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Archive for January 23rd, 2008

Namibia: Opposition splits, new party emerges

Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008


Windhoek (Namibia) – The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) announced Tuesday that it had registered a new political party, All People’s Party (APP) of Namibia, making it the second opposition party to be formed in three months.

The APP is a splinter party of Namibia’s Congress of Democrats (CoD), which split late last year. The party is founded by two brothers, Herbert and Ignatius Shixwameni, formerly senior officials of the tottering CoD.
“We applied for registration in December and it was approved Friday (last week),” one of the brothers said Tuesday. The Shixwameni brothers defected from the CoD, which was once Namibia’s largest opposition party following, internal squabbles amongst the top leadership.

Despite its astute leadership and a strong presence in the National Assembly, the CoD has been bogged down by internal infighting and abuse of funds. The party’s hold on the Namibian political arena has of late been eclipsed by the emergence of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), which was formed last November and appears to be gaining inroads into the provinces dominated by the ruling Swapo.

“We are excited and ready to work in the interest of Namibia. The APP is a party for all Namibians, irrespective of ethnic, tribal and racial background and we invite progressive Namibians to join us in big numbers in order to move our country to the next level,” the Shixwamenis said. They boasted that the party’s current membership tops 10,000 supporters. Despite the founders’ insistence that the party will have a broad national base, analysts fear that it is likely yo have a strong presence in the Kavango region, where the founders come from.


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Zambia: Punish corruption convicts – Levy

Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008

Ndola (Zambia) – President Mwanawasa has said people convicted of corrupt practices should be punished sternly to make them realise that the vice is not in the interest of the nation.

And Dr Mwanawasa has assured career civil servants that his administration will always give first priority to them when appointing people to top public service positions. Dr Mwanawasa said at State House yesterday that corruption convicts should be severely punished for indulging in corrupt activities, which deprived the public of the meagre resources. The President said this when he swore in two High Court Judges, the new Industrial Relations Court (IRC) deputy chairperson and others.

He said he was not trying to direct the judiciary on what it should do but merely saying: “When you convict anybody who is corrupt, please show him or her to say it does not pay to be corrupt. If he does not return let him pay back with punishment.” Those sworn in as High Court Judges were Gertrude Chawatama, from the IRC, and legal aid department official, Eddy Sikazwe, while Judy Zulu Mulongoti was sworn in as IRC deputy chairperson.

Dr Eusten Mambwe was sworn in as acting Permanent Secretary – Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources while Major General, Raphael Chisheta, was sworn in as Zambia National Service (ZNS) commandant.
Three lawyers, including Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president, Elijah Banda, Humphrey Ndhlovu and Stephen Malama were sworn as State counsels. Pixie Yangailo and Palan Mulonda were sworn in as Human Rights Commission (HRC) chairperson and deputy chairperson respectively.

Dr Mwanawasa also swore in Crusivia Hichikumba as public policy specialist at Cabinet office. To Ms Justice Chawatama, Mr Justice Sikazwe, Ms Mulongoti and Dr Mambwe, Dr Mwanawasa said the four had one thing in common, they were all coming from within the public service. He said the Government would continue taking deliberate measures to give priority to people serving within the public service when making appointments as opposed to bringing people from the private sector.

Dr Mwanawasa assured those serving in the public service that they would be given opportunities to realise their dreams, provided they worked hard and gave an analogy that there was no way someone who had cooked nshima should be made to just watch the partaking from outsiders. He said those who had chosen public service as their career, should be given opportunities to rise within the sector. “Madam Chawatama you should now aim at the Supreme Court. The sky is the limit,” Dr Mwanawasa said. To the HRC officials, he reiterated that his administration was running a government of laws and, therefore, placed rule of law at the centre stage.


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Sudan: Country to run for AU presidency this year

Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008

Khartoum (Sudan) The Sudanese government have submitted an official request to head the African Union (AU) for the year 2008, according to press reports.

The daily Al-Rayaam newspaper with close ties to government officials, said that Sudan wants to run as nominee for the East African bloc. Sudan has failed in its bid assume presidency of the AU for the years 2006 and 2007 after intense international pressure because of alleged human rights abuses by the Sudanese military in the Darfur region and a threat from Chad to withdraw if the nomination was endorsed by AU members.

It is not clear why Sudan has reversed course on the issue of AU presidency almost week before the summit is due to be held in Addis Abbaba. It was reported that Sudans Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mutrif Siddiq rushed to Ethiopia to submit the nomination. Sudan has been accused by the UN of blocking the deployment of the UN-AU peacekeeping force in Darfur.

UN Security Council resolution 1769 establishing UN-AU hybrid force provided for a transition from the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to the force known as UNAMID by December 31st. Sudan not signed off on the Status of Force (SAF) agreement that governs the work of the new force. It has refused to allow night flights except for medical evacuation or large U.N. cargo planes. Additionally, the government has attempted to require the force to give it advance notice of all movements and to ensure that its military can scramble U.N. radio communications when it is conducting operations.

Sudan has also refused to allow non-African units in Darfur including Swedish, Thai and Nepalese troops. International experts estimate 200,000 people have died in the conflict, which Washington calls genocide, a term European governments are reluctant to use. The Sudan government says 9,000 people have been killed.


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Africa at large: Hopefuls line up for AU top job

Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008

Six candidates are vying for the chairmanship of the African Union (AU), which is to elect a new executive at its 10th summit which starts this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The successful nominee will replace Alpha Konare, a Malian, who, along with the rest of the commission, was given an additional six months to his term that officially ended last July. Among the candidates are Mauritian former president Cassam Uteem, Sierra Leonean politician Abdulai Conteh and the former foreign ministers of Gabon and Burundi, Jean Ping and Antoinette Batumubwira, respectively. Southern Africas candidates are Zambias ambassador to the US, Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika, and former Swaziland prime minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini.

The AU will elect new commissioners, a deputy chairman and other executive members. The only two nominees for the deputy chair were Kenyan Erastus Mwencha, secretarygeneral of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa , and Egyptian Khair Latif. Briefing journalists in Pretoria yesterday, the foreign affairs departments deputy head of Africa, Jessie Duarte, said high on the agenda of the summit was the AUs budget, of which 75% was now covered by SA, Nigeria, Algeria, Libya and Egypt. She said medium-sized countries had been paying their dues in tranches. Although this had improved the AUs cash flow, it also resulted in some countries being in arrears at the end of the AUs financial year.

