NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 4 – Polling is underway in Kabuchai and Matungu where constituents are voting to elect their representatives to the National Assembly following the passing on of incumbent lawmakers James Lusweti and Justus Murunga.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) opened voting centres across the two constituencies at 6am with voters streaming to cast the votes since dawn.
Leading candidates in the two mini-polls are drawn from two major political formations: Deputy President William Ruto’s Hustler Movement which is fielding candidates on the United Democratic Alliance ticket, and the pro-handshake wing fielding candidates under Amani National Congress and Ford-Kenya parties.
There were reports of voter intimidation and bribery with former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rachid Echesa, a UDA agent, clashing with a Returning Officer in Matungu after the party’s agents were reportedly locked out of polling centres.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei and Kimilili lawmaker Didmus Barasa, Chesumei’s Wilson Kogo and Belgut’s Nelson Koech were also arrested in Kabuchai constituency where eight aspirants are seeking to clinch the parliamentary seat including UDA’s Evans Kakai and Majimbo Kalasinga of Ford Kenya.
The electoral commission was also conducting by-elections in Kiamokama ward in Kisii county, Kithuke Kitise ward in Makueni county, Huruma ward in Uasin Gishu, and Nakuru county’s Hell’s Gate and London wards on Thursday.
The seats fell vacant following the demise of the area ward representatives except for Makueni’s Kithuke Kitise ward where the MCA Kelvin Mutuku resigned.
Kiamokama ward as residents came out to vote as early as 6am .
In Kithuke Kitise ward, however, voter turnout remained low.
Voting was disrupted in certain polling stations in London ward following chaos which saw an attack on three journalists. Hell’s Gate ward reported a low voter turnout in the morning.
Police in Kisii arrested the United Democratic alliance (UDA) candidate in Kiamokama ward by-election Nyandusi Nyakeramba on allegations of voter bribery. He was later freed without charges.
The candidate was forced to get out of his car by the police officers a few meters from Mulimani polling station where he was going to cast his vote.
Police said they recovered money stocked in a travelling bag inside the politician’s car.