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Archive for August 4th, 2007

Kenya hotting up as general elections draws near. Raila loses ODM-K battle to Kalonzo Musyoka

Posted by African Press International on August 4, 2007

By Oscar Obonyo And Mutinda Mwanzia

It was in literal terms the most unlikely political alliance and like in the celebrity gold and diamonds weddings, the question quickly popped up how long will it last?

ODM-Kenya Presidential aspirant Mr Kalonzo Musyoka again said he neither moved house nor defected he just switched rooms but remained under the same roof.

His fiercest rival in the party, Langata MP Mr Raila Odinga, declared Kalonzos move a defection and added he would not be part of the theatrics.

On Friday, as a result of the infighting in ODM-Kenya, and the string of conflicting letters the two sets of officials are sending the Registrar of Societies, the Government gave the party 30 days to sort out the mess or face deregistration.

To complete the picture of the threat facing ODM-Kenya after the registered chairman Mr Daniel Maanzo picked up the warning letter at Sheria House, the Government spokesman circulated press statement to the same effect in his official website.

The clouds of confusion over who owns ODM-Kenya, the sustained bid by the Kalonzo team to take over its bank accounts, and the missing certificate which has again turned out to be in the Mwingi North MPs vault have all added up to put the fate of ODM-Kenya on the balance.

The surprise decision to join the little-known party led by another ODM-Kenya presidential aspirant, Dr Julia Ojiambo, was a reaction to the formula fronted by Eldoret North MP Mr William Ruto giving Raila the presidency in a ODM government, and the number two slot to Kalonzo.

Even as the mainstream ODM-Kenya which has under its wings the other presidential aspirants , former Vice President Musalia Mudavadi, Mvita MP Mr Najib Balala, Gachoka MP Mr Joe Nyagah, Raila and Ruto ponder the future, Kalonzo-Ojiambo bloodless coup still lingers in the shadows.

Kalonzo to skip unity rally

The aftertaste of the fallout will be replayed on Saturday when the leaders meet for a rally in Kakamega. Kalonzo last evening sent out an apology to his colleagues saying he will be attending the Mwingi Cultural Festival.

Although Kalonzo and Ojiambo have a long history, having served together as officials of the former ruling party Kanu in the late 80s through to early 1990s, their resolution to walk the same path and Kalonzos perceived boardroom coup has attracted the ire of other presidential contenders.

Going by their language and rapprochement last week, Kalonzos move appears to have moderately succeeded in shoring up relations between Raila, Ruto and Musalia. Balala and Nyagah have equally expressed solidarity with this group.

Except for the six-point statement read by former Public Works minister, Mr Andrew Kiptoon, which appeared to install Kalonzo as the de facto leader of ODM, the switch from the Liberal Democratic Party to Labour Party of Kenya raised eyebrows.

The statement not only declared ODM-Kenya a coalition, contrary to the position of the other presidential hopefuls, but also went further to mandate Kalonzo to initiate immediate structured and honest discussions with other presidential hopefuls.

But Ojiambo distances herself from the statement: “LPK and I had absolutely nothing to do with the press statement read out to the media on that day. Those were purely resolutions of the LDP defectors.”

And much as Kalonzo is a big catch for LPK, it is intriguing that Ojiambo opted to receive a defector at his presidential campaign secretariat instead of the other way round at LPK headquarters. The move could be a clear pointer of who now calls the shots in the new alliance.

Stephen and Julia have indeed come along way. And as times get tougher within the Orange party, the two now on one side of the net are curiously living up to their saintly Biblical names.

Julia, the Roman Christian to whom Paul sent greetings, is a name that points to a member of the imperial household. Her small party notwithstanding, the LPK leader is currently at the centre of focus within ODM. She is the holder of political power in an outfit Kalonzo hopes to inherit.

Stephen, on the other hand, is described in the Book of Acts as a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. And just as might be the case now where he is a victim of public lynching by a section of ODM supporters the Biblical Stephen infuriated Jewish leaders by his fervent preaching, which led to his stoning to death.

“When I joined LDP in 2002, I believed in its broad principles and what it stood for. However in the course of time, I have come to realise that there may not be convergence of those broad principles and the actual practice,” Kalonzo explains his in-house defection.

He argues he has always maintained and held that Kenyans cultivate and inculcate a culture of peace and order “in our country and replicate it in their daily activities and business.”

“If we cannot allow democracy and governance in our political parties, how will we be able to allow it when we are in national leadership?” he poses.

