KENYAN citizens took to the polls yesterday, in a highly contested election between Raila Odinga, candidate for the coalition of reforms and democracy, Musalia Mudavadi candidate for the Amani coalition, and the only female contender Martha Kurua candidate of the national rainbow coalition Kenya Party.
However, there are an estimated 2.5 million Kenyans in the diaspora, many living in the United States and Britain, but also in Germany and Kenya’s east African neighbours, that did not get the opportunity to vote.
The Kenyan Government decided last year November that citizens abroad would not be able to vote due to financial and logistical constraints impeding their registration in time for the election day.
There are 73 registered Kenyan students studying at Wits. PhD (finance) student Allan Simuye said that he felt shattered, especially since they were promised that they would take part in the elections by the government and the electoral board.
Most Kenyans in the diaspora have the sense of being ‘an empty shell’ after being denied the opportunity to vote. Simuye said that they really wanted to be part of the process, “all we can hope is that our choices reflect the right thing on the ground”.
Simuye is very optimistic that these elections will be historical, in that the elected person will bring about a lot of change in Kenya and be able to unify all Kenyans. The new elected leader will continue economic development, unify all Kenyans and will deal with key social ills such as tribalism and corruption.
“A constitution is the only assurance we have of a focused leadership” We hope the leader addresses the so called ‘historical injustices’ that everybody talks about but never addresses, he added.
Simuye believes that Marta “Mother” Kurua is the most courageous of the candidates because she does not show any fear in exposing the wrongdoings of the people in power. He believes that Kurua is a role model that will inspire Kenyan’s to speak out against corruption.