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Friday, 07 Jul 2017 13:25 EATyarriska90som@live.com
Residents of Eldas Constituency, Wajir County, today held demonstrations at Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) offices protesting what they termed skewed recruitment of pro-Jubilee returning officers and clerks. The protests followed an earlier petition filed by a section of aspirants and elites from the constituency on Wednesday.
The protesters held a procession in Wajir town as they condemned the recruits, claiming the area MP Adan Keynan, who is defending his seat on a Jubilee Party ticket, was behind the move which is disadvantageous to his challengers including Ahmed Boray Aralle who leads the "Team Change". Dr Aralle is seen as the front-runner to defeat Mr Keynan.
The protesters also accused the returning officer John Gitau of conspiring with Mr Keynan to recruit clerks allied to him. The demonstration began at Griftu Stage - a market point west of Wajir CBD as they questioned the final list of the IEBC recruits for the constituency. The protests paralyzed the movement in the town as they blocked streets chanting "Gitau Must Go! Gitau Must Go! Keynan Must Go! IEBC Must Act Fairly".
They referred to their petition letter dated 5 July, 2017 where they raised concern over the way the recruitment was conducted, but no response came from IEBC office. IEBC county election’s manager Mr Patrick Gatuma told the protesting team that the two rival groups were consulted before the final list was approved.
He said, “We agreed on a 50-50 distribution of staff between the two parties - Mr Keynan and Dr Aralle. Yes there was some mistake, but it is being corrected. The protesting residents welcomed the assurance that the perceived anomalies would be corrected and predicted a big win for Dr Aralle.
IEBC county elections manager Mr Patrick Gatuma calming the protesters.
Mr Gitau on his part remarked, “We have a clear guidance to which was promptly done by amongst ourselves (IEBC) together with your team (pointing at protesters' team leader), the matter is under scrutiny and you need to trust us as we deal with the matter legally and fairly".
The protesting team were not happy with what they termed actions by Mr Keynan and Prof Abdi Yakub Guliye who is an IEBC commissioner, accusing them of interfering with the recruitments.
They alleged that Mr Keynan in conjunction with the IEBC commissioner struck a deal to recruit officers allied to his team, vowing not to accept the deal meant to manipulate the voting pertain in the whole constituency.
Earlier the "Team Change" started doubting a free fair and credible election when they learned that schemes which Mr Keynan had initiated after realizing that he was headed for a defeat from Dr Aralle, who has shown all mantles to oust him the constituency job. Dr Aralle had by all means indicated that he was headed for an overwhelming win after engaging in well sourced political campaign.
The assurance by the IEBC that the anomaly would be corrected got positive response from the crowd. Ms Habiba, a mother who votes in Eldas said, "I am a voter of Eldas and a mother who is a strong supporter of Dr Aralle. What we are seeing is attempt to rig our elections." In her Somali dialect, she further weighed on the IEBC's reply to their complains adding, "We want a free and fair election but if you (IEBC) will deliver as per your promise today of equally deploying the recruits in Eldas, then we will be happy".
Ms Habiba giving the IEBC team a piece of her mind.
On his part one local elder by the name Hajji Abdille Dakane stressed on the need to have a peaceful, free and fair elections. The elderly man also called for the quick intervention of the same from the elections body for the avoidance of unfair and rigged election. Haji Cake and many others respected elders are the architects of Dr Aralle's candidature.
Hajji Abdille Dakane who addressed the rioters
The Kenya Free Press did not get the chance to interview Mr Keynan as his phone was not going through. However, Dr Aralle was reached through his key supporters. Abdikadir Bush - a politician and candidate of ANC in the MP race has camped in Nairobi to push for the finding of a fair solution to the IEBC recruitment stand-off. They have in the meantime condemned the act calling it a cowardice attempt by the incumbent in what they termed as "Keynan’s attempt to rig the August 8 polls".
Kenyan is facing multiple critisms ranging from threatening the pro-Dr Aralle supporters, plantation of faulty-electioneering process, corruption and enticing voters with handouts amongst many others.
Mohamed is a contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press based in Wajir County