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Archive for January 27th, 2008

22 Kenyan Members of Parliament to face court battles – the recently won seats not safe

Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

22 MPs to face court battles

Less than a fortnight since the 10th Parliament was sworn in, some of its members are already facing petitions challenging their election. At least 22 election petitions challenging the election of some of the 206 MPs have been filed.

The constituencies whose elections are disputed and are being challenged in court include Kajiado North, Embakasi, Juja, Makadara, Ndhiwa, Sirisia, Starehe, Mandera Central, Kitutu Masaba, Garsen, Ndia, Eldama Ravine, Bomachoge, Dagoretti, Kisumu Town West, Matuga, Gatundu North, Ikolomani, Malava, Kitui Central, Dujis and Naivasha.

Despite the scant history of success in electoral petitions, losers in the just-concluded polls seem ready to contest the election of their opponents.

Election petitions have always been a tricky affair in Kenya.

Twenty five petitions were filed after the 2002 elections, of which 12 were struck down. At least 10 other petitions remained unresolved as Kenyans went to the polls in the 2007 General Election.

The first petition was filed against the newly appointed minister for Foreign Affairs Moses Wetangula as the MP for Sirisia by ODM loser John Koyi Waluke. Mr Waluke claims to have won the election with over 400 votes, but the returning officer overturned the result in favour of the minister.

Other petitions against political heavyweights include one challenging the election of Internal Security minister George Saitoti. Politician Moses Sakuda wants the court to declare the election of Prof Saitoti null and void, claiming it was marred by irregularities.

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Kibaki says he has no job to offer Raila Odinga

Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

I didnt offer Raila PM post, says Kibaki

President Kibaki has denied that he had offered ODM leader Raila Odinga the post of prime minister.

The President said such an appointment would be a constitutional matter.

Currently, there is no provision in the Kenyan Constitution for the office of prime minister, said a statement from the Presidential Press Service sent to newsrooms.

The President was reacting to remarks by Mr Odinga that he will never take up the post of prime minister in Mr Kibakis government.

The ODM leader was answering a question by journalists on Friday, as to whether he would take up the post in a Kibaki-led government.

I have never said I was considering taking up a position of prime minister under Kibaki, he said.

The creation of a prime ministers post has been floated as one of the options to incorporate Mr Odinga in the government following an election dispute in which ODM rejected the announcement of Mr Kibaki as the winner of the presidential election.

Mr Odinga said the only options for discussion were the resignation of President Kibaki and a re-run of the presidential election at a later date under a transitional government.

However, the PPS statement described the Odinga story, which appeared on the front page of the Saturday Nation, as misleading.

It added that President Kibaki was open to dialogue and welcomed his meeting with Mr Odinga last Thursday, organised by the former UN secretary general, Mr Kofi Annan, at the Office of the President.

The Head of State wishes to see Kenyan leaders give the initiative by Kofi Annan a chance, the statement added.

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Kombo dismises Raila’s request for presidential repeated elections

Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

musikari-kombo.jpgMusikari Kombo, of Ford-K dismisses calls for election re-run.

Ford Kenya party has dismissed calls for an immediate re-run of the presidential election saying the situation in the country is too tense.

In a statement read by Party National chairman Musikari Kombo, the party further said it supports the ongoing mediation process spearheaded by the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan which they say is the only way out of the political stalemate.

In a press briefing at the party headquarters, Ford Kenya however cautioned against quick fix solutions to the political impasse, saying Annan’s mediation efforts should also set a road map to facilitate the completion of the constitution review process.

This they said will ensure a lean and independent Electoral Commission of Kenya.

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No Prime Minister position in Kenya – The Constitution

Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

This means Kibaki cannot offer Raila Odinga this position to nurse the wounds after the disputed elections.

_________________

P.M. position is a constitutional issue

Written By:pps

The story appearing in the front page of Saturday’s Nation entitled Raila rules out becoming Kibaki’s prime Minister’ is misleading.

