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Kenya Man in US seeks Sh2bn for exposing bank scam

Posted by Administrator on April 19, 2012

 

By ANTONY KARANJA in DALLAS, TEXAS

A Kenyan who fled to the US after exposing a multi-billion-shilling bank scandal is seeking Sh1.92 billion from the government for whistleblowing.The suit is filed in a US court by Mr Peter George Odhiambo through lawyers Thomas Kipkorir Kirui and Ian P. Alberg.

The suit states that Mr Odhiambo, who was hired by Charterhouse Bank in April 2003, had noted that several accounts were operated in violation of the Income Tax Act, the Economic Crimes Act, the Central Bank Act, the Banking Act and prudential regulations.

He said he came across accounts with suspiciously large transactions in “personal” savings accounts. These transactions were hidden from bank inspectors.

The suit further states that in May 2004, Mr Odhiambo came across a KRA information reward scheme advertised in local print and online newspapers.

The authority was to pay a reward amounting to one per cent of the undisclosed taxes identified up to a maximum of Sh100,000 as well as a reward of three per cent of the taxes collected.

He subsequently made copies of activity reports for more than 800 suspicious Charterhouse customer accounts and forwarded them to KRA.

The suit claims that the KRA did not act on the information and he subsequently forwarded the same to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission and the Central Bank of Kenya.

In August 2004, Finance minister David Mwiraria and Ethics permanent secretary John Githongo constituted the Joint Task Force Investigating Economic Crimes by Charterhouse Bank and Related Companies.

The taskforce was to carry out investigations on the basis of information provided by Mr Odhiambo.

The taskforce reported its findings on November 30, 2004, and confirmed Mr Odhiambo’s information regarding undisclosed taxes by several of Charterhouse Bank customers.

Analysis of accounts

A full analysis of the bank’s accounts revealed that 604 of them evaded taxes with each avoiding to pay more than Sh10 million, adding to Sh21.1 billion.

The suit alleges that since Mr Odhiambo’s information had been proven to be correct, he became entitled to Sh100,000 for each account for an amount of Sh60.4 million as well as Sh1.26 billion of the amount that KRA collected on the basis of his information.

However, in a letter dated July 26, 2011, KRA acknowledged that they owed him but they included a cap of Sh1 million as reward for his role in the recovery of unassessed duties or taxes.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Man+seeks+Sh2bn+for+exposing+bank+scam/-/1056/1390074/-/trxcrv/-/index.html

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A Kenyan Man Jailed for 7 Years in the UK for Attempted Rape of a 15-Year-Old Girl

Posted by Administrator on April 19, 2012

An HIV-positive man who attempted to rape a 15-year-old girl has been jailed for seven years.

Karino Lekisolish, 38, was found guilty this week of sexually attacking the young girl as she wandered the streets of Royston after arguing with her father.

Lekisolish groped the teenager on September 19, 2010, and then a week later dragged the girl to a park and tried to rape her.

The Kenyan-born street cleaner was convicted by a jury at Southwark Crown Court of two counts of sexual assault and one count of attempted rape.

Judge Michael Bromley-Martin said: “She was a vulnerable young person when you attacked her.

“She was aged only 15 and her troubles led her to wander the streets of Royston at night.

“You realised that she was doing this and you took advantage of her and her situation for your own sexual gratification and what’s more you went on to attempt to rape her.”

Mr Bromley-Martin told Lekisolish, of South Road, Baldock, his sentence was set at seven years in jail because of the young age of his victim and because he knew he was suffering from HIV.

The court heard previously that Lekisolish had not managed to carry out his rape on the girl as, after the defendant tried to undress her and push her against a wall, the girl managed to pull out her mobile phone and turn on the screen’s light.

Isabelle Delamere, prosecuting, said: “This caused the defendant to panic, asking her who she had rung, and during this she was able to run away from him.”

Jurors had also heard how the girl would often wander the streets near her home following arguments with her dad, and that she did not report the first assault to police as she believed her attacker had “special needs.”

