Voting gadget hitches mar ODM Busia primaries

Voters queueing at Budalang'i primary School polling station during ODM party primaries on Monday April 11.

Photo credit: Okong'o Oduya | Nation Media Group.

The ODM party primaries in Busia County, one of the key strongholds for the Azimio-One Kenya Alliance presidential hopeful Raila Odinga in the Western region, were delayed for several hours on Monday due to a network hitch.

The start of the paperless primaries was disrupted when the electronic gadgets used by polling clerks for voting failed to work due to a connection problem.

Some clerks reported problems with log-in passwords, further delaying the start of voting at several polling stations.

The focus of the party primaries in Busia will be the contest for the ticket for the governorship position, which is between Paul Otuoma and Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua.

The two politicians are close allies of Mr Odinga and are battling for the ticket to succeed Governor Sospeter Ojaamong.

The outcome of the governorship contest could largely shape the political direction the region takes in the August 9 General Election.

Mr Otuoma will be making a second attempt at the governor’s seat after he lost in the ODM nominations and the 2017 polls to Mr Ojaamong and ran as an independent candidate.

The ODM nominations were marred by violence as Mr Otuoma and Governor Ojaamong battled for the party’s ticket.

Mr Otuoma is attempting to overcome the hurdles by clinching the ODM ticket to boost his bid for the governorship.

Meanwhile, Ms Mutua is reported to enjoy the support of the Teso community and has put up a spirited fight to clinch the ODM ticket in her quest to become the first female governor in Western Kenya.

Extend voting time

Mr Otuoma asked the ODM national elections board (NEB) to extend voting time to 6pm so as to compensate for time lost in the morning.

He said there was a mix-up in the list of names for the Kanjala polling station in Butula and Ganjala in Funyula, further delaying voting.

“The NEB has promised to address the issue and I’m confident that the nomination process will be credible and transparent,” said Mr Otuoma.

He appealed to his supporters to remain calm as they waited for the final results of the nominations.

At the Busembe, Bwangangi, and Busijo polling stations in Funyula, police officers had to intervene to restore calm after a confrontation erupted between supporters of Mr Otuoma and those of Ms Mutua.

At the Budalangi Primary School polling station, voting did not start until 10am, due to a network hitch that made it impossible for the electronic gadgets to work.

Voters who turned up in large numbers blamed the ODM election board for making poor preparations.

At the Sio port and Nanderema polling stations in Funyula sub-county, voting progressed smoothly after the hitches were fixed.

In Teso North, voting at the Moding and Akiriamas polling stations started late as clerks had to wait for the kits to arrive.

At the St Mary's Primary School in Nambale and Kaliwa Primary and Otimong Primary polling stations in Teso South, voting started at 10am due to gadget network problems.