Parties trade accusations on chaos in Coast

Wednesday March 9 2016

ODM leaders, including governors Hassan Joho and Amason Kingi celebrate after Mr William Mtengo (centre) was declared the new MP for Malindi Constituency at a ceremony in Barani Primary School on March 8, 2016. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

ODM leaders, including governors Hassan Joho and Amason Kingi celebrate after Mr William Mtengo (centre) was declared the new MP for Malindi Constituency at a ceremony in Barani Primary School on March 8, 2016. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NATION TEAM
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Incidents of violence marred Monday’s Malindi parliamentary by-election, which the ODM candidate won with a margin of more than 6,000 votes.

Witnesses said gangs had assaulted and snatched money from a number of people.

The attackers, some of whom had guns, accused their victims of bribing voters.

Malindi OCPD Matawa Muchangi said his officers had received “numerous reports” and that investigations had been launched.

Mr Justin Rafiki, an aide to Kilifi North MP Gideon Munga’ro, said he was accosted by a gang about half-a-kilometre away from the Mere Primary School polling station.

“They were driving in four Prados and they attacked me with blows and kicks,” said Mr Rafiki, who was also Jubilee candidate Philip Charo’s chief campaigner.

Mr Charo came second, with 9,243 votes against Mr William Mtengo’s 15,582.

“I am lucky to be alive but still confused as to why they did that to me,” he said.

He claimed that a senator was present when he was attacked.

“I asked him, Mkoi (Uncle) why are you allowing this to happen to me? But he did not respond,” he said.

However, the man, who was not named, reportedly denied involvement, describing Mr Rafiki as a brother.

In another incident, Mr Godfrey Karume, a Malindi hotelier and Jubilee supporter, was attacked at the City Primary School polling station soon after another politician accused him of attempting to bribe voters.

“The next minute I had been wrestled to ground by youths, who quickly went through my pockets and stole Sh130,000,’’ he said. 

He reported the matter to police but no one was arrested.

Contacted for comment Tuesday, ODM spokesman Philip Etale said the armed people were the bodyguards of MPs and senators from both Jubilee and Cord.

FLASH THEIR WEAPONS

“They were the only armed people who were allowed in and they did not flash their weapons,” he said.

Asked to comment on the attack on Mr Karume, Mr Etale said a mob had arrested and handed him over to the police to stop him from bribing.

He said the people claiming they were attacked should report to the police instead of making wild claims through the media.

“We were in a political duel and anybody can claim anything,” said Mr Etale, who was himself been arrested on the polling day on Monday, accused of buying voters’ and identity cards. He was taken to court but later released without being charged.

Tuesday, he also denied that Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho led any gangs.

In another incident, Mr Stephen Menza, the assistant chief of Mkondoni Sub-Location and Mr Patrick Tingani, the Jubilee Lango Baya coordinator, claimed they were attacked near Mkondoni polling station.

A witness said the two were blocked by three men in a car as they left the polling station. One of the men was armed.

“On alighting from the vehicle, they started shouting that we were the Jubilee people who were going around bribing voters. When the chief identified himself, they beat him more, saying, ‘You are the kind of person we want’,” the witness alleged.

Former Mwea MP Peter Gitau was also attacked by a gang after he was trailed from Kakuyuni polling station.

Some people at the scene said the mob included a woman politician.

Contacted for comment, Kilifi Woman Rep Aisha Juma on Tuesday said she only went to the scene after her sister informed her that a man was bribing voters.

“When I got there, I asked him who he was and he responded that he was a Kenyan. He was attacked by youths from both sides but I did not get involved,” the MP said in a telephone interview.

Addressing  jubilant supporters after he was declared the winner, Mr Mtengo on Tuesday extended an olive branch to his rivals, pledging to work with everyone to develop the constituency.

“The time for campaigning and politics is over. Let us leave that behind us and now focus ahead,” he said. “We witnessed drama, violence and intimidation in this by-election but we remained firm.”

Mr Joho, who was wildly cheered, thanked Malindi voters for voting for the party.

“You protected your votes, you guarded your respect and sent a strong message that Jubilee cannot intimidate us and the more they do, the stronger we become,” said the governor soon after Mr Mtengo was declared the winner.