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Archive for January 11th, 2008

Peace talks deadlock

Posted by African Press International on January 11, 2008

Story by MUGUMO MUNENE and BERNARD NAMUNANE
Publication Date: 1/11/2008

The anticipated face-to-face talks between President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga failed to take place Thursday.

President Kibaki bids farewell to President John Kufuor at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi yesterday. Right: ODM leader Raila Odinga after talks with the Ghanaian leader. The planned talks between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga failed to take place. Photos/JOSEPH MATHENGE and STEPHEN MUDIARI.

The two sides traded accusations over who was responsible for the failure with President Kibakis side saying the ODM team was not responsive to dialogue and ODM secretary-general Anyang Nyongo accusing the President of refusing to acknowledged the mediation process.

However, both sides later said they were committed to dialogue and a negotiated solution to the crisis.

The talks were aimed at resolving the political crisis sparked by disputed presidential polls.

Addressing a press conference in the afternoon, ODM leaders said President Kibaki had refused to offer any alternatives out of the grave situation facing the country and preferred agreements that served his immediate interests.

And later Mr Odinga Thursday said alternative methods will be employed to stop President Kibaki from returning Kenya to the dark era of dictatorship.

Prof Nyongo said only internationally recognised personalities like former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other eminent persons agreed upon by all parties could be acceptable to them as mediators.

The governments side, on the other hand, said they were still committed to constructive dialogue and welcomed Ghanaian President John Kufuors initiative.

The bone of contention was a document which ODM claimed had been negotiated and agreed on by the two sides. They said the drafting of the document had been facilitated by World Bank Country director Colin Bruce, but the Government disowned it.

Throughout the day, there had been indications that a face-to-face meeting between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga would take place. The meeting was to be chaired by Mr Kufuor, who is also the current AU chairman.

It was to be the climax of three days of shuttle diplomacy between State House and Hotel Inter Continental by Mr Kufuor, but which ended with dashed hopes for a coalition government.

Following the deadlock, President Kufuor left the country in the afternoon.

The Governments statement read: The Government had offered dialogue which was to be facilitated by President John Kufuor but ODM leaders have not been responsive. However, the Government is still committed to dialogue and President Kufuor is to identify two eminent African Statesmen to facilitate dialogue.

President Kibaki thanked President Kufuor for his time, effort and commitment and reassures him that the Kenyan Government remains committed to dialogue for peace and reconciliation in the country. Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetangula disowned the document. We saw it for the first time when it was shown to us by the Ghanaian delegation, he said.

Another statement from PPU said: The Government wishes to categorically state that the document was brought to the attention of the Government for the first time today (Thursday) afternoon by the Ghanaian delegation. At no time did President Kibaki send any Emissary to the World Bank Country Director to discuss a document of any nature. The Government, therefore, categorically disassociates itself with the content of that document.

On negotiations, unconfirmed reports said Mr Kibakis side wanted ODM to recognise him as legitimately elected. They also wanted ODM to accept that there was a Government in place, an end to violence while creation of the position of non-executive prime minister could be considered.

Legitimately in office

The reports said the ODM side wanted President Kibaki to accept that he was illegitimately in office and that ODM had won the poll. They also wanted re-tallying of the Presidential votes, a re-run of the presidential election featuring President Kibaki and Mr Odinga only and a coalition government with ODM getting an executive prime ministers position.

Mr Kufuors visit set the stage for further dialogue after he announced that immediate former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan would head a team of eminent Africans to help resolve the dispute.

Flying out at 4.45pm Thursday, the Ghanaian leader handed Kenyans this glimmer of hope: The parties agreed to work together with a Panel of Eminent African Personalities headed by Mr Kofi Annan towards resolving their differences and all other outstanding issues, including constitutional and electoral reforms.

President Kufuor appealed to Kenyans and the international community to support AU in its quest to resolve the crisis and midwife a return to peace.

President Kufuor flew into Kenya as a State guest, but at the insistence of ODM leaders who said that any talks with President Kibaki could only be brokered by an international mediator.

The AU chief flew out of the country Thursday evening after three days of shuttle diplomacy between the President Kibaki and ODM leader Mr Odinga, but without a major shift in the impasse that has embroiled the country for nearly two weeks.

Expectations were high for the most part of the morning Thursday following heightened security at the Office of the President in Harambee House, where, sources said, President Kibaki was to meet Mr Odinga face-to-face at a meeting that was to be chaired by President Kufuor.

A group of local and foreign journalists waited alongside the security officers for more than two-and-a-half hours before word went round that the scheduled meeting would not take place.

It would have been the first time that President Kibaki would have conducted any business at Harambee House since he was first elected to office in 2002.

The current crisis arose from the Electoral Commissions declaration of PNUs Mwai Kibaki as the winner of the 2007 presidential election, a position contested by ODM, which has maintained the presidential win was stolen from them.

