Kenyans living abroad now say they are willing to talk with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

They say this is to find ways of enabling the diaspora to vote in future elections.

It is a departure from two years ago when diaspora lobby groups sued the IEBC for leaving them out of the voter register.

On Sunday, the Kenya Diaspora Alliance (KDA), a federation of 34 Kenya diaspora lobby groups around the world said they are welcome to the idea of discussing voting plans for Kenyans in diaspora and called for the government to increase funding for the Commission.

“The good news is that IEBC and KDA are already talking. We really need to move away from that aspect of fighting. We don’t need to fight for those rights,” Dr Shem Ochuodho KDA Global Chairman told reporters in Nairobi on Sunday.

“We will be talking with other arms of government again and we hope that more specific and concrete action will be taken. One of the ways is providing budget.

In the last budget, we didn’t see an item for diaspora voting. If it was an oversight, we are encouraging the National Treasury to provide resources for diaspora voting because we are as much Kenyans like any together,” he said.

The Alliance and several other lobby groups like the New Vision Kenya had a litigious relationship with the IEBC in the months leading to the 2013 General Elections.

In July 2012, the groups went to the High Court seeking a declaration that Kenyans abroad have inviolable rights to vote in Kenyan elections.

They asked to be allowed to vote and that the IEBC registers and organises for those elections in a way that they will be able to take part without travelling back home.

The Court dismissed the petition but the groups contested the verdict in the Court of Appeal. The appellate court agreed with the groups.

However, the Commission appealed that decision in the Supreme Court which in turn said the Commission should ensure comprehensive registration of voters abroad.

However, the commission was told it could expand such registration progressively according to available resources.

The lobby groups though want immediate plans put in place to allow Kenyans in the diaspora to vote as soon as the next General Elections.

Last week, they met with the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Devolution, the Kenya Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), Kenya Private Alliance (KEPSA) and other civil society groups.

KDA includes organisations such as the GeoNet, Charlestone Travels, Kenya Forex and Remittances Associations, Oracom, Efficax and Dahabshill Kenya among others.

Although it doesn’t represent all Kenyans abroad, KDA says it has a following of about 250,000 Kenyan diaspora.

The idea was to discuss ways of investing at home but the issue of voting cropped up from time to time.

“Dialogue with the IEBC and other Stakeholders on Diaspora Voting and areas of partnership and cooperation,” said one of the recommendations from the workshop held in Nairobi.

“There is a need for the recognition of diaspora contribution to development in Kenya, and mainstreaming them in governance and national economy, generally,” said another.

There are about 900,000 of the estimated 3 million Kenyans abroad who qualify as voters. They live in 38 countries around the globe.

Last month, IEBC listed diaspora registration and voting as one of its priorities in its Strategic Plans.

In 2013 elections, IEBC focused on Kenyans in East Africa but the Court order means it will have to consider a wider area in the next polls.

Last month, Mr Ahmed Issack Hassan, the IEBC Chairman met with Kenyans in the United Kingdom to discuss the issue.

“He addressed questions on voting by the Kenyan Diaspora as provided by the Constitution of Kenya 2010. He informed them of the developing registration and voting procedures to be discussed and decided on when parliament resumes in August,” a statement posted on the Kenyan High Commission website reported.