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Archive for April 5th, 2007

Norway: Svein Erik Bakke – the millionaire whose life was low-profiled

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

He was a jolly good fellow, a hard working man and was not greedy. One time, he decided to parade hundreds of vehicles in Oslo and petrol-ed them, filling their tanks to the maximum free of charge.

After a meeting I had with him in his then Aker Brygge office in 2001, I made my conclusion after making an analysis of the man. He was one who many loved to be around him.

He was a man who showed respect to others and listened to those who had something to say.

Now after his death, his two grown up children seem to follow his footsteps especially by protecting that which he loved most – of his projects, according to the story below. May his soul rest in peace.

Below is the lifted story for our readers to go through.

Korir, Chief Editor, APN 

———–

*”The two grown children of the late high-profile entrepreneur Svein Erik Bakke say they plan to live modestly and have much lower-profile, long-term goals for the fortune he left them.

Siv Bakke Rivenes and Ulf Bakke didn’t share their father’s fondness for a jet-set life, and plan to modestly manage the fortune he left them.

Bakke, a self-made millionaire, left around NOK 300 million to his children, Ulf Bakke and Siv Bakke Rivenes. The two, stressing their pride in their working-class roots on Oslo’s east side, shared their intentions with newspaper Dagens Næringsliv on Wednesday.

“We need to pick out the projects we feel we have capacity for, that means long-term investments and ventures,” said Siv Bakke Rivenes. “We decided quickly to sell off all the short-term investments, especially speculative stakes in shares and currency exchange deals.”

She holds a master’s degree in economics and works as a finance executive within the building branch. Her brother Ulf works in marketing and runs a restaurant on Hegdehaugsveien in Oslo. Both started working at a young age in the cleaning firm their father built up, and which formed the basis for his other investments.

Svein Erik Bakke, who was found dead in his home last November, left a large portfolio including a vacation home project in Brazil, bank shares, investments in fish farming and several luxury properties in Oslo, suburban Bærum and the mountain resort areas of Geilo and Trysil.

His children sold off his new condominium at the Dr Holms Hotel in Geilo earlier this week, and netted a record sum reported to be nearly NOK 14 million.

“We’ve used a few months to get an overview of Pappa’s operations,” Ulf Bakke told Dagens Næringsliv. “Along with the overview came a sense of security. We have chosen to move forward with those aspects that we feel we can manage and that meant the most to him.”

That includes the vacation property project in Brazil and the cod-farming operation Skei Marinfisk ASA.

They’re selling off Bakke’s luxury homes. “It’s hopeless to sit with so many properties,” Siv Bakke Rivenes told Dagens Næringsliv. “We can’t use them all.”*

By Nina Berglund

*”/”*Lifted and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.aftenpostenENG

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Easter in Norway ghosts the capital Oslo

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

*”Norwegians settled down Wednesday for the country’s annual five-day Easter vacation. Most stores and businesses were to be closed Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday, as folks flock to the mountains, the coast and other holiday retreats.

Some Norwegians are opting to stay home over the Easter holidays and take advantage of a quiet city, like here outside City Hall.

PHOTO: JAN TOMAS ESPEDAL


Many, though, still opt for traditional ski vacations in the Norwegian mountains, like here at Eggedal in Buskerud County.

PHOTO: ERIK JOHANSEN, SCANPIX

Many Norwegians have started taking the entire week off, and Oslo was noticeably quieter as early as Monday. Hotels in the mountains are packed, as are flights to warmer climes, and many businesses (including Aftenposten) were operating with severely reduced staffing.

Police were nonetheless bracing for lots of traffic out of the city on Wednesday, and railway NSB was reporting full trains. Traffic on the main E18 highway west of Oslo was due to be disrupted throughout the entire weekend, starting at 10pm Wednesday, because of construction projects around the Lysaker intersection and train station.

Those opting to stay in the city could look forward to no shortage of parking places, cinemas that now stay open during Easter and a generally more relaxed atmosphere in town. The weather in southern Norway remains unseasonably mild, so opportunities abounded for urban walks and strolls along the fjord.

Most museums close for the long Easter weekend, but the Norwegian Folk Museum on Bygdøy was staying open every day, from 11am-3pm on Thursday and Friday and unitl 4pm on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The museum planned egg-decorating and pancake workshops for children in addition to its normal exhibits.

Boat enthusiasts have started viewing Easter as a fine time to get their pleasure craft back out on the water, and sunny weather also aided myriad boat maintenance projects around the Oslo Fjord.

While the vast majority of Norwegians still opt for traditional ski holidays in the mountains, many are using the holiday period on home remodeling projects and spring cleaning. Stores in the furniture and building business were reporting brisk sales earlier this week.

Many stores will re-open, albeit with shortened hours, on Saturday, for those failing to stock in enough provisions through Tuesday.”*

By Nina Berglund

*”/”*Lifted and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.aftenpostenENG

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Kenya: ODM-K is a very entertaining party with surprising spontanious actions

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

If there was “a prize for storming buildings”, like there is Nobel Peace Prize – given for peaceful purposes, no other party in Kenya would defeat ODM-K! 

ODM-K is an expert party in storming into buildings when things does go their way.

Leaders whose methods is stormy as we now see makes interesting news and Kenyans had better watch when deciding who to give the torch to lead the country in the coming elections.

What example are these ODM-K leaders setting for the electorate? That one can simply storm a building and get what they want?

When ODM-K was not registered immediately, their patience ran out and they stormed Sheria House and used their muscles to collect a registration letter.

Now I think this guys should be given leadership because it will probably become a government that will allow any disatisfied Kenyan to storm government offices and collect what they feel is rightfully theirs.

And now again they have stormed the Electoral Commission aiming to collect election symbol.

Where will they storm next if they do not win the elections? Probably the State House in order to eject the winner if the winner is from another party.

The party seems to use muscles in everything. Imagine even storming open space like Uhuru Park to hold a prayer meeting!

Politics as we all know is a sweet game for the players and many players will not retreat even when they see they have little chances to convince the electorate.

When western countries deny visas to aspiring presidential candidates like William Ruto, Musalia Mudavadi and others, what is the west saying?

Is is possible that the west is actually telling Kenyans who they want as the next president?

Ruto was mentioned in some deals. Mudavadi was mentioned in some deals. So they cannot get visas to many western countries even if elected president. Will Kenya have a president who cannot travel to the west or one who is able to travel?

If all those mentioned are refused visas into the west, why is Raila Odinga travelling to the west often when he was also mentioned in the Kisumu Molasses affair? Is the west fooling Kenyans here by threaning with visas and discriminating Kenyan leaders?

Kenyans should study this things and may be give the west a slap on the face by even choosing Dr Murungaru or the Total Man – Mr Nico Biwott as the next president. How long is Africa going to please the west by electing leadership dictated by western countries simply because such countries fund a project here and there in Kenya?

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525

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Another former leader in Liberia falls into corruption net

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

Monrovia (Liberia) The Liberian government’s corruption dragnet has claimed yet another victim in the person of Bomi County Senator Richard Devine, APA has learnt.

According to police sources Wednesday, Mr. Devine served as deputy managing director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation (LPRC) between August 2003 and January 2006, when the former speaker of Liberia’s lower house of parliament, Edwin Snowe Jr. served as managing director of the LPRC.

Mr. Devine and the former speaker have been formally charged with the theft of more than US$1 million.

A Police Special Investigative Team (SIT) comprising the Criminal Investigation Division of the Liberia National Police and the National Bureau of Investigations, allegedly uncovered recently that the two men “wilfully, wantonly, and criminally” withdrew US$1,010,500 from the accounts of the LPRC.

Reports accused Snowe and his deputy Devine for directing or approving the preparation of cheques in various United States dollar accounts and the withdrawal of the funds.

The charging of Devine brings to about eight, the number of former officials, including the former chairman of the erstwhile National Transitional Government of Liberia Charles Gyude Bryant, now on trial for stealing huge sums of money during the tenure of the transitional government between August 2003 and January 2006.