Alliance to derail ODM train

Separately, The Saturday Standard has reliably established that Kalonzo and Ojiambo have been holding a series of consultative meetings. The consultations believably intensified after the troubled Mombasa rally last month.

Wundanyi MP, Mr Mwandawiro Mghanga, views the Kalonzo-Ojiambo alliance as one meant to derail the ODM train. The MP accuses Ojiambo of giving Kalonzo a platform to perpetuate divisive politics within the movement a position shared by other politicians allied to the Raila-Ruto-Mudavadi axis.

“There cannot be any reason for anyone defecting to another party at this point in time except with the intention to wreck ODM-Kenya. And that is exactly what Kalonzo has done,” he charges.

However, Ojiambo maintains that what she has done is purely in the interest of her party. “I have done nothing wrong. I have simply opened doors to other ODM-Kenya members, and this is good for LPK. I am solely after the growth of my party, period!” says Ojiambo.

Kalonzo says he opted for Ojiambos party because it is true and faithful to its constitution, rules and structures. “The party under the leadership of Honourable Julia Ojiambo has succeeded where no other party in Kenya has. LPK is without wrangles and has functioning institutional structures and organs,” he told The Saturday Standard.

The Mwingi North MP further concedes that his new outfit will accord him an opportunity to exercise, experience and enjoy party democracy without suffocation by extra-legal bodies or persons.

Kilome MP, Mr Mutinda Mutiso is in agreement: “It is a strategic move and I do not think he has anything to regret. I mean, when a house is on fire the only logical thing to do is step out. Kalonzo has all along been chained by Raila and he just had to disentangle himself.”

So how does LPK plan to accommodate the Kalonzo brigade and will Ojiambo be surrendering the partys leadership to her colleague who has a larger political clout with a wider following?

“I am still in the presidential race and I remain the leader of LPK. Those questioning this position are political enemies who want me and my party to remain underdogs and marginalised,” she says.

Eyes on brother and sister

Nonetheless, Ojiambo has taken Kalonzo through an internal orientation and showed him structures of the party to enable him “decide how he wants to integrate himself in LPK”.

The MP further believes she should be lauded and not vilified for “letting out some steam” in politically crowded LDP house. “They have been fierce fights amongst two leading contenders but now I have at least solved the problem, partly,” she says of the Raila-Kalonzo wars.

“I want to appeal to my brothers (Raila and Kalonzo) to respect my decision as their elder sister,” she says. Ojiambo, who openly admits to having been granted a scholarship to study at Alliance Girls High School by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in the 1950s, still fondly refers to the Langata MP as “my brother”.

Albeit her sentiments, a new twist revolving around ODM-Kenyas registrations paints the opposite picture. Ojiambo sides with Kalonzos allies in the battle over the partys ownership.

In a letter to the Registrar dated July 31, she denies that the party ever elected her into office and even states: “I do know that I am a vice-chairman of ODM-Kenya interim NEC.” The same position is taken by Kanu Nominated MP Mr Mutula Kilonzo (vice-Chairman) and Mr Lucas Maitha (organising secretary).

It is this development, coupled with Kalonzos defection from LDP, that is believed led Raila into declaring that the Mwingi North MP had walked out of ODM.

“Kalonzo has defected from ODM-Kenya because LPK has decided to advertise, inviting people who want to run on LPK ticket to apply, which is contrary to the ODM-Kenya constitution, so whoever wants to run on LPK has defected,” he said on Wednesday.

But his “sister” wont hear any of this: “They are beginning to panic and are now grabbing any reed in sight to stay afloat. Unfortunately I am not one of the reeds and they should stay clear of me,” she declared.

Some LPK operatives and supporters have nonetheless expressed discomfort over the invasion of the Kalonzo group.

“This deal was highly secretive and I can tell you frankly that it is not good for Julia. These guys are simply going to suck all the air in the LPK room, push Julia to the periphery and leave us gasping for political space,” laments an ally of Ojiambo, who declined to be named.

At the same time, some are questioning the political worth of both legislators. Just who is helpful to whom in this arrangement?

According to Afwande, a two-time challenger of Ojiambo and Vice President Moody Awori for the Funyula seat, Ojiambo represents no serious political front in ODM-Kenya movement back at home and on the national platform.

“Her style of politics is not in tandem with the political reality on the ground, especially her people in Samia and Western Province, who are inclined more to Mudavadi or even Raila,” claims Afwande.

However, the Deputy Speaker and Mwingi South MP Mr David Musila maintains that Ojiambo is a crucial player at the national platform and her contribution will greatly help the ODMs march to State House.

