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Teargas lobbed at poll stations as ODM supporters protest register


The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) nominations were abandoned after chaos erupted at Mwamambi Primary School polling station in Msambweni Constituency, Kwale County Saturday.

Police officers lobbied teargas canisters to disperse protesting voters, who were furious with long delays. The station was closed at about 1pm when only about 10 residents had cast their ballots.

The angry protesters destroyed poll ballot boxes claiming there was a plot to rig the nominations. Msambweni parliamentary aspirant Omar Boga called for postponement of the nominations saying they were rocked with long delays, voters’ names missing from the register and lack of sufficient poll materials.

He also claimed the exercise was marred with irregularities at Mwamambi, Mwakigwena, Magutu, Mwaroni, Mvindeni and Mkwakwani polling stations in Ukunda, which are within his stronghold. “I have called the Election Board chairperson to ask that nominations for Msambweni be postponed and organised afresh because they have been shambolic. How can election materials reach Mwangulu in Lunga Lunga in time and arrive at Mkwakwani in Ukunda at 10am?” he posed.

He continued: “Names of party members who turned up are missing including that of my agent at Mwakigweni centre.”

At Mwakigwena centre, one the biggest voting stations in the county, voting was paralysed at around 1pm after names of hundred of residents who had turned up to vote could not be traced in the ODM register.

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Voters from the newly assimilated members of the Makonde tribe were turned away as their names did not feature in the party register.

Restore peace

And when the process kicked off, most residents names’ could not be found in the party register. By midday, only one person had voted at Mwamambi Primary School polling station amid protests from voters who feared it could be a scheme favouring Mr Boga’s rival and Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori.

At the Mwakigwena Primary in Ukunda town, presiding officer Mr Jezah Said, had to stop the exercise to consult his seniors following protests by agents.

Hundreds of potential voters stormed out of the polling stations in protests after spending more than five hours on the queue even as the voting delayed.

And in Tana River County, GSU personnel were called in to restore peace after an agent started a commotion when a non-registered electorate erroneously voted for gubernatorial aspirant and another was denied a chance.

The exercise was halted for more than two hours to bring Mr Twaha Kidevu into terms with election officials, forcing security personnel from GSU and prison warders to defuse tension between different camps at Hola Primary School.

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About 500 voters, mainly women, demonstrated accusing the election officials of favouring one candidate and asked the exercise stopped and checked properly. One woman complained that the process will not be free, fair and accurate when some of voters without ODMmembership were refused to vote.

However, it was difficult also to convince Mr Kidevu to allow one Mwanamisi Bahola to vote a second time as he says the entire exercise should be nullified until peace was to be restored. [Additional reporting by Hassan Barisa]

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