.

Onditi further said that failure by a presiding officer to sign form 35 is not a serious electoral offence.

He further stunned many in court when he said he would not be concerned to countercheck on multiple corrections in forms 36 which were not countersigned and wouldn't know if the candidates or voters would raise queries over the alterations.

"Such things don't impinge on the integrity of elections and I wouldn't be worried to have a form that is not signed by a single agent," said Onditi.

Governor Peter Munya has also had his own sizeable share of criticism raging from failure to pick calls from MPs, failing to involve other elected leaders and voters in making key decisions regarding the county.

However, in the last year Munya has achieved a lot. He has established women, youth and business community Saccos, initiated the employment of ECDE teachers and secured a low interest loan of more than Sh800 million from the Exim Bank of Malaysia to tarmac 300 kilometers of road within the county. He has also overseen rehabilitation of more than 300 street children.

Days before his election was nullified, Munya had flagged off lorries of low-cost fertilizer which was to be distributed to farmers across the county. He also spearheaded the distribution of medicine and medical equipment worth more than Sh200 million in various sub district hospitals across the county.

Having sat in the council of governors as their lawyer, Munya will be remembered for his open criticism to the national government, transition authority, National Assembly and the senate for their deliberations which he felt were jeopardising devolution.

When he was not accusing Treasury of skewed disbursement of funds, he was criticising the county commissioner and MPs for interfering with his work.

Under the Youth, Culture and Gender docket, Munya initiated a Youth Talent Academy and 100 youths benefitted.

The drama that ensued after Munya took office proved that some leaders got bundled up in the same parties not because they had similar ideologies and vision but for their own interests.

Immediately after being elected, the North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood who belongs to Munya's APK party started poking holes into the governor's character alleging that he does not pick his calls.

After Munya's election was nullified, eight out of the ten MPs in Meru led by Rahim and Chairman of the Meru Parliamentary Association Mithika Linturi came out to say they will campaign against the election of Peter Munya in case of a by election.

"As nine leaders we have discussed and are happy with the ruling apart from Central Imenti MP Gideon Mwiti who is unhappy," said Rahim.

Rahim said he is not afraid of being thrown out of the party for opposing Munya. He said he is not afraid to go back to the ballot if he loses after being thrown out of the party.

He said before the by-election campaigns begin, he will request the Anti-Corruption Commission to audit all the books regarding county finances and if Munya is found to have misappropriated funds, he will go to court to have him blocked from contestimg.

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