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Archive for January 31st, 2008

Are there traitors inside ODM?

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008


The revolt within ODM seems to be taking a tragic turn. News just in shows that a group of about seven of the moderates who have been talking to PNU moderates were about to issue a statement this week asking Raila to accept to go to court so that the violence must stop.

ODM diehards have dubbed this group traitors who have been promised Ministerial posts. Apparently, Late Hon. Were was one of the traitors.

By Mohammed Farah

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A talk about the late MP for Embakasi

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008

There are reliable stories that the late Were had confirmed to a top PNU Minister of his willingness to defect to the Government in exchange for an Assistant Minister post.

The Westlands MP Fred Gumo is said to have been privy to and mentored the talks.

By Bruce Oduk

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The recently murdered MP Were was to join the government side?

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008

On the day the Speaker was elected, while Kenyans were busy glued to their TV�s watching the event live, a number of sideshows were going on. The Government side had managed to poach a small number of ODM MP�s and were expecting a razor thin margin of victory.
What they did not know is that ODM had not been asleep, and with the strategic genius of Raila, had also managed to poach some Government MP�s to their side. Two of them are Government MP�s who had an axe to grind with Kaparo from the previous house.
Our sorce has confirmed that Were was among those who had been �poached� by Government. This was achieved through a prominent Luhya MP who spent long hours with Were in the days before Parliament opened.
Money is understood to have changed hands, and promises of a �big seat�. Were was seen as a good catch because, as a Nairobi MP and former councillor, he stood a chance of influencing councillors to be sympathetic to Government in the forthcoming mayoral elections. His grassroot influence is considerable and the Government has also been keen to bring on board various ODM �liberals�.
Unfortunately for Were, this plan had been suspected. In the final round, he went ahead and voted for Kaparo, unaware that the ballot was not so secret after all.
The strategically seated diminutive George Khaniri was carefully monitoring every ODM vote, and Were�s �betrayal� was duly noted by him. Khaniri was entrusted with this job since he is a diehard loyalist of Raila, having been given an ODM certificate inspite of losing the nomination.
Khaniri reported Were�s vote to the ODM top brass, and the implications of his plans of co-operation with the Government now became obvious.
Whether this �betrayal� led to his death remains a matter for speculation now.
By Ouko Odhiambo
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ODM blocked from addressing AU

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008

ODM barred from addressing the AU meeting

African Union (AU) Commission chairman, Mr Alpha Konare, said the Opposition would not be allowed to address the Summit on the ongoing violence in Kenya.ODM Secretary-General, Prof Anyang Nyongo, said on Monday that party leader, Mr Raila Odinga, would have liked to be given an opportunity to address the gathering of African leaders to solidify the AU mediation.

“We should be allowed to address the Summit if Kibaki is allowed to attend. But we are not going to hassle. If Raila attends, it should be in a dignified manner,” Nyongo told journalists in Addis Ababa.

Foreign Affairs minister, Mr Moses Wetangula, met with Konare on Monday to discuss the post-election violence in the country.

Asked to elaborate on the details of his meeting with Konare, Wetangula said: “The AU Commission President has re-affirmed that Kenya will send only one legitimate delegate. The Opposition will not be represented here. They attempted to attend, but were turned away.”

Wetangula on Tuesday addressed a special seating of the AU Foreign Ministers committee at which he admitted “both sides” (PNU and ODM) had been involved in the ongoing political violence.

“It takes two to tango. The violence is by both sides,” he said.

Sources at the meeting said his report was not immediately discussed because the update was slotted in before the ongoing discussions on the AUs financial accounts were complete.

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Kenyan MP shot by police

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008

Ainamoi MP shot dead

Published on January 31, 2008, 12:00 am

Ainamoi MP David Kimutai has been shot dead. sources at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital said the body of the late MP is lying at the hospitals mortuary. The late MP is said to have been killed by a police officer in Eldoret. Also shot was a female companion who is currently in ICU in at the hospital. The legislator was shot outside an Eldoret hotel. Reports from Eldoret indicate that members of public have jammed the Moi Teaching and Referral mortuary following the incident.

