After a two-month gruelling campaign season in Kwale’s Msambweni Sub-county, the candidates yesterday remained indoors, meeting small groups of delegates ahead of tomorrow’s by-election.
On Saturday governors Hassan Ali Joho (Mombasa) and Salim Mvurya (Kwale) made their final call to the voters, expressing their significant attachment to the contest set for today.
“It is up to you to decide whether Kwale will continue to be seen as a sub-county of another county (Mombasa),” Mr Mvurya said in his closing remarks at Mvindeni area of Ukunda Ward.
He said he had, over the years, persevered insults and intimidation from leaders from a “neighbouring county” and called on Msambweni voters to support his candidate in the vote.
Mvurya has had a frosty relationship with Joho since 2016. He has accused Joho of bringing confrontational politics in Kwale.
He supports Feisal Bader, an Independent candidate, who is strongly associated with Deputy President William Ruto.
Joho signed off the campaigns, saying the by-election meant much to his political ambitions as the regional kingpin. Joho and Mvurya are each serving their last term as governors.
“If ODM’s Omar Boga loses this election, it will greatly affect my political future. You must vote for ODM and Boga,” said Joho at the final rally at Masai market in Ukunda. “We have campaigned peacefully and I humbly ask for your votes. We are not like the Tangatanga brigade, who have been insulting people.”
Also making their final touches on the campaigns yesterday were Khamis Mwakaonje of United Green Movement, Ali Mwakulonda of Party of Economic Democracy, Marere wa Mwachai (The National Vision Party) and independents Charles Bilali and Mansour Kumaka.
By yesterday, fumigation of the 61 polling centres that kicked off Saturday was almost complete. Msambweni Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Returning Officer Yusuf Abubakar said because of Covid-19 the by-election “will not be like any other.”
Police have equally identified Kigwede, Mlalani, Munje, Mwakukwena and Uwanja wa Jogoo area as potential security hotspots in Msambweni.
More than 300 police officers have been deployed at the 129 polling stations and 61 centres in the sub-county amid fear of an outbreak of chaos.
Human Rights Agenda Executive Director Yusuf Lule Mwatsefu, whose organisation has been accredited as one of the several election monitors by IEBC, said the National Cohesion and Integration Commission had failed to reign in on hate speech mongers during the by-election campaigns.
“We have covered all rallies by the various political parties, including monitoring online social media content. They are awash with vulgar and not very kind words that do not reflect harmony in a modern day society,” Mwatsefu said.