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Kenya: A battle for Bungoma Senatorial seat – By-election December 2013

Posted by African Press International on December 4, 2013


The Search for votes  by Candidates  in the ongoing  campaign  in the Bungoma  County Senatorial  seat  by-election slated  for   December 19  have reached fever  pitch even before the  official campaign period  by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries  Commission – IEBC  begins in earnest.

It is  not therefore  surprising that  political  observers and   pundits  have been  filing diverse  reports about  the by-election which  is slated to be one of the most grueling  political fights  ever to be witnessed in Bungoma County in  recent years.  While there are  four candidates   cleared by IEBC to  contest, there is no question that the real fight in this  race  will be  between  the former immediate Senator  Moses Masika   Wetang’ula   of Ford Kenya in the  Cord Coalition  and Musikari Nazi Kombo  of New Ford Kenya  in the Amani Coalition.

At the outset, this  titanic  battle   started much earlier  than the  real election  fight  because  when   Justice Francis Gikonyo of the High Court  sitting in Bungoma nullified Wetang’ula ‘s  election  word went around that Wetang’ula  had committed  and Election  offence of  bribery hence  would be  barred  from  participating  in the by-election.

But it turned water under the  bridge as the same  judge  later  clarified     his ruling, that  he   had not  barred  anyone. Unfortunately  Musikari Kombo and his supporters  got so excited  that they seemed to have been carried away by  the initial decision  of the court following which  they made all and sundry here in Bungoma   believe that Wetang’ula    would  not be  on the ballot  after all  and that  Kombo was set for  a  landslide  field day  and victory  against  former Bumula Mp Bifwoli Wakoli and  Journalist David Makali.

Bungoma political reviewers argue that, the by-election will not be between Kombo and Wetangula. It will be far much bigger than the two. It is likely to pit former PM Raila Odinga and his CORD brigade, against President Uhuru’s Jubilee. CORD shall be fighting two wars, to return the only CORD principal and CORD’s leader of Minority in the senate, and to confirm its firm hold on Western Kenya. Jubilee on the other hand shall seek to cement its upper house ‘tyranny of numbers’ and to prove to CORD that it is pulling the rug from right under its feet in Western.

The general  perception and   consensus   among   majority of the voting Public  in  the County  is that Moses Wetang’ula   is   a victim of vendetta   by the Jubilee Government which has always viewed  him   with suspicion particularly because of  his sometime  hard and uncompromising stance on  a number  of  issues in Governance, land  matters and most of all and  his surprise move to   join   Raila  Odinga and  Kalonzo’s  Cord Coalition in the runner-up to the   2013  General Elections.

The two main contenders , Moses Masika  Wetang’ula  and Musikari Nazi Kombo   have been holding  meetings  and caucuses  to drum up support  for their candidature   in different parts  of the County, but the measure  of what kind and level of support or following  that they are likely  to get from  voters was demonstrated on the subsequent  days when the candidates presented their  nomination papers to the IEBC  and thereafter  addressed Public rallies  at the legendary Posta grounds  in Bungoma.

Kombo was the first one to present his papers after which he addressed a poorly attended public rally at the grounds where  apart from   motor cycle boda boda  riders  who escorted him the whole way from Webuye, and  a trickle  of by standers  he was  accompanied by two members of Parliament, Bungoma Woment Representative Reginalda Wanyonyi and Webuye East Mp Eng. Alfred Wekesa Sambu plus NFK  County Representatives. It was however surprising that  Mps from Kombo’s New Ford Kenya Party skipped the event and have been lukewarm  in their expected support for Kombo whose campaign is being spearheaded by their own  NFK Party Leader Eugene Wamalwa.

Wetang’ula  on his part presented his papers  the following day after Kombo’s  presentation  and immediately thereafter  convened  a well  attended  mammoth  public rally at the Posta Grounds which was  graced  by his co- principals  in Cord Coalition, Raila  Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka  and attended by eight Senators, Twenty Five Members of Parliament and  over Sixty County Representatives drawn from across  the political divide, the region  and  the Nation at large.

Commenting on the  massive attendance and speeches  made at the Posta Grounds Rally by local and visiting politicians, Professor Charles  Kibanani Ngome  of  Masinde Muliro  University  of Science and Technology in Kakamega said that there was no doubt that Wetang’ula   had an upper  hand  and  early head start arising from the apparent mishandling of the Election  petition  filed  against him by  Kombo .

In  the meetings and caucuses, the candidates have been targeting key voter rich constituencies  and  minorities  with hope that these groups  will tilt the scales particularly  against  opponents who are  seen to command massive following  of the predominant Bukusu Luhya sub-tribe.

Webuye East Mp Alfred Sambu and Kombo   has spent a lot of time  persuading  the Tachoni,  a large non-Bukusu  Luhya sub-tribe to rally behind his candidature, but the Tachoni   Elders  led by their Chairman  Wasilwa Wasike   said  that they are against the decision by their MP   to support Kombo  when the issues that have always affected the tachoni have been completely ignored by Kombo.

