Community, Diaspora and Immigration

Team to facilitate Kenya diaspora voting appointed

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By Geoffrey Mosoku
Kenyans in the diaspora are likely to vote in the 2017 General Election. This comes after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs began an exercise to map eligible voters. Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has also appointed a 10-member task force to advise the State on how the voters can be facilitated and registered to participate in the poll.
The Task Force on the Implementation of the Constitution to Facilitate Voting in the General Election and Referendum by Kenyans in the Diaspora will be chaired by the ministry’s Director of Diaspora and Consular Affairs, Washington Oloo. The members are Lucy Kiruthu, Gregory Somba, Joseph Kanyiri, Scholastica Ndambuki, Dennis Muhambe, Karen Rono, Kariuki Kimemia, Immaculate Kassaitt and Peter Oduge.
The CS gazetted the team last Friday for a period of one year.
The gazettement came a day after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) launched an online tool for mapping of Kenyans in the diaspora. The exercise will enable the commission to identify the number and location of eligible voters in the diaspora, which has been a great challenge to the inclusion of potential voters in the past.
Mr Oloo’s team will advise on profiling of Kenyans in the diaspora who are eligible to vote, and establish the extent to which Kenyans living abroad can progressively participate in the General Election and referendums. The task force will submit its report within three months.
During the 2013 General Election, only Kenyans in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi were allowed to participate. However, their voting was restricted to presidential candidates. The voting witnessed an 87 per cent turn-out of the registered voters. While 2,637 were registered, 2,028 cast their votes.
“It is their constitutional right to be registered as voters and this has to be done progressively,” said IEBC Vice Chair Lilian Mahiri-Zaja last week.
Under Article 82(1)(e), Parliament is mandated to enact legislation to provide for the progressive registration of citizens living outside Kenya and progressive realisation of their right to vote.
Ms Mahiri-Zaja said only the commission would have access to the details of those in the diaspora for identification purposes.

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