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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Chaos mark first day of ODM primaries in Bungoma, Busia

Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong and his wife Judy cast their votes at Busia
Township Primary School yesterday./ JANE CHERUTICH
Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong and his wife Judy cast their votes at Busia Township Primary School yesterday./ JANE CHERUTICH

Two ODM leaders in Busia and another in Bungoma county are nursing injuries following chaos and confusion that rocked the party’s

primaries that kicked off yesterday.

Despite tough talk by party honchos to rein in violence, Busia sub-branch treasurer David Otini and Angurai South ward chairman Joseph Okware were beaten by goons.

The ODM secretary for Webuye sub-branch was also hospitalised after being assaulted for allegedly favouring a particular candidate.

The primaries are a do-or-die for opposition chief Raila Odinga’s key allies and is promising to end the careers of some of the big names in the Kenyan political landscape.

In Busia, Governor Sospeter Ojaamong is fighting it out with outgoing Funyula MP Paul Otuoma. In Teso South, the names of two parliamentary aspirants, Jeff Osiba and Geoffrey Omuse were missing from the ballot papers, heightening suspicion. The party primaries started almost four hours late.

Ernest Wekesa and Julian Okware of Township and Musikoma wards respectively in Kanduyi constituency also had their names missing from ballot papers.

“We submitted everything, including paying the nomination fees, and now our names are not on this ballot papers,” Okware protested.

The two said they used a lot of money to campaign and demanded the election board refund their cash.

The duo said ODM had shown its nominations were not going to be free and fair and threatened to ditch the party.

At Kakapel and Rwatama polling stations in Busia county, voting was temporarily stopped following claims of interference.

Riot police were called in to contain the situation. County assembly deputy speaker Moses Ote and his challenger Grace

Omasete are pointing accusing fingers at each other for the confusion. One of the MP aspirants has also been named in the mess at Kekalet polling station.

Busia has seven constituencies - Teso North and South, Nambale, Matayos, Butula, Funyula and Budalang’i.

The ODM ticket is fiercely sought in all constituencies including Budalang’i, the backyard of ex-ODM secretary general Ababu Namwamba.

There was confusion at Township Primary School, where Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong cast his vote at 10.30am.

Speaking to the press, he said the delay and confusion has dampened the spirits of many voters.

“The mixup in names on the ballot papers has also done the exercise more harm than good,” Ojaamong

said.

In Kanduyi, there was confusion as to whether to use the IEBC register. Youths engaged in fistfights at the Moi Educational Centre after some were blocked from voting.

Police were forced to intervene as they engaged the youths in running battles. The Pamus Teachers’ College polling station was closed after the owner said he had not been informed of the exercise. The station is gazetted.

Party members were forced to open a new voting centre at a nearby home. Kanduyi MP aspirant John Makali

Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong and his wife Judy cast their votes at Busia Township Primary School yesterday cast doubts on the entire exercise saying the party headquarters had failed.

“There has generally been a lot of confusion on the register to use and the delivery of materials. In some cases, aspirants have been forced to transport the materials,” he said.

Lawyer Edwin Sifuna and Kanduyi MP aspirant said there were irregularities in many polling stations. ODM commissioner Norah Owino downplayed the complaints, saying everything had been done properly.

“Apart from a few hitches, we have ensured the exercise is a successes,” she said.

According to the party’s National Elections Board, the nominations for Kakamega, Samburu and Narok counties will take place tomorrow, while that of Taita Taveta, Kajiado, Trans Nzoia and Nakuru counties will be on Tuesday next week.

The board has said the mode of election will be strictly secret ballot. The Jubilee Party has cleared 7,893 aspirants to contest various seats in its primaries set for next Friday. The party’s primaries will be conducted on one day.


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