, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 20 – Voting for by-elections in Makadara, Juja and Starehe constituencies kicked off early on Monday amid tight security.
All the poling stations opened at 6am, with Juja recording a high voter turn out as compared to Makadara and Starehe, which started on a low footing.
Our Reporter Anthony Kagiri, who is in Juja constituency, spoke to some of the voters who started streaming into the polling stations as early as 5.30am.
“I woke up early to come and vote. I want to do it early so that I can go and do some other business elsewhere. That is why I am here this early,” Chris Mwangi, a voter said.
“We want to finish this business of voting early so that we can go and wait for the results,” another voter who only identified herself as Catherine said.
Former MPs George Thuo and William Kabogo are touted as the top contenders for the seat but a number of new comers are posing a credible challenge.
Others vying for the seat include Alice Ng’ang’a of the Kenya National Congress [KNC], who emerged third in the 2007 General Election. There is also Kamau Ngoima (NAP-K), Ng’ang’a Gaitho (Safina), Ng’ang’a Muchai (DP), Dickson Githaiga (ODM) and David Kigwi (Farmers Party).
Meanwhile, it was a slow start in Makadara and Starehe constituencies despite polling stations opening at 6am as scheduled.
Hundreds of police officers could be seen patrolling at the polling stations and the adjacent areas to avert any chaotic scenes.
Some of the voters who spoke to Capital News at Bidii Primary School in Makadara said they were impressed by the preparations put in place by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission [IIEC].
“I know it is my democratic right to vote and that is why I took time off to come and vote before I resume my normal schedule. I came here early but had to wait until 6am when the polling stations opened,” another voter told our reporter Sarah Wambui.
There are 26 polling stations and 190 streams in Makadara constituency.
Capital News reporter Laban Wanambisi is in Starehe constituency, where most polling stations are recording low voter turn out.
Voters who turned up at the Parochial and Moi Avenue Primary School centres said it took them less than five minutes to finish voting.
Master Presiding Officer at Moi Avenue Primary school Joseph Mukewa attributed the low voter turn-out people’s work schedules but expressed optimism that voters would turn out in large numbers later in the day.
Mr Mukewa also said one of the centres, which has 15 streams, has only experienced minor challenges similar to the ones experienced during the referendum exercise.
“We are having the same challenges like the ones we had during the referendum, but we are managing the situation. This issue to do with names which fall between MU-MWA. You find for instance that the Mwangi are so many so they have been lumped together in one queue,” he said and added that: “Maybe because of the closeness of the referendum and the by-elections, it was not reported that the line had a problem but I hope it will be addressed.”
Former Starehe Member of Parliament Margaret Wanjiru who was ousted in a petition is battling it out with six aspirants among them Maina Kamanda [PNU], Jackson Mwangi (Narc-K) and David Ng’ang’a Wakahiu (National Patriotic Party).
Meanwhile, employers are being urged to allow their workers living in the relevant constituencies’ sufficient time to vote during Monday\’s by-elections.
IIEC Commissioner Douglas Mwashigadi said this will give voters a chance to exercise their democratic right to choose their leader.
"We are appealing to employers to give their employees some reasonable time to go and vote if they come from the affected area. This is a national event and it is against the law to deny a voter an opportunity to go and vote," he said.
A national tallying centre has been set up at the Laico Regency Hotel , while Constituency tallying centres will be at Railways Technical Institute (Makadara), Kenya Polytechnic (Starehe) and Town Hall (Juja).
Voting for the by-elections is scheduled to end at 5pm.
Nairobi Provincial Police chief Anthony Kibuchi has told Capital News that there are adequate security forces maintaining order throughout the voting exercise.
“Voters should go and vote and be assured that we have put in place enough security, we have not experienced any problems so far,” he said.