Recalling her “excellent role” in the election of President Kibaki in the 2002, Musila observes that Ojiambo worked hard and deserved her nomination slot.

On Kalonzos defection to LPK he says: “He felt uncomfortable in the party and as long as he defected to a party that is member of ODM-Kenya, I do not see a conflict in that. He is still Orange, anyway.”

Noting that the quest for unity in ODM-Kenya is clouded by suspicions among the political class, Musila regrets that some MPs have chosen to discredit the Elders Council Forum, which in his opinion would have easily arrived at the right candidate.

Musila, who has dedicated his efforts on reconciling the warring factions within LDP, eventually threw in the towel last Monday citing insubordination by junior party officials. He, however, is still a member of the party and has not joined the LPK bandwagon, as did virtually all his colleagues from Ukambani.

“Of cause I belong to a community that has its own political biases, but at this point in time we must all remain sober to stay afloat,” says the Mwingi South MP.

But in the bigger picture the story of Stephen and Julia is yet to unfold. Like the compass to the sailor of the old, every eye in ODM will still be on the brother and sister and whatever step they take.

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Kibaki: Instead of humiliating me like this, why not just tell me I have been sacked, asks minister Ngilu – locked up by Kibaki men

Posted by African Press International on August 4, 2007

Health minister Mrs Charity Ngilu walked out of police iron gates after another round of confinement with the finger of culpability pointing at President Kibaki.

“Instead of humiliating me like this, why not just tell me I have been sacked, or why not just arrest me and take me to court,” said an exasperated Ngilu who was blocked from leaving Criminal Investigations headquarters for five hours.

She added: “I want to know from who you (police) are taking the powerful orders; to me there is only one above and that is the President.”

Her lawyers plea and her own, to be allowed to either go to office and work or be taken to court, fell on deaf ears. There she stood the all time, waiting for the police to receive the orders from above. Her gleaming GK-plated Mercedes Benz was parked a few feet away, the ministerial flag gently fluttering in the wind. She was the picture of a minister under arrest even as the Police Commissioner insisted she wasnt. But still she could not leave at her own will.

Her movement restricted, like that of the police suspect she helped free from the compound of a police station in the week, Ngilu could only talk to her sympathisers from behind the slammed iron gates. Outside, anti-riot police milled around.

When finally her lawyer, Kabete MP Mr Paul Muite, secured a court order decreeing her release, she walked out fatigued. She fought to put up a smile, which was however lost behind her dark glasses. Nevertheless, it was a moment of relief for her supporters, some of whom broke into tears and dance.

“This flag shows that I am still a Cabinet Minister, if the President has sacked me, I do not think he would allow me to have it,” said a sullen Ngilu, taken a back that a minister could go through what she was grappling with while still holding onto the instruments of office.

Treated like a common criminal

Ngilu said the humiliation she was taken through was extreme for a member of Government, and appear to blame her travails on Kibaki and Internal security minister Mr John Michuki, against whom she has had a run.

The Health minister appeared to dare Kibaki to sack her as Police prevented her from leaving CID headquarters, even as she said she wanted to return to work.

Ngilu accused Michuki of “turning Kenya into a police state.” She asked: “Which Cabinet minister is more superior than the other? What will Michuki get from this?”

The minister had been held in Police custody for almost ten hours the previous night then, for more than five hours on Friday, for allegedly trying to assist a civil society activist escape from Central Police Station.

But later after her release, Ngilu said she would not quit from Government. “Why should I quit? I am not quitting and nobody should expect me to quit,” she said.

The Kitui Central MP had been released slightly after midnight on a free bail but ordered to report back at the CID headquarters at 9am.

She arrived accompanied by her lawyers, Mr Paul Muite and Mr Wanyiri Kihoro.

Ngilu reported to the officials and was kept in Deputy Director of CID Mr Gabriel Amatas office and told to wait.

The lawyers were blocked from entering Amatas office.

A defiant Ngilu refused to go upstairs alone, leading to an argument. “They were planning mischief. If I had gone up alone, I do not know what they could have done to me.” Amata kept the minister waiting for over 20 minutes prompting Ngilu to demand to know why she was not being taken to court.

Amata reportedly told Ngilu that he was still waiting for instructions from above before taking action. This incensed the minister who stormed out saying she could be reached in her Afya House Office “when the instruction have been received.”

But Ngilu was shocked when she reached the gate only to be blocked by armed policemen who closed the gate as her vehicle approached.

