IEBC actions angers Kenyans overseas

IEBC actions angers Kenyans overseas

Kenyans in the diaspora have registered their dissatisfaction with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) over its preparedness to conduct a two-week voter registration of Kenyans living abroad.

Led by the Kenya Diaspora Alliance, the umbrella body of 34 lobby groups of Kenyans living abroad, they accused the commission of orchestrating confusion on the first day of the voter registration exercise.

“Nearly all our members have turned away for lack of valid passports. it is clear that no infrastructure has not been put in place,” Shem Ochuodho, the global chairman of the alliance said in an interview Tuesday.

He said that most Kenyans living in EAC member states use national IDs as their travel document.

“It is, therefore, unfair for IEBC to demand passports from them,” he added, threatening to file a suit against the commission for failing to ensure the availability of adequate infrastructure for the registration of those abroad.

Ahead of the 2013 general elections, Kenyans overseas sued IEBC demanding they be allowed to vote.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the right to vote and be registered as a voter should be enjoyed by all without distinction of whether a person is living in the country or in the diaspora.

During this year exercise, the electoral agency plans to register Kenyans living in Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Kampala, Bujumbura, Kigali and Pretoria as diaspora voters from 20th Feb- 6th March.

In a notice on Sunday, the electoral commission said it had dispatched eight clerks to South Africa for the registration ahead of the August 8 polls.

The polls team said that those living abroad need a valid passport and should be registered as Kenyan citizens to be listed.

IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba said diaspora voting will take place in Kenyan embassies, consulates and high commissions.

However, Ochuodho, a former MP for Rangwe, lamented that IEBC had failed to define requisite requirements needed for one to register as a voter in Diaspora.

He wondered why the commission did not gazette registration centres to enable their members to participate in the voter enlisting process during the start of the exercise yesterday.

“Voting is not a favour but a right for every Kenyan, regardless of where they are,” he added.

The chairman noted that more than two million citizens were likely to be locked out of the general election as they were yet to be registered.

Earlier, IEBC vice chairperson Consolata Nkatha had stated that logistical challenges and limited time had undermined the commission’s ability to actualise diaspora voting.

They diaspora alliance want those residing outside the country to elect MCA, MP, senator, woman representative, governor, and president of their choice

But the commission said the listing, set to end on March 6, will only allow those registered to vote for president.

“A Kenyan living outside the country who is registered as a voter will only vote for a presidential candidate of his or her choice,” read a tweet by IEBC.

Article 82 of the constitution requires the commission to progressively register citizens residing outside Kenya to allow them to vote.

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