Peter Kenneth requests U.S. Assistance to Ensure Voting by Kenyans in the Diaspora
Peter Kenneth,one of Kenya’s presidential candidate has written to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lobbying the State Department to assist Kenyans living in the Diaspora in realizing their voting rights in the upcoming Kenya elections.
In the letter addressed to Hillary Clinton and signed by Henry M. Ongeri, Esq, chairman of Peter Kenneth lobby group, the letter highlights the various ways in which her department/U.S. government can help to ensure Kenyans living abroad are able to vote, and in a free, fair and peaceful process:
- Supplemental funding for IEBC budget to ensure that the agency has the necessary resources to conduct the elections and especially voting for Kenyans in the diaspora;
- Logistical and other support to ensure that cities and states with significant concentration of Kenyans have reasonable access to registration and voting stations;
- Additional mobilization of resources to help with voter education, registration and monitoring;
- Diplomatic pressure to assure that the election is free and fair by eradicating all possible aspects
of manipulation and compromise. In particular, staff at Kenyan embassies and consulates should play no role in the tabulation and reporting of the votes from diaspora locations;
- Support of observers and independent agencies on the ground before, during and immediately after the election date;
- Presidential Candidate Debates – to facilitate unquestionable vetting of the candidates we also request assistance in facilitating six presidential debates (three in diaspora and three in Kenya). As a young nation with a new constitution, we would like to borrow the best practices where aspiring leaders interact and debate directly about their competing visions for Kenya. These debates will afford the ordinary Kenyan a chance to question the aspiring leaders on all topics, track records and their visions. Kenya is largely unequal country with very few institutions that can fund such debates impartially. The politicians own the capital and media houses and they will not organize or participate in debates organized by their rivals. Such support can be channeled through agencies such as the Media council of Kenya Association and USAID.The letter is here below.
The Independent Elections and Boundary Commission (IEBC) has shown inexplicable apathy
towards facilitating voting by Kenyans in the Diaspora. In fact, IEBC leadership is on record
recommending the use of Kenyan Ambassadors and High Commissioners as polling and returning
officers for the general elections. The issue here is, the Ambassadors and High Commissioners are
political appointees and in Kenya’s situation, they all owe their positions to political godfathers. Some of
the godfathers are in the race for the presidency of Republic of Kenya in the elections slated for March
04 2013. It leaves little to the imagination what a relative or business partner of a presidential aspirant
would do to help their person win the votes in areas they are in charge. For the sake of the integrity of
the process, we have opposed the use of public servants at embassies and consulates in the registration,
receipt and processing of ballots.
The suggestion that voting will only happen in Kenya Embassies and Missions shows insensitivity
to cost to the voters where thousands of people would have to travel thousands of miles to the
embassies and missions twice: to register as voters, and; to cast their votes. While this proposal appears
reasonable and may be even practical in smaller countries, it is a non-starter for example in countries
like the United States, United Kingdom, Russia and South Africa. Needless to say, embassies and
consulates are not located in places convenient to many Kenyans who reside in the countries. Therefore,
these trips will be costly to otherwise eligible voters in the Diaspora and will certainly result in inevitable
disenfranchisement of many would be voters. We view this as a suppression of votes. As an example, in
the United States, Kenya has three diplomatic offices: Kenyan Embassy in Washington DC, Consulate in
Los Angeles and the United Nations Mission in New York City. There are thousands of Kenyans in the
U.S. spread throughout the country and it will be a logistical nightmare on voting day when voters show
up to cast their votes. It cannot be gainsaid that denial of the right to vote by Kenyans in the Diaspora
portends ill for the future of a nascent democracy such as Kenya’s.
