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UGM party says IEBC should register all Kenyans in the diaspora to vote

NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 4 – United Green Movement (UGM) party has protested plans by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to enrol Kenyans in select countries to take part in the 2022 General Election.

The party said all Kenyans across the world are entitled to vote back home and should be given a chance to do so because it is their democratic right.

Augustine Neto, a co-party leader of UGM said the move by the electoral body to list new voters from 6 countries over and above the five listed in the 2017 election will deny hundreds of thousands of voters in the other countries a chance to exercise their right as enshrined in the Constitution.

“Nothing stops the IEBC from having a Returning Officer in each of the Kenya’s Foreign Missions and Embassies abroad, albeit periodically, or even through secondment to deal with the issues of diaspora voter registration, apart from its ineptitude and the lack of will power to think out of the box,” said Neto who is a former MP for Ndhiwa.

IEBC said it plans to list new voters in South Sudan, USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates which met the minimum requirement of 3,000 voters.

The six new voting stations in the diaspora, have now been classified as Kenya’s 48th county.

The six are additional to the existing Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Africa, which participated in the 2017 presidential election.

With IEBC undertaking an enhanced Mass Voter Registration exercise targeting six million voters, Neto said that target can be achieved easily if all eligible Kenyans abroad are included.

According to the 2019 World Bank report, majority of Kenyans in the diaspora were in the USA (600,000), while the UK had 300,000, Canada 200,000, European Union at 100,000, as South Africa and South Sudan each had 8,000.

The former Ndhiwa MP has also threatened a class action suit suing the Registrar of Person for delaying in the issuance of identity cards to youth in Garissa, Lamu and Tana River counties years after they filed their applications.

“We were in Garissa County where we were doing a tour. Young people in the county as well as in Lamu and Tana River have been denied access to identification cards due to the stereotype that people with Somali descent as well as those living in the coastal line are linked to terrorism activities,” Neto said.

In particular he pointed out that while Section 5 of the Registration of Person Act stipulates 30 days as the waiting period, some applicants have waited for long to receive the document that will ensure they register as voters.

The UGM party has called on the electoral commission chaired by Wafula Chebukati to find innovative ways to mobilize Kenyans to register as voters, especially the youth.

IEBC last week said it aims to register six million new voters who have attained the age if 18 years and have acquired national identification cards or have valid passports, or other citizens who were not registered in previous registrations.

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