29 November 2012

Kenyan Diaspora Lobby in Suit Threat Over Poll

Kenyans living in East African countries will have a chance to vote in the forthcoming general election after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries ... ( Resource: Kenyans in East Africa Allowed to Vote )

The Kenya Diaspora Alliance have threatened to sue the government for locking its members out of the general election.

KDA co-convenor Peter Kerre and US-based lawyer Henry Ongeri yesterday said the IEBC has a duty to ensure Kenyans in the diaspora vote in the coming election.

Presidential hopeful Peter Kenneth in a statement has criticised the decision saying it is a "miscarriage of justice" to deny Kenyans in the diaspora the right to vote.

"This decision completely disenfranchises our brothers and sisters in the diaspora and denies them their democratic right to play their part in determining the future for their country," he said.

On Tuesday, Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa told Parliament that the Cabinet had resolved that it would not be practical for the Kenyan diaspora because of "various challenges facing the IEBC."

He said the commission needs to focus on addressing the challenges on voter registration to ensure it achieves its 18 million voters locally.

The minister said the issue on whether Kenyans in the diaspora will vote in the election was addressed by the High Court and a ruling delivered on November 15.

A group calling itself New Vision Kenya had moved to court seeking orders to compel the IEBC to set up more polling stations in the Diaspora and ensure they vote in the polls.

High Court Judge David Majanja said although the constitution guarantees all Kenyans the right to vote, such right is not absolute and it is not realised instantaneously, especially for those residing outside the country.

Kenyans in the diaspora have dismissed the ruling arguing the judge erred. "We respectfully disagree with the Honorable Court. Moreover, in our view, the ruling is flawed and exhibits a misreading of the law to the extent that it purports to summarily dismiss a right as fundamental as voting," said Ongeri and Kerre in an article responding to the court ruling.

Ongeri is an attorney and counselor at law in the States of Minnesota and New York in the US as well as an advocate of the High Court of Kenya while Kerre is a Co-Convenor of the KDA.

Wamalwa told MPs that IEBC raised its concerns over the challenges of registering Kenyans across the world and instead proposed that it starts with countries in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

The IGAD member states are Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. However, the minister said the Cabinet opposed the proposal because it will be discriminatory to other Kenyan living elsewhere.

He said to avoid such a decision being challenged in court, the Cabinet advised the IEBC to concentrate in registering voters locally for the election.

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