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Archive for April 30th, 2007

Uganda: Uganda’s 1962 constitution evolved from revenge and deceit

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2007

By Ham Mukasa

The American constitution was a product of wisdom and statesmanship of its framers over 200 years ago.

Unlike the American constitution, the Uganda independence constitution of 1962 resulted from a process which was marred by intrigues, revenge and deceit whose effects spilled over into the independence period. This meant that Ugandans did not enjoy the lilies of freedom for almost the first 25 years as politicians of every hew plotted and conspired against each other and the successful ones wreaked vengeance on their opponents by detaining them without trial or putting them out completely. In this way, almost every family in the country experienced the effects of bad governance either directly or vicariously through relatives or friends.

To understand our long trudge to independence one has to start with the deportation to Britain on November 30, 1953 of the Kabaka of Buganda, Edward Mutesa following a disagreement with the governor, Sir Andrew Cohen, regarding future constitutional developments. The proposed developments included the introduction of the east African federation along the lines of the one in central Africa. Mutesa’s rustication stirred the country as it was seen as a sign of Britain’s insensitivity to local aspirarations.

A delegation of five which was sent to London by the Buganda lukiko succeeded in convincing both the British government and public of the folly of the governor’s action but the idea of the mighty Britania being defeated by an African potentate was difficult to swallow. This led to an impasse which was only broken by a leading Oxford University africanist, Professor Margerry Pelham who suggested in a letter to the Times of April 11, 1954 that a constitutional expert should be sent to Uganda to work out a new

Pelham’s idea was bought by the British government and as a result, an Australia professor Sir Keith Hancock who was at the time head of the Institute of International Studies was sent to Uganda to chair a committee of 12 which discussed new constitutional proposals. The committee’s report formed the basis of a new Buganda agreement and the constitution of 1955 as well as the return of the Kabaka.

Of interest to the rest of the country was the agreement that the next major stage in constitutional development would be in 1961. This agreement flagged 1961 as the year the country would get at least its self-government. The British government’s plan was to work towards that goal through systematic evolution in the legislative council, the country’s parliament at the time.

However, events conspired to make the journey to that goal rather problematic. At the time three political parties controlled the political scene namely the Uganda National Congress (UNC) the largest party, the Democratic Party and the Progressive Party. Unfortunately, the UNC lost its way in 1957 and splintered into two parties, the new one being the
United Congress Party.

Earlier, all the political parties united to fight a proposal by the Buganda lukiko to distribute 150 square miles among “loyal subjects” and the outcry the campaign raised led to the Kabaka ordering Mengo to drop the idea.

Mengo never forgave the parties and it embarked on a campaign against them accusing them of being anti-Kabaka and persecuted the party leaders in a senseless manner which in the end debilitated the parties in Buganda especially when Mengo convinced the governor that it was the only authority which could discuss Buganda’s affairs.

The result of Mengo’s policies rendered political parties almost irrelevant in our constitutional development.

In his recent book Social Origins of Violence in Uganda, Professor A. B. K. Kasozi tells us that at this time there were four groups of political players in Buganda namely the nationalists, the educated elite, the neo-traditionalists and the catholic elite, a classification which could be replicated countrywide. To these groups could be added the elected members of the legistive council who included such people as Apollo Milton Obote, John Babiha, George Magezi, Cuthbert Obwangor and others.

The future of the country was largely determined by the way these groups interfaced in the run-up to independence. Three developments took place which determined the future of the country and who would rule it in the end. First the neo-traditionalists at Mengo followed an isolationist policy and negotiated directly with the colonial government something which did not go well with the other groups.

Secondly, in order to regain the initiative from Mengo, the nationalists united in the Uganda National Movement which declared a trade boycott. Only DP and Jolly Joe Kiwanuka’s faction of UNC which included Obote kept out of the movement.

