Dr Boni Khalwale on Monday night won back his Ikolomani seat, beating off a strong challenge from the Orange Democratic Movement, the dominant party in the region.
Voters in Ikolomani handed New Ford Kenya’s Dr Khalwale 13,208 votes, followed closely by Mr Bernard Shinali of ODM with 10,702.
Ford People’s Collins Matemba came a distant third with 293 votes.
A total of 24, 592 voters out of the registered 35,833 voted in the 63 polling stations in a by-election seen as a fight between ODM and New Ford-K.
The victory for the man popularly referred to as the bull-fighter over Mr Shinali, whom he defeated with a slim margin of 200 votes in the 2007 elections, must have been a relief given the high profile campaigns mounted by the ODM leadership led by deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi.
The defeat is a blow not only to Mr Mudavadi but also ODM which was restamping its authority in the region where it has more MPs than any other party.
Dr Khalwale’s victory may be interpreted as a boost to the presidential ambitions of Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa who camped in the constituency to campaign alongside Housing minister Soita Shitanda for the New Ford-K candidate.
Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) chairman Isaack Ahmed Hassan said the results released were provisional as the person mandated to give the final results was the returning officer in Ikolomani.
Mr Hassan commended the officials in Ikolomani for the speedy transmission. He said the results for the final polling centre was transmitted to the IIEC electronic tallying centre at Laico Regency hotel in Nairobi at exactly 7.57pm. (LIVETEXT: Khalwale wins back Ikolomani seat)
“This was the fastest time recorded by IIEC since the introduction of the electronic transmission of election results,” he said.
Allegations of bribery and intimidation marked the by-election as voters sought to right the wrongs that led to the nullification of Dr Khalwale’s victory in February.
There was heavy police presence as voters streamed to polling stations from 6am.
Save for a heavy downpour that slowed the exercise for at least two hours, there were long queues of voters at most polling stations.
Counter accusations by the candidates marked the early morning press conferences on electoral malpractice.
The returning officer, Mr Benjamin Tarus, said the IIEC had played its role to ensure peaceful voting within the designated polling stations.
He said it was up to security officers deployed to arrest those suspected of attempting to bribe voters.
The exercise closed at 5pm, with the police indicating that 11 people had been arrested for electoral malpractices.
Provincial police boss Benson Kibui said they had received several reports of bribery, prompting the deployment of officers to stop the vice.
Earlier, Mr Shinali said he was confident of “reclaiming his victory stolen in 2007”. He, however, decried cases of bribery and intimidation that had marred the campaigns.
He cast his vote at Lirembe Primary polling station at 6.30am. Dr Khalwale voted at Malinya Primary School at 7am. Dr Matemba cast his vote at Ivonda Primary School after 9am. (IN PICTURES: Ikolomani by-elections)
The tallying took place at Makhokho Secondary School with the simultaneous electronic beaming at the IIEC headquarters in Nairobi.
Dr Khalwale’s loss of his seat through a petition by Mr Shinali might have given the Ikolomani voters a change to right the wrongs committed in the chaotic 2007 General Election.
But on a wider scale it renewed the rivalry between ODM and PNU. Mr Wamalwa, who has set his eyes on the 2012 race, was using the elections to test his popularity against Mr Mudavadi. Mr Wamalwa is allied to Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto.
Many observers had indicated that a victory for Dr Khalwale would give him a better bargaining clout in the alliance, based on his ability to bring part, if not all, of the Western Provinces vote to the table.
Mr Mudavadi heightened the stakes when he declared that the by election was not about Ikolomani, but the direction the 2012 vote would take.
Parties affiliated to PNU campaigned in the region but had a disjointed strategy as most of the party leaders have declared that they would be going it alone in the next election.
Mr Wamalwa, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, Gatanga MP Peter Keneth and Mr Shitanda campaigned for Dr Khalwale. ODM on the other hand marshalled all the bigwigs led by Prime Minister Raila Odinga to win the seat.
In February, Justice Isaac Lenaola said the voting process and tallying of votes had been fraught with errors making it difficult to determine who won the poll. (READ: Kenya MP loses seat)
The judge said the parliamentary elections had not been carried out freely, fairly and in accordance with law and directed the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya to bear the cost of the petition.
Mr Justice Lenaola said Dr Khalwale had been declared the winner through a flawed process he had no control over.
The judge said the returning officer, Ms Jane Wasilwa, had admitted that while tallying the results at Makhokho Secondary School she noticed errors which she tried to correct.
He said she had made the corrections on her laptop before declaring the final results although the candidates had complained about the process and left without signing on the forms.
The judge said the petitioner had convinced the court that the election had been handled unprofessionally.
He gave the example of the results on Form 17 A which showed the MP had won by 8,336, but which were incorrectly recorded as 8,886 in words.
An inspection of the results on Form 16 A ordered by the court showed the MP had garnered 8,537 votes.
In the lengthy judgment, Mr Justice Lenaola said only one out of the 78 form 16 A’s had met the statutory requirements.
Others had glaring mistakes which included failure by presiding officers and agents representing respective candidates to sign the forms to authenticate the results.
In some instances, the presiding officer had gone ahead to make changes in the results posted in the forms without offering any explanations in writing as required by law.