In our considered opinion, IEBC and
status quo politicians appear determined to suppressDiaspora
How the United States of America Can Help
As representatives of a possible President of Kenya, we are seeking assistance of the United
States with the following:
1. Supplemental funding for IEBC budget to ensure that the agency has the necessary resources to
conduct the elections and especially voting for Kenyans in the diaspora;
2. Logistical and other support to ensure that cities and states with significant concentration of
Kenyans have reasonable access to registration and voting stations;
3. Additional mobilization of resources to help with voter education, registration and monitoring;
4. Diplomatic pressure to assure that the election is free and fair by eradicating all possible aspects
of manipulation and compromise. In particular, staff at Kenyan embassies and consulates
should play no role in the tabulation and reporting of the votes from diaspora locations;
5. Support of observers and independent agencies on the ground before, during and immediately
after the election date;
6. Presidential Candidate Debates – to facilitate unquestionable vetting of the candidates we also
request assistance in facilitating six presidential debates (three in diaspora and three in Kenya).
As a young nation with a new constitution, we would like to borrow the best practices where
aspiring leaders interact and debate directly about their competing visions for Kenya. These
debates will afford the ordinary Kenyan a chance to question the aspiring leaders on all topics,
track records and their visions. Kenya is largely unequal country with very few institutions that
can fund such debates impartially. The politicians own the capital and media houses and they
will not organize or participate in debates organized by their rivals. Such support can be
channeled through agencies such as the Media council of Kenya Association and USAID.
As your office may be aware, Kenya recently discovered large deposits of oil and natural gas.
These precious commodities have the ability to transform the lives of Kenya and the East African region.
However, Kenya will need credible leadership that will be free of corrupt practices at its core even
before returns from these resources are realized. With your support, Kenya will finally take the steps
aimed at taking her place among the world amongst successful nations. The first of these steps is
definitely participation by all Kenyans, including those in the diaspora, in the forthcoming elections.
With appropriate leadership, Kenya can be transformed and turned around within a short time. Grants,
loans and other forms of financial aid to the country would become a thing of the past if the resources
are used in the right way. Indeed, Kenya is bound to become a model democracy to other developing
nations and even a provider of donations, aid and grants. Knowing the country’s potential, we usually
quaver with frustrations and anger when we see our leaders with a begging bowl any time there is a
small natural disaster in the country. We can right these wrongs with able and appropriate leadership.
Hence, our appeal to your good office to assist in ensuring all Kenyans, irrespective of their location are
able to vote without being suppressed.
Finally, the sad events of post-election violence that rocked our country in 2008 should never be
permitted to recur. As Kenyans in the diaspora we want to play an active role to ensure we have
credible elections and leadership that our people deserve. As a direct result of electoral disputes, over
1300 innocent lives were lost, millions of dreams, families, homes and properties were destroyed in the
ensuing tribal mayhem. The new Constitution is written with the blood, tears and heart aches of
thousands of Kenyans who suffered during that period.
For the sake of posterity, we beseech the Department of State to do everything in its power to
facilitate and assure voting by Kenyans in the Diaspora. We do not want to just hope and pray that 2013
elections will be peaceful. Rather, we would like to take pro-active steps to ensure that no Kenyan lose
their lives, or land and other possessions because of a mangled electoral exercise. The Kenyan Diaspora
is a source of great good for the wellbeing of the country, but could also present challenges unless their
needs are adequately addressed. We are requesting the United States to stand with the Kenyans in the
Diaspora and right side of history. With the unique partnership proposed herein, we can make Kenya
and the East African region a much better place.
Madam Secretary, we sincerely look forward to a favorable response to our request. Should you
or your office have any questions or need clarification on the matters raised in this letter, my team and I
are available at your convenience.
Thank you and kind regards.
Henry M. Ongeri, Esq.
Peter Kenneth Diaspora Team
7515 Wayzata Boulevard, Suite 131
Minneapolis, MN 55426
Tel: +1 612 558-9487
Facebook: Peter Kenneth Diaspora
WAKATI NI SASA!
turnout by Diaspora voters for various reasons including but not limited to, the fact that Diaspora
1. are likely to be independent and non- tribal;
2. question the political aspirants on their track records and vision for the country;
3. would exert influence on their friends and family to vote in a certain way or candidate(s) thus
eroding and breaking the stranglehold of the tribal politics as currently practiced in Kenya.