A near scuffle ensued as Ngilu and her lawyers demanded to know why she was being treated like a common criminal. “You either arrest my client and take her to court or let her go to work as you wait for those so called orders from above,” charged Muite.

Politicians and Government officials started streaming in with Transport Assistant Minister Ms Cecily Mbarire arriving at 9.50am.

She was denied entry and it is only after Ngilu pleaded with them that she was let in.

Ms Zipporah Kittony was next, followed by Ms Wambui Otieno, who ensured that she blew the trumpet for Ngilu.

When a political activist, Mr Tony Gachoka, was denied entry he screamed and tried to force his way but police officers whisked him away to the offices. He had not been released by last evening.

ODM-Kenya presidential aspirant and Gachoka MP Mr Joseph Nyagah arrived and was also not let in. He was only allowed to talk to her while outside.

A few minutes later Makadara MP Mr Rueben Ndolo arrived and caused a stir when riot police prevented him from going to where the minister was but he forced his way.

Nyagah told her: “Hii ni mambo ya siasa na Mungu atakusaidia (this is politics and God will help you), it is a disgrace and its unfortunate that this has to happen.”

A few minutes to 2pm, Lawyer Tom Ojienda arrived with the court order.

At exactly 2.25pm, the minister was released and she addressed the Press saying: “The battle still continues…aluta continua. These people have kept me here for so long and all I know is that they wanted to humiliate me but I am strong.”

On Michuki, Ngilu said no minister was more superior than the other adding Michuki still nursed a colonial hangover.

A convoy of ten cars escorted the minister from CID offices to her NPK offices in Lavington.

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ODM-Kenya killed by wrangling. Is ODM-Kenya party in the death row?

Posted by African Press International on August 4, 2007

Nation Publication Date: 8/4/2007

Langata MP Raila Odinga (second left) joins other leaders in a dance after he officialy opened the Kisumu Town west ODM kenya Office yeserday. photo by Sylvester Onyango

ODM Kenya leaders on Friday reacted with anger after the Government warned it would deregister the party in 30 days unless its wrangling factions come to an agreement.

The partys presidential hopefuls, Mr Raila Odinga, Mr Musalia Mudavadi and Mr Wiliam Ruto and the designated chairman Henry Kosgey accused the Government of using the Registrar of Societies to undermine and wreck ODM-K.

Mr Odinga said key Government officials, led by the Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, Mr Francis Muthaura, visited Sheria House hours before the letter threatening to deregister ODM-K was released.

Accused his rival

He accused his rival in ODM-K, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, of working with President Kibaki and retired president Daniel arap Moi to wreck the party. Mr Musyoka defected from the Liberal Democratic Party to the Labour Party of Kenya early in the week, but stated that he would remain in ODM Kenya.

Mr Odinga said: Mr Musyoka and Maanzos of this world are agents of Kibaki and Moi. We will not deal with the decoys in this matter but their principals. Mr Daniel Maanzo is the registered chairman of ODM-K and supports Mr Musyoka in the partys presidential nomination battle.

However, Mr Musyoka said attempts by Mr Odinga to spoil his record by throwing mud at him or brand him reactionary will not hold. He said: I am flattered that Raila has the temerity to allege I am working for Mzee Moi and Kibaki. I did not want to give his tantrums any validation.

He said Kenyans were enlightened and will make a right choice because the the country is not and will never be a cultic nation. Kenyans will not allow their country to be taken over by forces of anarchy and tribalism.

The ODM leadership tussle burst into the open with renewed intensity yesterday after the Registrar of Societies cited a dispute in the party and issued the 30-day ultimatum to the warring factions to reach an agreement or the party would be scrapped.

In a letter addressed jointly to interim secretary general Abraham Chepkonga Kibet and Prof Anyang Nyongo, the registrar said she had received numerous letters from the wrangling groups in ODM-K on who the bona fide officials were.

Senior deputy registrar-general Lucy Waithaka said in the letter released yesterday afternoon: The registrar having carefully perused all the documents presented by yourselves, is convinced that a dispute exists and hereby proceeds to invoke section 18 of the Societies Act cap 108.

She argued that if the registrar was of the opinion that a dispute has occurred among members or officers of a registered society then he or she can order them to resolve their differences within a month or file a case in court to resolve the dispute.

If the society failed to resolve its differences, then the registrar may cancel their registration, she said quoting section 18 (1) of the Constitution.

Ms Waithaka further said any party in the dispute that may be aggrieved with the cancellation of registration can appeal to the High Court within 30 days of the action.

