Two killed in Nyanza as pockets of violence rock polls

A security officer stands guard to ensure ballot boxes are safe. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Two people were killed and several others injured in Nyanza in election-related violence as Kenyans went to the polls on Tuesday.

Cases of violence were reported in Ugenya, Siaya County, Nyakach in Kisumu County, parts of Homa Bay and Kisii County, as supporters of rival candidates clashed. 

Candidates for various seats across the region condemned the violence and called on their supporters to remain calm as counting of votes continued.

One victim, identified as Michael Odhiambo, 30, was killed in Rangwe constituency, Homa Bay County after violence broke out. He is said to have been attacked by goons allegedly hired by a parliamentary candidate.

The goons are said to have raided his parents’ homestead at Ang’iro village in Kochia ward and left him with serious injuries. He died moments later. His body was moved to Homa Bay County Referral Hospital mortuary.

Incumbent Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo and Omburo Odaje, who is contesting the seat as an independent candidate, condemned the violence and called on the police to take action against the perpetrators.

Gogo, who is defending her seat on ODM ticket, complained that a number of her agents were ejected from many polling stations in Kagan and Kochia wards by people she claimed were out to rig polls.

She said Kagan ward was the worst hit by violence as one of her agents was reportedly stabbed with a knife and another one cut with a panga. Five others were assaulted with crude weapons, the MP said.

Gogo said the violence was perpetrated against her agents to create room for election irregularities.

“This violence is perpetrated by one of my rivals who has been frustrating my agents in an effort to commit electoral offences in his favour,” said Dr Gogo, adding that she reported the incidents at Rangwe Police Station.

She added: "There is one candidate who has been attacking people left, right, and centre after sensing defeat. This is not acceptable and I call on the police and the electoral commission to take action against the politician. The police should also ensure justice for the victims and their families."

Adaje also condemned the violence saying no matter what happens, no one should take another person's life.

"It is sad that an innocent life has been lost,” Odaje said adding that his agents were also attacked at various polling stations by people he said were hired goons.

"I am calling on both IEBC and police to take decisive action against those involved. We do not need violence," the aspirant said.

In Karachuonyo Constituency, an MCA candidate for West Karachuonyo Ward Samuel Lieta was injured after violence broke out. He was taken to Homa Bay County Referral hospital.

Homa Bay County Commissioner Moses Lilan said they are investigating the incidents and will take action against anyone causing violence.

"Security officers are on high alert and we don't foresee any major issues. However, few cases of violence have been reported in some parts. We are investigating all cases reported and we shall take action," said Lilan.

Elsewhere, one person was shot in Bonchari constituency, Kisii County, as rival groups clashed on Monday night.

Area sub-county police boss Machinji Kyuso said they are pursuing the suspect.

"The victim was attacked at Kiamoro. We are yet to arrest the suspect but we following crucial leads," said Kyuso.

The suspect is said to be a former leader of the infamous Sungu Sungu vigilante group.

The victim is admitted to Bosongo hospital. Officials at the hospital said the victim has been operated on and is expected to undergo one more surgery.

In Marani, Kitutu Chache North sub-county, four people are nursing injuries after a mob attacked them. The victims were reportedly attacked after they were caught dishing out money to voters.

Kyuso said cases of violence were also reported in Nyakach sub-county but were immediately contained by security apparatus.