Protests as Kajiado land trust elections are cancelled

Keekonyoie Ranch

Members of Keekonyoie Ranch in Kibiko, Kajiado West sub-County queue after the elections were postponed on May 24, 2024. 

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho | Nation Media GRoup

The much-anticipated communal land elections to choose the chairperson of the Kibiko Ngong ranch were aborted on Friday after the government said it was not fully prepared for the exercise, a move that angered members.

Kajiado County Commissioner James Taari, who was overseeing the exercise, called off the elections at around 1pm despite opposition from participants.

Mr Taari said the turnout of voters was far too high compared to the number of staff involved in verifying the 16,000 registered members and the slow process posed a security threat.

"We have no choice but to postpone the elections, we don't have the capacity for the exercise and we don't want skirmishes, let's plan the exercise in two weeks," Mr Taari announced while flanked by the two candidates for the chairmanship.

200 members

"In the last six hours, only 200 members have been verified. It's a daunting task," he added.

At least 100 heavily armed police had been deployed to maintain peace.

Agitated members, who had been queuing peacefully since 4am, claimed that the exercise went smoothly and there were no anomalies as the voting model was by queuing.

Members had been ferried to the polling station in dozens of buses and private cars from Ewuaso Kedong and Keekonyokie wards in Kajiado West sub-County.

"We sense monkey business in the postponement, external forces must have had a hand in it, we are angry," said Mr James Lankas.

Instead, voters cited bias on the part of those overseeing the exercise, saying the length of the queues showed the clear winner to the chagrin of the losing team. They said this influenced the cancellation of the democratic peaceful exercise.

Some members have vowed not to participate in the other scheduled elections unless the government assures them of proper planning ahead of the polls.

External forces

"We have been denied victory, we will not participate in another election, we will install our candidate as bona fide chairman," said Mr Justus Manyara, a supporter of Mr Monik's faction.

Two candidates, Moses Monik Ole Kusero and Moses Parantai Shukuru, were vying for the chairmanship.

Mr Monik claimed that the postponement of the elections was an orchestrated plan by external forces opposed to his candidature.

"We had earlier raised concerns about the preparations for the elections and external influence and it has come to pass," he said.

Long-serving chairman Moses Parantai said he was ready for a rematch if the electoral secretariat was ready for transparent and credible elections.

The elections were crucial for members of the Keekonyokie Community Trust Land because the person elected as chairman would oversee the subdivision of the prime 2,800-hectare, multi-billion-shilling land at Kibiko Ngong.