What you need to know:
- Confusion, delays, claims of voter bribery and rigging characterised UDA party nominations.
- Voting was largely peaceful, but many polling stations experienced shortages of poll materials.
Drama, confusion, delays and rigging claims characterised Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) nominations in Rift Valley and Mt Kenya regions on Thursday.
In the Rift Valley, some voters and aspirants in Bomet, Narok, Nakuru and Kericho counties complained of irregularities, forcing party officials to postpone or cancel the exercise.
In Bomet, claims of pre-marked ballot papers rocked the primaries, even though the process went on soon after, with some aspirants calling for a review of the polling stations where the marked ballots were alleged to have been found.
In Marakwet East, polling was halted for two hours after a man was killed in a banditry attack.
In Mt Kenya, low voter turnout, claims of irregularities and last-minute deals that saw some aspirants step down for their rivals marked the party primaries. In some instances, aspirants were shocked to find their names missing from the ballot papers or polls cancelled altogether, only to be told their competitors were issued with direct tickets.
Voting was also delayed in several areas with the exercise starting in some stations as late as 10am - polling stations opened at 6am and closed at 5pm.
The primaries, however, went on peacefully in most parts of Mt Kenya including Embu, where election materials were burnt by rowdy youths on Wednesday. The incident saw two aspirants, Manyatta MP John Muchiri and ex-Gachoka MP Norman Nyagah, summoned by the UDA disciplinary committee to appear before it on Saturday.
In Kiambu, Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina wa Jungle, who is angling for the UDA governor ticket against Senator Kimani Wamatangi and ex-governor Ferdinand Waititu, decried delayed opening of polling stations.
Mr Wainaina also protested that his moniker ‘Wainaina wa Jungle’ was missing from the voting materials.
So rampant was bribery at Kiboko Primary School in Thika that agents of one of the candidates in the gubernatorial seat confused journalists for voters and started handing out Sh100 to them but left immediately after they were called away.
In the Bomet case, ballot papers were destroyed while supporters engaged in scuffles at Tenwek High School, the Bomet Central constituency tallying centre. Some of the ballot papers were destroyed by youths at the school and dumped outside the gate at around 2am.
Supporters of various aspirants claimed presiding and returning officers transported ballot papers to stations without police escort, breaching security and election rules hence leading to chaos.
Fighting among youths ensued at around 7.30am after aspirants held a press briefing.
Governor aspirant John Mosonik and Senate aspirants Senator Christopher Langat and ODM nominated MP Wilson Sossion cried foul, demanding a review.
Other complainants included Woman Rep Joyce Korir, former Nairobi County Lands Executive Charles Kerich and politician Joyce Tonui, who are all contesting the Bomet Central parliamentary seat.
County Returning Officer Ronald Mutai said presiding officers and clerks were attacked while ferrying voting materials to polling stations and ballot papers destroyed. He listed Sonokwek, Kwenikab Ilet and Kabusare in Bomet Central as the affected areas.
“There are cases of fake ballot papers that have been detected and we are consulting the national elections board to address the matter,” Mr Mutai said at the press briefing.
In the North Rift, the exercise was delayed for hours in most polling stations due to lack of ballot papers, which UDA National Elections Board (NEB) chairperson Anthony Mwaura attributed to logistical challenges.
In Nandi, for instance, polling stations in Tinderet, Mosop and Chesumei could not kick off on time because there was no means of transport, with many casting doubt on the credibility and transparency of the primaries. By 2pm, some polling stations in Tinderet Constituency were yet to start voting due to delay in arrival of the ballot papers.
Nandi gubernatorial aspirant Antipas Tirop faulted the party’s NEB for failing to put things in order.
“The party had assured us that everything was in place but when our supporters woke up in the morning to vote, there were no ballot papers due to lack of transport, forcing some aspirants to ferry them thus risking the credibility of the exercise,” he said.
Senator Samson Cherargey had a difficult time when he went to cast his vote at Cheptarit Primary School as rowdy youths blocked him for skipping the queue.
Governor Stephen Sang said he would concede defeat and rally behind the winner in the gubernatorial primaries. He asked security officials to arrest candidates who were using youths to cause chaos.
A number of voters in the region whose names were missing from the 2017 Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) register were turned away at various polling stations.
The nominations had to be postponed in two constituencies in Turkana due to logistical challenges.
Low voter turnout was witnessed in the insecurity-hit Elgeyo-Marakwet County due to fears of banditry attacks, as names of some of the party supporters were missing from the IEBC 2017 voter register used to conduct the nominations. Among the affected were those who registered after the 2017 elections and those who changed their polling stations.
In Kimaeti, Bungoma County, two aspirants were injured after their supporters engaged in a fist fight due to claims of election malpractices. The aspirants who suffered broken limbs and bruises were rushed to Kimaeti health centre. Polling was called off following the violence.
In Mt Elgon, the exercise was postponed to today after Mt Elgon MP Fred Kapondi and his rival Allan Chemayiek clashed over delayed distribution of voting materials and venue of the tallying centre.
Low turnout and delays in distribution of voting materials marred the UDA primaries in most polling stations in Uasin Gishu County as voters in 868 polling stations participated in the exercise.
The party primaries started late in most polling stations due to inadequate voting materials, seals for ballot boxes and other logistical hitches.