Lekisolish, who had pleaded not guilty to the offences and argued the young girl was making the allegations up for attention, was told his name would be placed on the sex offenders’ register for life and that he faces being deported back to Kenya at the end of his sentence.

Source: Cambridge News

Posted in Diaspora News | 4 Comments »

I Am Undocumented: A Face of Legal Immigration Gone Wrong

Posted by Administrator on April 19, 2012

Yes, I am white. Yes, I am highly educated   with a successful business. And yes, I, too, am now an undocumented immigrant.

In July 2001, before the Sept. 11th attacks, my family left our home country of South Africa and came to the United States to open a branch of our international training company. Since my husband and I have advanced degrees, extensive business experience and were able to make a substantial financial investment in America, we were both granted what’s called “L1 visas.”

Our company, specializing in advanced reading & information management training skills, was a mature 25-year-old business that had clients in the banking, transport, education and government sectors. We soon discovered that average reading skills in America are less than competitive with other developed countries, and this strengthened our resolve to make a difference. Volunteering at our children’s schools and at many non-profit organizations in our chosen city of Charlotte, North Carolina, became our new way of life. We totally immersed ourselves in our community, making lifelong friends and feeling more and more like Americans every day.

We established fundraising programs for community shelters and for the arts in Charlotte. We developed multinational cultural understanding and reconciliation awareness programs and programs to support AIDS awareness. And at the same time, we developed a specialist intelligence data analysis training course for the U.S. military and were soon commissioned to present this training at the Pentagon, NASA, Defense Intelligence Agency, US Air Force, Navy SEALs and the intelligence battalions of the US Marine Corps. This unique and exclusive proprietary intelligence data analysis program became essential to the defense of the nation and was described as saving American lives on the battlefield. My husband was awarded a 0205-Tactical Intelligence Officer “plank” by the Warrant
Officers of the Marine Corps for his “contribution to the enhancement of the intelligence analysis capabilities of the USMC.” Navy SEAL teams also benefited from this training and went on to terminate the nation’s greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden, and to stage a series of daring and successful rescues around the world.

Yet today, after 10 years of living legally in America, we have become overstays — “illegal immigrants” in the common derogatory vernacular. After building a successful business, buying a home, immersing ourselves in the community and educating our children to become contributing members of American society, we have been denied permanent residence and the U.S. military has been instructed to terminate our training because we are “illegal.” We have become victims of a dysfunctional legal immigration system that is badly in need of reform.

Mine is the story of a family who did not flee their home country for a better life in the US. Neither are we refugees or destitute, but rather a family of privileged, educated, skilled individuals with two gifted children who believed they could contribute to the American Dream with their advanced reading skills training company and offer their own children a first world educational experience.

Instead, we’ve become victims of a legal immigration horror story of deception, criminal fraud, financial ruin, discrimination, pain, uncertainly, insecurity and devastating implications — not only for this family’s future, but for the future of legal immigration itself.

I am at a loss as to why this country would choose to stop this training, deemed “essential to the analytic capabilities of the US military” and which “is saving lives on the battlefield” rather than simply correcting an immigration injustice. Or why, after 10 years of us paying taxes, buying a home and being exemplary citizens in every conceivable way, we are deemed unsuitable for permanent residence. It can only be described as a spectacular failure of an immigration system that is both dysfunctional and inhumane and in serious and urgent need of complete overhaul reform.  And our story is not unique. There are thousands of entrepreneurial families in this predicament today.  Many have chosen to slink away into the shadows and self-deport, leaving who knows how many U.S. citizens to join the ranks of the unemployed.

What kind of nation tolerates a 4.0-GPA high school student, identified as “talented” by the Duke Talent Identification Program, to be ripped out of a senior year at high school, or a gifted Dean’s-list college senior to be forced into abandoning the last year of university without graduating?  Yet after 10 years
of education in the American education system, at taxpayer expense (yes, mine and yours!), this is the position both my children find themselves in. What sane nation pays to educate people before expelling them?

