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State now allays security fears as voters elect ward reps in mini poll

By Standard Team | March 4th 2021

IEBC officials go through election materials ahead of the Hellsgate ward by-elections in Naivasha slated for Thursday. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Voters in Nakuru’s London, Hell’s Gate wards and those in Huruma ward in Uasin Gishu go to the polls today to elect their representatives amid security concerns.

The government has pledged to beef up security in London and Hell’s Gate wards in Nakuru County, where there were concerns over threats of violence, between members of rival political parties fronting candidates in today’s by-election.

Yesterday, Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya dispelled fears that violence was being planned on voting day, saying enough security personnel have been deployed in the three wards.

“We are on high alert on the three by-elections taking place in the region today. We are leaving nothing to chance to ensure the exercise runs smoothly. All we need is for the voters to cast their ballots and leave the station. There should be no lazing around after voting,” said Natembeya.

His remarks followed claims by Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika in a letter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Hillary Mutyambai claiming that there was a plot to use the police to interfere with the exercise.

Cause chaos

“The government in cahoots with Jubilee Party has plotted to use police to cause chaos and disrupt voting in London. The sub county police has been directed to threaten, blockade and curtail movement of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) supporters,” wrote Kihika.

The senator warned the police against being used to cause mayhem in the area allegedly skewed to favour certain candidates.

“We want the police to refrain from being used to cause violence or subvert the will of the people. They should know UDA supporters will turn up in large numbers to guard their votes,” she said.

Nakuru West Sub County Police Commander Samson Gathuku, however, dismissed the allegations noting that the police will maintain law and order in the area.

Jubilee Party is fronting Francis Njoroge who is a former ward representative of the area to face off with United Democratic Alliance (UDA)’s Nzuki Wachira.

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Two candidates have so far withdrawn from the race but their names will still be among the 20 on the ballot papers as the 18,380 registered voters elect a new leader in place of Samuel Mbugua.

Mbugua who had been elected on a Jubilee ticket in 2017 died three months ago after a short illness.

“I challenge the senator to produce any evidence against us and even move to court. We are not above the law. We shall have two officers manning each station and others patrolling the ward until the exercise is over. We are a neutral agency in this,” said Gathuku.

The police boss warned those planning to disrupt the exercise saying that they will be met with full force of the law.

Nakuru County Elections Manager Silas Rotich yesterday hosted all the aspirants during the opening of ballot paper pallets for distribution to 29 polling stations spread across seven centres.

“We have heard information that two candidates from different parties have withdrawn from the race. However, they did so very late and will still appear on the ballot papers,” said Rotich.

Nakuru West Returning Officer Gilbert Serem said that the exercise will be conducted under strict observance of Covid-19 regulations to ensure voters’ safety.

“We shall have enforcement of social distancing and checking of temperatures within the station. Since there will be use of biometrics, sanitisation of hands before and after shall be a must,” said Serem.

In Naivasha, IEBC has written to flower farmers to allow their workers to participate in the by-elections.

According to the Returning Officer David Mbui, they had received all the required paperwork and materials for the ward that has over 24,000 registered voters.

Speaking to the press at Naivasha Boarding Primary School, which is the tallying centre, Mbui denied any allegations of bribery in the vast ward.

One of the aspirants Antony Mwangi Wambui lauded IEBC for its openness in the exercise and for involving them at every stage.

In Makueni, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) moved various polling stations ahead of today’s poll in Kitise/Kithuki. 

Makueni IEBC boss Aisha Mohammed said the polling stations include: Kanzokea, Kithuki, Maau Eli, Kyuasini, to Kanzokea chief’s camp, Maau Eli CCI church compound, and Kyuasini AIC Church compound respectively.

[Anthony Gitonga, Kennedy Gachuhi and Stephen Nzioka]

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