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Archive for January 10th, 2008

Kenya talks spearheaded by AU Chairman Kufuor has collapsed

Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

Our connection in Nairobi reports that the talks in Nairobi to try and bring Kibaki and Raila’s party together has collapsed.

Observers are of the opinion that the demands by the opposition has made it impossible to continue the talks.

Earlier, ODM had demanded that Kibaki must step down first before any talks can take place. Later they changed their mind when they realised that the government was not ready to listen on that.

After dropping the demand that the president resigns first, the opposition decided tried another way. They demanded that the re-run on the presidency vote be done in three months time.

Something Kibaki is not ready to accept.

The president has gone ahead and appointed his cabinet locking out Raila and his ODM. There is, however, one way out of the dilemma. There are some few though insignificant ministerial positions that can be dished out to Raila’s group should they decide to give into Kibaki government’s demands.

It now remains to be seen what next move the opposition will take, now that talks has collapsed.

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

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Day of long talks

Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

Story by NATION Reporter and PPS
Publication Date: 1/9/2008

Diplomatic efforts to resolve Kenyas presidential election impasse were raised today with Ghana President John Kufuor holding a series of meetings with the rival camps, but there is still no word on progress.

Ghanaian President John Kufuor with ODM leader Raila Odinga at the Intercontinental Hotel, Naiirobi, where they held a meeting earlier today. Photo/JOSEPH MATHENGE

President Kufuor first met his Kenyan counterpart, President Kibaki in the morning before holding talks with the Orange Democratic Party.

The talks with ODM were done in two parts, first holding a meeting with ODM leader Raila Odinga before the two joined a larger team from the party.

The ODM team retreated into a party meeting and instead informed journalists that they would not be issuing any comment on the talks, with a spokesman, Mr Salim Lone only saying that President Kufuor was due to hold a second round of talks with President Kibaki.

A dispatch from the Presidential Press Service after the two presidents met in the morning said that Kufuor was briefed on political developments in Kenya by his host.

President Kibaki assured Kufuor that he had already initiated a process of dialogue with other Kenyan leaders to find sustainable solution to the current political situation in the country.

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

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Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 1/9/2008

Mr SAMUEL POGHISIO

The new Information and Communication minister could not hide his excitement about the new position.

I thank God for the appointment and I assure Kenyans that I will do my best as required, he said when contacted by the Nation.

The ODM Kenya Kacheliba MP-elect took cognisance of the challenges ahead of him and said he is ready to forge closer working relationships with other ministries to achieve his goals.

My immediate plans are to create a good rapport as I prepare to handle issues both in Parliament and out. This is an outcome of what we had earlier told you as our plan as ODM Kenya, said the party chairman.

Born and brought up in Kachelibas undulating hills, 50 years ago, Mr Poghisio, a father of six, says he has always wanted be a tool for change in his marginalised community.

He graduated from Makerere University with a degree in Biological Science, Botany and Zoology in 1980. In 1983 he got a job as a chemistry teacher at Chewoyet High School in his home area. At the time he was the second graduate in the whole Pokot community, after Alfred Lomonging, then a deputy secretary in the office of the Vice-President.

He studied for a Masters degree in Communications at Wheaton University, USA, from where he graduated in 1987, the same year Kacheliba constituency was created.

I developed an interest in journalism because I wanted to create awareness about the plight of the Pokot, he said yesterday.

When Kacheliba constituency was created Poghisio was determined to capture the seat in 1988 but was not successful. He was to make a comeback into politics later.


Mr MOHAMMED YUSUF HAJI

Mr Haji is joining the Cabinet as a full minister for the first time since he was elected MP in 1997.

He had served as an assistant minister in the Office of the President. President Daniel Moi appointed him to the position in 2000.

Before he was elected the MP for Ijara in North Eastern Province, Mr Haji was a provincial commissioner.

He joined the provincial administration in 1960 and served as a district officer in various parts of North Eastern Province. He was appointed district commissioner in 1980 in western Kenya.

In mid 1980s, Mr Haji was named Rift Valley provincial commissioner.

It was while he was Rift Valley PC that he retired to join politics. While in Kanu, Mr Haji rose to the position of treasurer.

In 2002, he was re-elected on a Kanu ticket and was among opposition MPs who decided to support President Kibaki in the Government of National Unity that comprised the cockerel party and Ford People.

During his re-election campaigns last year, President Kibaki relied on Mr Haji to preach his gospel in the North Eastern region.

With Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, his party chairman, the new Defence minister criss-crossed the vast province seeking votes for the President. He was also among the Muslim leaders who defended the Head of State against accusations that his Government had treated the Islamic community unfairly and said he should be o re-elected.


Mr MOSES WETANGULA

Wetangulas name sprung to the public limelight after the 1982 coup where he was one of the lawyers representing plotter Hezekiah Ochuka.

After the 1992 election, the new Foreign Affairs minister was nominated to Parliament by Kanu.

In 1997, he contested the Sirisia seat on a Kanu ticket but lost to Ford Kenyas John Munyasia. Mr Wetangula was later appointed by retired President Moi the chairman of the Electricity Regulatory Board.

In 2002, he clinched the Sirisia seat after defecting from Kanu to Ford-K and contesting on a Narc ticket.

