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Jubilee Party primaries to be repeated in 21 counties

By Graham Kajilwa | Published Fri, April 21st 2017 at 19:33, Updated April 23rd 2017 at 10:01 GMT +3
Jubilee Head of Secretariat Raphael Tuju

Jubilee Party cancels the entire nomination process in 21 counties. Jubilee Head of Secretariat Raphael Tuju orders voting and tallying be stopped. New poll dates will be announced on Saturday. 

Unprecedented hiccups in logistics has been cited as the reason behind Jubilee Party (JP) calling off primaries.

From claims of rigging, voting materials that never reached the polling stations to lack of enough ballot papers in the packages, JP has resolved to go back to the drawing board before embarking on the exercise once again next week.

After ten hours of the not so smooth exercise, JP Secretary General Raphael Tuju announced that primaries in 21 counties had been called off.

This, he explained, has been done in the interest of fairness and transparency and after consultation with the party's top leadership, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto.

Of all the counties, Kajiado exhibited the 'worst case scenario' where a lorry ferrying ballot papers was blocked by a section of leaders in the area and held hostage for almost the whole day.

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The lorry was later returned to the party's headquarters in the evening with a section of residents and aspirants storming the party's office demanding an explanation.

On giving an update of the exercise, Tuju admitted that the primaries-that he described as monumental and conducted under set high standards-had been faced with challenges across the country. Challenges which unearthed mistakes.

"We did not look into the packages of the ballot papers. When delivered in some areas, the ballots were just 18 per cent instead of at least 50 as required. That was a mistake on our side," said Tuju.

Tuju said a series of meetings will be held with the party's National Election Board led by Andrew Musengi to determine if some ballots were diverted or stolen to create the artificial shortage.

"But as at the moment, there is no evidence to suggest such happened," he said.

He added: "In the interest of fairness and transparency, I have decided to call off the primaries in entirety or partially because of anomalies that are not acceptable given the set high standards."

Counties of Narok, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kericho, Kajiado, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Embu, and Trans Nzoia, Bomet, Nakuru and Baringo had the exercise called off in enterity.

However, for Kiambu, Laikipia, Meru and West Pokot, the cancellation was done in limited number of constituencies and the respective Returning Officers were left with the last call.

For Muranga, Kirinyaga, Nyeri and Nyandarua the exercise was allowed to go on but the party had to closely monitor the progress.

"Party officials and management have instructionsto reschedule the exercise in all the affected areas and ensure logistics are better managed and in place before the new dates," said Tuju.

The SG did not divulge details of the new dates saying they will be announced later. However, the tentative days he cited are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

In an exercise that was hyped to be a show off to the opposition-whose nominations were claimed to have exhibited violence, unfairness and cases of rigging-JP has since owned up to some of the mistakes.

The party's NEB Chair Musengi said there was unbelievably high turnout in the exercise.

"Candidates are rightfully justifiable to be upset with some of the logistics. This we agree. This is an exercised that must take place and will take place," said Musengi.

But some of the mistakes, Tuju explained are to be blamed on the aspirant. He explained that a case like that of Kajiado, it was just fair for a lorry ferrying the ballot papers to drop them at the respective constituencies- to save time-instead of getting to the county headquarters to start the actual distribution.

This led the exercise-that was to start at 6am-be delayed up to 1:20pm when Kajiado North MP Moses Ole Sakuda and gubernatorial aspirant Joseph Ole Lenku stormed the JP Head quarters office in Nairobi to demand answers.

"We have been informed that the nominations in the area have been postponed to an unspecified date," said Ole Sakuda on leaving the party offices.

He said a request was tabled to JP election board to have the primaries held either today (Saturday), Monday or Tuesday.

"But they could not confirm arguing that they have to consider if they will have enough ballot papers, to ensure a full running system," he said.

Asked whom he thinks conspired to sabotage the exercise, Ole Sakuda claimed some aspirants in the area allied to the opposition were out to paint a bad image of JP following their primaries that were marred with irregularities and violence.

"I understand where the aspirants come from. Previous nomination exercises were shambolic. If we feel the integrity of the process can be achieved by repeating, we shall repeat," said Tuju.

He cited a case of a governor aspirant in Embu who claimed one of his competitors was marking ballots in a hotel in the area: "Only for the police to storm the place and find nothing of the sort."

Earlier, Tuju had assured that the exercise will be flawless noting that in case of emergencies, there were eight helicopters in standby.

"We had even opted to have papers printed with the aspirants names-unlike the ballots which have col0ur identity codes-and have the voting continue if shortage of ballots was to be experienced," said Tuju.

Tuju had dismissed threats by a section of aspirants and returning officers who had called off the process on claims that there were few voting materials.

"I am not saying that everything is perfect. But where there are mistakes, we will be kicking in our back up plans which may include extending (the voting), postponing or cancelling," said he said.