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Archive for December 26th, 2007

ODM to take us backward

Posted by African Press International on December 26, 2007

ODM seems hell-bent on reversing all the gains that President Kibakis Government has achieved in the last five years. They have pledged to stop the use of electronic tax registers, replace the Constituency Development Fund with an experimental majimbo system, do away with the jua kali sector and return the country to the era of price controls.

This is reckless adventurism.

The tell-tale signs of a group that seems determined to exercise power without responsibility are crystal clear. From majimbo, to a promise to flood the Civil Service with political appointees, we seem to be faced with retrogression should this group ascend to power.

Moses Karuri,
Nairobi

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Raila doing what he knows best: Daydreaming

Posted by African Press International on December 26, 2007

By Muthui KariukiODM presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, is daydreaming once again and making wild allegations against President Kibaki and the Government.

His latest outburst, asking the ECK to disqualify Kibaki over an imaginary plot to use the Provincial Administration to rig tomorrows elections, borders on fantasy of the most dangerous kind.

In the first place, the rigging scheme must be a figment of Railas fertile imagination and the usual ODM propaganda, since all the concerned Government agents have vehemently denied that they are involved in any way in the electoral process.

Sensing defeat, Raila and ODM are now panicking and making numerous unsubstantiated allegations that cannot and must not be taken seriously.

As the ODM propaganda machine has gone into top gear, it has become more and more apparent to Kenyans that wild and unsubstantiated allegations are part of the party game plan to tarnish the good name of the Government of Kibaki.

The ODM candidate even has the temerity to write to the ECK Chairman, Mr Samuel Kivuitu, regarding the allegations and to ask Kibaki to accept or deny the imaginary plot.

While throwing in names of key people in the Administration Police, the military and the Intelligence in an effort to buttress his imagined rigging schemes, Raila does not provide any iota of evidence.

There have also been other unsubstantiated claims bandied about regarding Administration Police being deployed to polling centres in Nairobi to rig elections.

Raila has gone further to claim that Administration police officers in civilian clothes will be used to disrupt voting and cause chaos at polling centres in Nairobi.

The allegations are serious, but without any shred of evidence they are mere propaganda aimed at winning sympathy and psychological preparation to challenge the results of the elections.

There have been numerous allegations in the recent past, but they do not hold any water and have been rightly dismissed by right thinking Kenyans.

It shall be recalled that when the terms of several ECK commissioners expired in October and the President used his constitutional prerogative to appoint new ones, there was hue and cry from ODM and ODM-Kenya.

At the time, the two parties said the President should have renewed the tenures of the commissioners or consulted them before appointing. It was rightly pointed out that such procedure was not anchored in the law.

Before the recent allegations, ODM and its presidential candidate made wild claims against the ECK and sought to put in doubt the independence of the electoral agency.

The opposition parties insisted on the retention of the long-serving Kivuitu.

When Kibaki acceded to the demand to retain Kivuitu, ODM and ODM-Kenya have now changed tack and are making even more wild allegations about election rigging.

The opposition claims now sound like attempts to unfairly influence election results by seeking sympathy from Kenyan voters on rigging claims. The attempts to smear the Government with rigging claims are bound to fail miserably.

Kenyans know well that ODM and ODM-Kenya have been making empty promises and saturating the print and electronic media with useless propaganda. Kibaki and the PNU are certainly headed for a landslide victory in tomorrows elections.

The writer is a public relations consultant

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Gap in Act could give Raila the presidency

Posted by African Press International on December 26, 2007

By Chris WamalwaODM presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, can still win the presidency even if he loses his parliamentary seat.

According to law experts, although the Constitution demands that to be lawfully elected the President of Kenya, a candidate must be elected a Member of Parliament, the National Assembly Act that provides for Presidential run-off does not demand that any of the candidates in the run-off must necessarily be an elected Member of Parliament.

According to Mr Donald Kipkorir, a lawyer, this is a gap that the former Langata MP may exploit in case he loses his seat.

There has been disquiet in the country as to what would happen in the event that Raila won the popular vote, but lost his Parliamentary seat.

There have been reports in the media and rumours that the Government is trying to lock Raila out of State House by rigging him out in his Langata constituency.

Section 5 of the Constitution demands that, to be validly and lawfully elected the President of Kenya, a candidate must attain the following three mandatory requirements; must be elected a Member of Parliament, receive the highest votes cast more than any other Presidential candidate and receive at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in at least five of the eight provinces.

