NAIROBI, Aug 18 – Voting in the Kamukunji by-election kicked off in earnest on Thursday morning amid numerous claims of voter bribery and intimidation.
A woman was arrested at about 7am after she was allegedly found with more than 50 voters’ cards and a large sum of money believed to have been intended for bribery.
Our reporter Lordrick Mayabi who has been traversing the constituency since morning spoke to agents of the Party of National Unity (PNU) who accused their Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) counterparts of bribing and intimidating voters.
“We are concerned because there is a lot of corruption going on here. Voters are being bribed, why can’t the voters be left to vote independently without being enticed with money,” a PNU agent Isaac Nur told Capital News and blamed ODM for bribing voters.
He said they had reported the matter to the police.
“There are people in the polling station who have duplicate cards which they are giving to people to use to vote,” he added.
In a quick rejoinder, an ODM agent Morris Ochieng’ dismissed as ‘rumours’ claims that his party was in any way involved in voter bribery as alleged by PNU.
“Those allegations cannot be substantiated at all, the police are here and they will do their work,” he said.
He denied that those allegedly involved in voter bribery were ODM members or were working for the party.
“Those people who have been arrested and kicked out of the polling station are PNU. They are not ODM members,” he said.
Our reporter said voter turnout at most centres was fairly impressive.
Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) Returning Officer Joseph Masindet said they expected long queues in the morning.
“Being a weekday, I am sure most people would want to vote before they go to work,” Mr Masindet told Capital News on telephone.
Yusuf Hassan of PNU voted at the Eastleigh High School at 8.30am and expressed confidence that he would emerge winner.
“I am going to win this election, but I am urging the police to thoroughly investigate claims of bribery from rival parties so that we can have a free and fair election,” he said.
ODM’s Ibrahim Ahmed alias Johnnie was expected to vote at St Teresa’s Catholic Church in Eastleigh.
There are 128,526 registered voters in the constituency with eight candidates battling for their support.
Other contenders are; James Matagaro (Kenya Social Congress), David Waihiga (Agano), Geoffrey Mutuku (TIP) and Daniel Omao (Ford People). The Grand National Union party of Kenya flag bearer is Muthoni Kihara.