ODM retained the Homa Bay senatorial seat after its candidate Moses Kajwang’ Thursday won the race that saw eight candidates fight it out to replace former Senator Gerald Otieno Kajwang’.
The victory was a major relief for Cord leader Raila Odinga, who had visited the county five times to campaign for Mr Kajwang’ amidst accusations that he was imposing a candidate on the people of Homa Bay. The young Kajwang’ inherited the seat previously occupied by his brother.
The election turned out to be a two horse race between Mr Kajwang’ and Mr Okundi, with Mr Fred Rabongo pulling a far third.
Youths allied to Mr Kajwang’ followed the results, like a football match, from a large screen erected outside central tallying centre chanting Luo victory songs.
ODM leaders, among them Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o, chairman John Mbadi, Mathare MP Stephen Kariuki, politicians Eliud Owalo and dozens of ODM MPs followed the tallying as they were updated at the main centre.
By 10 pm, provisional results on the IEBC website indicated that Mr Kajwang had garnered 120,156 votes ahead of his closest rival Philip Okundi of the Maendeleo Democratic Party who had polled 26,655, a difference of 93,501 votes by the time of going to press.
Third was Mr Fred Rabongo of NAPK with 2,688 votes. Mr Bernard Owuor of the New Vision Party managed 1,272 while Mr Hillary Alila, an independent candidate, was voted for by 492 people. Mr Edwin Matete (independent) had 278 votes and Mr Innocent Masara (independent) 250.
The vote was cast in more than 878 polling stations of the eight constituencies in the county where ODM recorded an early lead in most of the county’s eight constituencies.
The party’s candidate won in Kasipul Kabondo, Kabondo Kasipul and Mbita with a tight competition in Rangwe and Homa Bay Town constituencies.
The candidate also led in constituencies such as Ndhiwa and Karachuonyo, which had rebel MPs who refused to back Mr Kajwang.
Homa Bay has 326,505 registered voters of which the IEBC reported an average 50 per cent turn out in most of the centres.
Earlier, Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang’ led a group of youths to storm a hotel over claims that some candidates had assembled IT experts to rig the election.
A young man was injured in the confrontation which ended with the intervention of General Service Unit officers.
There were allegations by ODM that the system had been hacked to provide results that favoured one of the candidates.
Mr Peter Kaluma, Homa Bay Town MP, in a press conference convened by ODM said they had zeroed in on the hotel where the alleged malpractice was being executed.
The contestants also faulted the IEBC for not controlling what they described as the high levels of voter bribery reported at various polling stations in the county.
“We suspect that some of rivals have hacked into the IEBC system to manipulate the results,” said Mr Kaluma.
Mr Alila, who cast his vote at the Homa Bay Youth Polytechnic, said IEBC must prove their worth as an impartial judge.
“A lot has been said about the questionable credibility of the electoral commission; it is now that we want them to prove otherwise. Let them not allow any attempts to rig,” said Mr Alila.
Mr Kajwang had alleged that people driving in cash-laden vehicles belonging to a certain candidate had timed voters as they entered polling stations where ODM was perceived to be strong.
“We have voter apathy in the election. This will make it easier for people to play their dirty tricks,” said Mr Kajwang’.
The Homa Bay contest has been riddled with controversy, with some elders and politicians at one time asking Mr Odinga to run for the seat. He declined.
However, attempts by the party to nominate a candidate through the delegate system turned chaotic, leading to a falling-out which saw some candidates defect to rival parties alleging favouritism and dictatorship.
Those who defected included Mr Okundi, who waged a spirited campaign for the seat despite being asked by Mr Odinga to step down for Mr Kajwang.
It also turned into a contest between Mr Odinga and Nairobi governor Evans Kidero when the later threw his weight behind Okundi, a position that put him on collision course with the party.