ECK boss Samuel Kivuitu, who announced the results and handed President Kibaki the winners certificate, has since said he does not know whether Mr Kibaki actually won the election, drawing heavy criticism from fellow lawyers and the ODM brigade. The dispute touched off violent protests from ODM supporters, which snowballed into political violence and which has attracted high-level international attention.

In a radio and TV address to the nation last week, President Kibaki maintained that he was properly elected and asked those with election grievances to seek redress in court. He has since named half a Cabinet and announced the commencement date for the 10th Parliament, where the political faceoff is expected to shift next week.

Later in the afternoon, President Kufuor was seen off by President Kibaki at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 4.30pm shortly before he took the flight home on a Nigerian Air Force jet.

The mediation was handed over to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as it became clear that the talks had hit a deadlock.

Hectic days

Briefing the press on his mission at the hotel before leaving for the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the towering Ghanaian head of state said he had launched a framework through which the two sides would proceed with the talks and possibly reach an agreement.

We have had two hectic days during which we have launched the talks. The most positive aspect is that both sides agree there should be an end to violence and that there should be dialogue. That dialogue should be about peace because Kenya is very important to Africa, he said.

Although he declined to disclose the details of his mediation efforts, he revealed that the talks would henceforth be led by the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, which is headed by Mr Annan.

The talks would be towards resolving their differences and all other outstanding issues, including Constitutional and electoral reforms, he said.

President Kufuor said the two sides had agreed to immediately stop the violence that has ravaged Eldoret, Kisumu and parts of Nairobi and any other acts that could threaten peace.

He said that it was wrong for members of any nation to resort to violence after they have disagreed on a democratic process such as elections. Democracy dictates that even if you disagree over an issue, you continue living together; you dont have to shoot at each other. The people of Kenya should live happily together, he said.

President Kufuor, whose mediation mission in the country was endorsed by the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, urged more countries to support the process of dialogue he had launched to end the violence in the country.

But as he spoke, the AU chairman had just left behind a state of uncertainty which was supported by the events that unfolded in the day.

All indications were clear in the morning that the AU mediator had succeeded in his mediation and President Kibaki had agreed to meet face to face with Mr Odinga at Harambee House to end the political crisis.

In preparation for the meeting, workers at the Harambee House set out to spruce the building and its grounds as security was heightened. Parliament Road and Harambee Avenue were closed to motorists as from 11 am to 1 pm to pave way for easier movement.

Journalists, wielding cameras and notebooks rushed to Harambee House to position themselves for the historical event in the history of the country. But two hours later, signs that the meeting would not take place at Harambee House increased and were helped by the events that were taking place at Intercontinental Hotel, a few metres away.

For President Kufuor and Mr Odinga were holding talks at the Presidential Suite on 7th floor. Within the hotel were Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetangula and ODM Pentagon members Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto, Najib Balala, Charity Ngilu, Joseph Nyaga and officials Anyang Nyongo and Henry Kosgey.

Attending the session also were US assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, Ms Jendanyi Frazer, US ambassador Michael Ranneberger, British envoy Adam Wood as well as French ambassador Ms Elisabeth Barbier.

At 12.47 pm, Mr Odinga and his team left Inter Continental Hotel after he had held talks with President Kufuor. He was followed by Mr Mudavadi Mr Ruto and Mrs Ngilu.

Other Pentagon members Balala, Nyagah and party secretary general Nyongo joined the team for lunch at the Serena Hotel. It was understood that their lunch hour talk, they decided not to accept anything less than one of the conditions they had placed on the table.

President Kufuor, in the company of Mr Wetangula, left Inter Continental Hotel for State House at 1.10 pm to brief President Kibaki on the talks.

The two sides were back at the hotel at 2.30 pm for a briefing from State House on the issues they had placed on the table.

However, Mr Odinga led his team out of the hotel at 2.43 pm, declined to talks to the press and headed for the Pentagon House in a sullen mood.

We were to learn later that they left after it became clear that President Kibaki had turned down their demands and insisted that all leaders must maintain peace.

In their meetings with President Kufuor, ODM had demanded that President Kibaki should accept that he was illegitimately in office because Mr Odinga was the winner in the elections.

Similarly, they wanted the half government that was formed on Tuesday disbanded on grounds that it was formed by a President was holding power illegally.

They also demanded a re-tallying of the Presidential votes to establish who was the rightful winner of the elections.ODM believes that should re-tallying be carried out, the flag bearer would emerge the winner.

Fourthly, Mr Odinga, who placed the conditions on the table in a meeting with President Kufuor, called for a re-run of the Presidential elections featuring only President Kibaki and Mr Odinga in a period of three months.

