By Chris Wamalwa in USA
A sense of frustration and anger is mounting among Kenyans living abroad following the recent announcement by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that polling in the forthcoming general elections will only be conducted at the Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates abroad.
Scores of Kenyans living in the US and Canada who spoke to The Standard on phone over the weekend expressed disappointment in IEBC's position terming it dictatorial, unreasonable and a technical excuse to lock out majority of Kenyans living abroad in the historical elections.
"I'm feeling very depressed about the IEBCâs position. In as much as I really want to register and vote, there is no way I'm going to drive for over ten hours to either DC or LA just to vote. It doesn't make sense," Said Samson Omwenga of Dallas, Texas.
In a finality that seemed to clump down on any possibility of negotiation or compromise on a stand that IEBC Chairman Hassan Isaack said was 'arrived' at by the commissioners after 'careful' considerations, the commission invoked a controversial clause in the new constitution that provides for "the progressive registration and realisation of rights to vote by Kenyans residing abroad".
Speaking separately at the Sheraton Hotel in Wilmington, Delaware during the taping of a TV show - Diaspora Voice that is scheduled to start airing in June, two leading Kenyan activists based in the US accused the IEBC of using the controversial clause to disenfranchise the Diaspora.
Mkawasi Mcharo-Hall, immediate former President of Kenya Community Abroad (KCA) and Francis Ngumba, a social activist said the Commission was using a loop hole in the constitution to disenfranchise the Diaspora.
"The commission has taken advantage of this clause to basically deny the Diaspora their hard earned rights to vote. Arising out of their announcement, there is this perverting sense of frustration and anger among the Diaspora that is not good for their future involvement in the country's affairs," Said Mkawasi Mcharo- Hall, former president of Kenya Community Abroad (KCA).
Ms Mkawasi said it sounds almost like a joke to expect an estimated half a million Kenyans living across USA to vote at only three polling stations located in Washington DC, New York and Los Angeles.
"Itâs not just unfair to the Diaspora, it also shows lack of good faith in the spirit of democratic rights," she added.
Speaking at the same venue, Mr Ngumba said what was making the situation worse was the fact that politicians seem to have also abandoned the Diaspora.
"People like Prime Minister Raila Odinga who have been at the forefront of championing Diaspora rights to vote seem to be afraid of challenging the IEBC even when they know that what the commission is doing is wrong," he said.