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It’s do-or-die battle for CORD and Jubilee in Nyaribari Chache by-election

NYANZA
By Kenan Miruka | December 29th 2013

By Kenan Miruka       

Kisii, Kenya: As residents of Nyaribari Chache go into polls to pick their MP in Monday’s by-election, key political parties are braced for an epic showdown.

For major political alliances in the country, Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) and Jubilee alliance, the by election has assumed greater significance and its outcome will impact on each’s political fortunes in the Gusii region.

CORD co-principal Moses Wetangula said the battle for Nyaribari Chache was beyond the issues on the ground pointing to preparations for the next general election.

The seat formerly held by ODM’s Chris Bichage fell vacant following a successful petition filed by Ford People candidate Richard Tong’i and has attracted nine contestants including the two.

Jubilee and CORD teams were engaged in last ditch efforts to woo supporters in favour of their candidates amid claims of massive voter bribery and intimidation.

The Jubilee team on the ground is led by TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja and Naom Shabaan. The team spent most of the weekend attending church functions in the constituency as they enticed faithful to back party candidate Robert Monda.

“We have come to ask that you back Monda and through him get direct access to state house for the constituency’s benefit. Jubilee leaders are ready to help develop churches in Kisii,” said Sakaja at Mwembe SDA church’s Sabbath School.

The Jubilee team spent enormous financial resources in Bomachoge Borabu and they have contributed generously to various church projects in the last few days.

On Sunday, CORD alleged a plot by its opponents rig the election and challenged the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to investigate the claims and take corrective action.

In a statement read to the media by Kisii County Senator Chris Obure, CORD’s planning committee for the mini poll comprising Kisii County deputy governor, five MPs and several county reps accused government operatives led by Kisii County Commissioner Lydia Muriuki of siding with their opponents.

“CORD is disturbed by a persistent and annoying trend in which the Jubilee team conducted its campaigns ahead of today's by-election. We have information that Jubilee plans to intimidate our agents but we are telling them that we have men and women of high moral integrity and will not succumb to such threats,” said Obure.

He claimed a section of poll officials held a meeting with The National Alliance (TNA) officials in a Kisii Hotel where they were ostensibly compromised ahead of the poll.

“We are shocked by reports that members of community policing groups are being used to intimidate our supporters especially in Bichage’s strongholds. We warn these groups that if they continue engaging in politics, we shall push for their abolition in parliament,” said Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka.

The leaders asked IEBC to take action against the presiding officers who had stooped too low to flout the law while further alleging that TNA planned to buy Identity Cards from their supporters to disarm them on polling day.

Returning officer Robert Ng’eny assured residents that the poll body was committed to deliver a credible poll. He said IEBC’s prosecutor was on the ground to deal firmly with any violators of the electoral code of conduct.

By the weekend, the by election was shaping out to be a three horse race pitting Bichage against Tong’i and former MP Dr Monda.

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