President Kibaki appointed him assistant minister for Foreign Affairs, a position he has served for the last five years.

Mr Wetangula was one of the closest allies of Ford-K leader Musikari Kombo, and a staunch supporter of President Kibaki. He stood behind them during the rebellion in Narc and the quest for a new constitution.

The Sirisia MP-elect was always there for the two leaders, to defend them and the Government, in and out of Parliament.

His star has been on the rise since he entered the August House. He was always there to sit in powerful House committees, either on his behalf or to represent the Ford-K leader.

With Kombo out of Parliament, Mr Wetangula is among the people to watch in Ford-K.

Last week, President Kibaki gave Kenyans a hint that he had big plans for the new Foreign minister when he appointed him a special envoy to brief world leaders on the unrest in the country following the announcement of the presidential results by the Electoral Commission of Kenya.


PROF SAM ONGERI

Education minister Sam Ongeri knows what it means to be in the political cold.

Prof Ongeri is not a newcomer to politics; he served for over a decade as a senior Kanu official and as Cabinet minister under retired President Daniel Moi.

But his political career was cut short by the Opposition and the entry of fellow medic, Dr Hezron Manduku, who floored him in Nyaribari Masaba.

Prof Ongeri had become a household name and was one of Mr Mois closest allies in Gusii. He was Health minister for many years. However, his political fortunes changed when Mr Simeon Nyachae plunged into politics.

For the next decade, Prof Ongeri was locked out of politics. In the 2002 polls, Prof Ongeri attempted to recapture the Nyaribari Masaba seat on a Kanu ticket, but was humiliated by Dr Manduku, who enjoyed the Ford People wave.

Mr Nyachae was contesting the presidency on Ford People ticket. All old MPs were shown the door by Ford-P candidates.

As Prof Ongeri moves into his new office at Jogoo House, he will be walking tall as the man to watch in the land of matoke (bananas) after the defeat of Mr Nyachae, former Roads minister, in Nyaribari Chache.

The region elected MPs on various party tickets including ODM, PNU, Narc and NLP in the December General Election. Kenyans will also remember Prof Ongeri declaring that he was ready to retire from politics with Mr Moi, in 1992. How times change!


Dr NAOMI SHABAAN

The new minister for Special Programmes is the Taveta MP-elect. She first came to Parliament in 2002 and is among the few contestants who survived the anti-Kanu wave then.

Before joining politics, the paediatrician worked in various Government hospitals before going into private practice.

In the just-concluded elections, Dr Shabaan defended her Taveta seat on a Kanu ticket.

She was among a 29-member team of politicians who spearheaded the PNU presidential campaigns in the area despite stiff competition from the Orange Democratic Movement.


Mr UHURU KENYATTA

This will be the second time the Gatundu South MP-elect will occupy the Local Government docket.

He first served as minister for Local Government in former President Mois Cabinet a few months before the latter picked him as his successor in 2002.

A former Official Opposition leader, Mr Kenyatta sacrificed his presidential ambition in the run-up to last years General Election, arguing that he and the party he chairs Kanu could not afford to miss out in the next government.

Consequently, he withdrew from the presidential race to back President Kibakis re-election.

Ever since he plunged into active politics in 1997, Mr Kenyattas political star has been on the rise.

In 2002, he entered the presidential race with the blessings of Mr Moi, but lost to Narcs Mwai Kibaki.

Despite being in the Cabinet, he is also President Kibakis peace envoy, shuttling between countries to brief world leaders on Kenyas situation.

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

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Changing standing orders should top agenda as Parliament convenes

Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

Story by OWINO OPONDO – Parliamentary Editor

The Tenth Parliament, set to hold its first session on Tuesday, is a child of the peoples collective revolution at the ballot box.

The 10th Parliament is set to hold its first session on Tuesday. Photo/FILE

That rings true if one considered that only 80 MPs who served in the previous House have been voted back. Of all the 210 members, 130 will be fresh faces, with only a few of them having been in the House for a term or more before.

It was during the last General Election on December 27 that Kenyans decided to slay out 22 ministers, some of them party leaders and regional political chiefs.

The party leaders who were jettisoned included Mr Simeon Nyachae (Ford-People), Mr Musikari Kombo (Ford-Kenya), Dr Mukhisa Kituyi (New Ford-Kenya), Prof Wangari Maathai (Mazingira), Raphael Tuju (Narc-Kenya), and Mr Paul Muite (Safina).

It will be interesting to see how the mystery of the missing bosses affects the position taken by MPs from different parties on business before the House. For a long time, party leaders have wielded so much power over the running of their parties and the fate of their members.

For example, MPs loyal and friendly to their party bosses, invariably, get themselves plum jobs such as chief whip. The blue-eyed ones are also appointed to as many departmental committees as is allowable by House rules. There is additional cash for attending committee sittings.

Public distress

The largesse for the loyal ones does not end there. It is extended to ad hoc committees, usually appointed to respond to matters of immense public distress. Even there, nothing is for free, and members are paid for every sitting attended.

Five political parties qualified to nominate the 12 MPs.

Besides the nominated seats, ODM and its Narc affiliate have 102 seats, PNU and its friendly parties have 78 seats, while ODM-K has 16.

