Tallying centre chaos in Juja as MPs predict UDA win in Rurii
By Brian Otieno and Fidelis Kabunyi | May 19th 2021
A scuffle broke out last night during the tallying of Juja by-election results at the Mang’u High School tallying centre.
A host of Tangatanga-allied MPs and their supporters clashed with Kiambu Governor James Nyoro after an unidentified man stormed the main dais, briefly halting counting of the ballots.
This even as preliminary results indicated George Koimburi of the People’s Empowerment Party leading with 834 votes (57 per cent) against Jubilee’s Susan Waititu with 404 votes (28 per cent) following tabulation in 13 out of 184 poll stations.
And in the Rurii Ward by-election in Nyandarua County, United Democratic Alliance (UDA) candidate Muraya Giathaiga took an early lead in the mini-poll that was marred by chaos.
By 10pm, Mr Muraya had garnered 2,599 votes while Jubilee’s Peter Githinji was second with 1,536. Susan Wangeci of TND had garnered 35 votes after the tabulation of votes in 11 voting stations.
Unconfirmed provisional reports that indicated Muraya had won led to scenes of jubilation in Rurii town, with Woman Rep Faith Gitau and Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua at the forefront of celebrations.
Mr Rigathi said the outcome should prompt President Uhuru Kenyatta to listen to the electorate.
“This is now another lesson after the London Ward by-election. Mr President, please come to the ground and listen to your people,” he said.
Ms Gitau said the people of Rurii had shown they were tired with the county leadership.
The Juja parliamentary by-election had kicked off with low voter turnout amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Empty polling centres characterised the by-election for the better part of the day. There was no morning rush when polls opened at 6am in all the 38 polling stations across the constituency.
Neither was there a lunch-time increase in voter-traffic from residents who had perhaps taken a break at work.
For instance, the longest queue witnessed by The Standard at Kahuria Primary School at 1pm had six voters.
At the time, the returning officer had reported that the turnout was between eight and 10 per cent.
The constituency’s returning officer, Justus Mbithi reported a 15 per cent turnout in an exercise he termed “peaceful”. Earlier, he had expressed optimism that the turnout would improve as the day progressed.
At JKUAT and Magomano Primary School polling centres, for instance, voting started at exactly 6am with strict compliance to health protocols. Two police officers have been assigned to each polling station and no incidences were reported.
Things only changed slightly in the evening, minutes to the closing time, with more voters keen to beat the deadline. But, even then, there was no significant increase in the turnout.
Voting closed at 5pm across most polling stations. Some voters who showed up after the closing time were turned away.
Jubilee Party’s Susan Waititu, the widow of former Juja MP Francis Waititu, was the 23rd person to vote at polling station 12 at Jomo Kenyatta Primary School.
She cast her ballot at 10am, four hours after voting began.
Ms Waititu was escorted by Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni Wamuchomba who exuded confidence that she will capture the seat.
Ms Wamuchomba sought to dispel rumours on social media that there were plans to switch off electricity in the entire constituency when counting starts after close of polling stations.
”I wish to ask IEBC to be a bit flexible on its timelines since most of the voters in Juja are workers in various flower farms and industries while others are students in various colleges,” Wamuchomba said.
George Koimburi of the People Empowerment Party (PEP), cast his ballot at 11am at Magomano Primary School. Both candidates were confident of victory, even as they asked IEBC to extend the voting time to accommodate more voters.
John Njoroge of PPK last evening withdrew from the race and threw his weight behind Koimburi.
Other candidates are Maendeleo Chap Chap’s Antony Kirori, Eunice Wanjiru of The National Democrats, Ken Gachuma of the National Liberal Party and Kanu’s Dorcas Wanjiru.
Also in the race are Dr Joseph Gichui, James Marungo Kariuki alias JM and Zulu Thiong’o, all independent candidates. Voters at the different centres blamed the poor turnout on anticipated insecurity.
“We had been warned about goons storming this centre in the morning so people were worried about that. But we have seen that there is nothing to worry about. I have voted peacefully,” said Jane Wanjiku, a voter at Jomo Kenyatta Primary School.
“We don’t want violence, we just want to elect our leader and move on with life,” added Jacinta Wangari.
Police officers manned all the constituency’s 38 polling centres.
Key players in the by-election acknowledged that the polls had been peaceful.
“Our people should know that security has been beefed up so they should turn out and vote. Our security officers are doing a good job,” said Waititu.
Her sentiments were echoed by the PEP candidate.
“It was a challenging campaign and we are happy voters have kept the peace,” said Mr Koimburi.
“We are fairly satisfied with the exercise. When we have escalated any issues the police have responded promptly,” stated Gatundu MP Moses Kuria.
The Kiambu Woman Rep had earlier complained of alleged incidents of voter intimidation and bribery.
“We know how you did in Msambweni. We won’t let you do that here. No MP should be allowed inside a polling station” she said.
She had accompanied the Jubilee candidate to the polling centre.
[Brian Otieno and Fidelis Kabunyi]
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