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Mruttu, Mwadeghu clash as Orange Party cancels primaries

ODM on Saturday put off nominations in five polling centres in Taita-Taveta, causing an outcry from Governor John Mruttu.

At the same time, Mr Mruttu’s rival, MP Thomas Mwadeghu vowed he will not participate in any other nominations as he had “genuinely won” the Tuesday primaries.

“The election board must give me the certificate because there will be no nominations,” he said.

The MP said action must be taken against the governor for allegedly hiring goons to disrupt nomination preparations on Monday causing a delay in delivery of voting materials to various centres in the county.

Mr Mruttu accused ODM National Election Board of applying double standards in solving grievances between him and his opponent Mwadeghu.

FAVOURING OPPONENT

Speaking to journalists at his home in Taveta, the governor accused the board of favouring his opponent.

He questioned the party for indefinitely calling off the nominations “without making formal communication”.

ODM director of communications Philip Etale said the party’s election team halted the primaries scheduled for Saturday “until issues raised in a petition by one of the aspirants against the decision are heard and determined”.

“Board chairperson Judith Pareno said the matter is under investigations and will await the decision by the National Disputes and Resolution board before making the final decision,” he said in a statement.

But Mr Mruttu said he was surprised the board reacted quickly to Mr Mwadeghu’s complaints yet it failed to address his when he raised them.

TOOK NO ACTION

“I had lodged my complaints to the board a week before the primaries were conducted and the board took no action. It is evident that they are leaning on one side,” he said, adding that the nominations were flawed and he was disappointed by how the party conducted them.

“I saw other areas where aspirants had complained and the exercise was postponed. Why is it that here things were handled differently?” he asked but added he was confident that the board would solve the issue.

Mr Mruttu said he would consider his next plan of action. “I will consult my supporters on what to do next. I will make the announcement when the time comes but for now I am still in ODM,” he said.

The party was to conduct the primaries in five polling centres in Taveta which is Mruttu’s stronghold. According to Tuesday’s provisional results, the Wundanyi MP was leading with 17,557 votes against Mruttu’s 14,817.

CAST DOUBTS

On Wednesday, Mr Mwadeghu cast doubt on the margins released by the returning officer. He accused the election team of altering the results hence reducing the difference in votes between him and Mr Mruttu.

Mr Mruttu complained that his opponent had plans to rig him out. He said he had a close relationship with one of the election board members.

He accused Mr Mwadeghu of being behind the failed delivery of ballot materials to Chala, St Joseph Kivukoni, Mahandakini, Jipe and Orkungu Primary School polling centres.

Both Mr Mruttu, who is the Council of Governors vice chairman, and Mr Mwadeghu, who is also the ODM chief whip, are key allies of party leader Raila Odinga. The two are also key ODM defenders at the Coast.

Mr Mwadeghu hails from the dominant Taita community while Mr Mruttu is from the Taveta. In 2013, Mr Mwadeghu rallied behind Mr Mruttu’s election, as Mr Dan Mwazo from the Sagala community settled on the senatorial seat. Ms Joyce Lay was elected woman representative.

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