The late Kimutai was elected on an ODM ticket in the December 27 general election. Before plunging into politics he was a former Boywek Secondary School principal.

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Kenya on the brink of collapse

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008

<<kenyan-leaders.jpgFaces that hold key to Kenyas future

By Standard TeamThe fate of the country appeared to lie with the Big Six picked by bitter rivals PNU and ODM to sit around former UN chief Kofi Annans mediation table.On Wednesday night, the Party of National Unity (PNU) side that hinges around Justice minister, Ms Martha Karua, Education minister, Prof Sam Ongeri, and Mbooni MP, Mr Mutula Kilonzo, were understood to be still studying the Annan talks framework and terms of reference. It was yet to complete its report.

However, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) side, led by Pentagon members, Mr Musalia Mudavadi and Mr William Ruto, and MP, Dr Sally Kosgei, are said to have concluded and submitted their report to the Annan team.

The Standard reliably learnt that four items top the agenda to be tabled in the Annan mediated talks between President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga. They include immediate action to stop violence and restore fundamental rights and liberties.Talks will also centre on measures to be taken to address the unfolding humanitarian crisis and promotion of reconciliation and healing.Discussions on the political crisis would include power sharing, constitutional review and reform of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK).

But with a political settlement for the disputed December 27 presidential election still far off the radar and with a breakdown of law and order threatening the very fabric of the nation, police issued a shoot-to-kill order.

Already, the Government has partially involved the military in restoring order in spots perceived as highly volatile as the crisis that has claimed more than 800 lives and displaced at least half a million continued to spiral out of control.

On Tuesday, military helicopters swooped on marauding gangs in Naivasha, which witnessed perhaps the worst flare after Nakuru at the weekend.

The shoot-to-kill order outlined the categories of law-breakers the police will target.

“There are four categories of people who will face tough police action: Those looting property, burning houses, carrying offensive weapons and barricading roads,” AFP quoted a commander of police, who sought anonymity, as saying.

The officer added: “We have orders to shoot to kill these categories of people if they are caught in the act.”

On Wednesday night, Commissioner of Police, Maj-Gen Hussein Ali, said police were now under instructions to “enforce the full force of the law”.

“Any person found engaging in these crimes (as categorised above) must be prepared to face the full force of the law. Police will take robust action at all times to protect the lives and property of Kenyans in accordance with the law,” the top cop said in a statement.

The order was conveyed to all police commanders a day after Annan launched crisis talks between President Kibaki and Raila.

The shoot-to-kill order followed an announcement by President Kibaki that officers would “firmly” deal with criminals who destroy property or breach the peace.

Earlier, Raila had expressed concern over what he described as an unofficial shoot-to-kill order being “applied selectively”.

“There is a shoot-to-kill order which is being selectively applied in parts of the country friendly to ODM,” the Langata MP said. “Illegal gangs are enjoying the backing of police in Kibera and perpetrating violence.”

Marauding militia gangsThe last 24-hours saw post-election crisis intensify in some areas, with at least 15 people killed and thousands evicted as an uneasy calm returned to some of the worst hit towns.Kibera remained a boiling point, with at least 10 people killed in the past two days by militias, who took over parts of the slum.

The main highway to western Kenya remained unsafe, with armed gangs taking over sections of it.

Internal Security minister, Prof George Saitoti, gave an assurance that police would intensify highway patrols and provide armed escort to convoys heading to Uganda.

But even as Saitoti spoke, Kikuyu township exploded into violence as marauding militias evicted members of some communities, blockaded roads using boulders, lit bonfires and robbed motorists at will.

Police responded using batons and teargas.

“We have decided to act tough on those manning extortionist roadblocks. We have put in place measures to make sure our roads and those that link us to Uganda and other countries are cleared of any interference,” Saitoti said.

Adding to Saitotis voice was Defence Permanent Secretary, Mr Zachary Mwaura, who said the military would continue operating within the law under their mandate according to the Military Act.

Mwaura said the Government had made arrangements to provide military escort to trucks and trains carrying goods.

But there was no sign of security at Kikuyu, where most of those evicted from tea plantations near Limuru headed into local police stations with their belongings.

