Kenyans abroad want a say in draft constitution

In a presentation to the Committee of Experts managing the drafting of a new Constitution, a group claiming to represent Kenyans living outside the country wants the law on the referendum amended to allow them to vote for or against the new Constitution.

“We acknowledge that many of us currently residing outside the country may not be able to fully participate in this exercise due to the current legal framework that does not provide opportunities for voting outside the country,” read the statement signed by Mr Julius Kaberere, the convenor, and seven others under the Kenyans4Kenya Network.

But even as they demanded a stake, they called for the amendment of the clause on dual citizenship to allow those who already have more than one citizenry to “reconnect with their motherland.”

As such, they said, the clause has to be altered to read “multi-citizenship”.

The group said there are thousands of Kenyans and people of Kenyan descent who pledge their allegiance to more than two countries and such a change will help them join in building their motherland.

They also proposed that the CoE tightens the clause on children abandoned in the country to prevent child trafficking and “avoid a situation where foreigners dump children in Kenya.”

The children, the group proposed, should qualify for Kenyan citizenship, pending the identification of relatives and parents.

“…if the parents or near relatives are found then (the citizenship) is revoked so that that child takes up the citizenship of the parent or relative. The child should be free to choose whether to continue being Kenyan Citizen at age of 18 years,” read their proposal.

The Kenyans abroad restricted their contributions to issues to do with Citizenship in their submissions. They also called on politicians to support the document irrespective of their political differences.

In 2005, the referendum on the draft constitution was heavily politicized to an extent that issues contained in the document were forgotten as focus shifted on settling political scores.