Kenyans in the Diaspora may not vote in 2012 elections
Thousands of Kenyans living abroad may be locked out of the 2012 general elections due to the slow implementation of provisions dealing with dual citizenship, a leading Kenyan US based lawyer has said.
Immigration lawyer, Regina Njogu of Washington, DC who has been working closely with the Task Force on Citizenship and Related Provisions now fears if the Task Force does not fast track dual citizenship acquisition, at least 1.5 million Kenyans will not vote.
Those to be affected are Kenyans who lost their citizenship after they acquired the citizenship of other countries.
Under the new Constitution, such Kenyans can only regain their Kenyan citizenship by applying.
Section 14(5) of the constitution and Part III article 10 in the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act of 2011 require that Kenyans who lost their citizenship must apply to regain it and become dual citizens.
The Task Force on Citizenship and Related provisions, which falls under the Ministry of Immigration is mandated with setting the procedures and fees for the application process.
"The Task Force is moving at a slow pace and it is not known whether the application process will be set early enough to allow all those Kenyans that want to regain their Kenyan citizenship apply in time to register to vote," she said.
Njogu said that continued delay would cause logistical problems since the adjudicating body -The Cabinet Secretary- charged with the responsibility of processing applications will be swamped with applications that they will have to go through within a short period.
"Given that those applying to regain citizenship are based abroad and the applications will be adjudicated in Kenya, that will obviously contribute to delays in receiving and sending back approvals," she said.
Most of those Kenyans that will be affected are based in the US, Canada and Western Europe, regions where large populations of Kenyans have emigrated to and settled, even acquiring citizenships of their host countries.
This revelation comes at a time when the electoral commission (IELB) team led by its chairman Ahmed Hassan is set visit the US.
The team will be in the US between December 4 and 14 this year to educate Kenyans on elections law and process.
The next step will be voter registration of those eligible to vote across the Diaspora.
At the time of voter registration, those that will not have applied to regain their lost Kenyan citizenship or those whose applications will not have been approved will not be able to register as voters.
Voter registration is expected to begin in the Diaspora in the next few months. †
Kenyans living in the US interviewed by The Standard said they feared missing out on the elections.
"If anybody including the government of Kenya tries to disenfranchise me, I’ll sue them in the High Court, the UN and even the ICC. We have fought for these rights so hard for long for anybody to joke around with them," said Khalid Rajab of Darby, Pennsylvania.
With an estimated population of 3.1 millions most of who are eligible voters, the Diaspora has become a new ground for vote hunting by presidential candidates.
By Chris Wamalwa in USA
Source- http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000047435&cid=4&ttl=Kenyans in Diaspora may miss out 2012 poll