Shots fired amid delays and missing names - Daily Nation
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Shots fired amid delays, missing names as voting begins

Wednesday August 9 2017

People queue outside a polling station in Moi Avenue Primary School to cast their vote during the presidential election in the city centre in Nairobi, Kenya, August 8, 2017. PHOTO | JOAN PERERUAN | NATION MEDIA GROUP

People queue outside a polling station in Moi Avenue Primary School to cast their vote during the presidential election in the city centre in Nairobi, Kenya, August 8, 2017. PHOTO | JOAN PERERUAN | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NATION TEAM
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Thousands of voters across Nairobi County woke up at dawn and braved a drizzle to vote in Tuesday’s General Election, where long queues formed as early as 4.30am at several polling centres although voting was scheduled to begin at 6am.

Police officers shot in the air to  disperse irate voters at Soweto polling centre, Embakasi East Constituency, which had 28 polling stations, after they were prohibited from voting as they were not registered.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Nairobi County boss, Mr Mele Eroo, had to extend voting as some materials arrived at 11am.

Electoral officers improvised a carwash shed for lack of tents.

Most polling centres in Embakasi West Constituency opened an hour late while at Greenspan Mall voting started at 10am.

Presiding officers attributed the delay to polling clerks setting up equipment.

VOTER TURNOUTS

But Mr Fares Otieno, a presiding officer at Unity Primary School polling centre, said the Kenya Integrated Electoral Management System (Kiems) kits worked well.

In Embakasi Central Constituency, polling stations such as Kayole Primary, Komarock and Mwangaza Secondary and Primary schools recorded high voter turnouts amid a heavy presence of armed General Service Unit (GSU) paramilitary officers at Kayole 1 Primary School and air surveillance by police.

Isolated incidents of names missing from the voters register were resolved by presiding officers, who also allowed expectant women, the disabled and the elderly and those with small children to jump the queue.

“We had no hitches in this area and we hope that we have chosen the right leaders,” said Mr Franko Barasa, a voter, who however called for the will of the people to be respected.

WESTLANDS

Several polling stations in Westlands Constituency had long queues. Some opened on time but a few, such as Kangemi, were late due to a blackout.

At presiding officer at Kihumbuini Primary School, Mr Wycliffe Omwange, told the Nation the polling centre, which had 11,000 voters, opened 30 minutes late. The lost time was compensated.

“When we got here at 1am there was power but a few minutes to 6am there was a blackout and we had to light pressure lamps,” said Mr Omwange.

“The kits are working well and we have not had a case of voters’ data missing from our registers.”

Some voters at Westlands Primary School and Kenya Technical Training College (KTTC) polling centres could not, however, vote because their names were missing from the register.

“I have been here since 6am but my name could not be traced in the register,” said Brian Gitau, 22.

KITS JAMMED

Identification of voters took longer than expected as some kits jammed.

“The problem has since been resolved,” said Mr Chris Kirubi, an election observer at Westlands Primary School polling centre.  

Some voters at Starehe Constituency who had arrived at Moi Avenue Primary School polling centre, which has 14,021 registered voters, from as early as 12am pushed and shoved as they struggled to locate their polling stations. Several of them, including women, fell and were trampled.

A man who identified himself only as Jimmy, who said he had arrived at 4am, narrated his ordeal at 6:45am as he limped to his vehicle.

Mr John Kamau, a trader at Ngara, said he spent the night at the polling centre but by 6:05am he was yet to locate his polling station, number 7.

STRANDED VOTERS

Security officers assisted stranded voters to locate the 21 polling stations with at most 700 voters each but not clearly marked.

At exactly 5pm, armed police officers blocked the gates at Moi Avenue Primary and Jamhuri High schools with a handful of voters still queuing.

At Moi Avenue Primary, counting of the votes began at 5:49pm. British High Commissioner to Kenya Nic Hailey witnessed the counting at polling station number 5, where electoral officers started with the presidential ballot.

At Jamhuri High, also the constituency tallying centre, there was a handful voters waiting by 4pm.

“The turnout was generally good,” said Starehe Constituency returning officer Phyllis Kaiyaba. “The electoral and security officers have done a commendable job.”

In Kibra Constituency, voting kicked off on time at most polling centres with long queues forming as early as 5am.

VICTORY

National Super Alliance (Nasa) presidential candidate Raila Odinga and Kibra MP Ken Okoth voted at Old Kibera Primary School polling centre in Makina Ward.

After voting at 11:45am, Mr Odinga said he was confident of victory but implored his supporters to be peaceful.

Mnaona hii? Mimi nimepitia kura. (You see this—showing his inked left index finger—I have voted),” said Mr Odinga. “I want you also to vote.”

He asked them to go to Uhuru Park after voting to wait for the counting.

At ACK Holy Trinity Church polling centre, voting started at 6am with long queues extending to a nearby road.

LONG QUEUES

Most businesses in Kasarani Constituency were closed as polling centres recorded high turnouts.

Makadara Constituency had long queues with delays at Uhuru, Bahati and Morison primary school polling stations blamed on laxity by clerks.

Nairobi gubernatorial aspirant Peter Kenneth, while voting at Bahati Primary school at 11am, faulted IEBC for the delays.

“We hope to have free and fair elections,” said Mr Kenneth.

 Stories by Fred Mukinda, Lillian Mutavi, Elizabeth Merab, Ouma Wanzala, Collins Omulo, Njeri Rugene, Benson Matheka, Faith Nyamai, Charles Wasonga and James Kahongeh