What humane country asks that a family lose their home, their livelihood, abandon their life-changing business activities and income to support and educate their children, and walk away from everything they’ve invested here over 10 years?  One would think that the most difficult step should be to get into the U.S. in the first place and that permanent residence for contributing, tax-paying, property-owning and business-owning immigrants would be a natural follow- through. Yet it appears to be easier to enter America on a visa than to stay here with permanent residence. Is it a case of fleecing immigrants of their expertise and investment and then rejecting them once they have lesser “value” to the country?

A few months ago, I learned of the story of Jose Antonio Vargas and his media campaign, Define American, which seeks to elevate how we talk about immigration. Elevation and conversation is sorely needed.

Even though I am now an undocumented-documented-immigrant, or if you prefer, an illegal-legal-immigrant, I love this country. It is my home. And I will not stand by and watch an immigration system destroy lives and families. While I still have an ounce of breath in me, it will be to see comprehensive immigration reform in this country — that a more humane and functional system of immigration be introduced to benefit not only the country as a whole, but all immigrants at every level, of all racial and economic backgrounds.

Am I the face of a failed legal immigration system? Or perhaps the reason so many choose to come to AMERICA without papers?

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dianne-e-stewart/immigration-reform-undocumented-immigrants_b_1435199.html?ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false#sb=546688,b=facebook

Posted in Immigration | 2 Comments »

Fresh Aroma’s 8th Annual Spring Prophetic-April 19th to April 22nd

Posted by Administrator on April 19, 2012

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FEP Group of Companies UK, USA, Canada tour beginning April 30th to May 28, 2012

Posted by Administrator on April 19, 2012

FEP Group of Companies is a specific Investment Companies mandated to identify and initiate innovative and sustainable investments projects that ultimately generate wealth for its shareholders.  “The power of many” is their slogan and their focus is mainly geared on Banking, Hotels and Tourism, Media and Technology, Schools and Real Estates. http://www.fep-group.com/

 

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Have you seen her? Missing Person Report for Genevieve Linda Kiveu (Atix)- Azusa California

Posted by Administrator on April 19, 2012

Posted in Diaspora News | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Kenyan prison nurse in Vermont charged with sexually assaulting a female inmate

Posted by Administrator on April 18, 2012

Thomas Njuguna was accused of inappropraie behaviour with a female inmate

Thomas Njuguna was accused of inappropraie behaviour with a female inmate

SOUTH BURLINGTON — A former male nurse at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility is facing a criminal charge of sexual exploitation of an inmate, Vermont State Police said.

Thomas Njuguna, 36, of Colchester engaged in inappropriate behavior with a female inmate while Njuguna was acting in a medical profession, state police said. The contact with the female inmate was unwanted and unwarranted, Detective Lance Burnham said.

An investigation began in February into an alleged sexual assault complaint for an incident at the jail in November 2011. The complaint indicated that a female inmate had been inappropriately touched by a male nurse at the facility, police said.

Njuguna was arrested Tuesday and released on a citation ordering him to appear May 8, in Vermont Superior Court, police said.

Njuguna is no longer employed by the Vermont Department of Corrections, Burnham said. He said Njuguna resigned late last year on unrelated matters.

State police declined to release any information about the victim, including her age or hometown.

Source: Burlington Free Press

Posted in Diaspora News | 39 Comments »

Pay As You Go Sunshine: How Solar Energy and Mobile Phones are Powering the Developing World

Posted by Administrator on April 18, 2012

Every night, something unusual happens in Samuel Kimani’s home on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. Samuel, 48, lives with his wife Mary and their three children. Their family supports itself day-to-day through their main source of income, their cow Baraka, whose milk is collected daily and sold directly to customers for about $1.80 a day. Their township has few amenities and grid electricity is available only to the few who can afford it. But at Samuel’s house, two bright lights shine all through the evening.

