NAIROBI, Kenya, March 5 – The Election Observation Group, ELOG, on Friday condemned incidences of harassment of poll officials and voter bribery it said were rampant during by-elections held on Thursday in parts of Western and Rift Valley regions.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) conducted two parliamentary elections in Matungu and Kabuchai constituencies and five ward 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.
The group’s National Coordinator Mulle Musau, in a preliminary report released to the press, said its monitors reported cases of voter bribery, violence and intimidation in Kabuchai constituency in Bungoma County, Matungu constituency in Kakamega as well as Hells Gate and London ward in Nakuru county.
“In one of the incidents of alleged bribery, violence erupted leading to destruction of property where an MPs vehicle was vandalised,” he said.
Musau noted high political tension and physical brawls were witnessed in Kabuchai’s Busakali polling stations, in Matungu constituency and Milimani polling station in London ward.
“Cartons suspected to be containing pre-marked ballot papers were alleged to have been stored in the neighborhood of milimani primary school polling station. while this is not directly verified by ELOG officials, such allegations indicate critical incidences of electoral fraud,” he added.
In order to improve the integrity of the elections ahead of the 2022 polls, ELOG called for a speedy investigation on incidences of harassment and firm legal action against perpetrators.
ELOG further called for enforcement of a strict election regime to address the rising cases of electoral-related violence, bribery claims and other offences that assault electoral integrity.
Musau urged the security agents to boost their preparedness and security apparatus ahead of 2022 General Elections.
In addition, the group wantS local elections to be driven and overseen by local actors as opposed to national leaders as was the case with the by-elections on Thursday.
Among the key national leaders who were deployed as agents include former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa who was captured on video slapping an IEBC official at Bulonga polling station in Matungu constituency.
“While elections are both national and local, it is important for local elections to be driven and overseen by local actors, the presence of the so-called super-agents and other national leaders creates tension and intimidation of voters in these electoral areas,” part of the findings noted.
The group, nonetheless said that its election observers were properly permitted in all polling stations and that all ballot boxes were shown to be properly open before elections began.
It further noted that the COVID 19 protocols were properly adhered to and high security was upheld by the government.
ELOG said voting procedures were widely adhered to and that counting of votes were conducted according to the procedures and in the presence of the party agents.