Kenya: Kihika Calls for Increased Security Ahead of By-Elections

Politicians allied to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) have claimed that there is a plot by the government to interfere with the outcome of the London and Hell's Gate mini polls.

The politicians have claimed that their rivals in the Jubilee Party plan to use the police force to cause chaos and block their supporters from voting.

Led by Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, the politicians have written a letter to the Inspector-General of Police and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA)seeking their intervention to ensure the elections are conducted in a fair and credible manner.

In the letter seen by the Nation, the leaders say their rivals have planned to use the police to cause chaos and disrupt voting in tomorrow's by-election.

"We are aware that Jubilee Party wants to use the police, to cause chaos in the by-election.

UDA strongholds

"There is an elaborate plan to threaten, blockade and curtail the movement of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) supporters tomorrow. In Nakuru Town West, Jubilee Party has liaised with Sub county police commander Samson Gathuku to subvert the will of the people of London Ward," Senator Kihika said in the letter.

"There are plans to also use hired goons to cause mayhem in UDA strongholds in the Ward and prevent them from voting for our candidate," she added.

Leaders allied to UDA party now want urgent intervention by the Inspector General of Police and the IPOA to stop the 'planned violence.'

The politicians have also accused security officers of turning a blind eye in incidents involving voter bribery.

"We want the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to step in and ensure the by-elections are fair and credible. We urge IEBC to also intervene and act against the voter bribery that has been experienced in London Ward since last week," further stated Senator Kihika.

However, Nakuru West Sub-County police commander Samson Gathuku said enough security officers will be deployed to each polling station to ensure there are no disruptions during the by-elections.

"About 200 security officers will be deployed to the polling stations and the tallying centre to beef up security and ensure the exercise runs smoothly. I also urge the electorate to turn up and exercise their democratic right and go home. We want to have a free, fair and credible mini-polls, "said the police boss.

The London and Hell's Gate seats fell vacant following the deaths of Samuel Mbugua and John Njenga in November 2020.

Meanwhile, IEBC says all is set for the London and Hell's Gate by-elections.

Nakuru County IEBC manager Silas Rotich on Tuesday revealed that adequate preparations have been made to ensure the exercise runs smoothly without any hitches.

Election materials

"The IEBC is ready to conduct a free, fair and credible mini-polls. We have briefed political party agents and all is set for the exercise. I urge voters in the two Wards to turn up in large numbers to vote for their preferred candidates," said Mr Rotich.

The IEBC official said election materials including ballot papers and boxes will be transported to all the polling stations in London and Hell's Gate Wards by Wednesday, under tight security.

The IEBC manager said, the by-elections will be held under strict Covid-19 guidelines to curb the spread of the virus.

He said special clerks have been designated to ensure voters wear facemasks and adhere to social distancing and washing of hands with soap before accessing voting centres.

"Wearing of facemask and adhering to social distancing protocols is a must," he declared.

The Nation established that at least 18,000 eligible voters will take part in the London Ward by-election.

In Naivasha's Hell's Gate, about 24,000 voters are expected to participate in the exercise.

London Ward Returning Officer Gilbert Serem told the Nation that learning activities in schools that are being used as polling centers will not be interrupted.

"IEBC has made adequate arrangements with the Ministry of Education and therefore activities in the learning institutions will not be interrupted. In London we will be using most schools as polling centres," said Mr Serem.

London Ward has seven polling stations which include; Uhuru primary, Milimani Primary, Moi secondary, Moi primary, Crater, Public works offices and at the County Council.

The tallying centre will be at the Moi Secondary School.

IEBC has cleared at least 12 candidates in the London Ward by-election to inherit the late Mbugua.

The London and Hell's Gate by-elections have turned into a contest between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto amid sharp rifts between the two.

In the by-election president Uhuru Kenyatta 2022 succession politics have taken centre stage, as fringe parties threaten to upset the ruling Jubilee Party.

Political pundits say DP Ruto allies want to win the seat as a test to the reception of his 'Hustler' politics in the Rift Valley region and a spring board to the 2022 elections in which he(Ruto) has expressed interest to vie for the top seat.

Jubilee Party which has held Nakuru in its grip since 2013, is now facing spirited opposition from the splinter outfit UDA.

According to observers, front-runners in London Ward by-election are Jubilee's Francis Njoroge, Anthony Nzuki (UDA) and Mr Benard Kariuki of the People's Empowerment Party (PEP) linked to Gatundu South lawmaker Moses Kuria.

In Hell's Gate's Jubilee candidate Virginia Wamaitha Gichanga and UDA's Jonathan Warothe are front runners in the race.

The campaigns for the two by-elections were concluded on Monday.

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