Report by the Interim Committee on the formation of the Kenyans In France Diaspora Association
Kenyans in France have been yearning for a United Association that would bring everyone together under one umbrella. This led to the formation of The Interim Committee which was created in May 2019 on the Wakenya WhatsApp forum, on voluntary basis. The volunteers went right into action and carried out a survey where 100 Kenyans responded and 99% confirmed the need to have an umbrella association.
Voluntary Interim Committee (IC) is composed of the following members :
1. Carol Gakuo
2. Lynette Wanjiku
3. Naomi Waithaka
4. Noah Muli
5. Olive Kayitesi
6. Rita Kinuthia
7. Sharon Kesa
8. Veronica Kariuki
The IC got together and drafted an action plan on how to bring this dream into reality. They sat down in several meetings and decided that we first needed to come up with a constitution that would address the questions of why an association hence mission and objectives , who would be in the association i.e. membership modalities and how it would be run, answering the question of leadership. We drafted the By-Laws and put them on various Kenyan forums for feedback.
We then reached out to Kenyans living in France to submit their candidacy to be part of the Executive committee which would oversee the day to day running of the association. Quite a number of candidates showed interest. We unfortunately had to invalidate some of the candidates because of not meeting the set requirements as proposed in the By Laws. Each time, the candidate got a full explanation via email as to why their candidacy could not be retained. All candidates were then requested to submit videos presenting themselves to Kenyans and outlining why they wanted to be part of the association’s leadership. These were shared consistently over various social media platforms and even on the Kifaransa website which is operated by a member of the Interim committee, and which became an essential tool for communication. To culminate getting to know the candidates, we held a successful Zoom meeting on Sunday the 16th of August , where we requested Kenyans to submit questions they had for the candidates and asked for live responses.
The next step was setting up the election process. Having listened to Kenyans from all over France, we decided to proceed with both online voting and physical voting to accommodate everyone. We asked fellow Kenyans to register as voters online with the only requirements being of Kenyan nationality, aged 18 and above and currently living in France regardless of one’s legal status in France.
We had to come up with time frames for the process and we communicated the following the following deadlines:
Deadline to submit Candidacy for elective posts: Friday the 14th August at Midnight
Closing of online voter registration: Wednesday 19th August at Midnight
Opening of online voting : Wednesday 19th August at Midnight
Closing of online voting : Friday the 21st of August at midnight
Physical Registration of voters : Saturday the 22nd at 11:00 am
Physical Voting: Saturday the 22nd at 12:00 – 1pm
We posted several reminders of the deadlines on the various platforms to ensure that no one got left behind. We also had the help of the candidates and other Kenyans who diffused the messages and helped raise awareness. We explained the online voting system and the physical voting process as well and were available to answer any questions that were raised. We explained that we would only hold elections for the posts with multiple candidates. We also invited the Kenyan embassy in Paris to join us during the actual election date.
The election date and venue were chosen to fall on the same date as the annual Kenyan barbecue that takes place every summer. The elections were held on the 22nd of August at Parc de Loisir -St Quentin en Yvelines in Trappes, France. All election expenses and others leading up to the election date , were met through the generosity of the IC members who volunteered resources and funds.
The count down to this great day begun with the opening of the online voting portal at exactly midnight on the 20th August 2020 which was then concluded at midnight on the 21st August 2020. A total number of 171 votes were cast online.
On the 22nd of August , Kenyans from all regions in France were in attendance. We were gladly joined by a delegation from the Kenyan embassy .
The IC opened the physical voter registration where Kenyans registered as they arrived at 11. The whole election process was overseen by two independent observers: Ms Joyce Wanjiku Gitau, Mr John Kabue, an observer from each candidate and an observer from the embassy delegation, Mr. Renana. Voting by the ballot method begun at 12 and was concluded by 14h30pm. A message announcing closing of voting was diffused before closing to allow everyone to get to the venue if they had not yet voted online. The independent observers invalidated two votes because the voters did not follow set instructions i.e. speaking to candidates who were present while filling the ballot paper or marking on all boxes. We had a total of 31 physical votes.
The IC then proceeded with vote counting with assistance from all observers from 14h30pm.Each observer was asked to keep notes and at each counting stage, we would cross check that all numbers tallied . The voters registries, both online and physical were made available to observers who took the time to check for any irregularities. They found oneirregularity where a voter had managed to vote twice andhence cancelled that vote.
Results for physical votes was as follows:
Vice President Position
1. GOLDA Nyagitari: 12 votes
2. ALI Salim Abulrahman: 19 votes
Assistant Secretary General
1. Dennis Magare: 12 votes
2. Caroline Wambui Kiarie 19 votes
Online votes results
Vice President Position
1. GOLDA Nyagitari: 83 votes
2. ALI Salim Abulrahman: 86 votes
Assistant Secretary General position
1. Dennis Magare: 66 votes
2. Caroline Wambui Kiarie: 103 votes
Having verified all votes and the process, all the observers were content and had no further observations. The winners were declared at 16:00 pm by the IC as follows:
President: Mr. Korir Weldon (Unopposed candidate)
Vice-President : Mr. Ali Salim Abulrahman with total of 105 votes
Secretary-General: Mr. Denis Kosgei (Unopposed candidate)
Assistant Secretary General: Ms. Caroline Wambui Kiariewith a total of 122 votes
Treasurer: Ms. Cindy Matama (Unopposed candidate)
Non –Executive members: (Unopposed candidates)
Ms. Peninah Wakanywa
Mr. Bernard Ndegwa
At 16:30pm , all attending Kenyans gathered for the handing over ceremony . The duly elected committee members were presented to the people and they showed their first act of unity by congratulating those that had not be elected for their courage and willingness to serve.
We listened to a wise speech by one of the representatives from the embassy , Mr. Mustafa who pledged that the Embassy would cooperate and support the newly formed Association.
Each of the committee members got a chance to speak to the people amidst loud applause as a show of support from the Kenyans who were present.
At 17:30 Ceremony ended and Kenyans were left to enjoy the BBQ party.
The IC , newly elected committee and the embassy delegation then held a brief meeting on the side-lines where new ideas and words of encouragement were exchanged. We have faith in the newly elected committee that they will serve all Kenyans living in France diligently as we have entrusted them with our voices.
We have handed over comments on the By-Laws which were received a few days to the elections and which the duly elected committee will work on. Some Kenyans do feel that a few changes are necessary to review before the document is adopted as the constitution.
We have all started a great initiative and it is the responsibility of each one of us to ensure that it is a success. We all have a part to play in this. A people united shall never be defeated!
We are proud to have served Kenyans in France and set a foundation for a great future.
The Interim Committee