At least 6,000 evictees, including women and children, jammed the Tigoni Police Station where others have been sleeping in the cold under freezing temperatures in one of the most chilly highlands.

Nakuru District remained volatile as three more people, including a child, were killed and scores others injured in a night-long orgy of violence that hit villages in Njoro.

Following the attack, hundreds fled their homes, with a large group camping at Egerton University Njoro Campus.

In Juja, one person was shot dead at Gachororo as police battled youths evicting non-indigenous residents.

Police had to intervene on Monday night when raiders stormed homes of people from other communities and shot a youth dead.

In Nandi North District, a man was killed and a police vehicle set on fire after security personnel confronted a mob that was set to invade Kaiboi Technical Institute on Monday night.

A deputy OCPD was held hostage for more than 36 hours by angry youths who barricaded the college at 8pm, claiming the students were members of an outlawed sect.

Meanwhile, the crisis of the displaced kept rising, with some refugee camps stretched dangerously. A major crisis loomed in two camps hosting more than 8,000 people in Naivasha after three days of chaos.

At the Naivasha GK Prison, where more than 5,000 victims were camping, there were no washrooms or clean water yet more kept streaming in.

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Displaced persons will be catered for by the State

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008

President launches humanitarian fund

Written By:pps

President Mwai KibakiWednesday launched the National Humanitarian Fund For Mitigation of Effects And Resettlement of Victims Of Post-2007 Election Violence.

Speaking during the launch of the endowment fund that will have an initial capital allocation of one billion Kenya shillings at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, President Kibaki said that the fund will assist those whose lives have been shattered by the recent violence.

He pointed out that fund will address the plight of Kenyans whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the violence by catering for their basic needs and by providing the support needed to enable them reconstruct and restart their normal lives.

“The object and purpose of this fund is to provide funding for the resettlement of persons displaced as a result of the violence; the replacement of basic house-hold effects destroyed as a result of the violence as well as providing the resources needed to enable victims of the violence to restart their normal lives,” President Kibaki said.

The President said the fund will also provide funding for the reconstruction of basic housing, rehabilitation of community utilities and institutions destroyed as a result of the violence, adding that the fund shall consist of monies appropriated by Parliament as well as grants and donations.

In view of resource constraints, President Kibaki appeal to the country’s development partners, relief organizations and men and women of goodwill to assist the Government in meeting the needs of those affected by contributing generously towards the fund.

He also appealed to all Kenyans to extend a helping hand, in cash or kind, to their brothers and sisters currently suffering as a result of the violence.

The President observed that the violence that has been experienced in the country in the last few weeks has resulted in a serious humanitarian crisis that is unprecedented in the history of the country.

President Kibaki said: “Over 800 Kenyans’ lives have been lost. The senseless violence has also forced nearly 300,000 Kenyans to flee from their homes. Indeed, during my visits to console displaced persons in Cherangany, Eldoret and Burnt Forest, I was dismayed by the suffering of these innocent Kenyans.”

“I am particularly saddened to note that children and women have borne the worse effects of the violence,” the Head of State added.

Saying his Government is fully aware that addressing the humanitarian crisis is treating the effects rather than the real cause of the problem currently afflicting the country, the President stressed that he will remain fully committed to the national dialogue being spearheaded by Kofi Annan, Benjamin Mkapa and Graca Machel.

“As I clearly pointed out yesterday during the launch of the process aimed at addressing the political situation in our country Kenya, I reiterate my unwavering support and that of my entire government to this process,” President Kibaki said.

He urged all other parties to uphold the same commitment in order to work out long-term solutions to the underlying issues that have caused the current crisis.

While the national dialogue process moves on, the Head of State appealed to all leaders and Kenyans in general to maintain peace, law and order.

President Kibaki particularly urged politicians and their supporters to avoid making pronouncements or engaging in violent activities and instead to commit themselves to maintaining and promoting peace in the country.

The President also encouraged leaders at all levels of society to reach out to their followers and preach peace.

On its part, the President said his Government will not waver on its statutory obligation to maintain law and order, adding that those who have no respect for human life or private property will not be tolerated.

