, NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 22 – Jubilee Party was on Saturday set to announce new dates for the nominations exercise after the cancellation of the primaries that aborted on Friday.
Of the 21 counties where nominations were scheduled to take place on Friday, on a few conducted the exercise that was marred by chaos and confusion after aspirants accused the election board of delivering few materials among other anomalies.
“The exercise has been cancelled in all the areas and new dates will be announced on Saturday,” Raphael Tuju, the party’s Secretary General announced on Friday night after protests from supporters and aspirants-some of who boycotted the exercise.
President Kenyatta on Saturday apologized to the party supporters, while blaming the aborted exercise on the few voting materials printed “because we underestimated the number of people who will turn up to vote.”
Overwhelmed by numerous complaints from various parts of the country, the party had started by cancelling the exercise in 11 counties, followed by six others before Tuju declared null and void any exercise conducted in any of the 21 counties, even as the tallying got underway in some areas.
Throughout the day on Friday, the exercise had been marked by confusion which forced supporters in areas like Kericho, sections of Kiambu and Nakuru to set ablaze the few voting materials.
The cancellation left aspirants counting massive losses in hundreds of millions spent in campaigns countrywide.
Police said no major casualties had been reported, but many supporters are thought to have sustained minor injuries.
“We have not received any reports of major casualties but we are still compiling the reports from the counties,” a senior police officer with access to the daily national criminal records told Capital FM News.
According to Tuju, logistical challenges presented by the huge voter turnout that the party had not anticipated were behind the aborted exercise.
“We estimated a 50 percent turnout but more people turned out. We are planning for a repeat of the primaries next week, and the party leadership is printing ballot papers that will be used in the exercise,” he told a news conference on Friday night.
Dozens of aspirants and their supporters camped at the party headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi to seek audience with the National Elections Board Chairman Andrew Musangi, even as most called for total cancellation of the exercise.
Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, who went to the party headquarters to register reservations over delayed ballot papers, told Capital FM News that Tuju had assured him that sufficient materials had been deployed to polling centres, but that was not the case.
“When you have a million voters you must experience challenges but I’m happy that the party is dealing with them. We must continue voting until we finish,” he added.
Former Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku also showed up at Jubilee House to registered complaints saying ballot papers had been tampered with.
Lenku, who is eying the Kajiado gubernatorial seat, blamed the alleged tampering with voting materials on his opponents, and demanded action from the party officials.
“I have had a word with the Secretary General on the matter and he has promised that the situation will be addressed. However, this is an issue that cannot be dealt with today,” the former Interior docket chief told the press outside party headquarters.
In Uasin Gishu, Governor Jackson Mandago insisted that aspirants in the region will not take part in the Jubilee Party primaries despite the earlier declaration by the party headquarters that the exercise would go on as scheduled.
“I want to plead with Raphael Tuju. You must not sit in the office and say ‘It is a must.’ There is nothing here which is fixed. If you say it is a must and then us on our part we say it is a must the nominations will not continue, what will you do?” a charged Mandago retorted flanked by hundreds of supporters in Eldoret town.
His sentiments were echoed by Nandi Senator Stephen Sang who vowed that the exercise will not hold in the county.
Emmanuel Talam, a former TV journalist and aide to Deputy President William Ruto, was also emphatic that the nominations cannot proceed based on the number of ballot papers delivered in Nandi Hills Constituency where he is keen to unseat incumbent Member of Parliament Alfred Keter.