22 August 2012

Kenya: Rights Activists Threaten to Sue Over Integrity Bill

Photo: The Star
Kenya's Parliment: Debate on the Leadership and Integrity Bill has elicited mixed reactions as members of Parliament argue over ethical standards for elected officials.

Presidential and gubernatorial aspirants should disclose their wealth and tax returns for the past four years. A section of rights activists have also demanded that aspirants for other electoral positions disclose a minimum of two years tax compliance.

Ndung'u Wainaina of the International Centre for Policy and Conflict and former Kenya National Commission for Human Rights Maina Kiai said they would sue if the requirement is not made part of the Leadership and Integrity Bill.

"We want all election candidates and political parties make available to citizens the following: disclosure of information about campaign contributions, bank account information of a political party and candidate, the background of candidates, including their assets and any pending criminal investigations, the management and use of any public funds, the salary and other income and all liabilities," Ndung'u said yesterday.

The former KNCHR boss said the requirement should be made a key part of the bill. The activists want a disclosure on direct income either from employment or companies in which aspirants are shareholders. They also want information on the aspirants' ownership on these companies and those of their families and relatives.

The information, they said, should be submitted to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in the form of a sworn affidavit. "This will be the first step in deterring misuse of public office for personal gain. It is the right of the electorate to know information regarding people who will be trusted with public offices and enact and implement laws and policies that have direct or indirect implication on the rights of citizens," Ndung'u added.

Kiai said the aspirants' declaration should date as far back as 2002. "We have seen some people go into office and after a while, they have accumulated wealth they cannot account for," said Kiai. "If they cannot do it willingly, we will go to court to seek such orders," said Ndung'u. Kiai said the requirement should apply to all public office holders to entrench transparency and fight corruption in the country.

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