Nyong’o, Chepkwony on peace trail as calm returns to most parts

Uneasy calm returned to parts of the country on Saturday after two days of violence during which eight people died, dozens injured and property destroyed in protests against the repeat presidential election on October 26.

In Kisumu, which was the epicentre of the protests by supporters of Nasa, business resumed but on a slow mode.

The lake side city was among four counties in Nyanza, where the election did not take place as a result of the chaos.

The other counties in the region, where election is yet to be held, are Migori, Homa Bay and Siaya.

In Nairobi, three people were killed in Kawangware 56 in a clash between two youth groups.

Eighty-six people were arrested across the country and are scheduled to face electoral offences in courts on Monday.

Normalcy also returned to the border between Kisumu and Kericho counties, two days after locals turned against each other over elections.

TOURED VILLAGES

On Saturday, Governors Anyang’ Nyong’o of Kisumu and Paul Chepkwony of Kericho toured villages and shopping centres in the area, calling for peace and assuring everyone of safety, regardless of political leanings.

The leaders made several stop-overs in Kericho town before moving to Kapsoit, Kapaitet and Muhoroni where they urged the Kipsigis and Luo communities living along the border to embrace peaceful co-existence.

“Let those who barricaded the Londiani-Muhoroni road open them immediately so that our people can carry on with their everyday activities peacefully,” said Prof Nyong’o.

NYONGOPIX Nyong’o, Chepkwony on peace trail as calm returns to most parts

Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyongo (left) and his Kericho counterpart Paul Chepkwony address residents at Kapkatet trading centre. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“ From here we expect life to go back to normal between our two communities. The Luos in Kericho are my people and I will take care of them and my brother Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o has promised to do the same,” added Prof Chepkwony.

The visit by the two leaders, alongside various respective county officials was an intervention meant to ease the rising tension between communities living on the same border but with divergent political views; Nasa and Jubilee.

REVENGE

Yet the two counties need each other economically: A main highway leading to Nairobi passes through Kericho from Kisumu. And Kisumu folks buy some of their food from neighbouring Kericho and Nandi counties.

The leaders were responding to incidents where mobs prevented those who wanted to vote at polling stations on the border at Muhoroni, only for the affected to plan a revenge.

In a briefing to journalists in Kericho town, the two leaders said they had agreed to preach  peace and would act fast to arrest any tension between the local Luo and Kipsigis communities living in the area.

On Friday, rival groups blocked the main road between Muhoroni and Kipsitet towns, paralysing business for several hours, including transportation services.

On Saturday, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet vowed to restore law and order and ordered his officers to remain in partial in serving Kenyans.

PROTECT LIFE

“The principal function of the police is to protect life and property and more so enforcement of laws and regulations with which it is charged. During the elections, our key focus was ensure that peace and tranquility prevails before, during and after the election period,” he said.

The Police chief added: “We also focused on providing security for safe delivery of all election materials to and from all polling stations and finally to the tallying centres as well as enforcing all electoral laws. It should also be known that the service serves all the Kenyan people in strict fidelity to the law and will always act without any partiality or regard to political affiliation.”

The chaos and running battles between the police and the protesters who vowed not to participate in the exercise forced most of the traders to close down their premises.

In Kisumu, business outlets were counting losses incurred during the violent period.

LOOTING

“Some of our stocks went bad because we stayed out of business for three days,” said Milkah Auma, a fishmonger who operates at the Jubilee market.

“We have to make do with what is available since we are not sure when the electoral commission will announce the repeat of the polls,” added John Abok.

Kisumu Central Business District secretary general Jackson Ogweno however appealed for peaceful demonstrations.

“As a business community, we greatly condemn the looting of property which a few people have resorted to,” he said.

In Vihiga, Central Maragoli Ward Rep Evans Chunguli was arrested and detained at the local police station during the demonstrations.

