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Kenya High Court gives Parliament 60 days to ensure a third of lawmakers are Women

Kenya's 2010 constitution guarantees women a third of seats in parliament, but its male-dominated assembly has repeatedly frustrated efforts to pass legislation needed to enact the quota

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The Kenyan parliament is seen, as President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses two Houses — the Senate and the National Assembly in Nairobi, March 26, 2015, VOA file images
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Nairobi, April 4, 2017: Kenyan activists on Monday welcomed a High Court ruling giving parliament 60 days to ensure a third of lawmakers are women or face dissolution.

The ruling follows a lengthy struggle to increase women’s political representation in the patriarchal society.

Kenya’s 2010 constitution guarantees women a third of seats in parliament, but its male-dominated assembly has repeatedly frustrated efforts to pass legislation needed to enact the quota.

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“The ruling is good for women who, because of patriarchal cultural backgrounds, cannot effectively compete with men,” Josephine Mongare, chairwoman of the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA), told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “This is the nearest we have come to the two-thirds constitutional requirement.”

Women vying for office in Kenya frequently face violence and intimidation in a country where women in politics are frowned upon. They also often lack the political clout and money to get nominated by the major parties.

Kenya, which heads to the polls in August, has East Africa’s lowest representation of women in parliament at 19 percent, compared to 61 percent in Rwanda and 38 percent in Ethiopia, the Geneva-based International Parliamentary Union says.

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Three previous attempts to get the bill passed have failed, with male lawmakers walking out of the chamber in May when it was time to vote.

Last week’s High Court ruling came after several rights groups sued Kenya’s parliamentary speakers and attorney general for missing a 2016 deadline to implement the law.

“It is disheartening that none of the political players is taking any action,” said Patricia Nyaundi, chief executive of the state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, one of the groups behind the case.

“One would hope that the president and the leader of opposition would prevail upon their members to enact the law,” she added.

But Nairobi-based constitutional lawyer Patrick Wanyama said the court victory may be too late to make a difference.

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The 60-day ultimatum expires in late May, just over a month before parliament dissolves for August elections.

“We are trying to solve a political problem using the law,” he said, as male politicians remain steadfastly opposed to the quota for women. “Sometimes this does not work.” (VOA)

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USA: Everything you want to know about Security Clearance; Find out here!

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas.

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Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA
Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. We take a look at what that means.

What is a security clearance?

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas after completion of a background check. The clearance by itself does not guarantee unlimited access. The agency seeking the clearance must determine what specific area of information the person needs to access.

What are the different levels of security clearance?

There are three levels: Confidential, secret and top secret. Security clearances don’t expire. But, top secret clearances are reinvestigated every five years, secret clearances every 10 years and confidential clearances every 15 years.

All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance. VOA
All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance. VOA

Who has security clearances?

According to a Government Accountability Office report released last year, about 4.2 million people had a security clearance as of 2015, they included military personnel, civil servants, and government contractors.

Why does one need a security clearance in retirement?

Retired senior intelligence officials and military officers need their security clearances in case they are called to consult on sensitive issues.

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Can the president revoke a security clearance?

Apparently. But there is no precedent for a president revoking someone’s security clearance. A security clearance is usually revoked by the agency that sought it for an employee or contractor. All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance, which can include criminal acts, lack of allegiance to the United States, behavior or situation that could compromise an individual and security violations. (VOA)