The government reacted to the boycott by deporting the movement leaders. In order to fill the gap which was created, the elected members of the legislative Council (Legco) formed themselves into the Uganda Peoples Party which proved to be ineffective and through the efforts of Barbara Saben who was a member of the legco and a fan of Obote, the party joined with Obote’s faction of UNC to form the Uganda Peoples Congress with a declared anti-Buganda stance.

It was now clear that the struggle for the country’s leadership was going to be between the UPC and the DP with the neo-traditionalist playing the leadership role in Buganda, a situation that suggested that any future government would have to be a coalition with all that it portended.

DP’s Ben Kiwanuka refused to compromise with this and although the party won the elections in 1961 which were boycotted in Buganda, the party lost out at the constitutional conference in London in July 1962 at which Obote’s UPC formed an alliance with Mengo in which Mengo agreed to deliver all Buganda’s 21 MPs to UPC.

To achieve the objective of defeating DP out of power, a conspiracy to which the British government must have been a tacit player was conceived to hold another general election just before independence and to have Buganda’s MPs indirectly elected by the Lukiko which would ensure victory for UPC.

Thus, a pseudo-socialist party joined hands with a neo-traditionalist establishment to lead us into independence on the back of a conspiracy. Tragedy was only a few years away.

BY:A Good Muganda With Historical Facts.
Ham G Mukasa

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The fourth edition of the election of Benin’s stoutest woman dubbed ’Reine Hanan (Hanan Queen)”, will convene on 26 May

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2007

Cotonou (Benin) The fourth edition of the election of Benin’s stoutest woman dubbed ’Reine Hanan (Hanan Queen)”, will convene on 26 May at the Cotonou International Conference Centre, the organisers told APA on Saturday.

According to the chairperson of the organising committee of this event, Jocelyne Alladayè, this beauty contest seeks to “promote Beninese women who enjoy the most beautiful behind together with a wholesome natural black skin’’.

For Alladayè, the term ’’Hanan’’ means a stout and plump woman in the Fon language.

“This contest is open to all Beninese women both single and married with or without children and aged between 25 to 45 years able to speak fluently the language of her region”, she explained, adding that physical assets such as a behind of at least 1 m 65 is required.

Thus she went on to say, the winning trio comprising the queen and her two successors will be picked among the fifteen contestants who will get prizes from mobile phones to women’s motorcycles.

“The Hanan Queen will win a prize worth 500, 000 CFA francs”, she added.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn,, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525, source.apa

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The Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (ETC) and a Chinese Telecom Company ZTE Saturday signed a US$120 million agreement

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2007

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) The Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (ETC) and a Chinese Telecom Company ZTE Saturday signed a US$120 million agreement providing for the execution of three telecom service expansion projects, APA learnt here.

According to a statement from the ETC, the project agreement includes the first phase of a fiber transmission project, expansion of mobile telephone services for the forthcoming Ethiopian new millennium as well as expansion of wireless telephone service throughout the country.

Amare Amsalu, the ETC Chief Executive Officer said his corporation has been exerting utmost efforts to enhance the telecommunication services and bring the country in line with other countries in the sub-region.

Amsalu said the projects are meant to improve infrastructure in the country and provie it with the best communication facilities and telephone network services. “Installation of the fiber optic cable would enable the country to have international connections via Kenya in addition to the existing ones via Sudan and Djibouti,” Amsalu said.

According to the agreement, some 1.2 mobile telephone lines would be provided to subscribers in Addis Ababa and other eight towns in connection with the upcoming Ethiopian new millennium celebrations due to begin in June 2007.

ETC also indicated that the first phase of the wireless telephone expansion project with the capacity of 652,000 telephone lines would also be executed.

Upon completion, Amsalu said,the projects would enable the corporation to provide standardized and quality telecommunication services to its customers.

Amsalu said the projects would also increase the number of fixed and mobile telephone service subscribers to over 14 million.

