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Chaos rocks Orange House as Elizabeth Ongoro accuses elections board of selling certificates

Nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro (right) addresses journalists at Orange House in Nairobi. She accused the ODM National Elections Board of removing her name from the list of Ruaraka parliamentary seat aspirants. [David Njaaga, Standard]


Nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro (right) addresses journalists at Orange House in Nairobi. She accused the ODM National Elections Board of removing her name from the list of Ruaraka parliamentary seat aspirants. [David Njaaga, Standard]

An ODM official has admitted the party is facing challenges over nominations even as chaos erupted at the party headquarters over claims a candidate’s name had been struck off the list of contestants.

Director of Political Affairs and Operations Wafula Buke Wednesday said: “The degree of expected consultation and involvement in processes falls far below acceptable levels.”

This came as supporters of Nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro stormed Orange House accusing election board officials of favouring some candidates ahead of the nominations.

They accused the National Elections Board of removing Ongoro’s name from the list of contestants for the Ruaraka parliamentary seat.

The rowdy crowd tried to force their way into the office of executive director Oduor Ongwen, accusing him of collecting money from area MP TJ Kajwang in exchange for the nomination certificate.

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Ongoro’s arrival at Orange House in Nairobi Wednesday seemed to worsen the situation ODM has found itself in over the past few days and police had to be called in to restore order.

The senator accused the elections board of selling certificates to some candidates. “This is setting a bad precedent ahead of party primaries that are just 18 days away,” said Ongoro.

She added: “I have information an official was given Sh1 million and another Sh500,000 by my opponents to come up with a decision that is so unfair. I also have information the company printing ballot papers belongs to the elections board chairman. So, how do you think we can have fair nominations?” said Ongoro.

 Buke conceded there are challenges at Orange House, adding that lack of wider consultations was giving room for speculation and imagination, which was not good for the party.

Buke said he had taken exception to efforts to exclude people from processes and said there was need for the secretariat to be more consultative.

Ongoro, who is also a former Kasarani MP, said the election board members seemed to be colluding with the incumbent to lock her out of the race. She threatened to defect to another party within NASA if her name would be excluded from the ballot.

This came in the wake of claims of money changing hands and late-night meetings between aspirants and some election board officials.

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There have also been claims of some polling stations being set up to favour aspirants close to some election board officials. There were claims that aspirants from Nyali and Ugenya, for instance, had complained that some stations favoured those with money and connections.

Ongoro’s outburst appeared to capture what dissatisfied insiders said was a pointer to the ‘party’s weaknesses on nominations and internal elections’ as exemplified by last year’s grassroots elections.

“Going by the structure the party that goes up to constituency and ward levels, the grassroots elections are supposed to produce 1.8 million officials. However, at the end of the exercise, the National Elections Board only came up with 33,000 officials,” said a source within the party.

Since then, the party is believed to have been quietly filling the slots by hand-picking officials. There were also claims that the list of aspirants remained a closely guarded secret, known only to a few within the NEB, which was said to have met only once since it was appointed.

[Reporting by Josphat Thiong’o, Akello Odenyo and Kepher Otieno] 

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