Plans by the government to open poll centres in some US states has been met with scepticism as many pro-opposition diaspora voters claim the polling centres, to be opened in Kenyan consulates, is biased towards government.
Several sources have told Kenya Today that the six new consulates – Dallas, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis and Seattle – are in states dominated by Kikuyus in the diaspora and that government will likely inflate the numbers to favour the incumbent President.
“Considering that most Mt. Kenya folksÂ in the diaspora were also favoured over other Kenyans, their loyalties are with their tribesmen and these states where the government is opening new consulates also happen to be populated by our compatriots from Mt. Kenya who are just extensions of their families and political upbringing from home,” revealed a diaspora student who attends college in Washington DC.
Last elections, CORD leader Raila Odinga won the diaspora vote in the East Africa region.
So strategic is the US diaspora vote to Kenya that President Uhuru is set to visit Atlanta next weekend, where there lives a substantial number of kikuyus, including novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
Kenya’s ambassador to the US Robinson Njeru Githae, who was a cabinet minister in the Kibaki government and got appointed recently to head the Kenya mission revealed the President is keen to have the Kenyan diaspora vote in the 2017 elections.
â€œThe President is very keen to see that come 2017, the diaspora is able to vote because your vote is important. Your voice needs to be heard,â€ he said.
The ambassador said the decision to create consulates for the purpose of voting was made to conform to the Constitution after a meeting with Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan.
â€œThe chairman has told me that the law and regulations at the moment provide for the diaspora to vote in either a Kenyan embassy, high commission or consulate,â€ he said.
Mr Githae said the new consulates will reduce the distance Kenyans living in the US travel to vote.
â€œLast year, 85 per cent of Sh120 billion sent to Kenya by diaspora was from the US. So, you are very important to us,â€ he added.
The ambassador made the remarks while addressing Kenyans living Â Maryland and Washington, DC, areas.