Their last condition was based on the proposal of a coalition government which President Kibaki had floated. ODM leaders, it was said, had demanded that the Bomas Draft forms the basis of the agreement with President Kibaki playing a ceremonial role while they get the Executive Prime Ministers position. In addition, ODM would demand 60 per cent of all Cabinet positions, key parastatal positions and civil service jobs.

Those were the conditions that were rejected by President Kibaki in meetings with President Kufuor. It was said that President Kibaki said talks would be held once the violence had subsided and the ODM had recognized that he won the elections.

The stand infuriated Mr Odinga who was said to have declared that he needed to consult his team in order to know whether they would be open to talks led by Mr Annans group.

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

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Moi welcomes peace talks but blames leaders

Posted by African Press International on January 11, 2008

Story by NATION Reporter
Publication Date: 1/11/2008

Retired President Daniel arap Moi has welcomed talks aimed at solving the current political crisis facing the country.

Mr Moi said it was a high time leaders put the interests of the people and the country above theirs for the sake of peace in Kenya.

However, he said he was disappointed that little attention was being given to the displaced persons who did not know when and how they would be resettled or how their children would resume school.

Im saddened because the talks are centred on power or its distribution, said Mr Moi.

He was speaking during a dinner with former African presidents at Serena Hotel, Nairobi, on Wednesday night. Mr Joaquim Chissano (Mozambique), Dr Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia), Mr Benjamin Mkapa (Tanzania) and Mr Ketumile Masire (Botswana) were at the dinner.

The leaders had earlier met ODM leadership over the political stalemate.

It is really unfortunate that we are meeting in an atmosphere of sorrow and gloom, said the former president. As statesmen and senior citizens, we should be here celebrating an African achievement rather than mourning yet another loss of an African life.

He appealed to Kenyans not to allow their country to degenerate into yet another African tragedy.

He said Kenyas leadership had plunged the country into chaos.

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Kenya: Kibaki spoils reconciliation bid

Posted by African Press International on January 11, 2008

Inter Press Service (IPS), by Najum Mushtaq – January 9, 2008.

Nairobi (Kenya) When Kenya’s controversially re-elected president, Mwai Kibaki, appeared on national television to address the nation Tuesday evening, hopes were that he would address the humanitarian crisis his country faces in the wake of post- election tribal violence and hold out an olive branch to his rival Raila Odinga.

It was a shock to see him announce his cabinet for the next five years instead. It was redolent of his hastily taking oaths of office before the Electoral Commission of Kenya had formally certified the election results.
“Kenya is bracing itself for another spurt of political violence and hatred,” a businessman close to Odinga told IPS. “Kibaki has chosen to put himself and his cronies before the national interest. The result could be more tragic than the violence already witnessed in the post-election violence,” the businessman said.

Sources told IPS that fighting has already erupted in Kisumu, a stronghold of Odinga’s Luo tribe, and in Mathare, Dandore and other parts of Nairobi. Kibaki’s Tuesday address will add fuel to the fire that has been burning in Kenya’s multicultural, multiethnic countryside since Dec. 30 last year when he declared himself president even though his Party of National Unity (PNU) was roundly trounced in the parliamentary elections.
Following Kibaki’s declaration, the Kikuyus — Kibaki’s tribe — were targeted in a wave of unprecedented violence. In turn, the Luo tribe and Odinga’s other allies faced attacks of vengeance in Kikuyu dominated areas.

What ensued for the next week and a half was violence that evoked images of the Rwandan genocide more than a decade ago. Prodded and pushed by the international community — notably U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer and African Union (AU) Chairman John Kufuor of Ghana — it seemed as if Kenya’s political elite was waking up from the violent nightmare that has haunted the country for the last ten days.
Kibaki and Odinga had agreed to have a meeting Friday to start talks on restoring a semblance of sanity amid tribal violence that has claimed 1,000 lives and displaced 250,000 people.

With the announcement of half the new cabinet ministers — the other half, Kibaki said, would be named later — any chances of a reconciliation process getting underway seems doomed. Kibaki has failed to show the statesmanship, sensitivity and grace required to douse the burning flames of ethnic hatred. Instead he has chosen to cling on to power that the voters had denied his party. In an apparent rebuke to Odinga’s conciliatory gestures and his acceptance of international mediation to resolve the crisis, Kibaki has chosen Kalonzo Musyoka as his vice-president. It is significant to note here that Musyoka heads the Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya (ODM-K) which is a breakaway faction of the ODM proper led by Odinga, whose members of parliament number around 100 in the newly elected parliament of 210 members.

Musyoka — who placed third in the race for the presidency between Odinga and Kibaki — advised Kibaki on Sunday to postpone announcing his cabinet so as to avoid further confrontation and to give mediation a chance. Other members of Kibaki’s cabinet also demonstrated a blatant disregard of the grave situation in Kenya. The official leader of the opposition in Kibaki’s previous presidency, Uhuru Kenyatta, a fellow Kikuyu, has been given a ministerial post along with John Michuki, a Kibaki confidant and a controversial figure believed to be orchestrating his bid for re-election at every cost.