He said the Government will not hesitate to take strong measures against those who attempt to create or perpetuate situations of insecurity in order to loot property belonging to others.

“Moreover, our country believes in the rule of law, and therefore those who are victims of violence should not take the law into their own hands, but should report the perpetrators to the law enforcement authorities,” President Kibaki said.

President Kibaki, once again, assured Kenyans that the country’s security agencies are under strict orders to take stern and firm action against those financing, inciting and engaging in actual acts of violence and sabotage.

He thanked the United Nations Agencies and all those who have already contributed towards addressing the humanitarian crisis in the country.

The President also commended the Kenya Red Cross, who have been the Government lead agency in offering humanitarian assistance in the affected areas.

Other speakers included Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Special Programs Minister Dr. Naomi Namsi Shaban.


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Former president Moi still in hospital – to receive more attention

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008

Moi to spend more days in hospital

Written By:Margaret Kalekye

Former president Daniel Arap Moi will have to spend more days in hospital where he has been admitted for the last two days.

Moi was admitted to Nairobi Hospital on Monday after suffering severe pains on the left side of his lower back.

He was expected to leave the hospital on Tuesday.

Doctors at the hospital however say Moi will remain at the hospital for purposes of closer monitoring and also continue with physiotherapy.

His personal physician Dr Silverstein said Moi’s condition may be as a result of old age or an injury he suffered following a road accident two years ago.

He however assured that the former president was in good shape.

No one including politicians has been allowed to visit the former president in hospital.

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John Edwards drops out of the US presidential race

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008

Now is the time for the democrats to decide who will lead them into the coming elections. If they want to win the race to the White House, the democrats must choose wisely.

The question is hot. Is America ready for the first woman president – Mrs Hillary Clinton? or Is it ready for the first black president – Mr Barack Obama?

This is going to be a challenge for America. In order to avoid getting a black man to lead them, Americans may even go accross party lines and give a white man to lead them. This will happen if they do not want to have a woman leader, in a case where the democrats will decide against a Clinton again.

John Edwards was a charmer not a heavyweight and he was bound to drop out of the race. The last time he went for the seat, he also decided to drop out and bck John Kerry hoping to get the vice presidency – that did not work.

This time it remains to be seen how he will go forward. Will he support Clinton or Obama and instead demand to be a running mate? Power can make people crazy and willing to do anything anytime in an effort to climb to the top.

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LRA and Museveni government resume talks

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008

Kampala (Uganda) The government and the rebels of Lords Resistance Army (LRA) sign a new ceasefire agreementthat is expected to largely pave way for the resumption of the South Sudan mediated peace talks in the provincial capital Juba.

“When we resume the peace talks in Juba tomorrow (Wednesday) we shall renew the Cessation of hostilities Agreement for a limited time,” Internal Affairs Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda told a press conference at the Media Centre yesterday. The current ceasefire agreement which will be extended for a fourth time today was supposed to expire on tomorrow. The talks between the government and the rebels of LRA led by Joseph Kony have been on and off since the negotiations to end the two decade rebel insurgency in Northern Uganda opened in Juba in June 2006.

“President Museveni has accepted that we can continue with the peace process and that we can agree on addendum to extend the ceasefire agreement to create a better environment for the peace process,” Dr Rugunda, who is the government head of the negotiating team with the rebels said. The talks resume months after the killing of Vincent Otti, the LRA deputy commander and a key player in the peace process. Pundits had predicted that Otti’s killing could deal a big blow to the peace process.

On Sunday, Uganda, DRC and Monuc reached an agreement that UN and the DRC gives Kony a January 31 deadline to leave Garamba, but the signing of an addendum to the ceasefire agreement today would imply a stay of action. Dr Rugunda said the government welcomed the new leadership of the LRA peace delegation headed by David Nyekorach Matsanga, after Kony recently fired Martin Ojul who has been the head of his negotiating team.


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The Zimbabwean opposition seems to have been caught off balance by the announcement that joint presidential and parliamentary elections will go ahead on March 29.

