Orange party’s Bernard Imran Okoth had an emphatic lead last night as tallying of votes in the Kibra by-election got underway.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was yet to release official results, but unverified tallies done by parties showed Mr Imran in the lead, with 164 out of 183 polling stations having returned their results.
The results placed Jubilee’s McDonald Mariga second while ANC’s Eliud Owalo was third.
ODM and Jubilee had parallel centres where results received from agents based at polling stations were collected. Returning Officer Beatrice Muli, however, cautioned against relying on results that had not been verified and announced by the commission.
Khamis Butichi of Ford Kenya came a distant fourth in the hotly-contested elections by the time of going to press at 9:30pm yesterday.
During campaigns, Raila pleaded with voters to protect his bedroom - stronghold - from Jubilee invasion.
At the tallying centre situated at the Nairobi City County Inspectorate Training Centre on Ngong Road, ODM leaders led by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Senator Cleophas Malala, ODM chairman John Mbadi, MPs Tim Wanyonyi (Westlands), Junet Mohamed (Suna East), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) had arrived to wait for the final declarations as Jubilee leaders were missing from tallying centre. Only Woodley MCA Kamau Njehia was present from Jubilee side. Voter bribery and intimidation claims swirled yesterday during the high-stakes Kibra by-election even as the top three contenders expressed confidence in winning the seat.
Voting started smoothly at 6am, but ran into trouble from mid-morning following fracas triggered by claims that some people were dishing out money to voters in some polling stations.
At least three people, one claimed to be an officer at Langata Constituency CDF office, were arrested by police over voter bribery claims. Some of the suspects were attacked by locals before being rescued by police.
The race to succeed the late Ken Okoth, who succumbed to cancer, turned into a supremacy battle between Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
The two camps deployed MPs to monitor the voting process in various polling centres.
Although the race attracted 24 candidates, it had been reduced to a three-horse race pitting ODM’s Imran Okoth, Kenyan international McDonald Mariga (Jubilee) and Amani National Congress (ANC) candidate Eliud Owalo.
ODM dispatched at least one lawmaker to each of the 24 polling centres. Some centres had two MPs from the opposition party.
ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna led the ODM team in moving to the centres to “protect” Mr Imran’s votes.
Some of the MPs on the ground included Tim Wanyonyi (Westlands), Babu Owino (Embakasi East), Otiende Amollo (Rarieda) and Junet Mohamed (Suna East). Others were Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) and Millie Odhiambo (Suba North).
Dr Ruto’s side deployed MPs Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), Oscar Sudi (Kapsaret) and former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale.
Dr Khalwale, however, had a rough time after some youths chased him away twice at Mashimoni and DC’s ground polling centres.
At DC’s Ground the rowdy youth accused him of trying to influence those who had turned up to vote. Police manning the centre had to shoot in the air to restore order.
Police later ordered Khalwale to leave the centre. Officers were later deployed there to disperse two rival groups who had clashed over claims of voter bribery. Speaking to The Standard, Khalwale denied claims of bribery and accused ODM of spreading propaganda after running scared.
“We have mobilised well and that is why ODM is running scared and making claims of voter bribery. Mashimoni has been peaceful. Our opponents have run scared after seeing our people have turned out in large numbers to vote,” the former Ikolomani MP said.
Imran and Mr Owalo cast their votes at Old Kibera Primary and they took the opportunity to condemn the alleged attempt to bribe voters.
Mr Mariga did not vote for himself as he is not registered to vote in Kibra. He, however, expressed confidence of emerging winner.
Mr Raila and his wife Ida voted at Old Kibera Primary and he urged the voters to protect the “bedroom against infiltration by strangers”.
Amani party leader Musalia Mudavadi asked the commission to work with candidates’ agents to protect the credibility of the exercise.
“This is an important day for the people of Kibra and we want IEBC to ensure a free and fair election. There were incidents of intimidation at Mashimoni. We want to ask the police and IEBC to work hand in hand with the agents of the candidates,” he said.