The former officials were implicated by the European Union, ECOWAS and African Union audit reports published in 2005.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Now Mbeki wakes up to admit deteroriating situation in Zimbabwe

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

Pretoria (South Africa) President Thabo Mbeki Wednesday acknowledged that the time to find a solution to the Zimbabwe impasse was running out.

”This is a matter that all of us must approach with great seriousness because the pain that is felt by the people of Zimbabwe is the pain that we feel, and it is really our task to walk together with them to resolve the problems that they face,” Mbeki said.

Speaking at a session of the National House of Traditional Leaders in Pretoria, Mbeki said the Provincial and Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi and the director-general in the Presidency, Frank Chikane, were part of a delegation that met with Zimbabwean opposition leaders Tendai Biti, general secretary of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Welshman Ncube, general secretary of a faction that split from the MDC, on Tuesday.

Mbeki indicated that the facilitation process should be speeded up in order to ensure free and fair elections next year. “In reality, we don’t have much time, because normally those elections in Zimbabwe take place in March. So that means that Zimbabweans probably have 11 months to do everything that is necessary to ensure that those elections are free and fair and that the outcome is not contested by anybody.”

President Mbeki, who has been criticised for his “quiet diplomacy” strategy towards Zimbabwe, said he was pleased that both the ruling Zanu-PF of Zimbabwe and the opposition had welcomed the decision by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders in Tanzania last week to appoint him as a facilitator.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Malawian rights body does the right thing

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

Lilongwe (Malawi) Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), a human rights umbrella body in Malawi has accused the heads of state of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) during their recent summit in Tanzania last of shielding their Zimbabwean colleague, Robert Mugabe.

A senior official of HRCC, MacDonald Sembereka told journalists in Lilongwe Wednesday that HRCC is saddened by the decision of the SADC leaders to back the President Mugabe instead of negotiating the way forward for political and economic stability in Zimbabwe.

“We feel the stand taken by our leaders as problematic and worrisome because we wanted the crisis to end as soon as possible and make the Zimbabweans free from the political and economic hardship they are going through,” he said.

He added that the intervention to be carried out by the South African President Thabo Mbeki is not enough to end the crisis in Zimbabwe because South Africa alone cannot handle the situation as all along it has been quite on the Zimbabwe issue.

However, Mbeki was given the mandate by the SADC heads of state at the end of their extra-ordinary summit to take a lead in discussing the political situation in Zimbabwe.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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A new Liberian Parliament speaker to be elected

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

Monrovia (Liberia) The lower house of the Liberian Parliament has cleared three persons to contest on Thursday the position of speaker made vacant following the resignation last February of the former incumbent Edwin Melvin Snowe.

Those contesting for the post are : Dr. Edward Forh of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Alex Tyler of the Liberian Action Party and Armah Sarnoh of the Liberty Party.

In line with the rules of the lower house, the three candidates on Tuesday relinquished any other positions they held in the house before they threw their hats in the race.

Forh served as chairman of the House Committee on State Enterprises and Public Autonomous Agencies, while Tyler was Chairman of the House Ways, Means, Finance and Budget Committee, and Sarnor as Chairman on the Judiciary Committee.

About 60 members of the House of Representatives are scheduled to cast their votes.

Tyler, who hails from western Bomi, the home county of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is an accountant by profession, while Sarnor, who hails from north-western Gbarpolu County, is a student at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia.

Dr. Forh is a former professor and former president of the African Methodist Episcopal University in Monrovia.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Libyan leader wants the west to pay damages to Africa

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

Dakar (Senegal) Libyan leader, Colonel Mouammar Khadafi, Wednesday reiterated his call in Dakar, Senegal, for Africa to be united and press the Western countries to pay reparations, arguing that the latter built their countries on resources they exploited from former colonies.

“Last year, I called on people to organise themselves and demand for reparations. I continue to remind people that Europeans owe us reparations,” the Guide of the Libyan Revolution insisted at the end of a civilian and military parade marking the 47th Independence anniversary of Senegal.

Khadafi said independence will only be final and effective when Africans could unite and set up the United States of Africa.

As guest of honour of Senegal’s Independence Day celebrations, he also tackled the immigration issue, stressing that Europe should not speak about ‘legality’ when it comes to the issue, arguing that as former colonisers, « they had not bother themselves with legal considerations when they came to plunder our resources”.

Hence, Khadafi rejected the concept of illegal immigration, saying “if they do not want to bring back what they took from us, we will go to look for it in their countries.”

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Truth spoken without love is devastatingly harmful. Love expressed without truth is tragically misleading

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

There is no right way to do a wrong thing.

Politics and Society.

Dear Colleagues,

This is a reaction to unnecessarily expletive and highly explosive media exchanges among political and social commentators on the media (mainly non-staff, opinion and commentaries contributors). There is a need to be a great deal more modest in claims we make about our prowess and our various capacities, more important, in our judgment of others, because we never really know all there is to know about each other.

Humility too, recognizing that though we may have incredible human qualities than others, it is not for us ultimately to judge one another.

Wisdom reminds us that pride and loss of humility, is the root of every evil. It is when the now fallen angels began to look upon themselves with self-complacency that they were led to disobedience and were cast down from the light of heaven into outer darkness. Even so, it was when the serpent breathed the poison of pride, the desire to be God, into the hearts of our first parents that they too fell from their high estate into all the wretchedness in which man is now sunk. In heaven and earth, pride and self-exaltation are the gate and birth and the curse of hell.

None of us is immune to pride, and the problem is that as our heads swells, so they shrink. The prevalent unnecessarily explosive and expletive media exchanges and arrogance, really stem from fear and insecurity, and in the end the image they intend to portray that of, bigger and better than others is actually the flip side of the reality that one feels smaller and inadequate than others. Proper humility helps us avoid the hubris that can so quickly turn us into hopelessness.

Thanks to some individuals’ efforts and fight to create the current freedom of expression atmosphere prevalent in Kenya, of course without being ignorant of the technological developments.

But also wisdom cautions us not to ignore the fact sometimes those who oppose oppressiveness could also end up becoming like what they most abhorred. Tragically there is evidence those who opposed colonialism in Kenya and successive oppressive regimes have become brutalized themselves and descended to the same low levels as those they were opposing.

Of course there are few who have remarkably been able to maintain their humanity even under the most brutal circumstances. We have seen their contributions inspire others, embolden others who were timid, to stand up to the truth in the midst of distortion, propaganda and deceit, for human dignity and decency at times when they were in desperately short supply.

I am not in any mood to censor or censure no one because those who work tirelessly for the freedom of expression, technologically or against oppressive regimes do not envision freedom of expression for the privileged few neither do they call us to engage in an intellectual exercise. However, the privilege of being a leader in this field requires not only the active engagement of our minds but also the warm embrace of our hearts. If we do not keep both in view, a generous heart can make error look like truth, just as arrogance can make truth look like error.

Who can measure the confusion that occurs when truth is spoken with condemnation and self-righteousness, while lies are told with patience and love? Just contemplate a Heaven where angels speak with arrogance and a hell where demons speak with devotion to their enemies?

Truth spoken without love is devastatingly harmful. Love expressed without truth is tragically misleading.

Let Kenyans express themselves, no matter how dumb, partisan or illogical, each and every one of them has a message, whether in the Diaspora or in Kenya. We need not lose sight of what comprises our community; scholars, illiterates, wealthy, peasants, poor, disabled both physically, mentally and spiritually, but none is more or a lesser Kenyan than the other. We all are part of our nation’s problems and part of the solution too.

I refuse the notion that, those who are in the Diaspora have no right neither are they welcome to comment on current political and social issues in Kenya. Just for the record my fetus, my wife’s and my children’s are buried in Kenyan soil and, in case the maternity hospitals fed them to animals, the animals excreted on Kenyan soil.

