Raila, Mudavadi claim plot to rig Kibra by-election
Mercy Mwai and George Kebaso
Opposition leaders have renewed their fight with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) after they accused it of conspiring with Jubilee Party to rig the Kibra by-election slated for November 7.
Raila Odinga’s ODM party has accused two IEBC commissioners of planning to rig the by-election in favour of Jubilee candidate and former football star McDonald Mariga, whose campaign has been mired in allegations of voter bribery.
On the other hand, Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress party fingered the commission for allegedly turning a blind eye to electoral malpractices propagated by Deputy President William Ruto while campaigning for Mariga. Mudavadi accused the DP of using his official residence as a campaign base.
Addressing a press conference at Parliament Buildings yesterday, ODM leaders claimed there were attempts by Jubilee to rig the by-election by doctoring the Kibra voter register.
The party’s top brass alleged that two commissioners are allegedly working with a top Jubilee official from northern Kenya to manipulate the register to shortchange their candidate, Imran Okoth.
ODM chairman John Mbadi, director of elections Junet Mohammed, MPs Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay), Eve Obara (Kabondo Kasipul), Florence Mutua (Busia Woman Representative), Ong’ondo Were (Kasipul) and Walter Opiyo (Awendo) claimed the official has been meeting the commissioners in a bid to manipulate the poll.
They also claimed Jubilee had hired the services of former Energy Cabinet secretary Davis Chirchir, whom they accused of manipulating the 2017 presidential election, to allegedly interfere with the Kibra by-election electronically.
“As ODM, we are not complaining but we are aware that two commissioners have been taking breakfast, lunch and supper with a top Jubilee person from northern Kenya. We are also aware that Jubilee has hired the services of Chirchir to go and manipulate the elections in Kibra. I want to dare IEBC that if they attempt to do anything they will face the wrath of ODM,” said Junet.
Attempts yesterday to get comments from Ruto’s director of communications David Mugonyi did not bear fruit as he neither picked our calls nor responded to short text messages (SMS) sent to his phone.
But IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said they are yet to receive any formal complaint from both ODM and ANC.
“We have just learnt of the allegations through the media, but should they make a formal complaint, we shall respond depending on the strength of the evidence provided,” he said.
ODM made the claims on a day it announced it will be marching to the IEBC’s Anniversary Towers offices to demand that the commission produce the voter register for Kibra constituency.
Junet, who read a statement on behalf of the eight MPs, claimed their decision is based on the fact that within three weeks to the by-election, the commission has yet to provide the updated voter register the party had been requesting for.
He claimed the party has in four occasions written to the commission and paid the Sh15,000 required to provide the updated register for Kibra and a full list of registered voters since 2017 to date including the dates and centres of registration.
Mbadi said by declining to provide the list, IEBC was refusing to be transparent and accountable as per the provisions of the Constitution.
“The IEBC has refused to learn from its past mistakes, including 2017. We demand transparency from them. Let them share with us details of their voters’ register in Kibra,” he said.
“We will go to their offices tomorrow (today) to tell them that they must be transparent in their dealings in Kibra”.
According to Mbadi, the party will not sit back and watch as the law is being flouted because the Election Act 2015 obligates the commission to make the register of voters available all the time, and also create a public portal to enable members of the public to inspect the register.
“IEBC does not want to be transparent and accountable, but what we are telling them is that we will go to their offices tomorrow (today) to demand that the register be availed to us,” said Mbadi.
Speaking separately, Mudavadi accused the DP of turning his official residence into a campaign base, saying by hosting delegations of Kibra residents, potential voters in the poll, he is actively breaching the Election Offences Act 2016.
“Hosting political delegations in a government installation is the worst-case scenario. Is the Electoral Independent and Boundaries Commission aware that this is abuse of public resources? Is this not a breach of electoral rules?” asked Mudavadi, whose candidate is Eliud Owalo.
Several campaign meetings in favour of Mariga have been held at the DP’s Karen residence, where a confrontation ensued yesterday as the youth fought over alleged handouts.
The Act states that a candidate, referendum committee or another person shall not use public resources for the purpose of campaigning during an election or a referendum.
The DP is also grappling with accusations from other parties that he has been inducing Kibra voters with handouts, especially through meetings where local leaders are engaged to mobilise meetings at his official residence.