Maina Kiai's Column

Maina Kiai's Column

Ruling Elite in Jubilee Should Worry About Growing Discontent in Country

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“What goes around comes around.” This saying was ably illustrated when President Obama called out the opposition for seeking US support on governance issues, when just a few years ago, when they were in government, they were lambasting the US for raising very similar concerns. While President Obama mentioned the opposition leadership, this also applies to the ruling coalition, who a few years ago were desperately seeking US intervention but now that they are in power, lambast and insult it. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of our political class: When they are in power, they attack critics…
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The Real Afro-pessimists Are Greedy Political Elite who Detest Criticism

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The other day, Mr Manoah Esipisu, the State House spokesperson, advised Kenyans to “celebrate our country and treat the Afro-pessimists, who see nothing positive about Kenya, with contempt.” I have since been trying, unsuccessfully, to figure out what Mr Esipisu meant by linking Afro-pessimism and criticism. Could he simply have been showing off his (reasonable) command of English, and had finally found a way to use the word Afro-pessimism? For he was way off: Criticism and Afro-pessimism are as far apart as night and day. Those who criticise this regime, and previous ones, are actually the ultimate Afro-optimists! For we…
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IEBC has to Avoid the 2013 Mistakes to Achieve Legitimacy and Acceptance

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I hope that Ahmed Issack Hassan and his fellow IEBC commissioners and chief executive Ezra Chiloba are learning from the depressing events in Burundi. For, in a few short months, Burundi has gone from being a somewhat promising country to the brink of collapse, all because of the decision of one man: Pierre Nkurunziza. His decision to run for president again is the cause of all the strife, tensions and chaos that have engulfed Burundi. It does not matter now whether Mr Nkurunziza is right about the legality of a potential third term. His decision — and consequent manipulation of…
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We Have Plenty of Double Standards in War on Corruption and Terrorism

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The double standards that mark the Kenyan criminal justice system are divisive and dangerous. There seems to be two sets of laws: One for the favoured and powerful, and another for the poor, weak or disfavoured. This schizophrenia in our approach to justice is one of the causes of tensions, frustrations and the fragility of the Kenya state. Take the treatment of an MP who is recorded inciting people to kill those who do not agree with him about the role of the National Youth Service, and the treatment meted out against Muhuri and Haki Africa for trying to ensure…
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Obama Should Use Visit to Champion the Role of Civil Society in Governance

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In three weeks, Kenya will welcome Barack Obama on his first visit to his father’s homeland as US President. This is a big deal for Kenya and President Obama, this being the first visit by a sitting US president to Kenya. And it comes at a time when President Obama is riding high. His pet “Obamacare” health project, providing healthcare for millions of people previously not covered, has been endorsed by the US Supreme Court, a feat dreamt of — but not achieved — since the 1940s when FD Roosevelt was president. The US economy has found its feet and…
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Europe Insincere on the Question of Refugees from Africa and Asia

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One of the great tragedies of our time is the hundreds of people drowning and dying as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe. It is estimated that more than 1,800 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean in the first six months of 2015. And we have all seen the desperate images of weak, battered and emaciated people left adrift in the sea. Worse, the European press and authorities insist on labelling those attempting to cross as migrants, rather than refugees. The vast majority of the people come from Syria, Yemen, Eritrea, Afghanistan and…
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