Juja candidates warned against rallies, caravans
Police in Juja, Kiambu County, have warned aspirants eyeing the Juja parliamentary seat against holding physical campaign meetings in their homes, hotels, churches or schools.
Juja sub-county police commander Dorothy Migarusha also warned that any aspirant found using motor vehicle caravans in their campaigns will be arrested and charged with contravening Covid-19 containment measures put in place by the government.
Speaking to journalists after meeting the 12 aspirants alongside Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials, the area police boss urged aspirants to use mainstream and social media sites to campaign for the seat.
She said physical campaigns meetings would jeopardise government efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic, of which Kenya is grappling with a third wave.
“We are not going to allow any political gatherings and this includes use of motor vehicle caravans, which most of the aspirants have been using to engage their supporters.
They have been stopping in some markets where they mingle with their supporters in uncontrollable ways,” she said.
Some of the candidates, however, expressed concern about the rules, saying it would be impractical to engage all residents on social media, as most of them were illiterate while others do not own or know how to use smartphones.
The National Democrats Party ticket candidate Eunice Wanjiru called for relaxation of the stringent rules to enable them engage the voters.
“Door-to-door campaigns and meeting supporters one-on-one is the best campaign strategy.
We would like to appeal that every candidate be given a day to move around the constituency to sell their agenda,” she said.
Ken Gachuma of the National Liberal Party said that although the move was inconveniencing, they will turn to mainstream and social media to engage voters since they have less than two months to the by-election.
“There is an urgent need to protect Juja residents against contracting the deadly virus that has continued to weigh down economies across the globe. We are ready to comply and the only avenue to reach voters now is the media,” said Gachuma.
George Koimburi of People’s Empowerment Party and Joseph Gichui, an independent candidate, also welcomed the decision to ban rallies and caravans, saying all politicians must exercise caution and responsibility to avoid spreading the virus.
“The challenge will not deter us from reaching residents. We want to be cautious because the virus continues to spread and we would not like to serve sick people,” said Gichui.
Migarusha said the police were on high alert to deal with any acts of hooliganism by candidates or their supporters. She said elections laws must be followed to the letter.
The police boss warned that stern measures would be taken against any aspirant who will violate the laws, adding that peace must be upheld during and after the elections.
“We will not entertain any form of hooliganism,” she said.
She further stated that the police will closely monitor social media sites belonging to the aspirants to check possible incitement to violence and voter bribery.
The seat fell vacant following the death of Francis Munyua alias Wakapee.
The by-election will be held on May 18 together with that of the Bonchari constituency and Garissa Senate polls.