ODM halts primaries scheduled in 5 centres in Taita Taveta

ODM has put off nominations slated for today in five polling centres in Taita Taveta County.

ODM Director of Communications Philip Etale said the National Election Board halted the primaries scheduled “until issues raised in a petition by one of the aspirants against the decision is heard and determined.”

“Board Chairperson Judith Pareno says the matter is under investigations and will await the decision by the National Disputes and Resolution board before making the final decision,” Mr Etale said in a statement.

Confusion gripped Governor John Mruttu’s camp following reports that the planned ODM primaries in the five centres had been cancelled.

A spot check by the Nation indicated that voting materials had not been dispatched to the centres.

Mr Mruttu was also scheduled to address journalists on the issue.

The nominations in the five centres offered a lifeline to Mr Mruttu who had been defeated by rival Thomas Mwadeghu in the provincial results released after Tuesday’s mini-polls.

Both Mr Mruttu who is Council of Governors vice-chairman and Mr Mwadeghu who is Wundanyi MP and ODM chief whip are key allies of Party Leader Raila Odinga.

The duo are also key ODM defenders at the Coast.

Mr Mwadeghu hails from the dominant Taita community while Mr Mruttu is from the Taveta.

In 2013, Mr Mwadehu rallied behind Mr Mruttu’s election, as Mr Dan Mwazo from the Sagala community settled on senatorial seat. Ms Joyce Lay was also elected woman rep.

Mr Mwazo and Ms Lay have however since defected from ODM to JP where they are to vie for governor and senatorial seats respectively.

Only Taveta MP Naomi Shaban won on a Jubilee coalition ticket as ODM swept all the other slots in the border county.

On Wednesday the ODM’s election returning officer, Lawrence Ole Sempele, announced that the provisional results indicated that Mr Mwadeghu was leading with 17 557 against Mr Mruttu’s 14 817.

However, Mr Sempele said he would not announce the winner of the nomination for gubernatorial, senatorial and Woman Representative until the five polling centres in Taveta voted.

The five polling centres where voting did not take place are believed to be Mruttu’s stronghold.

The voting for the five stations had been set for today (Saturday) and according to Mruttu’s supporters they were targeting more than 4500 votes in the area.

The five polling centres are Mahandakini, Jipe, Chala, St Joseph Kivukoni and Chala-Njukini primary schools.

Mrf Mruttu had pitched camp in the areas since Tuesday in a bid to turn the tides against Mr Mwadeghu.

Mr Mwadeghu had raised concern over the inclusion of Chala-Njukini among the areas that had not voted insisting that polls took place at the centre on Tuesday.

The Tuesday ballot was marked by delays in delivery of materials and starting of voting following a move by Mr Mruttu’s supporters to block distribution of the boxes and papers saying the officials were allied to Mr Mwadeghu.

On Wednesday night Mr Mwadeghu was issued a provisional certificate pending the final tally after the Saturday exercise.

There was confusion on who will participate in the exercise in the five centres with Mr Mruttus camp saying that the exercise is open to everyone something which his opponent vehemently opposes.

“We are relying on Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission figures. The figures show that the five centres has approximately 5000 voters,” Mr Mutie said.

Mr Mwadeghu cast doubt on the margins released by the returning officer on Wednesday night.

He accused the election team of altering the results hence reducing the difference between him and the governor.

“The results announced in Voi, Mwatate and Wundanyi have been altered. They should tell us how they came up with the figures,” he told the Nation.

On Wednesday morning, Taveta residents took to the streets to demonstrate against being denied to participate in the nomination exercise.

One of the resident told the Nation that they felt left out when the party failed to deliver ballot materials to their Challa  poling centre.

“We felt we were being denied our democratic right when we were left out on Tuesday. We will come out in large numbers to elect whoever we feel should carry the flag of our party,” said one party supporter, Martin Kilonzo.

County peace forum chairperson, David Zowe urged the leaders to avoid divisive politics during this campaign time.

Speaking in Voi Mr Zowe feared if the aspirants failed to tame their speech then the area might face tribal division.

“The aspirants should be the ones preaching peace. What we are seeing now is not healthy for our county,” he said.

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