In a recent meeting in Webuye,NFK leader Eugene Wamalwa said that as the party leader, what he is interested in is to see NFK reclaim the seat, which he said it won, but was denied through electoral fraud. “We are aware CORD campaigns will be about pure propaganda, painting NFK as a Jubilee project, and we are ready for it. The people of Bungoma should know the by-election would be about reclaiming an NFK win that was stolen in the March 4 general elections through fraud. It will be a contest between NFK and Ford Kenya and people should stop hiding behind larger coalitions,” said Wamalwa.

Political observers aver that the contest between Kombo and Wetang’ula, if it comes to be, may go down in history as the toughest and most bruising political battles in Luhya-land since independence.

In a recent political rally at Bungoma posta ground,CORD  leaders came out to paint Jubilee as a coalition that has no interest  to Western people, after locking out the region in major political appointments through what some leaders from the region now refer to as “politics of exclusion”.

There has been some disquiet among the western region people who the Jubilee administration has sidelined the community when it comes to appointments to various senior public offices on   appointment of Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries to parastatal heads and even diplomats, there is a feeling that Jubilee gave the Luhya community a raw deal, perhaps in punishment for the minimal support the coalition got in the last elections.

But recently Webuye East Mp Alfred Sambu in a meeting stated that  President Uhuru  is committed   in reviving the long dead Webuye panpaper mills. This is likely to cause jitters among CORD top brass.

Analysist aver now it is a ripe time for the government  to dangle carrots and throw goodies to the residents of Bungoma in a bid to sway them the Jubilee way. It will not be surprising if some ministry sprang up and the position thrown to someone from the Bukusu soil, or some diplomatic position or senior government office thrown our way.

Virtually all industries in the county are on their death-beds, this could be another good political target by the Jubilee strategists. Governor Lusaka, elected on Amani Coalitions New Ford Kenya (NFK) will be a key link by the Jubilee government in penetrating the county. He is said to have been part of the president Uhuru’s team when he visited China.

He was on hand to welcome Deputy President William Ruto to the region and led the other MPs present in declaring willingness to work with the Jubilee government. Being the governor and in charge of the county’s resources, and coming from a coalition friendly to the government, Lusaka is said to have roots in Tachoni region  has instructed his people to drum up support for Kombo in the senatorial campaigns. But Lusaka has denied that is has remained neutral in the by elections campaigns.

Raila troops  on the other hand are seeking to whip anti-government sentiments, that are already evident on the ground. The Raila,Musyoka,Wetangula  brigade are of the fact that only one Luhya, and a lady for that matter, was appointed to the cabinet. It is also seeking to play the ‘stolen election’ card on the community  the loss by CORD to Jubilee in the March 4 polls elections, believed to have been controversial.

Other  factors that have influenced  the senatorial race  in the county is number of candidates in the race, the battle is  between the candidate backed by Jubilee and that backed by CORD. Amani Coalition has three out of nine MPs and one MP, Hon. John Serut won as an independent candidate. The Amani MPs as well as Hon. Serut  has thrown  his weight behind the Jubilee-backed candidate.

In the last elections, even Amani affiliate parties could not agree on a single candidate, with NFK fielding Kombo and Musalia Mudavadi’s United Democratic Front (UDF) fronting Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi.



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Kenya: Lawyer Kethi Kilonzo knocked out of contesting for Senate seat – accused of fraudulently obtaining registration slip as a voter

Posted by African Press International on July 19, 2013

High Court in Kenya has determined: Lawyer Kethi Kilonzo should not be allowed to vie for the Senate seat , Makueni county.

Sad news for lawyer Kethi Kilonzo who wanted to succeed her father the late Mutula Kilonzo as the Senator for Makueni County. Her father died a few months ago, opening for a by-election in the county.

Kethi had told the court that she had registered as a voter but that she could not remember the location of the registration center clearly.

The High court consisting of Judges Mumbi Ngugi, Mr Mwongo and Weldon Korir made a ruling this morning the 19th of July 2013, barring Kethi from contesting for the seat and blaming her for having not checked if she was really a registered voter. The IEBC has claimed that she is not a registered voter , thus cannot allow her to vie for the Senatorial seat left vacant by her late father.

This is a big blow for her career as a lawyer having been accused of fraudulently receiving and producing a stolen registration slip claiming it to be genuine.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission may now decide to sue her for theft. This will force her to explain who gave her the slip claimed bi IEBC to have been stolen from their offices.



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Kenya: Kisumu Court Upheld the Petition challenging the election of Kisumu West MP

Posted by African Press International on May 30, 2013

  • By Maurice Alal, API Kenya

Kisumu Law Court has upheld the petition challenging the election of Kisumu West Member of Parliament Olago Aluoch following his prayer for the dismissal of the case citing delays of bond payment by the petitioner.

