, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 3 – The Interim Independent Electoral Commission said on Monday that it had surpassed its target of 10 million registered voters, with two days remaining till the closure of the exercise.
Chief Electoral Officer James Oswago placed the figure at 10, 036,451 voters. Manual registration is due to close on Wednesday, while the electronic exercise being piloted in 18 constituencies will end on May 21.
Mr Oswago said they hoped to enroll 18 million voters before the 2012 general election.
Long queues characterised most of the registration centres in Nairobi, with the clerks saying that they expect heightened activity on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Unlike the other days when we sometimes registered up to five people in a day and for the rest of the day, yesterday and today (Sunday and Monday) have been busy; I guess Kenyans just like doing things at the last minute” said a clerk.
At the International House where IIEC has set up a mobile registration centre, most of the prospective voters told Capital News that their long working schedules were to blame for the delay in getting the document.
“Today was the only day that I had to do this, basically just for the constitution but for the 2012 election I could not care less,” Alice Gakii, who had queued to register, told Capital News.
Allan Githinji said he had been waiting for 45 minutes at the Moi Avenue primary school and was prepared to wait for more than two hours in order to get his card.
“Even like now I have just sneaked out of my workplace to do this; it is that serious to me”
Most of those interviewed by Capital News cited participation in the national referendum on the draft constitution as their main motivation to register as voters.
Mike Njoroge a college student, said he had been forced to register by his friends who had escorted him, “at first I was reluctant because it has become like a game. We register and we vote and then there is nothing to show.”
Some called for the exercise to be extended in order to capture the number of Kenyans who are yet to register while others said the process should continue.
Meanwhile, the Kenyan chapter of the Federation of Women Lawyers has expressed concern over the low number of women who have registered in the ongoing exercise.
Chairperson Naomi Wagereka said on Monday that statistics from the registration points showed that out of every 10 persons registering; only three were women.
She called on women to take advantage of the remaining two days to register as voters.
“And this is a very important exercise in the nation. I want to appeal to all women, even those who have not registered manually to take advantage of the electronic registration and make sure they register before the time is out because you must have your say,” she said.
“This Constitution is for Kenyans, whatever you want to say at the end of the day you can’t say it without a voter’s card,” she added.
Ms Wagereka also said the organisation would start its campaigns as soon as the Attorney General published the draft as expected on Thursday.
“We are a women’s rights organisation and we have been very involved in this constitution making process for the last 20 years and at this very important juncture in our nation, we are at crossroads and we cannot afford to waiver. As women, as FIDA we are saying yes,” she said.