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SHOULD PRISONERS VOTE DURING THE REFERENDUM IN KENYA...???

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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba

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The ruling by the special dispute resolution court that prisoners must vote in the referendum punctured Interim Independent Electoral Commission’s confidence everything was on course, 41 days to D-Day. In the landmark judgement, IIEC is expected to gazette prisons as polling stations and register inmates within 21 days. The court, whose decisions cannot be appealed against, also ordered Attorney General Amos Wako to facilitate the inmates with identification documents for them to register. IIEC Chairman Isaak Hassan was yesterday apprehensive his team’s well-laid out plans for the August 4 showdown between the ‘Greens’ and the ‘Reds’ could have suffered a setback because of the order on short notice to incorporate prisoners in the voter register. "The court decision may have effects on the referendum date and it is also going to cause a major hardship on the commission," he said. He directly appeared to suggest the referendum date should be changed to allow for the registration of the prisoners. But in their ruling the judges were categorical given advancement of electronic technology, the registration should not be difficulty or long-drawn. It targets 53,000 prisoners spread out in 90 penal institutions. The judges of the Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court who made the ruling were Justices Samuel Mukunya, Jamila Mohammed, Scholastica Omondi, Sankale ole Kantai, and Mburugu Kioga. Justice Mukunya read the judgement. "We do not think that registration of 53,000 inmates or less, in 90 institutions, nearly all in urban centres, can pose such a challenge that can send the electoral process into a fatal spin as alleged by the second respondent (IIEC)," said the judges. The judges in their first ever ruling, said there was nothing in law stopping prisoners of sound mind from exercising their democratic right on the ballot even in confinement — their crimes and convictions notwithstanding.

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