The announcement of a cabinet at a time when the country is reeling from the trauma of sudden and unforeseen violence is jarring to say the least. It is especially provoking at a time when Kufuor was about to start his mediation effort — a move welcomed by Odinga and to which Kibaki’s spokesman Raphael Tuju had agreed to be a part of. Odinga’s supporters have reacted angrily to Kibaki’s latest move. “We had given a chance to mediation and talks by calling off the Tuesday protest rally. What we get in return is a cabinet by a president whose very election is in dispute,” says John Dolla, a Luo businessman in Nairobi.

“Instead of reciprocating Odinga’s gestures for peace and reconciliation,” said another Nairobi resident, “Kibaki has gone ahead with plans to consolidate his presidency. This is outrageous and a clear provocation.”
In the prevalent circumstances it is hard to see how international mediation can work. Kibaki’s national address to announce half his cabinet has pre- empted the AU peace bid and infuriated the opposition camp. Odinga is unlikely to sit across the negotiating table from a president he and other international observers deem to be unfairly elected. What Kufuor’s mission can accomplish in this vitiated atmosphere remains to be seen.

That this has all happened after a day of elections that was peaceful and calm despite the huge turnout and close race is truly a damning reflection on the political class of Kenya. They have failed their people who had voted for change through peaceful means.

 

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Kenya: US opposes fresh polls

Posted by African Press International on January 11, 2008

Standard (Kenya), by Peter Atsiaya – January 9, 2008.

A re-run of the disputed presidential elections will not solve the current crisis, a top US official has said.

US Assistant Secretary of State in charge of Africa, Ms Jendayi Frazer, said she believes a re-run of the elections was not the way forward. Speaking in Kisumu on Tuesday, Frazer was, however, quick to add that the decision lies in the hands of Kenyan politicians.

“I dont support calls for a re-run of the elections as the way forward. It is not my responsibility to decide for Kenyans on the matter. It is up to political leaders,” she said. Frazer was addressing the Press at Kisumu Airport after meeting with the clergy at the Catholic Kisumu Archdiocese offices. US Ambassador to Kenya, Mr Michael Ranneberger, accompanied Frazer during the fact-finding tour of the area.

Led by head of Catholic Kisumu Archdiocese, Archbishop Zacheaus Okoth and his ACK Maseno South counterpart, Bishop Simon Abiero, the religious leaders briefed the US officials on the impact of post-elections skirmishes. Okoth, in a statement read to the officials, demanded that President Kibaki should be pressurised to step aside to facilitate a re-run of the presidential polls.

“Kibaki has no authority to govern and he should immediately step aside for fresh presidential elections,” he said. But Frazer said Kenyans were dejected and polarised, adding that a re-run would not save them.
She said the way forward was for the politicians to accommodate each other in a power-sharing strategy. She said the proposed power-sharing plan should also be constitutionalised.

“Constitution reforms are important to set up institutions and strengthen them to deal with problems Kenyans face,” she added. Ranneberger said the post-election violence had caused a serious damage to the country. He said the US would release five million dollars to reverse the effects of the skirmishes.

 

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Congo-Brazzaville: Fear, stigma undermine fight against mother-to-child HIV transmission

Posted by African Press International on January 11, 2008

Inter Press Service (IPS), by Arsne Sverin – January 9, 2008.

Brazzaville (Congo-Brazzaville) At the Integrated Health Centre of Bissita, located in the Bacongo area of Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, pregnant women seated on a long bench wait to have prenatal examinations.

A member of this talkative group, Sylvie Bakani*, wears a concerned expression. Due to deliver in a few weeks, she is also HIV positive. “The doctor wanted her to take the test when she arrived for the first time at the centre, three months pregnant. When the test was positive, her husband threw her out, accusing her of being a prostitute. With time, she regained her courage, and (now) comes daily to be weighed,” Eugnie Mbondji, Sylvie’s mother, explained to IPS.

This situation encapsulates the problems facing those who are trying to encourage pregnant women in Congo to get tested for HIV, to prevent them from passing the virus on to their babies. “Despite sensitisation campaigns, less than 60 percent agree to be tested during prenatal consultations,” says Jean Angouono Moke, who oversees efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission in Congo. “The women are threatened by their husbands in cases where they get tested and the tests are positive They are scared.” Some also fear stigmatisation by the community.

Notes Mlanie Mbioka, a young teacher in Brazzaville: “I am five months pregnant, but I do not want to get tested. I prefer that this (HIV status) is revealed later, during the birth. I could not bear being pregnant and HIV positive. And, my husband and his relatives will never allow it.” Moke accepts that eradicating all mother-to-child transmission poses huge challenges. “But we want to reduce the rate of transmission, that is still at 6.2 percent here.”

