Tension Mounts as ODM Primaries approach in Taita-Taveta

Tension is brewing ahead of the ODM party nominations in Taita-Taveta County amid fears that the a member of the party’s national election’s board was partisan.

Area Governor John Mruttu claims one of the three commissioners managing the elections in the County had been compromised by a rival gubernatorial aspirant and was likely to influence the results in the latter’s favor.

Speaking in Voi on Monday, Mruttu said that there was blatant manipulation of the electoral process to work against him during the hotly contested nomination process.

He claimed that several polling stations in his strongholds had been moved to far off places, which would force his voters to walk long distances to cast their ballots.

He cited Grogan Castle polling station which had been transferred to Jipe, almost 30km away.

“There is a deliberate effort to undermine the integrity of the elections. If those issues are not addressed by Monday evening, the nomination process will be chaotic,” he stated.

Other polling stations that have been manipulated according to Mruttu included Mwanyambo in Voi sub-county and Gangu in Mwatate. The two are part of several polling stations that would not be in use over issues of budgetary constraints.

However, Mruttu argues that only his strongholds were being targeted, saying he would not take it lying down.

He further said he was deliberately being kept in the dark over vital issues including the number of election clerks, the status of ballot papers and how the results would be transmitted.

The governor added that one of the commissioners was a close friend to a personal assistant of his rival, who is also the Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu.

He claimed that the commissioner had been holding meetings at the MP’s home in Wundanyi which has already put his impartiality in question.

“This particular commissioner must be dealt with without delay. He is already biased in favour of my opponent. The other two are very professional and we have no issue with their conduct,” he said.

His supporters have vowed that no results would be declared should their grievances fail to be addressed.

However, Mwadeghu laughed off the claims of pre-rigged nomination process and challenged the governor to address his grievances through the proper party channels, adding that Mruttu has panicked because he knew he would lose.

“His goose is cooked. All he can do for now is cry foul,” said the MP.

However, the governor said he had presented evidence on what he saw as electoral malpractice for action by the party bigwigs.

Mruttu stated that nullification of an election was a very expensive exercise that should be avoided by all means.

He pointed out that should there be reasonable doubt on the credibility of the nomination process, the party should postpone the election by a day or two to resolve the mess. This would be better than going ahead with flawed nominations, he said.

“Nothing will change if the nominations are delayed by a day or two to avoid a fiasco that would happen should our fears be justified,” he said.

In a press briefing in Nairobi, the chair of ODM National Elections Board Judith Pareno said that governor Mruttu’s concerns had been received and would be acted upon. There was however no details on how the grievances would be addressed before Tuesday’s nomination.

ODM nominations would be held then, in all the four sub-counties in the region. For gubernatorial post, the incumbent governor will face of with the Wudanyi MP.

The senatorial seat has attracted a former teacher in Voi Jones Mwaruma against a Taveta businessman Martin Tairo.

For the women representative post, former Voi Mayor Hope Anisa will battle it out with Anastacia Wakesho, National Chair for Domestic Tourism Association.

In Mwatate, the MPs post would pit the incumbent Andrew Mwadime against a former activist Christopher Mwabingu.

Source: Kenya News Agency