Counties in Mt Kenya show support for Uhuru

Thursday October 26 2017


A resident of Igembe Central, Meru County, votes at Machungulu Primary School on October 26, 2017 during the repeat presidential election. In Meru and Tharaka Nithi, voters turned up in large numbers. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Voters in Mt Kenya region braved a chilly weather to turn up in large numbers and cast their ballots Thursday.

The turnout was high in the region that voted for President Uhuru Kenyatta in the August 8 elections.

From as early as 4am, mobilisers hired by local politicians started blowing whistles and vuvuzelas to wake up residents to go and vote.

The old, the sick and those living with disabilities were transported in matatus, ambulances, private cars and donated vehicles.

However, voting in some parts of Laikipia, Embu and Isiolo was delayed after vehicles were stuck in mud due to heavy rains.

By 3pm, more than 70 per cent of voters had cast their ballots in the tallying centres sampled by the Nation.

Unlike the August 8 elections when long queues characterised the exercise, the lines moved faster Thursday.

IEBC officials attributed this to the fact that voters were only choosing the President.

MPs were acting as President Kenyatta’s chief agents in their respective constituencies.

“We are reporting directly to Deputy President William Ruto,” Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said.

He said the move was to ensure all electoral forms are properly signed, filled and stamped.

By 4pm, voters in Mathira and Kieni, the two biggest constituencies in Nyeri, had recorded a turnout of over 80 per cent.

In Kiambu County, traders closed businesses to participate in the poll.

“From what has been happening in the country (political stalemate), I did not have an alternative but to turn up and vote for the President so that we can move on. We are tired of politicking,” Ms Nancy Wanjiku said at Kiambu Community Hall.

President Kenyatta voted in the county. Local leaders led by Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange were still mobilising voters in the afternoon.

Former President Mwai Kibaki and presidential candidate Joseph Nyaga were among voters who cast their ballots.

In Meru and Tharaka Nithi, voters turned up in large numbers.

Early in the morning, heavy rains forced many to keep away from the polling stations.

When the rains stopped, voters flocked back. Businesses remained closed the whole day.

In Kirinyaga, some polling stations like Kiamugumo Primary in Gichugu experienced challenges with biometric identification.

IEBC officials said it was taking longer to identify some voters due to damaged fingerprints.

At St Paul’s Primary School in Mwea constituency, 70 per cent of voters had cast their ballots by 2pm.

Local leaders led by Woman Rep Wangui Ngirichi and Governor Anne Waiguru spent the day mobilising voters to turn up and vote.

In Murang’a County, long queues were witnessed, with leaders predicting a higher turn out.

In Laikipia County, most of the polling stations in Laikipia East had attained a 70 per cent turnout by 4.30pm.

For instance, at Wamura Primary, 282 voters out of the registered 360 had voted by 3pm, translating to 78.3 per cent turn out.

“We have already surpassed the August 8 voter turnout where 270 people voted since we now have 282 voters. We are hoping to hit the 80 per cent mark by 5pm,” Presiding Officer Nderui Ndung’u said.

The highest turnout among the stations surveyed by Nation was at Sirma Primary polling centre, which had recorded 86.6 per cent voter turnout a few minutes before the closing time at 5pm.

However, most polling stations located in urban areas had an average of 68 per cent including Kanu Grounds in Nanyuki town. The station has 7,800 registered voters.

The lower turnout was attributed to the town’s cosmopolitan nature, where some residents heeded opposition leader Raila Odinga’s call to boycott the poll.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, who spoke after casting his vote at Nanyuki Primary, said he was optimistic that more people would turn out to vote at the last minute.

He projected a turnout of over 80 per cent.

By Joseph Wangui, Eric Wainaina Grace Gitau, Ndung’u Gachane, Mwangi Ndirangu, Nicholas Komu, Isabel Githae, Charles Wanyoro and Alex Njeru