This matter will be addressed quite extensively in the report by the eminent persons also with a view to looking at the reality of some countries who just cannot maintain their payments even to pay the minimum contribution of 0,25% of the budget. Running alongside the summit will be a meeting of the AUs Peace and Security Council whose agenda includes the situation in Kenya, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cte dIvoire. Countries are able to raise matters from the floor so it is not a closed agenda.

Duarte said President Thabo Mbeki, mandated by the Southern Africa Development Community to lead efforts to find a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis, had not been asked to brief the summit.


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Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008

odera-omolo.jpg<Commentary by Leo Odera Omolo

The question which longer into the minds of many Kenyans, and which requires an urgent answer, is the reason why members of the Abagusii community should be subjected to political persecution and made to suffer the brunt of the on-going lawlessness in the country?
It has been almost three weeks since the country was plunged into an unprecedented wave of violence after a disputed poll result which handed president Mwai Kibaki election victory in a hotly contested presidential race.
The Abagusii, are relatively small community which is ensconced between the Masaai and the Kipsigis communities along the borders of Southern Rift Valley and Nyanza Provinces. The community is encircled in its South Western boarders by its highly populous Luo community has suffered a great deal ever since the violent flare-ups
The community is reputed and well known for its hard working members. Butit was recently subjected to violence eviction from their legally acquired land plots and other valuable properties in Tran-nzoia, Uasin-Gishu, Kuresoi, Kipkelion, Kisumu, Sondu, Oyugis, Migori, Trans-Mara, Nakuru and Nandi regions.
Most of the victims had settled in the settlements scheme areas in the early 1960s and late 1970s when the White Highlands, which was previously exclusively reserved by the British colonial administration to the White Settlers were opened up for Africans soon after Kenya attained her political independence.
In 1963. The post- independence KANU government headed by Kenyas founding president, the late President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta had entered into a serious negotiation with the British Government for cash loan which runs into colossal amount of money. The money was later used in paying compensation to the White settlers, the majority who had opted to leave the country voluntarily for green pasture in other countries.
The scheme paved the way for new African settlers and members of the Abagusii community then living in a tensely populated Kisii Highland District took the advantage of the availed opportunities, mobilized themselves into small groups of land buying companies and raised sufficient money which enabled many Kisiis to acquire more land in the newly opened settlement schemes.
This was meant to easy out the congestion in the overcrowded Gusii villages. Many families sold their ancestral land to either their kins and neighbours and used the accrued proceeds to purchase land in the new settlement scheme countrywide.
Earlier in 1962 the Boundary Commission which was appointed by the British government and headed by one Prof Mackenzie had recommended the extension of the original Kisii District boundaries to include what is now known as Borabu district which was recently curved out Nyamira district be transferred from Kericho district to Kisiii Highland original district.
These areas stretching from the Mokomoni and Makairo in the old North Mugirango location and the mountainous area overlooking the Sotik Highland Tea, Kepkebe and Ngoina tea estates to Manga, Nyausiongo and Kijauri settlement schemes which were previously parts parts of the Sotik Highland an area which was part of the Whites settlement areas which were then being administered by the Sotik sub district of the larger Kericho.
The same Boundary Commission of 1962 also extended the boundary of the old Kisumu district to include former White settlers areas of Chemelil, Koru, Muhoroni and Fort-Tennan in what is today called Nyanza sugar belts in Nyando district. Many Luos like in the case of Kisiis were offered large tracks of land in this settlement areas.
It is worthwhile to remember that the Boundary Commission headed by Professor Machenzie come to force while the older Kericho district was still being administered by Nyanza Provincial Administration from Kisumu before the district was eventualy transferred the Rift Valley Provincial Administration in Nakuru the same year.
These areas were separately being administered by the defunct Nyanza County Council with its head office in Kericho. The Council was mainly catering for the interests of White settlement in the two regions.
The Abagusii people in the district had equally shared the Sotik settlement areas with their Kipsigis neighbours in the same way the Luos had shared the Nyanza sugarbelts with their Nandi neighbours.
But strangely enough the Kipsigis have since 30th December 2007 turned the heat on the Abagusi people under the guise of the on-going political impasses and launches full-scale tribal clashes against the Abagusii people for no a parent reason and justification whatsoever.
The Kisii people are being victimized under the pretext of mass action called by the opposition ODM party in protest against irregularities in the election results of the presidential election. The post election period has witnessed many Kisiiis being forcefully evicted out of their legitimately acquired land plots in places like, Kuresoi, Londiani, Molo, Elburgon areas. Many members of this community are being treated like vilens and yet they had acquired their firms legally in same manner on a willing seller willing-buyer bases. Many of them have lost their lives in their skirmishes. This is totally unacceptable and does not auger well in the true Kenyans spirit of peaceful co-existence.
On political front the Abagusiii people voted wisely for nearly almost all the competing political parties. The community voted for all the leading presidential candidates, namely president Kibaki of PNU his excellency Raila Amolo Odinga of ODM and Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka of the ODM-K
Any sane person who dare to read the recently published by the ODM as the audited polls results in all the ten parliamentary constituencies in Gusii land would see that
both Kibaki and Raila had shared the votes equally. Therefore it is difficult for any level minded Kenyan to come into terms with the reality as to why the Abagusii, people are being made to suffer. For example the reason why they had voted for this or that particular political party. The whole thing is total mockery to the tenets of democratic principles.
The ODM party captured four parliamentary seats in South Mugirango, Bobassi, Boncharii and Mugirango West constituencies which are spread in Gucha, Kisii Cenral and Nyamira districts. The party has seems secured the support of two more MPs from those who had earlier contested the elections during ODM preliminaries worn the elections but later lost the party tickets under mysterious circumstances to their adversaries. The two are Robert Monda (Nyaribari-Chache)and Richard Momoina Onyonka of Kitutu chache.
The two had worn their .preliminaries comfortably but in a strange fit of events were strangely denied the ODM tickets by the party leadership forcing them to more to other smaller parties and eventually worn during the election proper held on 27th December 2007.
Monda who worn in Nyaribori Chache has sins charged the party and rejoined the ODM. The later had lost the party ticket to Mr. Christ Bichage whom he later bit he down while Mr. Onyonka had lost the party ticket to the former PS Minister of agriculture Mr. Ongwae that went a head and worn the Kitutu Chache seat.
The ODM can now on six constituencies in Gusii land out of 10 seats. PNU worn two seats while its principal partner KANU got two. The MPS slots in Gusiland were therefore evenly distributed to the major political parties and no one should complain about this.
It is therefore wrong for any group of Kenyans to go venting their anger on the Abagusii people by way of chasing them out of their legally acquired land and properly anywhere in this country. The community is too liberal and had voted for every party that deserved votes.
Some of the people who settle in Narok, Mau Narok, Kuresoi, Trans-Nzoia, Londiani and elsewhere are reported to have caste their votes in accordance with reveling local political environment, therefore they deserve no ill-treatment on account of voting for the perceived wrong party The Abagusiii should not be persecuted on the account of negative political outburst by some of their leaders. After an even the most excessively arrogant former road minister Simion Nyachae who is credited for making un-cordinated erratic out bust against neighboring communities was voted out and consigned to a political limbo.
Both Kalenjin and Luo leaders should preach peace and tell their followers to leave the Abagusiii people alone. It was however, heartening that Mrs Ida Odinga and some of newly elected Luo MPs had jointly launched the initiative of touring all the peri-urban areas of Kisumu city and made passionate appeal to the communities to leave in harmony and to avoid and called for hate campaign against each other.
Other leaders Should follow suit.
During the dark years of the struggle for independence, members of the Abagusii
Community like any other communities large or small contributed immensely towards the liberation war.
Some of the community illustrious sons were in the forefront of the struggle by black nationalists. Men like the like the late Senator John Kebaso, the late James Nyamweya, the late Barnabas Omae, the late Mzee Johnson Kiragori, Washington Ondicho, Henry Nyabuto, John Mamboleo Onsando, the late Lawrence George Sagini, Mathews Omwena to mention a few actively participated in liberation war of the early 1950s and late 1960s.
This hardworking and industries Abagusi community should be left alone to live in peace and tranquility and enjoy the fruits of Uhuru like any other Kenyans.
Those who had settled in other region outside Gusiii must be allowed to own their lawfully acquired property and land. Forceful and violence eviction of member of this community must stop. The eviction of the Kisii workers out of the tea estate and factories in Kericho, Bureti and Bomet district where they are lawfully earning their living must be discouraged at all cost.
The Kisii need peace, harmony and tranquility to co-exist with other Kenyans. These are my views over the on-going tribal cleansing in some parts of Western Kenya under the pretext of mass action are retrogressive.
I concur with sentiment expressed by several MPs from the region led by the Minister of Education Prof Samuel K. Ongeri ( Nyaribari Masaba), j Onyancha ( Bonchari, and Omingo Magara ( South Mugirango) that their community is being presented for no fault of their own.
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Uganda: Corruption Costs Sh500b a Year

Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008


Kampala (Uganda) – Corruption and ineffective public institutions are still undermining good governance in the country, a report by the African Peer Review Mechanism National Commission has said.

“The World Bank (2005) estimates that Uganda loses about $300m (sh510b) per year through corruption and procurement malpractices,” the 592-pages report notes. It reckons that the Government would save sh30b annually by eliminating losses from corruption in public procurement alone. Citing the 2005 Auditor General’s Report, it estimates that 20% of the value of public procurement was lost through corruption, prompted by weak public procurement laws, adding that procurement accounts for 70% of public expenditure.

The Uganda Self-Assessment Report and Programme of Action was yesterday launched by finance state minister Fred Omach at the National Planning Authority offices in Kampala. It is part of an initiative by African countries to assess themselves and each other on issues of democracy and good governance, economic management, corporate governance and socio-economic development. “Corruption in procurement has adversely impacted on the quality of services meant to improve the quality of life, especially health and education,” says the report, which was presented to the President before it was launched.

“It has influenced death and poverty levels in Uganda. For private firms, the costs of production have been continually high and unpredictable.” The Government did put up a number of legal and regulatory frameworks to fight corruption, the commission acknowledges. It lists the establishment of the Inspectorate of Government Act, the Leadership Code Act, the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act and the Whistle Blower Act. Despite these measures “the perception is that corruption has not decreased in the public sector”.

Two thirds of respondents believed corruption had increased, according to a 2007 survey by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics. One third even believed it had increased a lot. In another survey, cited in the report, almost half of the respondents reported that bribes were more frequently demanded today than five years ago. Central region had the highest number of respondents believing demand for bribes had gone up (50%), while eastern had the lowest (40.3%). The tendering process has also been prone to abuse, the report notes. Any expenditure in excess of sh5m has to be tendered.

“However, to win a tender, most companies expend a lot of resources including bribes to the district contracts committees. “This leads to shoddy work, classroom blocks that develop cracks within months and roads that become impassable soon after construction, since any bribes and kickbacks offered to influence the award of the tender have to be recovered by the contractor.” Corruption, the report says, is caused by weak controls, bureaucracy and personal greed. The root causes of graft are identified as the breakdown of the rule of law, especially in the insurgency areas of the north, poor procurement systems and inadequate legal machinery leading to many cases being lost on technicalities, such as lack of evidence.

Other reasons cited are lack of linkages between the Police, the judiciary and the IGG, lack of technical capacity in public offices to carry out sound management activities, job insecurity and inadequate remuneration.
But the report also points at greed “driven by the insatiable desire for personal gain” and social pressure “where the wealthy are respected, regardless of their moral stand and method of acquisition of their wealth”. The commission proposes improvement of accountability systems, by punishing the culprits and their collaborators, and strengthening the system of sanctions and rewards for fighting corruption.

On a positive note, the report observes increased enrolment in education with the introduction of universal primary and secondary education. It states that both secondary and tertiary education have benefited from the entry of private operators since the liberalisation of the sector. The report identifies land as a source of conflict. Inconsistencies in the Land Act have left the tenants with no incentive to invest in the land, it notes.
“Dual and conflicting rights to land and limited access are fuelling disputes and conflict. The assessment determined that there was need to review issues of land and design and implement appropriate policies.”

On corporate governance, the report observes that Uganda is characterised by a largely informal and unregulated sector, with predominantly small, family-owned businesses. It calls the existing company law archaic and calls for new laws to match globalisation. Environment protection issues are equally raised as an area of concern, particularly on the disposal of industrial waste. The assessment shows that over the last five years, Uganda has registered significant progress in education, fighting HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation and the status of women.

The report also points out big strides in decentralisation and community participation. It, however, notes a widespread perception that the rapid multiplication of districts has bloated public service expenditure, resulting in less resources being available for social and economic services. Unemployment, especially among the youth, is also pointed out as an area that needs to be addressed. The commission, chaired by Prof. Elisha Semakula, conducted 200 expert panel interviews, 96 focus group discussions and 32 public hearings. The Country Review Mission is due in Uganda from February 3 to 24 to ascertain the extent to which the report reflects the views of the people. Uganda will be reviewed in June this year.


