The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has lodged a complaint with the Inspector General of Police over alleged harassment of its staff by officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Malindi.
Speaking at a press briefing Saturday, the IEBC chairman, Issack Hassan, said the officers entered the Rafiki Hotel, where the agency’s staff were staying, and demanded to search them claiming they were investigating electoral malpractices.
Mr Hassan condemned the officers’ actions, saying they were unacceptable.
At the briefing held at Eden Rock Hotel in Malindi, and also attended by election observers comprising local civil society organisations and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Mr Hassan said the officers stormed the hotel on the “pretext that one party had complained that malpractices were going on.”
The IEBC boss said the Malindi campaigns have been characterised by hate speech, spread of propaganda, alleged voter bribery and vote buying, but he was nonetheless hopeful voting would be fair, free and peaceful.
The electoral agency officers have reported “suspicious activities” during campaign meetings, but no one has been arrested for the alleged crimes.
“Our officers who are highly experienced in election processes have seen suspicious activities of groups coming together in hotels and halls but when they asked, they were told they were either funeral or community meetings. They did not witness the actual exchange of money and there has been no formal complaint from any side,’’ said Mr Hassan.
The Coast Regional Commissioner Nelson Marwa has assured voters of their security and urged them to come out to cast their ballots without fear.
Mr Marwa said that General Service Unit (GSU), Administration Police and Kenya Police Service officers have been deployed in Malindi to ensure a peaceful voting exercise.
Voters will cast their ballots for any of the five candidates still remaining in the race after two dropped out. However, the ballot papers will still have the list of seven candidates who had registered with IEBC.
The five remaining candidates are Mr Philip Charo of Jubilee Alliance Party, Mr William Mtengo of Orange Democratic Party, Mr Attas Shariff of Labour Party of Kenya, Mr David Mangi of Shirikisho and Rueben Katana of Kadu Asili. Mr Peter Ponda and Nelson Gunga have already dropped out to support Mr Charo and Mr Katana respectively.
Malindi constituency has 55, 853 registered voters, and 100 polling stations spread out in five wards.
The by-election will be presided over by 550 officials led by Mr Stephen Karani as the returning officer.
The IEBC boss said that the distribution of election materials and taking of oaths for the election officials will be done on Sunday.
Mr Hassan said provisional results would be ready “early enough” and that they will be displayed on a screen at the Barani Secondary School.
Meanwhile, as the one month campaign period comes to a close Saturday, political heavy weights from Jubilee and Cord and the other candidates held last minute rallies and meet-the-people tours in a bid to woo voters.
JAP candidate Mr Charo went on a door-to-door campaign in the morning in Majengo, Kisumu Ndogo and Kakoneni and was expected to hold a rally at Kwachocha Grounds where rival ODM had one on Friday.
Mr Mtengo’s campaign team was also expected to hold a road show in Malindi town and a rally at Ngala Grounds where Jubilee team was on Friday.
Deputy President William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga led their teams in marathon campaigns and left on Friday.
It has been a bruising and do or die battle for the two sides with ODM vowing to defend its seat left vacant after Mr Dan Kazungu was appointed to the Cabinet and Jubilee determined to make a break-through in the constituency which voted almost to a man for the party in the last elections.
This report was compiled by Daniel Nyassy, Charles Lwanga and Njeri Rugene.