Isn’t it ironic that, in times of conflict, we all have right on our side? Whether our disagreements are tribal, political, marital, ecclesiastical, local or international. How quickly do we seek allies and immediately claim and hold the moral high ground?

Many are the commentaries written by Kenyans in the Diaspora which are very inspiring, factual and enlightening. Of course some display partisanship, arrogance, pain and hate and total disregard of the ethics of the profession, and sometimes the authors end up portraying their sense of self-importance instead of the subject matter.

Many are exposing themselves as compliant accomplices, advancing their own political or personal agendas in the process of assisting their preferred subject. Of course others are simply a dupe, gullible or innocent pawns of political scheming and deceit swirling behind closed doors.We know once their commentaries are published, they dine and party on their revelations and perceived insight for essentially the same reason that officials violate their oaths of confidentiality in order to be perceived as members of a know it all insiders elite,- talk of vanity. And for once don’t think they are all driven by patriotism or are objective and fair with no political axes to grind!

All of us seek to build a peaceful nation of equal but competitive opportunities devoid of classification;- the source of discrimination. Them and us. They are illiterate, they are different because their tongue clicks different from ours, they fear the cut, we don’t, they live in Landimawe and we live in Loresho, we went to college and they didn’t.

Kenya’s political future is so important to all of us to be left in the hands of a few self-appointed intellectual commentators who are anyway displaying open bias towards their preferred subjects. Should we only pay attention to commentators because they are scholars or because they are Kenyans?

To get a true sense of these media intimidations one is inclined to recall, those must read commentaries by “Expert Political Commentators and University Lecturers”, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Prof. Kivutha Kibwana and Gibson Kamau Kuria and prominent lawyers Gitobu Imanyara, Kiraitu Murungi etc. Hopefully the current analysists/commentators are not motivated by future political largesse or the obove hypocritical metamorphic skills.

This is not a tactic or a clever way of sneaking political messages across but genuinely believes that all the commentators are driven by their desire to offer us all guidance and not judgment and dupery, advice, clarifications, experience and not condemnation.

We can build Kenya out of seekers of truth, but not out of possessors of truth, because not all of us would have the same truth, and each one of us would feel obliged to defend his truth as being the only valid. The sad part is, we never even notice how unpleasant and unbearable we become when we insist we are always right. And equally sad is that the more we suspect we may in fact have been wrong, the more stubbornly we fight to justify ourselves.

IF only some of these commentaries could have been stripped off, the fangs of hate and arrogance, fear and insecurity, self-righteousness and sycophancy, labeling and caging they could have strongly communicated the message without being dismissive of their opponent’s ideas. Not too long ago, I was engaged in a debate with an intellectual cabinet minister which ran for weeks;- but abruptly he demanded I hold current Kenyan leaders with esteem for they are Gods anointed, but then I reminded him, that bin Laden (real or a creation) claims to be anointed by God to kill. He has since severed our communications.

When Raila uttered the now infamous “Kibaki Tosha” for once many saw a savior anointed to save Kenyans from their tribal self-destruction. Weren’t we wrong? ONE. Kenya’s problem is not tribalism; it is deeper than our tribes. TWO although tribalism is a reality, it is a disguise which every five years gets repackaged for a formidable rebirth. Never mind we are now busy acting midwives to the next rebirth. Ironically it is these unfounded backwardness tribal prejudices, Raila sought to kick start towards their deservedly road leading to their final burial with his “Tosha” proclamation which are being repackaged to continue duping and manipulating the masses against him.

Where is the real problem?

Strong institutions in Kenya do not exclude political parties. Our political institutions are severely compromised and flawed, yet we expect them to be pioneers and custodians of our institutions without first addressing the all obvious flaws. How can we keep on denying and ignoring that ours are not convenient political clubs, aptly constituted and reconstituted to perpetuate political dupery, naively or deliberately supported even by scholars at the whims and for the interests of the RULING ELITE? If we have reliable and effective institutions, authentic and reliable politicians, why are we fidgeting and worrisome about party leadership contests; shouldn’t we trust the institutions to sort out the right candidates? And why are we politicking non-stop 24 hours, Monday to Sunday, January to December?

Ironically we always accept to be entered into the tournament for the match of our lives without even agreeing on what constitutes a penalty or an off-side (I do not advocate for boycotts, but rather for uncompromising quest for reforms). As history has shown us, there is never a new beginning or a renewal without first changing the rules. We can as well go and elect an angel to the presidency, as long the laws are as they are, THERE WILL NEVER BE A BETTER THAN,- Kenyatta, Moi or Kibaki.

Our leaders are ineffective, paralyzed and importent contributors to our miseries.All they do is lie to us that we are victims and they are leading us to salvation and prosperity. But they are leading us to their prosperity not ours.They distort the fact that Independence was won to free us and enrich our lives in freedom without compromising our morals. Remember Kenyatta’s independence speech, declaring his government’s commitment to eradicate poverty, disease and illiteracy?

Then why after 43 years of independence, majority of Kenyans are still living in hopelessness, abject poverty, dying of curable diseases and entrapped in contradictory morals. Why are our politicians still engaged in tribal arguments, patronage and political largesse instead of modernization, wealth creation, social issues, modern day challenges, social safety nets etc.

Each politician is promising and swearing to give Kenya a new constitution, but even for those who are being touted to be our political saviors the loopholes which weakens our institutions are Godsend. Needless to say their backers would also use them to throw rings around them for exclusivity. (According to Kenyan political intelligentsia, ideologies notwithstanding, politicians are same and think alike as long as at a particular period they belong to the same political club, but overnight some become neophyte and non-match if and when they happen to back the opposing political club) And YES! Some are more politically equal than others? YES! Looks become campaign issues?

We crave for exclusivity. We crave to be different, we crave even for exclusive leaders limited to us, a certain group of people, special people not the common type, yet we are dependant on the commoners for this exclusivity. Even for the simplest of the tasks in the hands of a Kenyan is not worthy pursuing until it’s transformed into a complex, unique and intriguing mystique. Aren’t we great? We even treat the weak, the poor, the unemployed, the failures with disdain, because success and power and mystique are the gods at whose altars we are burning incense and bowing the knees.

This is how we change our leaders (all spheres of leadership including political, academicals, social etc) into demigods in pursuit of our own exclusivity, although experience has shown no matter how high we carry them, whenever we drop them, which we eventually do their feet and ours too, land exactly within the footprints from which we lifted them off the ground. Yet we keep on ignoring the evidence that there is no defeat more terrible than the defeat of our hearts driven wild by a desire for mystique power.

In the words of the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, “Your defenders defends you from your defenders” So true, especially in Kenya where previously we may have had sycophants, but today, Kibaki, Raila and Kalonzo have acquired for themselves fanatical supporters who are not only defending them from their defenders but are alienating their would be voters from them too.

Many a times one hears “Kibaki is a fence sitter” but are we sure it is not our reflection deflected from Kibaki? We better stop the lie and consciously dismantle the fences which are unconsciously imprisoning us. Kibaki has proved he is not a fence sitter. We Are!

Do we really want change?

Authentic resolutions and desire for a change do not mean insisting the world around us change, but it necessitates turning within and examining where our own energies are blocked in relation to the experience upsetting us. Majority of Kenyans understand this fact all too well, but choose to bury their heads in the sand ignoring the basis of our conflicts.

Since many aspects within conflicts spring from individuals selfish success-plans or have their awareness encompassed by our archaic tribal delusions, we can expect increasing conflicts as always stemming from resistance to change. However circumstances and time continues to push our conflicts into a “grace in disguise” phase; there are indications our conflicts are starting to eat up all that cannot and will not change. Wisdom reminds us nature does not support stray egos fuelled by self-indulgent intent. We either change course at our own pace or eventually wait to be forced to by circumstances beyond our control. It is time to let our tribal prejudices and political patronage and selfishness go. They are only ripping us all apart.

