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Kenyan lawyers in US push for Diaspora vote

Peter Makori @PeopleDailyKe

A group of Kenyan lawyers based in the United States is mobilising their compatriots in North America and Europe to agitate for the implementation of voting rights for  Kenyans in Diaspora.

The lawyers have accused the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of abrogating fundamental provisions of the Constitution and the bill  of rights that guarantees the rights for all Kenyans to participate in their country’s electoral and governance processes. 

The lawyers coalescing under the clarion call “Kenyans in the Diaspora Must Vote” (KDMV) movement have promised to collect a million signatures from all Kenyans of goodwill to petition the government to pay close attention on their right to vote.

Minnesota-based advocates Henry Ongeri and Peter Omari are leading the movement. They have also contracted lawyers based in Nairobi to assist in pursuing contempt of court charges to be filed against IEBC for disobeying an order from the Supreme Court six years ago, requiring them to come up with the road map for Diaspora voting. 

When President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the US in August, the implementation of the constitutional clause on Diaspora voting was a big elephant in the room that led major concern.

Kenyans in the US tried in vain to meet Uhuru over the matter. They accused ambassador Robinson Gthae of frustrating their efforts. Observers believe the president’s failure to create room and meet with members of the Kenyan community living in America, was a calculated move intended to avoid embarrassing questions on why his government has not demonstrated the desire to operationalise the constitutional provisions that allow Kenyans abroad to vote.

Ongeri said IEBC faces imminent and inevitable contempt of court charges to be filed soon.

“The fact that IEBC was served with an order to commence the process of facilitating Kenyans living overseas, and not those living in East Africa alone, but ignored the Supreme Court order, demonstrates a sort of conspiracy to lock out one of the most important demographics considered key players in stabilising Kenya’s economy through their foreign exchange contributions,” he said.

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