Maina Kiai's Column

Maina Kiai's Column

Alarm Bells Sounded on IEBC in Elections and Human Rights Congress

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The Carter Center in Atlanta, USA, recently hosted an interesting discussion on the nexus between elections and human rights. Upfront, there seems to be a divergence between the global North and the global South on matters election. In the South, elections have always been an integral part of the human rights discourse with human rights and democracy groups taking the lead on monitoring, observation and trying to infuse a human rights framework and approach to the management of elections. Internationally, however, elections are in — in practice — removed from traditional human rights work. This meeting was part of series…
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Security Forces Worldwide Seem to Have a Deal on How to Treat Terror Suspects

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This past December, I met Monia Mazigh, a strong Tunisian-born Canadian woman whose husband, Maher Arar, was handed over to Syria by the USA to on September 2002 on suspicion of terrorism. Their story is a cruel reminder of how security forces across the world are bound together by a sense of unchecked power, impunity, and an inability to accept their mistakes. It is a story on how the war on terror has further emboldened security forces to do as they wish, oblivious of the pain and suffering they cause to ordinary innocent people across the world. With the false…
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Let There Be No More of Last Year’s Double-speak from Jubilee This Year

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It is still early enough in the New Year to look back at 2015, and contemplate our wishes for 2016. It has been interesting to read the extremely kind self-assessments of the regime, but the “outsider” sycophants have also been at it, tripping over themselves in praising this Kenyatta regime, as they seek to be included in the “eating.” But this is not about assessing the Kenyatta regime. Rather it is a simple wish for this year: Let there be no more of last year’s double speak. This regime has almost been as adept at double speak as the Moi…
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Worrying Times as Grabbers Are Out to Dismantle Wangari Maathai’s Legacy

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In December 2004, the late Professor Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The award came not from Prof Maathai engaging in traditional peace-making endeavours — such as stopping wars and conflict — but from a lifetime of working on environmental protection, preservation of nature and promoting women’s rights. Prof Maathai was a pioneer in the world on the link between nature, the environment, public interest and peace. With determination and courage, Wangari taught us that trees and forest cover were essential to our climate and weather patterns. She taught us that we need…
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The Longer IEBC Bosses Stick in Office, the Higher the Chances of Chaos in 2017

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The IEBC announcement of the registration of new voters for a month from February to March next year, signals the start of the election period. As ever in Kenya, temperatures will rise steadily in the coming weeks as each political player and party seeks to maximise the registration of as many sympathetic voters as possible. Surely, this time, unlike the last time, there will be greater scrutiny of the registration to ensure that some regions are not favoured over others. There should be monitoring to see if the IEBC has an equitable numbers of staff to register voters across Kenya;…
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War on Corruption Should Begin with Public Declaration of Leaders' Wealth

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With the public declaration of his wealth, Bob Collymore read my mind, as my thoughts have been the need for leaders to publicly declare their wealth. This was a gutsy and noble thing to do, especially for someone who is not a public official and who has no reason to declare his wealth. And it is a lesson that Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta should learn, if he is to be taken seriously with this war on corruption. Corruption has reduced us and it has shrunk us: As Eric Wainaina sings so brilliantly, “Nchi ya kitu kidogo, ni nchi ya watu wadogo.”…
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