Ethiopia is still among countires that have poor telecommunication infrastructure in Africa.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Mali: The Malian government Saturday dismissed the vote rigging claims made by the opposition

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2007

Bamako (Mali) The Malian government Saturday dismissed the vote rigging claims made by the opposition, arguing that it had involved the latter in all the stages of the electoral process leading to the presidential elections on Sunday in Mali.

Speaking before dozens of international observers who arrived in Mali to monitor the presidential poll, Malian Local Government Minister Kafougouna Koné dismissed any “tampering” with the voters’ register as claimed by the opposition. He blamed the “inadequacies” reported on the poor state of the register used to make an annual review of the voters’ lists which themselves help draw up the electoral rolls. “Deaths are still not notified to us”, observed Koné who was accompanied by his counterpart of the Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Moctar Ouane as well as the head of the Elections Department (DGE), the body in charge of running the electoral list in Mali.

Kone justified the innovations included in this year’s electoral code (sponsoring of presidential candidates, single ballot paper) for the sake of economy as the last presidential election in 2002 cost 100 million CFA francs to each of the 23 candidates. The Malian minister further noted that the rate of the voters’ cards’ withdrawal had slightly increased from about 64% to a 66.68 overall average or some 4.5 million voters out of the seven million that are expected to cast their ballots on Sunday.

The slight increase is believed to be caused by the withdrawal of cards from distribution centres set up for Malian expatriates. For the future distribution of cards, some traditions banning Malian women from going out “need to be addressed” in the future, Koné suggested while pledging to make arrangements according to the law for the non-distributed voters’ cards to be made available in polling stations at the latest at 8 o’clock, the time agreed to begin voting exercise across the country.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Gambia: The Gambia accords high priority to science, research and technology education

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2007

Banjul (The Gambia) The Gambia accords high priority to science, research and technology education, and has plans to establish a science park and a maths. academy for young Gambians to prepare them for advanced training in science and technology, says the Gambian minister of High Education, Science, Research and Technology, Crispen Grey-Johnson.

Mr. Grey-Johnson made the pledge Friday when he met the Taiwanese ambassador to The Gambia. Dr. Patrick Chan, who led a visiting Taiwanese delegation on a courtesy call to the minister’s office.

The delegation, from the Taiwanese International Development Fund, are in The Gambia to acquaint themselves with the industrial and educational policies of the country.

According to Minister Gey-Johnson, the government cannot realise the Millennium Development Goals and the goals set in Vision 2020 or to achieve its silicon valley vision without such establishments.

Ambassador Chan, in his turn assured the minister that Taiwan will share its experience with The Gambia to enable it achieve its Vision 2020 goals and plans for a silicon valley industry. He lauded President Jammeh for pursuing such initiatives.

In a related development, Taiwan this week provided a trainer in computer technology at a centre which will train Gambians in the field of computer technology. The centre has already started operations.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Homosexuals come out in Kenya

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2007

By Malaysia Sun

Luzau Basambombo spent six months in a Kinshasa prison, abused over and over again. The Congolese human rights activist suspects that he was put behind bars because he openly admitted being homosexual. ‘If you are gay in Congo, you become an outlaw,’ he says.

After being released from prison, he left Congo for Uganda where he was granted asylum. ‘When the authorities found out that I was gay, I was asked to leave the country,’ he says.

Today, the 38-year-old Congolese lives in Nairobi and he feels comfortable there. ‘Things are changing here in Kenya – in favour of us.’

Gays and Lesbians are prosecuted in most African countries. In some Nigerian federal states, where the Muslim sharia law is in force, homosexuals are stoned to death.

Changes to the law are planned, after which even people who only talk about homosexuality can be sent to prison.

In Zimbabwe, head of state Robert Mugabe compared gays to pigs and dogs. Namibian police are instructed to arrest homosexuals and expel them from the country.

South Africa is the only country on the continent that has legalized same-sex marriages.