In the event that no candidate meets the above criteria, a run-off shall be held between two candidates who had the highest votes cast.

Section 12 of The National Assembly and Presidential Elections Act, Cap 7 obliges the Electoral Commission to immediately set in motion the run-off process and the elections must be held within 21 days from the date when it was unable to announce an outright winner.

The provision for run-off does not demand that any of the candidates need be an elected Member of Parliament.

“Most probably, the wisdom of Parliament may have been that a country cannot be denied a President of their choice even if the candidates Parliamentary constituency rejected him,” said Kipkorir.

He says that this is the lifeline for Raila should his political detractors try to cut short his presidential ambitions on account of him losing the Langata seat.

Lifted and published by Korir, API/APN africanpress@chello.no source.standard.ke

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A date with destiny

Posted by African Press International on December 26, 2007

Taking a deserved break from the punishing, month-long campaign trail, the Big Three presidential candidates attended church service on Christmas Day even as the clock ticked away towards their date with destiny.It was the same for thousands of other candidates seeking presidential, parliamentary and civic positions ahead of polling day.

At 6am tomorrow, 14.2 million registered voters have a chance to decide whether to extend President Kibakis tenure or give ODM presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, or ODM-Kenyas Mr Kalonzo Musyoka the mandate to steer the wheels of State.

And Kenyans are not short of choice of presidential contenders the ballot paper will have another six candidates.

Tomorrow raises the gigantic prospect of opening another milestone in the democratic tradition of the nation as Kenyans also pick 210 MPs from more than 2,700 aspirants.

They will also pick thousands of councillors in the nations 175 local authorities.

The humbling formality of the electoral process will face the presidential candidates tomorrow as each retreats to a polling station in their constituency.

Kibaki will be at a primary school near Othaya town, Raila will cast his at Olympic Primary in Kibera, Nairobi, while Kalonzo will walk from his rural home to Tseikuru Primary in Mwingi to vote.

Voters will take part in the General Election, the 10th since Independence, and the fourth since the country resumed multiparty politics.

Anxiety and expectation are palpable across the country as the presidential election in this poll is billed the most hotly contested.

But for the tension that has stretched the country to its limits, largely because of tribal affiliations, the presidential contest should be another cornerstone to democracy that started taking shape in 1991.

The battle is made stiff by the ingredients that have preceded it, mainly borne out of previous political interactions among the three top contenders which have made them bitter political rivals.

Whoever wins, it will not be viewed as simple victory, but one with heavy political overtones and with a point to prove to rivals.

Despite each candidates claim to national appeal, his or her ethnic support has also exacerbated the bitter competition, which has become this campaigns hallmark.

With the official campaigns over, the contenders had a slow day on Tuesday.

Kibaki and First Lady Lucy attended morning prayers at the Holy Family Basilica, Nairobi, where John Cardinal Njue presided over Mass.

Kibaki later visited the sick at Kenyatta National Hospital where he distributed Christmas gifts and ordered the release of 24 patients detained over unpaid bills unconditionally.

“I thought of something better to do on a day like this, and I thought of Kenyatta National Hospital. I am happy to share this time with you,” Kibaki said.

Fifteen babies born at midnight on Christmas Day were all named Emilio Mwai Kibaki moments after the Presidents visit.

Raila joined worshippers at the All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi, where Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi led the service.

Raila used the occasion to take on the President over rigging allegations, saying Kibaki had not responded to his letter over the claims.

“Kibaki has neither denied or confirmed the rigging claims,” he noted.

On his part, Kalonzo attended Christmas Day church service at Kyuso AIC Church in his Mwingi District.

In his last appeal, Kalonzo paraphrased a biblical analogy (I have fought the good fight) with the words: “I have staged a good campaign fight and I appeal to Kenyans to vote with their conscience.”

Kalonzo spoke in Mwingi town and called on Kenyans to come out in large numbers and vote.

“Kenyans are true opinion judges and will make their decision,” he said.

Lifted and published by Korir, API/APN africanpress@chello.no source.standard.ke

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Mysterious police trips fuel poll rigging claims

Posted by African Press International on December 26, 2007

With the elections only hours away, at least 20 civilian buses drove out of a high security facility in Nairobi on Monday night as The Standard and KTN undercover reporters and crew watched. The buses left the Embakasi Administration Police Training College, initially at intervals of between 10 and 20 minutes. Later, they left in much quicker succession.

