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Low turnout, voter bribery claims and pockets of violence mar Kibra mini-poll

Jubilee Party’s McDonald Mariga (left), Orange Democratic Movement’s Imran Okoth (centre) and Amani National Congress’ Eliud Owalo are seen as the front runners in the race to succeed Ken Okoth who succumbed to cancer in July/CFM

NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 7 – Front-runners in the on-going Kibra by elections have been trading accusations over the alleged voter bribery and claims of violence by their respective teams.

This comes as three people were apprehended by police after a section of voters claimed they were dishing out cash to voters who were on the queues at various polling centres.

In one incident, it took the intervention of officers accompanying Nairobi County Police Commander Phillip Ndolo to rescue a man from being roughed up at Old Kibera Primary School Polling Centre after they claimed the man had been sighted at other polling centres but he was neither a voter nor an accredited agent of any of the participating candidates.

Ndolo confirmed that two men and a woman had been arrested in connection with the bribery claims.

Another person was severely roughed up before he was whisked to safety by police officers at Mashimoni Squatters Polling Centre.

Voter bribery claims were first made by ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna and legislators Junet Mohammed (Minority Whip), Gladys Wanga Homa Bay County Woman Representative), George Aladwa (Madaraka) and Otiende Amollo (Rarieda) who claimed their colleagues in the ruling Jubilee Party had been sighted engaging in improper practice and asked the poll agency –IEBC –to take action.

ODM candidate Imran Okoth said it was unprecedented to receive reports that elected legislators were engaging in such process.

“It is a saddening factor to learn that democratically elected legislators are the ones who are in the forefront of manipulating the democratic process by engaging in such unethical acts. I would like to appeal to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to take decisive action to ensure the Electoral Code of Conduct is adhered to,” he said.

ANC candidate Eliud Owalo also referred to the claims, as he pointed to both ODM and Jubilee MPs of engaging in voter buying and bribery practices outside some polling station.

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Owalo and his Party Leader Musalia Mudavadi confirmed that they had filed preliminary complaints at the electoral body but will making a comprehensive compliant after the poll.

“This is one of the major electoral malpractices you could ever see, so we have taken not of this and we will continue to gather evidence to that effect so that we can use it at an appropriate time,” the ANC candidate stated even as he exuded confidence of clinching the seat.

Mudavadi added; “We are asking the elected legislators to refrain from that practice, because even where they come from their people were allowed to make their decision; so they should allow the people of Kibra to make their decision too.”

But Jubilee’s flag bearer MacDonald Mariga dismissed the claimed a ploy by his competitors to create an environment of intimidation.

“ODM has been making claims that some of their competitors are paying people to come and vote but that is just a narrative they are executing in order cause violence. I want to ask Kibra residents not to be alarmed by such propaganda schemes,” Mariga told reporters after he assessed the exercise at Old Kibra Primary School.

Former Kakamega Senator equally came out to reject report that he had been injured by Kibra residents who heckled him out as he went around monitoring the exercise.

“ODM is looking for an excuse, so that they do that which they are used to, which is aimed to continue violence,” he said.

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