Maina Kiai's Column

Maina Kiai's Column

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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Jubilee Determination to Silence All Dissent Will Be Counter-Productive

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In an interlocutory judgment, the High Court sitting in Mombasa recently ruled that the police and the minister of Interior should immediately remove the NGOs, Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) and Haki Africa, from the list of suspected supporters of terrorism until the matters were fully adjudicated. The authorities argued strenuously against the move, but they lost the argument for a simple reason: There is simply no evidence to implicate the two NGOs. The authorities had a chance to present evidence of the reasons that led them to putting the NGOs on the list, but beyond saying that they have…
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Patriotism is Challenging Our Leaders and Pride in Hard-Earned Acheivements

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Some months ago, I flew from Sao Paulo to London on British Airways. The first snack on the plane was nuts produced by the Kenya Nut Company! Wow! A Kenyan company with a global contract with British Airways! And a few weeks before that, the packaging of the soap in the Geneva hotel where I stayed stated it was made from Fair Trade Avocado Oil from Kenya. I took a picture of it! I doubt that Kenyan authorities assisted in promoting these Kenyan products globally, but I felt an enormous sense of pride as a Kenyan and for Kenya. I…
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War Against Corruption Does Not Give Uhuru Licence to Ignore Constitution

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Uhuru Kenyatta is getting lots of mileage from his “fight against corruption”. He mentions eradicating corruption frequently, has ordered some key officials to step aside and has formed various task forces to see how to deal with corruption effectively. It is a popular move, and the entire country hopes he succeeds. The cheerleading is led by some once reviled Western donors, who are begging to open their taxpayers’ wallets to support this “political will” in fighting corruption. Heck, even the “Singhs” within the regime are now touting their commitment to anti-corruption, as are the architects of Anglo-Leasing and Goldenberg. Don’t…
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