The scramble for nearly three million votes of Kenyans in the diaspora is set to intensify as government moves to compile their register ahead of next year’s election.
Also read: New law to lock the Diaspora out of county voting
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Tuesday kicked off the process of hiring temporary officials to register Kenyans in their countries of residence to participate in the March 4 polls.
The commission is looking for Support Election Trainers (SETs), Assistant Registration Officers (AROs) and Voter Registration Clerks to prepare the ground for Kenyans living abroad to participate in the national elections for the first time in history.
“Currently there exists 47 positions for the AROs abroad and applicants should indicate to the Embassies/High Commissions they are deployed by the Government of Kenya.” The electoral body says.
The IEBC however, maintains only the public officers on deployment in the Kenyan mission abroad qualify to serve as AROs, reporting to returning officers based in Nairobi.
The move to recruit registration officials is set to reduce anxiety over IEBC’s commitment to allow Kenyans living abroad to start voting in national elections next year.
The constitution only requires IEBC to progressively allow Kenyans abroad to participate in electing leaders leaving the timelines open.
A number of Kenyans living abroad have however, criticised the idea of voting at the country’s foreign missions, saying they are far apart and not accessible. For instance, in US where most Kenyans in the diaspora reside, Kenya has only three missions in Washington, New York and Los Angeles.
On average, Kenyans living in the diaspora remit home close to Sh80 billion worth of hard currencies that helps to stabilise the shilling each year.
During the Olympic Games held in London in July, President Kibaki directed IEBC to facilitate registration of Kenyans abroad to enable them vote during the forthcoming General Election.
To kick off the process, IEBC says its AROs will register all Kenyans holding valid passports or national identification cards and analyse the Biometric Voter Registration data for a period not exceeding 45 days.
The AROS are also expected to coordinate the work of voter registration clerks in their stations and carry out voter education targeting Kenyans abroad.
Thereafter, the team would continue working for 60 days to the election, earning $100 (Sh8,400) per day while clerks would take home $60 a day (Sh5,040).
The Attorney General on Monday evening approved a financing agreement for the 15,000 kits, paving the way for Treasury to issue letters of credit to French firm Safran Morpho for the delivery of the kits.
The company was holding the kits pending payment of Sh3.8 billion despite an initial payment of Sh2.6 billion that led to the release of 200 kits and 1,500 fingerprint readers for training purposes.
IEBC is scheduled to register voters over one month starting November 1.