Voting at Wareng High School polling station started at 8.40am, with a few voters whose names were missing barred from voting.
In Baringo County, more than 16 polling centres in Tenges and Sacho wards in Baringo Central constituency started their voting three hours late due to delays in ferrying the election materials.
Voting at Orinie Primary School in Eldama Ravine started at 1.30pm due to these challenges. A spot check by the Nation in several centres in the region revealed low voter turnout.
At Solian Primary School, 150 voters had taken part in the primaries by 2pm against the 577 registered voters. Aspirants expressed optimism that they will triumph in the exercise that had more than 195 aspirants cleared by the party.
In Nakuru, low voter turnout, transport hitches, lack of ballot papers, and missing names marked the primaries in Njoro Constituency.
Laxity in security while ferrying voting materials from Njoro Boys High School was evident as some presiding officers transported the ballot papers in personal vehicles and were not accompanied by police officers.
Some of the aspirants blamed the party headquarters of keeping them in the dark during the preparations.
Mr Kinyanjui Mwamba, one of the aspirants, said there was no prior meeting with the constituency Returning Officer as required by the party in case of any irregularity.
“We were not updated by the party headquarters where the tallying centre will be,” Mr Mwamba said.
Despite delays in delivering voting materials to most polling stations in Subukia, voting kicked off around 9.30am and was going on smoothly by publication time.
In Laikipia, the nominations kicked off with some voters complaining that their names were missing from the register and voting materials arrived late. Voting started around 7.30am at several polling stations in
Nyahururu town, Kinamba and Rumuruti, which also had low voter turnout. For instance, at the DEB Primary School and Nyahururu stadium polling stations, about 50 and 20 people, respectively, had cast their votes by 9am, with only a handful in the queues.
In Nyandarua, the exercise was marred by voter bribery and campaigning at the polling stations as aspirants and their supporters camped at the stations with posters, placards, while others were openly campaigning.
In Narok, voting failed to start in four wards in Narok South Constituency after residents blocked voting materials from being released from stores, claiming one of the aspirants was planning to rig the polls.
Supporters of three aspirants converged at the ward’s Ole Ntutu Arid Zone Primary School tallying centre, accusing one of the aspirants of placing his cronies on the list of presiding officers. They blocked the lorry carrying ballot papers to the 17 polling stations, stalling voting.
This affected other wards, such as Sagamian, Melelo and Sogoo where locals were upbeat.
The aspirants disagreed on whether voting should proceed as planned by the party. The standoff drew the party’s county leaders’ attention, who toured the constituency tallying centre and cancelled voting.
Mr Joseph Kasale, the UDA coordinator, ordered voting to be postponed immediately and called for an urgent meeting of aspirants to set a new date.
“We received complaints that the release of voting materials had been delayed and we made a visit to the affected area. We found that the offices had been closed at around 10am by locals,” Mr Kasale told journalists.
In Kirinyaga, Mwea Parliamentary aspirant Munyi Rukungu protested after he learnt that the MP seat nominations would not be carried out in his constituency despite having paid Sh125,000 nomination fee.
He said he was later informed that his competitor, Ms Mary Maingi, was issued with a direct ticket.
“Ruto assured us that the nominations will be free and fair and this is unfair. Does the DP know what is happening?” he posed. “I did aggressive campaigns across the constituency and spent a lot of money recruiting agents only for my competitor to be given a free ticket.”
The exercise in Meru County was marred by confusion with aspirants differing on whether or not the exercise was going on. A spot check by the Nation revealed that there were no nominations after aspirants agreed on who would fly the party flag.
In Nyeri County, only one polling station reported malpractice, causing a 40-minute standoff.
At Temple Road Secondary School in Nyeri Town Constituency, six voters were forced to return to the polling station despite having cast their ballots after agents raised concerns that they did not fully follow procedures.
In Tharaka-Nithi County, the exercise was marred by chaos, missing voting materials and rigging claims. In Tharaka constituency, voting started around 11am due to missing materials and disagreements over the reorganisation of presiding officers overnight. Some voting materials for Maara constituency were still in Tharaka constituency by 10am, causing an uproar.
There was chaos in some polling stations like KK Ndagani Primary School in Chuka/Igambang’ombe Constituency as voters protested that their names were missing from the register. They claimed that the missing ones were mainly known supporters of some aspirants.
Senatorial aspirant Samuel Ragwa accused Governor Muthomi Njuki of interfering with the exercise in favour of his competitor Mwenda Gataya.
“The nominations look like a Tharaka Nithi County government exercise because the voting materials are being transported by the devolved unit staff using government vehicles,” Mr Ragwa said.
Efforts to reach Mr Njuki to respond to the accusations turned futile.
Reports by Jackline Macharia, Ndubi Moturi, Hillary Kimuyu, Simon Ciuri, Robert Kiplagat, Vitalis Kimutai, Joseph Openda, Eric Matara, Mercy Koskey, Francis Mureithi, Waikwa Maina, Macharia Mwangi, Steve Njuguna, John Njoroge, George Munene, Gitonga Marete, David Muchui, Alex Njeru, Charles Wanyoro, Nicholas Komu, Mercy Mwende, Onyango K’Onyango, Barnabas Bii, Tom Matoke, Stanley Kimuge, Brian Ojamaa, Oscar Kakai, Sammy Lutta, Fred Kibor and Flora Koech