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Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008

It is indeed deplorable for Raila Odinga and some of the ODM politicians to selectively make noise about flaws in the tallying of votes in the just concluded presidential and general elections in Kenya.

Raila and ODM have exhibited some level of hypocrisy that has rocked the country as a whole into unnecessary violence, which has now turned into full blown genocide. From October 2007 all the way to the Dec 28, 2007, pundits consistently projected” a close to call ” presidential election. Steadman Poll had indicated that majority of Kenyans would vote on ethnic alignments, a prophecy fulfilled on Dec 27, 2007. The Gall Up poll had projected that Kibaki would win by 1%.

The Steadman poll indicated that Raila would win marginally as well. We all know that polls do not mean much. We all saw what happened this month in New Hampshire with Obama and Clinton contest. The media had written off Hillary Clinton, just to see her rebound.

Now, our issue is with Raila and ODM selective noise making. Raila and ODM would want the Kenyans and the international communities believe that they got genuine votes from their constituents.

According to the analysis and reporting by the Daily Nation Newspaper; votes from the following constituencies should have been eliminated from the final tally of presidential elections along with the votes from the three constituencies that were declared null and void by ECK.

Justice would require that these votes be eliminated in total. If eliminated, this would give Kibaki over a million vote victory over Raila. Please do the maths and ask Raila to respect the verdict of genuine votes.

Please note that the highest recorded voter turn out in any constituency in central and eastern province was 90%.

Some votes from Central Province were declared null and void and did not make it to the final tally. The same treatment should have been given to votes from other constituencies that exhibited massive flaws and broad day light rigging by ODM operatives.

Look at votes from Eldoret North;- William Ruto election should have been nullified upfront. There is no rocket science there. Instead, William Ruto in chest thumping posture has engineered ethnic cleansing to eliminate certain people from Rift Valley, simply put genocide through his surrogates the Karamojong Guerrilla Fighters (KGF).

This double talk by Raila and ODM does not serve our country well.On December 28, 2007 doctored vote counts from ODM stronghold had been counted and announced by the ECK. The early submission of doctored vote numbers from ODM strongholds gave Raila Odinga a fictitious lead in presidential vote tallying.

The RAILA initial fictitious lead was wiped out when votes from Central Kenya started tickling in at a chameleon speed.It is important to note that according to Raila and ODM there were “no irregularities” in the vote tallying while Raila Odinga was the front runner. We remember William Ruto complaining that votes from Central and Eastern were taking too long to come in. Hell broke loose when ODM discovered that their votes had all been counted and over 50% of central and Eastern provinces votes had yet to be counted and submitted to ECK.

It was at this point that ODM started demanding that the results be announced. What a selfish way of looking at issues.

We do not want to labor more in analyzing the flaws in the just ended general election. “Two wrongs do not make a right”. Elections will come and go. Life has to go on. Live is sacred. We cannot afford to lose a single Kenyan. The outcome of the general election is ugly. The nation is divided in the middle.

We have to put the elections aside and embark on a healing process that can return our cherished country to normalcy. The people that voted for Raila are Kenyans, the people that voted for Kibaki are Kenyans, and the people that voted for Kalonzo are Kenyans. The government will serve all Kenyans without discrimination. Greed should never be allowed to thrive in our maturing democracy.

The President might call fresh elections in couple of months, who knows. If that be the case, some MPs might not even make it back.The civil coup being orchestrated by Raila and Ruto should be faced with the strongest rule of law. The ongoing ethnic cleansing under the command of Raila Odinga and William Ruto should be escalated to the International Court of Justice at the Hague for prosecution.

In our opinion, Raila, Ruto and other ODM operatives have joined the ranks of Slobodan Milosevic, Agusto Pinochet, Sadam Hussein, Idi Amin, etc as having committed crimes against humanity.

Let it be known that there was no justification for Raila and ODM to rock the country into violence and ethnic cleansing. The fact that they could not follow the known procedures for addressing their concerns of election flaws left a lot to be desired of them, a fact that has rendered them irrelevant in Kenyan politics in the years to come.

The international community should stop meddling in the affairs of our sovereignty as a nation, and work within the framework of international law, agreements and conventions. It is no secret that Raila and Ruto are the key perpetrators of the current genocide in Kenya.

They have consistently and persistently incited certain communities to engage in ethnic cleansing. The international community should be working on prosecuting Raila and Ruto at the international court of justice instead of “payukaring” (rhetoric) about the electoral process in our country. Our country spent over Kshs 10 billion (USD160 million) in the just concluded general elections.

The nation has more and pressing priorities that this back and forth noise making by Raila and Ruto about flawed elections, in which they are the key culprits of grossly violating and tampering with the electoral process.

Conventional wisdom would require that we all put this election out of the way and move on. However, greed and selfishness seems to prevail whereby individuals who grossly and unsuccessfully violated the electoral process; now are staging a civil coup to ascend to the presidency at the expense of innocent Kenyans.

Raila and Ruto enjoy lavish life styles while those of rank and file of Kibera, Bondo, and Eldoret North etc languish in poverty.

The way forward: We the people of Kenya would like to state in unequivocal terms that crime against humanity in our country will not go unpunished. To this end, we are preparing a brief for submission before the International Court of Justice against Raila and Ruto.

We are asking the international community to stop fanning violence through their ignorance of the political dynamics in our country. For example, the EU election observer, had given Kenyan a clean bill of health on the elections, so, how did their observations change? How come they did not see the massive rigging in ODM strongholds? They might have gone to see the elephants like Dick Morris.

We are asking the current government to use whatever means necessary to restore the country to normalcy, and should there be a need to go back to the ballot, let it be so.

We asking our brothers and sister to desist from violence and put the elections aside. Our country has structures of governance that should be respected by all.

To this end, Raila and ODM should seek redress through the established structures of governance and desist from unorthodox means of attempting ascension to power. ODM can yank the Kibaki administration through a vote of no confidence in parliament if the judiciary fails to adjudicate the matter in court of law in their favor.

They have the numbers, so, why rock the country in violence. This is the level of sanity that we are calling for.

Finally, “the way to win in any contest rests heavily in the knowledge of how to lose”. If you do not know how to lose, you can never be a winner no matter what?

