Uhuru tour turns most new votes as Raila insists Jubilee out to rig

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President Uhuru Kenyatta enquires about the
President Uhuru Kenyatta enquires about the progress of voter registration at the Gacharage Trading Centre in Murang’a County on January 19, 2017. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Counties in Central region recorded the highest percentage of new voters in the past one week in what could be the dividend to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s stringent campaign in the region.

Details published by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) show that since Monday last week, 825,145 new voters have been listed, about half of the targeted 1.4 million per week.

The figures were released as Opposition politicians charged that there was a plot to list foreigners to vote as well as accusing the Jubilee coalition of buying national identity cards from supporters in Nyanza.

“I have reliable information that Jubilee agents have started buying IDs and voting cards from vulnerable supporters of the Opposition in Nyanza and parts of the Rift Valley,” claimed Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o.

“This is to undermine the heavy turnout of people to register as new voters in these areas. The IEBC must speak strongly against this and the President should stop it forthwith.”

A few minutes earlier, Cord leader Raila Odinga had claimed that the National Intelligence Service had a hand in listing foreigners. But IEBC chairman Wanyonyi Chebukati denied those claims.

“We have no information on foreigners coming in to register as voters. We are hearing this for the first time from you. But if it’s a matter of security, then we have relevant authorities that can handle that.

“If this is happening, it is wrong because only Kenyans are supposed to register. For those in the diaspora, we shall register them after this programme is finished on February 14,” Mr Chebukati told journalists in his first briefing since taking office.

The numbers by the Commission generally show that North Eastern counties of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa, which cumulatively have the smallest population of voters in the country, have the highest percentage of voters recorded against the targeted numbers per week.

The three counties expected to register 26,105 every week, and by end of week one, 24,006 had been listed, defying the challenge of drought and water shortage ravaging these counties.

Central (87 per cent) and Rift Valley, which is the largest voting region, are number two and three, respectively (60 per cent). Coast (58 per cent), Eastern (57 per cent), Western (43 per cent), Nyanza (48 per cent) and Nairobi (48 per cent) have all registered below 60 per cent of the weekly targets.

On Tuesday, IEBC officials played down the low returns from the first week, which did not include data from Kilifi North and South, Samburu West, Turkana East and Ganze constituencies “due to logistical constraints.”

“With respect to recent trends, our observation is that we are well within the margin in the first week. We are generally targeting people who hadn’t registered before,” said IEBC chief executive Ezra Chiloba.

“We hope that next week and the week after that more Kenyans will turn up and register because we believe there are many people out there who have not registered.”

The Commission is targeting six million more voters to add on the 14.3 million already listed, but the numbers so far suggest that political campaigns to have Kenyans register to vote have immediately only benefited the President after his tour of Central last week.

The region, which includes Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri, Nyandarua and Kirinyaga counties, has 1,025,294 Kenyans with national IDs but not listed in the voters’ register. The IEBC had indicated that it was pursuing 686,947, or 160,688 per week, in these counties.

In the first week, figures from the Commission show, 139,876 new voters turned up, making about 87 per cent of the weekly target.

Between Monday and Saturday last week, the Commission recorded as high 112 per cent turnout in Kirinyaga, followed by Murang’a at 96 per cent and Nyandarua at 74 per cent.

In Kiambu, which had 863,199 voters in 2013, IEBC targeted to list 250,493 more of the 378,870 people living here with IDs but who had never registered to vote before. This means it has to list 58,488 per week.  Last week, 61,541 turned up, which is 105 per cent.

The numbers may be coincidental to the President’s campaign last week, where he called on potential voters to register and vote to give him a stronger backing against the Opposition.

However, this revelation may also dispel the theory of disinterest in voting in the area, seen as the largest voting bloc after Rift Valley, and which strongly backed the President the last time out.

Though the figures may change over the next two weeks as Kenyans are wont to rush to the queues when the deadline approaches, it gives a greater challenge to Opposition leaders to convince their voting blocs to equally come out and register.

-nation.co.k

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