Voters arrested as Ikolomani poll kicks off

May 23, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, KENYA, May 23 – Seven people were arrested in different polling stations in Ikolomani on Monday for allegedly registering as voters more than once.

Area police chief Abdi Galgallo said that the suspects were set to appear in court on Monday afternoon.

He said that his officers were on high alert and would deal with those found with multiple registrations.

Voters who register twice in polls can face up to five years in jail.

"We have put our officers on high alert and they are vigilant to pick out those who may come to vote twice.   Most probably, we are going to make more arrests since there are 399 double-registered voters in this constituency," he said.

Voting in the constituency kicked off to a slow start at 6am with voters trickling to most polling stations as scheduled.

Former Ikolomani legislator Bonny Khalwale cast his vote at Malinya Polling Centre at 7.30am while ODM\’s Bernard Shinali voted at Lirhembe at 6.30am in the ongoing by- election.

Mr Khalwale exuded confidence that he was going to recapture his seat.

"I am going back to Parliament," he enthused. "I am going to join other Members of Parliament in changing the destiny of this nation."

He however called for more empowerment of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission to be able to deal extensively with those who bribe voters and officials who use state resources for their campaigns.

Speaking to Capital News, Returning Officer Benjamin Tarus said the polling centres opened on time since the ballot boxes and papers were ferried there on Sunday.

Mr Tarus said double registered voters would not be allowed to vote and if found, they will be arrested and prosecuted.

"We have mandated our officers to make arrests and subsequent prosecutions of voters who have registered more than once if they turn up at the polling centres," he said.

He pointed out that adequate security had also been put in place in the vast constituency, with police deploying extra officers.

There are 65 Presiding Officers overseeing the process being assisted by more than 300 Polling Clerks.

There are 35,883 voters in the constituency.

Two of the candidates in the meantime are alleging that there is a plot to knock them out of the race for the seat unfairly.

Ford People\’s candidate Collins Matemba stated that five of his agents were kidnapped the previous day and driven to an unknown location.

He revealed that some of his supporters were also beaten up and are hospitalised.

ODM\’s Bernard Shinali said cases of violence which erupted in the constituency were to blame for the low voter turnout.

The area police chief said the reports were being treated seriously and that investigations are ongoing.

He stated that security has been beefed up at polling stations to reduce incidences of violence.

The seat fell vacant after former MP Bonny Khalwale lost an election petition.

In his judgment, Justice Isaac Lenaola nullified Mr Khalwale\’s election citing electoral malpractices.

The petitioner, Bernard Shinali, argued that serious discrepancies were detected and the court granted his plea to inspect Forms 16A and 17A in June last year.

The inspection concluded that seven out of 78 ballot boxes inspected did not either have the documents or had more than required by law and this, it was argued, affected the result.

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