He says that about 400 HIV positive pregnant women were received in 2006 in the country’s integrated health centres, mostly in Brazzaville and Pointe- Noire, a port city and Congo’s economic capital. Almost 100 doctors and more than 200 midwives have been trained to care for pregnant women who have contracted the HI virus. The Centre for Mobile Treatment in Brazzaville started a service dealing with mother-to-child transmission last year because of the large number of such cases. In addition, it has begun work on constructing a building to house maternity services for pregnant, HIV positive women, with financing from the French Red Cross.

Jeannine Obosso, an HIV positive mother who comes to be weighed at a hospital in Talanga, Brazzaville, strongly recommends testing during pregnancy. “Really, I call on young, pregnant women to get tested. If they are HIV positive, the doctors will care for them right until the birth.” However, preventing transmission can prove costly.
Since January last year, AIDS treatment has been offered free in Congo- Brazzaville. But examinations and tests for mother-to-child transmission still have to be paid for — some costing up to 60 dollars.

These amounts are beyond the reach of many in Congo, where 51 percent of people live on less than a dollar a day, according to a government study published in July last year. A 2004 World Bank study put the figure at 70 percent. The website of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS estimates adult HIV prevalence in Congo at 5.3 percent.

*Certain names have been changed to protect those concerned.

 

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Posted by African Press International on January 11, 2008

Business Day (South Africa) , by Karima Brown and Amy Musgrave – January 9, 2008.

The African National Congress (ANC) said yesterday a committee would compile a factual report on SAs controversial multibillion-rand arms deal so the party could decide how best to support its president, Jacob Zuma, in his looming trial on corruption charges related to the deal.

The partys new national executive committee (NEC) also said after its first meeting since the Polokwane indaba last month that Zuma would be the ANCs candidate for elections in 2009.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said while the party was not trying to reopen the arms probe, it needed a detailed factual report. We dont want thumb sucking, we want to get information from all sources, including official sources, he said.

The NECs intention to revisit the arms deal could conceivably embroil President Thabo Mbeki and his cabinet ministers in Zumas legal battle. Zumas allies have warned that he would not go down alone, and Zuma has long threatened that he will spare no one in the government. After Zumas election as the partys president last month, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) brought 16 charges against him, including racketeering and corruption. The NEC hit out at the NPA for violating Zumas rights and has questioned whether he will receive a fair trial. The NEC said yesterday it was its responsibility and duty to defend the partys leadership.

The eight-member committee to look into the arms deal includes ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, treasurer Mathews Phosa, and NEC members Jeremy Cronin, Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele, Siphiwe Nyanda, Naledi Pandor, Cyril Ramaphosa and Lindiwe Sisulu. Both Phosa and Ramaphosa have legal experience.The committee will also consider practical ways in which the party will support Zuma during his trial.
Phosa, who was vocal in his defence of Zuma, said yesterday there were many inconsistencies in the NPAs probe of Zuma.

These included an off-the-record briefing to black journalists in 2003 by former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka and former justice minister Penuell Maduna, and Ngcukas statement that there was prima facie evidence against Zuma, but the state case was not winnable. Phosa also lambasted acting NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe for going public about the fact the NPA was planning to charge Zuma again. Phosa also accused the NPA of bad faith, saying several legal issues concerning Zuma were still pending and they could affect the charges.

Phosa said the political spin on the Zuma case was undeniable. The consistent press leakages in this case … are aimed at pushing a trial by media … or a trial in the court of public opinion. Its very odd and improper, it violates due process. It engages the media and the public in findings around the president even before he reaches the door of the court, he said. Mantashe said: The ANC seeks no special treatment for its president, only fairness and justice.

When the arms deal was approved, Mbeki was deputy president of the country and also the head of the cabinet committee that dealt with the procurement process. According to various news reports, Mbeki allegedly met representatives of French arms company Thales, which was then bidding to provide combat software for the navys new corvettes. These revelations have given the lie to the governments explanation accepted wholeheartedly by the ANC that the arms deals primary contracts were above reproach and that no significant government official was implicated in any wrongdoing.

An internal ANC probe into the deal would place the NPA under pressure to co-operate with its foreign counterparts, an eventuality that could be very embarrassing for Mbeki. Despite parallel investigations by German and British authorities into the deal, the government has so far resisted any suggestion that fresh allegations into claims of irregularities into the arms deal require a new probe. Zumas trial is not expected to feature in his state of the party message to the ANC, to be delivered on Saturday. He is expected to focus on social issues such as violent crime, education and health when he addresses the party faithful at a rally to mark the 96th anniversary of its founding in 1912.

