21 April 2017

Kenya: Confusion Mars Jubilee Primaries in South Rift

Photo: Jeff Angote/The Nation
Deputy President William Ruto (left) and President Uhuru Kenyatta at the launch of Jubilee Party at Safaricom Stadium Kasarani in Nairobi on September 10, 2016.

Anxious Jubilee supporters in Nakuru, Narok and Laikipia counties have started losing their patience following confusion and delays that have marred the Jubilee primaries scheduled to start at 6am on Friday morning.

Voters turned up in large numbers at various polling stations expecting that balloting would take off as scheduled and proceed smoothly as promised by the party leadership.

But by 9am, voting was yet to kick off at most centres and some had not received election materials.

NAROK

In Narok, Narok East constituency Returning Officer Geoffrey Makoe called off polling in the area and asked voters to disperse.

He told voters who had turned up that voting would be held at a later date.

There was confrontation between aspirants and Jubilee Party election officials as angry and frustrated voters shouted and heckled after it emerged that the ballot papers delivered were not sufficient.

LAIKIPIA

In Laikipia, aspirants are currently holding a closed-door crisis meeting following the confusion this morning.

Laikipia gubernatorial aspirants Joshua Irungu, Thuita Mwangi and Ndiritu Muriithi were earlier today at Ndururumo High School, from where voting materials were being distributed.

Mr Mwangi and Mr Muriithi protested about insufficient ballot materials distributed to polling stations and demanded that voting be stopped.

NAKURU

In Nakuru County, agitated voters at Mau Summit Primary School, Kuresoi North, threatened to walk away and boycott the voting, which had failed to take off as scheduled.

Election materials were yet to be delivered at the polling centre by 9am on Friday.

Voters started arriving as early as 4am at some polling stations.

At Menengai High School in Nakuru Town East constituency voters queued for hours waiting to cast ballots.

Some 681 candidates are eyeing various seats.

A stiff contest is expected between incumbent Governor Kinuthia Mbugua, Lee Kinyajui, a former chairman of the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), and former Naivasha MP John Mututho.

They include three aspirants for governor, nine for woman representative, eight the for the Senate and the rest for parliamentary and ward seats.

County returning officer Jepta Rono has urged residents to remain calm, promising that the exercise will kick off soon.

Turi ward MCA aspirant Vincent Kilonzo, who had arrived at the Molo social hall to witness the distribution of election materials, complained the exercise was yet to start by 8am.

"Our agents arrived at polling stations as early as 5.30am. So far we have had no communication from the party about the delays, but we are optimistic the exercise will start soon," said Mr Kilonzo.

Security is also tight at polling stations with at least four armed officers per station.

Governor Kinuthia Mbugua is expected to vote at Tayari Primary School in Molo while his opponent Lee Kinyanjui is expected to vote at Crater Primary School in Nakuru Town East.

At the Nakuru West Secondary School polling station in Nakuru West, frustrated voters complained of delays in delivering voting materials.

"I arrived here at 7am and it is now 9am and nobody is updating us on where the voting material are," complained Nickson Ogetii.

Only construction workers were busy in the newly refurbished school.

Another voter said she had lost a lot of money as she did not open her food kiosk at 7am as always. "I was hoping to vote early and continue with my daily chores but my plan for the day has been badly disrupted," said Jemimah Kioko.

Most of the voters said they would not leave the polling station until they exercised their democratic right to elect their leaders.

"In the last general elections, I did not participate in the party primaries, but this year come rain come sunshine, I am prepared to wait and vote," said Andrew Kimani, a resident of Kaptembwa.

At the Railway polling station, long queues were observed as early as 6am.

By 9am voting materials had not been dispatched from the Menengai Social Hall in Nakuru Town East. Agents, presiding officers and security personnel were still camped at the station.

At the Koinange Primary School polling station in Nakuru Town West constituency, voters were locked outside the school gates with no voting taking place. The voters were waiting eagerly for balloting to kick off.

At Nakuru West Secondary School, voting had not started by 9am.

The number of voters started dropping with time due to the delays, as those who had turned up to vote before going to work gave up and left.

In Naivasha, voters at various polling stations remained stranded for hours following delays in the delivery of ballot boxes and other election materials.

Some who had arrived at 4 am gave up and left.

An aspirant- Mr Rebo Ngure complained that they delay would cost them votes. "We are worried about the delay with some of our supporters giving up and they are now leaving," he said.

Party supporters, however, continued streaming into the various polling station.

Reporting by Eric Matara, Joseph Openda, Francis Mureithi, Magdalene Wanja, Reitz Mureithi, George Sayagie, Steve Njuguna, Sila Kiplagat and Uzzler Ochieng

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