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Wednesday, 17 May 2017 18:50 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
Rangwe MP George Oner is likely to make a major comeback as the ODM candidate for the upcoming general elections after the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal nullified the party's nomination of his main challenger, Dr Lillian Gogo. In a ruling delivered this evening, the Tribunal relied to a large extent on materials supplied by the party itself indicating substantial anomalies in the process that led to Dr Gogo's nomination.
The Tribunal, finding that there is no time for ODM to conduct fresh primaries for Rangwe, directed the party to determine a new candidate for nomination within 48 hours, meaning the decision should be made by latest the close of business on Friday. The party is to use mechanisms provided under its constitution in making the decision, and it is expected that it will weigh the popularity of each candidate who participated in the process.
Among the materials relied on by the Tribunal was a report by the ODM's Homabay County Elections Panel which provided evidence on how Dr Gogo influenced the outcome that led to her nomination in a manner that called into question the fairness of the whole process. The Report on Homa Bay County ODM Party Nomination was prepared by Mr Werah Alphonce, the secretary of Homa Bay County Elections Board.
Among other things, the report showed that nomination materials arrived late at the constituency distribution centre for onward distribution to polling stations, and that there were problems of transport for materials to reach polling stations. Even worse, more anomalies were unearthed at the polling and tallying process.
For example, "The POs and Clerks who ran the voting in Gem East and Gem West wards were appointed by one of candidates Dr Lillian Gogo while the NEB appointed POs and Clerks were not allowed to run the exercise in these two wards," said the report.
"The Constituency tallying centre which had been planned to be at Lwaho Secondary School due to the violence that had been witnessed around Rangwe tallying hall, and the suspicion that this violence could be repeated during the tallying process, was returned to Rangwe CDF hall under the influence of one of the aspirants Dr Lillian Gogo."
The report adds that, during tallying, "goons hired by one of the aspirants, Dr Lilian Gogo, descended on the RO Mr Pamaito Ila (+254 725 953 169) at the tallying center and demanded that he declares results with the tallies that had been received from only two wards by then, Gem East and Gem West, excluding Kochia and Kagan ward tallies which had not reached the constituency tallying centre."
East Gem and West were Dr Gogo's strongholds. Due to the threats on the returning officer's life by the goons, he "called the results in favour of Dr Lilian Gogo based on two wards tallies instead of four wards tallies. The tallying centre was then surrounded by the goons to ensure that no more reports were received even as the RO left the venue" in the aspirant's car.
"These results declared had several glaring anomalies. For example Aoch Muga polling station with 846 registered voters had 1,500 votes in favour of Dr Lilian Gogo," said the report, whose conclusion was that "The declared results should therefore be nullified and all results from all the four wards of the constituency tallied before winners are declared".
This nullification of the results never happened, and one of the candidates in the election challenged the nomination of Dr Gogo at the Tribunal which gave its ruling today. It was, however, widely expected that Mr Oner would beat Dr Gogo if all results were tallied as per the party election rules.
ODM is now faced with the choice of determining who between Dr Gogo and Mr Oner should be nominated, whereby political currents in the constituency favour Mr Oner. Being the incumbent, Mr Oner has undertaken several development projects in the constituency and was widely tipped to win the nomination was the process fair.
According to a party source, straw polls conducted for ODM saw Mr Oner emerge top among all those who sought the nomination, garnering more than half of likely voters. The party would also consider Mr Oner's nomination to assuage voters and neutralise the influence of Homa Bay gubernatorial candidate Oyugi Magwanga, who has popular support in the area.
Jack is a business and society writer at the Kenya Free Press