In Kenya, homosexuality between men is legally prohibited as well. Homosexual relationships between women are not mentioned. Statutes that date from the colonial period provide for prison sentences of up to 14 years.

‘Despite that, nobody gets imprisoned in Kenya just because he is homosexual,’ says Angus Parkinson of Liverpool VCT, a support centre in Nairobi. ‘Kenya is heading in a different direction from its neighbours.’

The second public gay party is going to take place in Nairobi in May, the first one being celebrated in January during the World Social Forum, with Kenyan gay groups going public for the first time.

‘Five years ago, under the rule of president Daniel Arap Moi, this would have been unthinkable,’ says Jeremy Mirie of the gay, lesbian, bi and transsexual lobby Galebitra.

At present, there are eight organizations, which are campaigning for the legalization of homosexuality and which give advice to gays and lesbians, for instance informing them about AIDS and HIV.

The state HIV/AIDS campaign has explicitly addressed homosexuals since last year.

US TV series with openly gay main characters such as Will and Grace are now shown on television. ‘The more people talk about us, the more normal it gets,’ Mirie hopes.

However, there can be no talk of a visible gay community in Kenya. There are neither bars nor clubs hoisting the rainbow flag.

Charles Mwangi almost whispers when talking about his coming-out in a Nairobi bar as the publican is said to have banned homosexuals.

‘Two weeks ago, I had four beers before telling my parents I was gay’, Mwangi says. ‘My father sent me flying out of the house straight away.’

Mwangi comes from Muranga, a small town about 60 kilometres north of Nairobi. ‘It will take 100 years until a father there accepts that his son is gay,’ he says.

Even gay activists do not talk to their families about their sexuality. Peter Njoroge works as an HIV/AIDS counsellor and with others, he is organizing the first gay demonstration in Kenya.

Nevertheless, he could never tell his mother that he is gay. ‘Kenyan families are not ready for that, yet,’ he says.

‘Who knows, I might even get married and have children one day. After all, I am the only son and expected to do so.’

Posted to APN by Karuga wa Njuguna
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History being Made as Kenyans in the UK start their own “Diaspora Parliament”

Posted by African Press International on April 30, 2007

Posted to APN by Karuga wa Njuguna

A Kenyans in the UK have formed a replica Parliament to discuss their problems here and those back home.

The mock parliament deliberations takes place in a posh hotel in Central London where more than 3o Kenyans have already been meeting once a month for the last six months.

This Parliament, full with a speaker, a deputy speaker and a Clerk to the Assembly corrects some of the brain minds in the UK.

But the group said it is still very early to be made public, as they were still working out on the modalities of how to conduct its businesses and a cabinent is still to be formed.

The Speaker and the Artoney General are two London lawyers who are originally from Kenya, while some of MPs include a journalist, a millionaire businessman, a medical doctor, a priest an a retired politician, to mention but a few.

I was invited to the debates but sworn to secrecy as the founders want to put everything in place before inviting members of the public.

The Diaspora Parliament, the founders said, would be launched here in London by a senior politician from Kenya and is aimed at encouraging Kenyans to take part in constructive discussions amongst themselves.

The discussions which are well documented by the way of Video recording and verbatim reporting as they will be later used in the Kenyan TVs.

“We have signed an agreement with a Kenyan media house to air our debates. We have currently selected two debates of half an hour each for such purpose. We want to make a series of 15 before we hand them over to the media house for editing and broadcasting,” The interim Minister for Information and Broadcasting, who is himself a journalist said.

He said that the idea was very original and that the current government had offered technical and moral support. Some of the contributions made in this Diaspora Parliament are far much better than those made by the real parliamentarians the world over.

With this parliament, history is being made by Kenyans living in the UK. Be part of it

Most of the parliamentarians are drawn from some of Kenya’s defined constituencies, and the idea is to have as many Mps as those in the real parliament.

Three of those in the Diaspora Parliament have declared their interests in vying for parliamentary seats in the next general elections.

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