In the PNU coalition are Kanu (14), Safina (5), Narc-K (4), Ford-P (3), New Ford-K (2), DP (2), Sisi kwa Sisi (2), Mazingira (1), Ford-K (1), and Ford-A (1). It is yet to be known on which side of the House the 11 MPs who were elected on un-affiliated parties will sit.

However, a number of the fringe parties had by last week formed an outfit called Small Parties Parliamentary Group as the vehicle they hope to use for collective bargaining within the House. Together, they form a bloc of 30 MPs; a number that could easily swing voting in Parliament.

Based on numbers, ODM will be expected to nominate 6 MPs, while PNU will pick 3 additional members. ODM-K, Kanu and Safina have one seat each.

The Electoral Commission of Kenya ordered repeat polls in three constituencies; namely Kamukunji in Nairobi, Wajir North in North Eastern Province, and Kilgoris in the Rift Valley.

Judging from the membership strata in the House, it is clear that no particular party will push through a constitutional legislation without reaching out to others for additional votes. The support of at least two thirds or 148 of the 222 elected and nominated MPs is required to amend the supreme law.

House rules demand that the Speaker must get the support of two thirds of MPs during the preliminaries. So far, no single party can meet this requirement.

A run-off is allowed between the first and second candidate during the third round where a simple majority applies.

It is not clear whether Parliament will base the two thirds majority on 222 members or 219 because three seats are vacant. If the latter is applied, then one seeking the seat of the Speaker must garner at least 146 votes.

Although the application of the two thirds rule or simple majority of those present are both legal routes for electing the prefect of Parliament, the former holds more moral prestige.

Partisan leanings

This is because the Speaker is expected to be above partisan leanings, and must guide debate in a manner that is not soiled by any dot of reproach. The tide of acrimony that has since greeted the election results in several parts of the country is a spectacle yearning for national healing. Parliament is the first place to begin that process. It requires a firm and fair Speaker agreeable to most MPs.

Indeed, one seeking to clinch the Speakers chair is required not only to understand the rules of debate. He or she must also be ahead of the MPs in grasping how laws they intend to make or amend sit with the general legal furniture of the country.

The Tenth Parliament will have more elected women than its predecessor. Their number has almost doubled from eight to 15. In this category, Rift Valley Province is taking six elected women to the House, followed by Nairobi and Eastern which have tied at three apiece. From Central Province are two, and Coast has elected one woman member.

No woman parliamentary contestant sailed through in Nyanza, Western, and North Eastern Provinces. These are areas parties allowed to nominate MPs should be identifying women for the august House.

It is yet to be seen if the new Parliament will continue with the bad manners of the House before it by failing to appoint any woman MP to chair a committee. This is a matter that should urgently be addressed if our leaders are committed to gender balance in appointments to public offices.

The bulk of MPs work in most parliaments the world over has moved to committees where the largely 11 members fine-tune forthcoming Bills and related legislative work. Leaving women MPs – and most of them are well educated and experienced in their own right – out of committee leadership will be akin to a House preaching water while gulping colossal amounts of wine!

It will be interesting to see how first-time MPs will cope with the speedy pace and demands of legislation in a world that is now a global village. Yet politics is, perhaps, the only job in the world for which intellectual preparation has not be seen necessary, even as law-making becomes more technical.

Experts have for sometime been proposing an elaborate induction programme for MPs, far beyond being shown the plenary, offices, car parks, members lounge, and the library. It has been suggested that new members be taught the Standing Orders and related matters to make them understand their legislative roles better.

Such inhibitions have not been demolished by a number of tired practices Kenya borrowed from the British Westminster model. In essence, such rules, long by-passed by the dictates of time and space, have made our law-making long and unnecessarily winding.

The former Parliament had the deputy speaker and Mwingi South MP David Musila chair a committee of MPs that proposed a raft of changes to the Standing Orders to infuse flexibility and speed up legislation.

Among other things, the Musila sub-committee sought to enhance the role of MPs in the preparation and monitoring of the Budget. It created the Fiscal Analysis and Appropriations Committee comprising 15 members appointed by parliamentary parties based on their relative majority in the House.

The committee shall, among other things, examine annual estimates to be presented in Parliament by the Minister for Finance not later than the 15 day of December preceding the year in which the proposals relate to. Included in the estimates will also be the tax measures the Government wishes to implement to raise money for its projects.

It is noteworthy that the Musila-led team has proposed the deletion of the ignoble guillotine where to meet the October 31 deadline MPs pool estimates for several remaining ministries and pass them without scrutiny. Even British Parliament has long ditched the guillotine on the crest of demands for more openness in the use of public funds.

There was also an attempt to cast the ghost of perennial lack of quorum that, many times, interrupted the business of Parliament. The sub-committee retained that at least 30 MPs- excluding the person presiding- constitute quorum during chamber sittings, with a catch: No bills or motions to be passed or voted down without the requisite numbers.

The Ninth Parliament passed many important bills and motions without quorum. And to ensure the Government acts on resolutions, petitions, and bills passed by Parliament, the sub-committee proposed the appointment of the Implementation Committee. This is the case in other Commonwealth countries such as India.

