ODM party primaries marred by confusion

ODM leader Raila Odinga. April 6, 2022. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

Confusion marred the ODM primaries in Busia County yesterday following claims of system breakdown.

Voters started arriving at polling centres in Budalang’i, Bumala and other parts of the county from as early as 5am, and queued until around 10am when voting commenced in most of the centres.

Isolated incidences of violence were reported in some polling centres, but police restored order.

Mr Pascal Otieno, a resident of Budalang’i, said: “We have been queueing since morning. We have been told the system failed. I wish they could resort to manual voting so that people vote and go to do other things.”

Mr Felix Ouma said he arrived at the polling centre at 5am but he had not cast his vote by 10am. “We urge Orange House to intervene and let us vote using a different system due to the delays, because some people may get tired and leave.”

ODM postponed parliamentary seat nominations, inconveniencing aspirants and supporters. Funyula MP Mr Oundo Mudenyo said he did not know why the nominations for MP tickets were postponed “but we hope they will conduct it.”

Former minister Mr Paul Otuoma, who is eyeing the Busia governor seat, said the exercise went on smoothly.

Mr Otuoma, who is fighting for the ODM ticket against Busia County woman representative Mrs Florence Mutua, exuded confidence that the party members would elect him. “We have witnessed challenges with network, which delayed the exercise for many hours, but so far things are moving well,” he said.

Mr Otuoma said he did not expect monkey business in the nominations as witnessed in 2017 when he lost to outgoing Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong’ in party primaries. “If you lose fairly, that is the nature of the game. If the party handles this drive successfully as expected, it will be a win for ODM and the party members,” he said.

Ms Mutua could not immediately be reached for comment, but her supporters turned out to vote.

From Busia, ODM is expected to conduct primaries in Kakamega today. Members are divided over an earlier decision to issue direct tickets to some aspirants. Those who received direct tickets include MPs Bernard Shinali (Ikolomani), Tindi Mwale (Butere), Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo), Oku Kaunya (Teso North) and Christopher Aseka (Khwisero).