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008

Harare (Zimbabwe) – As the opposition agonises over tactics, the Zimbabwean president pre-empts any compromise by setting an election date.

The Zimbabwean opposition seems to have been caught off balance by the announcement that joint presidential and parliamentary elections will go ahead on March 29. When President Robert Mugabe announced the poll date on January 25, he demolished all hope that the election might be delayed until a new constitution was agreed. The postponement was a key demand that the opposition had been pressing for in the negotiating process mediated by the South African Development Community, SADC, aimed at ending the countrys political and economic crisis. The mediation effort is being led by South African president Thabo Mbeki.

The decision came as the divided opposition Movement for Democratic Change. MDC, already appeared to be struggling to find a clear strategy. Shortly before the election date was announced, the party had decided to devote its energies to organising mass action to push for a new constitution. It announced a freedom march through the streets of Harare to press for a constitution that would guarantee free and fair elections, and for a postponement of the election.

Police refused permission for the march, and waded in with riot gear to break it up when supporters assembled on January 23. Morgan Tsvangirai, who leads the bigger of two MDC factions, was detained briefly to stop him taking part, but he and others were able to attend a large rally in a Harare stadium later the same day. The MDC decided to resort to mass mobilisation because it felt the ruling ZANU-PF was backtracking on agreements reached during the SADC-brokered talks.

Since this new approach came only two months before what was already anticipated as a likely poll date, some observers asked why the MDC had waited so long before identifying this as their strategy.
After Mugabes announcement, everything changed again. The MDC said it would make a formal decision later this week on whether to take part in the ballot or stage a boycott. Earlier this month, Tsvangirai said his faction would not run in the election if ZANU-PF refused to accede to its demands at the talk. The two factions have also indicated that they are getting closer to a position where they might reunite. The groups led by Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara divided in late 2005 over the issue of participating in an election to a newly-reconstituted upper house of parliament.

Watching the opposition parties, it has been hard to discern a sense of urgency ahead of these crucial elections. Lovemore Madhuku, who chairs the National Constitutional Assembly, a non-government group that has consistently pressed for an all-new constitution, has accused the MDC of opportunism, arguing that the document it had drafted had been seen only by the two MDC leaders, the SADC negotiators and a few others but not by members of the public who were being asked to go on marches.

In any case, he said, the MDC had undercut its own position by tactically aligning itself with ZANU-PF on some issues, notably when its members of parliaments supported a controversial constitutional amendment in September, and subsequent changes to repressive security legislation. They are not serious on these issues. They are not even targeting ZANU-PF but civil society, whose support they lost after they endorsed Constitutional Amendment No. 18 and agreed to cosmetic changes to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Public Order and Security Act, said Madhuku.

They are just opportunists. What they are calling for is a new constitution that is not people-driven. How can they ask people to press for a document that they have not seen? This shows they are not serious. What would people be supporting? Even civic society has not seen that document. Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the Tsvangirai faction, has said the transitional constitution agreed with ZANU-PF during the talks was drafted is only intended to ensure fair elections, after which a genuinely people-driven constitution will become possible.

Non-partisan observers have accused the MDC of vacillating between reaching an accommodation with the Mugabe government over the constitution, and calling for mass protests and possibly boycotting the election altogether. According to these critics, the MDCs position is neither focused nor transparent. The reason the MDC wants the elections postponed, we are told, is because they want the transitional constitution to take root. In other words this is not about a referendum to give the people of Zimbabwe a chance to craft their constitution. It is all about swapping horses to State House, said a recent editorial in the Zimbabwe Independent.

How can a make-or-break document about the future of Zimbabwe be drawn in secrecy and we are expected to merely endorse it? A journalist who writes for an international media outlet added that the MDC should tell people what it really stands for and focus on those issues. As the journalist, who did not want to be named, told IWPR, victory will not be given on a silver platter. The MDC needs to accept that there is no way that ZANU-PF will level the playing field so that the MDC can take over. It has to come up with strategies that can work in this environment, he said. Opposition parties have won in worse environments, even in a war situation, and boycotts are not the solution. As the Zimbabwe Independent put it, Given the dithering and prevarication in opposition ranks, one gets the impression that it is the Americans who are voting in March and Zimbabweans in November.