By People Foundation, Inc, > Social Transformation Advocacy Group

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Nigeria: Civil society petitions National Assembly over gas flaring

Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008

Port Harcourt (Nigeria) – Civil society leaders and community representatives in the Niger Delta have petitioned the National Assembly, asking for legislation compelling oil companies and the government to end gas flaring this year.

According to the groups, the call for the legislation has become imperative because Nigeria flares 40 per cent of its total annual natural gas production at a rate of approximately 2.5 billion cubic feet per day.

In the petition, which was made available to The Guardian, the groups – comprising Social Action, Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Benin River Forum, Niger Delta Women for Justice (NDWJ), Stakeholders Democracy Network, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities, Centre for Human Rights, Environment and Development, Ogoni Solidarity Forum, Egi Forum, and the United Action for Democracy (UAD) – said previous deadlines set for gas flare-out were disrespected because they were not legally binding.

According to Isaac Osuoka, Director of Social Action, following pressure from big oil companies in Nigeria, the Federal Government late last year shifted its deadline for ending gas flaring from December 31, 2007 to December 31,2008. He described this new extension as “distressing,” noting that promises by previous governments since the 1970s to halt gas flaring had been broken again and again. The 13 groups noted that even the 2005 Federal High Court ruling declaring gas flaring illegal did not seem to count. “Shell and the other oil giants have continued with this dangerous practice while government looks the other side, imposing a small fine which the companies prefer to pay. As it were, communities in the Niger Delta are the biggest losers in this disgraceful act,” the statement said.

“The 2008 flare-out date was yet another concession to oil companies operating in Nigeria. The Nigerian government and National Assembly must confront the impudence of the oil companies by legislating on the 2008 deadline for gas flaring. We cannot continue to toy with the lives of our citizens or condone the wastage of our national energy assets,” they said. To this end, they called on the National Assembly to urgently enact a legislation that compels all oil producing companies to end gas flaring in 2008 as called for by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR). The National Assembly was also urged to enact a legislation that compels government and the oil companies to harness associated gas, which is currently flared, for power generation for the communities of the Niger Delta and to feed the national grid.

The groups said there should be a participatory audit of gas flaring to ascertain damage and effect compensation to community victims, hence, the National Assembly should enact a legislation to compel the government to conduct this the exercise. The petition also called on the National Assembly to compel all oil producing companies to stop crude oil production in any oil field where gas is still being flared as called for by the DPR. They referred to a November 2007 report by the DPR which stated that more than 70 per cent (177 out of 139) of the oil fields in Nigeria still flare gas. They, therefore, appealed to the lawmakers to ensure that the fines announced by DPR for 2008 are imposed and that all revenues are dedicated to a “Special Community Health Fund,” which would help deal with the direct and indirect health impact of flaring and oil operations.


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Six killed as Annan arrives for crisis talks

Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008

Six people were killed in a fresh flare-up of violence in Nandi South District just hours before a team of international mediators arrived in Nairobi for talks between the Government and the Opposition.

Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan (centre) is welcomed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport yesterday by attorney-general Amos Wako (second left), Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetangula (second right), ODM Pentagon member Najib Balala, (left) and head of UN Nairobi office Anna Tibaijuka. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA

Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan who will chair the mediation talks, flew into the country Tuesday night. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had arrived earlier and went straight to State House where he held talks with President Kibaki.

In Nandi, 70 houses were burnt on the border between Aldai and Hamisi constituencies.

Speaking later during a news conference at Serena Hotel, Nairobi, Mr Annan said his team had not come with a solution.

We are here to insist on a solution for the sake of Kenya and its people and for the sake of Africa.

He expressed confidence that his team can count on the will, maturity, resourcefulness and judgment of Kenyan leaders.

We are here to listen, to learn and to work with the concerned parties to find a just and sustainable solution to the current crisis. We bring to this process the support and solidarity of the African Union, the European Union, the United States and the US, noted the former UN chief.

Meanwhile, the Government and ODM held separate last-minute strategy meetings as the mediators prepared for the talks aimed at solving the crisis sparked by Mr Kibakis declaration as President on December 30 amid disputed vote tallying.

Government-friendly MPs held a parliamentary group meeting chaired by Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka at Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi. They appealed to ODM leader Raila Odinga to ignore hardliners in his camp and reach an agreement with President Kibaki on how to restore peace.

ODM leaders also held strategy talks and later announced that they would name their negotiating team after meeting Mr Annan.

At the same time, the Government said the recently appointed Kalonzo-led committee on reconciliation and dialogue will not lead President Kibakis team in negotiations with ODM through the mediation by Mr Annan. Instead, the VPs team composed of mainly Cabinet ministers will conduct a national process of reconciliation.

Investigate killings

The Government had indicated that the committee was appointed in the knowledge that the Government has a legitimate duty to ensure stability and return to normalcy after the violence. Both sides said they want the International Criminal Court to investigate the killings.

In the Annan talks, the Government side has hinted that they will be pushing for respect of the countrys institutions which provide for courts to arbitrate in election disputes, among other things.

ODM has indicated they would be asking for a re-run of the presidential race, under a UN supervised electoral commission and an interim government of disinterested people to prepare the poll.

Last night, Mr Annan said his team expected all parties to enter into dialogue in good faith, and to seize the opportunity to end the suffering and uncertainty that has plagued Kenyans everywhere.

Our message to Kenyans is this: there can be no solution without genuine dialogue; no lasting peace and stability without cooperation and determined and sustainable respect for the rule of law and human rights, Mr Annan said.

Speaking on arrival at the airport earlier, Mrs Graca Machel who is among AU-appointed mediators, also expressed confidence that the talks would succeed.

We hope to make a contribution and to find a solution to the current situation in Kenya. We are glad to be representing the African Union (AU) and therefore the African continent.

This is an indication that more and more Africans are taking charge of African problems, said the wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela.

The other mediators are, Mr Annan and former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa.

President Museveni, who is also chairman of the EA Community Heads of State Summit, is expected to join the talks. A brief statement from the Presidential Press Service said Mr Museveni was on a two-day official visit to Kenya. He was briefed on developments in the country and steps the Government had taken to restore peace.

Mrs Machel clarified that Ghanaian President John Kufuor, who is also the AU chairman, appointed the team because he lacked time to solve the standoff.

Remain in Kenya

It is not that President Kufuor did not achieve this mission. He realised that time is needed to build bridges and to find a common ground. And him being Head of State he could not attach much time to remain in Kenya.