The county is the home county of Nasa co-Principal Musalia  Mudavadi and had largely remained calm even as protests erupted in neighbouring Kisumu. Even though voters here also boycotted the elections in numbers, polling stations remained open on Thursday.

RESULTS DOCTORED

On Saturday, however, word went round that electoral results from the area were being doctored and youths barricaded the Gisambai-Majengo road, lighting bonfires and pelting police officers  with stones.

Vihiga County Referral Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Emmanuel Ayodi said the three officers were treated for minor injuries at the hospital and discharged.

Western regional Police commander Moses Ombati said a vehicle belonging a businessman was damaged during the protests.

“The Ward Rep in our custody has had issues with the owner of the supermarket for long. He incited the youth to attack his vehicle claiming it had marked ballot papers,” said Mr Ombati.

At the Coast, Kenya Defence Forces, Administration Police and General Service Unit were deployed on the election day.

VIOLENCE

The Nation team spotted police bosses engaging the locals face to face, pleading with them not to cause violence and bloodshed.

Regional police commander Larry Kieng said few incidents were reported, thanks to the security measures that were put in place. 

KDF soldiers helped police in patrolling Kilifi, Lamu and Tana River counties that are prone to terror attacks.

“We had mapped out areas we thought violence would erupt and maintained heavy security presence. We managed Bangladesh due to community engagement, no one wants bloodshed,” said Mr Kieng.

Leaflets that were dropped at Banglandesh slum major streets before the election said people who voted in the polls would have their fingers chopped off. But armed with water cannons, teargas canisters and clubs, police surrounded the slum to ensure security was maintained.

CANCELLED VOTING

Jomvu sub county returning officer Nuru Faraj said they cancelled the voting due to security concerns.  Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet gave a detailed account of incidents handled by police during the electioneering period.

In Kitui, electoral officials at Kaiti Constituency, arrived at Yatonza Primary School, a polling station, but found the found the gate chained. A notice on the gate read: “No election, try your life”.

“The officers broke the padlock and facilitated the entry of electoral officials and election materials; who then proceeded with their work,” said Mr Boinnet’s statement.

In Garissa, along Shimbeli-Abdi Samit road, a police officer escorting ballot materials died after his vehicle was involved in an accident.

In Migori, three police vehicles had their windscreens destroyed after they were pelted with stones by demonstrators.

In Homa Bay County, at Koduogo Trading Centre, the police commander at Mbita sustained a deep cut after he was hit on the forehead with a stone. And along Sori-Ndhiwa road, at Mirogi centre, another police vehicle was destroyed by stone-throwing gangs.

ATTACKED

In Kisumu County a bus carrying National Youth Service Personnel was attacked at Gumba Trading Centre near Mamboleo. In Siaya, voting was called after IEBC officials failed to turn up for duty.

“No election materials left the county distribution centres for the polling stations. Police are still guarding the materials,” Mr Boinnet added.

He added: “In Nairobi, Kibra constituency, roads leading to four polling stations – Olympic Kibera Primary, Olympic Secondary School, PAG Church Olympic and KAG Church Olympic – were barricaded with trees. The police later cleared the roads enabling access to the polling stations.”

ELECTION MATERIALS

In Lamu, a bus carrying election materials for Didewaride, Katsakakairu, Pandanguo, Lingamano and Boko polling stations got stuck at Chalaluma area. A helicopter airlifted the materials to Boni polling station.

In Kisii County voting was suspended at Erera Dok Primary School Polling Centre, Kitutu Chache South constituency, after the presiding officers and clerks resigned.

In Busia County, police reinforcement moved in at Osieko Primary School in Bunyala after riotous groups attacked the polling station. A ballot box was destroyed.

In Migori, the Returning Officer was attacked by rioters as he headed to a polling centre. He fled and took refuge at Uriri police station.

At Rongo constituency, elections did not take off the Presiding Officer polling clerks absconded.

 Additional reports Victor Raballa, Derick Luvega and Winnie Atieno

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