Orange Democratic Movement last night retained its Malindi constituency seat, defeating a spirited campaign mounted by its rival, the Jubilee coalition.
Mr Willy Mtengo scored 15,582 votes to easily trounce Jubilee Alliance Party’s Philip Charo, who got 9,243 votes.
Heated exchanges between leaders from the two sides were witnessed as the General Service Unit (GSU), the Administration Police, regular police and Prisons officers were tapped to maintain security.
Mr Mtengo led in all the four wards of Jilore, Kakuyuni, Ganda and Malindi Town. He led right from the beginning, increasing his margin over the JAP candidate as more results streamed in.
The Labour Party of Kenya’s Attas Shariff Ali was third with 1,547 votes, followed by Kadu-Asili’s Reuben Katana (353), Social Party of Kenya’s David Kithunga (68), Nelson Gunga Benjamin of Federal Party of Kenya (35) and Chama Cha Uzalendo Peter Ponda's 26 votes. Mr Gunga and Mr Ponda had withdrawn from the race, though, in favour of the Jubilee candidate.
Counting of votes in most polling stations was delayed by complaints from party agents and MPs who claimed that the election was being rigged.
Some 26,854 out of a total of 56,066 voters had turned out to vote in the by-elections, whose campaigns attracted key leaders from both sides of the political divide.
Deputy President William Ruto led the Jubilee campaigns while former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula campaigned for the ODM candidate.
Security remained tight during voting and tallying of votes at Barani Secondary School in Malindi town.
During voting, regular and Administration police officers as well as Prison Warders from Shimo la Tewa Maximum Security Prison were deployed in all the 100 polling stations spread out in five wards.
GSU officers patrolled the streets of Malindi town and its environs.
This heavy presence of security officers, even in villages, appeared to irritate opposition politicians, with Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi remarking that it made Malindi look like it was at war.
Counting was done under GSU guard, with officers, as well as regular police, deployed since 3pm.
Earlier in the afternoon, the GSU was called to Kakuyuni after the presiding officers asked for help following an incident in which former Mwea MP Peter Gitau was attacked by a crowd that included Kilifi Woman Representative Aisha Jumwa accusing him of bribing voters.
Meanwhile, a number of Jubilee politicians were attacked and beaten up badly at various polling stations after they were accused by rowdy youths of vote buying.
Supporters of Mr Mtengo started hearty celebrations after it became apparent that he was heading for victory.
Mr Mtengo was ushered into the tallying hall by supporters at 9.50pm as returning officer Stephen Karani was reading results from the polling stations.
He was escorted into the tallying hall by ODM’s top brass, among them Senator James Orengo, party secretary-general Ababu Namwamba and several Coast MPs.
They joined Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Kilifi's Governor Kingi, who led the Mtengo campaigns.
JAP KERICHO VICTORY
At the same time, Jubilee’s Aaron Cheruiyot on Monday night won the Kericho Senate seat decisively, confirming Deputy President William Ruto’s firm hold on the Rift Valley vote.
Mr Cheruiyot garnered 109,358 votes, beating his closest competitor, Kanu’s Paul Sang, who scored 56,307 votes in the hotly contested by-election.
The 29-year-old businessman sent a clear message to the DPs political opponents in the South Rift that he was still the region’s kingpin.
Mr Cheruiyot took off right from the blocks when the results of the by-election started being announced, extending his lead in all five constituencies in the county, except Buret, Mr Sang’s home.
National Vision Party’s Daniel Tanui came a far third with 722 votes, Maendeleo Democratic Party’s Wycliffe Ngenoh (497), United Democratic Movement’s Paul Sigei (473), while New Democrats David Mutai came last with (427).
Mr Sang immediately disputed the elections and asked the IEBC not to declare Mr Cheruiyot the winner until the results had been verified.
He claimed that the results which had been announced were “manufactured somewhere in Nairobi” which did not reflect the truth on the ground.
“We are asking the IEBC not to declare the winner until all the results have been done. I have not lost and will not accept the results,” he said flanked by Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, Kanu secretary general Nick Salat and former assistant minister Magerer Langat.
“How can IEBC be this efficient, concluding counting in one hour for a whole county when they have not completed the counting in Malindi constituency? We are worried at the pace with which the results are being announced,” he said.
Mr Ruto put up a high profile campaign to beat the Kanu team which was led by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and rode on a wave of discontent in South Rift.
The DP’s apology for the Jubilee government’s failure to fulfil development pledges and discriminative top government job appointments paid off after his candidate overcame a resurgent Kanu to win the seat that was left vacant after its holder, Mr Charles Keter was named Energy minister.
RUTO PRESIDENTIAL BID
In his campaign, Mr Ruto said he was one of the sons of the South Rift and warned of an attempt by his political rivals to use the by-election to scuttle his bid for the presidency in 2022.
Some 157,969 out of a total of 290,000 voters had turned out to cast their ballots in the by-election which saw Jubilee and Kanu display their financial might during the campaigns.
Monday, when it was clear that Mr Cheruiyot was headed for victory, top JAP campaigners, including Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki, his deputy Kipchumba Murkomen, Deputy National Assembly Speaker Joyce Laboso and a host of senators, MPs and dozens of members of county assemblies allied to the party turned up at the tallying centre to celebrate the results.
An excited Mr Kindiki lauded the win as a victory for the Kalenjin community and the Jubilee coalition, which he claimed had been under threat of a split engineered by Cord leader Raila Odinga.
He said JAP leaders would today 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.