If the draft is adopted by Parliament, committee sittings will be open to the public to ensure transparency.

The Musila team also had some suggestions on the composition of the watchdog Public Accounts Committee. If passed, the committee will continue to be chaired by the Leader of the Official Opposition party, while its other nine members (with a majority from opposition parties) appointed after the General Election shall serve for three years. Their replacement shall continue for the remaining three years of the life of a Parliament.

Changing committee members midstream is a good idea. It checks stagnation of ideas and vested interests.

Yes, amending the Standing Orders should top the agenda of the Tenth Parliament.

The 10th Parliament is set to hold its first session on Tuesday.

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Niger: President labels rebel actions “terrorism”

Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

Niamey (Niger) – Niger President Mamadou Tandja has described the actions by the rebel Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) in the north of the country as “terrorism aimed at instilling insecurity and fear among the population”.

The President spoke during the opening of the 2008 session of the local government executives here Tuesday. Niger has faced rebel attacks in the north of the country for the past one year.

Tandja said “this random and deliberate violence” has for some time taken a new turn, resulting in the murderous attacks on the roads and the laying of anti-tank mines in several places.
“These criminal acts, which must be described as terrorism, are aimed at instilling insecurity and fear among the population,” he said, noting that the situation must not divert the Niger people from the issues of development, national unity and cohesion

The President urged region governors, prefects and heads of administrative posts to rally the population against the crisis. The MNJ, which has been in conflict with the Niamey government since February 2007, has already carried out several deadly attacks against military targets, mining companies and civilians.

 

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Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

By Kennedy Ndahiro

Goma (Congo DRC) – Congolese rebel leader Gen. Laurent Nkunda has confirmed that his movement had sent a delegation to the ongoing national peace conference being held at the eastern Congolese town of Goma.

Speaking to The New Times on phone yesterday, Gen. Nkunda said he hoped the meeting would address once and for all the binding issue of Rwandan armed militia who are the main obstacle to peace in the region.
The meeting should come up with a serious agenda of getting rid of the Rwandan rebels from our soil, said the rebel leader. It is not acceptable having people with freely roaming the region with 8,000 uncontrolled guns.

The armed groups, who are a mixture of former Rwandan armed forces (Ex- FAR) and Interahamwe militia responsible for the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, fled to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) soon after their defeat. The talks bring together members of the government, political parties, military, judiciary, civil society, traditional leaders and representatives of each ethnic group in the Kivu. Foreign observers have also been invited.

Laurent Nkunda was confident that civilian participants from areas under his control would give a true picture of the peace they were enjoying. The areas under our control are the safest in the whole of Kivu. People even move about at night with no fear. The same can not be said for the government side, said the General. The meeting was hastily called by the Congolese government when it failed to dislodge Nkundas men after it launched an ill-fated offensive in December.

The Kivu peace conference did not have to wait long before it hit a snag, the first of what observers say more to come. First it was President Joseph Kabila, the convener of the conference, who decided to pull out at the last moment and send an emissary instead. The very vocal civil societies in the Kivu then decided to boycott the talks claiming that they had been given insignificant roles in the process. They demanded 300 seats in the session. An official of Nkundas CNDP said his group had sent about 10 people to the talks which are fully funded by the Congolese government.

 

Lifted and published by Korir, API/APN africanpress@chello.no source.newtimesRwanda/Afrikanewsletter

 

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Liberia: Market women help revive economy

Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

By Noluthando Crockett-Ntonga

Monrovia (Liberia) To the untutored eye of a visitor from elsewhere, the markets in Liberia and many other African countries seem chaotic, noisy, smelly, dirty and often dangerous. Traders and shoppers alike are wary of ever-present pickpockets or, more threatening, criminals. Still, the basic business of market operations appears straightforward, with traders predominantly women peddling just about everything short of big-ticket items like cars.

Depending on the market, dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people buy what they need including food for the evening meal, household wares big and small, CDs and electronic devices, toiletries, shoes and clothing – from intricately designed African dresses to American blue jeans, new or used. But what goes on at these markets is, in fact, quite complex and represents a major foundation of life in Liberia, dating from long before the two decades of unrest, 14 years of war and the succession of regimes and militias which have left the nation in ruins. Everything in the marketplaces of this west African country’s awakening economy is negotiable, often in loud voices. “I spoil the price” means a trader reduces the price of an item to speed its sale. The idea is that “fast penny” is better than “slow dollar” a trader makes more by selling quickly at a lower price than if she holds out for a higher price.

Even though most market women in Liberia are illiterate, they are essential to food distribution throughout the country, and they remain a formidable economic force. With Liberia’s post-war unemployment rate estimated at 85 percent, market women who comprise the great majority of the traders are breadwinners, often the only people supporting families of up to 20, often including war orphans. Many of the women are also farmers, growing food on smallholdings of two or three acres and then transporting their goods to market, usually walking with a big load on their heads, often with babies tied to their backs. Before the war, some say, they had dreams of getting an education but were forced to turn to trading to make a living. During the years of conflict, agricultural production was disrupted and most of Liberia’s people were displaced from their homes. Minimal international food aid was often the only means of survival. But fighting frequently blocked distribution of relief supplies. With men constantly subject to being killed or coerced into fighting forces, unless people foraged in the wild, market women were the only sources of food in many areas. What little was left of Liberia’s war-time economy was often sustained by the endurance of women, who ducked bullets and braved torrential rains or the hot, relentless sun to grow and fetch fruit and vegetables.

