Kenya: It Is ‘All Systems Go’ for Msambweni Mini Poll

Voters go to the polls tomorrow to elect the Msambweni Member of Parliament after the official close of campaigns on Saturday.

After Jubilee party avoided fielding a candidate citing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s handshake with Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga, Deputy President William Ruto, who protested that he was not party to the decision, backed an independent candidate.

ODM, in the early days of the campaigns, pushed back on attempts to frame the contest as one between Mr Odinga and the DP, instead deploying Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to lead the party’s campaigns.

The DP also avoided venturing into Msambweni and instead left it to his allies such as Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya, Nyali MP Mohammed Ali, and former senators Hassan Omar and Johnstone Muthama, to campaign for Mr Feisal Bader.

Mr Joho teamed up with Kilifi governor Amason Kingi to campaign for the ODM candidate, Mr Omar Boga, in the quest by the orange party to recapture the seat that fell vacant following the death of Mr Suleiman Dori.

Crowded field

Tomorrow’s by-election has a crowded field of candidates eyeing the more than 68,000 voters spread across the four wards of Ramisi, Kinondo, Gombato/Bongwe and Ukunda.

Others in the race are independents Mansury Kumaka and Charles Bilali. Other candidates are Hassan Mwakulonda (Party of Economic Democracy), Shee Abdulrahman (Wiper Democratic Movement), Khamis Mwakaonje (United Green Movement) and Marere Wamwachai (National Vision Party).

Yesterday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) pledged to conduct a free and a fair election.

The constituency returning officer, Mr Yusuf Abubakar, said the electoral body is equal to the task and assured the eight contestants and their supporters of a credible election.

“We concluded peaceful campaigns and we have prepared to have a credible elections. Our team is ready to hit the ground running,” he said, adding that at least 450 polling officers have gone through training.

There are 60 polling centres and 129 polling stations. The tallying centre will be at Babla Secondary School.

Mr Abubakar said all the stations will be fumigated and a clerk in every polling centre will be assigned to guide voters to observe social distance.

Formal complaints

He disclosed that the IEBC has not received any formal complaints from the candidates during the campaign period.

Mr Bader’s and Mr Boga’s teams have accused each other of rigging and using public resources during the campaigns.

Mr Mvurya alleged a plot by ODM to rig the mini poll.

“We are aware of plans by ODM to rig elections as they have been on record saying the party must win,”he claimed.

Kwale Woman Rep Zuleikha Juma also accused Mr Mvurya of using public resources during the campaigns.

The government has as well stepped up measures to provide security with hundreds of security personnel deployed.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, speaking while meeting security agents in Kwale last week, said stringent security measures will be put in place during and after the by-election.

“I want to ensure voters that we are going to provide enough security in the upcoming by-election,” Dr Matiang’i said.

He added: “We should all play our part by conducting a peaceful exercise,” he said.

Already, the security officers have mounted a road block on the Likoni-Lunga Lunga highway at Tiwi inspecting motorists to curb any security threats.


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