21 April 2017

Kenya: North Rift Aspirants Vow to Skip Jubilee Primaries

Photo: Moses Muoki/CapitalFM
Jubilee members wait to cast their votes at Kiambu primary school polling centre.

Jubilee aspirants in Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Elgeyo-Marakwet and Baringo counties have vowed not to participate in the nominations until enough ballot papers are provided.

The aspirants held a crisis meeting on Friday to deliberate on the way forward after large-scale anomalies were reported.

In Uasin Gishu, Governor Jackson Mandago, MPs Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills) and Oscar Sudi (Kapseret) led hundreds of supporters through Eldoret town denouncing ill preparations for the nominations.

They had earlier held a crisis meeting at the Eldoret Sports Club, where they agreed not to participate in the voting until enough ballot papers are guaranteed.

"We had been assured of enough ballot papers by the national and county election board. But we have very few ballot papers in various polling stations... this will deny voters chance to elect the leaders they want," said Mr Keter.

NEW REGISTER

Others who attended the charged meeting included MPs James Bett (Kesses), Silas Tiren (Moiben), Edwin Barchilei (Soy) and Eusilah Ngeny' (Uasin Gishu woman representative).

"What we are asking is that they postpone the exercise until ... they have enough materials. They will decide on the date," said Mr Mandago.

He cited a polling station in Langas where a mere 1,000 ballot papers were delivered against 11,000 registered voters.

Mr Mandago and Mr Keter said they had mobilised residents in the region to register in large numbers and wondered why the register had not been updated.

"They are using a register used in 2013 yet we [registered more] residents. In Uasin Gishu, 106,000 new voters were registered - we demand the register to be updated," said Mr Mandago.

Mr Keter alleged that there was a plot to rig party primaries in favour of certain aspirants.

"Recently, we said there was a plan to influence the outcome of the primaries. We demand that the president and his deputy crack the whip on some individuals giving the party a bad name," said Mr Keter.

'FOUL PLAY'

A spot check by the Nation at many polling stations revealed that voters trooped in from as early as 5am but were disappointed on learning that there were not enough voting materials.

"We've been here for two hours but nothing is going on. We suspect foul play in all this," said Stephen Mulinya at the MV Patel Memorial Hall polling station.

At the Race Course and Wareng High School polling centres, some of the residents who had turned up to vote were forced to go back home.

"We came around 6.20am but we are disappointed that there was no voting. We had sacrificed to come to vote," said Judith Kipande, a distraught resident.

Cases of candidates' names missing were also reported at some polling stations in the region.

John Chumba, the campaign manager for Steve Kewa, a Kapseret parliamentary aspirant, said the candidate's code was missing.

"This exercise has been marred by irregularities, we want this process to be suspended. Kewa's code, which is used in transmission of results, is not there in the register," he said.

POOR PREPARATIONS

An aspirant for the Uasin Gishu County woman representative's seat, Gladys Shollei, complained about what she said was poor preparations for the Jubilee Party primaries.

Mrs Shollei, who toured the MV Patel Memorial Hall in Eldoret, urged voters to be calm.

"I am very disappointed with Jubilee. We are headed for a meeting as aspirants on the way forward," said Mrs Shollei.

Earlier, police in the area were put on high alert after leaflets targeting certain communities in the region were circulated.

In Baringo, aspirants held a crisis meeting and agreed to postpone the balloting upon being informed of the inadequate ballots by party officials.

They also claimed that hundreds of ballots were missing. According to Eldama/Ravine Sub-County Returning officer Winfred Koimogul, more than 64 gubernatorial ballot booklets were missing and some had been tampered with.

RESCHEDULE POLLS

"I can confirm that I received less voting materials and some have been tampered with [and] the seals broken," said Ms Koimugul.

Reports indicate that voting materials arrived late in most constituencies and were not escorted by security personnel and were not received according to established procedures.

In a crisis meeting held at the Eldama Ravine town hall, the aspirants demanded the Jubilee party to print new ballots with colours different from the original ahead of the stipulated date.

The aspirants, led by gubernatorial aspirant Stanley Kiptis, agreed to reschedule the elections until Monday next week when new ballots will have been printed.

"We cannot allow to be taken for a ride and will let the people exercise their democratic rights without interference by leaders who want to force their way in through dubious means," said Mr Kiptis.

In Nandi, infuriated Jubilee supporters blocked the Kapsabet-Eldoret road demanding that polling be postponed to allow time for printing of more ballots. Police were forced to fire in the air to disperse the crowd.

In Elgeyo-Marakwet, Governor Alex Tolgos urged supporters to keep calm as the situation was rectified. He also pressed for the postponement to the nominations, saying being a Jubilee stronghold, a huge turnout was expected.

In Trans Nzoia, the nominations were also called off after anomalies were detected.

Reporting by Wycliffe Kipsang, Stanley Kimuge, Flora Koech, Philemon Suter, Barnabas Bii and Gerald Bwisa.

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