IEBC suspends campaigns in Siaya over rising political violence

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Friday suspended political campaigns in Siaya following rising tension occasioned by violence that hit NASA presidential campaigns in Rarieda last Monday.

IEBC’s Siaya County Returning Officer, Mrs. Ruth Kulundu, said the decision comes into effect today and will run up to 6/7/2017.

Using the powers bestowed on me by the Constitution as the County Returning Officer, I have decided to suspend the ongoing campaigns until the tension being witnessed on the ground is cooled down, said Kulundu who was flanked by the Siaya County Commissioner, Mrs. Josephine Onunga.

Kulundu was addressing the media after a meeting with Siaya Governor, Cornel Rasanga and his main challenger for the gubernatorial seat, Rarieda Member of Parliament, Nicholas Gumbo and other candidates.

The County Returning Officer, who said the decision, was arrived at after consultations with the County Security bosses told the candidates to ensure compliance with the directive, adding that anybody who defies will be penalised.

She told the politicians to reign-in on their supporters who have been pulling down posters and banners of their opponents while burning their effigies, saying that this was against the electoral laws.

Kulundu further warned the politicians to stop hurling unprintable abuses against their opponents or having their youth supporters to mete out violence on their opponents, saying that IEBC was monitoring the situation.

I want the candidates and their supporters to adhere to the electoral code of conduct they signed when they presented their nomination papers, she said.

The political temperature has been rising in Siaya County since Monday when a group of youths fought over a banner belonging to Mr. Gumbo at Aram market in Rarieda as NASA presidential candidate, Raila Odinga addressed a rally at the market.

The violence was triggered by a group of youths in a foreign registered vehicle which was in Raila’s convoy who attempted to pull down the banner but met resistance from Boda boda operators.

As a bitter exchange ensued, the youths pulled out clubs and pangas from the vehicle and attacked the Boda boda operators, forcing the locals to re-group and hit back in defense as Raila finished his speech in haste and hurriedly left the venue.

Rarieda ODM officials have since blamed overzealous youths hired by some of their party candidates from outside the area to cause chaos and only to shift blame on their innocent rivals.

And a group of former councilors led by the former chairman of the defunct Siaya County Council, Aggrey Onyango, challenged the County Security team to arrest and bring to justice those who instigated the chaos.

Onyango who was flanked by the former Chairman of Ukwala Town Council, Sylvester Wire, said that the owner of the Ugandan registered vehicle that ferried the goons was known and even participated in the chaos.

The County Police Commander and her team must arrest this man and his thugs otherwise we shall read mischief in their operations, said Onyango who said another group of pro-ODM candidates youths was seen buying clubs from Siaya main market and loading them in to a Toyota Prado with unknown intention.

Source: Kenya News Agency