Mr Musevenis trip coincided with the release of a paid up half page advertisement in local dailies by his Foreign Affairs ministry on the current situation in Kenya where they denied rumours circulating in the country that he had sent troops to assist President Kibaki deal with the Opposition demonstrators.

Reported by Odhiambo Orlale, Bernard Namunane, Samwel Kumba and Patrick Nzioka

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Kalonzo says Kibaki ready for talks: Kalonzo will represent the President during the talks

Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008

VP says Kibaki ready to meet with opposition Story by VPPS

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka has said that President Kibaki is ready to meet and discuss the present political situation with the opposition.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka. Photo/ FILE

This was affirmed as the European Union promised to donate Sh550 million to assist in humanitarian relief efforts, following the post-election violence in Kenya.

The announcement was made by the EU Commissioner for Development, Louis Michel, during a meeting with Mr Musyoka at the latters Jogoo House office in Nairobi.

Mr Musyoka thanked the EU for the donation, saying that the money would assist in providing food, shelter and other basic necessities for displaced Kenyans.

The Vice-President said that while the government welcomes efforts by the international community to help resolve the current political crisis, it was necessary that the process of reconciliation and healing be owned by Kenyans.

Mr Musyoka said that the three days of mass action called by leaders of the Orange Democratic Movement last week negated the harmonious spirit that was witnessed in Parliament during the election of the Speaker, and called for an end to further demonstrations.

The Vice-President dismissed international media reports equating the Kenyan crisis to the genocide that occurred in Rwanda, describing them as misleading.

Mr Musyoka, however, implored Kenyans to desist from engaging in the criminal acts witnessed during the clashes, where lives were lost and property destroyed. Mr Michel said the EU regards Kenya as a model of democracy in Africa and a key player in the region.

He, however, expressed concern that the post-election violence had led to loss of lives and wanton destruction of property.

He called on the parties involved in the conflict to urgently engage in dialogue and negotiate a way forward.

Mr Michel expressed optimism that the mediation effort by the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Koffi Annan, and other eminent persons would bear fruit.

Mr Michel was accompanied by the head of the delegation of the European Commission in Kenya, Mr Eric van der Linden, and senior officials from the EU.

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Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008


Bunia (Congo DRC) – Rape and other forms of sexual violence remain prevalent in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), despite the cessation of military activities and the disarmament of militias in the region, according to aid workers. Before, this was mainly attributed to men in uniform, but now civilians comprise a significant number of the perpetrators.

“The rapists roam the streets; [local] customs allow them to pay a goat [as recompense to the victims family] without serving prison terms. Even worse, some of the rapists are HIV-positive or old and rape girls of around 12 and 13 thinking they will be cured [of illness] or live longer,” Marie Pacuryema, the coordinator of a local NGO, Solidarit Fminine pour la Paix et le Dveloppement Intgr en Ituri, said. A November 2007 report released by Mdecins Sans Frontires-Suisse said that since 2003, between 30 and 500 patients reported sexual assaults each month in Ituri. At least 2,708 people were also raped in an 18-month period, with 7,000 more having been raped in a four-year period, according to the report.

“The statistics do not give the real picture on the ground, Marie-Louise Uronya, head of the Office for Gender, Family and Children in Ituri, said. Many have been raped but fear reporting it due to shame, fear of reprisals or rejection by society, among other reasons, Uronya said. There are mothers who were raped three or four years ago who are continuing to visit us,” she said. While in the past the victims of sexual violence were raped by two or more aggressors or sometimes in the presence of a third party, from early 2007 rape tended to be carried out by a single assailant. “It does not stop; we think that the same rapists of yesterday who were released from the armed groups into the community are still carrying on with the habit,” Francine Mangaza, an officer with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in the district of Ituri, said.

At least 23,000 ex-combatants, in addition to 11,000 child soldiers, have been reintegrated into the community under a national disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme. The main perpetrators of the crimes include the military, the police, civilians, ex-combatants and even children. “The military and the police are supposed to know the law, which is well explained in training centres. But I have come to realise that they rape to defy the law. None has claimed ignorance of the law. In court cases they claim not to have known the age of the victim, which cannot be right because a 13-year-old is easily identified due to her physical development,” Maj Innocent Mayembe, the judge and chairman of the military tribunal in Ituri District, said in the regional capital, Bunia.

The forms of sexual violence being perpetrated are more violent and dangerous than before, according to the judges. In February 2007, the commander of one of the regular army battalions in the town of Bavi, 60km south of Bunia, Franois Molessa, alias Boziz, was sentenced to life imprisonment along with some of his staff for killing 30 civilians, whom they then buried in a mass grave. The female victims, both women and girls, were systematically raped first. “The perpetrator of rape behaves like an animal. The aggressor is transformed into a beast which attacks the prey. The rapist, once sated, abandons the victim,” Mayembe said.

An 18-year-old woman, who was raped by soldiers in March 2007, agreed. “At about two o’clock in the morning my husband heard someone pushing the door. We thought they were bandits. They continued to push the door and we also started to push the door from the inside, she testified. My husband opened the door holding a knife, but the attacker had a gun. He told my husband that was going to be the last day of his life and shot him in the neck. My husband fell and died on the spot. We called out for help from our neighbours but they did not come. When my husband fell, I opened the door and saw a FARDC [DRC army] soldier with a rifle and wearing army uniform.

He told me he was going to kill me if I refused to sleep with him. He raped me, then asked me for food. My lower abdomen is painful; I am worried because my husband had money but this was looted. I was left a widow. The military tribunal in Bunia has sentenced the perpetrator, who was charged with murder and rape, to death. “We render severe judgments to discourage the men in uniform. We refer the rape cases to the army and sentence perpetrators to life imprisonment if the victims were murdered. We reject [any claims] such as [the rape was due to] provocation by the victim or the morals of the victim,” said Mayembe.

However, Mayembe said the impact of the strict sentencing had not been very significant as few cases came to court compared with the number of crimes reported. “It is difficult to objectively say there has been progress with the [rape] statistics remaining constant. In 2007, we rendered 17 judgments in the new military tribunal; it was difficult for the military justice system to flush out all the cases of sexual violence,” he said.
In a bid to reduce cases of rape and sexual violence, the UN Mission in the DRC, MONUC, conducts inquests into all reported rape cases involving agents of the state (police, military, FARDC) and takes the perpetrators to court. In addition, the mission is also involved in awareness-building among the military. According to the human rights division of MONUC, there had been a decline in the number of state agents committing rape, with current cases mainly involving civilians and minors. At least 30 boys of about 14 and 15 have been detained on rape charges at the central prison in Bunia.

