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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Next Kamukunji MP May Be Decided by Influential Foreigners

Countdown to the Mother of All General Elections In Kenya: 2007

One of the parliamentary seats in the country that is bound to be the most hotly contested is the Kamukunji seat in Nairobi. Already the field is overcrowded with prominent personalities like lawyer Patrice Lumumba and popular evangelist and presidential hopeful, Pius Muiru announcing their candidature.

Word on the ground is that it will be easier for Mount Kenya to throw itself into Lake Victoria than it would be for the incumbent Norman Nyagah to win re-election. It is even said that currently he is not able to access his office in the constituency where his CDF cheque book is locked up and is therefore unable to put the idle funds to use, a major bone of contention most of his constituents seem to have with him.

Ironically this was Tom Mboya's old parliamentary seat. The seat he defended in his entire lifetime and resisted all pressure to join the mass exodus to rural seats. Still plenty has changed here since 1969. Probably the biggest change which is bound to influence the election outcome is the influx of foreigners in the expansive Eastleigh estate, which is part of the constituency. Most of these foreigners are of Somali origin and the Kenyan immigration has always had a very difficult time differentiating the local Somali from the foreign Somali. This serious problem was highlighted in the 80s when foreign Somalis pausing as Kenyans forced the British government to reverse an old standing visa arrangement. For years before then, Kenyans, being part of the commonwealth did not require a visa to enter Britain. But so large was the influx of Somalis into hat country with genuine Kenyan passports that this rule was reversed and to date all Kenyans now have to go through hell to gain entry into the United Kingdom. That was the gift from our Somali brothers.

Actually this is one of the major issues that the Americans have with the Kenyan government in connection to the war on terrorism. Non-Kenyan Somalis have no problem obtaining a Kenyan passport let alone an ID and voters card.

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Although I have been unable to ascertain how many Somali refugees are registered as voters, it is clear that the number is large enough to influence the outcome of the elections in this constituency, more so with so many candidates offering themselves, it will mean that the candidate who can get the full backing of the Somalis will be the next Kamukunji MP.

Having so many foreigners in the country has often been looked at negatively. Few have analyzed the positive economic impact of having the very business-minded Somalis in the country. Probably what needs to be done is to step up the screening process so as to limit the bad elements, because the truth is that not all Somalis are gun runners and underworld operatives. For instance Dubai where 80 per cent of the population consists of expatriates, has made a very interesting and effective move to block the entry of undesirables into the country.

Dubai International Airport uses cutting edge Iris recognition technology where your iris (as unique as a fingerprint—your left eye does NOT match with your right) is scanned at the airport and cross-checked against a data base of tens of thousands of undesirables including persons who have tried to enter the United Arab Emirates illegally in the past. The process takes a second. So far over 25,000 undesirable characters have been turned away at the airport within a few months of implementing the system.

Since Kenya has chosen to be a welcoming country (like other great nations of the world) we need to make use of similar technology to protect ourselves.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are many non-Kenyan Somalis and Ethiopians in Kamukunji but Kenyan Somalis and Boranas remain the single largest bloc in Eastleigh. But even if you look at the total number of registered voters in Kamukunji only a a third are Somalis or Boranas. They are an important bloc but to suggest that Kamukunji elections are going to be influenced by foreigners sounds mischevious and rather opportunistic to me. Mwana Eastleigh.

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