Chaotic start for UDA party elections in North Rift

Voters queue at Iten Primary polling station in Elgeyo Marakwet County during the UDA party primaries on April 14, 2022 [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) conducted its nominations in the North Rift, with delays and chaos reported in many poling stations.

From delays in the arrival of materials to suspicions that resulted in temporary disruptions, the party primaries were nonetheless carried out.

The primaries had been slated to start at 7am but began at 11am following transport hitches attributed to the biting fuel crisis.

In Uasin Gishu, voting for flag bearers for the positions of governor, senator, MP, Woman Rep and MCAs was to be done in all the county’s 868 polling stations.

"I have been at the polling station since 5.30am and we have not received any communication (from party polling officials). We are told to wait for 30 minutes," Mercy Mafumbo, a UDA member voting at the University of Eldoret Secondary school polling station, told The Standard.

Ekiru Masai, a UDA party agent at the same polling station said: "The polling officials have been saying they are on the way. We are told there is delay in the distribution of the materials."

Polling at MP Patel Primary in Eldoret town started at 11am. In stations in Ainabkoi constituency such as Koibarak, Beliomo and Munyaka Primary schools, voting started at 7.30 am, 30 minutes behind schedule.

In Soy, voting was disrupted for an hour at Legebet Primary after voters called for the ejection of an agent representing an MP aspirant, accusing him of misleading an elderly voter who sought his assistance.

Angry voters who claimed to have witnessed the alleged anomaly forced their way into the polling room to eject the agent. A police officer manning the station tried to restore calm in vain.

“Some agents were misleading and coercing illiterate voters to vote for some aspirants, but the good thing is that voters had made up their minds,” Julius Korir, a Soy constituency MP aspirant said.

Voters also complained about IEBC registers which they claim locked out some voters.

In West Pokot, voting at Murkwijit Primary in Kapenguria constituency was stopped following claims of voter bribery. 

The voting exercise was disrupted in the afternoon after allies of an MCA aspirant stormed the polling station and took away ballot papers.

“How can someone storm the polling station and walk away with unmarked ballot papers. We won't accept the results,” Musa Ndiayi, a voter at the polling station said.

UDA returning officer Ann Wanjiku said the leaders reached a consensus to back one aspirant. She said there was no need for nominations.

She said former governor Simon Kachapin will be flying UDA governorship flag, Julius Murgor (Senate), Woman Rep Lilian Tomitom will be defending her seat and Mark Lomunokol, Peter Lochakapong and Samuel Moroto will be defending their Kacheliba, Sigor and Kapenguria seats, respectively.

Wanjiku dismissed the voter bribery allegations at Murkwijit terming it a small matter.

In Elgeyo Marakwet, long queues started building up at polling stations as early as 6am.

Former Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet who is eyeing the governor's seat arrived at Kipkabus Down Primary school in Keiyo South only to find out that his name was missing.

Boinnet said he recently changed his polling station to his home turf but the UDA party presented the 2017 voter register and was not up to date.

During the morning, armed bandits ambushed residents at Kabaldamet in Marakwet East while on their way to Kabaldamet polling station to cast their votes. During the attack, one person was shot dead and four injured .

Marakwet East Sub-County Commissioner Simon Osumba said the armed bandits were on a mission to disrupt the peaceful nominations. “The situation is calm at the moment," said Osumba.

Meanwhile, UDA nomination in Cherangany, Trans Nzoia went on despite the returning officer stopping the exercise after being confronted by MP aspirants.

Victor Rotich was forced by aggrieved aspirants to announce the suspension of the nominations. The exercise resumed afterwards.

At Kipkeikei polling centre, some youth allied to one MP aspirant were spotted armed with dangerous weapons with intend to cause fracas. Tight security was deployed in some polling centres.

In Nandi, Governor Stephen Sang said he would concede the defeat if he fails to clinch the party ticket.

“This is my third political contest since I joined politics in 2013. And in every election there is a winner or loser and both are inevitable aspects of competitive politics," he said.

Speaking after casting his vote at Kobujoi polling station, the county boss exuded confidence that he would be elected. Sang said he would not interfere with the nominations.

“What my administration has delivered stands out and I am confident Nandi residents have every reason to re-elect me despite some challenges that cannot miss in every institution,” Governor Sang said.

Voting was delayed for several hours in Nandi due to logistical challenges.