Samuel used to light his home with a single kerosene lamp, which filled the rooms with smoke and poor-quality light and cost $3 a week. With his low income, Samuel could support his family, but he wasn’t able to make long-term investments in other systems to light his home. That is, until he became the first person in the world to use the IndiGo pay-as-you-go solar energy system. Samuel purchased the system for an affordable $10 and now activates it automatically with a $1 scratch-card each week. Through IndiGo, Samuel’s small home now has two bright lights providing eight hours of light each evening, which enables the kids to study in the living room whilst Mary prepares food in the kitchen. Instead of spending $0.20 to charge each of their three mobile phones at one of the many local kiosks he simply charges them at home, saving $1.5 per week in the process.

 

Samuel Kimani in Kenya. (Photo: Eight19 Ltd)

 

“With kerosene I couldn’t read comfortably, always straining. But it was the children who suffered most; we used to run out of kerosene four or five times a month, and with no light they couldn’t complete their studies. Now we have clean permanent light, we are saving money, and I am so happy for me and my family.”

In today’s special edition of “Digital Diversity”, Olivia O’Sullivan, our Media and Research Assistant, interviews Simon Bransfield-Garth, the CEO of Eight19, the company providing pay-as-you-go solar energy to people like Samuel. Eight19 takes its name from the time it takes sunlight to reach the earth – eight minutes and nineteen seconds.

Digital Diversity is a series of articles from kiwanja.net about how mobile phones and other appropriate technologies are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives.

Interview by Olivia O’Sullivan

Hi Simon. Can you tell us exactly what Eight19 does?

What we’re trying to do is find novel ways to bring solar power to emerging markets, trying to get over some of the problems that have occurred in the last ten years when people have tried to take solar into those markets.

What we did was to combine mobile phone technology and solar technology. This allows us to create what we call “pay-as-you-go solar.” So just in the same way as you buy a scratch-card for your mobile phone every so often, you buy a scratch-card which enables your solar power to work for a period of time – for example a week or month, whatever it may be.

 

An Eight19 IndiGo unit. (Photo: Eight19 Ltd)

 

How does the system work in developing countries? How does solar power change people’s lives?

The solar-as-a-service model plays very well in emerging countries partly because the pay as you go model is well understood; people have pay as you go mobile phones. But also because we’ve eliminated the upfront cost of buying a solar light, so we can give people an economic return on a day by day basis. Where people don’t have electric light their options are kerosene or in some cases candles – about 80% of Zambia uses candles – and in South Sudan, for instance some people even just use grass as a way of lighting their houses. The amount of money people spend on kerosene for lighting is huge – about 38 billion dollars. When you compare the cost of that kerosene light for light with mains electric lighting, the light out of a typical kerosene lamp costs between a hundred and a thousand times as much – just because it’s a very inefficient lamp and kerosene’s expensive. So you end up with a situation where the people who have the least income in the world are paying not just a bit more for their energy but vastly more for their energy.

 

Light provided by a kerosene lamp. (Photo: Eight19 Ltd)

 

By providing solar we can eliminate that cost and replace it with something more modern and up to date. For example, in Kenya people are spending the equivalent of about 12 dollars a month for kerosene and for charging their mobile phone. We’re providing the IndiGo solar energy system for just over a dollar a week, so effectively for five dollars a month the user is getting light for two rooms and also power to charge a mobile. So we’ve roughly halved people’s energy spend and we’ve given them the benefit of solar power instead of kerosene.

What we find is that once people have solar power then it has a very dramatic effect on their daily lives. The light doesn’t just allow them to cook but it allows things like children to do their homework. Over time users can upgrade the system to progressively more powerful solar units. As you provide more power, you enable other things – such as access to a radio or a television – and so what the electricity is doing is providing key things that we’ve come to value in the more developed world like access to information and access to media; both of which have an important social impact, including the ability to participate in the political process. It’s much more than just providing light.

