Confusion reigned for the better part of the day at the Matuga constituency tallying centre in Kenya School of Government (KSG) Matuga campus, after gubernatorial candidates stormed the venue alleging irregularities.
The three Prof. Hamadi Boga (ODM), Chirau Mwakwere (Wiper Democratic Party) and Lung’anzi Chai of Pamoja Africa Alliance (PAA) demanded that ongoing counting of votes be stopped.
Led by Mwakwere, the candidates alleged that the entire electoral exercise was marred by a lot of electoral malpractices. They said they have strong evidence of secret plots to rig the election in favour of one of their competitors.
“We have valid information of ballot boxes transported to the tallying stations without seals,” claimed Mwakwere, a former cabinet minister.
Mwakwere said the exercise was not conducted in a free and fair manner hence the tallying must be discontinued until their grievances are addressed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The candidates decried that the KIEMS kit were tampered with and votes rigged. The standoff halted the vote tallying exercise for hours before police restored law and order.
The aggrieved gubernatorial contenders called for peace and sobriety as counting resumed insisting that they support a peaceful and transparent election process.
A Senatorial candidate Salim Mwadumbo of ANC party said it is their constitutional right to have the tallying halted for justice to prevail.
He accused IEBC officials of dishonesty for allowing electoral malpractice to happen under their watch. “It’s only fair that whenever there are complaints from aggrieved parties, it should promptly be addressed before tallying is allowed to continue,” he said.
Mwadumbo said the information given by IEBC on votes counting is not verified and the exercise deserves to be suspended with immediate effect.
He demanded the county returning officer Abdallah Chikophe address their complaints first before proceeding with the counting.
However, Chikophe said there were no official complaints lodged to them by any of the parties crying foul. He said the electoral process was fair and peaceful and that the tallying exercise will continue.
“This is the first time I hear complaints about KIEMs kit because the gadgets were intact and none was tampered with as alleged,” he said, adding, “The tallying will go on as scheduled,” he said.
On Wednesday night two presiding officers were arrested for allegedly trying to alter results. The two who are in police custody were found with ballot papers and some form 34As. Chikophe said the issue was resolved and the investigation was ongoing. The electoral agency official told the candidates to follow the right channels of the law for further actions.
However, the candidates and a group of supporters became impatient, forcing the police to intervene. The crowd was pushed out of the room by GSU and administration police officers who were in full riot gear.
At 1:00 pm the candidates held a press briefing where Boga and Lung’anzi also decried vote bribery.
At the moment tallying activities have resumed and calm restored, but voters will have to wait longer to know their next set of county leadership.
In Kwale, the battle to succeed Governor Salim Mvurya has narrowed down to Fatuma Achani (UDA), Prof Hamadi Boga of ODM and Chai Luganzi of PAA.
Other aspirants in the race are county assembly speaker Sammy Ruwa (Independent) and businessman Gereza Dena (Kanu).
Tallying is, however, ongoing in Matuga, Msambweni, Kinango and Lunga Lunga constituencies.
By Hussein Abdullahi