News / Africa

Delays, Disorder Plague Kenyan Primaries

A Kenyan casts his ballot in Nairobi during the primary nominations ahead of this year general election to be held in March, January 17, 2013.
A Kenyan casts his ballot in Nairobi during the primary nominations ahead of this year general election to be held in March, January 17, 2013.
Gabe Joselow
Long lines and missing ballot papers caused mass frustration Thursday across Kenya during national primaries to elect local candidates for the March general elections. Observers are watching the primaries for a sign of things to come during the national vote.

Tired and frustrated, hundreds of would-be voters waited at the Anglican Church in Nairobi's Kibera neighborhood for a chance to select their candidates for The National Alliance [TNA] party.

Polling was supposed to begin at six in the morning, but the ballots did not arrive until the afternoon.

Frustrated voters

Kibera resident Zam Obed said tension is growing as voters become more impatient.

“So far I don't find it's very good, you know Kibera is a hotspot in Kenya, and for this nomination to take this long, and it is not good," said Obed. "They should have said morning and it started in morning. So how long are they going to have it?”

Similar problems were reported across the country, and TNA announced it would have to extend the voting exercise by another day, blaming the country's electoral commission [IEBC] for not providing the voter register list on time.

Some are starting to suspect, though, that the delays and the missing ballot papers could be intentional. The head of a Kibera youth organization, Livingston Okwete Hawama, said people are concerned the vote already has been rigged.

“Now there are rumors going around that somebody has been given already the certificates, now we don't know what's going to happen next,” said Hawama.

Logistics issues

Problems with polling were not limited to TNA, another leading party, the Orange Democratic Movement [ODM] also had trouble providing ballot papers and opening polls on time.

This year's primaries are different from past voting exercises in Kenya, in that voters are, for the first time, selecting candidates for political positions created by the new constitution - including governor, senator and women's representative.

Presidential candidates have been chosen separately by parties, and will run in the March 4 general elections.

The TNA candidate is Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's first president and an International Criminal Court indictee. ODM is led by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who contested and lost the last presidential election in 2007.

Peter Alingo, Director of the Institute for Education in Democracy in Nairobi is monitoring the primaries as part of Kenya's Electoral Observation Group. He said the disorganization has shown political parties are unprepared.

“Our concerns, which we have raised with a number of them, and which we continue to observe is the level of preparedness which they've had for this exercise and that is where our disappointment comes in,” he said.

Eye on general elections

Alingo said any concerns that the process has been corrupted also could have repercussions for the general election.

“We would like to see an open, transparent and accountable process, because if we have any lesser process then we stand the risk of jeopardizing the integrity of the 4th March elections itself,” he said.

While somewhat chaotic and tense, Thursday's primary process has been mostly peaceful. Observers also are watching for early signs of violence in order to avoid a repeat of the post-election violence that followed the last general election in 2007, in which more than 1,000 people were killed.

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs