Kenyans abroad seek speedy law changes

March 14, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 – Kenyans living in the Diaspora now want electoral laws amended to allow them to register as voters.

A representative of the Kenya Community Abroad Gichane Muraguri also say there is need for those living abroad to be represented in Parliament by creating Diaspora Constituencies.

He pointed out in a petition presented to IIEC chairman Issack Hassan in Nairobi on March 11 that there are over three million Kenyans who make remittances back to the Kenyan economy with over Sh100 billion a year.

"We members of the Diaspora Alliance, (New Vision Kenya-Mageuzi, Diaspora Movement, Kenyan Community Abroad) are asking you sir, in your capacity as the Chair of the IIEC, to include in the proposed Electoral Bill, to propose the enactment of laws to allow; Kenyans abroad to register as voters and Kenyans abroad to be represented in parliament by creating Diaspora constituencies," the petition says.

The petition adds that Kenyans in the Diaspora are eagerly waiting to reap the fruits of the new order with the passing of the new Constitution, including but not limited to issues that directly affect them e.g. The Bill of Rights and Dual Citizenship.

"In the Bill of Rights Article 38:3 (a), (b) and (c) enshrine the right of every Kenyan to vote," it continued to say. "In the Chapter 7 of the new Constitution captures the spirit of representation of the People, enshrining the right of every Kenyan Citizen to be represented in Parliament."

Mr Muraguri says that legislation on elections should be in place by August 2011 providing for progressive registration of citizens residing outside Kenya and the realisation of their rights to vote.

The Commission is currently in the process of consultation with various stakeholders on the draft Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Bill.

The boundaries for all the electoral areas are to be drawn by the Commission and will be responsible for the continuous registration of citizens as voters, the regular revision of the voters roll and the delimitation of constituencies and wards.

It will also seek to regulate the nomination of candidates by political parties and facilitate the settlement of electoral disputes other than petitions.

It will also seek the registration of candidates for election, voter education and facilitate the observation, monitoring and evaluation of elections.

The Commission will further control the amount of money that may be spent by or on behalf of a candidate or party in any election and develop a code of conduct for candidates and parties contesting elections.

It will also seek to supervise referenda and elections to any elective body or office established by the Constitution and review the number, names and boundaries of constituencies at intervals of eight and 12 years.

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