One of the causes of the chronic rape was the culture of impunity, Mangaza of UNICEF said. UNICEF had helped at least 110 rape victims in Ituri although 80 judgments have not been rendered.
According to Mangaza, this was sending a wrong message to potential perpetrators of rape that they would not serve sentences or pay fines. At least 50,000 people died in the five-year conflict, which began in 1999, with 150,000 others still displaced due to security concerns, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Bunia.

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Zimbabwe: A champion of children

Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008

Abused girls in Zimbabwe have a new heroine. She might not wear a cape or have a signature martial arts move, but this woman has saved numerous girls from terrible circumstances and created a better life for them. Childrens rights activist Betty Makoni, the founding director of the Girl Child Network Trust, is Zimbabwes own Superwoman.

Her work is not going unnoticed. She has earned a special commendation in the Mail & Guardians Investing in the Future Awards, which rewards companies, NGOs and individuals for their efforts to change society. Makoni was recognised in the category Drivers of Change — Civil Society. Makonis organisation rehabilitates survivors of girl-child sexual abuse and has been praised all over the world for saving numerous girls from forced marriages, prostitution and neglect.

Her activism has influenced the domestic violence law in the Zimbabwean Constitution, the Investing in the Future judges noted. In 1998 Makoni set out to be a voice for the voiceless: the girls she protects.
Nine years ago she started a girls club with nine girls. The club met regularly to share stories, ideas and problems and to find solace and solutions as a group. Today there are 500 girls clubs in 49 of Zimbabwes 58 districts, as well as the Girl Child Network, which helps 30 000 girls, raises community awareness and lobbies government.

Our goal is to dismantle the link between culture and violence against the girls and enable them to take charge of their own destiny, says Makoni. Makoni is a survivor of sexual abuse, which happened to her at the age of six. She grew up intent on breaking the silence and fighting discrimination and the oppression of girls, says one of her supporters, Zimbabwean child activist Ropafadzo Mapimhidze. Makoni admits her history played a big part in getting the network up and running. I was raped at six by a certain man who unabashedly raped minor girls. I was orphaned at nine after the death of my mother from domestic violence. At the age of eight I pushed her to report the violence perpetrated by my father, but she put a finger to my mouth and said shush, meaning quiet, you dont say that in public.

Makoni vowed never to stay silent again. Mapimhidze said that before Makoni started her work, most of the neglect and sexual abuse cases in Zimbabwe were swept under the carpet, especially when they involved high-profile people. Through the network Makoni built three safe villages (also called empowerment villages) for highly vulnerable girls. More than 20 000 girls have been rescued from abuse, rehabilitated and counselled. Many of Makonis girls come from some of the poorest parts of Zimbabwe.

When children are rescued, Makonis organisation places them in schools to ensure they get an education. The network buys uniforms, pays school fees and feeds the girls to help them get back on their feet. Makoni is especially proud of those girls who have earned bursaries to study abroad. All you need to do is visit these shelters and see the wonderful work that is being done, says Mapimhidze. There is no doubt that Makoni is Zimbabwes pride.

But Makonis work is not easy. Mapimhidze says she has a lot of enemies, some extremely powerful. Many have threatened the organisation but Makoni and her girls have flourished and not been deterred by the threats. Makoni tells how masked men with axes have tried to attack her house and the shelter. Despite the threats, Makoni has persisted — and it has paid off. She is the recipient of several illustrious international awards, including the Worlds Childrens Prize for the Rights of Children, a prize awarded by children.


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Zambia: Convict Chiluba, government urges court

Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008

Ndola (Zambia) – The State has urged a Lusaka magistrate’s court to convict Second Republican President, Frederick Chiluba and two others charged with 12 counts of theft committed between 1998 and 2000.

Chiluba and Access Financial Services (AFS) directors, Faustin Kabwe and Aaron Chungu were charged with theft after they allegedly stole public funds from the ZAMTROP account. In the charges among the amounts that were allegedly stolen included U.S.$50,000, $125,000, $148,000, $123,980.25, $27,906.48, $33,000, $205,000, K25 million and K43 million, all property of the Government of Zambia. In the submissions for case to answer, the State submitted that a case to answer had been established with respect to all the accused persons and in each count in which all accused were charged.

State prosecutor, Mutembo Nchito submitted that it was clear that all monies deposited in a Government account were the property of the Government and that Kabwe and Chungu were principal offenders while Chiluba was an accessory as he procured the commission of the offences. Mr Nchito stated that section 21 (2) of the Penal Code stipulated that a secondary part who procured the commission of an offence was liable for the commission of the full offence, even if the perpetrator himself may not be and that such a person could be tried, convicted and punished as a principal offender.

The State submitted that some of the transactions relating to Kabwe and Chungu were carried out in the name of AFS and did not exonerate the persons who instigated these actions.Mr Nchito submitted that the evidence before the court afforded a prima facie case and that the State proposed that with the evidence in court, any reasonable tribunal might safely convict. He said the State had demonstrated that all the elements of the offence of theft were present and submitted that the prosecution evidence remained undaunted after cross-examination by the defence. The State submitted that each transaction was a perfect replica of the others as it was a perfectly oiled machine personified by Chiluba, Kabwe, Chungu, former Zambia Security Intelligence Services (ZSIS) chief Xavier Chungu and others unknown that knew what they were doing and how they would effectuate their design.

It was established that some of the monies that found their way into the Zamtrop account from private sources where in fact constitutive of Government funds that had been laundered through an international company called Wilbain Incorporated. Mr Nchito submitted that the monies were paid out in favour of beneficiaries other than the Government or deposited in private accounts, which coincided with an intention to permanently deprive the Government from use or enjoyment of the funds. He stated that Chiluba, acting with the former ZSIS chief and others unknown, procured the commission of crimes he was charged with and that the inference was irrefutable as his involvement in these transactions was established by the document admitted into evidence where a bank official was required to pay $6,000 to one of his children.

“The fact that the monies were paid to and on behalf of Chiluba’s children, the Government was permanently deprived of these monies and the fact that these monies were paid out of a Government account was evidence of theft,” submitted the State. Mr Nchito noted that from the testimony of the State witnesses, the two properties that were intended for lawyers Vincent Malambo and Eric Silwamba, who represented Chiluba in the presidential petition, were first bought through a company called ZAMDELL.

