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Low turnout as voter listing starts

Monday November 19 2012

Voter registration exercise at the Nyeri health centre on November 19, 2012. Kenya will hold the next General Election on March 4, 2013. Photo/ JOSEPH KANYI/

Voter registration exercise at the Nyeri health centre on November 19, 2012. Kenya will hold the next General Election on March 4, 2013. Photo/ JOSEPH KANYI/ NATION MEDIA GROUP

By Nation Team [email protected]

Voter registration kicked off on Monday across the country amid reports of low turnout, delays and malfunctioning of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits.

President Kibaki officially launched the exercise at Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) in Nairobi where he gave assurance that the government will deploy adequate security personnel around the country in the electioneering period.

The President warned that no one will be sparred for instigating chaos.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Issack Hassan dismissed reports that the BVR kits make users impotent.

He said the biometric system has been adopted across Africa and Asia.

He expressed confidence that the kits are sufficient to register the targeted 18 million voters.

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Mr Hassan urged employers to allow their staff time to participate in the registration.

The registration exercise had a delayed kick-off in Kisumu's social hall center and Mombasa's Tononoka centre as IEBC clerks grappled with BVR kits that had generated password errors.

At Moi Avenue primary school station, in Nairobi, irate members of the public walked out of the exercise following morning electricity blackouts in the central business area. The equipment's back-up battery failed due to inadequate power.

“I left Ongata Rongai at 5.30 am and I was number one here. Now I’ll just go to work,” said John Atemi, a jua kali artisan at Grogon Area where he makes cushions for motor vehicle seats.

The exercise kicked off in Nyeri County successfully in all registration centres.

A spot check by The Nation indicatedregistration started in several centres as early as 8am, but turnout was low.

Mr Simon Wachira, who was among the first to be registered at the Nyeri town health centre, said the process was fast and efficient.

“I’m confident that with this new system it is going to assist us in many ways in the sense that you cannot have dead voters registered,” said Mr Wachira.

In Kisumu a large number of people turned out to register as voters.

IEBC regional co-ordinator for Nyanza central Mr Rasi Masudi confirmed that all voter registration kits were dispatched to the registration centres early enough for the exercise to begin in good time.

“The materials were dispatched to the various registration centres early and that included constituencies with accessibility problems” Mr Masudi.

In Kisumu Central and Kisumu East constituencies, a high number of people turned up for the exercise as early as 8 o’clock and patiently waited to be served.

Paul Ochieng Lando told The Nation that he was happy with the speed at which the registration was being done and did not mind waiting in the queue.

“I came here just a few minutes ago on my way to work and from the look of things people need not to worry about speed because the machines are so fast” Mr Lando.

Railways ward Councilor Isaiah Onyango said that there was a vigorous mobilization exercise conducted by the councillors of the various wards in Kisumu to create awareness.

“This is the first day of the registration exercise and we want many people to participate, we have been walking door to door and from store to store to ensure that people register,” Mr Onyango.

In some registration centres, cases of lost passwords for some of the BVR kits slowed down the registration exercise.

The IEBC constituency coordinator confirmed that the issues were being addressed by the commission’s IT personnel.