However, ODM-Kenya team leader Mutula Kilonzo said the registrar had no powers to deregister a party.

Mr Kilonzo said Section 18 and Section 30 of the Constitution allows the registrar to seek resolution of disputes and if she fails, the aggrieved party could go to court.

This is what happened between Kanu factions led by Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Nicholas Biwott and in Ford-K wrangle pitting Honourable Soita Shitanda and Musikari Kombo, Mr Kilonzo said.

According to him, it was not possible to deregister ODM Kenya since the dispute could be resolve. He said the partys interim officials should follow the law and end the dispute.

Mr Mudavadi said the Government was determined to deregister ODM-K and that was why it was dilly dallying on its registration.

The former Vice President said: I know ODM supporters are getting angry on the machinations but this will strengthen our resolve. He said the Government was fearing the popularity of the party and that was why it wanted to destroy it.

But in an apparent reply to the accusations, the Director of Presidential Press Service, Mr Isaiah Kabira said the Government has no other project other than the development agenda of the country.

Politicians must stop the habit of dragging the Government in their internal matters, he said.

But Mr Kosgey said Ms Waithaka was avoiding to make a decision on the matter. The evidence she has is overwhelming. There are letters of resignation of Mr Maanzo and others. She is avoiding to do her job.

Mr Kosgey said Ms Waithaka was also trying to avoid Seeing us on Tuesday in her office. The Tinderet MP said there was an executive hand in the matter.

She has been told to do something by her bosses but we reserve the right to storm her offices on Tuesdayshe is not off the hook yet.

Late last evening, the registar, Ms Bernice Gachegu, told political parties to ensure they followed procedures set in law and their party constitutions.

Ms Gachegu warned that she would not bow to pressure or threats to bend the law from any party.

The registrar of societies is neutral and her duties are to ensure that the law is followed. The registrar will not bow to pressure or threats but act within the law as set out by the Societies Act, she said in reference to threats by ODM-K leaders to storm her office on Tuesday if she fails to recognise the Kosgey group.

She also asked parties to resolve their internal differences before submitting names or change of officials.

Mr Moi could also not be reached.

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Death announcement

Posted by African Press International on August 4, 2007

(Posted to API*APN by Karuga wa Njuguna)

Dear Friends,

We are sad to inform you of the untimely deaths of Mama Isabella (Jane Kuria) and her 2 daughters Isabella Wanjiku Kuria and Annabell Wambui Kuria and the injuries to her son Jeremy Kuria and her nephew P.K.

We would like to thank everybody who has responded this extremely shocking and mindless incident that happened at their home in Powder Springs Georgia USA. Thank you for your concern, your prayers, and your presence and support at this very difficult time.

Due to the overwhelming response by the community Pastor Karanja of Christ Harvesters Church has offered the church premises for prayer meetings for the community. There will be a prayer meeting today Thursday (AUGUST 2nd) at Christ Harvesters Church in Marietta at 7pm. The Church
is located at 562 Wylie Rd, Marietta GEORGIA 300067.

Pastor G.G. Gitahi, Pastor Karanja, Pastor Kiroko, Pastor Njenga, and other pastors in the Atlanta area are working together to minister to the community at this trying time. The pastors are requesting the Kenyan community to refrain from talking to the media and to direct all media inquiries to Elizabeth Mungai at 770-401-5291. Elizabeth has been appointed as the family and community spokesman on this issue to provide a clear, informed, and updated voice on the matter.

Be blessed as you keep us in your prayers.

Moses Gitau
On behalf of the Family and Committee.

Directions to Christ Harvesters Church:

FROM SOUTH OF MARIETTA (Airport, Atlanta, Macon, Florida) Take I-75 North to Exit 263 (South Marietta Pkwy). Stay LEFT to go onto South Marietta Pkwy.
Cross over Franklin Rd and make a quick LEFT onto Wylie Rd.
Make a quick RIGHT into Marietta Commercial Plaza and end at Christ Harvesters Church.

FROM NORTH OF MARIETTA (Kennesaw, Acworth, Cartersville, Tennessee). Take I-75 North to Exit 263 (South Marietta Pkwy). Make Right onto South Marietta Pkwy.
Go through Franklin Rd Lights and make quick LEFT onto Wylie Road. Make quick RIGHT into Marietta Commercial Plaza and end at Christ Harvesters Church.

