It’s three-horse race in Bonchari
Robert Ochoro, Hillary Mageka and Evans Nyakundi
Stakes are high in the Bonchari by-elections slated for tomorrow with candidates in the Handshake coalition leaving nothing to chance in what is shaping up as tight three-horse race.
Security has been tightened with Kisii County Police Commander Francis Kooli and Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo yesterday defending Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i over accusations that he had sponsored a candidate in the poll.
Kooli said the work of security officers was to ensure that law and order was maintained as campaigns continued.
Kisii county ODM leaders led by Governor James Ongwae, Senator Sam Ongeri and Woman Rep Janet Ong’era have accused Matiang’i of allegedly interfering with campaigns and deploying State agencies in favour of the Jubilee Party candidate Zebedeo Opore
But in a statement, Nyaribo said the CS has not stepped in Bonchari to campaign for any candidate and wondered how “his brothers” were accusing him of meddling in the mini-polls.
“It is important to note the National Police Service has its own structure of operations and command and not everything which is done by its officers comes from the Interior CS,” said the statement.
“The police service has conducted several operations elsewhere and Kisii cannot be an exceptional simply because the CS hails from the region,” the statement added
Politicians allied to ODM and United Democratic Alliance (UDA) raised concerns over intimidation and harassment by police as their respective candidates conducted campaigns that came to a close on Saturday.
“CS Matiang’i must stop using state resources in campaigning for Jubilee candidate in Bonchari by elections, when the state donates you (CS) some powers don’t misuse them, use them right, use them in a civil manner,” Ms Ong’era charged at a press conference held at a Kisii Hotel on Saturday.
“If you are campaigning for the Jubilee candidate come and talk about it, do house to house campaign like we are doing,” she added.
Ongwae on Saturday accused Matiang’i of ordering police to raid his house where he was hosting Prof Prof Ongeri and other leaders for dinner, saying the move was geared to intimidate him.
Senator Ongeri said the attempt by state manoeuvres to bring confusion and manipulate voters will not be allowed.
“It is not going to happen because the resolve of the Bonchari people is going to shame them, we are asking that the people of Bonchari be given their constitutional right to vote for the candidate of their choice,” he said adding that the state should not try to manipulate results in favour of the Jubilee candidate.
Kandara MP Alice Wahome, while leading a team of lawmakers allied to Deputy President William Ruto to drum up support for the UDA candidate Teresa Bitutu asked Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to move swiftly and ensure that police officers were not used for political reasons.
The race seems to have narrowed to three candidates, notably ODM Pavel Oimeke, Opore and Bitutu. The three have rallied strong support from their clans.
Opore’s convoy at the weekend snaked through various shopping centres as governor Ongwae, Ongeri, Onge’ra, Migori Woman Rep Pamella Odhiambo and ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna drummed up support for Oimeke.
Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka, Nyamira County MP Jerusha Momanyi, former Kitutu Masaba MP Mwancha Okioma led the campaigns for Opore.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader, Omingo Magara and MPs Silvanus Osoro, (South Mugirango) and Vincet Kemosi, (West Mugirango) campaigned for UDA candidate, Bitutu, the widow of former MP Oroo Oyioka.
The leaders congratulated Bonchari people for embracing peaceful campaigns and urged Opore, the former area MP to embrace losers and work with them if he is elected to foster development in the constituency.
“I laud the people of Bonchari for the peace they have shown. I am a woman and urge Opore to support Oroo’s widow,” Momanyi said.
“I know how to embrace losers. Do not worry about Madam Oroo. I will embrace her. I thank my friends for campaigning for me,” Opore said.
But Ongwae asked the Bonchari electorate to turn up in large numbers at polling stations and elect Oimeke, whom he described as focused and development conscious.
“I appeal to Bonchari voters to wake up early, vote wisely, return home and wait for the results. I urge you to maintain peace and embrace Covid 19 protocols during the election,” Ongwae said.
Yesterday, Nyanza Regional Commissioner Magu Mutindika warned that stern action will be taken against those who will dare cause chaos and disrupt the election.
The commissioner said they had received information that armed goons had been hired by some individuals to cause mayhem during the voting.
“There are also two vehicles going around loaded with machetes to be used by the goons. We will deal with the situation firmly and decisively,” the commissioner said.
The commissioner said three suspects had been arrested in connection with the plot to cause violence and will be arraigned today ( Monday).