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Kenyans abroad demand right to vote in poll

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Denzel Musumba

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Kenyans in the diaspora want to be involved in decisions on the country’s political process to ensure their rights are safeguaded.They said they would not acknowledge the work of any taskforce set up by the government or ambassadorial offices without their direct participation.In a three-hour meeting on Sunday, participants vowed they won’t be left out of Kenya’s political process and resolved to ensure that the civil rights of Kenyans living abroad were not violated.The meeting was conducted via Skype and telephone connections and brought together more than 100 diaspora leaders and organisations from the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Australia and several others.In a statement by Mr Peter Kerre of New York on behalf of the group, the leaders noted that they had no representatives in the taskforce set up last month to determine how Kenyans abroad were going vote.They noted that the diaspora brings in more foreign exchange into the Kenyan economy than the tourism industry and it would be unacceptable if the government was to shut them out.On February 1, a team was set up to determine how Kenyans living abroad will vote in the coming General Election. It is made up of representatives from the Justice, Finance and Immigration ministries, and the Offices of the President and Prime Minister.Organisations representing Kenyans abroad were to be part of the team.“We contribute heavily towards the economy, yet they do not want us to participate fully in the political framework”, one participant said.The leaders agreed to create a joint diaspora force that will ensure participation in any taskforces set up on the voting process, stating that there were many of them qualified to sit on the panels.

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