Washington event on “The Implications of the Kenyan Election” tomorrow; Mutunga’s judicial philosophy

Tomorrow afternoon at the National Endowment for Democracy, Joel Barkan and Maina Kiai will discuss “The Implications of the Kenyan Election”. Watch the video stream from 1930 to 2100 GMT or 1:30 to 3:00pm EDT (Washington) time.

In continuing to try to come to grips with the lack of substance of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the election petition cases, I am reminded of an article from The Africa Report for February, titled “Can They Pull It Off? The judiciary and electoral commission say they are prepared for the 4 March vote and will not repeat the mistakes of the contested December 2007 polls”.

In the article, the new Chief Justice Mutunga gives what my be some foreshadowing of the Court’s ultimate deference to the IEBC in the election petitions:

Keeping the three arms of government separate and independent should not rule out constructive cooperation, says Mutunga: “I see us protecting the independence of the judiciary but also realising that you’ve got to talk to the ministry of finance, to parliament and that sometimes you might also ask the president to intervene.”

A dialogue between the arms of state is important, insists Mutunga: “As a matter of fact, President [Mwai] Kibaki has never called me about a case. The the hotline [from the President’s office to the Chief Justice’s] is not hot — nobody uses it!” As chief justice, Mutunga joined discussions last year with businesses and President Kibaki about how to ensure the elections were credible and peaceful. He added that the judiciary is committed to helping the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). For example, it has allocated special courts to deal with all electoral disputes quickly.

. . . .

There is, however, nervousness about how the IEBC will fare . . . .

If the role of the Court is to work collectively with the other parts of the Government to promote “credibility” to keep “peace” then perhaps it is best to ignore “legalistic” details like more votes than registered voters in many polling places, and the raising and lowering of the number of registered voters in various parts of the country. Perhaps this is what is meant by a “robust” and “progressive” jurisprudence.

 

 

Southern Kordofan “sliding inexorably toward war”; Malaysia has got democracy down pat

Jeffrey Gettleman reports from Southern Kordofan:

Despite an agreement signed only days ago to bring peace to this part of central Sudan, it seems to be sliding inexorably toward war.

Young men here in the Nuba Mountains are being mobilized into militias, marching into the hills to train. All the cars in this area, including humanitarian vehicles, are smeared with thick mud to camouflage them from what residents describe as unrelenting bombings. And opposition forces vow to press their fight until they win some form of autonomy, undeterred by the government’s push to stamp them out.

“It’s going to be a long war,” said Ahmed Zakaria, a doctor from the Nuba Mountains who recently quit his job to become an opposition fighter. “We want a secular, democratic state where we can be free to rule ourselves. Like Kurdistan,” Dr. Zakaria said, smiling. “And we will fight for it.”

.  .  .  .

At a small, mountainside hospital here in Lewere, an entire ward is filled with victims who said they were at a well, fetching water, when they were bombed. Most are children. Their whimpers filter through the mesh windows, along with the pungent smells of antiseptic solution and decaying flesh.

Inside, Winnasa Steven, a 16-year-old girl, writhed on a cot. From her hip, doctors cut out a three-inch chunk of ragged shrapnel, which her mother keeps, wrapped in white paper.

.  .  .  .

Aid workers said hundreds of civilians had been killed in the bombings. The Sudanese Army is also blockading roads and bombing airstrips, essentially cutting off food supplies. “These people are going to starve,” one Western aid worker said.

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Meanwhile, in the world of democracy promotion, the Malaysian National News Organization identifies NDI (The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs) as “one of four branches of the National Endowment of Democracy (NED), a United States-based nongovernmental organization led by a Jew, Carl Gershman.”   They say that it is not appropriate to have democracy assistance in Malaysia because “there is no restriction for the people and politicians”.