Many women commuted between rebel- and government-controlled areas to supply key commercial centers like Monrovia, the capital, and the towns of Gbarnga and Buchanan. Sometimes they too were conscripted into armies to provide labor and were forced to live as sex slaves. Now the market women, along with the rest of the country, are trying to put the past behind them as they struggle to restart the economy. The Liberia Marketing Association (LMA) is the umbrella organization that oversees markets in the country. Established as a voice for small traders, through advocating better marketing facilities and lending practices, the LMA is a nationwide organization with branches in each of the country’s 15 counties. When a woman wants to sell in the market, she registers with the LMA and pays a one-time fee to get a table. Each trader pays daily fees to a collector who works for the LMA. A flat tax, rather than a fee based on income, penalizes subsistence traders. Those who don’t pay can have their goods confiscated and be barred from selling in the market. The fees collected are supposed to be used for the cleaning and maintenance of market facilities, but there is no mechanism to enforce performance.

Traders say the organization has a long history of poor leadership and lack of financial accountability. Critics say these problems cannot be addressed until the organization is professionalized and establishes checks and balances, and the membership is trained to hold the leadership accountable. Lusu Sloan, interim LMA chairperson, estimates its predominantly female membership at 35,000 nationally, making it one of the largest organizations in the country. She says the group is struggling to regain ground lost during the war. “Before the war we had microcredit for fertilizer and farming tools. Farmers could get loans and pay back what they borrowed with small interest during the production season. Now that’s not in place. Before, we had an agricultural bank, and some traders had regular savings. Now you can’t get any funds.” One of the biggest problems, Sloan notes, is the widespread destruction of basic infrastructure. Even before the war, upcountry roads were impassable during the worst of the rainy season. Now they are much worse. Where roads are passable, a lack of vehicles constrains movement of people and goods.

Illiteracy is a barrier to women improving their positions. Most market women can’t read, write or speak English, Liberia’s official language. Few have the experience to grow their own businesses without guidance. Nevertheless, supporters argue, they do have the determination and the skills to get started as micro-entrepreneurs. Juanita Neal says the business women’s network brainchild of Josephine Francis, who owns a large farm just outside Monrovia was founded to address the need for expertise and financing. “We need loans, and we need to be educated about loans,” says Neal. “We have lots of ideas and plans but no money. We are trying to organize the women, come up with proposals. It should be easier to get soft loans or grants if we are registered as a group. We are putting a system in place to monitor what the traders are doing, so money comes back to repay the loan and sustain the business.”

While many of the traders may be illiterate, says Neal, “they know what they are doing and what they want. We want to direct them to think bigger, to get better crop yields with pest controls, tilling the land, and good environmental practices. They come to us and we write the plan for them.” Most of Liberia’s women practice subsistence farming. But against the odds, there have always been market women who are moguls in their context: important, powerful, influential women with hundreds of acres of land and their own pickup trucks. A few who started small are now big farmers growing cash crops, like cucumbers. Some keep livestock such as goats and pigs, and a few have entered the rubber trade. Some are beginning to expand into the more lucrative field of food processing. They are entrepreneurs, and they love their work.

Kebbeh Freeman is such a woman. Lacking formal education, Mrs. Freeman started as a small-time market woman and learned the skills she needed to become the successful businesswoman she is today. She is a founder of the Red Light market, a former board chair of the Liberia Marketing Association and a former member of the Liberian legislature. Today, as she sits on the front porch of her comfortable house on a side street of the market, she looks at her commercial compound and laughs, as if it’s hard to believe what she has accomplished from meager beginnings. She invested her earnings to purchase her own vehicle, a pick-up truck, and sells rice and cement wholesale. She exports palm oil to the U.S. and Europe. And she cares for an extended family of more than 30 people. She built her first small house before the wars started. Now she doesn’t want to say how many houses she owns. Her practical advice for the hundreds of thousands of struggling market women today: “Even if you just sell small pepper, you just don’t sell and eat all for today. You take a dime or a penny and put it down for tomorrow. You just can’t sit and say, ‘God will help me.’ You have to help yourself first.”

Strong support from market women, including powerful entrepreneurs like Freeman, were an important factor in the victory of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Harvard University-trained economist and former World Bank executive, who became Africa’s first woman to be elected president of a country. The president, fondly called “Ma Ellen” by the women, regularly acknowledges that debt. She says her appreciation of the strength and resilience of the traders is personal as well as political. Both her grandmothers were illiterate market women. James Logan, Deputy Agriculture Minister for Planning, says the entire government is keenly aware of the importance of women. “Women historically have played a key role in distribution on the marketing side. They have a vital role in government’s poverty reduction strategy.”

*Noluthando Crockett-Ntonga, reporting as Phyllis Crockett, covered the White House for National Public Radio and was based in sub-Saharan Africa for more than 10 years working on development issues. She was part of the allAfrica.com team in Liberia to report on agricultural development and poverty reduction.

