Political aspirants from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in Kwale are this morning battling it out for a chance clinch the nomination as party candidate for the Msambweni by-election slated for December 15.
Kwale ODM chairman and former Matuga MP, Hassan Mwanyoha, said the party is keen to ensure credible nominations after previous ones by the party were marred by violence.
"We are prepared to ensure credible exercise because our target is to clinch the seat as it belongs to ODM," he said.
The Msambweni seat fell vacant following the death of legislator Suleiman Dori in March. He died at the Aga Khan Hospital in Mombasa where he was receiving treatment for cancer.
Mr Mwanyoha said the party has made appropriate preparations for the primaries, though there are complaints from some quarters.
According to the party programme, it was expected that the more than 60 polling stations were to be opened by 6am and be closed by 5pm.
However a spot check by the Nation revealed that a number of polling stations were yet to be opened by 7.30am.
At Mwakigwena Primary School polling station there were only a handful of voters and the officials were still waiting for arrival of voting materials.
A voter at the polling station, Ms Simakena Matano, said she had arrived at 6.30am but voting was yet to commence due to the delay.
"I'm still waiting for the voting materials to vote," she said.
Do or die match
It is a do or die political contest as vice ODM chair Kwale branch, Nicholas Zani, battles it out with former Gombato/Bongwe MCA Omar Boga.
While addressing the media in Ukunda yesterday, Mr Zani urged ODM to be fair in its conduct of nominations so as to field a strong candidate for the parliamentary by-election.
"I'm ready to face my opponent and I'm confident of winning the nomination to be the party's flag bearer," he said.
His opponent Mr Boga also exuded confidence in winning the primaries but raised the issue of voters' registry.
He said they were waiting for the party's direction on whether they will use the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission's (IEBC) or the party's registry.
"The party will give us directions as far as the nomination is concerned. We will not allow any form of violence to distract the exercise," he said.
Mr Boga was defeated twice by the late Mr Dori during the 2017 ODM nominations and the General Elections in his attempts to be Msambweni MP.
He reportedly has the support of Kwale Woman Representative Zuleikha Hassan who is already campaigning for him.
The Nation has learnt that ODM is the only party conducting primaries to pick its candidate while other parties have already settled on theirs.
The winner in the nominations exercise will face off with Wiper's Shee Abdulrahman, United Green Movement Party's Liganje Mwakaonje, and independent candidates Feisal Bader and Mariam Sharlet Akinyi in the by-election slated for December 15.
'Not a DP Ruto project'
Mr Bader ditched ODM to vie for the by-election seat as an independent candidate.
He reportedly enjoys the support of Deputy President William Ruto, after the ruling Jubilee Party recently announced that it will not field a candidate.
However, Mr Bader has refuted claims of being Dr Ruto's project.
"Running for the seat as an independent candidate should not be seen that I'm Ruto's project...I read malice in the ODM party and opted out," he said.
Mr Mwakaonje, on the other hand, said he is the best candidate for the seat because of his vast educational experience.
He said he decided to settle on the UGM party because its manifesto addresses political challenges facing the people of Msambweni.
"The people of Msambweni need a credible leader who can steer development projects and be answerable to the constituency needs," he said.