It is tight race for Kisumu North ward poll

ODM candidate for Kisumu North ward MCA by-election Samuel Dede at Chungwa house in Nairob ion October 7, 2020. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

It is tight race in the Kisumu North ward by-election as thousands of voters cast their ballot today under strict adherence to the Covid-19 rules.

ODM is seeking to recapture the seat through Samwel Dede with Gerald Ogada (Ford-Kenya) and John Ouko (Amani National Congress), and Kennedy Wagoi (Maendeleo Chap Chap) also in the race.

Others vying are Hanningtone Onyango (Movement for Democratic Growth), David Ayieko (Kadu-Asili) and independent candidates Dan Osila, Joshua Ogada and Walter Okello. 

The last two weeks have seen the candidates crisscrossing the ward to market themselves as the best for the seat to replace Elisha Oraro who quit to be Kisumu County Assembly Speaker.

Oraro took over from former Speaker Onyango Oloo who was impeached and charged in court.

IEBC officials sort out election materials at the Kisumu North ward tallying centre on December 14, 2020. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission returning officer Dennis Omari on Monday said all was set for the polls.

He warned that voters without masks would not be allowed into the ballot stations due to threats posed by Covid-19.

All IEBC staff, poll agents, observers, the media, and voters are to wear face masks while participating in the electoral activities.

Alcohol-based sanitizers will be placed in strategic locations for use by participants in the polls.

During the by-election, a 1.5m physical distance shall be implemented in all places including polling/registration centres, offices, and IEBC staff stakeholder engagement meetings.

Kisumu North has 16,000 registered voters and 15 polling stations. 

Kisumu North has 16,000 registered voters and 15 polling stations. 

Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong'o and Oraro pitched tent in the ward at the weekend to appeal to the voters to come out in large numbers in support of Dede.

''I want to ask the people of Kisumu North not to let us down in the ward. A vote for Dede is a vote for Baba (ODM leader Raila Odinga) and for BBI,'' Nyong'o told party supporters at Nyahera trading centre.

The governor exuded confidence the ODM candidate will carry the day even as he faced tough competition from rivals Ogada, Ouko and Wagoi.

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, who is the Maendeleo Chap Chap leader, has also been at the ward to market the party's torchbearer.

Embattled Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetangula also met delegates in Kisumu and routed for Ogada. 

The seat is crucial for ODM as the area is regarded as Raila's base.