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How toxic Kenyan politics has marred Kibra by-elections

President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga have stressed their newfound bromance will among other things solve the challenges Kenya faces during the electioneering period.

But from the look of things, they still have a long way to go to achieve this goal.

Hours into voting at the Kibra constituency by-elections, the dirty side of Kenyan politics once again re-emerged.

Coming two years after the hotly contested 2017 polls, and 12 years after the bloody post-elections violence of 2007-08, one would have expected Kenyans to have learnt some vital lessons.

But alas!

So what have we witnessed thus in Kibra?

1. Social media propaganda – Kenyans have taken to social media and – again – taken sides while tearing into each other and the candidates contesting with all manner of truths and untruths.

Jubilee’s McDonald Mariga appears the most affected with text messages circulating on the eve of the election suggesting he had a confrontation with voters. Videos have also circulated showing he has done ‘nothing’ to develop sports, the great fortune as a former professional footballer notwithstanding.

2. Intimidation – A number of people, including politicians Boni Khalwale and Charles ‘Jaguar’ Njagua have had to run for their dear lives within Kibra on election day. This after protests from ‘residents’ claiming they are not needed there. Separately, other persons have been beaten up and injured by the public who took the law into their hands. This is a recipe for tension and chaos.

3. Voter bribery claims – Police arrested atleast three people in relation to voter bribery. The public has also been seen harassing people claiming they are dishing money to voters. Tension has been high in some places.

4. Counter accusations – All through, opposition leaders have accused the Tanga Tanga wing of the Jubilee Party of attempting to rig the by election. Other the other hand, Jubilee leaders claim ODM wishes to unleash violence as a way of intimidating the electorate. The stakes are high.

5. Court cases – ODM has had to go to court to compel the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to release the voter register. Sounds familiar?

6. Digital failure – The KIEMS kits, used to identify registered voters, have also been reported not to be working in some polling stations. The situation has forced the electoral board officials to revert to the manual method which critics say is easy to penetrate and manipulate.