 

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Sudan: Fresh North-South fighting tampers hopes for building of trust

Posted by African Press International on January 11, 2008

The Nation (Kenya), by Dean Diyan – January 9, 2008.

Juba (Sudan) Two months after the Cabinet boycott by the South, damage is continuing on the North-South Sudan border with no sign of a let-up.

As recent as last Friday, Southern Sudanese troops said militias supported by northern soldiers mounted an attack on them, threatening a fragile peace deal. In November, President Omar el-Bashir called on Mujahideen fighters to train in their camps ready to defend their country. At that time, President el-Bashir said that his party had signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with former Southern rebels not because of weakness, but from a point of strength after the mujahideen had won many battles in Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile State and in Tawrit – northern areas where the Southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) has a large presence.

“The NCP is ready for war and we will not abandon any piece of Abyei for the SPLM, or retreat from 1905 borders,” said President el-Bashir. Two days later, a presidential adviser said President el-Bashir was not calling for war, but alerting people to always be prepared. But, if President ell-Bashir figured he was joking, the chickens have apparently come home to roost. Northern tribesmen and south Sudan officials are trading accusations over the source of fighting during the Christmas holidays that left about 100 dead even, and reignited again on Friday. Aid agencies and local chiefs say that Mujahideen are behind the attacks at the border areas and efforts to tamper the fighting from the north and south are, apparently, coming to naught.

North-south Fighting erupted again on January 4 between Arab militia and southern Sudan army, tampering hopes for a quick end to a conflict that has raged since the Christmas holiday.
The fighting first erupted on December 21, near the disputed Abyei oil areas, leaving up to 100 dead, when Khartoum-backed Baggara Arab militia attacked a southern army garrison, following the latter’s refusal to allow the armed nomads into Southern Sudan. Both sides accuse the other of starting the fight, with the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) which is in charge of the autonomous southern region, saying that the Arab nomads, aided by northern army elements, planned the attack in advance. The militia said the SPLA bombarded them first.

“They have attacked again,” SPLA deputy Chief of Staff Major General Hoth Mai told this correspondent. “They attacked late in the night, and the fighting is still going on.” The current round of fighting in Bahr el Gazal State erupted as a combined north-south team of Sudanese ministers and security personnel went to the scene of fighting to investigate the cause. The team from the northern government, including Defence Minister Abdul-Rahim Mohammed Hussein and Cabinet Affairs Minister Pagan Amum arrived in Aweil, the Northern Bahr el-Gazal capital, on Thursday. Major General Hoth said the current fighting is centered in Warguet, also in the same state.

The fighting erupted hours after the visiting security team left for Khartoum last Thursday evening, said Major General Hoth. The team from the southern government, including Internal Affairs Minister and Ceasefire Political Committee co-chairman, Paul Mayom, with southern Defence Minister General Dominic Dim Deng, who was due in the area at the weekend didn’t go for lack of transport. General Dim said he was leaving for Aweil with the rest of the team. Area chiefs told reporters in Juba that the invaders came on horseback and the attack took place an estimated 30 kilometers into southern territory.

In a statement, Christian Solidarity International said the the group was the Mujahideen, the militia President el-Bashir asked to prepare to defend the country if attacked. According to the chiefs, the northern army not only armed the militias, but gave them money to fight and annex parts of the border areas to the north. The north-south border is yet to be demarcated. In an ominous sign, the residents and security officials say that some among the attackers are recognised faces among the northern troops in the area and the north-aligned forces. One newspaper quoted a security source as saying that the attacks during the Christmas break in border places called Gerenty and Majok Nyinthiou had had been planned for a long time.

They said that the fighting was delayed due to the differences over why war should be waged without a clear reason. One newspaper named the training camp as Harzai and Sitab inside a forested border area.
At the camps, the Arab tribes are reportedly trained in how three people can use one horseback, while firing guns in the battle, and the fighting militia has been named Green Pillar Battalion. Further complicating things is that in their statement, the chiefs gave actual names of officials in the northern army who reportedly were behind the training. “There’s no confirmation,” Maj-Gen Hoth said when this correspondent asked him whether the Sudan Armed Forces directly led the attack.

 

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Congo DRC: Chinese minister in country to finalise deals

Posted by African Press International on January 11, 2008

Kinshasha (Congo DRC) – China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday to formalise a series of recent deals between the two countries, officials said.

Yang told reporters that his visit would contribute “to the consolidation and reinforcement of the traditional friendship” between China and the DR Congo. “During this visit, I will engage in many exchanges of views with the Congolese side on the development of our bilateral relations,” he said.

He said the two nations had long had “fruitful cooperation in terms of politics, economics, education and health”. President Joseph Kabila used a state of the nation address last month to hail cooperation with China in industries such as mining as key to the reconstruction of the war-torn DR Congo.

