Kenya to start registration of diaspora voters

Thursday January 20 2022
Voter registration.

IEBC clerks register students during the launch of voter listing of college students at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, on October 13, 2021. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Kenya has gazetted 18 diaspora polling centres where the country will undertake a voter registration exercise starting this week ahead of the August 9, 2022 General Election.

In the diaspora voter registration, which will run from January 21 to February 6, Kenyans living within the East African Community (EAC)—Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Sudan—will for the first time use their identity cards as proof of their citizenship to register for the election, instead of passports.

In the gazette notice, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson, Wafula Chebukati, said the second phase of the Enhanced Continuous Voter Registration will ensure those in diaspora are registered.

Mr Chebukati said the commission targets to register an additional 4.5 million eligible voters.

The Commission rolled out Phase I of Enhanced Continuous Voter Registration (ECVR) exercise from October 4- November 5, 2021, where 1,519,294 eligible Kenyans were registered as new voters out of the targeted 6 million.

“The right of Kenyans to register as citizens residing out of the country will be based on the presence of a Kenyan embassy, high commission, or consulate and this is in accordance with regulation 34(2) of the registration of voters regulation 2012,” said the chairperson.


Registration centres

In East Africa, Tanzania will have two voter registration centres—one in Arusha and Dar es Salaam—whereas registration in Uganda will be in Kampala, while Rwanda’s will be in Kigali, Burundi’s in Bujumbura and South Sudan’s in Juba.

Other countries that have been included in diaspora registration and voting include South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Qatar, UAE and Germany.

“The commission will avail a Biometric Voter Registration BVR kit at Anniversary Towers in Nairobi for Kenyans who may be here and live abroad to come and register and that will enable them to vote when they are outside the country,” said Mr Chebukati.

“Previously, a voter registered in Kenya but wishing to be in the diaspora during election could only register in their preferred registration station to be allowed to vote and vice versa, but the Nairobi station will ease the procedure.”

Diaspora registration will be conducted during official working hours in embassies and consulates in the said countries and those who register will vote only in the presidential election.

Voter register audit

Once the registration is done, an audit of the voter register will be done after which inspection and verification of the register will be done.

On audit of register of voters, the chairman said Section 8A of the Elections Act 2011, requires the Commission to engage a professional reputable firm to conduct an audit of the Register of Voters at least six (6) months before the date of a General Election, for the purpose of verifying the accuracy of the register, recommending mechanisms of enhancing the accuracy of the register, and updating the register.

“Commission is in the process of procuring a firm to undertake the audit exercise with the firm expected to give a report within a period of thirty (30) days where the commission would implement the audit report recommendations within thirty (30) days,” said Mr Chebukati.

The IEBC also gazetted Mr Abdidahir Maalim Abdi as the registration officer to oversee the diaspora registration and Mr William Tumaini Kahindi as his deputy.

The election commission has assured Kenyans that it is on course with preparations for the August 9 polls.

Presidential hopefuls

Many individuals, including governors, former presidential aspirants, speakers and diplomats, have set their eyes on the presidency.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga has intensified his bid to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta as he makes his fifth attempt at the presidency, while Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto is also seeking to be the fifth president.

Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, and Mukhisa Kituyi, former secretary general of The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), have also expressed interest in running for president.