While explaining the decision by the Kenyan cabinet to lock out Kenyans living outside East Africa from the next elections, Kenya’s electoral body the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC’s) chairman Issack Hassan said they will embark on “a listing exercise” that will ensure Kenyans living in those countries vote online come 2017.
“Any other election after the 2013 one will see those patriotic Kenyans cast their votes from their countries of residence,” he said.
The IEBC had earlier proposed to the cabinet that voters living in the Diaspora cast their ballots at the embassies and consulates on the countries they live, which was rejected.
However, for Kenyans living in the five East African countries voting will go on as earlier planned.
“We have agreed to begin the process of Diaspora voter listing with Kenyans in the five countries that make up the East African Community bloc,” Hassan added.
The news of being locked out of 2013 general elections was not taken kindly by Kenyans abroad, with some of them threatening to sue the commission over infringement of their citizen rights.
To this, Hassan said: “There is no need for them to threaten us with court action and other forms of intimidation. They need to understand that our hands are tied and, if we were to push ahead with fulfilling their wishes now, it would be below their expectations, something we do not want to do as a credible body.”
Had the Kenyans in the Diaspora been allowed to vote, this would have been the first time this happens after the new constitution allowed for dual citizenship.
It is also the first time in Kenyan history that voter registration moved from the usual manual registration to Biometric Voter Registration (BVR), which utilizes fingerprints and photos to uniquely identify a voter, and rid any election malpractices.