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Governor Mruttu loses ODM ticket to MP in tight race

The Orange Democratic Movement on Tuesday yielded to protests from voters and handed Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu the ticket to contest the Taita-Taveta governor’s seat as more aspirants in the Coast threatened to quit the party over nomination anomalies.

With the announcement, incumbent governor John Mruttu became the first ODM governor to lose the ticket, though he may appeal against the nomination result through the county appeals board.

The National Elections Board chairperson Judith Pareno said they had confirmed that elections were conducted in Jipe, Chala, Mahandakini and St Joseph Kivukoni polling stations in Taveta, contrary to claims by the governor and other aspirants that they had not taken place.

“Actually, we have members of county assemblies (MCAs) who have certificates showing they participated in the exercise in those polling stations. So this means Mwadeghu won and we can’t reopen the nominations,” said Ms Pareno.

NOMINATIONS FIASCO

The nominations fiasco in ODM on Tuesday forced party leader Raila Odinga to request the postponement of a National Super Alliance (Nasa) meeting to personally attend to the avalanche of complaints and violence.

Earlier, Taita-Taveta ODM officials threatened to quit the party if Mr Mwadeghu was denied the nomination certificate. Voi Branch ODM chairman John Maghanga said the party risked losing the governor’s seat to the Jubilee Party if it failed to recognise Mr Mwadeghu’s victory.

“If the party fails to issue Mr Mwadeghu with the certificate, then party leader Raila Odinga should forget the existence of ODM party in the region, we are not ready to support anyone else other than the winner (Mwadeghu),” he said.

The Jubilee Party will be holding its nominations in the Coast region on Wednesday as it seeks to take a share of the votes in the predominantly ODM zone.

INTERIM CERTIFICATE

Taita-Taveta returning officer Laurence ole Sempele last week gave Mr Mwadeghu an interim certificate after announcing the provisional results that showed he garnered 17,567 votes against Mr Mruttu’s 14,817.

Mr Sempele, however, indicated that there was no winner in the primaries since voting did not take place in some polling stations in Taveta constituency, tainting the credibility of the results.

Mombasa ODM deputy chairman Juma Mwambogha asked Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to keep off Taita-Taveta politics, adding: “We are asking Governor Joho to leave Taita-Taveta residents to elect leaders of their choice, but if you continue meddling in the county’s politics and cost ODM the seat, we wonder who will welcome you next time you visit the county,” he said.

In Mombasa, supporters of senatorial aspirant Hamisi Mwaguya threatened to leave the party if he was not declared the winner. Controversy erupted after Sunday’s ODM primaries where both Mr Mwaguya and his rival Mohammed Faki both claimed victory.

DECLARED WINNER

Mr Mwaguya claimed he led, with more than 7,000 votes against his rival, Mr Faki’s 5,000. But Mr Faki disputed Mr Mwaguya’s claims and maintained that he had won and that he should be declared the winner.

“Mwaguya announced his results when tallying was still ongoing in all the polling stations,” said Mr Faki at a Mombasa hotel.

He said Mr Mwaguya “only won in Kisauni and Nyali while I beat him in the other four sub-counties.”

Returning officer David Odada had said the results were yet to be officially announced because some polling stations had not submitted their results.

But Mr Mwaguya’s supporters in Likoni said their candidate should be declared the winner and issued with a certificate.

The results of the primaries of the senator’s and woman representative’s seats had not been announced by last night after the elections board nullified results from some polling stations following complaints of discrepancies.

DIRECT TICKET
The nominations in at least 15 polling stations including Changamwe, Kisauni and Jomvu constituencies will be repeated on Wednesday.

Mr Joho, who has been given a direct ticket to defend his seat, said the party has no preferred candidate and it is upon the electorate to settle on a leader of their choice.

He, however, appealed to security personnel tasked with maintaining peace and order during the ongoing nominations to be impartial.

“We have noted excessive use of force by the police in ODM strongholds. Some people have been shot. We are watching very keenly. The police should not apply the law selectively when dealing with ODM and Jubilee strongholds,” said Mr Joho.

Reports by Daniel Nyassy, Brian Ocharo and Dennis Odunga

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