 

Mwiki, Kenya. (Photo: Eight19 Ltd)

 

The fact that the weekly fee actually reduces users’ spend, by eliminating the cost of kerosene and charging phones, makes it much easier for us to sell into the market because we sell from the point of view of an economic proposition rather than just ‘solar-power is good’ – if you speak to someone who’s been living with kerosene for fifty years, sometimes it’s quite difficult to persuade them kerosene fumes are harmful things they don’t want to have. But if you say to someone who spends a quarter of their income on energy that they can halve their energy bill, then all of a sudden that has a direct impact – then after that they see the benefits of solar.

Approaching this as an economic proposition seems quite important to this project – it’s not charity – do you think this is the best way to approach alternative energy and development?

There’s been a shift in mindset in the last ten years or so on how to support people who are at the lower end of the income scale. There was a tendency years ago to dive in with the grand gesture –provide a tractor in Africa and so on – and the problem with that is it comes out of context, it doesn’t come with all the infrastructure that’s needed to support it and we saw many examples where the equipment breaks down and that’s the end of it because there isn’t anybody to maintain it and no spare parts. We have a firm belief that sustainable technology needs to have a sustainable business model – so as far as possible what we try to do is to build a local economy around the technology. Where we’re rolling out lights, we have local maintenance, local distribution, local marketing, and so on.  A really simple example of that is we now manufacture our scratch-cards in Kenya as opposed to shipping them in because we’ve got a market for them in Kenya and we have found a local printer.

 

David (SolarAid technician) installing a unit in Kenya. (Photo: Eight19 Ltd)

 

So why has it been so difficult to sell solar power?

The question we asked ourselves was, “if solar power is so obviously beneficial, how come the world isn’t awash with it?” One of the problems with solar and characteristic of a problem with renewables in general is the need for the end user to buy the equipment up front. Normally, to use electricity I don’t expect to have to buy my own small power station – but with renewables that’s exactly what we expect. So there is a challenge. Fundamentally, people are being asked to change their business model. Instead of using something as you go along, now they’ve got to find their own capital. In Africa if someone wants a reasonable home lighting system, the cost starts at about fifty dollars – in terms of proportion of salary, that’s roughly the equivalent of buying a car in the West. The IndiGo system addresses that by providing solar as a service with a very small initial cost. This is readily understood –  people just seem to intrinsically get what we’re trying to do.

 

Happy customers in Mwiki, Kenya. (Photo: Eight19 Ltd)

 

One of the things that’s attractive about this approach is that once somebody transitions to solar you can be pretty certain that they’re never going back to kerosene.  Solar gives a completely different class of light, it eliminates the fumes – kerosene fumes are believed to be responsible for the deaths of about 1.6 million people a year, which is more than the number of people that die from malaria, from a combination of chronic respiratory illnesses and from fire.  On top of that, the carbon footprint of the kerosene is about 190 million tonnes, which in context is about the same as the carbon footprint of Argentina, or about 30 million cars on European roads.

You said people, once they get their lamps they start to think about getting radios and TVs and the like – how does that work? How is it affordable?

Off-grid rural customers in emerging markets have the same aspirations as everybody else. They’d like to have TV, radio, internet and a computer, fridges – all the other things that everybody else would like to have. We wanted to create a kind of a journey to help people extend their use of electricity, so we came up with this idea of the “energy escalator.”  If you imagine a rural family in, say, Malawi – we provide a couple of lights and the ability to charge a phone. Over time the customer uses that and saves money at the same time. So after a period of time, their solar unit has been paid off. Then we offer an upgrade to that system. We can afford to charge a little bit more because the customer has just saved 100 dollars or so over the previous 18 months compared with what they would have spent on energy. So now that customer, say, has four lights and a radio. And then that pays off after a period of time, so you go onto the next step, maybe powering a television. And so, over a period of time a rural customer transitions in steps from no electricity to still being a rural farmer, but now having many of the benefits of electricity.

