Kenya’s human rights watchdog senses danger

The World

MW �now your organization is accusing the government of essentially rigging the presidential elections last month. What is the evidence?� MK �We have not said that. We’ve just said that looking at the information we had, it is impossible to tell who won the election. We find for example that in the year 2002, the fiercest election we ever had, the votes cast totally was 50,000 votes. This year it’s 350,000 votes. Now in Kenya when we go and cast our votes, we get three paper ballots at the same time, one for the presidential election, one for the parliamentary election, and one for the civic and local council election. So we vote for them at the same time. And to say that 350,000 Kenyans voted for the presidential election and not for the parliamentary election is stretching it a bit far. But of course we find the total turnout is recorded, when it comes at 115% so we’re saying that given what happened and given the forms that are there, today it is impossible to tell who won the election but it’s also saying that clearly there was a machination within the Electoral Commission of Kenya to declare the result in one way or not the other.� MW �and who are you saying is responsible for these irregularities? The Electoral Commission?� MK �at this point it’s the electoral commission. However the composition of the electoral commission in 2007 changed dramatically from the way it was formed in 2002 for that election. And at the beginning of the year, President Kibaki unilaterally selects commissioners of the electoral commission alone. So all of the 22 commissioners are his direct nominees with loyalty directly to him.� MW �what are you demanding of the government at this point, specifically the electoral commission? Are you asking for a new vote?� MK �for one, we’re asking disbandment of the Electoral Commission, it is impossible to conduct a vote that anyone can have confidence in with this Electoral Commission. We’re asking for President Kibaki to meet with Rila Odinga so they can chat out a peaceful process through dialogue that can lead us eventually to a new vote. Today as we speak, the country is not normal, business is at a standstill, the country is not stable, there is a problem in this country that’s leading to this crisis: the President of Kenya is an imperial presidency, he can do anything he wants, he is above the law and the constitution.� MW �Are you saying it’s President Kibaki who has that power or it’s just the way the presidency in Kenya is structured?� MK �it’s the way the presidency is structured. And that’s where the problem lies. So people have got so much fear of the presidency because he can destroy you or can make you, the presidency can make you rich or neglect you. It’s not about Kibaki at all. This is something that started in 1964 and has continued up until now.� MW �do you feel that your work and even you yourself are under threat at this point?� MK �oh yes absolutely. I personally am under threat myself, I have received information from different sources that they’re out to kill me.� MW �did you just say you’ve received information that your life is under threat?� MK �yes, there is clearly a sense of threat that I have got.� MW �and who do you think would be targeting you?� MK �this would be people within the security forces and within the government, because I have been quite outspoken and critical.�

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