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IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati at a past function. [File, Standard]
Members of four wards and a constituency will wait longer to pick to their representatives after the electoral body called off planned by-elections in the regions.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Wednesday said it had moved the mini-poll in Msambweni constituency "to a later date" due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Kenya, as of April 1, reported 81 positive cases of the virus. Three of the patients have since recovered while one succumbed to the Covid-19 disease.

The affected wards are Dabaso in Kilifi County, Kisumu North in Kisumu County, Kahawa Wendani in Kiambu County and Taita Taveta County’s Wundayi/Mbale.

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IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati said they were ready to conduct the by-elections but the virus outbreak had posed unprecedented challenges to them.

"Not only has the day to day operations of the commission been adversely disrupted but also the conduct of the upcoming by-elections will be adversely affected," he said.

Chebukati held that it would be difficult to hold the elections without exposing the public to the risk of contracting the highly-contagious virus.

"In conducting elections, it is inevitable that meetings will be held as well as nominations, campaigns and the poll itself, to mention but a few, all involving human contact."

Chebukati further added that President Uhuru Kenyatta had declared a dusk to dawn national curfew, limiting the movement of everyone except those designated as essential and critical services providers.

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The move is likely to be endorsed by various political outfits, including the Raila Odinga-led Orange party that had called for such postponements.

Msambweni constituents are to pick a new MP following the death of Suleiman Dori while Kahawa Wendani residents will go to the polls to choose a new MCA following the death of Cyrus Omondi.

Wundayi/Mbale Ward are also to pick their legislator following the death of MCA Beatrice Mwabili due to gallbladder cancer. She made history as the first elected woman MCA in Taita Taveta County.

Dabaso seat fell vacant after the Court of Appeal in Mombasa ruled that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) erred in declaring Emmanuel Changawa the winner in the 2017 General Election.

In Kisumu North Ward, the seat fell vacant when the area MCA Elisha Jack Oraro was elected the Speaker at the County Assembly of Kisumu in January.

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IEBC Wafula Chebukati Coronavirus Hillary Orinde
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