Kenya Diaspora Community Urging Full Implementation of the Diaspora Vote
Kenyans in the Diaspora, the thousands of organizations representing them and communities of Kenyans living in foreign countries have welcomed the constitutional provision enfranchising and allowing them to participate for the first time in the upcoming (March 2013) and future elections. Diaspora Kenyans are grateful that this key milestone in our nation’s democratic evolution has been reached. We have enthusiastically embraced this
democratic accomplishment as a timely measure that acknowledges the role of the Diaspora in national development. We have carried our message of hope about this new chapter in the Diaspora and home country relationship to all Kenyans living abroad through activities that seek to encourage greater preparedness for a better structured and concrete civic involvement than has been the case in the past. As a result, the expectancy among our people, the professionals, doctors, nurses, engineers, attorneys, IT experts, students, our families and communities in general, is significantly heightened. Our Diaspora community is revving up to elect leaders who will implement the new constitution and steer our nation into the 21st century. We, on our part, are ready to roll up our sleeves and join in nation-building.
However, taking into consideration the huge financial remittances to our country that amounts to almost $2.8 billion Dollars annually from the Diaspora, there is a growing apprehension that the commitment to implementing the constitutional provision for the Diaspora vote has been, at best, half-hearted and tentative. The road to the realization of this well-received development is circuitous and characterized by uncertainty. On behalf of Kenyans living in the Diaspora, we take this opportunity to reiterate that we expect nothing less than the full implementation of the Diaspora voting process. All Kenyans living outside Kenya must be afforded the opportunity to participate in the historic vote ushering in the new constitution. This is the full measure of the new dispensation. Anything less would be an inexcusable affront on the spirit of the new constitution. We are confident that Kenya has irreversibly moved past this culture of insensitivity.
Diaspora communities contribute significantly to the growth and prosperity of our nation. Our remittances compare very favorably to other sources of foreign direct flows of capital into the economy. This is a testimony to our unwavering commitment to our heritage and to the motherland. We want to do more to shore up development. Other countries’ Diaspora groups have attained greater space and empowerment in this regard than we have. This can change through credible and consistent attention to Diaspora affairs. Any decisions that disenfranchise the Diaspora will undermine our confidence in the progress Kenya has made. Our leaders must act in concert to ensure this does not happen.
In exercising our democratic right to participate in voting for Kenya’s next leaders, we hereby express and document the expectations of the Diaspora community:
- We call upon the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya (IEBC) to immediately publish and disseminate its plans including the implementation timetable for the Diaspora vote in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. This includes plans for voter registration, civic education and voting process.
- We advocate for e-voting as the only reliable, cost efficient, logical and transparent method of exercising Diaspora voting. There is nowhere in our new constitution that says e-voting is not accommodated. We suggest that the IEBC should make the Diaspora as the Pilot Project in e-voting and this may be brought home eventually when they are ready to implement this kind of system nationwide.
- There is an apprehension with the IEBC proposal of appointing officers at the Embassies, High Commissions and consulates as polling and registration officials. That is because these officials are government appointees and may be partisan which may compromise the whole system.
- We urge the government stakeholders to consult more with members of Diaspora especially in reference to Diaspora policy and the voting process. As of now, neither the IEBC nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has consulted the members of Diaspora adequately or included them in formulating the Diaspora Policy of Kenya.
- We call upon political leaders, civil society organizations and all opinion leaders to stave off the possibility of denying the Diaspora the opportunity to vote as this would amount to a flagrant disenfranchisement of a significant segment of eligible voters;
- We seek greater coverage of Diaspora issues and equitable political education programs to enable Kenyans in the Diaspora to make well-considered electoral choices. In this regard, the Diaspora would like a broader and more vibrant public sphere in the form of targeted political communication in the electronic and other media as a means of facilitating greater civic engagement in the Diaspora.
- We reiterate our readiness to work with local and international advocacy organizations that support the development of democracy around the world to secure constructive solutions to the above issues.
1. Idris Abdi - Minnesota, USA
2. Amina Abdulkadir - London, UK
3. Anthony Mureithi - Gaborone, Botswana
4. Abuto Benson - Kigali, Rwanda
5. Charles Bosire - Leeds, UK
6. Harrison Momanyi - Delaware, USA
7. Beatrice Nyaguthie - South Africa
8. Mark Rachuonyo - Kigali, Rwanda
9. Millicent Okatch - London, UK
10. Antonio Braizeniv - Kampala, Uganda
By Idris Abdi, Chairman, Kenya Diaspora Development Forum.
**The Kenya Diaspora Development Forum of Minnesota was founded as a non-partisan community organization whose mission is to empower Diaspora Kenyans to develop strategies for building a strong, goal-oriented community and to play a greater role in Kenya’s socio-economic progress.
To learn more about our mission, positions and activities, visit the Kenya Diaspora Development Forum online at
For enquiries, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-584-0305.
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