Stop coercing Kisumu residents to register as voters-County Commissioner

Kisumu County Commissioner, Maalim Mohamed, has warned politicians coercing local residents to register as voters that they were violating the law since registration was voluntary.

Mohamed said it was every citizens’ right to register as a voter to be able to elect leaders of their choice but the government will not condone anyone forcing eligible voters, through coercion, threats or intimidation.

He made the remarks Tuesday while launching the inaugural Kisumu County Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee meeting at a local hotel where it emerged that some youths were harassing members of the public demanding production of voters’ cards before receipt of certain services.

Mohamed disclosed that there were over 140 NGOs/CSOs conducting peace related activities in Kisumu but their programs were not well coordinated to avoid duplication of resources, programs and so perpetuated unnecessary conflicts in the discharge of their work.

This state of confusion will not be condoned and this is why we have converged here today to launch this consultation and coordination forum, he stated.

Mohamed declared that henceforth all Peace Building related activities must be channelled through Kisumu County forum, arguing that if the NGOs/CSOs had nothing to hide, then they had nothing to fear.

Formerly people used to single out Kondele, Nyalenda, Obunga, Carwash, Kisumu Bus Park, Muhoroni and Nyakach areas as violence hot spots but not anymore as local residents have worked closely with security agencies to reverse the negative trend.

We hope to see the prevailing peace persist with the region remaining stable long after the 2017 general elections. It is usually very painful and traumatic to witness what our women and children go through during such violence, he pointed out.

Mohamed said politicians must be told in plain language that we won’t allow any more bloodshed as happened during the 2007/08 Post Election Violence period.

If we have personal commitment then we will ensure Kenyans don’t go to war or turn against each other for whatever reason including general elections which come and go, he argued.

He admitted that security agencies, local residents and other stakeholders dread what could happen in the event the much anticipated Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)/CORD or any other political party nominations expected to be highly charged take place.

Mohamed commended the respective Peace Committees along the border areas between Kisumu/Nandi and Kisumu/Kericho for having done a sterling job working in close collaboration with their counterparts in Rift Valley to honestly promote a long-lasting peace.

The County commissioner said it was no doubt that for the first time in a long period Kisumu had a peaceful festive season devoid of unfortunate incidents or tribal animosity attributed to cattle theft or other crimes.

He promised quarterly cross-border meetings with neighbors of Kisumu but quickly added that anyone found armed with crude weapon will be dealt with in a similar manner as an Al-Shaabab terrorists wielding an AK47 riffle.

Mohamed cautioned the outlawed gangs like China Squad and American marines that they will not be spared if they rare their ugly heads to perpetuate violence in whatever form, while urging the youth not to be used by politicians to perpetrate violence.

Millicent Otieno of Uwiano organization said the role of political aspirants in security and peace building during campaigns and 2017 elections have been clearly spelt out by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Otieno said that in Muhoroni Constituency of Kisumu County some people have started issuing ultimatums that they must recapture the seat won by the incumbent, Onyango K’oyoo (PDP) alongside the MCA seats. This should not be condoned as it’s a recipe for chaos.

The IEBC Nyanza Regional Coordinator, George Oyugi cautioned that the practice of people crossing the border at Thessalia area in Muhoroni from Rift valley to be registered as voters in Kisumu could degenerate into a full-scale conflict perpetuated by those seeking elective positions.

He also warned against those giving the youth shs.500 to transfer their voting stations from Kisumu East to Kisumu central saying this was the genesis of the persistent long-queues now common at Kisumu Huduma center over the past few days.

The IEBC Regional Coordinator gave an insight on the number of registered voters who never voted in Nyanza as 799, 867 compared to Central with 26, 000 and Coast standing at 733, 000 adding, this is why the commission was against voter importation.

In the event a preferred candidate perpetuating such transfers failed to clinch the respective party ticket, then voter apathy creeps in, he explained.

Oyugi disclosed that over 350, 000 Kenyans have old generation ID Cards and so will not be able to vote. He also explained that the anomaly involving former prime Minister, Raila Odinga’s ID card has been corrected.

He said the inability to mobilize for quick distribution of ID Cards lying idle in various offices will greatly compromise the ongoing voter registration exercise coupled with slow production of the ID Cards by the Registrar of Persons.

Kisumu County had over 10, 000 uncollected ID Cards but following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive that chiefs and their assistants distribute the documents, 1000 out of 3500 ID cards that were lying at Huduma canter have already been collected.

Source: Kenya News Agency