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NASA backs down on vote guard plan

NASA Presidential candidate Raila Odinga addresses political rally at Bukhungu stadium in Kakamega on August 3, 2017. BY BENJAMIN SAKWA

The National Super Alliance has backed down on its 'adopt-a-polling-station' strategy, which called for supporters to remain at polling stations to guard their votes.

The coalition's co-principals have instead told their supporters to vote and move away from the polling centres to avoid confrontation with the police officers manning the stations.

Addressing a rally at Kibos grounds in Kisumu yesterday, NASA co-principals Raila Odinga (ODM), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), and Moses Wetang'ula (Ford-Kenya) said the change of tack was aimed at avoiding playing into Jubilee's trap.

Raila's running mate, Kalonzo, who addressed the crowd after the presidential candidate, announced: "We have changed the strategy on adopting a polling station."

Kalonzo said the leaders had received intelligence that the Government was planning to use security personnel to provoke their supporters hanging around polling stations to cause chaos, leading to disruption of voting.

"We now want our people to vote, leave the stations, and probably move to the nearest market centres, where they will periodically monitor the voter turnout, and then move to the villages to get out the people who have not voted to come out and vote," said Kalonzo.

His sentiments were echoed by Wetang'ula, who said the decision was arrived at after considering that any disruption of voting may hamper maximum voter turnout in NASAstrongholds.

Wetang'ula told acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i to stop using the police to scare Kenyans.

Raila, who was the first to address the crowd, noted that he smelt victory after going around the country and finding that Kenyans were 'tired of the Jubilee government'.

The NASA team also toured the western region, where Raila told chiefs not to be shaken by sacking threats from President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Addressing residents of Malaba in his tour of Busia yesterday, Raila said he would reinstate the sacked chiefs if he wins in next week's election.

Raila's remarks come just a day after Uhuru said he would punish chiefs from Makueni after the elections for allegedly supporting NASA.

The Election Offences Act makes it an offence for public officers to engage in campaigns or other political activities.

And speaking at Kakamega's Bhukungu Stadium, Raila called on western Kenya residents to turn up in large numbers and vote for NASA.

Mudavadi said the region would overwhelmingly vote in Raila.

[Reports by Kevine Omollo, Ignatius Odanga, Nathan Ochunge and John Shilitsa]

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