ODM party members in a tussle amongst themselves in protest at Bangladesh in Mikindani after voting materials were delayed for the whole day during ODM party nominations in Mombasa County, April 22, 2017. An aspirant for Jomvu Constituency led his supporters and destroyed the voting materials when they arrived at around mid-day. [PHOTO BY GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD].
It was a fierce battle for votes in Coast as leading Opposition party ODM conducted its much-awaited primaries in Tana River, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale counties. Violence and rigging claims were reported in several stations.
Changamwe MP Omar Mwinyi was arrested and detained after storming Bokole and Bomu polling centres with his supporters and destroying voting material.
Mwinyi was arrested and held briefly at Changamwe Police Station before being transferred to Port Police. He will be arraigned in court on Monday.
Changamwe OCPD Peter Omanwa said the MP had stormed Bokole nursery and Bomu and destroyed election materials leading to his arrest.
“Yes, what I can only tell you is that the MP has been arrested over the chaos. I cannot say more because investigations are going on,” said Omanwa.
According to ODM primaries Presiding Officer Beatrice Mweni, the MP had issues with the voters’ register. “He came and demanded that we stop the exercise claiming that most of those who had been turned away because their names were not in the register were his supporters,” said Mweni.
Mwinyi, who is defending his seat, accused unnamed ODM officials of favouring his competitor Goshi Juma Ally, allegations the latter dismisses as untrue.
Although turn out was high in most areas, there were widespread complaints of names missing in voters’ rolls and lack of voting material.
Violence was reported in Changamwe and Kisauni in Mombasa where several people, including a ward aspirants were hurt.
In Kisauni, armed youths attacked Junda MCA Paul Onje causing him head injuries. Reports say Onje tried to storm the polling centre to stop the exercise saying it was skewed in favour of his competitor.
“Over 300 youths attacked me with pangas and other crude weapons. There are organised gangs that are attacking people from some communities,” said Onje.
Onje, said his supporters were turned back after their names were not found in the register.
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Though most polling centres opened on time, actual casting was disrupted in many areas over what register to use.
Many voters, especially in Msambweni in Kwale and Kisauni in Mombasa claimed they could not locate their names in the register.
In Mombasa and Kilifi counties governor Hassan Ali Joho and Amason Kingi were accused of trying to influence the vote in favour of perceived favoured candidates.
Several ODM leaders led by Matuga MP Hassan Mwanyoha demanded postponement of the vote in Msambweni constituency where an acute shortage of voting material was reported.
There was heightened tension in Malindi constituency where Kilifi County MP Aisha Jumwa is seeking to oust MP Willy Mtengo whom she supported at last year’s by election.
In Nyali, journalist Mohammed Ali is in a tight race against Said Abdalla who is Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho’s cousin.
In Kwale, all eyes were on Msambweni where Bongwe Gombato MCA is locked in a bitter contest with Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori for the parliamentary ticket.
In Tana River the focus is the gubernatorial primary between former Galole MP Godhana Dhadho and former Tana River CEC for livestock and fisheries Adam Dhidha.
No violence was reported in Kilifi county but Jumwa who voted at Kakuyuni Primary School demanded that Kingi stays neutral.
“We are expecting a free and fair poll but Kingi should keep off this exercise. Even if he has a preferred candidate he should keep off,” said Ms Jumwa. Mtengo also expressed confidence of winning.
“I know I will carry the day but if I lose in a free and fair process I will eat humble pie and accept defeat,” said Mtengo.
Voting in Nyali was largely peaceful but there was also confusion after aspirant Ali failed to cast his vote saying his name was missing in the voter’s register.
Ali accused Governor Joho of interfering with exercise.
“It is clear that these nomination is being controlled by Joho. We expected a free and fair nomination exercise,” said Ali.
But his opponet dismissed Ali’s claims saying his competitor had sensed defeat adding that “he (Ali) is trying to look for somebody or something to blame for his defeat.”
In Mombasa, Joho has already clinched the ticket to defend his seat and he will face Jubilee’s Suleiman Shahbal, Senator Hassan Omar of Wiper and Hezron Awiti (Vibrant Democratic Party).
About 176 aspirants for the MCA in the county’s 30 wards were fighting for the ODM party ticket in the primaries.
Indeed this was a real test for ODM in its stronghold, coming just after Jubilee Parties bungled nominations in various polling centres across the country on Friday.
[Bernard Sanga, Philip Mwakio and Patrick Beja]