Published by African Press International, API * African Press in Norway, APN, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525

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What is wrong with Kenya Tea Development Authority

Posted by African Press International on August 4, 2007

KTDA is back in the news. It’s in the news not because of turning around our economy but something formerly state organizations were used and probably still bedeviling some or most of them. Kenya Tea Development Authority was and remains a success story in development of small scale tea growing industry in Kenya. Its conversion to Kenya
Tea Development Agency is however another story worth exploring.

It was expected that after converting to an agency the performance of the Agency will take the fortunes of tea farmers a notch higher. But the expectations and the results look to be world apart. The envisaged utopia never came to fruition. Tea farmers are now very disillusioned.

The fact that t the MP’s have voted to convert the Agency to a state controlled body once more shows that there is something seriously wrong with Kenya Tea Development Agency. The MP’s motivation is led by the moods on the ground in their constituencies. It is no wonder that it is only the factory and other Agency directors who are engaged in hullabaloo but farmers are overwhelmingly supportive of the move.

What’s wrong with KTDA? Its problems are legion! A few months ago some investors or interests group in tea sub-sector from India were in the country with a message which was a bit insulting. They told KTDA to discourage continued planting of tea in the country ostensibly because there is overproduction and hence glut in the world market.
What an insult! The big question is who is overproducing? And what kind of quality is being overproduced? Methinks the Indians and Sri-Lankans and other far flung world regions are flooding the world market with very low quality tea. And the other question is why the Indians are worried yet they almost consume the entire tea they produce in their country.

What KTDA has been lacking is strategy. How comes we have never heard Coca Cola saying people have refused to consume all the huge quantities of soft drinks they produce in the world. Yet also consider the price of soda and the huge costs in terms of raw materials and overheads and with the thin profit margin left and yet the company is a behemoth raking billions annually. The problem I dare repeat is strategy. Our tea is never branded as Kenyan tea, we are not exploring new emerging and potential markets, we are too sleepy, we don’t do much of product differentiation and diversification or simply put, and we do very little. We just produce, do minimum processing and auction.
After the action the Kenyan brand and quality is lost. So let KTDA (Agency) tell the stars the other excuses they have, it has been largely asleep!

Come to governance, management, procurement or just plainly anything
to do with KTDA. We hardly get anything positive in the press about Kenya Tea Development Agency. Why? Where there is smoke there must be definitely be some fire. Kenya Tea Development Agency needs to do an honest self examination and ask the following very important question.
Why after the much touted conversion has it become so un-popular with the farmers? It has been rubbing the farmer the wrong way. The relationship with the farmer has not been that of mutually excellent service. It has a huge poor image relationship it finds un-comfortable to address – neither confront nor address it, nor willing to accept the reality.

The way forward is the tea industry in Kenya need a change in tactics. The nonsense about over-production, glut, low prices, and appreciation of Kenya shilling should cease forthwith. We have not heard Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, Starbucks, Sweppes, Procter and Gamble and other soft drinks and beverage vendors in the world stage complaining. They are making it big, whereas we are not thinking big about our dear tea industry. KTDA deserves a barb for that!

ikunda1.jpgBy API*APN East African Correspondent

Harrison Mwirigi Ikunda,
P.O. Box 51806, NAIROBI, Kenya.

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Posted by African Press International on August 4, 2007

Bouake (Cote dIvoire) Thirteen Ivorian girls from the former rebels stronghold of Bouake (379 km from Abidjan) asserted they had been manipulated by a local non-governmental organisation to accuse the Moroccan peacekeeping troops of sexual abuse and exploitation, a document of the UN operations in Cote dIvoire (UNOCI) reports.

According to the document, the girls revealed that the NGO representative bribed them with money, bed sheets, clothes and soap to testify against the Moroccan troops.

The head of the Human Rights Office of the eastern sector of the UN mission heard the girls last 23 and 24 July.

APA interviewed some of these girls who confirmed the story.

A woman named Viviane asked us to frame the Moroccan troops. She told us that if we testified against these soldiers, her NGO would give us bed sheets, soap, and money to set up a business, one of the girls, Marie Koffi, said.

She (Viviane) also asked us to present ourselves as underage girls in order to benefit from assistance. For instance, those that were 24 years old said they were 15, and so on. That is how she fooled us, Marie Koffi slammed.

According to the mother of a 21-month old baby, Viviane bought herself a new car and two latest mobile phones just after her ploy. Though presently wanted, the manipulator has achieved her goal, she said.

I am neither ashame nor afraid to talk to reporters because I know the facts are wrong. God loves truth. It is true that Moroccan soldiers were looking for women, but we are no longer minors, another girl Mariam Kone, 23, emphasised.

