Kanu rejects Kericho Senate by-election results as Jubilee celebrates

Tuesday March 8 2016

Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto speaks to journalists

Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto speaks to journalists on March 8, 2016 following the defeat of Kanu's Paul Sang (front row, left) by Jubilee's Aaron Cheruiyot. Kanu rejected the results claiming there were massive irregularities. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NATION TEAM
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Kanu has rejected the results of the just concluded Kericho Senatorial by-election which was won by Jubilee’s Aaron Cheruiyot and promised to release a dossier showing massive irregularities which they say marred the Monday poll.

Meanwhile, supporters of the Jubilee Alliance Party (Jap) Tuesday held victory rallies across county.

Kanu also raised questions on the performance of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) which they accused of colluding with JAP to “rig the elections and deny their candidate Paul Sang victory.”

JAP’s Cheruiyot was declared the winner with 109,358 votes, while Mr Sang came second with 56,307 votes in the hotly contested election.

The results of the mini-poll cemented Deputy President William Ruto’s position as the de facto leader of the Kalenjin community and left his main challengers, Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi and rebel Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto politically wounded.

But even then, the impressive performance by the resurgent Kanu in Mr Ruto’s stronghold could raise debate about the strength of his grip of the populous South Rift.

Tuesday, Governor Ruto led other top Kanu leaders including Secretary-General Nick Salat and MPs Oscar Sudi (Kapseret) and Johana Ng’eno (Emurua Dikir) in dismissing the results, saying they did not reflect the will of Kericho voters.

RELEASE DOSSIER

“We will not accept the results and we will tomorrow release a dossier to show Kenyans what happened in Kericho. We are disappointed with the manner in which IEBC conducted the election as they appear to have had a clear working partnership with JAP,” said Governor Ruto.

At the Kanu press conference, Mr Sang warned that the inefficiency of the electoral agency could lead the country into mass rioting in the future.

They questioned the transparency of the process, claiming that the figures were too high for an election in which the turnout was significantly low, ranging between 40 and 50 per cent.

Mr Ng’eno claimed that some of the results were announced before the counting could be concluded at some polling centres, adding that they would support calls to overhaul the polls team ahead of elections in 2017.

“IEBC is on its deathbed and it has totally been exposed as a failure and should not be allowed to conduct the next General Elections,” said Mr Ng’eno.

Governor Ruto said the elections team only published the votes on their tallying boards, without indicating the exact polling stations from where they were drawn.

He also queried the “suspicious high speed” in which the results were being released.

“It took the IEBC only three hours to count and tally votes for Kericho with 30 wards and many more hours to do the same in Malindi Constituency where only four wards were involved in the by-election.

“There is a problem somewhere,” said the governor.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and other jubilee leaders join newly-elected Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot (left) in celebrating his victory in Kericho Town on March 8, 2016. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

VOTER BRIBERY CLAIMS

The leaders accused the electoral commission of having turned a blind eye to massive irregularities which they claimed included massive voter bribery by high-placed officials of the national government.

“We knew these people camped here over the last three days. But as Kanu complained over the process, Senator-elect Cheruiyot and other JAP leaders including Senate Majority leader Kithure Kindiki and his Deputy Kipchumba Murkomen had nothing but praise for the IEBC, saying it had delivered a free and fair election,” Mr Ruto said.

Addressing supporters after receiving the winner’s certificate, Mr Cheruiyot thanked Kericho voters for backing him, adding that they had done well by choosing to back a party which had good plans for the county.

Mr Cheruiyot was accompanied to his victory rallies by his wife Linah Cheruiyot in a move which could eventually bring to an end allegations that the 29-year-old was not married, a factor which was used against him by some of his opponents.

“I thank all the people who stood by me and trusted me for the job. People called us rookies, jokers and all sorts of names but God has been good to us. I thank my wife for standing solidly with me despite the propaganda and rumours. She is a strong woman,” he said.

Mr Murkomen refuted the claims by Kanu that the vote had been rigged, saying Kanu had learnt fast from the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) which he said is known for constantly complaining whenever they lose an election.

BAD MANNERS

“Kanu doesn’t know we have heard that script before because it is synonymous with Cord. Kanu’s decision to keep bad company with Cord has left them with bad manners. It must look for a better excuse to give its supporters for losing the election. This is the end of Kanu,” said Mr Murkomen.

On his part, Mr Kindiki lauded the win as a victory for the Kalenjin Community and the Jubilee coalition, which he said had been under threat of a split engineered by Cord leader Raila Odinga.

He said JAP leaders would Wednesday hold a victory parade to demonstrate Jubilee’s strength in the South Rift.

“This was a victory not against Kanu but against the Cord coalition which was using some of us to divide Jubilee. It is a demonstration that Jubilee is still strong and united and we are going to win next year’s election in the same fashion,” he said.

Nonetheless, Kanu told the Deputy President that even though he won the battle on Monday, the war was still on and that Kericho residents had not heard the last of the party.

The party leadership said they would seek a political solution on the alleged irregularities that denied its candidate victory.

Compiled by Timothy Kemei, Emeka-Mayaka Gekara and Anita Chepkoech.