Real change can only come when the pain of having something in our lives not working exceeds the pain of making a change, or when the rewards of change exceeds the rewards of resistance. We have come a long way to realize change do not require resolutions we cannot keep or the guilt that follows our failure, but the intense awareness that accompanies self-confrontation. We fear self-confrontation, often choosing self-righteousness to shield us from the one thing that can move us forward; – self confrontation. Self-righteousness does not bring change, self-confrontation does.

Most of the change we think we see in Kenya is always due to truths being in and out of favor. In his self-perceived ingenious, Charles Njonjo made “ Moi Tosha” believing he was laying his own foundation for the presidency, but the herdsman he thought would last 24 months on the throne, ended up misruling Kenya for 24 years. We all know LDP’s support for Kibaki was a deception, first calculated on the basis of ethnicity to block Uhuru and on the basis of Kibaki’s age. With or without the MOU, the calculation seems to have been the throne would be there for the taking this year. The 2002 presidential election was the mother of all deceptions and we all are stuck in its consequences.

Wisdom reminds us, causes have effects and if we lie to ourselves and to others then we cannot expect to find truth and reality whenever we happen to want them. If we have chosen the way of falsity we must not be surprised that truth eludes us when we finally come to need it. That is where we are now in Kenya.

Ironically Kenya is reputed to have had one of the most revered freedom struggles in the world (Mau Mau) which inspired many other reputable struggles around the world including the struggle against Apartheid. Many in South Africa including Rolihlahla Mandela tried to tell us that much, but we were not interested. Today, our own leaders including Prof. Wangari Maathai are urging us to emulate Mandela and South Africa’s democracy and governance. Surely we cannot be that disingenuous to only crave for the final product, “Mandela and his peoples democracy” while trying to avoid the chisels which shaped the final product we see today; – authenticity, humility, humane, generous, selfless, firm and resolute to our calling.

When LDP started rebelling against Kibaki’s regime, they had convincing reasons; – betrayal and ideological differences. Partly this led to the overwhelming victory against the flawed Wako draft. Sadly and increasingly they are coming across as driven by their personal competing egoistic impulses, instead of collective genuine resolve on ideologies and the quest for the ever elusive constitutional reforms. What a field day for the opinion polls pollsters and a second term gift for the incumbent?

The 2002 elections had all the hallmarks of a revolution. But our ideology of political revolution has and cannot change anything except appearances. Of course there will be violence, and power will pass from one group to another but when the smoke clears and the bodies of the entire dead are underground, the situation will essentially be the same as it was before;-minority of strong men in power exploiting all the others for their own ends. There will be the same greed and cruelty and lust and ambition and avarice and hypocrisy as before because superficial revolutions can only bring superficial regimes.

True moral high ground

Unfortunately the world continues to become too complicated for us, making us vulnerable to the person who offers to reduce the agony of our decision making with supportive loving professionals and minders. At its worst, this vulnerability gives us an Adolf Hitler, who strode into the moral decay and economic ruin of Germany in the 1930s and said, “Follow me, never question me, and I will lead you out of this”. In our own small ways we keep on trying to mimic the same?

Of course reality dictates it would be naive to expect pure perfection here on earth. Sad to say people are imperfect and anyone looking for pure perfection must look where there are no people.

We are constantly reminded that the evil impulse is such an intimate part of every one of us that we cannot remove it; we cannot isolate it without drastically harming ourselves in the process. It would be like asking a brain surgeon to operate on us and remove the parts of our brains that give rise to “bad thoughts and motivation for evil” without harming the rest of the brain. However this is not to say we tolerate pure mediocrity and evil.

As maturity experiences would teach us one cannot be complete without having to wrestle with his own demons and for that matter with his own angel. Like lifting weights at the gym to become stronger, we strengthen our moral fiber by the exercise of resisting temptation.

And when one cannot identify and understand the impulses which summons him to be selfish, impatient and insensitive, he is yet to lift enough moral weights in the temptation Gym. This is how I view the impatience, expletives, self-delusions and arrogance being displayed in our modern day commentaries both in the public media and in the internet, and also in Kenya’s murky political terrain.

Think of Martin Luther King Junior’s life. We have learnt that he indulged in many extramarital dalliances while he was leading the battle for civil rights in the 1960s, but his behavior does not diminish what he did to cleanse America’s soul of taint of racial segregation. We cannot dismiss the civil-rights crusade because its leading exponent was guilty of adultery. Many in the US admit many things that John Kennedy and Bill Clinton did for their country despite what they learnt about their extramarital involvements. But at the same time I don’t think they say adultery cannot be that bad if good people like Kennedy, Clinton and King did it; the message being, Good people do bad things and if they weren’t tempted by their negative impulses, they might not be capable of the mightily good things they do.

We want to punish wrongdoers because we want to live in a safer and just world, a world on which people are protected from criminals and wrongdoers suffer the consequences of their bad behaviour.But if we believe in meting out justice we also need to believe we are good people. But also part of us feels guilty when we have hurt someone, even if we believe that person deserves to be hurt. The ambivalence in getting even is that our consciences condemn it even as our souls crave it. It has been suggested that Shakespeare set his great revenge plays, Hamlet, Othello and Coriolanus not in England but in Denmark, Cyprus and Rome as a way of playing to his audience’s emotions, giving them what they wanted to see, while at the same time saying these people doing these things are not us.They are exotic foreigners. Our tribalism prejudices, exclusivity, political patronage and hostilities is our way of isolating and exiling our own people and making them exotic foreigners in their own land.

The problem however arise when people fear that they cannot depend on society to administer justice, that the courts are slow, unreliable, or inclined to play favorites or that the law is full of loopholes that let the guilty escape. We then face the uncomfortable choice between letting a guilty person go free and taking the responsibility for punishing into our own hands, with the bitter aftertaste and sense of moral compromise that often entails.

Many acknowledge to have sat in movie theatres, their hearts rejoicing at the retributive violence of movie characters even as their conscience condemned the mindless destruction. A passage in the Talmud describes God as rebuking the angels who were cheering at the sight of Egyptian army drowning in the Red Sea: “How can you cheer? They too are My creatures”. If even angels are moved to delight at the downfall of the wicked, how can we not be? And if God condemns the angels’ delight as improper, how can we not be embarrassed by our own?

The relevance of Moses’ Bible mission

First we must realize that oppression is as old as human beings and there will never be shortage of oppressors as long as human beings exist. Moses and Ramses the Prince and later the Pharaoh grew up together, greatly caring about each other but enemies and never stopped being brothers.A lie made them brothers but the truth separated them forever. Conscious or unconsciously whenever one is obliged to free an oppressed community he/she inherits Moses’ mission.

Whether he was divinely guided or otherwise, Moses faced skepticism from his own people he so craved to free. But one of his fiercest pessimist critic and brother Aaron ended up inheriting his mission and those who encouraged him among them his sister Miriam did not do it blindly, neither acted in a detrimental way to compromise his mission.

Healing, Revenge or Vindictiveness?

Kenyans have had their share of traumatic hostilities but we continue to mask our trauma, even when it is all clearly manifested in our midst. This is why we cannot ignore what happened in South Africa after the apartheid. For those who fear the truth, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation experience is worthy considering. The victims and relatives of victims of apartheid violence did not seek to hurt those who had hurt them.They wanted their dignity as human beings restored to them and when Desmond Tutu’s Truth and reconciliation Commission endorsed their testimony they got their dignity back. They wanted to reclaim power over their own lives. Although some felt unsatisfied that so many wrongdoers were not punished more severely, most felt no need to see them hurt.The commission had given them what they needed.Revenge would have been an inadequate substitute. The healing of South Africa was an unanticipated outcome.It is starting to have the same effects in Northern Ireland.

As South Africa and recently Northern Ireland experiences seems to suggest what victims most commonly seek is vindication.They want public acknowledgement that what happened to them was wrong.They want the burden of shame lifted from their shoulders and placed where it belongs.

Responsibility:

It may seem almost natural when we see evil or crime in others; to try to correct it by destroying them or at least putting them out of sight. It is easy to identify the evil with the sinner when he is someone other than our own self. In ourselves, it is the other way round, we see evil but we have great difficulty in shouldering responsibility for it. We find it very hard to identify our sin with our own will and our own malice. We also tend to unconsciously ease ourselves more of the burden of guilt that is in us by passing it on to somebody else.The temptation is always to account for our faults by seeing equivalent amount of evil in others. Hence minimizing our own evil and compensating for doing so by exaggerating the faults of others.

Experience shows we make the situation much worse by artificially intensifying our sense of evil, and by increasing our propensity to feel guilt even for things which are not in themselves wrong. In all these we build up such an obsession with evil, both in ourselves and in others, that we waste all our mental energy trying to account for this evil, to punish it or to get rid of it in any way we can.We drive ourselves mad with our preoccupation and in the end there is no outlet left but violence. We have to destroy something or someone. By that time we have created for ourselves a perfect enemy, a scapegoat in whom we have invested all the evil in the world. He is the cause of every wrong, the source of conflict. If he can only be destroyed, conflict will cease, evil will be done with. There will be no more war (Saddam Hussein?).

This kind of fictional thinking is especially dangerous when it supported by a whole elaborate pseudo-scientific structure of myths, like those which Marxists have adopted as their ersatz for religion. It is certainly no less dangerous when it operates in the vague, fluid, confused and unprincipled opportunism, which substitutes in the west for religion, for philosophy and even for mature thought, and in Africa for hero worshipping and tribalism.

May be with a benefit of hindsight, we may understand why South Africans did not take the Iraq option; – to hang P.Botha, Adrian Vlok …(South Africa constitution does not provide for death penalty) But as my teacher reminded me recently, you know how people treat God by the way they treat their fellow humans.

Malicious criticism
Basically human nature is dominated by superstitious tendency to associate failure with dishonesty and guilt; failure being interpreted as punishment. Even if a man starts with good intentions, if he fails we tend to think he was somehow at fault, if he was not guilty, he was at least wrong and being wrong is something we have not yet learned to face with equanimity and understanding. We either condemn it with god-like disdain or forgive it with god-like condescension.We do not manage to accept it with human compassion, humility and identification. And we fail to see the one truth that would help us begin to solve; for example our ethical and political problems; that we are all more or less wrong, that we all are at fault, all limited and obstructed by our mixed motives, our self-deception, our greed, our self-righteousness and our tendency to aggressivity and hypocrisy.

In our refusal to accept the partial good intentions of others and work with them we are unconsciously proclaiming our own malice, our own intolerance, our own lack of realism, our own ethical and political quackery as we all witnessed immediately after Kibaki’s arguments lost in the referendum.

Perhaps in the end the first real step towards a solution would be a realistic acceptance of the fact that our political ideas are perhaps to a great extent illusion and fictions to which we cling out of motives that are not always perfectly honest; that because of this we prevent ourselves from seeing any good or any practicability in the political ideas of our enemies; which may of course be in many ways even more illusory and dishonest than our own. We shall never get anywhere unless we can accept the fact that politics is an inextricable tangle of good and evil motives in which, perhaps, the evil predominate, but one must continue to hope doggedly in what little good can still be found.

But if we all acknowledge that we are all equally wrong or feel obliged to act only when we assume that we are in the right; all political actions will instantly be paralyzed. Wisdom reminds us the basis for valid political action can only be the recognition that the true solution to our problems is not accessible to any one isolated group or tribe but all of us must arrive at it by working together. May be, and maybe then, we would learn to emulate a true compassionate family of tribes and perhaps address the injustices that cause a small percentage of our people consume the vast majority of her resources while the vast majority live in poverty.

This does not encourage the guilt-ridden thinking that it is sexy to be wrong in everything, because this is also an evasion of responsibility, for every form of oversimplification tends to make decisions ultimately meaningless. We must try and learn to accept ourselves, whether individually or collectively, not only as perfectly good or perfectly bad, but in our mysterious unaccountable mixture of good and evil. We have to stand by the modicum of good that is in us without exaggerating it. We have to defend our real rights because unless we respect our own rights we will certainly not respect the rights of others. But on the same time we have to recognize that we have willfully or otherwise trespassed on the rights of others and admit it not only as a result of self-examination, but when it is pointed out unexpectedly and perhaps not too gently, by someone else. These principles which I believe govern personal moral conduct, which make harmony possible in small social units like the family also apply in the wider area of the state.

It is however, quite absurd in our present situation or in any other, to expect these principles to be universally accepted as the result of moral exhortations. There is very little hope that our country all of a sudden will be run according to them as a result of some hypothetical change of heart on the part of politicians. It is useless and even laughable to base political thought on the faint hope of a purely contingent and subjective moral illumination in the hearts of our politicians. It would also be sentimental folly to expect them to trust one another when they obviously cannot be trusted.

But also let us not allow depressed, confused, pessimistic, cynical and apocalyptic-minded individuals or groups pollute a vision that the future of our nation is blessed by forces greater than any political agenda, tribal and political hegemony, political patronage and mystique power.

Finally, we tend to think of power as when we are able to use verbs in the imperative mood and give orders. Jesus said no. And as Moses’ Bible mission reminds us, it is giving your life, in serving the weakest, the most vulnerable, that we discover true power.That is what we see with Dalai Lama, Gandhi, King, Mother Teresa and Mandela. These people extraordinarily spendthrifts made people’s knees turn into jelly fish. Yet people like Mandela do not have power in the conventional sense, neither was he a president of a particularly impressive country or military power, but the world recognizes his moral power. Even atheists know they are better people when they love than when they hate. We recognize and admire compassion and goodness. We believe that goodness should be triumphant all the time, which is part of why we sometimes despair. But then the question remains, why should we be upset when awful things happen if we did not believe that goodness should prevail?

At the end true leaders are in politics or in any other leadership mission not for self-aggrandizement but for the sake of others. Their authenticity is reflected by their purity, cleanliness, gentleness, calmness, nonviolent, forgetful of themselves, detached and above all when they are humble and obedient to reason and grace.The perfect do not have to reflect on the details of their actions and deeds, neither do they need intelligentsia sycophancy.

And none of us thinks we are wrong about anything?
Ladies and Gentlemen our own APARTHEID, you be the judge.

May the Almighty GOD bless Kenyans indeed and lead them into a soul searching and a reflective 2007.

Martin Mule
Köln. Germany.

Published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525

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African Press in Norway to set up offices in Africa from 1.June

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

APN

Appointing permanent reporters in Kenya, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Liberia, Sudan and Nigeria

——————-

African Press in Norway will now seek to employ permanent coresspondents to be based in 7 African countries.

The person employed in each of the countries will open APN office in the region, but may be required to cover a wider area in news reporting.

APN is proud of this development. Offices in the mentioned countries will be opened and expected to be operational from 1 june this year.

APN has already started negotiations with the some of the countries in question in an effort to get permission to set up the offices, and also get guidance in connection with who the countries think are the good news organizations to cooperate with during this period when APN is in search of good partners in Africa in order to work with them in promoting balanced news coverage in the continent.

APN is yet to complete agreements with those who will be offered the jobs, but in some of the mentioned countries, APN is already negotiating with individuals who have shown interest in becoming reporters.

APN is happy that these individuals have taken contact and indicated their interest to join in this noble task of spreading information and knowledge to interested persons and communities.

APN takes the opportunity to thank organizations and Norway in particular for making it possible financially, for APN to expand and be present in Africa on a permanent basis.

APN thanks all the readers who visit our site because the statistics has made it possible for APN to get the support it required in order to expand services.

APN looks forward to have more readers world wide.

To all readers and financial supporters, APN wishes you a happy easter.

Published by Korir – Chief Editor, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525.

