28 October 2017

Kenya: IEBC Postpones Poll in Nyanza Counties As Protests Escalate

Photo: Nairobi News
Polling clerks at a voting station in Kitui county on October 26, 2017.

Faced with an unrelentingly hostile ground, the electoral agency last evening postponed indefinitely the planned repeat presidential election in four Nyanza counties.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati, in an address at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi, attributed the postponement to the security situation on the ground.

Save for Kuria West and East constituencies in Migori County where voting took place on Thursday, the exercise remains suspended in all the other constituencies in Migori, Homa Bay, Kisumu and Siaya counties.

PROTESTORS

The announcement came at the end of a day characterised by running battles between police and protesters in the four counties and Bungoma, with reports of two people shot dead by policemen sent in to quell the protests.

In Bungoma, a man identified only as Barasa was shot dead Friday morning during pitched battles between rioting youths and police.

Eyewitnesses said the man was shot at Muteremuko estate in the town as police officers dispersed the group that had blocked Bungoma-Mumias road. He had multiple gunshots on his chest and stomach and died instantly.

OFFICERS

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula and Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi stormed Bungoma police station accompanied by hundreds of supporters to demand an explanation on the killing.

Governor Wycliffe Wangamati condemned the police for using excessive force on opposition demonstrators.

Bungoma Police Commander Charles Munyoli said that he had not received any information on the killing.

In Kisumu, police raided kiosks near Kibos in the afternoon to flush out youth suspected to have barricaded and lit bonfires on streets.

KILLED

Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong'o later told journalists that a student had been shot dead on Thursday night and 15 other people were left with gunshot wounds.

In Migori, the youth barricaded key roads in the county, leading to a confrontation with the police.

In the ensuing melee, two people were shot, one of them a minor.

A boda boda operator, Mr Joseph Otieno, was shot in Macalder, Nyatike, while Polycarp Ochieng, 12, was shot in the thigh in Oruba Dip estate.

The boy was playing outside their house when the bullet hit him.

CRITICISE

Earlier, politicians and religious leaders across Nyanza condemned IEBC for trying to force residents to participate in the repeat poll.

The church leaders included Rev Canon Joshua Owiti - Diocese of Maseno East, Rt Rev Francis Mwai Abiero - Bishop of the Diocese of Maseno West, Rev Prof David Kodia - Bondo, Archbishop Habakkuk Abogno - Church of Christ in Africa (CCA) and Bishop Betty Onyango - Africa Nineveh Church.

Kisumu Senator Fred Outa, woman rep Rozah Buyu and a host of MPs and MCAs said the region was not interested in any elections in October

In Kisii, Nyaribari Chache MP Richard Tong'i condemned the IEBC over the poll stand-off.

VOTING

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti rallied the residents to boycott the exercise.

Mr Awiti said the police brutality meted on residents of the county was enough indication that the commission's plan to push the repeat poll in counties located in Nyanza was suspicious.

In Siaya, residents broke into song and dance and lit bonfires in town after Mr Chebukati announced the postponement of the repeat poll earlier set for Saturday.

Reports by Titus Oteba, Justus Ochieng, Elgar Machuka, Elisha Otieno, Barack Oduor and Nelcon Odhiambo

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