China is keen to get its hands on raw materials from around the world to feed its fast-growing economy, and in recent years has been on a diplomatic offensive to secure what it needs. A major focus has been on Africa. In October, the Congolese government and the China Development Bank signed a financing agreement on DR Congo development projects for an unspecified amount.

A month earlier, Chinese private bank Exim Bank signed another deal to provide an 8.5-billion-dollar (5.8-billion-euro) loan to finance infrastructure work and develop the country’s mining industry. A source in the Congolese foreign ministry said Yang’s visit will be an opportunity to formalise agreements reached between the countries. Yang will visit Burundi on Wednesday before moving on to Ethiopia.

The DRC is still emerging from a ruinous war that embroiled half a dozen other African nations, after decades of corrupt rule, and depends on its great mineral wealth.

 

lifted and published Korir, API/APN africanpress@chello.no source.afrikanewsletter

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Leaked memo deepens Kenya crisis

Posted by African Press International on January 11, 2008

By William Wallis and Michael Holman in London and Krishna Guha in Washington

______________

A confidential memo from the World Banks Kenya office that supports President Mwai Kibakis claim of victory in the countrys disputed elections plunged the Washington-based lender into controversy on Wednesday.

The leaked January 1 briefing note, originating from Colin Bruce, the World Banks country director in Nairobi, lays out the case for accepting Mr Kibakis victory on the basis of oral briefings and documents from senior [United Nations Development Programme] officials who monitored the overall electoral process.

However, Michele Montas, a spokeswoman for the UN secretary-general, denied that the UN had adopted that position. UNDP officials said they had neither monitored the elections nor provided any assessment suggesting a Kibaki victory.

Given the widespread irregularities reported in last months elections, the leaked briefing note is likely to trigger accusations that the institution, which lends heavily to Kenya, has lost its political objectivity.

European Union election observers, whom Mr Bruce criticised, on Wednesday stood by their conclusion that the election was impossible to call.

Mr Bruces memo has created discomfort among some senior World Bank staff who fear the banks analysis of the Kenyan crisis has been influenced by too close a relationship with Mr Kibaki. Mr Bruce, from Guyana, lives in a house owned by the Kibaki family. The bank said the tenancy was inherited from its previous country representative and was chosen on security grounds.

The World Bank has been criticised for maintaining its large development programme in Kenya in spite of evidence of high-level corruption in Mr Kibakis government. The bank says its projects are vital for the countrys poor.

Mr Bruce told the Financial Times the bank had no position on the result of the elections and he was simply reporting the information that was available to me to headquarters.

World Bank officials in Washington backed Mr Bruce and released a series of other communications from him, stating these showed his balanced approach to the elections. None of the other briefing notes regarding the Kenyan crisis revisits the question of whether Mr Kibaki won the election.

Marwan Muasher, head of external relations at the bank, said: The bank does not take political positions. Neither Colin Bruce nor the bank has a position on Kibaki or [opposition leader Raila] Odinga.

Separately, Kenyas opposition ODM on Wednesday called for the withdrawal of Mr Bruce.

Additional reporting by Barney Jopson in Nairobi and Harvey Morris at the UN

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The Kenya government accuses Raila Odinga of Genocide and Ethnic cleansing

Posted by African Press International on January 11, 2008

martha-karua.jpg<Martha Karua (Kenya’s Justice and Constitutional Minister)

The turn of events in Kenya is imminent. Wednesday, during Hardtalk program in the BBC, Kenya’s Justice and Constitutional Minister Martha Karua charged that Raila Odinga, the man who ran for presidency and lost to President Mwai Kibaki is to blame for genocide and ethnic cleansing thatoccurred in Kenya immediately after the barely two weeks old elections. While attacking the international community for keeping quiet she ran short of calling for Raila and ODM leaders arrest on genocide and ethnic cleansing.

raila2.jpgRaila Odinga (right photo>)stands accused of genocide and ethnic cleansing by Justice and Constitutional Minister Martha Karua.

While putting her point across, the minster accused Raila and his group of ODM leaders (the pentagon) of inciting the Luos to murder the Kikuyus. She specifically spoke of the burning to death of many Kikuyu women and children in a church in Eldoret, the home town of Mr William Ruto, one of the pentagon leaders and a close confidant of Raila in the ODM.

The minister told Hardtalk that she could not understand why the international community was more interested in power sharing and not the many Kikuyus who have been singled out and murdered by the opposition, saying the opposition leaders are not doing anything to stop the ongoing slaughters.