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ODM-Kenya symphatisers: Check this out: Story lifted from KenyaOnly.blogspot

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

KENYAONLY

The Kenya We Want: Root out Corruption, Corrupt leaders and fight tribal politics

Tuesday

ODM Kenya true colors


Are you wondering like me whether ODM-Kenya politicians are sincere or just want to take Kenyans for a ride? Are you among the most of us who want “MAISHA BORA”?

Well, so much has been said about ODM-Kenya and seems like even the strongest supporters of the party now realize that ODM-Kenya is just another vehicle that is being used by some of the most corrupt leaders to swing them to power.

Well ODM-K has already started promising “positions” for its financiers and supporters. I just wonder what positions are available for grab. According to African Press Norway (APN), Gilbert Deya has confirmed that he will be appointed High Commissioner in London!!!

Dont give up yet, the presidential hopeful are leaning more towards a federal government, a government that will have a president, prime minister and two deputy vice presidents just does not make sense since if asked, the government should try to streamline on the cabinet and adding three or four more senior posts is not only straining to a developing economy but also grounds of civil calamity assuming the three leaders do not get a long. Thats why ODM-Kenya is being labeled “Power Hungry”

Also ODM-Kenya seems to have the most “influential” corrupt individuals that the country has ever witnessed, maybe the best in the world…..they have looted us and still come back with a straight face asking for our votes….. Most of them are the same people who were in Original Kanu and never wanted anything to do with multi party politics. People of the William Ruto kind should not even be allowed to address the crowd, i just wonder what people see in them.
The same group has people who have been adversely mentioned in corruption, election fraud, tribal clashes, etc. the list is just too long. What worries me most is the fact that some leaders refused to go to London because one of their own aka Mr. Ruto, was denied visa to Britain thus they acted in solidarity. Considering Mr. Ruto was denied visa (if thats true) because of his name being involved in so many corruption deals, then what the are telling us is that they condone corruption.

So Whats ODM- K all about? Making sure that few people and their friends get senior government employment?

5 comments:

akinyi said…
its the kenyan way.. hata mimi I was promised a job. *scoff
11:09 PM  
G.G said…
Akinyi.hata wewe are you corrupt!!!
11:20 PM  
uncle joe said…
Mke Nyumbani :Todays recipes tomorrows disastersingridents
2 blood stained ole ntimama pangas
1 thieving ruto hand(1992 vintage)
87kgs.of a power hungry raila
1 Nyanza province size grabbed land from uhuru
2oz of mutula’s brain(that defended kanu for more than 15 years)
1/4 pound kalonzos diplomatic dawa
5 drops of tribal hatred at every press confrence
3 ounces of wit and headline grabbing antics
2 scoops of daily standard propaganda
1 doze of slanted ktn reporting
4 demonstrations &
3 secret trips to britain to seek instructions and award future government contracts

instructions

Add all the ingridents into a Bowl of Political Rallies.
Stir carefully and ask no deep questions. and bake for 3 years

presentation
4 foreign diplomats to give it a scent of legitimacy 10 african diplomats to give it continuental credit ,sprinkled with some remaining ktn slanted reporting ,glazed with an extra schoop of standard propaganda .

AND YOU HAVE AN ORANGE DISASTER CAKE

WARNING;
(in small print)
Consume quickly dont ask important question Now.
Ask when we are in power fighting over the next MOU.
Political ideologies and public policies not required .
Development cannot be garanteed.

11:31 AM  
Kenyanomics said…
I agree with KenyaPekee, the free-stuff campaign rhetoric is a one bumpy safetybeltless ride. They keep bragging on how the national cake will be shared, but non of them is saying from which shamba mahindi will come from or which kisiagi will process unga. They just want to be wapishis.Even Kibaki does not know from where billions for new constituencies will come from. More MPs mean 2 more Billions for CDF, and another Billion for MPs’ salaries.

11:46 AM  
G.G said…
@uncle Joe…….The coating of that cake looks great, but the ingredients are disaster. We need to look at the bigger picture, I wonder how MAISHA BORA will be with all those people put together. If they can not get along now….when they are powerless what will happen when one of them is the president and the other one is the prime minister
@kenyanomics, we are always tied to free stuff when it comes to elections and thats where we go wrong, we seem to vote for promises rather that ideas that are reasonable and can be implemented.\\for you Kenyaonly, if its true that ODM has already started dishing out prospective embassies to criminals then we are better with the thief we know.

2:13 PM  

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HRW Letter to Kenyan Director of Political Affairs Thomas Amolo

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

 

March 22, 2007  
Thomas Amolo  
Director of Political Affairs  
Ministry of Foreign Affairs  
Nairobi, Kenya  
 
Dear Mr. Amolo:  
 
Human Rights Watch was pleased to meet with you recently in Nairobi and we appreciate the time you took to discuss several issues with our researcher.  
 
As discussed in the meeting on February 28, 2007, Human Rights Watch writes to provide further details regarding issues of concern related to the Somalia crisis, particularly the arbitrary detention, deportation, and apparent enforced disappearance of dozens of individuals who fled Somalia in December 2006 and January 2007.

Human Rights Watch’s research has found that the governments of Kenya, Ethiopia, the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, and the United States have closely cooperated in a detention operation along the Kenyan-Somali border following the armed conflict between the Union of Islamic Courts and the joint forces of the Transitional Federal Government and Ethiopia.  
 
All parties to the armed conflict in Somalia—including the various Somali forces and participating Ethiopian and US military forces—must abide by international law, including provisions relating to the treatment of civilians and combatants captured in the context of the conflict. Individuals detained in Kenya upon fleeing Somalia should be treated in accordance with international human rights law, including the protections codified in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and, when applicable, the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.  
 
Detainees are entitled under Kenyan and international law to be protected from torture and other mistreatment under all circumstances and at all times. This includes individuals suspected of affiliation with groups responsible for serious violations of international law, including the Union of Islamic Courts, Al Qaeda, and Ethiopian insurgency movements such as the Oromo Liberation Front or the Ogaden National Liberation Front. All countries, including Kenya, are prohibited from expelling or transferring any individuals to countries where they might be subjected to torture or other forms of mistreatment.  
 
Arbitrary Detention  
Human Rights Watch’s recent research in Kenya indicates that since late December 2006, Kenyan security forces arrested at least 150 individuals from some 18 different nationalities at Liboi and Kiunga border crossing points with Somalia. The Kenyan authorities then transferred these individuals to Nairobi where they were detained in prisons and other detention facilities in and around Nairobi for periods that exceed the length of time permitted for pre-trial detention under Kenyan law. Article 9 of the ICCPR, which Kenya ratified in 1976, prohibits arbitrary detention.  
 
While in detention in Nairobi, US and/or other national intelligence services interrogated several foreign nationals who were denied access to their consular representatives. At least 85 people were then secretly deported from Kenya to Somalia in what appears to be a joint rendition operation of those individuals of interest to the Somali, Ethiopian, or US governments.  
 
The conditions of detention of the 150 people detained in Kenya appear to violate Kenyan and international legal standards. From early January through early March 2007, Kenyan regular and anti-terrorism police engaged in an apparent policy of holding individuals detained in connection to the Somalia crisis in incommunicado detention, with no regard to the legal procedures underway respecting several of these individuals in the Kenyan courts, the court orders of the Kenyan judiciary, or the standards embodied in the ICCPR. For instance, the Human Rights Committee—the international body that monitors compliance with the ICCPR—has stated that incommunicado detention may violate ICCPR Article 7 (prohibiting torture and ill-treatment) and Article 10 (safeguards for persons deprived of their liberty).  
 
According to eyewitness and first-hand accounts, Human Rights Watch has learned that the Kenyan police denied many detainees access to family members, legal counsel, diplomatic representatives, and representatives of human rights groups, including members of the Kenyan National Human Rights Commission. On a number of occasions, family members inquired at police stations where they had reasonable grounds to believe their relatives were held, but police officials deliberately misinformed them, and told them their relatives were not held at that location.  
 
