ODM’s Phillip Etale arrested, Waititu ejected from polling station as voting starts in Malindi by-election

Monday March 7 2016

Voters queue at the Maziwani Primary School

Voters queue at the Maziwani Primary School polling station as voting starts for the Malindi by-election on Monday March 7, 2016. PHOTO | KAZUNGU SAMUEL | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

By CHARLES LWANGA
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By DANIEL TSUMA NYASSY
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By KAZUNGU SAMUEL
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By NJERI RUGENE
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The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) communication’s director, Mr Phillip Etale, was arrested in Malindi while Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu was ejected from a polling station as voting got under way Monday morning in the constituency with 55,853 voters.

Mr Etale was arrested at about 1am in his hotel room in Malindi Town and his laptop confiscated, according to security sources.

At the Central Primary School polling station in Malindi Town, which has 3,110 registered voters, Mr Waititu (Jubilee) was thrown out after other agents complained that he was involved in “suspicious activities’.’

Mr Waititu went to the station as an agent for the Jubilee Alliance Party candidate, but Presiding Officer Caleb Mogere told him that he needed to have a badge identifying him as such.

Further, the officer observed that the Jubilee candidate already had a certified agent.

The controversial MP then left the agent’s bench but sat on a desk close to where voters were queuing.

However, this aroused more complaints and he was moved farther away, where small groups started milling around him.

ODM party agent Betty Siengo then complained that the MP appeared to be inducing voters.

Mr Waititu was thrown out of the station by election and security officials.

VOTERS ARRIVE EARLY

In the meantime, voters at polling stations where top candidates in the Malindi constituency by-election come from arrived early to cast their votes, long before polling stations opened.

At the Maziwani polling station in Gunda Ward, the home village of Jubilee candidate Phillip Charo, voters arrived as early as 4.30am and stood in queues waiting for voting to start.

Voting started at exactly 6am, when presiding officer Samuel Tuva declared the station open.

Elderly men and women also came out in large numbers at the station and were assisted by relatives and election officials to vote.

“I have not slept a wink,’’ said 75-year old Solomon Kazungu.

“I did not want to take chances and I am very happy to vote after which I will join others to ensure our votes are safe,’’ he said a few minutes before casting his vote.

Notably, women outnumbered men at the polling station, where Mr Charo cast his vote shortly after 8.29am.

The Jubilee candidate said he was happy with the manner in which the election was being conducted and expressed confidence he would win the seat.

Shirikisho party candidate David Mangi voted at the station at 6.45am.

Meanwhile, security was tight at all polling stations in Kilifi County, with acting police commander David Kerina saying security officials were not taking chances.

Speaking to the Nation at the Maziwani polling station, Mr Kerina said officers from regular and Administration Police and the prisons officers from the Shimo La Tewa Maximum Prison in Mombasa County were taking charge of the security while those from the General Service Unit were patrolling and other groups of officers were on standby.

“Each of the five wards is under the command of an OCPD. All centres are well covered,’’ he added, saying he expected voting and tallying to take place peacefully.

At the Msabaha polling station, voters were trickling in from about 7am although the station had opened at 6am.

On Mr Etale’s arrest, a statement posted on ODM spokesman Dennis Onyango's Facebook page said police had also confiscated his phone after accusing him of being in possession of election materials.

Reports by Charles Lwanga, Daniel Nyassy, Samuel Kazungu and Njeri Rugene