She underlined that the other UN peacekeeping contingents deployed in Bouake, French and Ghanaian, were also implicated in the ploy up to an extent.

The so-called Viviane spoke to us in an office located in Air France district. I cannot remember the queer name of the NGO. If you have a Black baby, she asks you to accuse a Ghanaian soldier of being the father. If the baby is fair in complexion, she asks you to accuse a Moroccan, Mariam Kone affirmed.

On Saturday 21 July, UNOCI issued a statement in the aftermath of these controversial allegations announcing the suspension of all activities of the Moroccan contingent in Bouake.

This move aimed at opening an internal inquiry into the alleged cases of sexual exploitation and abuse.

On 6 June 2007, Morocco sent another batch of troops to replace its sixth contingent of 737-men deployed in Bouake in December 2006, as part of the 8,000-troops of UN Operation in Cote dIvoire (UNOCI). Moroccos contingent is the second largest in the UNOCI force after that of Bangladesh.

The head of the Human Rights Office of the eastern sector of the UN mission questions the following 13 girls:

1- Sandrine Affoue, 19 years old

2- Marie Koffi, 20

3- Marie Kouakou, 20

4- Marie Ange, 24

5- Konan Aya Viviane, 22

6- Kone Ami, 20

7- Diabate Assetou, 24

8- Dimande Massandje, 20

9- Toure Sarah, 20

10- Toure Fatim, 19

11- Zerbo Awa, 18

12- Cisse Fatim, 29

13- Kone Mariam, 23.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn,, tel+4793299739 or+4763002525. source.apa

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Sierra Leone: Japan provides fund for elections, cancels debt

Posted by African Press International on August 4, 2007

Freetown (Sierra Leone) Japan has granted 2.8 million US dollars to Sierra Leone for the 11 August presidential and parliamentary elections and has also cancelled the countrys 33 million US dollars debt, APA learnt here.

The government of Japan gave the assistance to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to cover the shortfall of the resources needed for the upcoming elections.

The Japanese vice minister for Foreign Affairs, Masayoshi Hamada, told journalists before his departure late Thursday night, that his country is closely monitoring the electoral process and would be sending in election observers for the polls.

Our country believes these elections are crucial to the future prosperity of Sierra Leone. Their free, transparent and peaceful conduct will help consolidate the fragile peace, he said, adding that anything else may not augur well as the country is still struggling with post-war reconstruction.

During the visit, the delegation cancelled Sierra Leones debts to Japan amounting to 33 million dollars.

Japan also pledged five million dollars as urgent assistance to help improve Freetowns ailing power problem.

Hamada led a high powered delegation of Japanese government officials and business executives on a three-day visit to Freetown.

Japan has been one of Sierra Leones major bi-lateral development partners since the 80s.

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Posted by African Press International on August 4, 2007

Abidjan (Cote dIvoire) A joint Moroccan and UN fact-finding mission has started inquiring into the alleged sexual exploitation and abuse of Moroccan troops on underage girls in Bouake, UNOCI spokesman, Hamadoun Toure, told on Thursday in his weekly press briefing.

The fact-finding mission, which arrived in Cote dIvoire on Tuesday, will first work out a roadmap, draw up a report before giving recommendations.

According to the conclusions of the UN preliminary internal inquiry, some Moroccan peacekeeping soldiers were allegedly accused of sexual abuse on underage girls in Bouake (379 km from Abidjan).

In the aftermath of these allegations, UNOCI ordered the suspension of all activities of the Moroccan contingent in Bouake, pending the ongoing in-depth investigation.

Morocco sent a contingent of 732 soldiers all posted in Bouake, as part of the 8,000 UNOCI peacekeepers deployed in Cote dIvoire since 4 April 2003.

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Senegalese Army Inspector General on visit to Liberia

Posted by African Press International on August 4, 2007

Monrovia (Liberia) The Inspector General of the Senegalese Armed Forces, Brig-Gen. Bakary Seck, accompanied by his Airforce, Navy and Engineering inspectors, is in Liberia on a five-day visit to assess the operational level of Senegalese troops in the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

He said he expected to leave the capital Monrovia Friday for south-eastern Maryland County to inspect Senegalese UNMIL troops stationed there.

An estimated 600 Senegalese troops are stationed in the cities of Harper, Pleebo and Webbo in Maryland County, according to Senegalese UNMIL troop commander in Liberia, Col. Libasse Sene.

