The Orange Democratic Movement has denied that the postponement of the party’s primaries in Homa Bay and Migori counties was aimed at rigging in particular candidates.
The party on Thursday called off the primaries in the two counties which had been set for Saturday amid protests from several candidates that it was part of a scheme to rig the polls.
The primaries in the two counties will now be held on Monday as will those of Kisumu and Siaya.
Announcing the new dates, the party’s National Elections Board chairperson Judy Pareno said the changes arose due to re-organisation following the decision to repeat the primaries in several areas across the country where irregularities had been reported.
Ms Pareno said: “The board appreciates the positive response by party members who have continued to turn up in large numbers to take part in the exercise. This is a step in the right direction.”
ODM executive director Oduor Ong’wen asked party members not to read mischief in the change of dates in the two politically volatile counties.
“The changes are not meant to disorganise anybody but aimed at having primaries in the four counties of Homa Bay, Migori, Siaya and Kisumu conducted on the same day,” Mr Ong’wen said.
But a section of aspirants who were eagerly waiting for the primaries expressed fears that the change of dates is aimed at facilitating the rigging out of some candidates.
They also pointed out that the last minute changes had affected them logistically since they had already dispatched their agents to various polling stations.
Kasipul Kabondo MP Oyugi Magwanga, businessman Sam Wakiaga and Cosmas Kanyadudi who are all eyeing the Homa Bay governor’s seat said the extension of time will give room to the incumbent Cyprian Awiti to rig the exercise.
“My main opponent who is the incumbent is planning to rig the exercise in his favour. We will not allow this extension of time to be used to cause irregularity,” said Mr Magwanga.
Mr Awiti however trashed the claims and instead pointed accusing fingers at his opponents accusing them of planning violent activities during the exercise.
“My opponents are planning to cause violence and rig the exercise. I am asking the election board to watch their intentions,” said Mr Awiti.
In Migori, Governor Okoth Obado and Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno expressed fears there was a conspiracy to rig the polls.
“We have information there were some fake ballot papers in circulation and want to ask the elections board to remain vigilant and deliver free and fair polls,” Mr Obado said.
Mr Otieno on his part said he was not worried about the postponement of the polls but asked the party to ensure free and fair polls.
Kisumu East MP Shakeel Shabbir has also expressed fears some aspirants had obtained ballot papers that would be marked and stuffed in their favour during the Monday exercise.
“I can tell you that some politicians obtained the papers from Orange House on Thursday,” Mr Shabbir said.
Yesterday, police in Homa Bay town saved Senator Moses Kajwang’ from irate youth who were baying for his blood at a local hotel on claims that he was plotting to rig the primaries.
Stories by Justus Ochieng, Barack Oduor and Elisha Otieno