Bonchari by-election: It’s all systems go
Bonchari constituency in Kisii County is set to hold its by-election on Tuesday, May 18 amid tight security, anxiety and low-key political campaigns, which were affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
Area Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Returning Officer, Benson Ambuko says the commission has dispatched election materials to all 103 polling stations in readiness for the polls.
He says polling officers have been deployed to the polling stations to keep vigil and security has been beefed up at the stations ahead of the polls.
The Returning Officer said security officers have been deployed to the stations and measures put in place for voters to wash their hands, sanitize, wear masks and keep social distance as they vote.
“Voters will be required to wear masks, sanitize and their temperatures tested before they are allowed to vote” Ambuko told the Press during a briefing at Suneka Tallying Centre, adding that the area has 52,995 registered voters.
Ambuko noted that the commission had conducted voter education, stressing that no voter will be allowed into the polling station wearing a mask bearing the name of a politician or a political party.
He said the Ministry of the Education had allowed the commission to use schools in the area, which doubles up as polling stations to allow voters elect their leader.
Earlier, the Party of Economic Democracy (PED), Victor Omanwa, differed with Ambuko after it was found out that a box with registers for Bogiakumu Ward had been damaged, prompting the latter to explain.
“ We have checked the registers and they are intact. The election will be free and fair” Ambuko said.
Omanwa, accompanied by his rival, Kevin Mosomi, Party of Democracy Unity ( PDU) during the inspection of the materials said he was not satisfied with Ambuko explanation, adding the election will not be free and fair.
“ In an election, everything has to be clear so that we read from the same script. The Security and the Commission should explain further” Omanwa told the Press after the briefing.
Meanwhile, candidates were busy organizing their agents as several armed security officers patrolled Suneka town as the commission readied for the election.
Progressive Party of Kenya ( PPK) candidate, Charles Mogaka lauded the government for deploying adequate security to protect the candidates and voters, adding he expected the election to be peaceful.
“ We are going to the election with high expectations. The election will be over and there is life beyond politics’ Mogaka told People Daily on phone.
Mary Otara, United Green Movement Party ( UGM) echoed his sentiments and appealed to voters to turn early and in large numbers to elect their leader.
The seat attracted Zebedeo Opore (Jubilee party), Jonah Ondieki (The New Democrats), Pavel Oimeke (ODM), David Ogega (Kenya Social Congress), Jeremiah Atancha (Agano), Paul Matagaro (Mwangaza Tu), Teresa Bitutu Oroo (United Democratic Alliance), Eric Oigo (National reconstruction) and Teresa Gesare (Maendeleo Chap Chap).
Kitutu Chache South Mp Richard Onyonka, Nyamira county lawmaker Jerusha Momanyi and former Kitutu Masaba Mp Mwancha Okioma campaigned for Opore while Governor James Ongwae led Senator Prof. Sam Ongeri, Mps- Janet Ong’era, Dr Pamella Odhiambo and ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna drum up support for Oimeke.
Onyonka, who is Ford Kenya Deputy party leader, said he was supporting Opore in the spirit of the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former prime minister, Raila Odinga, which brought peace to the country.
“The competition is stiff. We are up to the task and expect that our candidate will win the seat. I urge him to embrace losers” Onyonka said on Saturday after the completion of the campaigns.
ODM and UDA leaders had complained that security officers had harassed and intimidated their supporters during campaigns under the guise of enforcing the Covid 19 rules, adding it had disadvantaged their candidates.
On Friday, Sifuna said he had written to the Commission’s chairman, Wafula Chebukati to complain over the harassment but not action had been taken, adding the ODM leaders will reject the results if security officers continue intimidating their supporters.
Bonchari has Four Wards- Riana, Bomariba, Bogiakumu and Bomorenda. Oimeke and Opore come from Riana Ward while Bitutu hails from Bomorenda.
Former area Mp, Charles Onyancha, who comes from Bogiakumu has rallied behind Oimeke, who will share votes with Ogega of Kenya Social Congress.