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Crowd stalls preparations for Taita ODM primaries

The fate of tomorrow’s Orange Democratic Movement nominations in Taita Taveta County is in limbo after supporters of Governor John Mruttu blocked the hall where election materials were stored.

They complained that all the clerks scheduled to carry out the vote were supporters of Mr Mruttu’s rival, Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu.

By the time of going to press, not a single ballot box or clerk had left the Mwatate CDF Hall, the county’s vote tallying centre.

POLICE ON GUARD

The governor’s director of political affairs, Mr Geoffrey Kimonge, led the demonstration.

“If we accept the process to go on, we will have already lost the vote,” said Mr Kimonge.

“We will not allow a single box to leave this place.”

He also protested the composition of the county election board, chaired by Mr Anderson Mwaloma, saying it was picked from Mr Mwadeghu’s camp.

Armed police officers kept guard as tension built up throughout the afternoon.

JOHO NOTIFIED

At 6.20pm, the crowd moved to block the entrance after word went round that the boxes would be moved from the venue for distribution to other parts of the county

Mr Mruttu called for postponement of the nominations for three days “to allow us resolve the impasse”.

“We have no faith in this electoral board. How can officers from one camp oversee the election? Let the party hear our issues,” said Mr Mruttu, adding that he had already alerted the party’s deputy leader, also Mombasa Governor, Hassan Joho, “who is keenly pursuing the matter”.

SHAMBOLIC PRIMARIES
But, speaking in Voi during a rally, Mr Mwadeghu dismissed the claims, and instead accused Mr Mruttu of using county government resources to conduct his campaigns. 

He also accused the governor of nepotism and favouritism, saying he had only employed people from one particular region.

Mr Mruttu, however, insisted that the primaries would be flawed if the party’s election board does not intervene.

“I raised the issue with the relevant commissioners of the party’s National Election Board, but up to now I am yet to receive a proper response on the matter,” he said.

“My worry is that time is ticking. If no action is taken then we will have shambolic nominations, or none at all.”

OTHER OPTIONS
He warned that he might be forced to seek other options if the relevant authorities fail to act on time.

“I don’t know how much more I can do as an individual but I have pointed out the anomalies and my expectations are the body in charge of manning the election will correct them,” he said.

“If they don’t, then I’ll seek other options as far as the primaries are concerned.”

He said the board has a duty of giving him a feedback on how they have tackled his complaints.

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