The North Ugenya by-election pitting Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP) candidate Steven Mwanga against Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)’s Shaban Omar kicked off without hitches.
Incidents of voter bribery were however reported in three polling stations. Omar accused his opponent Mwanga of bribing voters in Jera, Kagonya and Nyamsenda polling centres.
“There were people who were bribing voters in these polling stations and it took the intervention of my supporters to repulse and report the culprits to the police,” said Omar.
The poll which is set to be a contest for supremacy between Jubilee and Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), started in earnest at 6a.m. Another candidate in the race is Kenya African National Union (KANU)’s Lazarus Omondi.
By 11 a.m., not many voters had turned at the 18 polling stations in the ward that has a total of 9,536 voters. The elderly could be seen making way to the polling stations on motorcycles aided by their relatives.
The voter turn-out was relatively low and this was raised by the candidates. Omar said voters reported to the polling stations early in the morning but the queues reduced.
ODM’s Omar is not a registered voter of North Ugenya ward and is only expected to visit his home polling station in Kagonya primary school to monitor the exercise. He is registered in Starehe constituency in Nairobi County.
Mwanga said that being a by-election, the voter turnout was not expected to be as high as that in the general elections but expressed optimism that the electorate would turn up in large numbers.
“The voter turn-out is low but those who would have voted will have represented the voice of those who did not vote,” said Mwanga.
He however said the campaigns were incident free and that today’s exercise was expected to be free, fair and void of violence and bribery.
Addressing the media, the Returning officer Esbon Baraza asked employers to grant workers permission to exercise their democratic right.
“Any employer who will deny the people a right to vote will be sued,” said Baraza, who stressed that the exercise had been well planned. He stated that all the necessary materials had been taken to the 18 polling stations and that two police officers have also been deployed in each polling station for security purposes.
However, there was heavy police presence at Sega Youth Polytechnic which is the tallying centre and at Sega Township Primary School which is Mwanga’s stronghold.
The officer warned that any candidate or voter who will breach election rules will suffer serious penalties.
The Ugenya North ward MCA seat fell vacant following the death of the former incumbent Benson Onyango on the 14th March of this year.