Hours later, the destination of the buses and the mission of their occupants became known. TV footage and still pictures in our possession show the names of the buses and their registration numbers.

Several people said to be APs were injured at Mbita in Suba District, when members of the public attacked them. They were also attacked in Sori in the volatile Nyatike Constituency. In Mbita, police moved in swiftly to save about 100 other members of the entourage from an enraged mob, who accused the visitors of being part of a team of APs allegedly trained to disrupt the elections. The chaos paralysed business in Mbita and disrupted Christmas festivities.

Elsewhere in Homa Bay, Migori and Rongo, tension was high after people claiming to be Party of National Unity agents arrived in several buses.

Two a Citi Hoppa KAW 055W and a KBS registration KAX 040C drove into Homa Bay in the morning with one group. On alighting, the officers quickly mingled and freely chatted with the locally based APs, locals said.

As word spread about the presence of the officers, members of the public quickly gathered in groups and sought to know their mission, heightening tension.

By 1pm, there was no official word on what exactly they were doing in Homa Bay. But a source within the Provincial Administration circles, who preferred anonymity said, “Hawa ni wageni wa DC (These are the DCs guests)”.

Nyanza Provincial Police Officer, Ms Grace Kaindi, told The Standard she was not aware of the presence of the APs. “Im not expecting additional security from outside the province”.

In Mbita, the group that claimed to be PNU election agents ran into trouble on arrival in two Mololine buses from Nairobi.

One of the said agents was beaten and left for dead at the Mbita Bus Park, where he was cornered as his colleagues rushed for refuge at the local police station.

The Mbita Kanu parliamentary candidate, Mr Okuku Miregi, who has been campaigning for PNU in the region disowned the group, saying it had a sinister motive and should not be allowed anywhere near polling stations.

Said he: “The Suba OCPD called this morning to inform me that some 100 PNU agents were in town. This shocked me because I should have been told as the local PNU official”.

When contacted, PNU spokesman Mr George Nyamweya, said: “Those people you are talking about cannot be attributed to PNU. We have our own agents and we do not have to use APs or police”.

He said what the APs do at their camp, “like loading their officers into buses” is not a PNU affair, adding that they did not control what APs do.

He said the party under which President Kibaki is seeking re-election would send its agents that it will have recruited to all parts of the country.

The first bus drove out of the AP College in Nairobi at 12.10am on Monday/Tuesday, the last at 1.45am in the morning. The college is set in a high security area adjacent to both the Army and the General Service Unit (GSU) camps. Also within proximity is the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), which is watched by satellites and power cameras.

Asked who the civilian buses were ferrying from a high security facility, AP spokesman Mr Masood Mwinyi explained that just like other security agents, the officers were being deployed to various parts of the country to provide the needed services.

The AP Commandant, Mr Kinuthia Mbugua, had earlier denied claims that there was a plot to use the officers to rig the elections, dismissing the allegations as “mere propaganda”.

On Tuesday, sources familiar with this seemingly shadowy operation hinted that the passengers, who were only silhouettes with interior lights switched off, were being bussed to Opposition strongholds.

More of the buses, hired from a number of upcountry and city PSV operating companies, were expected to drive in and out of the facility last night. The rest will follow this morning to conclude the exercise, impeccable sources said.

On its part, the Electoral Commission of Kenya termed as disturbing allegations that APs have been recruited as PNU polling agents.

ECK chairman Mr Samuel Kivuitu, however, said the ECK had no role to play in the appointment of polling agents and only sought appointment letters presented by the agent.

“We do not have any role in the appointment of agents. What the law requires is that the agent presents an appointment letter to the ECK three days before the poll,” he said.

Kivuitu said APs were barred by law from acting as political party agents.

“They may sneak in if they operate like civilians. We have no powers to detect if an agent is an AP or not. However, the ECK will clamp down hard on any officer found to have masqueraded as an agent,” he said.

He said the AG will be called upon to act against such officers whose offence is punishable under the Public Officer Ethics Act.

“These are heinous crimes. Such schemes are utterly undemocratic and retrogressive. They sadly will return the people to the slavery they freed themselves from in 1991,” said Kivuitu.