September 18, 2012
H.E. Hillary Rodham Clinton,
U.S. Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Madam Secretary:
Request for Assistance to Ensure Voting by Kenyans in the Diaspora
With appropriate and specific assistance from the US and other friendly governments, the IEBC
will have no excuse for not availing to the Diaspora Kenyans the means to vote in a cost effective
manner. We have suggested that Diaspora Kenyans should be allowed to either vote electronically or in
polling stations located in clustered regions/localities. This will improve access to all Kenyans wishing to
exercise the most basic of the constitutional and democratic right. Such an arrangement will reduce the
cost of travel and accommodation to distant embassies locations.
Madam Secretary, we plead with the United States to facilitate the same infrastructure used
during the successful referendum for the Republic of South Sudan. With the assistance and collaboration
of friendly nations such as the United States, all South Sudanese willing to vote were able to do so in
their own localities with relative ease. A relatively more established nation like Kenya can surely do the
same, if not better than South Sudan!
As a friendly country, we seek the United States’ help to ensure that the voice of Kenyans in the
diaspora is heard through voting in local areas in countries we reside. The budget of Ksh127M ($1.4M)
that the IEBC allocated for Diaspora voting for estimated 3 million people in the diaspora is not sufficient
and is, to say the least, ill willed. The IEBC overall budget is Ksh17B and thus the diaspora allocation is
less than 1% for three million voters comprising almost 20% of the expected registered voters. As you
know from your last trip to Nairobi, the tenders and funds especially during election times attracts all
sorts of people some with questionable resumes and sticky fingers, we plead that the funds be provided
for Diaspora voting be channeled through UNDP, USAID or other credible international groups or
In August 2010, Kenyans adopted a new Constitution whose main thrust was to usher in
democratic, accountable and effective governance systems. There is palpable optimism amongst the
citizenry that Kenya will finally get rid of corrupt leaders and take her place among the developed and
peaceful nations. There is a wide consensus that current and immediate past leadership has failed by
any measure. Despite relative peace and tranquility, Kenyans continue to endure unspeakable levels of
poverty, deaths from preventable diseases and an unacceptable gap between the rich and the poor.
Political leaders have only managed to divide the country along regional, tribal and clan lines and
promoted crony capitalism.
Kenyans in the Diaspora reject this approach and believe that we have outgrown their schemes.
But we cannot succeed if we are locked out of the voting process in the first ever election under the new
On behalf of Hon. Peter Kenneth, one of the candidates aspiring to become the next President
of the Republic of Kenya, we are privileged to bring to the attention of the State Department some
pertinent matters related to the future of democracy and prosperity of the people of the Republic of
Kenya. The Peter Kenneth Diaspora Team is dedicated to ensuring that Kenyans have an opportunity to
elect credible, incorruptible and tribe-less leaders at all levels of governance.
We, Kenyans in the Diaspora (and especially in the United States of America) hereby present this
humble petition for consideration by the Department of State on the matter of upcoming general
elections in Kenya. The general elections are scheduled for March 4, 2013 and the country will be
ushering in new presidential, county and local leadership. As enshrined in the new Kenyan Constitution,
all Kenyans are entitled to vote as a matter of right, whether they are resident in Kenya or abroad.
We are concerned that inadequate and incompetent preparation for the voting may result in
avoidable problems for the people of Kenya, Africa and the world. In this letter, we attempt to appraise
your office on the unique situation of the Kenyans living in the Diaspora and suggest modest ways that
the U.S. Government through the Department of State can assist to assure that the elections are free,
fair and peaceful.
Madam Secretary, all Kenyans are grateful for your recent and timely intervention on Biometric
Voting Registers (BVR) procurement that helped keep the general election on schedule and thereby
avert chaos in our politically divided nation. Your facilitation of funding for the procurement of these
devices has given Kenyans hope that credible elections are possible especially given the post-election
events that followed the last general election in late 2007. We in the diaspora especially appreciate and
applaud your intervention.