Drama as IEBC bars top seat hopefuls
Drama erupted at Bomas of Kenya after Usawa Kwa Wote party’s presidential hopeful Mwangi wa Iria barricaded the entrance after the electoral commission knocked him out of the State House race, saying he had failed to meet its stringent requirements.
Wa Iria insisted he had been locked out unlawfully and warned that he would start a protest movement. In contrast, Umoja Summit party presidential aspirant Walter Mong’are became the first contender to be cleared by the electoral agency to seek the presidency in the August 9, poll.
After being cleared, Mong’are, a former comedian also known as Nyambane, said the next course of action was to present his party’s policies to the public after the official campaign period opened on Sunday.
Enter next phase
“I am happy that I have passed through this and we will now go to the next phase,” he told People Daily, mimicking the late President Daniel arap Moi.
“We hope that we have the right policies that resonate with the reality of the citizens”. Unlike Mong’are, whose clearance ended on a happy note, wa Iria was bitter, saying he submitted his signatures and copies of IDs to the commission last week but was not shortlisted among the 18 aspirants to present their papers to the National Returning Officer, Wafula Chebukati.
“We are dealing with conmen,” he declared as his supporters warned that elections would not be held without his name on the ballot paper.
“They have never communicated to me on any issue regarding my documents. They have only written a letter now saying that we didn’t comply,” said wa Iria after failing to get into Bomas. IEBC said wa Iria only managed to get verified signatures from five counties, rather than the mandatory 24.
A candidate is required to get at least 2,000 verified signatures and copies of identity cards of registered voters from each of the 24 counties.
A furious wa Iria charged that IEBC ought to have given him specifics on where he had failed to comply and, if need be, given him time to rectify any anomaly.
Other candidates, such as Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, have been given such options. For close to five hours, there was a stand still at the entrance to Bomas of Kenya as wa Iria and his supporters protested what they termed as the commission’s bias towards the Usawa Kwa Wote hopeful.
“If they don’t register me to participate in this poll, I will convert my party into a resistance movement and we will start the operations immediately,” said wa Iria.
Another contender who was turned away was Roots Party presidential aspirant George Wajackoyah. The electoral commission said he had failed to present sufficient signatures to back his presidential bid.
Wajackoyah failed to submit the 48,000 signatures and copies of IDs and was given until June 2 to reach out to his supporters and get the requisite signatures.
Of all the signatures presented by Wajackoyah, only those from 17 counties had met the threshold, meaning he has to reach out for morin at least seven, and at most eight, other counties by tomorrow.
“We have looked at your documentation and you have complied with all requirements except the supporters’ list. In the list of signatures, only 17 counties were compliant while the others had a shortfall,” Chebukati told Wajackoyah, who has pledged to suspend the Constitution for six months and legalise marijuana if elected to the high office of President.
Wajackoyah who was accompanied by his running-mate, Justina Wamae, now has less than 48 hours to comply with the signature requirement.
“You need a minimum of eight counties to fill the gap for us to reconsider your application. We will give you an opportunity to seek the signatures,” said Chebukati. The Roots Party presidential hopeful assured the commission that he would work round the clock to ensure he complies.
“Whether we make it or not, Kenya will still continue,” Wajackoyah said in an interview. “I thank Chebukati for being realistic. We can only give more comments about the process after June 2. We have suspended any other interview till then.”
Another presidential aspirant, Reuben Kigame, has threatened to sue the electoral commission for locking him out of the race. Kigame lamented that the polls body had frustrated him by locking him out despite meeting all the requirements.
“It is crystal clear that IEBC has employed deliberate efforts to lock most of the aspirants out of the presidential race,” said Kigame, a gospel musician.
“How can they just bar us when they are not giving us valid reasons? We are equal Kenyans and we are telling Chebukati that the presidency is not a reserved seat for a few families”.
Narrating his ordeal, Kigame said he was told to present the signatures he had submitted but after relaying them to the commission, he claims that officials refused to check them, saying he was already late. His attempt to meet Chebukati was futile.
“As we speak, these signatures are inside the boot of my car. I have been moving up and down from one office to another but they have decided to ignore me. When I sought an audience with the chair, the security barred me from entering Bomas of Kenya, saying no aspirant was being allowed.
They did this to me despite some of the officials promising that I would have an audience with them,” he said. “Why are we having preferential treatment for some candidates?” he asked.
“Time has come for people living with disabilities, like me to be given a chance”.
IEBC has put in place a rigorous process of verifying details on whether the candidates have been cleared by the Registrar of Political Parties and complied with other legal and constitutional requirements.
In addition, the aspirants are expected to pay a Sh200,000 nomination fee and sign a Code of Conduct in compliance with Chapter Six of the Constitution. All aspirants are also expected to have at least a Bachelor’s degree.