Some 30,000 voters in Wajir West constituency in northeastern Kenya go to the polls on April 25 to elect their new member of parliament.
The mini-poll follows the nullification by the country’s Supreme Court of former legislator Ahmed Kolosh’s win in the 2017 general election .
Here’s what you need to know about the by-election in Wajir West constituency:
It is a two-horse race. Former MP Ahmed Kolosh of the ruling Jubilee coalition and Kenya African National Union’s Ibrahim Sheikh will square it off for the seat.
Before losing the seat, Kolosh was a member of the Orange Democratic Movement but defected to Jubilee after the nullification by the Supreme Court.
Both candidates say they are confident of capturing the seat.
“The people of Wajir West who elected me in their numbers in 2017 are the same ones who will come out in large numbers to vote for me. They have faith in me and my leadership style. They know I am a performer,” said Kolosh.
“I’m confident of carrying the day. I have crisscrossed the constituency and the response I’ve been getting from the constituents is very positive. I’ve sold my agenda and I’m optimistic,” Sheikh said.
Mohamed Yusuf Elmi, who was flying the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party ticket, withdrew his candidature in support of Kolosh.
Election commission IEBC has appointed Maurice Raria as the returning officer for Wajir West parliamentary vote. He took oath of office on April 10.
Law enforcement agencies say they have beefed up security as campaigns for this week’s by-election come to an end.
Scores of registered local observers will monitor the poll, according to the IEBC.
Low voter turnout
Low voter turnout could tilt the outcome. In general elections, MCA candidates mobilise voters and that increases the turnout. In their absence, many residents might stay away from the poll.
But Kolosh says he will ferry voters to polling stations to ensure no one is left out.
“I’m pleased to inform you for all university/college students and adherent supporters who are willing to participate in the by-election that is slated for April 25, 2019, we will offer free transportation from Nairobi and its environs to Wajir for them to cast their votes,” he said in a Facebook post on April 16.
“The ferrying exercise will start from April 19 and end on April 22. This initiative is meant for a massive turnout in the by-election and ensuring that everyone votes.”
What are the key issues?
According to Wajir analysts, the ‘handshake’ between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila could have a big influence on how voters will cast their ballots in the by-election.
Besides, voters are likely vote for candidates of their clan rather examine the contestants’ policies and plans.
The constituency, like most other parts of the region, suffers from food insecurity and high unemployment rates, among many other issues.
More details about the constituency
The constituency has five county assembly wards, all electing councilors to the Wajir County Assembly.
The constituency was established for the 1966 elections. The constituency is predominantly inhabited by Somalis, with the Ajuran and Matan sub clans well-represented.
The wards are Arbajahan, Hadado/Athibohol, Ademasajide, Ganyure and Wagalla.
When will the results be released?
After counting the votes in the polling stations, the IEBC shall tally and verify the count and announce a winner within seven days.