Low voter turnout in peaceful Juja polls
Oliver Musembi and Mathew Ndung’u
The Juja by-election was marked by a low voter turnout but was devoid of any ugly incident.
By around midday, only a few hundreds of the constituency’s 114,761 registered voters had cast their ballots, according to returning officer Justus Mbithi.
“We hope the situation will improve in the course of the day, but low voter turnout is common during by-elections and more so when the date falls on a week-day,” Mbithi said.
The exercise started punctually in most of the 38 polling centres and went on smoothly, except for reports of some people who were arrested for carrying the poster of a candidate to a polling centre.
There was a brief commotion at Magomano polling centre when word went round that boxes containing ballots were sported in a car nearby, but it later turned out that the boxes contained face-masks which police distributed to voters.
There was heavy deployment of security officers with some patrolling the streets of Juja and other urban areas under the command of sub-county police boss Dorothy Migarusha and area CID boss Richard Mwaura.
Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni Wamuchomba who escorted Jubilee candidate Susan Waititu to vote at Jomo Kenyatta Primary School, claimed that two people were apprehended by the public with posters of one of the candidates trying to influence voters inside a polling centre.
“We are aware that some of our opponents have resorted to dirty tricks and spreading malicious propaganda through social media to mislead the public.
One of them had claimed in the morning that there was a power blackout in most of the polling centres which was untrue,” Wamuchomba said.
Wa Muchomba called on the electoral agency and security officers to be vigilant and ensure free and fair elections.
She also asked police not to allow parliamentarians at polling centres to prevent bribery of voters.
Waititu who cast her vote around 10am decried the low voter turnout which she attributed to the voting day falling on a week-day.
Free and fair elections
“We expect the numbers to increase later in the day and I am appealing to employers to give their workers permission to go and vote,” said Waititu, the widow of former MP Francis Waititu.
She also said she was confident of winning the election to pick up from where her husband left when he succumbed to cancer of the brain in February this year.
“Most of the population in this constituency are working people who are likely to flock to the polling centres after work from 5pm.
We ask the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to be considerate and allow them to vote if they come past scheduled voting time,” she said.
There was heavy police presence across tallying centres.
George Koimburi of the People’s Empowerment Party associated with Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, cast his vote at Magomano Primary school and similarly expressed confidence of victory.
“The people of Juja have come out to decide and I am sure they will vote for me” said Koimburi.
“We are peaceful people but we are happy that security has been beefed up to avert occurrence of any form of violence.
There is no reported irregularity and we thank IEBC for the good job they are doing,” said Koimburi.