 

The Energy Escalator. (Picture: Eight19 Ltd)

 

We have found that people view electricity very differently to the way that we do in the developed world. In the West, we’ve been brought up with the idea that electricity is relatively cheap so we use it in pretty inefficient ways – a great example is if I want to make a cup of coffee in the morning, then somebody over in a power station takes some fossil fuel which they burn to heat water, to drive a turbine, to generate electricity, to go a long way down a cable to warm up water to make my cup of coffee. There are great chunks of that chain which are inefficient. Whereas for off-grid customers, nobody would dream of using electricity to boil water, electricity’s far too valuable to use for that; you use electricity because it gives you information, it gives you communication, it gives you light – it’s a very valuable commodity.

Do you think that if this does scale up widely, we’ll ultimately have an off-grid, more efficient energy system in the developing world than the one that exists here? And in a sense these countries will just skip the grid?

I think that’s exactly what will happen. When we look at the off-grid market, the numbers are actually very substantial – there’s somewhere between 1.4 and 1.6 billion people, around 22 % of the world’s population without electricity. One of the assumptions prevalent about ten years ago was that the grid would eventually reach everyone. But the cost of extending the grid to rural areas is very high and today power can be delivered more cost-effectively using renewables, generated locally. This is directly analogous to mobile phones which have removed the need to extend landlines into rural areas. IndiGo enables the end user to fund the infrastructure, using the premium they were previously paying for kerosene, in order to get their own power generation without the up-front cost.

How do you plan to expand and scale up and how do you think energy use is going to expand in the developing world in the future?

At the moment have products in Kenya, Zambia, Malawi and South Sudan. And our vision is that these products will grow with the dynamics of consumer electronics, rather than the dynamics of alternative energies. It seems just to be something that works. And people really like it. When we did our first trial of 30 units in South Sudan, a queue formed of people standing there with their ten dollars saying ‘I want my light please’ and we had to say ‘sorry, we’ve only brought 30 this time’ and they were quite upset because they wanted their light! It’s just about providing a mix of technology and business model that enables things to move forward.

 

A Panel in South Sudan. (Photo: Eight19 Ltd)

 

If you think of the rate at which mobile phones for instance penetrated developing markets, that’s the sort of dynamic that we would like to get. So our goal is to have tens of thousands of customers this year, hundreds of thousands of customers next year and millions of customers the year after.

Ambitious?

It is, but there are three hundred million households which don’t have access to electricity so unless you get into the millions you’re not making a dent in the problem. One of the things that we see is the transformational change that you get when people have access to this power, it’s not just a case of saving money but it enables people to do things that they previously couldn’t, because they have access to information, to media and to light. So a really simple example of one of the things that people do with mobile phones – people can move from just growing subsistence crops to having market information, market prices so they can grow more in the way of cash crops, and get involved in much more energetic economic activity. In a sense it’s a way of helping people get into the information age without having to go through the industrial revolution.

 

Kitale, Kenya. (Photo: Eight19 Ltd)

 

Simon Bransfield-Garth has 25 years global experience building rapid growth, technology-based businesses in sectors including semiconductor, automotive and mobile phones. His career includes 7 years at Symbian, the phone OS maker, where he was a member of the Leadership Team and VP Global Marketing. Simon was founder of Myriad Solutions Ltd and was previously a Fellow at Cambridge University. He holds a BA and Ph.D in Engineering from St John’s College, Cambridge UK.

Digital Diversity is produced by Ken Banks, innovator, anthropologist, National Geographic Emerging Explorer and Founder of kiwanja.net / FrontlineSMS. He shares exciting stories in “Digital Diversity” about how mobile phones and appropriate technologies are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives. You can read all the posts in this series, visit his website, or follow him on Twitter.

