Why IEBC Quit Team On Diaspora Voting
The electoral commission has pulled out of a plan to register Kenyans abroad due to suspicion.
A taskforce had been set up by Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed to look into the matter.
The court had ruled that Kenyans living abroad be allowed to vote.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Isaac Hassan and commissioner Albert Bwire are in New Jersey-US for a diaspora conference. On the agenda are the 2017 elections and possible listing of Kenyan voters in the US and the rest of the world.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who will this week travel to New York for the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, is scheduled to meet Kenyans living there.
ODM has claimed the Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Cabinet Secretaries of usurping the role of the electoral commission. The party is unhappy with the mandate and ethnic composition of the taskforce.
We call upon the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Mrs Amina Mohammed to immediately desist from performing functions that do not belong to the ministry and, more importantly, to desist from actions that raise suspicions ahead of the 2017 elections,” ODM director of elections Junet Mohammed said.
Commission Secretary Ezra Chiloba confirmed to the Sunday Nation that he sanctioned the withdrawal of director, voter registration and electoral operation Ms Immaculate Njenge Kassait from the taskforce.
“We work closely with the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Trade on many issues. But the responsibility of registering Kenyan voters anywhere in the world is the work of the electoral commission,” said Mr Chiloba.
He said that he held a meeting with Ms Mohammed before formally writing to her withdrawing the commission from her taskforce.
Ms Mohammed formed a nine-member taskforce in February to carry out an advisory role on the registration and voting in general elections by Kenyans in the diaspora.
The taskforce was to report directly to the minister making the role of the commission unclear. Ms Kassait’s appointment was also made without consultation with the commission.
The taskforce was to profile Kenyans living abroad to find out those who are eligible to vote and to establish the extent to which they can participate in elections and referenda. The group was also to advise on possible registration and polling centres.
Mr Chiloba said that the electoral commission welcomes efforts from the government to help ensure compliance with the court ruling on diaspora voting but added that the commission would not delegate its duties.
“The terms of reference for the taskforce were not clear. We risked confusing the public and creating the impression that the ministry of Foreign Affairs had taken over our mandate. We encourage inter-agency collaborations and the ministry is helping us popularise the mapping of Kenyans living abroad to register them as voters,” Mr Chiloba told the Sunday Nation.
Foreign Affairs’ director of diaspora Washington Oloo said there was nothing sinister in the taskforce.