Orange Democratic Movement nominations were off to a rocky start in several counties as the battle to clinch the party’s ticket began.
Confusion marred the start of the exercise in Bungoma, Busia and Machakos counties, with voting delayed in several polling stations due to lack of registers and ballot papers.
In Bungoma County’s Musikoma ward within Kanduyi constituency, voting had not started as late as 11am, prompting some voters to leave.
Ismael Wafula, a voter at Musikoma Primary School, decried the lack of preparedness, saying some voters did not have faith in the process.
He said he was surprised to see a candidate showing up at the polling station with election officials in his car.
“We are surprised at the lack of preparedness the party is exhibiting. We feel like this is not a fair process and are asking officials concerned to ensure fairness,” he said.
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Fred Wafula, a voter at the same polling station, said they were surprised to encounter ballot papers from a different ward.
Wafula said ballot papers at the station were marked Tuuti-Marakaru ward, thus delaying the start of the exercise.
At Moi Primary School in Township ward, some voters were turned away as their names were not on the register.
Kanduyi parliamentary aspirant John Makali said the disorganisation posed a threat to free and fair nominations.
He said the shambolic start to the exercise was a key indicator of the lack of preparedness of the elections board to conduct the primaries.
In Busia County, propaganda and accusations characterised the exercise, with polling that scheduled to start at 6am kicking off almost three hours late.
At Busia Township Primary, where Governor Sospeter Ojaamong was scheduled to vote, polling materials arrived at 9:30am. Ojaamong had arrived earlier at 8am only to find the exercise had not started.
He expressed frustrations over the delay and left. “It is extremely disturbing because people had volunteered their vehicles to carry the voting materials to polling stations. The party had facilitated the exercise but nothing is happening until now. It is total embarrassment and a mockery of democracy,” he said. “The issue of polling materials delaying should not have occurred. It is terrible and no one expected that to happen,” he added.
Earlier, Funyula MP Paul Otwoma recorded a statement at Bumala police station over leaflets of a fake front-page of a local newspaper that alleged he had decamped to Jubilee after sensing defeat. The MP claimed individuals affiliated to Ojaamong were behind the leaflets.
In a quick rejoinder, Ojaamong denied the claims. “He (Otuoma) is a Jubilee candidate and even the party knows since most of his campaigners are allied to Jubilee,” Ojaamong claimed.
Otuoma urged the police to speedily bring those who circulated the leaflets to book, even as he lamented the delayed voting.
“The propaganda is coming from my opponents. We know the objective is to scare my supporters from coming out in large numbers to vote for me,” said Otuoma.
Bumala OCPD Steven Wambua urged politicians to give police time to investigate the matter and warned them against inciting the public to violence.
Voting later began at about 10am, with Ojaamong and his wife Judy casting their vote. He exuded confidence of winning the ticket but complained that a number of names were missing in the ODM membership register.
As at 9pm Thursday, Otuoma had taken an early lead with 4,474 votes against Ojaamong’s 1,966, with votes counted in 12 polling stations.
In Budalang’i, the exercise had not started in most of the polling stations by 11am, and the voter registers in 11 polling stations were missing.
The situation was slightly different at Bujwanga Primary School, Funyula constituency, where Otuoma voted.
Long queues were also witnessed in Bukiri and Bwangangi, both in Funyula. Presiding officer at Bujwanga, Patrick Wafula, attributed the long queues to the merged polling stations within the area.
In Butula constituency, the process went on smoothly.
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