Mruttu stares at defeat in ODM primaries

Thursday April 20 2017

Taita-Taveta Governor John Mruttu (right) at the CDF Offices in Mwatate during distribution of election materials for ODM primaries on Tuesday. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Taita-Taveta Governor John Mruttu (right) at the CDF Offices in Mwatate during distribution of election materials for ODM primaries on Tuesday. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NATION TEAM
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Taita-Taveta Governor John Mruttu was on Wednesday staring at a one-term reign as his defeat in the Orange Democratic Party nominations loomed.

He trailed Wundanyi Member of Parliament Thomas Mwadeghu in the preliminary results from all but five polling stations announced by returning officer Laurence ole Sempele.

The results indicated that Mr Mwadeghu was ahead with 17,567 votes against Mr Mruttu’s 14,817.

All the five stations, where voting was rained off, are however in Taveta Sub-County, believed to be Mr Mruttu’s stronghold.

Mr Mwadeghu’s supporters, however, protested and refused to vacate the tallying centre, saying the results had been "doctored".

DECLARED WINNER

The MP said he would reject the results if he is not declared the winner. He questioned why Njukini had been named among polling stations where voting had not taken place.

In a statement to newsrooms last evening, ODM’s National Elections Board said voting for the five stations will be on Saturday. They are Jipe, Chala, Mahandakini, St Joseph Kivukoni and Chala-Njukini primary schools.

In the statement, NEB chairperson Judith Pareno said heavy rainfall had made it impossible for voters to access the polling stations and election officials to transport ballot papers.

“In this regard, results of the exercise in the entire county have been put on hold until after the exercise in the five polling stations is done and votes counted,’’ she said.

Mr Mwadeghu, the party’s Chief Whip, trounced Mr Mruttu in his Wundanyi stronghold, getting 4,417 votes to the governor’s 3,628.

HOME TURF

Mr Mruttu won in his home turf of Taveta, however, getting 5,112 votes to Mr Mwadeghu’s 1,181. In Voi, Mr Mruttu collected 3,950 votes as his rival netted 4,197.

It was however in Mwatate where Mr Mwadeghu garnered the highest number of votes — 7,483 against Mr Mruttu’s 2,920.

Mwatate MP Andrew Mwadime won the nomination while Mr Raymond Mwangola carried the day in Wundanyi. Mr Jones Mlolwa got a direct ticket for the Voi seat.

The county election board chairman, Mr Anderson Mwaloma, however said his team will not release the final official result until five polling stations vote.

Hundreds of supporters of the aspirants jammed the venue to hear the results. Tension had been building at the Mwatate CDF Hall, the county tallying centre, over the delayed announcement.

DISPUTED OUTCOME

Earlier, Mr Mruttu disputed the outcome and asked the party not to announce it. He told journalists at his Voi office that he had on Tuesday raised his concerns to the election board, which assured him of free and fair nominations. 

Mr Mwadeghu also described the poll as frustrating but urged the board to announce the results and deal with the complaints later. 

The polls divided the county between the dominant Taita and the Taveta communities with each overwhelmingly voting for their candidate. Mr Mruttu is from Taveta and Mr Mwadeghu from Taita.

In 2013, the two communities agreed to share power with Mr Mwadeghu backing Mr Mruttu, who named a Taita running mate.

In Nyamira, returning officer Thaddeus Nyachwaya announced results at Kebirigo tallying centre without six polling centres, whose figures had not come in by 6 am.

DETERMINING A WINNER

“Results we received from 78 centres is substantial in determining a winner. Figures from the six polling centres which we did not get, will not make any difference,” said Mr Nyachwaya.

Dr James Gesami, the West Mugirango MP, who quit the race at the eleventh hour, asked the party secretariat to reject the results.

“There was every indication that the whole thing was a sham,” said Dr Gesami. “We want an audit to be done to see how they arrived at Governor John Nyagarama having won when half of the polling stations in my region did not vote.”

The registers used, he said, were not genuine and in many polling centres elections did not take off.

Dr Gesami said he will not run away from ODM but demanded that the party hears his grievances to avoid a fallout.