A statement issued from State House Nairobi, said that while the Government has welcomed dialogue with the ODM, there is no time when President Kibaki has offered a post of Prime Minister to Hon. Raila Odinga.

The statement further noted that the issue of the post of Prime Minister is a constitutional matter and currently there is no provision in the Kenyan constitution for the office of Prime Minister.

It added that President Kibaki has clearly stated that he is open to dialogue.

The President has further stated that calls for peace should be matched by statements by all leaders in a manner that is reconciliatory and respectful of the wishes of the majority of Kenyans who would like to see a peaceful solution to the current situation.

The statement also said the Head of State wishes to see Kenyan leaders give the initiative by Kofi Annan a chance adding that he is encouraged by efforts by Annan that led to a meeting with Hon. Raila Odinga.

In this connection the President once again calls on all Kenyans to respect the rule of law and sanctity of human life.

President Kibaki appealed to all Kenyans to embrace the spirit of reconciliation and dialogue in order to ensure that peace prevails in all corners of the country.

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Annan meets Odinga to try and push for peace

Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

raila-and-annan.jpg<Annan and Raila meeting Sunday.

Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan met opposition leader Raila Odinga Sunday at a Nairobi to try to mediate an end to a month-long crisis that has killed 750.

On Thursday, Annan brokered the first talks between the two men since the troubles began, raising hopes.

But the discussions prompted fresh verbal attacks by both camps, and that night Nakuru, the Rift’s provincial capital, descended into chaos.

Annan Saturday visited other areas in the Rift Valley that have been hit by clashes and warned that turmoil over Kibaki’s disputed re-election had now evolved into something worse with “gross and systematic” rights abuses.

“Let us not kid ourselves and think that this is an electoral problem. It’s much broader and much deeper,” he said.

“We have to tackle the fundamental issues that underlie what we are witnessing today. If we do not do that, three, five years from now we may be back at this.”

The sudden slide of Naivasha and another previously quiet tourist town, Nakuru, into pitched tribal battles has deepened growing anxiety since December 27 polls cast the country into chaos.

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Spanish minister on Africa tour

Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

Madrid (Spain) Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, arrived in Mali on Saturday on th first leg of his four African-nation tour that will take him to Guinea Bissau, DR Congo and Ethiopia, sources has said.

“Spain cannot afford to be absent from Africa, which will be a key international relations stakeholder in the medium term,” Moratinos said.

He added that the tour aims at confirming the results of implementing the “African Plan”, which Spain adopted in May last year.

Spain regards Mali, the first leg of the tour, as “a strategic country” for its external relations.

Moratinos will visit a handicraft training project and commission the Spanish embassy as well as a technical cooperation agency in the West African nation.

He will further meet with his counterpart Moctar Ouane alongside Malian Prime Minister Modibo Sidib.

Moratinos will later proceed to Guinea Bissau to meet with Prime Minister Martinho Dafa Cabi and Home Affairs as well as Finance and Public Works ministers.

The Guinea Bissau leg will centre on the migratory issue, discuss how to use a comprehensive approach involving development aid in addition to the security component.

The next phase of the tour is Kinshasa, where the Spanish official will evoke Spains contribution in the peace process with the local authorities as the country struggles against armed groups.

Moratinos ends his tour in Ethiopia as the AU ordinary session convenes.

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Killings continue in Kenya despite international efforts to stopp the killings

Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

Nairobi(Kenya) Twenty one more people were killed in Nakuru town in Rift valley province on Friday night, despite an overnight curfew that was imposed by the authorities, APA learnt on Saturday.

Some of the victims were hacked to death, the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation television reported on Saturday.

According to the reports, mutilated bodies were found under a bridge in the area on Saturday morning.

More than 100 people were arrested on Friday night, many of them on the streets as police and the military enforced the 7pm to 7 am curfew imposed by the government.

Outgoing Rift Valley Provincial Police chief Everret Wasige said most of those arrested were found loitering on the streets while others were picked up from residential estates.

