Security on high alert as IEBC completes final touches for polls

IEBC officers inspect solar lights at The Kisumu Polytechnic before being dispatched to various centres within the Kisumu Central constituency. [Michael Mute, Standard]

Security has been beefed up in all parts of the country as the electoral body made the final touches ahead of tomorrow’s polls.

And to ensure that all eligible voters exercise their right in voting for candidates of their choice, the government lifted the curfew in areas that have been under security surveillance.

Elgeyo Marakwet County commissioner John Korir told The Standard that nothing will be left to chance in ensuring that everybody in the county has a chance to exercise their democratic right.

“We have dispatched enough personnel to all parts of the county, more so Kerio Valley, where there has been a challenge of insecurity. We have not experienced any insecurity cases in the last few days. This means there is no cause for alarm in any part of the county. The process will run as smoothly as possible,” he said.

Marakwet East Deputy County Commissioner Mr Simon Osumba added: “The area is generally safe at the moment so the curfew to curb insecurity along the valley has temporarily been lifted to allow people to vote and IEBC officials carry out their mandate as it is expected of them.”

In West Pokot, county police commandant Peter Kattam assured locals that security before during and after elections.

Mr Kattam said that security officers have been deployed along the Pokot, Turkana and Elgeyo Marakwet borders. He noted that they have also deployed officers along the Marich-Turkwel road, Turkwel to Kapenguria, Kapenguria to Kacheliba and Marich to Chesegon roads.

“Campaigns are over; people should go back to normal life. Tomorrow, they should vote and go home. Everyone has a right to vote. We don’t want groupings and campaigns anymore,” he said.

He said the security situation in the county is good, apart from isolated cases along the West Pokot and Turkana and Elgeyo Marakwet counties.

“The Kenya-Uganda border is calm apart from a few cases of tension along the Pokot –Turkana border. We have put measures in place with our counterparts in Turkana to ensure we have maximum security. We assure residents that there will be maximum security,” he said.

He urged members of the public, especially those at the borders, to remain vigilant and report any suspicious persons to the nearest authorities so that they are investigated to know their intentions.

In Mombasa, the county elections manager Ms Swalelha Yusuf said that General Service Unity personnel have been deployed to ensure the electorate vote without any hiccups.

At a press briefing at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) offices yesterday, Ms Yusuf also said three tallying centres have been moved to more secure locations.

Bandari Maritime Academy tallying centre for Mvita constituency has been moved to Kenya School of Government, the Mtongwe primary school centre for Likoni constituency has been shifted to the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) while Port Reitz tallying centre for Changamwe has been moved to the St Mary’s Catholic Church community hall.

“We are all set after receiving all the election materials. They have arrived at the constituency level and will be distributed to the polling stations today,” she said.

Ms Yusuf explained that Likoni, Nyali and Kisauni are the hotspot areas in this General Election which will be closely watched.

There will be two security officers at every polling station while tallying centres will have 20 officers each.

Kapenguria Constituency returning officer Enock Otara said they had received 95 per cent of election materials, and they will start distributing them today.

“Today we are arranging the materials. We have the ballot boxes and papers, we have also received lighting lamps and voter registers. We have engaged vehicles for transport and finished all the training,” he said.

In Nandi, county returning officer Silas Rotich said that all is set for over 406,288 registered voters expected to turn up to vote for about 927 and one for prison which will only participate in the presidential election.

He dismissed claims of logistical issues, claiming that the contracted public vehicles have been successfully been hired, and they started distributing the ballot boxes on Monday morning.

“To avoid any logistical nightmares and uncertainties, the relocations of the ballot materials to sub-county tallying centres will be done during the day with all the security factors considered, avoiding any challenges that can delay voting,” he stated.

In Nakuru County, all the 2,055 polling centers in the 11 constituencies of Nakuru County have received their non-strategic election materials.

County Returning Officer Dr Joseph Mele noted that only the presidential ballot materials were yet to be supplied to various polling centres.

“Literally, we have everything and the returning officers have mapped all of the polling stations and have acknowledged receipt of all the materials except the strategic ones in respect to the presidential elections,” he said.

Nakuru County, he noted, has 1, 150,000 registered voters.

Jackie Osiemo, the Kericho County Returning Officer said all the election materials had been dispatched to all the six constituencies tallying centres. “We have one Kenya Integrated Electoral Management kits per polling station. Depending on the size of the constituency, we will have three backup kits part ward,” she said.

Osiemo said a total of 428, 067 registered voters will be expected to cast their votes in 924 polling stations.

“59 inmates at the Kericho Main GK and Annex prison will only participate in the presidential election at two polling stations at the correctional facility,” she said

The County Returning Officer said the election in the county will be unique due to the fact that there will be no ballot box for the Woman Representative position.

This is after the IEBC gazetted Mrs Beatrice Kemei as unopposed and the first member of the 13 Parliament.

However, Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot has raised a red flag over the transfer of Presiding Officers (POs) and clerks in the county away from their voting stations.

The Senator, who is eying to retain his seat, said he had informed the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Chief Agent to urgently raise the issue with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

“In other counties, the Presiding Officers and clerks are allowed to work where they vote. We wonder why the case is diffident in Kericho. We want answers from the electoral body,” said

Meanwhile, Naivasha sub-county commissioner Mutua Kisilu has assured workers in the flower farms of their security before, during and after the polling day.

Speaking after holding a consultative meeting with the farmers and workers’ representative, Mutua noted that security in and around the town had been intensified.

“We have assured the farmers that their produce and workers will get armed escort if need be, though, we don’t see the situation getting to that level,” he said.

Laikipia IEBC elections manager Jane Kanini said that they were busy delivering election materials to all the polling stations but promised to communicate later.

 Kisumu County Returning Officer, Mr Solomon Mudanya said: “All materials needed in the election already arrived, both strategic and non-strategic materials. All ballot papers apart from presidential ones have arrived as well including KIEMs.”

According to the official, they have also completed the plans for security deployment across 1170 polling stations. “Food items for all those in charge of the election in all sub-counties and all polling stations have been delivered,” said Mudanya

However, the officer downplayed a transport hitch that had hit Nyakach constituency that had prevented officials charged with overseeing the poll from mapping polling stations.

In Homa Bay, IEBC officials sought to dismiss claims that they were ill-prepared for the exercise and would rig it in favor of some candidates.

Speaking during a press briefing in his office on Sunday, the county Returning Officer Fredrick Apopa termed the claims that the exercise would be compromised as outrageous.

“I have also heard some people saying some candidates will not be declared winners even if they win. That is a rumor which is false and will not happen in this county,” Apopa said.

 Apopa said they had put all arrangements in place to ensure voting takes place well in 1228 polling stations in the county. “We have received all voting materials,” Apopa said. The county has 551,071 registered voters.

Ben Moseti, Migori County returning officer, said every constituency in the county has received ballot materials. “We are ready for the polls. We will ensure we conduct the elections in a transparent, free and fair manner,” Moseti said.

In Siaya, Catherine Bulinda, the County returning officer said they have received all the materials, both strategic and non-strategic. 

Additional reporting by Philip Mwakio, Patrick Beja, Antony Gitonga, Nikko Tanui, James Munyeki, Kennedy Gachuhi, Yvonne Chepkwony, James Omoro, Anne Atieno, Olivia Odhiambo, Isaiah Gwengi, Edward Kosut, Evans Kipkura and Irissheel Shanzu.