Thursday, August 27, 2009

Low turnout in by-elections

Transparent ballot boxes are offloaded at Lirhanda Girls High School in Shinyalu. The boxes where distributed to various polling stations in readiness for Thursday's by-election. Photo/ISAAC WALE

Transparent ballot boxes are offloaded at Lirhanda Girls High School in Shinyalu. The boxes where distributed to various polling stations in readiness for Thursday's by-election. Photo/ISAAC WALE 

By NATION Team

Low voter turnout marked the start of voting in Shinyalu and Bomachoge by-elections on Thursday.

In Shinyalu, polling stations opened at around 6 a.m but the voting exercise began about an hour later.

Candidates Daniel Khamasi (Kaddu) and Patrick Chungani (PNU) said that they had received reports of vote buying and voter bribery throughout the night.

For the first time since independence the elections, which are being overseen by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC), were conducted using transparent ballot boxes.

Each ballot box had four seals, unlike in the past when each box had two.

At Munyanda Primary School polling station where Mr Chungani cast his vote at 6.55 a.m, party agents were ordered to switch off their phones until after the conclusion of the voting exercise.

Mr Khamasi voted at Friends School Shamloli shortly after 7 a.m.

There are 80 polling stations in Shinyalu constituency. By 8 a.m, most of these stations had received less than 100 voters.

No violence incidents have been reported though there were claims of clashes between supporters of different parties in the night over allegations of malpractices.

Mr Khamasi said that his supporters were intercepted by those of an opposing candidate and arrested over allegations of malpractices.

He said his supporters were detained in the home of one of his opponents and he had to involve the police to secure their release.

In Bomachoge, low voter turnout was witnessed during the early hours of the morning as the electorate cast their votes.

Among the early voters included ODM’s Simon Ogari, and PNU’s Joel Onyancha. The seat fell vacant following the nullification Mr Onyancha’s election.

There were hitches in the morning as some of the voters were barred from voting. Though they were registered and had voting cards, their names were not in the official register.

At the same time, Mr Onyancha alleged that there were widespread cases of voter bribery that could affect the eventual result from the polls.

On Wednesday, an arson attack razed 80 presidential ballot boxes that were used in Mugirango constituency at the IIEC’s offices in Ogembo Town.

The by-election has drawn a lot of interest, and so far the IIEC has accredited about 400 observers and 41 from diplomatic missions.

Reported by Patrick Mayoyo, Benson Amadala, Daniel Otieno and Jackline Moraa

View poll locations on Google Map

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