Judy Akuma @PeopleDailyKe
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has postponed voting in four counties in Nyanza region after various security challenges made it impossible to open polling stations, chairman Wafula Chebukati announced yesterday.
Addressing the media from the National Tallying Centre at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, Chebukati said the commission would conduct elections in the affected areas tomorrow, in accordance with Section 55B and regulation 64A of the Elections Regulation Act.
The Act states that if the electoral commission is not able to conduct elections in an area because of reasons such as insecurity, weather or other natural occurrences, the poll can be administered on another day within stipulated timelines.
Chebukati said IEBC officials were unable to access polling centres in Kisumu, Migori, Homa-Bay and Siaya, hence the exercise failed to commence as planned. “The IEBC officials were unable to access polling centres in Kisumu, Siaya, Migori and Homa Bay counties because of rowdy protesters who barricaded roads, hence voting did not commence in those areas.
The commission has, therefore, postponed the voting to Saturday, October 28, to ensure those willing to vote in those areas are granted that right,” Chebukati stated. The chairman said it was expected that adequate security would have been put in place by tomorrow to enable the opening of polling stations for voting to take place.
And the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet issued a warning to those who will attempt to disrupt voting tomorrow that they could face severe consequences. The IG said police were aware of coordinated plans to attack convoys transporting presidential repeat poll materials and hinted that police were tracking profiled criminals who plot to lead the attacks.
“We wish to warn anyone attempting to attack these convoys that they are under heavy guard and they will only have themselves to blame in the event stern action is taken by officers,” said Boinnet.
In Kisumu county, police were engaged in running battles all day with rowdy youths in Kondele slums, who barricaded roads with stones, lit bonfires and hurled objects at the anti-riot squad. Police responded with tear gas canisters and firing repeatedly in the air but the charged groups were defiant as they chanted slogans that the election would not take place.
In Siaya town, protesters barricaded roads leading to polling centres with boulders and kept police at bay by hurling stones at them. The gate of one primary school had been fastened with a thick metal chain and branches of thorn trees piled on doors of classrooms.
In Homa Bay, similar scenes were witnessed with groups of demonstrators running up and down the main town street chanting slogans against the election. Violence was also widespread in Migori town and the nearby Awendo Township where police battled protesters with tear gas for most of the day.
In Kisumu and Homa Bay towns, a middle aged man and a young man were shot and died on arrival at the Jaramogi Teaching and Referral Hospital and Homa Bay district hospital respectively.
Another protester was shot dead in Seme area where police battled with demonstrators. Sporadic incidents of violence were also reported in Athi River where two young men were shot while in a group that stormed a polling station, baying for the blood of electoral officials. Also affected, but not to the extent of stopping voting were some areas of Mombasa, particularly Bangladesh slum.
At Bomas, Chebukati said he has written to the police boss Boinnet to ensure he beefs up security in the affected areas ahead of the Saturday repeat exercise. At the same time, Chebukati said the voting exercise delayed in Garissa and Kitui counties because of bad weather but he assured voters the commission was bound to extend voting hours last night.
He said two police officers died while three others were injured when their vehicle rolled because of heavy rains while escorting election materials to Mbalambala in Garissa county but the commission managed to deliver the materials and the exercise kicked off, though late.
In Kitui county, the chairman noted that voting materials were destroyed by heavy rains but they were able to get substitute materials and voting commenced.