, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 26 – The Kitui West by-election kicked off Monday in an exercise characterized by a low voter turnout as constituents queued to elect a new Member of Parliament following the death of Francis Nyenze.
Voting commenced exactly at 6.30am and security has been beefed up in all the 143 polling stations.
The race has attracted a host of candidates from various political parties among them Nyenze’s widow, Edith Nyenze, who is running on a Wiper Democratic Movement Party ticket.
Mrs Nyenze, who is seen as a front runner in the race, is set to battle it out with Elijah Muimi Kilonzi of the Chama Cha Muungano, Robert Mutiso Lelli of NARC Kenya, Dennis Muli Mulwa who is an Independent candidate and Frida Nyiva Mutui of the Kenya National Congress.
The constituency has 52,042 registered voters.
In January, Mrs Nyenze beat former MP Nyiva Mwendwa’s son, Maluki Mwendwa, to win the Wiper ticket.
The surprise decision by Jubilee to withdraw from the race and back Nyenze, which had been announced by Secretary-General Raphael Tuju, caught many by surprise, including individuals who were seeking the ruling party’s ticket.
Tuju said the party did not want to field any candidate to oppose Mrs Nyenze, whose husband died only three months after being re-elected.
The parties in the Opposition coalition ODM, Ford-Kenya, ANC, Narc and CCU also agreed not to field candidates.