Kenya’s top opposition coalition is wrapping up primary voting this week ahead of August general elections as the ruling Jubilee coalition gears up to start its primaries on Friday. The voting is seen as a key test of cohesion for both coalitions.
Confusion and accusations abound in Nakuru County after the names of some opposition Orange Democratic Movement Party candidates were missing from paper ballots.
ODM Party election officials called off the vote and rescheduled it.
Some results were canceled because of allegations of rigging and some constituency elections were postponed because of logistical issues. The party has held elections in at least 10 counties.
“The exercise is very big, and therefore in an exercise like this there will be mistakes here and there, but they are being corrected as they occur,” said Robert Arunga, a party election board member.
Some observers have praised the party for giving competitors an equal chance to participate, unlike previous times where some members were favored in the primaries.
Political commentator Martin Andati said the opposition party is not following electoral laws, hence the confusion.
“They are not using the party register; that is a total contravention of the election and political parties act, and people will end up in court, and they will challenge the outcome of those nominations. You’ve seen the mess in Busia. You saw the disaster in Machakos and the chaos in parts of Kakamega," he said.
The winners of the ODM primaries will face members of other political parties for various seats on August 8.
Professor Herman Manyora is a political analyst and lecturer at the University of Nairobi. He said the failure to conduct a free and fair election at the party level sets a dangerous precedent.
“There is a certain way in which democracy works, and in election democracy, there will be winners and losers and so long as there is fair play, both will accept. When we do that in political parties, we are then preparing ourselves for the general election, and because there will be a winner during the general election and there will be a loser, and if the elections are fair, Kenya must continue. But people are perpetuating this idea that elections cannot be fair at any one time; then this is dangerous for the country,” said Manyora.
The ODM party plans its primaries in about a week for 30 counties. Unlike the opposition, the ruling Jubilee party is planning its primaries across the country on Friday.