Brig-Gen. Seck and entourage are expected to depart Liberia Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Vice President of Liberia, Joseph N. Boakai has has lauded Senegalese President Abdullai Wade for the friendly posture he has maintained towards Liberia by contributing to Liberias peace keeping operation in 2003.

He recalled that Senegal also contributed troops to the Ecowas Peace Monitoring Group military operation (ECOMOG)in the 1990, and described Senegal as a “Friend indeed”.

Vice President Boakai made the observation Thursday when a four-man team of Senegalese military officials headed by the Inspector-General of the Senegalese Armed Forces, Brigadier General Bakary Seck paid a courtesy call on him.

He thanked Senegalese UNMIL troops for the sacrificial services, including medical assistance they were rendering residents of Maryland.

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Posted by African Press International on August 4, 2007

Kinshasa (DR Congo) An angry crowd numbering up to 1000 people in the district of Moba (south-east Katanga) on Friday stormed the military base of the UN mission (MONUC) in the Democratic Republic of Congo and injured some staff members following a protest by residents against the possible return of the Banyamulenge refugees, APA learnt Friday.

The Banyamulenges are Rwandan-born Congolese Tutsis that have long lived in exile in Rwanda and are now seen as strangers in the deteriorated region.

Demonstrators attacked the MONUC and the UNHCR staff and facilities by throwing stones at the MONUC vehicles before ransacking the residence of the military observers some of whom suffered light injuries. The MONUC staff was evacuated by helicopter to Kalemie, a city centre in the Katanga province.

Two divisions of the Beninese UN troops secured the area and controlled the situation with support from the national army, FARDC. In a statement, the Mission strongly condemned this coward attack on unarmed civilian and military personnel ensuring peace for the Congolese people”.

The Mission noted that it was “closely monitoring the inquiry to bring the perpetrators of such acts before the law”.

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Nigerian 70 year-old Granny regains her freedom after being kidnaped recently

Posted by African Press International on August 4, 2007

Lagos (Nigeria) The mother of the Speaker of Bayelsa state Assembly in south-eastern Nigeria, Mrs Hansel Seibarugu, who was kidnapped on July 24, regained her freedom on Friday, sources confim.

Seibarugu was met by a jubilant crowd at the Government Jetty, Yenagoa, about 760km from the countrys capital, Abuja at about 12:30p.m.

The Chairman of the state Peace and Conflict Resolution committee, Chief James Jephtah, who led the negotiation team to secure the release of the victim, said that hostage taking would only stop if ransom payment was stopped.

Jepthah said once such payment was stopped, it would not be business as usual “because no body would want to engage in an unprofitable venture.

The elated speaker, Werinipre Seibarugu, on sighting his mother, thanked members of the international community, the Bayelsa people and Nigerians in general for their concern on the matter.

The speaker confirmed that he was informed of the plot to kidnap his mother before the dastardly act was carried out.

He, however, said that no ransom was paid for the release of his mother.

The victim, who appeared full of life, said she was not maltreated by her unwanted hosts in the creeks. “They treated me well and I thank Bayelsans for their concern, she said.

The release was secured last night but because of the peculiarities in the creeks, the rescue team and the victim had to sleep at Olugbobiri community in the Southern-Ijaw Local Government Area.

The gunmen kidnapped the 70-yer-old woman in her home town Akaibiri in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State when the son was away in South Africa attending the conference of Speakers holding in that country.

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AU delegation on a working mission to Liberia

Posted by African Press International on August 4, 2007

Monrovia (Liberia) A delegation of the African Union (AU) Permanent Representative Committee (PRC) Sub-committee on Refugees, Returnees and Internally displaced persons, is in the country on a working mission.

The mission led by Mr. Franklin Esipila, Ambassador of Kenya to Ethiopia will exchange views with government authorities, UN agencies and various relevant humanitarian organizations on the plight of Ivorian refugees and Liberian returnees, mainly from neighbouring countries, as well as those who were internally displaced in different camps.

The mission is also expected to hold discussions with the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Representatives of UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP as well as African Humanitarian Action, IOM, ICRC, African Concern and Norwegian Refugee Council.

Among other things, the mission is also expected to evaluate the humanitarian situation by visiting the Saclepea Refugee in Nimba County which hosts Ivorian refugees, and also hold discussions with refugees and returnees.

Furthermore, the delegation will present recommendations to the PRC Sub-Committee on Refugees and the chairperson of the African Union Commission to enable Liberia to cope with the challenges of post-conflict reconstruction programmes.

The delegation has already visited Sierra Leone on a similar mission

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