Low voter turnout characterized the by-elections for Juja Constituency in a largely peaceful exercise with candidates expressing concern that it may affect their winning chances.
Though they expressed satisfaction with the way the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and security officers conducted the exercise, some candidates expressed fears that the low turnout might affect the election outcome.
A spot check by KNA at various polling centres established that only a few number of voters strolled to the stations, with no long queues witnessed for the better part of the day, amid tight security.
Voters were expected to adhere strictly to Ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols of hand washing, putting on face-masks, as their temperatures were checked at entry into polling centres.
The candidates; Susan Waititu of Jubilee Party, the widow to former MP Francis Waititu who succumbed to brain cancer in February, Dr. Joseph Gichui (Independent) and George Koimburi of Gatundu South MP, Moses Kuria’s Peoples Empowerment Party (PEP), called on IEBC to extend voting time to ensure all voters are allowed to vote.
Mrs Waititu who voted at JKUAT Primary School was accompanied by Kiambu Women Rep. Gathoni Wamuchomba.
“Most of the population in this Constituency is a working one and may flock to the polling centres after work as from 5pm. We ask IEBC to be considerate and allow them to vote even if they come past time,” she said.
Wamuchomba called on IEBC and security officers to be vigilant and ensure free elections, especially at the tallying centres.
She also called on security officers not to allow parliamentarians at the polling centres to avoid bribery incidences.
Kuria who had accompanied Koimburi at Maguguni Primary School in Theta ward during voting said so far, the exercise proceeded well.
“We are satisfied with the preparation and the way the exercise is going on. We hope it will continue like this even during tallying until the winner is announced,” said Kuria.
Juja constituency has 184 polling stations and about 115,000 registered voters, according to the returning officer Justus Mbithi.
Independent candidate Dr. Joseph Gichui, the youngest of them all voted at Matangi primary and expressed satisfaction with the exercise.
The race has attracted 11 candidates.
Other than Waititu and Koimburi others eying the seat are Zulu Thiong’o (Independent), John Njoroge (People’s Party of Kenya), Eunice Wanjiru (The New Democrats), and Moses Mwenda and Kariuki Chege.
The candidates had expressed concern over difficult campaign period after the President banned political gatherings to prevent the spread of Covid-19 being restricted to online campaigns, use of posters, issuing goodies and holding talks in complete adherence to Covid-19 protocols.
By Muoki Charles