Maina Kiai's Column

Maina Kiai's Column

Of suspect opinion polls and a false image of an efficient IEBC

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A recent poll undertaken by Infotrak, commissioned by an NGO calling itself International Development Network (IDN), suggested that Kenyans would readily accept the poll results from the IEBC this coming August.  It also claimed that IEBC has the overwhelming confidence of Kenyans to conduct free and fair elections. We should be cautious about this poll.  First, IDN is shrouded in mystery. Its website is scanty, suggesting a hurried job to put it up, and it hides more than it reveals.  SUSPICIOUS NGO It is impossible to know who is behind the NGO, and no documentation about the board, funding or…
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Kenya can borrow a leaf from the Georgian democratic model

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I am writing this column from Tbilisi, Georgia, which is the only former Soviet Republic to have had regime change through the ballot in 2012.  But it hit the headlines in 2003, when it staged the peaceful Rose Revolution that brought down Eduard Shevardnadze, the last Foreign Affairs Minister of the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics (USSR) and the first president of independent Georgia. The country has come a long way since it broke from the USSR.  COLONIAL RULE Perhaps more than any other former Soviet colony, it has worked to erase the Soviet mindset, never mind the fact that…
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Worrying signals from IEBC as elections deadline looms

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Kenya desperately needs an honest and competent IEBC if we are to have credible elections as the basis for peace, stability and legitimacy.  Yet IEBC seems determined to weaken its credibility, which it alone needs to earn by its actions and decisions.  No amount of praise-singing, as some would like, can give it credibility.  Together with the Kenya Police, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, and the NGO Coordination Board, the IEBC seems determined to deny us confidence in it, and take us back to the dark old days. Three recent actions and decisions suffice to illustrate IEBC’s deep desire to…
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Singling out Joho for probe is discrimination by the State

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My friend, Samuel Kofi Woods III is an activist of no mean repute.  As Liberian Minister for Labour, he installed the first independent trade union at Firestone Rubber Plantations Company in 2009, one of Liberia’s most important economic pillars.  Kofi is also a gifted story teller, who tells terrifying, fearful or amazing stories adorned with massive doses of humour.  One of my favourite ones comes when Kofi was running the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC), during the Charles Taylor regime. TAYLOR SUMMONS KOFI The CJPC was a leading critic of the Taylor regime, documenting atrocities, and doing wonderful advocacy…
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Without a clean register of voters, IEBC will lack credibility

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Unless the electoral commission does a full and transparent audit of the voter register, the August elections will be almost certainly compromised. As Astrid Evrensel writes in Voter Registration in Africa: A Comparative Analysis, “the quality of the process and the product can determine the outcome of an election and consequently the stability of democratic institutions”. The situation we are in now is analogous to 2007, when President Mwai Kibaki unilaterally appointed commissioners for the Electoral Commission of Kenya, despite the inter-parties agreement calling for political balance. This created a perception of such bias that the only legitimate result was the…
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Uhuru’s words, actions don’t depict leader assured of victory

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Politicians are a baffling lot. It is often very hard to understand their motivations when they do and say some incredible things. Most polls have consistently shown President Uhuru Kenyatta with a sizable lead in the State House race. With this lead, most rational people would adopt a benevolent statesman-like approach, aiming to win over the undecided. Most rational people would display a sense of confidence and inevitability in their campaigns, showing a steady and calm hand. But President Kenyatta is doing the exact opposite and showing a worried, scared and angry side. His angry insults may work well with…
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