Chaotic primaries rock Ruto, Raila political parties

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Dr Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) particularly had a rough day Thursday dealing with chaotic incidents at polling stations and vote tallying after aspirants and rival supporters disputed the integrity of the voters’ register and made allegations of pre-marked ballot papers and ballot stuffing.

On the eve of the UDA nominations, supporters of some parliamentary aspirants attacked a truck transporting materials to Embu County in the Mt Kenya region and set ballot boxes and ballot papers on fire over rigging claims.

The party was forced to postpone nominations in some areas but will have to conduct them by the April 22 deadline set by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

It is the first time the party is holding countrywide nominations for the positions of County Governor, Member of Parliament, Senator, Woman Representative and Member of County Assembly after the Deputy President took it over last year.

Competition in Kenya’s party primaries is usually cut-throat in some areas because getting the ticket of the dominant party is as good as being elected.

The primaries for the August 9 elections are being conducted under a new law that gives political parties the option of handpicking candidates based on their perceived popularity or negotiating consensus among aspirants.

But Dr Ruto’s UDA, keen to prove its might in the former strongholds of the ruling Jubilee Party in Rift Valley and Mt Kenya regions and test its popularity in other areas, chose universal suffrage to pick the vast majority of its candidates.

Its more experienced rival, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) led by Mr Odinga, juggled the systems in its western Kenya base, issuing direct nomination certificates in some areas and having aspirants battle it out at the ballot in others.

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