 

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Kenya: Peace talks crucial to nation’s survival (editorial)

Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

The naming of a new Cabinet on Tuesday is bound to raise eyebrows among groups involved in the impending mediation over Kenyas election dispute.

To President Kibakis supporters, it appears to be an affirmation of his position as the re-elected President; they will defend the necessity to fill the power vacuum Kenya finds itself in. To everyone else questioning the legitimacy of his presidency arising from the disputed presidential results it apears to be seen as a sign of bad faith ahead of the discussions about to begin under the mediation of Ghanas President John Kufuor.

Mr Kibaki suggested that the 17 people he named are only half the Cabinet, leaving room for manoeuvre in the course of the coming talks. But the question most certainly on the minds of his critics is: Why the urgency to name a Cabinet when crucial issues about government will be at the heart of the mediated talks? Even allowing for the need to fill the power vacuum, will not the timing of this announcement poison the atmosphere of the delicate palaver about to begin in Nairobi?

President Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga have both accepted the Ghanaian President as an intermediary. They would both also seem to have listened to the voice of reason and ignored the hotheads in their respective entourages, who do not see the need for compromise and would rather see Kenya burn than surrender an inch. Negotiation is always a matter of give-and-take, and in simply agreeing to negotiate, the two claimants to the presidency have each given a little. It is in that same spirit that President Kibaki and Mr Odinga must approach the sensitive talks that could make or break this country.

The violence that has rocked the country claiming 486 lives may have stilled for the moment, but the coming talks cannot be merely about determining who won the presidential elections or securing a truce in the hostilities. The coming talks must succeed because the result of failure would be too terrible to contemplate. As President Kibaki and Mr Odinga sit around the table, they must recognise that they are making a decision not on who gets to enjoy the trappings of power, but on much more fundamental issues around the survival of Kenya reform of the electoral process, resettlement of victims of the election violence, agreement on a transitional arrangement to oversee a fresh presidential election and crucial Constitutional reforms to ensure equity and broad-based participation in government.

We can presume that President Kibaki will approach the talks on the basis that he was properly elected and that any post-election violence is the fault of an opposition that refused to accept the results.
Mr Odingas position will be that the elections were blatantly rigged in favour of the incumbent and that the will of the people was subverted to deny him the chance to fulfil the voters mandate. Something terribly wrong
What is important here is that both admit there was something terribly wrong with tallying of the presidential votes, which returned Mr Kibaki to office.

That needs to be looked into, but not apart from the fact that hundreds have been killed, millions worth of property destroyed and more than a quarter million people driven away from places they have always known as home. A pact to share power is a small but essential step. However, it will not sufficiently address the root cause of our national crisis. Fresh polls may soothe the sense of grievance over perceived electoral fraud, but the thousands of families who have been run out of their homes in the Rift Valley and elsewhere will not be able to return and live in peace unless the conditions that bred the violence are addressed.

President Kibaki and Mr Odinga must see into long term and recognise the enormity of the task at hand. We are talking here of a the need to craft a new social, economic and political dispensation that guarantees justice and equity to all Kenyan communities. At the same time, it must be a dispensation that tackles Kenyas scandalously unequal distribution of wealth and deals a final blow to our winner-takes-it-all politics. Equally urgent is the need to revisit another abandoned initiative, the proposal for a truth and justice mechanism.

We squandered the chance to tackle these issues with the flawed constitutional review process that became an arena for selfish political power play. We are now paying the price. All these are weighty issues that are far more important than the competing claims of two individuals to the seat of state. We must accept that as we move on in the process of puling this country back from catastrophe, we are looking far beyond Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga.

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Man uses ATM card to steal from friend

Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

Written By:Nancy Akinyi/Lempaa Suyianka

A man pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing an ATM card from his friend and using it to withdraw money from the friend’s account.

Before Senior Principal Magistrate Mary Anne Murage was Johnson Onyango who pleaded guilty to stealing an ATM card from his friend and proceeding to withdraw 60 thousand shillings from the account last month.

Onyango admitted that he picked the ATM card from the room where they resided and withdrew 20 thousand shillings from three different branches of Equity Bank.

Prosecutor Peter Ngatia told the court that the complainant reported the loss of his ATM card and investigations revealed that his friend had stolen it.

Onyango also admitted that he had disappeared and was only identified during investigations through CCTV cameras.

The court reserved sentencing to January 23 to await a probation report.

In the same court Lucy Wambui Mbugua alias Faith Nyambura Ngige was charged with stealing a motor vehicle valued at 1.2 million shillings.

The offense was committed at Blue Hut Hotel in Nairobi on November 26 last year.

She denied the charge and was released on cash bail of 150 thousand shillings.

The case will be heard on February 12.

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Kenyans to benefit from free education in secondary schools after Kibaki’s win as president for the second term

Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

Kibaki promised free education in primary schools and kept the promise

Kibaki promised free education in secondary schools if he won this year’s election and he has started to deliver on the promise.

Kibaki’s promises and the factthat he has kept the promise willnot only benefit those who voted for him but also those in the opposition who supported Raila and his ODM

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KBC story

Guidelines for free secondary school education released.

Written By:Naisula Lesuuda

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Caption: Parents will be expected to meet costs of school uniform and lunch programs in day schools.

