By Standard Team
Bungoma County: Moses Wetang’ula recaptured the Bungoma Senate seat with a resounding victory ending months of speculation in an election that had attracted attention countrywide.
Vote count in 933 out of 942 polling stations presented Ford Kenya leader Wetangula as the outright winner with 149,001 votes. Amani Coalition’s candidate Musikari Kombo followed a distant second 79,964, David Makali (Independent) came in third at 2,131 and Bifwoli Wakoli (Labour Party of Kenya) got 1,891 votes.
Wetang’ula’s re-election gives Cord a niche in the Senate where he was the Minority leader until the court nullified the March 4 polls. He is one of the three co-principal of the CORD coalition, the others being former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.
He maintained the lead from the time results started to trickle at the tallying center at theKenya Industrial Estate within Bungoma town.
Drama, counter accusations and intrigues characterised the voting process and tallying of Bungoma Senatorial by-elections.
The by-election from the onset was declared a two-horse race between Cord and Amani. The victory will send former Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi to the drawing board over his influence in western politics, which was once his stronghold.
After casting his vote at Namakhele polling station in Kabuchai constituency, Wetang’ula expressed confidence that Cord would carry the day.
He, however, declared that the elections were between Jubilee and Cord and vowed to defend the agenda of the opposition in the Senate.
“These elections are going to be a game changer in the politics of Bungoma County, western and the country as a whole,” he said.
New Ford Kenya candidate Musikari Kombo cast his vote at Matulo R.C Primary School in Webuye, where he also expressed concern over the poor turnout of voters in most parts of the county and said Kenyans must learn to appreciate their responsibility as voters.
“The turnout is slightly low, I urge voters to come out and exercise their democratic right in order to elect a leader of their choice,’’ he observed.
Voter bribery claims dominated the Bungoma senatorial by-election with candidates accusing their opponents of influencing the voters to have undue advantage.
Claims of voter bribery, intimidation and attacks on supporters of the various candidates characterised yesterday’s exercise.
Makali expressed fears that the exercise might not be free and fair as Kombo and Wetang’ula supporters had soaked the region with money.
“This is a shameless act, some candidates will be disadvantaged. This is not a democratic election and will not reflect the wishes of the people of Bungoma,” he said.
He accused the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of turning a deaf ear to their plea to take action against the candidates involved in the vice as it was an electoral offence.
“This is unethical, despite petitioning IEBC over the matter, they are yet to act,” said Makali.
Wetangula recorded a statement at Kimilili police station over massive electoral offences.
Angry voters at Kimilili District Education Board (DEB) primary school assaulted and frog marched New Ford Kenya official, Baraza Nyukuri claiming that he had tried to bribe them.
Following the development and allegations of vote buying by close rival Kombo’s supporters, Wetang’ula recorded the statement accusing the Amani Coalition of spearheading the illegal exercise.
“I have recorded a statement to this effect. My opponent is involved in voter bribery and intimidation,” he said.
However Amani coalition led by former Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa dismissed the allegations as baseless and instead insisted that it was Cord that was involved in electoral malpractices.
Bungoma County Commissioner Maalim Mohammed confirmed they have received reports of voter bribery but said they were still conducting investigations.
“We have heard isolated cases in Chwele and Kimilili but we are probing the matter,” he said.
The Bungoma IEBC Returning Officer Ben Misiati said that two people have so far been arrested in relation to voter bribery and are in police custody.
Misiati expressed concern over the low voter turnout noting that by mid-day yesterday, the turnout was at 20 per cent.