The IEBC office in Lumakanda. The posting on the left is for the clerks in the polling stations and on the right for the presiding and assistant presiding officers. The people looking at the lists are finding out where they will be posted for the election tomorrow.
The logistics for the Kenyan election are mind-boggling. There are 40,833 polling stations with over 400,000 clerks to run the election. One major problem is that the last election was five years ago and essentially the IEBC re-invents the wheel each election because so much time has passed since the last one. As an election judge in Maryland for the November 2016 election the gadgets I used to identify voters were bought in 2002, fourteen years earlier, and were still in use. In Kenya new gadgets are bought for each election, not properly tested, and in 2013 they failed miserably.
Vehicles parked on the road in Lumakanda this morning, waiting to receive the materials which they will carry to the various polling stations.
Lumakanda is the government seat for Lugari sub-county and constituency. Daily when I take my walk to buy the newspaper, I pass the IEBC’s local office and greet the two police who are guarding the premise. They have posted the names of the 293 presiding and assistant presiding officers and the 1024 clerks who will assist them in the polling stations in Lugari constituency. Two Saturdays ago the town field next to the primary school, which will be town’s polling station, was filled as the IEBC was training these clerks. This Saturday when I took my walk, I saw that the town was filled with more people than I have ever seen. Moreover the Friends Church compound was filled with more people than even come to church for a wedding. Naturally I had to go over and inquire what was going on. I was told that the IEBC was giving a training for the agents for the Members of the County Assembly (MCA). These were being trained on the role and regulations for agents who are appointed by the various candidates to observe that the election is properly conducted in the polling stations. Sunday and Monday the town was crowded again but this time with many vehicles parked alongside the road. These were used to carry the voting materials to the almost 150 polling stations in the constituency.
As I have walked around town, which is flooded with campaign posters, I noticed those for Lumakanda ward’s Member of the County Assembly (MCA), the most local elected position. There are at least four candidates from political parties and another four independent candidates. So there will be at least eight people running for this one position.
A large sign in the middle of Lumakanda town advertising Quaker Chrispinus Liuva Singa as a candidate for Member of the County Assembly on the ODM party ticket.
When I observed the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM – Raila’s party) primary election in April, I found many people from Lumakanda Friends Church there. They told me that a Quaker, Chrispinus Liuva Singa from Lumakanda Monthly Meeting, was the candidate whom they were supporting. He won the primary. He is a member of another village meeting so I did not know him, but he was at Lumakanda Church this Sunday. At the end of the service he stood up and introduced himself. Someone in the congregation spoke out, “The campaigning season is over.” He then cleverly used his time to thank the Quakers for the support they have given him. Later he knelt down in from of the pulpit and Pastor Ndalu blessed him and his campaign.
From left, Erastus Chesondi, Peter Serete, and Getry Agizah (with her son, Daniel, in front of her) today at our pre-election planning meeting.
In the morning Gladys and I (with our three grand-family members so that they could play with Daniel, Getry’s son) went to Getry’s house for a meeting of the lead elections observers. Each was responsible for a different area, mostly hotspots. We reviewed our assignments and how we would be conducting our observations. We had formerly decided not to be official election observers inside the polling stations, but rather remain outside where indications of bribing, intimidation, disruption, and/or potential violence might be observed. Getry gave us a form to fill out for each polling station we plan to visit. I plan on observing two polling stations in Lumakanda and then drive down to Turbo which the government has fingered as a possible hotspot. Tentatively we plan on meeting again on Thursday morning to strategize our post-election efforts.
Two disturbing things have happened. On Friday night the opposition NASA parallel tally center in Nairobi was attacked by the police who denied that they are the ones who did it – this leaves the question, “If they did not do it, who did?. People who were working in the office were made to lie down for an hour as the attackers ransacked the place, destroyed and stole the computers and other equipment. At the same time an American, a Canadian, and two Ghanaians who were helping with the parallel tallying center were arrested and immediately expelled from the country.
The second disturbing report was that the police have taken 200 body bags for dead people to Kisumu, Raila’s stronghold, as if they anticipate deadly violence. The police responded that they were only planning on being prepared.
Tomorrow evening or Wednesday morning I will report on election day itself, but the real test will be after the election results have been announced. Legally the IEBC has seven days from the election but they have promised to do it much more quickly than that.
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From 1998 to 2016, David Zarembka was the Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. He continues his peacemaking work in East Africa with Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC) and Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT). He has been involved with East and Central Africa since 1964 when he taught Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. David is married to Gladys Kamonya and lives in western Kenya. David is the author of A Peace of Africa: Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region.
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