The government has released the guidelines for the implementation of free secondary school education in both public day and boarding schools.

Education Permanent secretary Karega Mutahi said in a statement that the government commits itself to provide free day secondary education to all Kenyan children this year.

” As you are aware, the government has taken a decision to improve transition rates from primary to secondary from 60 per cent to 70 per cent. This is in line with the various policy documents, including the sessional paper No. 1 of 2005. Consequently, a Task force chaired by Dr. Eddah Gachukia was set up in a stakeholders’ forum and mandated to work on the implementation modalities.” The statement said.

It will cost the taxpayer 10,265 shillings per child per year for students in public secondary schools.

Parents will be expected to meet costs of school uniform and lunch programs in day schools.

Parents who opt to have their children in Boarding schools will pay a maximum of 18,627 shillings per year to meet the cost of boarding services.

The statement added that parents would continue to play a key role in the provision of physical facilites, which will also be supplemented by CDF, LAFT and other support programmes and contributions from individuals.

The opening date of Secondary schools remains the same on the 14th January 2008.

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Kenyans Deserve Better, Bush Says

Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

president-george-w-bush.jpg

Story by KEVIN J. KELLEY in New York
Publication Date: 1/9/2008

Americas President George W Bush yesterday spoke directly about the post-election chaos, saying the US supports efforts by Kenyas “robust media and civil society” to hold the countrys political leaders to account.

In a statement released by the White House, President Bush called on the Government and the Orange Democratic Movement to enter a dialogue in good faith. The two sides should seek to “earn back the trust of the Kenyan people, who deserve a political process that reflects their dedication to democracy,” the American leader said.

Mr Bush also welcomed the mediation of African Union chairman John Kufuor, who is also Ghanas President.

The President noted the Governments acknowledgment of irregularities in the December 27 voting. But Mr Bush gave no indication of whether the United States favours an independent review of the vote count or whether a new election should be held.

US presidential candidate Barack Obama has also been speaking out on the Kenya crisis.

While campaigning yesterday in the state of New Hampshire, the Kenyan-American politician said he had spoken by telephone with ODM leader Raila Odinga the previous day. Senator Obama said he was also trying to arrange a conversation with President Kibaki.

In his talk with Mr Odinga, “what I urged was that all the leaders there, regardless of their position on the election, tell their supporters to stand down, to desist with the violence and resolve it in a peaceful way in accordance with Kenyan law,” Senator Obama said.

On the same day, the US State Department expressed disappointment with President Kibakis decision to appoint a new Cabinet.

“Today’s step, especially on the eve of President Kufuor arriving in Kenya it’s disappointing,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said at a Press briefing in Washington.

“That doesn’t mean that they can’t find a solution here,” he added, “and that we are not going to in any way diminish our efforts to help them find a solution.”

Mr McCormack also deplored the “needless loss of life” in the aftermath of the election.

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Poghisio takes over as information minister

Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

Written By:Collins Anampiu

The newly appointed minister for information and communications Samuel Poghisio on Wednesday embarked on his new ministerial duties at Teleposta towers.

In his first press briefing when he took over from his predecessor, Mutahi Kagwe, Poghisio expressed his gratitude to president Kibaki for the appointment.

Expressing his concern over the violence that has engulfed parts of the country in the last two weeks, Poghisio said ODM-K had resolved to join the government in an effort to bring to an end the unnecessary bloodshed.

He said the party would work with the government to facilitate a faster resolution to the crisis facing the country.

Poghisio urged the media to be part and parcel of the recovery and reconciliation process through upholding the highest professional standards especially at this period.

He said his ministry will support efforts to promote free dissemination of information by the media as a crucial tool for nation building.

Poghisio said his hope is to ensure every Kenyan is able to communicate easily and in a more affordable way through the use of modern technology.

The minister expressed his support for the establishment of the media law which paved the way for the creation of the Media Council of Kenya, a body mandated to enforce professional ethics among media practitioners.

“I wish to assure you that my ministry will support the efforts of the media council and will work closely with the media owners and practitioners to promote the good work of the media as a crucial tool for nation building”, he said.

He said the ministry would support the proposed Freedom of Information and ICT bills which are expected to enhance free flow of information and contribute to the development of the ICT sector as an important pillar of the Vision 2030.

He said the laying of the fiber optic cable from Kenya to the Mideast which will be launched next week will enhance communication within the East African region.

Poghisio was named in the first half of the cabinet named on Tuesday by President Mwai Kibaki which mainly consists of MPs from PNU, ODM-K and Kanu.

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President visits areas hit by post election violence.

Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

Written By:pps,

President Mwai Kibaki on Wednesday visited areas affected by the recent post election violence and warned the perpetrators that they will face the full force of the law.

Speaking at Noigam Primary school playground in Cherengani, Trans Nzoia East district where 17,000 misplaced people are camping, President Kibaki said the Government will not shirk from its responsibility of protecting people and their properties.

He warned those engaged in criminal activities under the guise of election being disaffected with the results of the recent general elections that they would be arrested and prosecuted.

He said “There is a Government in place in this country which has the responsibility to the people of Kenya for their security. Let no one therefore delude themselves that they can get away with crimes.”

