A clash between the supporters of ANC and ODM’s candidates for the Matungu by-election forced a family to rush a burial in Matungu Constituency, Kakamega County, on Saturday.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Orange Democratic Movement’s candidate David Were and Peter Nabulindo of the Amani National Congress were among the guests at the ceremony.
Trouble started when Mr Were arrived accompanied by people wearing orange T-shirts and caps, who forcefully entered an area designated for politicians and the church, singing songs in his praise.
A fight ensued as Mr Nabulindo and his supporters intervened.
Religious leaders from the Catholic Church and the bereaved family resolved to rush the burial of Ms Seraphine Pasi, the mother of local politician and ODM supporter Atieno Pasi.
While the family was at the gravesite, politicians and their supporters confronted each other at the field where a service took place.
Mr Were, who enjoys the support of Governor Oparanya, had his team shielded by county enforcement officers but ANC supporters demanded that they leave the venue.
“What are county officers doing at a burial ceremony? They should leave and let us bury our mother,” shouted one of the supporters.
The county askaris roughed up some of the protesters and locked them out of the compound.
Police officers in full combat gear arrived later and worked to restore order.
During the melee, Mr Nabulindo and Mr Were remained seated at the podium.
Mr Nabulindo stayed behind with a few of his supporters amid demands by the county officers that they too leave the compound.
Governor Oparanya arrived minutes later accompanied by Kakamega Woman Representative Elsie Muhanda.
The county officers took charge of the ceremony and after about 20 minutes of negotiations between the police and the aspirants, the governor was allowed to speak.
Regretting the disruption, Governor Oparanya asked residents to campaign peacefully.
“We are brothers and sisters … fighting does not reflect well on us. This is just politics,” he said.
The ODM deputy party leader condemned his party’s supporters for wearing T-shirts and caps of its colours to a burial.
“I urge those who have ODM caps and T-shirts to avoid wearing party attire to funerals as it paints a bad picture and may cause chaos,” said Oparanya.
At one point, the governor stopped to engage a group of ANC supporters which was heckling him.
“I am not looking for any political seat here in Matungu so stop shouting and let me finish up and leave so that those who want to engage each other can do so,” he said.
Mr Oparanya only invited Ms Muhanda to speak.
“I won’t give any aspirant a chance to speak today. Let them organise rallies and tell their supporters what they want,” he said.
Stones hurled at convoy
Police and county officers protected the governor as he left.
While the governor was heading to Lung’anyiro centre for another political rally, his convoy was pelted with stones at Matungu centre.
Four people were reportedly injured during the chaos.
“An ANC supporter who was beaten up by county askaris and has a broken finger,” claimed Victor Wayeme, an ANC youth leader.
Mr Nabulindo asked police to investigate the matter and bring to book those who masterminded the chaos.
“We cannot use county resources and askaris to cause havoc,” he said.
ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi’s spokesperson, Kibisu Kabatesi, also pointed the finger at Mr Oparanya.
The by-election occasioned by the death of MP Justus Murunga last year has attracted 15 candidates.
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