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Arson clouds mini polls in Kenya

BOMACHOGE, Aug 26 – Security has been tightened in Ogembo area in Bomachoge constituency following an arson attack at the offices of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission on Tuesday night.

Gucha District Elections Coordinator James Moseti was quick to give assurance that the by-elections set for Thursday would go on as scheduled, as the materials destroyed were those used in the 2007 presidential poll.

Mr Moseti said that the ballot papers for the by-elections were all safe.

"We have all the materials ready and the staff concerned are set for the exercise. We are determined in getting everybody ready for the exercise," he said.

The coordinator was upbeat and said that: "Nothing will stop the voting from going on."

During the Tuesday night’s fire, some 80 ballot boxes were damaged.

The incident occurred despite tight security at the National Security Intelligence Service offices and that of the District Officer’s offices which are guarded by Administration Police.

Nyanza Deputy Provincial Police Officer (PPO) Larry Kieng’ arrived at the scene early on Wednesday and was leading the probe.

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Mr Kieng said the arsonists cut through the fence to gain access to the stores where the ballot boxes were kept.

Campaigns have reached fever pitch in Bomachoge ahead of the by-election. The seat was declared vacant after the former Member of Parliament Joel Onyancha lost an election petition against him early in the year.

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) is simultaneously supervising a by-election in Shinyalu constituency following the death of Charles Lugano in May.

The two mini polls are a litmus test for the IIEC which was created this year to spearhead the much needed electoral reforms after the disbandment of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK). 

The disgraced polls body was blamed for the bungled 2007 polls which led to the post election violence. The violence caused the death of more than 1,500 Kenyans and displacement of more than 500,000 others.


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