Kenya to register inmates next week

June 25, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 25 – The Interim Independent Electoral Commission will start registering prisoners as voters from July 2 ahead of the Constitution referendum.

Chairman Issack Hassan announced on Friday that they would register the inmates using the electronic system in an exercise that will take seven days.

\’We have resolved to fully comply with a court ruling requiring us to register prisoners ahead of the August 4 referendum,” he said.

Mr Hassan added they had decided to implement the ruling “in the spirit of electoral reforms.”

"Our lawyers had various reservations on the ruling including an appeal but we have decided to implement the orders. We don\’t want to be seen like we are opposed to reforms," he said.

In its ruling on Wednesday, the Interim Independent Dispute Resolution court said the law did not bar prisoners from voting in a referendum and ordered that the over 50,000 prisoners be registered within three weeks.

"The main challenge we have to contend with is time because we are in the process of inspecting the (voters’) register. With the requisite support from the government the registration exercise will be completed in time for the referendum," Mr Hassan said.

Although there are 103 prisons, he said the commission would only gazette 70 because some of them had no prisoners while others were juvenile facilities.

"For the big prisons with both men and women we will have two streams which will also be gazetted as separate polling stations," said the IIEC chairman.

Mr Hassan said the commission chose electronic registration since it is faster and efficient. He said since the ruling only allowed the prisoners to vote in the referendum, they will hand over the voters\’ card after casting their vote on August 4.

"These registers will be rendered invalid immediately after the referendum," he said

The commission is finalising an emergency budget to facilitate the exercise.


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