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Candidates make their final pitch ahead of three by-elections today

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Election officials distribute voting materials at St Patrick's High School Iten on January 4, 2023 in readiness for Elgeyo Marakwet senate vote scheduled for January 5, 2023. [Stephen Rutto, Standard]

Voters in Kandara, Garissa Township and Elgeyo Marakwet go to the polls today to elect new leaders.

Kandara and Garissa Town constituencies will be electing their MPs after the seats fell vacant following the appointment of Alice Wahome (Water) and Aden Duale (Defence) to the Cabinet.

Former Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen will also be replaced today after he was appointed Roads Cabinet Secretary.

Kandara residents head to the polls with eight candidates hoping to win over 105,005 voters to succeed Wahome. Five are nominated by political parties while three are independent candidates.

The hopefuls are Kibiru PMG Junior (Usawa Kwa Wote), Samuel Kioni(TND), Titius Njau Mbuchu (Ford), Joseph Mbugua Mburu (JFD), Chege Njuguna of UDA. Those vying as independents are Pius Muiruri Muturi, David Kamweti Njuguna and Erastus Gatehi Nyoike. During the UDA nominations, Wahome’s preferred candidate Injinia Stephen Mwaura came third after he garnered 4,414 votes against Chege’s 7,826. Njau came second after he garnered 5,335 votes. 

The candidates are campaigning on issues around tarmacking three major roads of Githumu-Mutheru, Ithiru-Kariua-Kiunyu and Kibereke-Thika Greens that the residents want to be completed.

Mbuchu, 34, is running on Ford Asili ticket and is the youngest. UDA campaigns are managed by Murang’a Senator Joe Nyutu and Kangema MP Peter Kihungi. Former Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria is campaigning for PMG Junior. In Garissa Township constituency, more than 50,000 voters will cast their votes in 103 polling stations to elect a successor to Duale.

Yesterday, the IEBC county returning officer briefed the presiding officer and other election officials at Garissa University, the main tallying centre.

Garissa County election manager Abdiwahid Hussein said preparations for the by-election were complete and election materials had been delivered to polling stations.

He asked politicians to stay away from polling stations saying this causes unnecessary tension. he also urged voters to go home after casting their ballots.

Hussein assured that enough police officers have been deployed to secure electoral officials and voters. “We will not allow politicians to be moving from one polling station to another. They have done their campaigns and they should allow the electorate to make their choices,” said Garissa County Commissioner Boaz Cherutich.

Five candidates will battle it out to succeed Duale after two withdrew from the race. They are Dekow Mohamed Barrow of UDA popularly known as Major Dekow, Nassir Dolal alias Jofle (UDM), Ibrahim Malow (Narc Kenya), Abdifaisal Amin (ODM) and former Fafi MP Abdikarim Osman of Democratic Party.

Duale pitched tent in the constituency to campaign for the UDA candidate while UDM leader and Mandera Senator Ali Roba supports Dolal. 

And in Elgeyo Marakwet County, voters will be electing Murkomen’s successor. The by-election attracted six candidates before the battle whittled down to a two-horse race, with contestants engaging in fierce campaigns. There are 554 polling stations distributed in four sub-counties - Marakwet East, Marakwet West, Keiyo North and Keiyo South.

Entrepreneur Tim Kipchumba of the Party for Peace and Development (PPD), UDA’s William Kisang (former Marakwet West MP), activist Jerotich Seii (Safina Party), lawyer Andrew Mengich (independent), Timothy Tanui (New Democrats) and Kelvin Kemboi (independent) were cleared by the electoral body.

Until Tuesday when campaigns came to a close, candidates had run well-oiled campaigns, which saw UDA deploy top guns to root for Mr Kisang.

CS Murkomen joined the campaigns from Sunday, leading a team comprising senators Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), Samson Cherargei (Nandi), Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu) and Hillary Sigei (Bomet) as well as several MPs and MCAs in campaigning for Mr Kisang. This was after PPD’s Tim Kipchumba posed a threat to the ruling party.

County Returning Officer Charles Mutai said the distribution of polling materials started at 2pm yesterday.

Mr Mutai said the commission was concerned over tension in Kerio Valley (Marakwet East and Marakwet West) occasioned by Sunday’s shooting of two sisters.

“We can confirm that we have received all voting materials including the ballot papers. Our worry is the rains but luckily the weather is good during the dispatch in the afternoon. But in case the rains persist, we have deployed four-wheel drive vehicles to polling centers in areas with poor road networks,” the IEBC county boss told The Standard.

-Story by Boniface Gikandi, Abdimalik Hajir and Stephen Rutto 

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