Wasige however, confirmed they (police) had arrested 50 other suspects who were found with machetes and other crude weapons.

KBC reported that many military officers and police officers were seen patrolling the town Saturday morning on main streets and estates where many more people have lost their lives and their houses torched since Thursday.

Earlier Saturday morning, there was chaos where a group of armed youths engaged police in running battles but no casualty was reported.

Police said a group of more than 100 people armed with pangs, bows and arrows had re-grouped ready to cause mayhem before they were dispersed and scores arrested.

The area remains tense because there are fears the youths may re-group again and cause mayhem, police said.

Rift valley province has been the most affected by post elections violence with USA based, Human Rights Watch (HCW) warning that opposition leaders are involved in ethnic cleansing targeting Presidents Mwai Kibakis , Kikuyu community.

So far, more than 500 people have already been killed with the numbers rising dailiy. Already Koffi Annan visited the area on Saturday morning and warned inciters of the violence will be prosecuted at The Hague.

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Annan threatens Kenyan leaders, Kibaki and Raila with international prosecutions

Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

Nairobi (Kenya) Former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan on Saturday warned those inciting post electoral violence in Kenya that they could be dragged before the International Court of Justice in The Hague to face charges for crime against humanity.

Addressing the press in Nairobi, Annan underscored the need for investigations on the systematic abuse of human rights during which more than 600 people have been killed during electoral violence since last month.

Annan who arrived in Nairobi recently to facilitate dialogue between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader, Raila Odinga, early on Saturday visited the hard-hit Rift Valley province.

We saw a heart-wrecking and systematic abuse of human rights and its important that those responsible to be held accountable, said Annan.

The Ex-UN chief, appealed to the government to tighten security in the affected regionsn and also compensate victims of the violence.

At least 25 people have been killed in ethnic clashes in Nakuru town in Rift valley since Thursday.

The Kenyan government has so far imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the town in a bid to contain pitched battles between tribal gangs.

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Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

Kumasi (Ghana) Camerounian international striker, Samuel Etoo on Saturday scored his 14th goal in the African Cup of Nations (ACN) since his first appearance in 2000 ACN co-hosted by Ghana and Nigeria.

Etoos 65th minute penalty goal against Zambia a Group C match played at Kumasi on Saturday in the ongoing CAN 2008 in Ghana made him a top scorer in the history of the tournament.

Soccer analyst in Ghana hailed Etoo for his talent and persistence at scoring important in the history of ACN.

The 24-year old Camerounian international has been elected three times as African Best footballer and has placed third at the world level.

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Proposed Draft National Code of Conduct for airing grievances

Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

Violence should never be the first option as it reduces us to the level of primitive animals and degrades us in the eyes of the entire world.
First we should exhaust all peaceful, intellectual and reconciliatory options.
Then we should considerwalking away to rise another day (a tactical retreat is not necessarily a loss).
Kenyans it ios a duty of all Kenyans to learnthe meaning of “peaceful demonstrations”. Absence of violence does not necessarily mean a gathering is peaceful.
For truly peaceful gatherings:
The DOs:
– DO state your point freely with dignity and in a civilised manner.
– DO Carry placards and walkin an orderly fashion.
– DO use constructive slogans that clearly state your grievances.
– DO give the police information/tip offs about leaders who incite ethnic or racial hatred.
– DO allow other members of the public to have opposing views.
– DO allow Police to monitor the demonstrations
– DO recognize that police are there to keepensure that peaceis maintained for all – including innocent bystanders.
– DO allow parallel demonstrations by those holding opposing views.
– DO engage in constructive intellectual debates onMedia and in Academic halls of debate.
– DO help the police to arrest saboteurs who may try to use the demonstration as a smokescreen for criminal activities.
– DO plan your demonstration in advance and furnish your plans to the Police – they are your protectors.
– DO disperse quietly and peacefully when requested by the Police. They are not your enemy.
– DO respect the rule of Law and show determination to be seenasgenuine law abiding citizens with genuine grievances. Quiet determination can win the hearts and mind of many.
DON’Ts:
– DO NOT go for demonstrationswith machetes, sticks, stones or any other weapons.
-DO NOT sing tribal war songs!
– DO NOTchant inflammatory and hateful slogans
– DO NOT use the threat of violence as a coercive bargaining chip. For example, do not say “No x, No peace”
– DO NOTmount illegal roadblocks
– DO NOTburn tyres to block roads or destroy railway lines.
– DO NOT attack those who have opposing views to silence them.
– DO NOT engage in shouting matches
– DO NOT disrupt the flow of traffic.
– DO NOT destroy and loot property.
– DO NOTviolently attack perceived enemies.
– DO NOT provoke the police.
This code of conduct should be taught in all schools starting from standard 1 (simplified versions) to 4th year university students. A Nationwide Civic education campaign should disseminate it to adults. Government offices and Employers who support peace should prominently display it on their notice boards and provide copies for employees to send home.
By Kenyans for Peace
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A Win / Win / Win Scenario for Kenya

Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

The time has come for all Kenyans put down their stones, sticks and machetes and let their brains and intellect take over. Now that violence has clearly failed to achieve whatever purpose it was intended to achieve.
We hereby call all Kenyan citizens toopen their MINDS andconsider the real possibility thatthat ALLthree Presidential candidatesactually WON in one way or the other.
1.ODM, under Hon Raila’s leadership, can control the Law-Making Arm of Government. They have already demonstrated their dominance in parliament when they easily voted in Hon. Marende as Speaker.
ODM hasthe power to directly address their grievances. They can push for a change in the constitution and by extension CREATE AN EVEN PLAYING FIELD by limiting presidential powers and enabling Parliament to have its own time table. Nowhere else are the people’s issues more directly addresedthan in Parliament.
This makes Raila exactly what he wanted to be: The people’sagent of CHANGE. The People’s Representative or “a People’s president of some sort”. Not having a flashy title and intimidating motorcades will reinforce Raila’s benevolent image as thevoice ofthe poor and marginalized kenyans in Government.
As leader of Official Opposition,Hon Railawillnot report administratively to the President.Yet he will have the power to deliver his promises to Kenyans and toresolve the grievances ofover 4 million voters.
With powers to change thefundamental laws that determine the Institution of Presidency and the independence of Judiciary, whoever”rules” parliament becomes the most powerful person in Kenya.
Raila alreadyhas exactlywhatwanted – he just doesn’t know it yet – perhaps due to a clique of self serving advisors around him who clearly do not have the nations interests at heart.
Negotiation should aim at setting the stage for constructive, intellectual battle in Parliament. Here’s Suggested list of strategic political demands for Hon Raila’s consideration:
a.Parliament to be convened in Feb 08by the President as a matter of urgency.