Justice Hillary Chemitei dismissed the request on the ground that the petitioner Rosa Buyu made the payment within the stipulated time.

The Judge said April 19, 2013 being the last day to remit payment the petitioner did not breach the law as claimed by the respondent.

Olago had earlier argued that the petitioner Buyu represented by lawyers Stephene Mwanesi and Millicent Ogutu deposited the checks late.

Because April 19, 2013 fall on Friday he argued that technically the cheque will take three days to mature.

Buyu presented 2 bankers cheque of Ksh. 250,000 as the security for case challenging the election of Olago. An affidavit by Buyu through her lawyer Millicent Ogutu states that the deposit was made on April 19, 2013 in line with Election Act.

The Act states that payment for the bond should be made within ten days this therefore Justice Chemitei find it necessary for the case to proceed.

However, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) lawyer Jude Ragot seek for judge’s permission for application in the Court of Appeal to challenge the ruling on payment of the bond by the petitioner. The application was also requested by Olago.

Chemitei allowed the request by the respondents saying the petition has to proceed citing that the cases has to be concluded within 6 months as by the Election Act.

Buyu through her lawyer Mwanesi supported the prayer by respondents saying the case will proceed until the Court of Appeal will issue an order to stop the case.



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All Is Not Well With Poll Arrangements

Posted by African Press International on October 27, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012 – 00:00 — BY DAVID MAKALI

Keen followers of the countdown to the next general election have a reason to worry. This country is staring at another electoral disaster and everything must now switch from urgent to crisis mode if a credible poll is to be held on March 4.

And this is not just about the delay in the arrival of the Biometric Voter Registration kit and the implications of the consequent late registration of voters.

That can be dealt with by emergency measures, including declaring a three-day national work stoppage to enable all eligible voters to register en masse.

But enormous groundwork is required to turn out the vote, recruit and train the personnel to manage the multi-layered electoral exercise, which is a huge task. We are staring at potentially the most chaotic and tense election since independence.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which was initially to blame for the botched procurement of the kit, has tactically absolved itself from responsibility for the current impasse.

During the crisis stakeholders meeting on Wednesday at the Prime Minister’s office to iron out the process, the government attempted to calm the nervous IEBC amid accusations of ineptitude and attempts to sabotage the elections. But many questions remain unanswered.

Have the bureaucratic cobwebs, legal hitches and vested interests that encumber the IEBC’s work been completely thwarted?  Why have the key officials required to superintend over a smooth election — the chief accounting officer and party the registrar of political parties — not been recruited?

Given that the two coalition principals have such vested interests – one with an eye to influence his succession and the other firmly in the race — can they be trusted to smooth the way to this election as they have repeatedly stated?

On Wednesday, the IEBC expressed “cautious” optimism about the future.  It kicked the ball from its court to the executive, which promised to ensure the money is paid and the kit supplied by next week for the IEBC to manage the tenuous deadlines.

So many election timelines have been adjusted to accommodate the logistical obstacles in the registration of voters and the weird migration habits of the politicians. But the pressure cooker situation in the country can easily snap with one misstep.

Even more worrisome is the inability of our leadership to agree on a formula for achieving the divisive one-third gender requirement for all elective positions stipulated in the constitution.

After much back and forth, the political class has declared itself incompetent and hopeless. The time for a constitutional amendment –90 days after the First Reading in the House – has lapsed and yet the current Parliament will stand dissolved in the next 80 days. No bill has been published for public input, or even tabled in Parliament as required by Article 256.

The executive is now seeking the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution, in a clear effort to browbeat the public and facilitate another breach, which could further complicate the election crisis.

If the composition of the next Parliament does not meet the one-third minimum of either gender, it will be invalid. The IEBC will not gazette it and hence it will not transact any business.

Whereas the constitution provides a solution for meeting the benchmark of a popularly elected president by 50%+1 of the votes cast or a simple majority in the event of a run-off, there is no similar safety valve for a hung parliament.

The criteria for achieving this threshold was left to subsidiary legislation, which has now become a crisis.  Shall the election be nullified and seats declared vacant pursuant to Article 103 and another election called? Or shall the inability to comply with the constitution invalidate the election (Article 105)?

The paralysis consequential to this crisis is serious. First, it means that the Executive, too, will not be fully constituted because Parliament must approve the Cabinet that the President may appoint.

Thus, although the preparations for the elections are far behind schedule and goal posts are being moved to accommodate political gerrymandering, the real crisis lies in the compliance with the constitution.

The main assignment for this Parliament when it resumes in November is to clear the le remaining legal obstacles by legislating means by which the one-third rule will be achieved in elective positions.

It may also need to ponder whether vesting executive authority in one gender — a president and deputy of the same gender – does not offend the constitution. Why is it good for the judiciary and not the executive?


———– The Star of Kenya ———-

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