NGOs under siege in Kenya poll runup

Residents line up to participate in the Orange Democratic Movement primary elections, whose leader is current Prime Minister Raila Odinga in Kibera Slums, Nairobi, Kenya ,Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. Political parties in Kenya on Thursday held their internal elections to decide candidates who will vie for gubernatorial, senate, county, and women representatives seats in the upcoming March 4 elections, a process which has been fraught with delays in delivery of ballot boxes, papers and confusion over lists.,(AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)

Residents line up to participate in the Orange Democratic Movement primary elections, whose leader is current Prime Minister Raila Odinga in Kibera Slums, Nairobi, Kenya ,Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. Political parties in Kenya on Thursday held their internal elections to decide candidates who will vie for gubernatorial, senate, county, and women representatives seats in the upcoming March 4 elections, a process which has been fraught with delays in delivery of ballot boxes, papers and confusion over lists.,(AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)

MARIA MACHARIA
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – KENYA has incurred the wrath of the international community following a systematic crackdown on civil society groups ahead of national elections in August.
Organisations which challenge governmental policies, educate voters, investigate human rights abuses and uncover corruption are on the receiving end the onslaught by the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
He has accused the organisations of being fronts of powerful Western governments planning to remove him from power.
The Interior Ministry has subsequently called for the closure of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) deemed to be “not properly licensed.”
A Government circular alleged the groups had been involved in “nefarious activities” and claimed they posed a serious threat to national security including money laundering, diversion of donor aid and terrorism financing.
Kenya Human Rights Commission, the leading human rights NGO, has been threatened with a freeze of its assets.
Yesterday (Tuesday), three United Nations human rights experts expressed extreme alarmed at the increasing number of attacks on civil society.
Maina Kiai, David Kaye and Michel Forst jointly raised concern.
“These issues are extremely important in a democracy, and attempting to shut down the debate taking place in the civic space threatens to irreparably taint the legitimacy of the upcoming elections.”
Allegations of vote rigging have also marred the runup to the polls.
More than 15,8 million are registered to vote in the East African country. Violations following a poll held a decade ago, left 1 000 dead and displaced 600 000.

– CAJ News

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