Saturday, April 21, 2012

Kenyans in Diaspora assured of voting in polls




Kenya's Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka, Independent, Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) vice chair-person, Ms. Lillian Mahili- Zaja (center), enjoy entertaiment during the launching of the New England Welfare Association in Worcester, MA, last week.The two officials had just addressed Kenyans ata Dispora Summit where they assured Dispora Kenyans of voting in the upcoming general elections in 2013.Pic by H.Maina/AjabuMedia

By Chris Wamalwa, 

BOSTON, Mass.,_ Independent, Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will establish polling stations in all regions in North America and Europe that have significant number of Kenyans to facilitate voting, the Government has announced.
In a move to calm Kenyans living abroad, who had received mixed signals concerning their rights to vote in the forthcoming elections, Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka was in the US with a message that the Government intends to respect their right to vote.

"Kenyans living abroad will vote in presidential elections. Polling will not be confined to embassies and High Commissions as have been reported. Ambassadors and high commissioners will not be returning officers because we know they are political appointees," said Mr Onyonka.

Dispelled rumours 

Addressing participants during Diaspora Summit held on Saturday in Boston, Onyonka dispelled rumours that Kenyans will have to travel to high commissions and embassies to votes.


The Diaspora had interpreted this as a strategy by the Government to disenfranchise them since the move was not only time consuming but also costly. A recent Facebook posting purported to have emanated from Mr John Maina, an officer in charge of Diaspora issues in the Prime Ministers office, and which was widely circulated, had indicated that the Diaspora, apart from being forced to travel to embassies and high commissions will only cast votes for president. Dismissing the message, Onyonka said that was neither IEBC’s nor the Government’s position.

Seven regions

"John Maina does not work for IEBC or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where Diaspora issues fall. What he is doing, and I’ve told him in the past, is just causing confusion on a matter that is volatile," said Onyonka.

According to Onyonka, North America will be balkanised into at least seven regions where voting will take place. This will include New England, New York/New Jersey among others.

Others will be Illinois/Missouri Kansas/ Oklahoma areas, Iowa/ Wisconsin/Michigan/Minnesota areas.

Mr Onyonka was accompanied by IEBC’s vice-chairperson Elizabeth Muli.
Onyonka urged Kenyans in Diaspora to register with embassies and high commissions so that the Government can have a sense of how many people they are dealing. This he added will enable them effectively plan for the voting exercise.


Source: Standard 

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