This now changes things. Telling the international community that keeping quiet about the killings was encouraging those in ODM to continue the killings, the minister reiterated that President Kibaki won the elections and anyone who doubts that had the right to go to court and challenge the results. Challenge in court and if any orders are issued by the courts, she said, will be respected by the government. The minister says that the government will not sit down and watch when the scale of violence is raging in the country because a group – the ODM, does not want to accept the outcome of the elections.

president-mwai-kibaki-and-vice-president-kalonzo-musyoka.jpg<President Kibaki (PNU party), and his Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka (ODM-Kenya party)

She does not understand why others are calling for power sharing. The president has already shared power, she said, adding that the President had already included ODM-Kenya party of Kalonzo Musyoka. If the president thinks that he wants to include other opposition groups to help him govern the country, he is at liberty to do so at any time of his choosing.

She was a guest on BBC’s Hardtalk program where she put the former British High Commissioner to Kenya, Sir Edward Clay,to task calling him “persona non grata” , a man not wanted on Kenyan soil.

Clay was very critical on Kibaki government (first term in office.) Clay’s term in Kenya was cut short when heignorantly chose to use abusive words to characterise the Kenyan leaders. He told the press at the time that the Kenyan leaders eat until they vomit on the donors shoes, an abuse that did not go down well with the leaders in the country.

On genocide and ethnic cleansing:

Raila accused of genocide and ethnic cleansing? Is this real? Why is the government out now to connect this strong opposition leader with genocide and ethnic cleansing? Is the government covering something and now trying to pre-empt the fact that the international community may decide to accuse those in government of not doing their best to stop the violence that may qualify to be called genocide and ethnic cleansing?

It is the duty of the government to protect the people, no matter which tribe they belong. Did the government fail in that duty and now trying to push the blame onthe opponents in an effort to tarnish their names? This is one thing that should be looked into. It is not a problem if leaders accuse one another of simple things, that is politics. However, genocide and ethnic cleansing is not one of those simple things that should be labeled on a person or persons without evidence, because it is a very serious offence that, ifcredible evidence is at hand, those involved must be arrested and tried by the International courts that handle such matters.

So, we should not put blame where it is not supposed to be and in this case, we challenge the Justice and Constitutional Minister to bring forward evidence that confirms her allegations. If there is evidence to the effect, then the government should put on trial those involved in the act.

However, it will be difficult to arrest any of the ODM men at this moment. It will only serve to escalate the violence in the country and cause deep divisions among the Kenyan people.

One thing to remember is the fact that any Kenyan citizen can take a case to court. If the government is ill-conceived, it can encourage one civilian person who has lost a relative during the violence to institute a case against any ODM top men. That will waste the leaders time because such leader will have to use his time in court instead of politics.

Such a tactic is called “destabilising the opponents”, and that has worked in many countries. It turns the opposition leaders into fighters in courts fighting for their freedom instead of fighting to take over power from the establishment.

We are yet to see what the Kenya government intends to do withso serious allegations as these ones.

Published by Korir, African Press International (API)/ African Press in Norway (APN) africanpress@chello.no

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Newly appointed VP and ministers sworn-in

Posted by African Press International on January 11, 2008

Written By:pps

President Mwai Kibaki on Thursday said his Government is firm on its commitment to serve wananchi in all parts of the country without discrimination.

Speaking at State Nairobi Nairobi where he witnessed the swearing in of newly appointed Vice President and Minister for Home Affairs Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka and 16 other ministers, President Kibaki Kibaki congratulated them and expressed confidence that they will serve Kenyans effectively.

“We have one country and we should be committed to serving all Kenyans diligently,” President Kibaki said.

Among those sworn-in, at the ceremony conducted by the Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Amb. Francis Muthaura was Dr. Naomi Shaban who is the first Muslim woman to be appointed Cabinet minister in the country. Dr. Shaban is the new Minister of State for Special Programmes.

Others sworn in at on Thursday’s ceremony were:

(1)Minister of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security, Office of the President

Hon. Professor George Saitoti,

(2)Minister of State for Defence, Office of the President

Hon. Yussuf Mohamed Haji,

(3)Minister for Public Service, Office of the President

Hon. Asman Abongotum Kamama,

(4)Minister for Finance

Hon. Amos Muhinga Kimunya,

(5)Minister for Education

Hon. Professor Sam Ongeri,

(6)Minister for Foreign Affairs

Hon. Moses Wetangula,

(7)Minister for Local Government

Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta,

(8)Minister for Information and Communications

Hon. Samuel Lesuron Poghisio,

(9)Minister for Water and Irrigation

Hon. John Munyes,

10) Minister for Energy

Hon. Kiraitu Murungi,

(11) Minister for Roads and Public Works

Hon. John Njoroge Michuki,

(12) Minister for Science and Technology

Hon. Noah M. Wekesa,

(13) Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs

Hon. Martha Karua,

(14) Minister for East African Community

Hon. Dr. Wilfred Machage,

(15) Minister for Transport

Hon. Chirau Ali Mwakwere,

Noting that some ministerial positions were still vacant, President Kibaki said the remaining ministerial portfolios would be filled in at a later date.

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

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