Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma PHOTO:COURTESY
Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma and his Siaya counterpart Cornell Rasanga kept their fingers crossed as tallying of the ODM party primaries got underway.
After casting their votes in the largely peaceful exercise, the two governors retreated to their homes to wait for the results.
Matters were however different in Kisumu East, where area MP Shakeel Shabir and his predecessor, Eric Gor Sungu, who accused the ODM National Elections Board of conducting a flawed exercise, warned that the outcome could lead to voter apathy in the August polls.
They claimed the nominations had already been rigged in favour of one aspirant and called for repeat elections in Kajulu ward and a number of polling stations.
But former The National Alliance Secretary General Onyango Oloo, and an aspirant for the Kisumu Central parliamentary seat defended the elections board, saying the leaders should be ready to accept defeat.
As the tallying began in the two counties, eyes were also on ODM’s big names such as Raila Odinga’s older brother Oburu Oginga, Director for Political Affairs Opiyo Wandayi and former Secretary General Anyang’ Nyong’o. The latter is seeking to unseat Mr Ranguma.
Oburu, a nominated MP, is seeking to unseat Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda, who has vowed to stop his rival from reclaiming the seat he abandoned in 2013 to vie for the governorship.
Ranguma faced stiff competition from Prof Nyong’o, Hezron McObewawa, Gordon Wayumba and Chris Ondiek, while Rasanga faced Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, businessman William Oduol and former Permanent Secretary Carey Orege.
But whereas voting kicked off early in most Kisumu stations, voters in Siaya had to wait up to midday to start casting their ballots.
At Kisumu Town’s Jomo Kenyatta sports grounds, the presiding officer sought to contain anxiety as he told voters whose names were not on the 2013 register to wait for directions from the National Elections Board.
In most polling stations in Nyakach sub-county, polling materials had not arrived by 1pm.
Opinion: NASA stands for confusion
Nyong’o, who cast his vote at Ratta Primary School in Seme sub-county, said the strategic delay by the elections board, which saw the primaries postponed twice, seemed to have worked in favour of a fairly effective process as it was “largely drama-free”.
Isolated reports of rigging attempts rocked a few stations in the sub-county, forcing the replacement of a clerk and a presiding officer.
“In one of the polling stations in North Seme, a presiding officer was found to be marking the ballot papers himself and we expressed our concern. In another station, voters protested after realising that a serving clerk was a former agent of an aspirant and that was also addressed,” said Seme MP James Nyikal.
Kisumu Woman Representative Aspirant Rosa Buyu cast her vote at Obambo Primary School and expressed confidence in winning the ticket by a landslide against the incumbent, Rose Nyamunga.
She said postponement of the nominations seemed to have improved preparations.
“Initially we thought the cancellation was too late, but now we have seen the delay was for good,” she said.
In Rarieda and Bondo sub-counties, two people are being investigated by the police after they were allegedly arrested with weapons.
According to the police, the two were arrested as they entered polling stations.
The first person was arrested in Bondo and detained at Lwala Kotiende Police Station after he was found with a knife.
Two more people were arrested with machetes and teargas canisters. They are being held at Aram Police Station.
Elsewhere, the voting exercise started late in most of the polling stations in Bondo constituency as voting materials arrived at around 9am.
Oburu stormed the Town Hall polling station, where he accused Ochanda of using his staff to rig the elections.
“I don’t understand why people who have been working in Ochanda’s office have been dispatching voting materials to the polling stations in Bondo,” Oburu protested.
But in a quick rejoinder, Ochanda said those were his agents.
“If his people were around, the little challenges that were experienced could have been sorted out easily,” said Ochanda.
In Nyando, outgoing area MP Fred Outa, who is campaigning to become the Kisumu senator, found his name printed for two positions – MP and Senate.