Politics and policy
New law to lock the Diaspora out of county voting
Posted Monday, October 8 2012 at 19:56
Kenyans in the diaspora will be restricted to the presidential or referendum votes should Parliament approve Elections Regulations Bill 2012 this afternoon. That means that the diaspora will be locked out of voting for governors, senators, MPs, ward, and special representatives.
MPs are set to scrutinise the regulations published and tabled before the House by Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Eugene Wamalwa.
Last week, Mr Wamalwa postponed deliberations on the proposed rules to allow discussions with the Committee on Labour and Social Welfare which has lined up a number of amendments.
The Constitution allows Kenyans in the diaspora to vote. Article 82 (1) (e) says: “Parliament shall enact legislation to provide for the progressive registration of citizens residing outside Kenya, and the progressive realisation of their rights to vote.”
According to amendments proposed by the Committee on Delegated Legislation chaired by nominated MP Amina Abdallah, a “Kenya citizen residing outside Kenya shall only participate in a presidential election or a referendum”.
The committee has proposed strict conditions for registration of Kenyans in foreign lands.
“A Kenyan citizen residing outside Kenya shall apply for registration as a voter upon production of a valid Kenyan passport or national identification card,” reads clause 33D of the proposed regulations.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will be given power to use the services of any foreign representatives of Kenya to act on its behalf as registration officers. “For the purpose of registration of Kenyan citizens residing outside Kenya as voters, the Commission may use the services of any foreign representative of Kenya who shall not be the Ambassador, Deputy Ambassador, High Commissioner or the Deputy High Commissioner of a Kenyan mission,” says a new clause 33E that has been drafted by Ms Abdallah’s committee. IEBC will be required at regular intervals to publish the names of countries in which registration and voting is scheduled to take place.
“A decision by the Commission to register Kenyan citizens residing outside the country or to conduct elections outside shall be based on (a) the presence of a Kenyan Embassy, High Commission or Consulate; or (b) other logistical considerations,” says the proposed legislation.
Those wishing to register as voters will be required to submit details of their names, passport number, citizenship, country of residence, physical address, contact address, applicant’s last residence in Kenya, constituency, and ward and their phone numbers and addresses. The voters will be required to fill in a declaration form indicating that the information supplied is correct.
IEBC will by law publish a gazette notice specifying the registration areas established by law and the distinguishing number or letter or its combination assigned to each registration area.
The commission will also specify in the notice places appointed or the vehicle (s) designed as registration centres. “The commission may designate any of its offices to be a registration Centre and may provide for mobile registration ,” clause 7(2) of the Election (Registration of Voters) regulation 2012 states.