He added: “It may be impossible to associate that candidate (Kibaki) with such schemes going by his past record. However, his overzealous campaign leaders can be tempted to abuse State power and authority to his advantage without his personal involvement,” he said.

He said the ECK had received the claims through the media, SMS and by ODM and ODM Kenya.

“ECK has not yet received any evidence that these schemes were contemplated or are awaiting implementation. Kenyans must be alert and report truthfully to ECK any attempt to offer bribes to members of the Provincial Administration,” he said.

What undercover team found out

On Monday night, The Standard investigative team pitched camp outside the facility following a tip-off from a reliable source at the camp.

The AP Training College, which is at the far-flung end of Nairobis sprawling Eastlands, has been at the centre of claims which have been vigorously denied by the authorities of ballot stuffing and training of personnel to disrupt polling in target constituencies to slow down or altogether derail ODM, whose candidate Mr Raila Odinga is the strongest contender for the presidency, according to opinion polls.

One bus, a Citi Hoppa, which our undercover team trailed moments after departure, took the Northern Airport Road, entered the Mombasa-Nairobi Road at City Cabanas, and drove down Uhuru Highway. The bus, registration No KAX 150S then drove down Waiyaki Way before it stopped briefly at Oil Libya Petrol Station in Westlands to fuel. This was at 12.45am. It was the second bus to leave.

The buss interior lights stayed off.

The first to leave the facility was a Kenya Bus KAZ 178U. It shook off our trail, with a clever turn before City Cabanas. It must have headed towards Ruai, an alternative exit.

Apart from what our undercover team witnessed, an AP officer, who was drafted into the squad, turned up at KTN studios on Tuesday and gave fresh insights into the plot. He was dropped at the 11th hour on account of where he hails from, he said.

On Tuesday, questions were left in the wake of faceless men and their intentions. Faceless because even though they are believed to be APs, sources said they had been stripped of their uniforms, IDs and certificates of appointment to eliminate the paper trail. It was also difficult to establish exactly how many they were.

Our team was informed that they only had letters of appointment allegedly signed by a senior person in Government and addressed to Returning Officers, which will give them access to restricted polling areas.

Last Saturday, KTN ran an exclusive story on how some 2,500 APs were being trained to interfere with tomorrows General Election, drawing a furious response from the Government and earning the station a date with the newly constituted Media Council of Kenya after the Information Permanent Secretary, Dr Bitange Ndemo, lodged a complaint.

This was after a whistleblower leaked information to the station that some police officers were allegedly marking ballots at the AP Commandants house in Embakasi and at the fourth floor of Harambee House.

Meanwhile, A KTN reporter, who was part of the undercover crew, has received threatening calls urging him to “go slow on the story or face death”.

A source told The Standard that each of the officers on the “strange mission” was given anything between Sh21,000 and Sh62,000 according to their rank.

The Standard established that the recruits held Bibles then uttered the following words in unison: ” I …swear that I will not at the General Election taking place on December 27, 2007, do anything forbidden by Section 5 of the Election Offences Act which has been read to me…”

Sources said this vow, which is the standard ECK pledge, was taken to make them look like just harmless party agents.

Our investigations revealed that a senior deputy AP Commandant was present at the facility on Monday night as the buses drove out.

There were also reports of tension and suspicion at the camp, with suggestions that the exercise did not go down well with some officers.

The full magnitude of the operation and the personnel involved was unclear, with some sources saying up to 55 buses will have ferried the officers from the facility.

Lifted and published by Korir, API/APN africanpress@chello.no source.standard.ke

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Kenya elects their leaders tomorrow

Posted by African Press International on December 26, 2007

President Kibaki and Raila Odinga are neck to neck in the presidential race.

Any of the two men is able to run the country if elected tomorrow. The question is, who they choose to be their working partners. It is always those chosen to be working partners that may become greedy and destroy for the elected leaders.

Much has been said about both leaders. People have different opinions and they are entitled to that. The important thing, however, is what, whoever is elected will deliver.

Kalonzo Musyoka is another candidate that might take the split vote and may have numbers to bargain for power.

Ours is to wish them a good election day and may the best man win and take the country forward in the right direction.

Published by Korir, Chief Editor, API/APN africanpress@chello.no.

