Kisumu at standstill as locals await big announcement

Travellers at Kisumu bus terminus.

Travellers at Kisumu bus terminus. Four days after casting their votes, Kisumu residents, just like other citizens in the rest of the country, are eagerly awaiting the announcement of the presidential election results.

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

Four days after casting their votes, Kisumu residents, just like other citizens in the rest of the country, are eagerly awaiting the announcement of the presidential election results.

Those at home are either glued to their televisions or their mobile phone keeping up with periodic updates from media outlets.

Along Oginga Odinga Street and other major streets in the lakeside city, most shops are still closed.

Alex Odhiambo is full of anxiety and wants the electoral agency to announce the presidential results.

"Tension is building up. Going by the previous elections, people have decided to shut their businesses for safety. But we just want the results to be announced so that we can move on," said Mr Odhiambo.

Peace in Kisumu

He added: "Whichever way it goes, we just want peace in Kisumu. But our desire is that Raila Odinga is announced as the President."

Elizabeth Ogutu, who wanted to buy stationery for her children, had to walk kilometres to find a bookshop.

"Most of the bookshops in town had closed. I only got one shop on Obote Road that was open," said Mrs Ogutu.

Unlike in the 2017 elections, when there was heavy police deployment in Kisumu, this time round, things are different.

The reason could be that the region 'is in the government', surmised Civil Society Organisation Network team leader Betty Okero.

"Previously, the community was considered to be anti-government. The deployment of the police was used previously to suppress the community whenever they felt the elections were not free and fair," Ms Okero said.

Enjoying government support

The region seems to be enjoying government support, said Joshua Nyamori, an advocate and social economist in Kisumu.

"Two things have favoured the region. The handshake and the assurance of government support for Raila Odinga to be President," Mr Nyamori said.

He argued that previously the region lacked the support of the government system.

"In fact, in 2017, the police presence was witnessed even before the elections began. This time round the security was there to make sure the elections were peaceful," he said.

Mr Boniface Akach, a Kisumu-based human rights activist, said the city is calm as residents await the release of the presidential poll results.

No flare-ups of violence

He said the situation in the city is quite different from 2017, when there were flare-ups of violence.

"At a time like this in 2017, we could see large trucks and Land Cruisers dropping off security officers in various parts of Kisumu to quell possible violence," Mr Akach said.

He revealed that unlike previously, residents are calm, with some businesses reopening ahead of the results release.

But he said many residents are not prepared for an Odinga loss.

"People have been glued to television spending sleepless nights while following the tallying while they anticipate a possible win," said Mr Akach.

He added: "If Raila wins, residents will rush out to the streets in celebrations, while if he loses, there is a possibility of protest owing to their expectations."

Maintain peace

He urged residents to maintain peace until the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announces the final results.

"I am also urging residents to avoid sharing any unofficial information or results that could lead to incitement," he said.

In Ahero and Awasi trading centres, business has bounced back to normal levels, with only a handful of people still staying away.

Meanwhile, Nyanza Regional Commissioner Magu Mutindika has said the city was calm when residents received the results of the governor and MP races.

No violence had been reported, he said, and security agencies were looking forward to the status quo remaining even after the presidential results are announced.

He said officers are on standby and will be deployed if the need arises.

"The residents have been calm and any deployment will provoke them. Our work is to engage them in peace talks and awareness and will only deploy more officers when necessary," he said.


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