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Chebukati puts off poll in Nyanza over violence

Judy Akuma

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission yesterday postponed elections in 29 constituencies in four counties in Nyanza to an unspecified date, citing escalating violence.

Addressing the media at the national tallying centre at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said, contrary to earlier plans for the election to be conducted today, the commission will now hold the exercise at a date be communicated later.

In two constituencies in Kisumu county, Muhoroni and Kisumu West, where polling had been registered as having taken place, the exercise will also be repeated. Contrary to claims by Nasa that the election did not take place, results returned via the IEBC electronic system showed the exercise took place widely, except in the four listed Nyanza constituencies.

At the same time, provisional tallies generated from the forms 34A from polling stations and Forms 34B from constituencies had so far given President Uhuru Kenyatta (Jubilee Party) close to 6.8 million votes, far ahead of the Nasa rival Raila Odinga who had 50,000 votes (1.1 per cent). IEBC had estimated voter turnout at about 48 per cent, with Uhuru amassing close to 99 per cent of the votes cast.

Uhuru was expected to return an overwhelming majority given that the Nasa candidate had declared his boycott of the election. The provisional results placed Thirdway Alliance presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot in third place with over five thousand votes, less than a percentage point of votes tallied.

On the postponement of the repeat areas, Chebukati said: “The repeat presidential election that had earlier been postponed to today, Saturday, October 28 in four counties in Nyanza, has once again been postponed to a later date to be communicated by the commission.

This is due to escalated violence.” He said IEBC staff had been attacked, threatened, lives of both staff and other individuals lost in the attempt to ensure voting is conducted; and after deliberating on the security situation in those areas, the commission resolved to again postpone the exercise to a date to be made public in due time.

“Our Returning Officers have been threatened, injured, their houses set on fire while others lost lives. Members of the public have also lost lives due to escalated violence in these areas. When it comes to the lives of our staff, as a commission we are concerned.

We, therefore, postpone voting in those areas to a date to be communicated by the commission later,” said Chebukati. He said constituencies where voting has not yet been conducted comprise 3,635 polling stations with 1.7 million registered voters accounting for nine per cent of the total number of registered voters.

The affected constituencies in Nasa’s backyard are Alego Usonga, Awendo, Gem, Ugenya, Homa Bay Town, Karachuonyo, Kisumu Central, Muhoroni, Ndhiwa, Nyakach, Rongo, Seme, Suba North and Suna South.

Others are Ugunja, Uriri , Bondo, Kasipul Kabondo, Kasipul, Kisumu East, Kisumu West, Nyando, Nyatike, Rangwe, Rarieda, Suna East and Suna West. Chebukati, however, confirmed voting will take place today in Turkana Central and Fafi constituencies in Turkana and Garissa counties, respectively. The exercise was not conducted on Thursday due to bad weather.

“Voting will take place as planned in Turkana and Fafi after the initial exercise failed to kick off due to heavy rains that rendered the roads impassable,” he said.

At the same time, the chairman confirmed receipt of 37,045 forms form 34A through the KIEMS system and 38 forms 34B had been verified Speaking during verification of the forms, Chebukati said he acknowledges that Kenyans have to move on with their lives hence the commission is working with speed to conclude the process.

“We acknowledge the fact that you want to move on with your lives and, as therefore, we are working round the clock to conclude this election process,” said Chebukati.

He said tallying was ongoing in most constituencies and returning officers had started arriving with forms 34A and 34B that had already been sent electronically. The postponement of voting in the four counties was occasioned by gross violent attacks on IEBC officials who tried to transport voting materials to various polling centres.

Rowdy youths barricaded roads leading to polling centres on Thursday prompting heavy confrontation between the youths and the police, a situation that led to some protestors being shot dead while others were injured. According to the IEBC results portal, three out of four constituencies in Baringo county had posted their results.

They are Baringo Central, Mogotio and Eldama Ravine. Baringo North was yet to post. In Bomet county, results from Sotik, Chepalungu, Bomet East and Bomet Central had been published on the IEBC website.

Konoin constituency was yet to post results. In Bungoma county, Sirisia, Webuye East, Webuye West, Kimilili and Tongaren had submitted returns. Teso North, Nambale, Matayos, Butula and Funyula had declared returns from Busia county.

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