By P Ilado
It was a mess !.
Chaos, long delays, insufficient ballot papers, missing names and general confusion forced President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party on Friday to stop nominations in 15 of 21 counties.
Most were in Rift Valley, DP William Ruto’s backyard.
There was ballot burning by angry voters, melees and arrests of suspects with a carload of crude weapons and campaign material.
It was a major loss of face and credibility for Jubilee which had boasted its two-day nominations would be well organised, smooth and credible. It gloated over confused and messy ODM primaries.
“This is very disappointing since we did not expect a party of Jubilee’s status to have disorganised polls the way they did,” Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire said in Embu after storming a ballot distribution centre. “This is contrary to assurances.” She seeks the governor’s ticket.
In most places aspirants complained the JP elections board sent insufficient or no ballot papers, forcing them to demand vote cancellations.
Following numerous complaints, the DP and President intervened, telling the board to call off nominations in all troubled areas.
The board announced it had postponed nominations in 11 counties. A new date was not announced.
The counties are Baringo, Bomet, Elgeyo Marakwet, Embu, Kajiado, Kericho, Nakuru, Nandi, Narok, Transmara and Uasin Gishu,
The board cancelled nominations in Kiambu, Laikipia, Meru and West Pokot, following complaints from aspirants accusing it of incompetence. No rerun date was announced.
“I apologise for the inconvenience caused to our aspirants and supporters,” JP secretary general Raphael Tuju told a media conference at JP headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi. “I will take responsibility for the mess. These things took place under my watch. I will work to ensure our supporters get a chance to elect the leaders they prefer to fly Jubilee’s flag.”
The board maintained elections were to go on in Muranga, Kirinyaga, Nyeri and Nyandarua, despite similar complaints from aspirants that there were fewer ballot papers than registered voters.
Party supporters burnt ballots at five polling stations in Laikipia East constituency at Kanyoni, Mugumo, Bungoma, Likii and Nyaregeno primary schools.
Police in Gatundu South, Kiambu county, arrested three suspects in a vehicle loaded with new crude weapons, including wooden batons and slashers, in Ichaweri Village.
Officers tipped off by voters also impounded the Toyota Noah car in which the suspects were travelling, allegedly with the intent to disrupt voting. Campaign material bearing names of three MP aspirants were also found in the car, which did not have a rear bumper and number plates.
Allegations of pre-marked ballots and fake ballot papers were rife in Uasin Gishu and Nyeri where ballot papers were found marked in favour of some candidates.
In Uasin Gishu, papers were marked in favour Zedekiah Bundotich, also known as Buzeki, who is running against Governor Jackson Mandago. Mandago accused DP Ruto of favouring Buzeki.
In Nyeri, aspirants complained in Tetu, Othaya, and Mukurweini that some ballots were missing and others were pre-marked.
There were fistfights in Bomet and party election board member Leah Ntimama was rescued by the police from voters who attempted to attack her.
Tuju admitted the party had failed in some areas.
He said many aspirants were justified in being upset with “inconsistencies”. He said lessons learnt will be used to plan primaries in counties yet to hold polls.
“We will do what is expected. Now we are taking stock of mishaps, which will define how we will deal with this process going forward,” Tuju said.
He maintained the party was only using the IEBC register to verify specific details of those who turned up to vote.
“Our membership register is not adequate as it lacks details of polling station and specific centres where a voter is registered,” Tuju said.
“Apart from town areas, those with IDs reflecting their location were not turned away from polling stations,” he said.
Tuju said no one was caught with fake ballot papers as the exercise continued in areas where the polls were successful.
“It is impossible to rig this process. The system is tight. The ballot papers are serialised and those already spent cannot be reused when we repeat the primaries,” the JP boss said.
In Kirinyaga, former Devolution CS Anne Waiguru rejected the nominations and accused the party of disenfranchising her supporters.
“We are extremely disappointed by the party. There are no ballot papers in Kirinyaga and so there will be no election in Kirinyaga,” Waiguru said.
No primaries took place in Kajiado after governor aspirant Joseph Lenku was accused of diverting a lorry carrying ballot papers to Ngong.
There was a standoff in Ngong, Kajiado, following an attempt to break into a store where ballot papers were stored.
Rigging claims were raised by candidates as voters waited patiently for voting to begin. It was to start at 6am but did not start for hours in many places. Voters instead went to work.
Countrywide, nominations failed to start on time at many stations.
Kajiado West MP Moses Ole Sakuda accused ODM of causing delays.
“There is an unseen hand of ODM trying to manipulate and cause chaos,” he said.
Runyenjes MP Mbarire led other aspirants in storming Kirimari Secondary School where ballot boxes and papers for Manyatta constituency were being distributed.
She declared there would be no election.
In Bureti, former minister Franklin Bett announced all aspirants had resolved to postpone nominations.