In addition, dozens of individuals were held in prisons and other detention facilities in and around Nairobi for several weeks, long exceeding the standard 24-hour period for detention without charge and even the 14-day limit provided for pre-trial detention for capital offenses under Kenyan law.  
 
Information obtained by Human Rights Watch indicates that Kenyan security forces and foreign intelligence services closely cooperated during the detention and interrogation phase of the operation in Kenya. Several credible witnesses reported being questioned and sometimes threatened by members of US or other national intelligence services while simultaneously being denied access to their consular representatives.  
 
For example, Canadian consular officials were refused access to Canadian national Bashir Ahmed Makhtal while he was in detention at a Nairobi police station in January 2007, but in the same period he was interrogated by several individuals from the Kenyan anti-terrorism police unit as well as by people he believed to be from Ethiopian security services.  
 
Several US nationals—Daniel Joseph Maldonado and Amir Mohamed Meshal—and several UK nationals were also interrogated by members of the US security and British services respectively, which appeared to be operating in close cooperation with Kenyan security services, but were simultaneously denied access to US and UK consular officials.  
 
Illegal Rendition or Expulsion in Violation of National and International Law  
Human Rights Watch is particularly concerned that many of the individuals detained by the Kenyan security services were subsequently rendered from Kenya into the custody of Somali and Ethiopian authorities in Somalia. Given the ongoing conflict in Somalia, the lack of a functioning justice system, and widespread human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch has serious concerns about the security and conditions of detention in Mogadishu and other locations in Somalia.  
 
Most of the 85 people known to have been expelled from Kenyan detention were suddenly and secretly deported from Kenya to Mogadishu and Baidoa, Somalia, on three flights on January 20, January 27, and February 10 respectively. Members of the Kenyan security services were present on all three flights to Somalia. The January flights were reportedly chartered by African Express Airways from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, and the February 10 flight was chartered by Bluebird Aviation from Wilson Airport.  
 
For example, the Canadian citizen Bashir Ahmed Makhtal was among at least 34 people secretly deported from Kenya to Somalia on January 20, 2007 on an African Express Airways flight to Mogadishu that included at least 11 people believed to be of Ethiopian Oromo origin, at least four individuals of Ethiopian Somali origin, and at least three alleged Eritrean nationals.  
 
Although the exact location and conditions of detention of Bashir Makhtal and the other individuals deported with him are unknown, we are concerned that these people and others have now been transferred to Ethiopia. It is essential that all of these individuals are able to access consular representatives, when relevant, as well as independent international monitors, such as delegates from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).  
 
The evidence shows that Kenyan authorities were coordinating the deportation flights. In one case documented by Human Rights Watch, the Kenyan Ministry of State for Immigration and Registration of Persons provided a declaration on January 26, 2007 authorizing the deportation of Tuwein Kamilya Mohamed—a citizen of the United Arab Emirates—on the grounds that her presence in Kenya was “contrary to national interest.” Ms. Mohamed was expelled the following day on the African Express Airways flight of January 27, 2007 to Mogadishu, and Human Rights Watch has been unable to locate her since her transfer to Somalia.  
 
At the time of their deportation, a few individuals were the subject of habeas corpus applications in the Kenyan courts. This includes Tunisian national Inez Chine, who was deported on February 10 to Baidoa despite the fact that a habeas corpus application was filed in the Kenyan courts on January 31.  
 
Family members and human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, are making efforts to trace the locations of many of these individuals. These efforts however are difficult given that the Ethiopian and Somali authorities have yet to acknowledge that dozens of individuals were detained under their authority or to provide full access to international monitors seeking to visit detention facilities. Of those individuals believed to be in Ethiopia, at least one, US national Amir Mohammed Meshal—who was previously detained in Kenya and deported to Baidoa, Somalia on February 10, 2007—now appears to be held at a maximum security prison in Addis Ababa.  
 
Risk of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment  
Human Rights Watch is extremely concerned that many of the individuals expelled from Kenya to Somalia and then Ethiopia in January and February face a serious risk of torture and other mistreatment at the hands of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, the Ethiopian authorities, or both. Article 3 of the Convention against Torture, which Kenya ratified in 1997, states that no state party “[s]hall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”  
 
Evidence suggests that some of the detainees were subsequently transferred to Ethiopia following their deportation to Somalia. Human Rights Watch fears that many of the detainees will face mistreatment and possibly torture or execution in Ethiopian custody. Human Rights Watch has previously documented that Ethiopian forces routinely engage in torture of criminal, political and military detainees, and in its recent human rights country report on Ethiopia, the US State Department noted that in Ethiopia “[t]here were numerous credible reports that security officials often beat or mistreated detainees. Opposition political parties reported frequent and systematic abuse of their supporters by police and regional militias. . . . in detention centers police often physically abused detainees.”  
 
A large number of the individuals who were expelled are Ethiopian nationals from the Oromia and Somali regions of Ethiopia. Several Eritrean nationals were also among the individuals secretly deported from Kenya on the January 20 flight to Mogadishu. Ethiopian security services may suspect some individuals of having connections to Ethiopian insurgency movements, in which case they may face torture or even summary execution if delivered into Ethiopian custody. Human Rights Watch is equally concerned about the security of other individuals who may be linked, or perceived to be connected, to the Union of Islamic Courts and who have now been delivered into the custody of the Transitional Federal Government.  
 
Human Rights Watch is also concerned that among the individuals expelled to Somalia by the Kenyan government were some individuals who, based on the identification documents we have collected, appear to have been Kenyan citizens. In addition, a few of the foreign nationals had Kenyan residency or possessed valid Kenyan visas. For the Kenyan government to deport its own citizens or others legally residing in Kenya to Somalia without any judicial procedure presents a serious breach of their due process rights. For Kenyan citizens, such action could effectively render them stateless, a serious violation of international law. Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “[n]o one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.”  
 
New Detentions in Kenya  
Finally, Human Rights Watch has received credible reports that the Kenyan security services have detained additional people in recent weeks. Based on the recent patterns of detention, we are concerned that these individuals may face the prospect of incommunicado detention in Kenya or the risk of rendition to Ethiopia or other countries where they may be tortured and mistreated.  
 
We urge the Kenyan government to ensure that any individuals detained in Kenya within the context of counter terrorism operations or detention operations linked to the Somalia conflict are permitted access to legal counsel as required under Kenyan and international law and to independent international monitors such as the ICRC.  
 
We also urge the Kenyan government to publicly and privately call on the government of Ethiopia and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to immediately acknowledge those individuals detained in their respective countries and permit international access by diplomatic representatives and independent monitors such as the ICRC.  
 
Furthermore, we call on the Kenyan government to undertake immediate efforts to secure the prompt return to Kenya of those Kenyan nationals who have been illegally deported as well as those foreign nationals who were Kenyan residents.  
 
We would be pleased to provide further information should you require it, and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.  
 
Sincerely,  
 
Peter Takirambudde  
Executive Director, Africa Division  
 
Cc:

    Mr. Thuita Mwangi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs  
    Hon. John Michuki, Minister for Internal Security  
    Hon. Martha Karua, Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs

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People Fleeing Somalia War Secretly Detained: Kenya, US and Ethiopia Cooperate in Secret Detentions and Renditions

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

(
New York, March 30, 2007) –
Kenya,
Ethiopia, the
United States and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia cooperated in a secret detention program for people who had fled the recent conflict in
Somalia, Human Rights Watch said today.

Each of these governments has played a shameful role in mistreating people fleeing a war zone.
Kenya has secretly expelled people, the Ethiopians have caused dozens to ‘disappear,’ and
US security agents have routinely interrogated people held incommunicado.
 

