A section of politicians in Mandera County has petitioned the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to extend the current voter registration exercise citing the biting drought.
Led by Mandera East Member of Parliament, Omar Maalim, the politicians said it is not easy to register more voters in the vast county since locals have migrated with the livestock in search of water and pasture.
“We are faced with drought in Mandera and the time provided for voter registration is not enough for the exercise. We are asking for an extension of the period by at least two more weeks,” Mr Maalim said.
He said the extension of time will allow those in the grazing fields outside Mandera to return home and register as voters.
“We have quite a number of eligible voters who are yet to be registered but due to the drought, they have moved with their family livestock far away from registration centers,” he said.
Mr Feisal Abdinoor, a local politician, warned that IEBC will miss out on its target in the county if the exercise is not extended.
“We are limited by the election laws that only allow movement of registration kits within the constituency yet our people have gone into Ethiopia in search of pasture and water,” he said.
Speaking during elections stakeholders’ forum on Thursday, Mandera County elections manager Maro Ade expressed reservations on extension of voter registration exercise.
Mandera County has only registered 9,837 in the current period but the election manager raised alarm on the high numbers of voter transfers.
Banisa constituency leads with 2,604 new registrations followed by Mandera East at 2085.
Mandera West has recorded 1,553, Mandera South with 1,440, Mandera North with 1,242 and Lafey has managed 913 new voters.
In the past two weeks, IEBC has received 5145 applications for voter transfers in the county.
“We are having a high number of applications for transfers in Mandera but we are appealing to politicians to ensure more new registrations than transfers,” Mr Ade said.
In Mandera, ward representative aspirants are said to be behind the voter transfers.
Banisa constituency has recorded the highest number of transfers at 1,638 while 1,010 voters have applied to be transferred into Mandera East constituency.
At least 946 voters have applied to be transferred into Mandera West constituency while another 932 want to be moved into Mandera South.
Only 319 voters have applied to be moved into Lafey constituency while only 300 voters want to be moved into Mandera North constituency.
Mr Ade described the low voter transfer applications into Mandera North as a sign of peace in the region. The constituency has always raised high political stakes, leading to clan animosities between the Garre and Degodia clans.
“The recorded low voter transfer applications into Mandera North is a sign that we will have little election related issues and we are praying that peace prevails throughout,” he said.
Speaking at the same forum, Mandera County Commissioner Onesmus Kyatha warned local politicians against making false claims.
“We are undertaking a very important exercise that needs to be done with utmost respect and dignity but we are aware some politicians are planning to cause animosity among clans. Security agencies are on alert and we shall not hesitate to take action against such politicians,” said Mr Kyatha.
He said those behind voter transfers are causing unnecessary tension in the county.
“We have the responsibility to ensure voter registration and not transfers at the moment. Those engaging in voter transfers have to stop it and rally for new registrations,” he said.
Mandera County has six constituencies, 30 wards and 559 polling centers.
In 2017, the county had 157,000 registered voters and now IEBC targets to register 60,000 new voters before November 2, 2021.