Source: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/04/17/pay-as-you-go-sunshine-how-solar-energy-and-mobile-phones-are-powering-the-developing-world/

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“Taharuki”: Couple Attempt To Expose Child Trafficking Post 07/08 Kenyan Election

Posted by Administrator on April 18, 2012

Written and directed by Ekwa Msangi-Omari (Weakness), the 12-minute film Taharuki (“Suspense”) traveled through the festival circuit last year and is now available on Amazon. Taharuki is produced by screenwriter and S&A reader/contrubutor Kia Barbee (Elmhurst Entertainment), Inna Braude, Njeri Micheu & Monika Greenleaf.

Taharuki/Suspense, which stars Miriam Chemmoss, Gilbert Owuor and Chris Kamau, is a fictional story set in the aftermath of the Kenyan 2007/2008 election violence, as a couple from different tripes working for an underground liberation movement attempt to expose a child-trafficking cartel.

Official synopsis:

Set against the backdrop of the start of the devastating post-election violence that took place in Kenya in 2007/2008 and has left tens of thousands of Kenyans homeless, traumatized or dead, Taharuki (Suspense) is the fictional account of a man and woman from opposing ethnic tribes who are working for an underground liberation movement to expose a child-trafficking cartel when something goes wrong, and they are forced to make tough choices in order to stay alive and complete their mission. Time is running out, lives are at stake, and every second counts. What they choose could change the course of history…

Watch the trailer below. You can order the film via Amazon HERE.

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IEBC to Set Up Polling Stations in All Regions of US, Europe

Posted by Administrator on April 18, 2012

By Chris Wamalwa

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will establish polling stations in all regions in North America and Europe that have significant number of Kenyans to facilitate voting in the next general elections.

In a move to allay fears among Kenyans living abroad who have recently received mixed signals from Nairobi concerning their rights to vote in the next elections, the government last week dispatched Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka to the US with a message that the government intends to respect their right to vote.

“Kenyans living abroad will vote in the presidential elections. Polling will not be confined to the embassies and high commissions. Ambassadors and High Commissioners will not be returning officers because we know they are political appointees,” said Onyonka.

Addressing participants during the Diaspora Summit held on Saturday in Boston, Onyonka dispelled rumours that Kenyans abroad will have to travel to the High Commissions and Embassies to cast their votes.

This, the Diaspora had interpreted to be a strategy to disenfranchise them as the move was not only time consuming but also costly.@

Onyonka said North America will be balkanized into at least seven regions where voting will take place. This will include; New England area where Boston falls, New York-New Jersey area, the Tri- State area which is Pennsylvania-Delaware-Southern Jersey, DMV area which falls under DC-Maryland-Virginia, the Carolinas-North and South Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia-Alabama-Mississippi-Louisiana areas.

Others will be Illinois,Missouri Kansas, Oklahoma areas, Iowa-Wisconsin-Michigan-Minnesota areas.

Other polling stations will be in the Texas areas- Dallas-Houston, California, Seattle Washington.

In Canada, polling stations will be in Toronto, Ontario and Ottawa. This will be in addition to the consulate stations.

Speaking to the Standard in Boston, Onyonka clarified that these were still tentative polling places as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IEBC were still analysing population trends and migration patterns of Kenyans before they make final determination.

“In this regard, we urge the Diaspora to register with our embassies and high commissions for us to have a sense of how many they were and in which part of the country of their sojourn they are settled,” he said.

He said that based on the recent pilot voting done in some areas in Mombasa, it was determined that the Diaspora will only vote for President and not at all levels as the Diaspora has demanded.

Onyonka who was accompanied on the US trip by IEBCfs vice chairperson Dr. Elizabeth Muli said IEBC will recruit and train some Kenyans in Diaspora to act as Returning Officers.

He said the ambassadors and high commissions will be confined to administrative duties and will have nothing to do with polls because they are perceived as not being neutral.

He said the government was also exploring the possibility of enlisting the services of credible poll bodies in the US and Canada to act as returning officers and observers.

“Itfs very important for the government to make sure that the polls are not just free, fair and peaceful but that they are also seen to be so,” he added.

The Standard

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