In the same vein President Kibaki assured displaced families camping at various church compounds and Police Stations that they would not be evicted from their legally acquired land adding the Government will instead assist them to reconstruct their homes.

“Am therefore directing that all those affected register with the relevant Government departments so that they can be given assistance to resettle in their homes,” he added.

Noting that innocent lives had been lost in the senseless orgy of violence, President Kibaki said it was unfortunate some political leaders had capitalized on the gullibility of the youth to incite them into violence.

Saying such politicians were not worthy of national leadership, President Kibaki asked wananchi to refuse to be used as instruments of plunder and deaths.

He said “Kenyans of different ethnic groups have always lived peacefully together. Their children have gone to the same schools and even intermarried. It is therefore unfortunate saddening that such harmony can be sacrificed at the alter of political expediency.”

The President stressed that he cannot let the country degenerate into chaos and called on those involved in ethnic cleansing to stop their criminal activities before the law catches up with them.

President Kibaki said the Government had put in place appropriate security arrangement to ensure the reopening of schools was not disrupted in the affected areas and asked parents to take their children back to school when they reopen on Monday.

He at the same time directed school committees in those areas to evaluate the damage cost to their schools so that the Government can establish what kind of assistance they can be given.

He instructed the provincial administration to broker peace among people of different ethic background saying Kenyans must always forge friendship amongst themselves.

The President emphasized that the recent general elections should not hold the country back and urged those who vied for different positions and lost to accept the verdict of the people so that the country can move on.

Also present were Minister for Provincial Administration and Internal Security Professor George Saitoti, Minister for special Programmes Naom Shaban and her counter part for Science and Technology Dr. Noah Wekesa.

Also present were the Head of Civil service and Secretary to the Cabinet Ambassador Francis Muthaura.

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New Vice-President Musyoka takes over

Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

API/APN congratulates the new vice president of Kenya. We hope he will engage in reconciling the Kenyan people and spearhead development. He is a very experienced politician who has mediated peace in the continent when he was minister of foreign affairs.

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Kalonzo takes over VP office

Written By:VPPS

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Caption: Newly-appointed Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.

Newly-appointed Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka on Wednesday officially took over his office at Jogoo House.

Mr. Musyoka who was taken around the office by out-going Vice President Moody Awori thanked President Mwai Kibaki for the appointment, which he said he had accepted with humility.

Saying the appointment came at a critical time when the country was hurting from the effects of the post-election violence, Mr. Musyoka said he would utilize his new responsibility in promoting national healing and reconstruction.

He however appealed to Kenyans to shelve the differences, which were occasioned by the general election and forge unity in order to revert the country to its former glory.

Mr. Musyoka regretted that following the elections a number of Kenyans had lost their lives, property destroyed and the economy adversely affected.

“No amount of hard feelings should be allowed to lead to deaths or destruction”, the Vice President pointed out adding that it was incumbent upon Kenyans to reconcile and uphold peace and unity.

At the same time, Mr. Musyoka who also met the ministry of Home affairs departmental heads assured that he will ensure that the important work the ministry has been undertaking will be sustained.

He particularly singled out the prisons reforms program and the cash-transfer fund for orphans, which he noted will be fast tracked.

Congratulating Mr. Musyoka, Mr. Awori commended his successor’s track record as a peace broker and a God-fearing person, and expressed optimism that he will execute the new responsibilities ably.

The function was also attended by the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Vice President Mrs. Nancy Kirui.

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UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon has called on the Sudanese government to prevent any recurrence and fulfill its obligations concerning the deployment of the force, known as UNAMID

Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2008

Washington DC- (USA) Elements of the Sudanese army have been accused of attacking a supply convoy of the new joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Sudans strife-torn Darfur region on Tuesday night, and a civilian Sudanese driver suffered seven gunshot wounds, APA learns from UN sources.

Condemning the attack in the strongest possible terms, the UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon called on the Sudanese government to prevent any recurrence and fulfill its obligations concerning the deployment of the force, known as UNAMID, which has as a result been put on high alert on Wednesday.

The convoy, carrying rations for UNAMID personnel in West Darfur, was said to have been attacked in an area that has seen violent clashes between the government and rebels.

For the joint African UnionUnited Nations peacekeeping operation to be able to perform its mandated functions, the government of Sudan has to provide unequivocal guarantees that there will be no recurrence of such activities by its forces, Mr. Ban said in a statement issued Tuesday by his spokesperson.

In this connection, the United Nations is lodging a protest with the government of Sudan. This incident underscores the importance of the government reaffirming its commitment to the deployment of UNAMID and the implementation of Security Council resolution 1769, he added of the resolution setting up the force.

In a statement issued by UNAMID immediately after the attack, the hybrid force said it did not return fire, and no UNAMID casualties were incurred during the attack on the re-supply mission between Um Baru, Tine and Kulbus in West Darfur, an area where its air operations have been restricted due to the security concerns.

UNAMID formally took over from an African Union mission just last week in a bid to bring peace to Darfur.

But, with only 9,000 armed personnel, it is critically under strength. However, with a mandated total of some 26,000 troops and police it would be the UNs largest peacekeeping operation, and Mr. Ban has repeatedly appealed to member states to speed up delivery of vital units and equipment, including helicopters.

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