Funyula MP Paul Otuoma engage a police officer in confirming number of actual votes. (Photo: Benjamin Sakwa/Standard)
Funyula MP Paul Otuoma Friday said he would not take part in the ODM repeat primaries in Busia County after the party nullified results of an earlier exercise that was marred by claims of voter fraud.
The MP said he should be declared the winner because his main rival, Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, who was declared the victor, had rigged the poll.
In the race, Ojaamong had garnered 92,352 votes to beat Otuoma who scored, 63,752.
Claims of vote rigging, harassment and intimidation jolted the exercise and highlighted the possibility that politicians could find new ways to steal the vote.
Some members of Raila Odinga’s ODM party confirmed this and said various tricks had been used to perpetuate voter fraud.
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Among the most contentious issue was the inflating of voter figures in Ojaamong’s strongholds of Teso North and South, where the number of those who voted was higher than those who had registered, going by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) records.
Also, the announcement of votes in one candidate’s strongholds was delayed, raising suspicion. In other cases, violence was used to intimidate voters.
Friday, ODM’s National Elections Board chairperson Judy Pareno said the party had nullified the results because major irregularities had been observed.
The board spoke less than an hour after the Busia elections board chair Vitalis Juma declared Ojaamong the victor at the Agricultural Training Centres in Busia.
Claims over foul play emerged even before polling day when posters linking Otuoma to Jubilee emerged. One of the posters was a forged front page of The Daily Nation that claimed Otuoma had defected to Jubilee.
The Nation Media Group issued a statement denouncing the poster and asked the authorities to investigate the forgeries.
This sparked fears that more dirty tricks were in the offing, and tensions rose with the delay in announcing the results. The announcement was at 10 am Friday, 16 hours after the voting closed.
Before that, incidents of violence had sparked a reaction from the ODM headquarters.
On Monday, the party reprimanded Ojaamong and Otuoma and asked them to control their supporters to maintain peace after they appeared before the National Disciplinary Committee.
Friday, ODM said the exercise would be repeated. “The board has made a decision to nullify the Busia gubernatorial nomination results and ordered a repeat exercise on Tuesday 25th April 2017,” Pareno’s statement read.
After the results were announced, Otuoma remained optimistic that the will of the people of Busia would prevail.
“Even the national polls have never witnessed over 100 per cent turnout. It’s a clear case of cooking of results in Teso; the over 3,000 votes I was given are part of the ballot stuffing that we spoke about,” the Funyula MP said.
However, Ojaamong protested the decision to cancel the results, describing it as hasty and suspicious.
“I can’t discuss the matter because I am yet to get an official communication from the board. How can it be that results are cancelled even before a complaint is lodged?” he posed.