b. Urgent Minimum Constitutional amendments to guarantee Media Freedom, Human Rights, to give the Powers of setting the Paliarmentary time table to Parliament and to outlaw Bigotry and acts that promote ethnic hatred!
c. An urgentcreation of of an independent Truth, Justice and Reconcilliation Committee
d. An Urgent Timetable for joint Nationwide Peace Campaigns to address citizens- starting with all areas affected by violence, refugee camps and even non violent areas. Kibaki, Raila and Kalonzo to jointlyAdress the people together and call for peace and reconcilliation.
e. A realistic and objectivetimetable for a new people’s constitution with aim of creating solid long term institutions (not just for elections/presidency/prime ministerpurpose)
f. A realistic time table for institutional reforms -including a revamp of the entire electoral processand applicable laws. ECK should not be disbanded until it has given evidence to courts and various commissions – but all balantly implicated officers should be suspended on half pay (or applicable disciplinary measure) while investigations continue.
g. As part of truth and reconcilliation, perpetrators of post-election crimes and their organizers, financiers and leaders to be subjected to the law irrespective of status and /or political affiliation.
2. President Kibaki, having already been declared winner and sworn in as the lawful president, continues as the nation’s official leader in executive Arm of Government. Key itemson his agenda would probably be Healing the nation, reviving the shattered economy, repairing the country’s international standing, delivering a progressive constitution,reforming government institutionsand improving generalwelfare of all Kenyans amongst the other things that he does best. He has the support of over 4 millionvoterswho believe in him.
Abuse of power by President Kibaki’s familyand other people around him (e.g. Media attacks,Shameful fiascos like the Artur dramaand assaults on dignitiaries) will be checked by RAILA in parliament.An interim constitutional amendment can quickly fixMedia Freedom and Human Rights issues.
Archaic contitutional provisionsthat retract huuman rights- giving the police powers to “shoot to Kill”during riots can be amended/repealed as part of ODM package of “Quick wins” to the Kenyan public. Role and powers ofKenya’s First Lady can also beeasily clarified by ODM – once and for all.
3. Having Hon. Kalonzo as VP appeals to the 0.8 Million voters who saw him as a capable leader. These people believed in his electoral pledges – and now he is in a position to “prove himself worthy” without excuses. Mr. Kalonzo’s role in uniting Kenyans cannot be underestimated.
VP Kalonzo remains the only “untainted” presidential contender- it would not be a surprise if, in the next elections, both Raila and Kibaki are fired by Kenyans in favor of Kalonzo.
The current political standoff arises from “Big Man”, “Supreme Ruler of Kenya“, “Tribal Chief” or “Small god” or “King”mentality associated with African Presidency. Big egos are asking to be satiated. They do not reflect the true will of Kenyans. Nobody went to the Ballot to vote for violence, poverty,chaos, and displacement.
– Kenyans who wanted change “Kazi ianze”can stillget it – through Raila – in parliament.
– Those who wanted “Kazi iendelee” still have, President Kibaki, a proven economic genius at the helm.
– Those who sought “Mr. Clean” can now challenge VP Kalonzoto rise to task and prove them right.
Wake up people. All Kenyans won. It’s a WIN-WIN-WIN scenario if we put our personal EGOs aside.
It’s time to put down the stones, sticks, gunsand Machetes and to use the brains that the Lord our God gave us for free.
By Kenyans for Peace
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I am Irish (which means I am a white) and I reside in Kenya

Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

New comment on your post #240 “Kenya: Does Raila Odinga “hate the Kikuyu community?””
Author : Mark Archer

Commentary:

I am Irish (which means I am a white) and I reside in Kenya and I was stunned recently to be called “an outsider” and maybe I should “fuck off home’ by a British-Kenyan white, who was so incensed at my support for the ODM position that he subsequently had to leave the room.

This shows that tribalism is something that is and always will be there, (as in the Irish and the British) but is only lethal when inflamed by politics, even in a place to which neither of us perhaps truly belong.

Having been through the pain of decolonization by the British (Ireland became independant in the 1920s, following which we had our won brutal civil war)
I submit that the only hope for this country is Democracy and respect for the Constitution. It doesn’t matter who or what Raila is like, or who or what Kibaki is like as long as the Vote is respected. The vast majority of people prefer peace to violence, and prosperity to poverty, and will serve up to Raila the same medicine as they sem to have to Kibaki if he fails to meet expectations. He will be shown the door.

Allowing this “civilian coup” to pass would be the worst possible outcome; there will be no peace, no justice and instead a long and painful slide to civil war.

Rerun the elections, if at all possible, with an apology and an admission of wrongdoing by both parties for any and every disrespect that has been shown to the Kenyan Constitution, which is the country’s real majesty.

By Mark Archer, Lake Baringo -Kenya

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Firing on the protesters in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe

Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

Police in Zimbabwe recently fired tear gas at hundreds of opposition protesters on the streets of the capital, Harare, after a court banned a protest march.