 In a March 22 letter to the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights Watch detailed the arbitrary detention, expulsion and apparent enforced disappearance of dozens of individuals who fled the fighting between the Union of Islamic Courts and the joint forces of the Transitional Federal Government and Ethiopia from December 2006 through January 2007.   “Each of these governments has played a shameful role in mistreating people fleeing a war zone,” said Georgette Gagnon, deputy
Africa director of Human Rights Watch. “
Kenya has secretly expelled people, the Ethiopians have caused dozens to ‘disappear,’ and
US security agents have routinely interrogated people held incommunicado.” 
 Human Rights Watch’s recent research in
Kenya indicates that since late December 2006, Kenyan security forces arrested at least 150 individuals from some 18 different nationalities at the Liboi and Kiunga border crossing points with
Somalia. The Kenyan authorities then transferred these individuals to
Nairobi where they were detained incommunicado and without charge for weeks in violation of Kenyan law. 
 Human Rights Watch recognizes that
Kenya may have valid security concerns regarding people seeking refuge within its borders. Nonetheless these concerns must be addressed through a fair process in accordance with international law, not arbitrarily at the expense of fundamental human rights. 
 US and other national intelligence services interrogated several foreign nationals in detention in
Nairobi, who were denied access to legal counsel and their consular representatives. At least 85 people were then secretly deported from
Kenya to
Somalia in what appears to be a joint rendition operation of those individuals of interest to the Somali, Ethiopian, or US governments. 
 Human Rights Watch obtained the flight manifests for three flights from
Kenya to
Mogadishu and
Baidoa, Somalia in January and February 2007. Each manifest listed the names of several Kenyan police officers who accompanied the detainees. 
 Many of the people expelled from
Kenya were later transferred from
Somalia to
Ethiopia, but their exact locations in
Ethiopia are unknown. Several detainees managed to briefly contact relatives prior to or following their transfer to
Ethiopia, and said they were being held with numerous other people who had been deported from
Kenya and
Somalia. 
 

“Dozens of people have effectively disappeared into Ethiopian detention facilities,” said Gagnon. “It’s imperative that the Ethiopians acknowledge the people they are holding and permit independent international access to them.”

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UN: Rights Council Remains Timid in Face of Abuses: Darfur Resolution Provides Basis for Further Action

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

  (Geneva, March 30, 2007) – The UN Human Rights Council closed its fourth regular session today having failed to take action to address many of the world’s most urgent human rights situations, Human Rights Watch said today. The council adoption of a compromise text regarding the crisis in Darfur, however, was a welcome if small step forward. 

 The council’s resolution on Darfur is a relatively bright light in an otherwise disappointing session.  

 “The council again chose talk over action on worsening human rights situations in countries such as Burma, Iran, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan,” said Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “The council’s resolution on Darfur is a relatively bright light in an otherwise disappointing session.”   The council adopted the Darfur text put forward by Germany, as amended, by consensus, after extended negotiations involving a competing Algerian draft. The resolution establishes a group composed of six currently-serving independent experts on a range of abuses – including violence against women, extrajudicial executions and torture – and led by the council-appointed expert on Sudan. The expert group is charged with working to ensure follow-up and implementation of existing recommendations by the council and its experts, by the council’s predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights, and by other UN human rights institutions. The group is also charged with reporting back to the council in June.

The text does not, however, criticize the Sudanese government directly for its role in orchestrating and perpetrating massive violations of human rights and humanitarian law in Darfur. Several African states played a critical role in breaking the council’s silence on Darfur. Six states – Cameroon, Ghana, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal and Zambia – called for council action in response to a report on Darfur from a high-level mission established by the council in December.

These and other states, including Uganda and Mauritania, engaged constructively in discussions over the German text. A key test for the council will be whether these and other swing states such as India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Africa will engage similarly to address abuses in other locations in the future.   

The council continued its practice of hearing detailed reporting from its independent experts on human rights violations who focus both on “thematic” issues, such as torture or violence against women, and on particular country situations. This segment of the council’s agenda shines a spotlight on violations in many countries, an act which could itself help to protect human rights in some cases. However, the council again failed to take specific action to follow up on the experts’ recommendations, often made in the face of massive violations, or to address the endemic failure of many states to cooperate fully with the experts. 

In a particularly disturbing development, the council decided to end its scrutiny of Iran and Uzbekistan. Both countries had been subject to council monitoring under a confidential procedure known as 1503 (after the resolution that created it). The human rights situations in both countries have significantly deteriorated in the past year.   “The council’s decision actually rewarded Iran and Uzbekistan for their crackdowns on human rights, and it risks fueling further abuses in both countries,” Hicks said. “Rather than worrying how repressive governments will respond to scrutiny, council members should think of the thousands of victims in
Uzbekistan and Iran who are hoping the council will make a difference.” 
 

The council also adopted a resolution on defamation of religions that could itself endanger human rights, Human Rights Watch said. The resolution, put forward by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, focuses on protection of religions themselves, particularly Islam, rather than the rights of individuals, including members of religious minorities. This approach, and a provision which notes that free expression can be limited based on “respect for religions and beliefs,” could be used to justify encroachments upon freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

 More positively, the council adopted by consensus a European Union resolution which addresses elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief, and calls for the council to address this issue at its sixth session this June.   On a more positive note, 57 states led by Argentina joined together to urge the council to address violations of the human rights of women and girls in a more effective and integrated manner than its predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights. More than 30 states also supported the new “Yogyakarta Principles” on sexual orientation, gender identity, and human rights and urged the council to take action on these issues.   

The common refrain of this session was the need to complete “institution-building,” and the concern that too much activity on pressing human rights issues would undermine that focus. A review of the council’s system of experts and of the Resolution 1503 procedure is scheduled to be completed by June 18. In addition, the council was given a year to establish a “universal periodic review” under which the human rights situation in all states will be examined.   “A substantial backlog of work has piled up as the council focused on building the new institution this year,” Hicks said. “Let’s hope the council has the energy and political will to get down to business once the institution-building phase ends in June.”   

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“Silent genocide” in Kenya’s west – women’s group

Posted by African Press International on April 5, 2007

Source: Reuters

NAIROBI, April 3 (Reuters) – Nearly 140 Kenyans have been killed and 45,000 have been driven from their homes by a rash of land clashes in the country’s west, a leading women’s group said on Tuesday. Six months of violence in the fertile Mount Elgon region near the Ugandan border is a “silent genocide” of women and children, the Maendeleo Ya Wanawake consortium of women’s groups with 2 million members said. Six more people were killed overnight within earshot of the top regional government officer’s residence, underscoring a continuing pattern of violence sparked by competition for land and resources in Kenya’s more far-flung corners. The attacks have targeted men, women and children, but the women’s group said the women and children were especially at risk. “Women are being raped, children are maimed by bullets then forced to flee their homes. We must stop the death and the trauma before we can begin negotiating land disputes,” spokeswoman Rukia Subow told a Nairobi news conference. “The violence is forcing thousands to go running for the caves. It is an embarrassment for peace-loving Kenya,” she said. Land is an explosive issue in the east African nation. For decades, top politicians grabbed public land for political patronage, dividing it among members of their tribe or giving it to other tribes to buy loyalty. The clashes broke out late last year when people displaced from their ancestral land in a government settlement scheme attacked members of a rival clan who were awarded plots, local members of parliament have said. Police blame the violence on criminal gangs, notably a group of young men calling themselves the Sabaot Land Defence Force. “The armed militias must be brought into the peace process,” Subow said. “Most are just young men, and unemployed.” In the past, politicians keen to keep their seats have clandestinely encouraged clashes and given sanctuary to those who started them at their behest. Kenya has sent police including its elite paramilitary General Service Unit into the region to crack down on the bloodshed, but they have been accused of beating people for confessions, burning homes and raping women. Similar clashes over land and resources have occurred sporadically for years in Kenya, most often in its poorer and neglected regions — especially along its lengthy borders with Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. Regional conflicts have made guns easy to acquire and a necessity of daily life in some of the most remote areas where there is little police presence.

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