15 December 2012

Kenya: Prisoners Will Wait Little Longer to Vote - IEBC

The chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Issack Hassan has expressed frustration at the pending litigation surrounding the voter registration exercise.

Civil society groups have threatened to go to court in a bid to have the electoral calendar amended, to allow the registration of prisoners and Kenyans outside East Africa.

These efforts, Hassan says, are ill-timed and the demands untenable given there are only three days to the end of the voter registration exercise.

"I'm aware Kituo cha Sheria has threatened to go to court. If you remember during the referendum, the constitutional court said prisoners can vote but those rights were only limited to the referendum."

The constitution, Hassan acknowledged, protects every Kenyans' fundamental right to vote but asked for empathy saying it was the first time the IEBC will be conducting elections under a new constitutional order.

"This is a first election since we had a new constitution. We are asking them to be patient and be patriotic and allow us to have the first elections. Thereafter we'll put in place mechanisms for the Diaspora to vote and for those in prison to vote."

Kituo Cha Sheria issued a statement on Thursday saying it would file a petition in the High Court to seek an extension of voter registration following what they termed as IEBC's refusal to engage them on the registration of prisoners.

Hassan was adamant his commission would not be cowed. "If we are served (with the court papers) we are going to defend ourselves."

The Political Parties Forum, one of eight coalitions registered with the registrar of political parties and composed of eight political parties including Julia Ojiambo's Labour Party of Kenya, on Monday said they would go to court to have the elections postponed to December to allow for the registration of Kenyans in the Diaspora.

The parties say there are close to three million Kenyans in the Diaspora and that those in the East African region who should be allowed to participate in the electoral process.

The registration of Kenyan voters in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, Hassan says, will commence immediately the Kenyan drive ends on Tuesday.

"We're going to have centres in Kampala, Bujumbura, Kigali, Arusha and Dar es Salaam. There will be three Biometric Voter Registration kits at each centre."

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