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Malawi to send troops to Darfur in January, defence ministry discloses

Posted by African Press International on December 26, 2007

Lilongwe (Malawi) Malawi on Wednesday announced plans to send a battalion of 800 soldiers to Darfur in Sudan in January for peace keeping mission, an official said.

Speaking on Wednesday in Lilongwe, Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Colonel Clement Namangale said the group to be sent has already been identified and they have already undergone initial training courses.

“Whilst there, we expect them to work in a professional manner because this not the first time we are sending the troops for peace keeping activities,” he said.

He said the country has been sending soldiers in war torn countries like Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola, Rwanda, and Liberia among others.

Minister of Defence Bob Khamisa said Malawi has dedicated and disciplined soldiers who will portray good image and reputation of the country because of their professionalism.

Recently, a delegation from the United Nations on peace and security was in the country to assess the condition of the soldiers who are ready for the mission.

Published by Korir, API/APN africanpress@chello.no source.apa

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Attack on French tourists in Mauritania blamed on Salafists

Posted by African Press International on December 26, 2007

Nouakchott (Mauritania) The probe into the killing of four French tourists by unknown individuals on Monday in Mauritania seems to turn to the Salafist trail instead of a foul crime as earlier thought, APA reported here on Wednesday following the publication of a statement by the countrys prosecution department.

Two of the three murderers have been identified while the description of the third one has been set, the statement says, noting that the two youngsters identified are known to have “links with extremist organisations and have been arrested in the past”.

In a clear reference to the Salafists, the document adds that one of the authors of the attack had been “released before his transfer to the prosecution department while the second man was held in the Nouakchott prison before being tried for belonging to a terrorist group and undergoing a military training abroad”.

The statement notes that the enquiry “is promptly and strictly going on” and that the “the manhunt is underway to catch the escaping murderers” who once caught, will be tried and sentenced accordingly”.

However the prosecution department declined to comment on the persistent rumours claiming that the authors of the attack had fled towards Senegal.

Published by Korir, API/APN africanpress@chello.no source.apa

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Insurgents attack home of Somali police chief, kill three people

Posted by African Press International on December 26, 2007

Mogadishu (Somalia) The regional police chief in southwestern Somalia has survived from an assassination attempt on Monday night , in which two of his grandchildren and a bodyguard was killed, seven others were wounded in the attack, officials sources confirm.

Suspected insurgents hurled hand grenades at the home of General Ibrahim Hashi Gabow in the southern trading town of Baidoa, where the interim government is based.

They hurled two simultaneous hand grenades into the house, killing a soldier on the spot and wounding four others, including two young children, who later died at the hospital from their wounds, said Aden Bid, the commander of the Baidoa police station.

The two children aged five and eight years were the grandchildren of General Ibrahim Hashi Gabow, who was himself sitting in the houses balcony at the time of the attack, seven other family members sustained injuries.

There was 10 minutes gun battle out side the house between the guards of the General and the suspected insurgents, said another police officer in the town Bishar Bilow .

The attackers fled after the Generals bodyguards opened fire and chased them away, witnesses told APA by telephone on condition of anonymity.

The security situation in Baidoa, 290km northwest of the national capital Mogadishu, has been recently deteriorating, with increased attacks on government officials.

Government intelligent services suspect that the spokesman of the Al-shabab, Sheikh Muqtar Robow better known as Abu-Mansur is in the region, from where he is organizing such attacks.

Abu-mansur is hiding in the region with number of his followers and we suspect him to be behind such attacks, said a government intelligence official in the region, Colonel Nur Ahmed.

Baidoa has been home to the Somali parliament since February 2006. Senior government officials, including the Prime Minister Nur Hassan Husein, currently reside in the town.

On Friday, a regional judge was shot and killed in Baidoa. Col. Gabow said then that the killers “came from Mogadishu” where a violent insurgency rages against the government and its foreign backers.

Meanwhile, police in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland said a French journalist abducted by Somali gunmen was released Monday, eight days after he was seized in the northern part of the country.

Cameraman Gwen Le Gouil was seized on December 16 outside the town of Bossaso in Puntland, an area associated with coastal piracy and known as a staging post for human traffickers running boats into Yemen.

Elders from Somalias influential clans had intervened to try to win his release.

“He is now in Bossaso and is feeling well. No ransom was paid,” Puntland Police Commissioner Abdiaziz Said Mohamoud told APA by telephone.

Published by Korir, API/APN africanpress@chello.no source.apa

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