The Gaturi ward by-election kicked off smoothly Tuesday amidst claims of voter bribery.
The exercise, which was marred by low turnout commenced in all polling stations by 6am with only a handful of voters seen casting their votes in various stations.
The returning officer Faith Mugo said they expected the number of voters to increase before midday saying everything was running smoothly.
Mugo dismissed claims by some candidates that there were cases of voter bribery saying IEBC had deployed officers to check on any irregularities and apprehend those who may be found breaking electoral laws.
“In every polling station we have police officers and also individual candidates have stationed agents to protect their votes. We will continue monitoring to ensure the exercise is conducted freely and fairly,” added Mugo.
Earlier on, the Jubilee party candidate Rosemary Wakuthie had made allegations to the effect that some individuals were spotted outside various polling stations bribing voters.
“My team has spotted some people trying to give out money to voters. I have reported the matter to local security agents and I hope if the claims are true, those behind the malpractice will be apprehended,” noted Wakuthie.
On her part, the Peoples Empowerment Party candidate Esther Mwihaki decried poor turnout witnessed in the better part of Tuesday morning hours.
She appealed to IEBC to conduct free and fair elections saying locals were already tensed due to claims of voter bribery, which she however dismissed, adding that every candidate had agents to monitor and protect their votes.
“Another challenge we have witnessed is that the process of capturing biometric details was rather slow. We have since asked the electoral body to sort out the problem with their digital gadgets,” she added.
The seat was left vacant after the death of former MCA Kiiru Mbembe Mwangi who passed on in September.
Nine candidates drawn from various political parties are battling to capture the seat, with local voters warming up for a representative who would end the perennial shortage of water, which has remained a big challenge in the area.
One of the voters, Nancy Muthoni said the area has been experiencing acute shortage of water for many years and she urged local leaders to join hands and ensure they get the vital commodity in their homes.
Gaturi ward has 18, 834 registered voters, 37 polling stations and 24 polling centres. The tallying centre is at Gaturi girls Secondary School.
By Bernard Munyao