A court earlier had upheld a police ban on an opposition demonstration to press President Robert Mugabe to adopt a new constitution ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for March.
The court ruled they could hold a rally in a stadium, after police had said street protests could turn violent. The judge ruled that the opposition stadium rally could go ahead but agreed with police warnings that the march would present a threat to public security.

Agency reports said opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was detained for five hours then released ahead of the planned demonstrations. He later accused the authorities of treating him like a “common criminal”.
Tsvangirai, who was arrested at his home in Harare early yesterday morning, addressed supporters at the rally site, Glamis Stadium, in the west of the capital. He told a crowd: “If this is the reaction of this dictatorship, then the elections are a farce.”

After the court ruling, several hundred opposition protesters had begun walking to the stadium from the MDC headquarters in central Harare. But police told the demonstrators, who were chanting and waving placards, they were breaking the court order, before firing tear gas and charging. A spokesman for the MDC said people trying to reach the stadium had been intimidated by heavy police presence.
State radio on Tuesday, said police suspected “sinister motives” behind the march.

The opposition warned this month it would boycott the polls if it was not satisfied with preparations to ensure they would be free and fair. Mugabe has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980 and critics say he has used tough security laws to keep his opponents in check. Mugabe denies the charge. About two dozens police in a truck have deployed in front of MDC headquarters and were keeping an eye on the building. Tsvangirai was last arrested in March last year along with dozens of opposition officials ahead of another planned march. He says police beat him up in custody but they deny this.

The police had initially granted permission for Wednesday’s march, which the MDC also called to protest against a crumbling economy blamed on government mismanagement as well as to press for a new constitution. Zimbabweans have tended to shy away from demonstrations in recent years, mainly from fear of a heavy-handed response by security forces and were on Wednesday busy queuing for cash at banks while many went about their normal business.

With joint parliamentary and presidential elections due to be held in March, the government recently watered down its strict laws on the holding of protests and any ban should be open to appeal.
The former British colony, led by the 83-year-old Mugabe since independence in 1980, is in economic meltdown. The official annual rate of inflation is put at 8,000 per cent, but economists believe it to be nearer 50,000 per cent.

Unemployment is running at around 80 per cent while basic foodstuffs such as cooking oil and sugar are now a scarce commodity in the one-time regional breadbasket. Mugabe came in for widespread international criticism in March last year after Tsvangirai and dozens of MDC supporters were assaulted as they tried to attend another anti-government rally in Harare. The president responded by telling his critics to “go hang”

 

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Danger for outbreak of war – DRC – Uganda border

Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

Kampala (Uganda) A proposed military strike on the Lords Resistance Army, LRA, base in the Democratic Republic of Congo could lead to a fresh outbreak of war, say opposition politicians.

Plans for an attack on LRA leader Joseph Kony and his fighters first surfaced after Kinshasa and Kampala signed an agreement to force the rebels out of Garamba Park in the DRC if a peace deal was not signed by January 31. Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and his DRC counterpart Joseph Kabila signed the agreement in Arusha, Tanzania, last September, which outlined a plan for the attack. Their proposal appears to have grown out of frustration with peace talks between the LRA and the Ugandan authorities in South Sudans capital of Juba, which were suspended in November last year.

The LRA has been based in Garamba since they left their former bases in southern Sudan in 2004. From there, Kony has coordinated a team of peace negotiators in Juba since July 2006. Kony and his top commanders have evaded arrest since warrants were issued in 2005 by the International Criminal Court, ICC, in The Hague. They are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, w hich were mainly alleged to have been committed in 2003 and 2004. According to reports, LRA deputy commander Vincent Otti was executed by fellow LRA officers at Konys home in October 2007.

The proposed strike, which apparently would be conducted by Congolese and United Nations forces, has elicited sharp criticism from leaders and parliamentarians in war-ravaged northern Uganda.
Morris Ogenga Latigo, leader of the political opposition in Uganda, told IWPR that the plan to hit Kony was totally unreasonable and reckless posturing. Rather than speed up the peace process, it could backfire, he said. According to Latigo, there are reports that some LRA members had already left the base.

