Kenyan voter registration underway; new poll and new security incidents

Garissa
GARISSA

Kenya’s biometric voter registration finally got underway yesterday, with relatively low turnout.  The main reported glitch appeared to be problems with BVR kits losing power after using up their battery life.  The registration period runs through December 18.  Because of the delays with the BVR kit purchase, the deadline of December 4 for formation of party coalitions, three months before election day, falls during the middle of the registration period.

A substantive enfranchisement problem is that only those possessing and producing an official national identity card or Kenyan passport are permitted to register.  Those waiting for identity cards will be out of luck so a burden will rest on the Registrar of Persons to expedite issuance of identify cards.  See the official announcement from the IEBC here.

An op/ed piece in The Nation from Prof. Kefa Otiso of Bowling Green University, the president of the Kenya Scholars and Studies Association, raises disenfranchisement concerns about the current version of the IEBC’s plans for diaspora registration and voting in the U.S., which would require in person registration and subsequent voting in Washington, New York or Los Angeles.

The new Synovate poll shows Odinga continuing as the front-runner, followed by Uhuru in a solid second position, but both have slipped slightly since their last poll in September.  Here is the report from The Star on the Ipsos Synovate press conference:

Prime Minister Raila Odinga who is the poll’s leading candidate has 33 per cent, followed closely by Uhuru Kenyatta with 26 per cent.

Both candidates have dropped in popularity since the last Synovate polls conducted in September. Raila has lost three percent while Kenyatta has lost four per cent of the votes.

Candidates and areas that have gained in the polls are Eldoret North MP and presidential hopeful William Ruto and Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi.

They have both of gained three per cent popularity poll. Additionally the number of undecided voters has increased to 11 per cent up from nine per cent in September.

Dr. Tom Wolf, a socio-political analyst with Ipsos Synovate attributed this shortfall of votes by the candidates to the unfinalised political alliances.

In the meantime, Nairobi remains tense after the latest Sunday matatu bombing, this time killing several people in Eastleigh, followed by rioting with Somalis targeted.  Garissa is under curfew following the shooting of three Kenya Defense Forces soldiers, which then led to what the BBC is calling an army “crackdown” with at least 8 Kenyans shot and 50 wounded.  The Kenyan Defense Minister told BBC that he did not authorize the action, which naturally raises its own set of questions.

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