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Candidates blame the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission for turning blind eye to violence in Homa Bay

By Rushdie Oudia and James Omoro | February 4th 2015
Moses Kajwang Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) candidate for Homabay senetarial seat [Courtesy]

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has been put on the spot by candidates contesting for the Homa Bay senatorial race.

In a meeting at the IEBC offices in Homa Bay, all the eight candidates accused the commission of not acting on electoral malpractices allegedly by their rivals.

With one week remaining for the candidates to conduct their campaigns before they go to the polls, allegations of voter bribery, name calling and ballot papers already stashed at one of the sub-counties are rife in Homa Bay.

Apart from IEBC officials and the security forces, the meeting was attended by Fred Rabongo (National Agenda Party of Kenya), Phillip Okundi (Maendeleo Party of Kenya) and independent candidates Edwin Matete and Hillary Alila.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) candidate Moses Kajwang was represented by Homa Bay town MP Peter Kaluma and the party interim Chair Monica Amollo.

Rigging claims

Kaluma accused IEBC of selective implementation of the electoral laws claiming when Isaack Aluoch filed a petition against Kajwang, the party adhered to it yet when ODM petitions the same IEBC on election violence against their candidate, no action is taken.

"Why is our case being handled differently from the others? Our concern is the time taken for investigations against our candidate," said Mr Kaluma.

He said the electoral body should be getting into implementation and not lecturing candidates on electoral laws.

The Homa Bay Town MP alleged that polling clerks and presiding officers plan to rig the impending polls since they have been associated with a particular candidate.

Okundi accused IEBC of treating ODM differently yet they have been engaged in various violations of the elections Act.

He termed the alleged violence against Kajwang as stage-managed, including the accident the Kajwang family was involved in at Narok.

"IEBC should be serious and take action against candidates trying to create turmoil during the campaigns," said Mr Okundi.

On Friday last week, Kajwang' was reportedly injured when rival supporters fought at the burial of former Homa Bay County Public Service Board Secretary Agnes Mackdwallo, the wife of former Kenyan ambassador to Egypt in Kochia, Rangwe constituency.

This came a day after the ODM party campaign team got a hostile reception at Oriang' market where youths pelted the group with stones.

It is in the same constituency where a similar incident befell an ODM entourage when Kajwang' was being introduced in the county.

Okundi, like the other candidates, complained that some of the rules were overstretched and therefore inapplicable.

Stashed boxes

Medo Misama, an independent candidate, claimed IEBC had failed to deal with both the physical and symbolic violence meted out against some of them.

"The race is being depicted as a two-horse race, making some of us feel belittled. This is symbolic violence yet IEBC is doing nothing about it," said Mr Misama.

He alleged that there were ballot boxes and papers stashed in a particular constituency, yet IEBC is the custodian of all electoral materials, and therefore should be answerable.

Hillary Alila said IEBC should stop being a 'toothless dog' and act on the malpractices.

"Big parties are being favoured IEBC in the way the commission is handling their electoral malpractices," said Alila. Governor Cyprian Awiti was warned against using public funds to campaign for ODM.

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