There is a rumour that elements of the LRA are already in the northern Ugandan district of Pader, he said. People who have gone hunting in Palabek in the Kitgum district have encountered the LRA, but [the rebels] did not harm them. Critics of the planned attack have compared it to Operation Iron Fist – the 2002 offensive of Ugandan army forces, UPDF, against the LRA camps in Southern Sudan. At the time, many said this attack only intensified the war in northern Uganda, which reached its peak in 2004.

We advised government against it, but they did not listen, said Latigo. This operation only escalated the rebellion. Latigo, who is from the Acholi north of the country, doubts whether an attack on the rebels headquarters would result in Konys capture. He noted that the LRA leader had already managed to evade capture both in northern Uganda and in Southern Sudan.
That part of the DRC is totally uninhabited by the Kabila government. It is a thick forest and there is no road infrastructure, he said. Those planning to attack will be vulnerable to ambushes and will not be able to transport military equipment.

If Kony could not be defeated in northern Uganda, how about the vast DRC? Member of parliament from the Acholi north Reagan Okumu is also sceptical, and believes the authorities should persevere with the peace talks. “Because a military solution has failed for the last 21 years, we thought that the peace process is the only [thing] we should pursue,” he said. Okumu believes a strike would also endanger the children who have been abducted by the LRA. They will be killed if there is a military strike. As leaders, we are demanding that both Museveni and Kony must return to the negotiating table in Juba.”

According to Okumu, many people in the north fear that the attack may “provoke Kony to launch fresh attacks in northern Uganda”. Bosco Otim, an Acholi living in Kampala, expressed fear that a strike against Kony could end the peace talks altogether. “Why can’t we exhaust the Juba peace process? asked Otim. We have suffered for many years. The government should give the Juba talks a chance – otherwise Kony will return and wreak havoc.” The peace that settled across northern Uganda since the talks began in July 2006 would be destroyed, he said, and most of the 1.8 million internal refugees would have to return to camps across the north of the country.

UPDF spokesperson Captain Paddy Ankunda told IWPR that a raid on Konys DRC base had been agreed between Ugandan and Congo military officials on January 4 and that the strike would take place by January 31. “If Kony does not relocate to Ri-Kwangba, then a joint UN mission and DRC force will attack him,” confirmed Ankunda. Although Kony agreed in 2006 to gather his forces at Ri-Kwangba – the assembly point on the Sudan-Congo border – to date the LRA remains in Garamba Park. “Kony is not a man who can embrace peace without pressure,” said Ankunda, who fought against the LRA in northern Uganda.

“If we don’t exert military pressure, Kony will just stay in Garamba,” said Ankunda. “This is why he killed Vincent Otti. Otti was committed to a peace deal.” Ankunda discounted fears that without the element of surprise, the DRC army, which recently has suffered defeats at the hands of other militias in the country, will be no match for Kony’s battle-hardened fighters. “Kony has no where to run,” said Ankunda. While some LRA forces traveled on foot to the Central African Republic in 2007 – in a move that some rebel defectors said was part of Konys plan to escape – they returned after several weeks. Any attempt to try this again could be blocked by a recent agreement between Museveni and CAR president Francois Bozize.

An intelligence source in Uganda, who claimed to have infiltrated LRA ranks, told IWPR under conditions of anonymity that Kony had run of options. “He now has no choice but to move to Ri-Kwangba,” said the source, although he did not explain why. Ugandas foreign affair minister Henry Okello Oryem, who is also deputy head of the Ugandan negotiating team at the peace talks, said that the government remained committed to the negotiations But a resumption of talks and an eventual peace deal seem increasingly doubtful.

*Emma Mutaizibwa is an IWPR journalist in Kampala

 

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Dumbing electronic items – danger to the environment

Posted by African Press International on January 27, 2008

Lagos (Nigeria) – Nigerias commercial capital is arguably one of the largest dumps for obsolete electronic items otherwise called e-wastes.

