The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has affirmed its readiness to conduct the Bungoma senatorial by-election which has attracted 11 candidates including former lawmakers.
Wednesday, December 7, the electoral agency embarked on distribution of ballot boxes and other election materials to polling stations and urged voters to turn out in large numbers to vote for their preferred candidates.
The IEBC county boss Grace Rono assured the electorate and candidates of a free and fair election.
Speaking in her office in Bungoma, Ms Rono told the candidates to adhere to the election conduct.
“So far you have behaved well. I now hope you know the last day for the campaigns was Tuesday and should we spot you or your agents at the campaign rallies we will have no option but to act against you,” she said.
The seat fell vacant after former Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula resigned and successfully vied for National Assembly Speaker.
On Wednesday, the candidates made their final pitches to the electorate with each saying they are best suited to replace Mr Wetang’ula.
Former Bumula MP Mwambu Mabonga who is contesting on President William Ruto’s UDA ticket promised the electorate that he would easily push for goodies from the Kenya Kwanza government.
Ford Kenya candidate Wafula Wakoli promised to work tirelessly for the people if elected.
On the other hand, former Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi of DAP-K an affiliate of Azimio is banking on his experience having represented the constituency for three terms to win the support of 559,850 voters.
He said being a candidate of the opposition party he was better placed to oversight the administration of Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka.
Opinion polls have placed Mabonga, Wakoli and Wamunyinyi as front runners in the race to succeed Wetang’ula.
Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale (UDA) drummed up support for Mabonga across the nine constituencies in the county.
Ford Kenya leader Wetang’ula and a host of party MPs in the region campaigned for Wakoli.
"Wafula is an intelligent, energetic young leader who has shown great leadership in the years I have worked with him. His performance record speaks for itself," said the Speaker.
Wamunyinyi on the other hand had the backing of Western Azimio chair and former Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya and immediate former Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.
“In Kakamega, we have Azimio Governor Fernandes Barasa (ODM) being checked by a Kenya Kwanza Alliance Senator Boni Khalwale (UDA). The same case is replicated in Trans Nzoia where we have George Natembeya (DAP-K) being checked by Allan Chesang (UDA), so you should elect (Wafula) Wamunyinyi (Azimio) to check Lusaka (Ford-Kenya) to ensure things run smoothly,” said DAP-K patron Wamalwa.
Oparanya exuded confidence that the former MP will win the seat saying he was a level-headed politician with vast experience and therefore a better replacement for Wetang’ula.
The other candidates in the race are Elias Barasa of People's Empowerment Party and Enock Opara, Julius Masinde and Radon Munoko who are independent.
Others are Dr Fredrick Busolo of Vibrant Democracy Party, Aaron Wafula (Republican Liberty Party), Geofrey Barasa (National Ordinary People Empowerment Union) and Robert Sifuna (Roots Party of Kenya).
Dr Busolo claimed that pollsters could be misleading the voters and that the people should expect a surprise during announcement of the results.
“The pollsters and media are projecting it as a three-horse race but we have talked to be people and feel that they are indeed tired of the ‘three horses’ as they are old faces who have either served disgracefully or belong to the apathy that has tortured the people of Bungoma,” he said.
IEBC warned the candidates of suspension should they hold rallies after close of the campaign period on Tuesday.
Rono noted that the county tallying centre will be at Mabanga Agricultural Training Centre while there are 1,373 polling stations.
The tallying centre per constituency are Elgon at Kapsokwony DEB Primary School, Sirisia at Sirisia Vocational Training Institute, Kimilili at Matili Technical Training Institute and Kabuchai at Kisiwa Technical Training Institute.
Tongaren will have Bungoma North Vocational Training Institute, Webuye West at St Antony Primary School of the deaf, Webuye East at St Mathews ACK Primary School, Kanduyi at Kibabii University and in Bumula at Kamatuni parish.