Plan to let Kenyans abroad vote no easy task, says minister
Posted by Administrator on February 20, 2012
An inter-ministerial committee set up to enable Kenyans abroad to vote has a huge task ahead, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo said on Sunday.
“Enabling Kenyans in the diaspora to vote is not as easy as people think. It is a huge task and we have to get things right from the beginning,” Mr Kilonzo said on phone.
The team will come up with a map of where Kenyans are living in the diaspora, the protocols which require to be signed with host countries, and the extent of the right to vote — whether they will be allowed to vote for candidates beyond the President.
It will also decide the weight of the diaspora vote — whether it should have restrictions like counting only when there is a deadlock like it does in South Africa, the method of voting, the costs of the entire exercise and whether they will start only with some voters in the diaspora. (READ: Team set up to decide how Kenyans abroad will vote)
The team, chaired by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, has representatives from the ministries of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Finance, Immigration, and Office of the President.
Other agencies represented in the taskforce are the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Gender and Equality Commission, Kenya National Human Rights Commission and the Commission for the Administration of Justice.
On Sunday, Mr Kilonzo urged politicians to put aside sideshows and focus on bringing into force laws that would be required to make it happen.
By so doing, Kenya will join a number of other democracies in the world that allow their citizens overseas to vote.
They include the United States, Britain and South Africa. Africa’s newest nation, South Sudan, also allows its citizens abroad to vote.
But in Britain, citizens who have lived outside the country for more than 15 years without going back lose their right to vote.
In South Africa, you have to have been in the country within 10 years. The committee will also decide on the mode of voting.
Some countries, like the US, use postal voting where voting materials are sent in advance and returned and checked after the exercise.
“We need to get consensus on the mode,” Mr James Oswago, the IEBC chief executive, said.
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