He submitted that it was a clear ploy intended to distance the properties from the ZAMTROP monies that were used to purchase them and that it was always the intention of Chiluba, Kabwe, Chungu and Chungu to defraud the Government by disguising the source of funds used to procure them. The State submitted that the supreme court had ample opportunity to consider the question of immunity, and that the court determined that Chiluba was fit to stand trial, having his immunity lifted by Parliament.

Mr Nchito said all the witnesses called by the State adduced reliable and cogent evidence upon which any reasonable tribunal might convict the accused persons. He stated that all parties to a common unlawful purpose were liable as principal offenders within the meaning of section 21 of the Penal Code, irrespective of the role they played in the joint enterprise and that Kabwe and Chungu were liable to be convicted as principal offenders, should the court arrive at a finding that the evidence before it warranted such conviction.


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Kenya: More lives lost

Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008


The Orange party leader Mr Raila Odinga spoke of peace “returning soon” as the Government made an important concession by allowing todays mass funeral service in the first ever sign of softening up.

But there was widespread outrage over the Kalonzo Musyoka-led mediation team, on a day 26 more lives were violently snuffed out. In the midst of all this, the Catholic Churchs John Cardinal Njue sent out a passionate plea to President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga: Swallow your pride, sit down and talk so that you save this country before it is too late. The prelate, who was presiding over mass at St Augustine Catholic Parish, Juja, added: “Go beyond where you are. Look ahead and realise that for Kenya to be peaceful, for current tribal divisions to end and for the killings of innocent Kenyans to stop, you must dialogue”.

Police pursue rival groups who fought in Huruma Estate in Nairobi on Sunday. At least two people were hacked to death and many more injured. Picture by George Mulala
But as he spoke of ODMs willingness to dialogue, Raila told a congregation at the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Holy Trinity Parish in Kibera a slum that has bore the brunt of the post-election violence that the supporters of the wounded Orange party have urged him to stand firm and not retreat.

“Peace will soon prevail even if it means that we negotiate with a thief if that is what it will take to bring it,” Raila said without elaborating. But the Langata MP cautioned the Government against any tricks.
Speaking on the eve of a week in which mediation talks are expected to take centre stage with the arrival of former United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, Raila said the church had an obligation to stand against injustices and defend democracy. He, however, said he regretted that a section of the church leadership had already taken sides with the troublemakers.

The crisis has also dented the previously booming economy due to losses incurred in closures of businesses and destruction to property and hit supplies to east and central African neighbours, including Uganda. Lukewarm diplomatic efforts have so far been fruitless in unlocking the political standoff. Ghanaian President and African Union head John Kufuor, and other international figures, including USs top diplomat for Africa Dr Jendayi Frazer, failed to bring the feuding sides together. The international community has thrown its weight behind the fresh mediation efforts led by Annan, whose fate however remains uncertain as both sides dig into their trenches.

The donor community has threatened an aid cut if the political crisis is not settled. Both the EU and the US have cautioned that it will not be business as usual until there is a political compromise that leads to a lasting solution “that reflects the will of the Kenyan people, wins their confidence and helps return Kenya to stability”. Already, the EU Parliament has recommended to its members to stop aid to the country, until the political impasse is resolved. But EU aid commissioner Louis Michel, who is in the country in the latest diplomatic efforts to try to defuse the crisis, met President Kibaki on Saturday and assured that the EU was yet to freeze aid, saying it would wait for the outcome of dialogue.


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Nigeria: Shell reports spillage, crude loss to National Assembly

Posted by African Press International on January 23, 2008


Abuja (Nigeria) – Once, the Niger Delta was the bride of its operations in Nigeria. But now, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) says the volatility of the region has taken serious toll on its activities and the oil firm has therefore reported the matter to the legislature.

In a letter written to the National Assembly, Shell said that the activities of oil thieves were threatening its operations in the Niger Delta to the extent that it lost 20, 000 and 80,000 barrels daily between 2003 and 2007.

In the letter sent to the Senate and the House of Representatives, Shell Managing Director, Basil Omiyi, said nearly all its pipelines had been vandalised and barges placed at the facilities by the thieves to ferry crude oil. He said the most frightening aspect of the situation was that in the process of the stealing, so much spillage had occurred. Worse still, the firm said that the fragile security in the region had denied them access to handle the incidents. Omiyi, who remarked that the various security outfits set up by the government had been co-operating with Shell to find a solution to the problem, expressed regret that not much success had been recorded.

Late last year, Shell introduced austerity measures to remain afloat. Besides restructuring its operations, the company embargoed expenditure on activities that have no immediate cost benefits on its operations. For the first time in many years, Shell cancelled the yearly end-of-the year party for its workers and sending of Christmas hampers to institutions and persons that it usually gives such gifts. According to Omiyi, “we have at various times reported these incidents to governments at all levels as well as the relevant regulatory and security agencies in the region and the country. We must mention that the various state governments and government’s joint task forces have been working and collaborating with us in an effort to abate and check these incidents without significant success.”

“More importantly, these incidents, which are ongoing at an alarming rate, are happening at a time when the fragile security situation in the Niger Delta is not allowing us guaranteed access to respond to contain and clean up the resultant spills and pollution. As a consequence, we are beginning to lose control of the abatement of the resultant pollution in our operations. We have therefore come to the conclusion that we are unable to continue to fight the issue of crude oil and condensate theft alone without a more focused and targeted government intervention,” he added.

Giving details on the activities of oil thieves, Shell said it had recorded about 160 incidents since 2003, stressing that “our records show that on the average, we lose to illegal bunkering activities some 60,000 barrels per day of oil in 2003, rising to about 80,000 barrels per day in 2004, falling to some 40,000 barrels per day in 2005 and 20,000 in 2006”. SPDC said the trend was on the increase again hitting about 40,000 barrels per day.

Omiyi said this year alone, Shell’s facilities had come under attack by illegal bunkerers about 145 times. “In our western operations, some 45 illegal condensate bunkering/theft spots have been located this year around Eriemu, Mosogar, Utorogu and Egwa Jeremi, resulting in well over 2,500 barrels of oil spilled,” he said, adding that the illegal bunkering had assumed a more disturbing dimension with barges being freely filled with crude oil in its areas of operations.

Omiyi said that a comprehensive over-fly of the Niger Delta would show the level of danger associated with these activities, particularly the pollution, which might add to the problems being faced in the region.
The Chairman of the House Committee on (Upstream), Tam Brisbe, confirmed the receipt of the letter and said the panel had swung into action.


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