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Friday, July 28, 2017

Anxiety as primaries cancelled indefinitely in key Jubilee Party strongholds

Some of the ballot materials at Baringo County headquarters in Kabarnet town before the primaries were postponed on Friday, April 21, 2017. /JOSEPH KANGOGO
Some of the ballot materials at Baringo County headquarters in Kabarnet town before the primaries were postponed on Friday, April 21, 2017. /JOSEPH KANGOGO

Jubilee Party primaries were cancelled indefinitely in most counties on Friday following an acute shortage of ballot papers.

This happened despite JP secretariat chairman Raphael Tuju reaffirming that the primaries have not been cancelled.

In Elgeyo Marakwet, county elections board accused top Jubilee elections board officials of not responding to their concerns.

Barnabas Lagat, the elections board chair at the county, said they noticed the papers were insufficient when they were dispatched on Thursday.

Lagat accused the party's top officials of declining to pick calls when they were contacted over the looming shortage.

"We have been forced call off this exercise until the necessary materials are delivered. We cannot proceed without ballot papers."

He said the JP secretariat also failed to respond to his emails on the matter.

"I had to call an emergency meeting where we concluded that this process will not proceed until when the matter is cleared," Lagat said.

More on this: Transport challenges cause of JP poll mess, officials say

He pointed out Keiyo North constituency where only 12,000 ballot papers were delivered against the required 40,000.

Lagat told the national secretariat to provide an updated IEBC voter register for the exercise.

He said the voter register must be perused by all aspirants before the primaries begin.

In Chesoi, Marakwet East constituency, presiding officers spent the night at CDF hall after the returning officer detected the anomaly.

The same was the case in Baringo where the exercise was called off over shortage of ballot papers .

County elections board chairman Bernard Lotole said the exercise was suspended until further notice.

Lotole blamed the headquarters for dispatching insufficient materials.

Police blocked over 300 residents who flocked the county offices demanding that the nominations kick off.

Read: Shots fired at youth burning ballot papers in Nanyuki

In Kirinyaga county, voting did not take off as planned amid allegations that ballot papers had been stolen.

Jubilee Party county coordinator Martin Mwangi denied the claims.

Security was beefed up at most of the centres earmarked for the poll that would produce candidates for the August 8 general election.

County commissioner Erastus Ekidor warned aspirants not to cause chaos regardless of the outcome of the election results.

He has said police will not hesitate to arrest anyone who causes trouble during the primaries.

In Murang'a, the exercise delayed after ballot boxes were reported missing in various polling stations.

A presiding officer at Ikindu in Maragua constituency said ballot papers were stolen from his car which was parked at the polls venue.

Murang'a JP secretary general Irungu Mwaniki said the was being sorted out to ensure voting goes on.

Some residents alleged a ploy by the Jubilee Party to ensure some aspirants are rigged out.

Many voters registered their frustrations with the Jubilee Party's failure to conduct a smooth exercise.

This was the case in most parts of the 21 counties where the primaries were scheduled on the first day of the polls.

Also read: Eight choppers on standby to supply ballot materials, says Tuju

Polls in Kuresoi South were also called off until further notice following a request by aspirants.

The process flopped due to insufficient ballot papers that were delivered to the sub-county for the Friday primaries.

JP county elections board official Fredrick Rono announced the cancellation after consulting the head office.

Aspirants led by Senator Liza Chelule, Philip Korir and Keringet ward MCA Leah Serem asked the party to destroy ballot papers that were opened in absence of aspirants.

"We request destruction of the few ballot papers which are at the tallying centre to curb rigging." Korir said.

They also asked the party to appoint a new constituency returning officer when the elections will be done.

Reporting by Stephen Rutto, Alice Waithera, Amos Kerich, Joseph Kangogo, and Geoffrey Kibisu

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