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IEBC officials injured as training sessions called off in some regions

POLITICS
By Standard Team | October 18th 2017
Presiding officers Ibrahim Omondi and Susan Akoro in a house where they took refuge in Awasi village, Kisumu County, after IEBC training was disrupted. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) yesterday suffered a major setback in its preparations for the repeat presidential elections.

This was after angry mobs disrupted its training sessions across Nyanza.

Hundreds of youths stormed training sessions in Bondo, Kisumu and Homa Bay where returning officers, presiding officers and clerks were being trained ahead of the October 26 repeat poll.

The attacks on the training centres come at a time when the National Super Alliance (NASA) has said the polls will not take place after the electoral agency declined to effect its “irreducible minimum” demands, which included firing of IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba.

Trainees robbed

The ruling Jubilee Party and IEBC insist the elections will be held as scheduled despite Opposition from NASA.

Yesterday, violence rocked the exercise, leaving officials injured and property destroyed.

Chanting ‘No reforms, No elections’, the youths stormed the training centres, forcing the police to fire into the air to disperse them.

At Awasi in Nyando, the training, which was scheduled to begin yesterday at Church of God Prophecy, was disrupted by youths who stormed the premises demanding that the  training should stop.

The youths destroyed IEBC training material and robbed trainees of their phones, laptops, money and bags among other valuables.

IEBC banners were destroyed as the agitated youths demanded that the training be stopped.

Ibrahim Omondi, a presiding officer, narrated to The Standard how the youths ambushed them at the church gate.

“Many of us escaped and sought refuge in the nearby homes and in bushes around the place,” said Omondi.

Susan Akoro, another presiding officer, said she was surrounded by five youths who slapped her several times before snatching her handbag.

But interestingly, Nyando OCPD Mohammed Amin said IEBC did not notify them in time about the planned training.

He, however, said police officers moved in swiftly and rescued some of the officials under attack.

County Returning Officer John Cox expressed concern over the security of his officials.

In Bondo, IEBC training has been suspended indefinitely after a group of rowdy youths attacked about 100 officials who had just arrived for the training at St Mathews Sironyo Academy.

According to Bondo IEBC Returning Officer John Matekwa, some of his officials sustained minor injuries.

Area Deputy County Commissioner Richard Ajwang termed the attack as an act of thuggery.

In Kasipul, Homa Bay County, youths disrupted the training at the Sikri Vocational Training Centre, sending IEBC staff fleeing for their lives.

Homa Bay County Returning Officer Michael Kosgei, however, downplayed the attack, saying his officials later reconvened and continued with training under tight security.

County Police Commander Marius Tum said they had beefed up security to ensure the training was successful.

The training sessions were also postponed in Gem, Rarieda and Ugunja  sub-counties.

[Mactilda Mbenywe, James Omoro, Isaiah Gwengi and Olivia Odhiambo]

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