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Residents throng polling stations to cast their votes

Thousands of Mombasa residents today trooped to polling stations to elect their preferred candidates in various elective seats.

A spot check by Kenya News Agency found long queues in many polling stations as voters were eager to exercise their constitutional obligation.

However, despite some voters arriving as early as 5am, a number of polling stations were by 8am yet to start the exercise that was scheduled to begin at 6am.

Among the polling stations affected by the delay were Tononoka Hall, Sacred Heart Primary School and Uhuru Gardens in Mvita Constituency resulting in complaints from those who had arrived early to cast their votes.

“This is unacceptable, voting was supposed to start at 6am and until now (8am) the exercise has not started,” said an elderly woman Fatuma Ibrahim who accused the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of not explaining to them the reasons behind the delay.

Security personnel had a difficult time of cooling down tempers as some voters started shouting and demanding the opening of polling stations.

Efforts to get comments from the County Returning Officer Swalha Ibrahim were futile as her phone went unanswered while the presiding officers of the respective polling stations locked themselves inside the centres.

The County has a total of 641,913 registered voters spread across six constituencies and 30 wards.

There are 1,041 polling centres in the county with an additional four prisons that will undertake the presidential vote only.

The county will not be voting for the governor after IEBC suspended the election of the county top seat following a mix up in the printing papers.

On Sunday, Ms Ibrahim assured Mombasa residents that the voting exercise will begin at 6 am in the morning and end at 5pm in the evening.

She also said that they had beefed up security in all polling stations to ensure that voters come in and vote peacefully without any disruption.

“We have deployed two security officers for every polling station. We also have deployed 20 security officers in each constituency tallying centre,” she said.

She added that a contingent of General Service Unit (GSU) officers have been deployed to ensure there is peace during the entire voting period.

“The GSU officers have been deployed in areas we deem hotspots like Kisauni, Nyali and Likoni,” she said.

She added that people with disabilities, expectant and nursing mothers, and the elderly will be allowed to walk in without queuing and vote.

She said that candidates will also be allowed to walk in and vote and leave because they are not allowed to be at the polling stations.

The commission capped the maximum number of voters per polling station at 700.

By Mohamed Hassan

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