According to the Basel Action Network (BAN), a Seattle-based environmental group, an estimated 500 shipping containers with a load equal in volume to 400,000 computer monitors or 175,000 large TV sets enter Lagos each month. As much as 75 percent of some shipments are classified as e-waste. “The reasons for this huge influx of e-waste into Lagos are not far fetched,” Peter Ejiofor, a Lagos dealer in second hand computers told IPS. “Lagos has a large sea port where the items easily slip through, also there is a huge appetite for cheap second hand imported electronics items in the city,” he says.

But Lagos is paying a huge environmental cost for these cheap items. Most of the imported items get discarded almost as soon as they are shipped into Lagos. “E-waste is a major problem, its a major challenge, we have a pile up of them,” Ola Oresanya, managing director of the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), told IPS. With no facilities to recycle e-wastes, they are indiscriminately discarded around the city. Some of them end up in dumpsites where they are burnt.

Environmentalists have expressed concern about this. “It is a very worrisome situation because components from these electronic items are very hazardous,” Leslie Adogame of the Nigerian Environmental Society told IPS. He is particularly concerned about the health implication. “There is open burning. Some components produce a lot of particulate matters,” he says. “People around the areas where the wastes are being burnt have to be suffering from chest-related diseases because they inhale a lot of noxious substances,” he added.

Oresanya says LAWMA is concerned about the dangers posed by e-waste. Education has been one of the main actions taken by the authorities to curb the menace. “We have been educating people against burning e-wastes. We believe they would change,” he says. But Adogame believes combating e-waste should go beyond education. He says the way out is for the establishment of “an integrated system to manage the waste.” To combat the enormous task, Lagos authorities are looking to the private sector for assistance. “We have been talking with the organised private sector who have the wherewithal to manage the disposal of these e-wastes to come in and assist us,” says Oresanya.

Lagos has a huge waste disposal problem. The streets are littered with little plastic sachets used for selling water. In the hot tropical weather, hundreds of thousands of plastic sachets of water are purchased monthly.
“The sachets are partly responsible for the severe flooding that some parts of Lagos have faced in recent years,” Lagos resident Femi Oluwole told IPS. “When it rains the plastic sachets block the drains and the water overflows, flooding the street and our houses,” says Oluwole whose residence in Agege, a Lagos suburb is often flooded.

Lagos is one of the most populous cities in the world. According to U.N. projections, Lagos population will reach 20 million by 2010. Many concede that the citys high population poses a challenge to waste disposal. “Population could be an even bigger problem if waste disposal is poorly managed,” says Oresanya. Lagos generates about 9,000 metric tonnes of wastes daily. As much as 80 percent of this waste can be recycled. Oresanya believes the huge waste generated in the city can be harnessed to positive use through recycling.

Under the citys recycling initiative called zero waste programme, organic waste which makes up 60 percent of the citys waste is being recycled into compost. This is being utilised for a green programme aimed at beautifying the city with trees and flowers. Waste is also being utilised for other positive purposes. “We are looking at wastes as a tool of job creation and poverty reduction,” says Oresanya. He added that waste management has created direct jobs for 350 people. Some of them are employed in recycling plants, including one that converts organic wastes into compost and another that converts plastic sachets into pellets.

Oresanya says about 3,000 other people make an indirect living from the citys waste. At dumpsites in the city, hundreds of unemployed youths can be seen scavenging to recover paper, metals, plastics and other useful wastes. “I can tell you that waste is a way of keeping some people busy,” says Oresanya. LAWMA says it has an ambitious project for 2008. A priority is to double the quantity of waste recycled. “Before the end of this year we want to expand the intake of our recycling plants,” he says. “We have a lot of jobless youths around here and we need to create jobs for people. Recycling will create jobs for our people.”

He is confident that LAWMA will achieve its objective for 2008. “We have the political mindset, we have the commitment, and the government is investing and partnering with investors in that direction.”

 

Lifted and published by Korir, API africanpress@getmail.no source.IPS

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