BECOMING STALE

Only West Mugirango Constituency conducted parliamentary nominations.

Mr Julius Matwere was declared the winner with 1,207 votes against Dr Peter Omboga’s 906 while Mr Dennis Anyoka (886) and Mr Polycarp Orero (147) trailed the duo.

In Busia, Funyula MP Paul Otuoma said he will be on the ballot whether ODM gives him the certificate or not.

“This whole situation is becoming stale,” said Dr Otuoma. “I have already made the decision: I will run for the governorship seat with or without ODM certificate.”

The MP, who is Governor Sospeter Ojaamong’s fiercest rival, said he will not participate in a re-run of the primaries in Teso North and Teso South constituencies set for April 25 as directed by the party’s national elections board.

MASSIVE SUPPORT

He accused some unnamed officials in the party of trying to pit the Luhya and Teso against each other. Mr Otuoma is a Luhya while the incumbent is Teso.

On Sunday, Dr Otuoma gave the party 48 hours to hand him the ticket and disqualify Mr Ojaamong, whose victory was nullified on Friday following claims of ballot stuffing in his strongholds.

Five people have been charged in court over the matter. Mr Ojaamong had garnered 92,358 votes against Dr Otuoma’s 63,752.

In Homa Bay and Migori counties, aspirants are gearing up for a bruising battle in Friday's primaries. ODM has massive support in the two regions and clinching its ticket is as good as winning the election.

Focus will be on the governorship and parliamentary seats in contests that analysts say will give a lifeline to some political careers while sending losers to possible oblivion. The hotly contested seats include those of MP in Suba South, Suna East, Homa Bay Town and Karachuonyo.

SHAMBOLIC PRIMARIES
Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti faces Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga and trader Sam Wakiaga. Also in the race are businessmen Enosh Bolo and Cosmas Kanyadudi.

In Migori, Governor Okoth Obado and former Cabinet minister Ochillo Ayacko, as well as Mrs Anne Anyanga and Mr Paul Odola, will be battling for the ODM ticket.

Mr Obado was elected on a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ticket in 2013, a party he defected to following shambolic ODM primaries.

In Suba South constituency, ODM national chairman John Mbadi will battle it out with Mr Caroli Omondi, then-Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Chief of Staff. Mr Mbadi has recorded a statement with police over violent incidents pitting his supporters against Mr Omondi’s.

VOTER APATHY

In Suna East, ODM director of elections Junet Mohammed faces former MP John Pesa while Mr Opondo Kaluma is up against four opponents, including mogul Sam Akumu, for Homa Bay Town.

Karachuonyo MP James Rege’s defection to Jubilee has attracted the highest number of aspirants, 18, with journalist Anderson Ojwang’ making his first stab at the position.

In Migori, some ODM aspirants criticised a move by the national government to deploy the paramilitary General Service Unit personnel in the area during the primaries.

They said the security agents will intimidate their supporters and ultimately cause voter apathy.

Mr Ayacko, Dr Pamela Odhiambo (woman representative) and Charles Katege (Senate), alongside county party officials Philip Makabong’o, Jossy Olala and Alfred Mdeizi, said the decision was uncalled-for.

BUNGLED PRIMARIES

Homa Bay Police Commander John Omusanga vowed to arrest any politician causing violence during the nominations.

In Nakuru, aspirants in Tuesday’s bungled primaries now want party leader Raila Odinga to assure them of a free and fair repeat poll. Mr Eric Otieno Ogada and Mr Jacob Ogetii Luka, who are eyeing the Nakuru Town West parliamentary seat, had their names missing in the ballot papers, called for the intervention of Mr Odinga.

The date for the repeat poll is, however, yet to be announced, according to the Nakuru County ODM secretary Hilton Abihola.

Reports by Lucy Mkanyika, Daniel Nyassy, Brian Ocharo, Dennis Odunga, Justus Ochieng, Elisha Otieno, Barrack Oduor, Benson Amadala, Gaitano Pessa, Eric Matara, Joseph Openda and Macharia Mwangi.