, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 22 – The voter registration exercise kicked off on Monday on a high note in most areas in Nairobi, according to officials of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC).
IIEC officials in Kariobangi, Eastleigh, Westlands, Dandora and Korogocho told Capital News that turnout was good on the first day.
“So far we have received a good number of people, it is a good response being the first day and in the morning, there are more men showing up for the registration compared to the women,” said an official at a registration centre in Kariobangi.
Westland’s (Farasi Lane polling station) Voter Registrar Thomas Otieno also said he was pleased with the turnout in the area: “People are coming in small numbers, and this is a place with a very small voter turnout, I think it is a good response this area being an upper suburb.”
In Eastlands turnout was higher. At St Theresa’s polling station in Korogocho, there were over 20 people lined up for the registration. The pattern was similar in other centres in Kariobangi, Dandora and Eastleigh. IIEC officials however urged Kenyans to participate in the exercise in bigger numbers to avoid last minute rush which they said was common in similar other practices.
“Kenyans like waiting for the last day for them to do what they are supposed to do. They should come now because there is more time. They should not wait for the last day… you have seen this before. This is different, let them come early,” said one of the officials at a polling station in Dandora.
People who turned out for the registration were optimistic that the new voters’ register would facilitate free and fair elections in future. They also remained hopeful that future elections would be well conducted.
“We are here to register but we are yet to decide if we will vote next time or not, you know voting is the right of every person, so let people register, but one thing that worries us, in fact I was asking these officials, is there a guarantee that elections will not be rigged again?” asked one voter while others noted it was important to be registered in view of expected by-elections in some constituencies.
Capital News established that the exercise kicked off without hitches in most areas in Nairobi- apart from Langata and Kamukunji, constituencies in Nairobi.
Former President Daniel Moi registered in Rongai constituency and lauded the new voter registration system launched on Monday and said it would end multiple voting. He said it was unfortunate that more than two million dead people purportedly voted in the last general election.
“Dead people were seen to have voted in the last general elections and even though there were mistakes, it was a crime for people to cause death, destruction and displacements because of a bungled election,” he said.
The retired President said the new registration method would counter cases in which people used different voters’ cards to vote more than once and hoped that mistakes of the 2007 election would not recur. He regretted that people did not understand the seriousness of voting adding that one vote could make a very big difference.
He also condemned tribal groupings, “I am disturbed by our leaders’ conduct; they should treat Kenyans as people of one nation not retreating back to their smaller regions all the time.”
The IIEC said the voter registration would run March 22 to May 5. , 2010. The commission said that old voters’ cards issued by the Electoral Commission of Kenya were no longer valid following the recommendations of the Kriegler Commission.
“It is therefore essential to turn up at the nearest registration center near you and get the new IIEC card that will enable you to participate in the anticipated referendum and in future elections. To register, you require your new generation ID or a valid Kenyan passport.