*Marvelous Chigora is the pseudonym of a journalist in Zimbabwe.


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Violence causes chaos for Kenyan families

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008


Nearly all my first lessons to my students at whatever level begin with the famous story of the elephant and the six blind men.

The story is so simple that my postgraduate students often wonder at my simple thinking. But for me, the story best prepares the student, very much like a soldier prepares himself for war, not just for the academic life, but also for real life. The story goes: Some six blind men had an encounter with an elephant. The first man felt the tail of the animal, the second one the leg, the third the sides, the fourth the ear, the fifth touched the tusks and the last one touched the ?..Then the blind men began a discussion on how the elephant looks like.

The first mand said that the elephant is like a branch of a tree but the second one said it is not like a branch of tree but actually like a tree trunk. The third man laughed at the first and the second and said that the elephant is neither like a branch of a tree nor like trunk for it is like a flat rough wall. But the fourth man interjected dismissing all others as wrong, saying that the elephant is like a winnowing basket. Then the fifth man laughed out loudly saying that his colleagues had not properly felt the elephant as the animal is like two big carved horns, but even before he finished describing, the sixth man interrupted to disagree with everyone else and say that the elephant is like a long trumpet.

The moral of the story is that there are many perspectives to reality. It all depends on where you are standing. All the blind men were right in their perspectives because each was accurately describing the elephant from what he felt. However, all of them were wrong because the elephant has all these perspectives. To get to the truth, it is necessary to get as many perspectives as possible in order to see the whole picture. Nothing could be truer than this in explaining the current situation of violence in Kenya.

Many would want to argue that the suspected rigging of presidential vote is the cause of the violence. But this is only one aspect of reality. The presidential vote only sparked off the violence. The truth is that there are deep seated issues related to historical injustices such as of land distribution. But these issues of historical injustices are not the only issues. There are also issues of selfish political leaders, who seek to get or retain power at all costs, even at the cost of their supporters lives.

One wonders how they succeed to throw a whole country into such chaos and the answer lies in another perspective: there are many unemployed, poor, hopeless, and frustrated youths for whom an opportunity of violence is a win situation for them because they have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. They can loot, they can release their frustrations even when it is misdirected at their fellow poor youth, or to the police, and they can entertain themselves by harassing the rich, who they are jealous of and sometimes attribute their situation to their riches.

But of course there is also a good number of youth who are not necessarily frustrated or hopeless, but are simply ignorant and therefore easily misused by political leaders. And we cannot leave out the question of tribalism. The dichotomy between them and us is clear in Kenya today though the lines are not so clear as they naturally keep expanding.

The truth is that once we start discriminating against people on the basis of identity, there is no end to it. We can go down to discriminating on the basis of clans and deeper into families and eventually into individuals. In short, the reason the truth seems blurred in Kenya today and everyone is blaming everyone else, is that we have six blind men: Kibaki (and all around him), Raila (and all around him), the media, the international community, the religious leaders, and therefore the led (the people), are describing the situation from where they stand.

The truth is that we are all part of the problem and therefore part of the solution. For as long as we remain imprisoned by our selfish interests, egoistic ethnic, political and religious identities, we will never see the truth and we will never be free. For the truth is in the whole picture!

*Eunice Kamaara is a professor of Religious Studies at Moi University, Eldoret.

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Women left out – not considered as equals in politics by the political heavyweights

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008


Women have decried their exclusion from the ongoing mediation to end post-election violence.

The chairperson of the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK), Ms Isabella Karanja, said Kenya had ignored the United Nations Security Council resolution that supports womens participation in mediation.
In 2000, the UN adopted resolution 1325, which stressed the importance of womens involvement as active agents of peace and security.

“We are over 50 per cent of the population, but we have been marginalised and now we are requesting for an audience,” Karanja said. Addressing journalists at a city hotel, Karanja said they were holding talks with the national steering committee on how they could be represented in the talks. Former chairlady of the Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation, Mrs Zipporah Kittony, said women have been undervalued and under utilised in the ongoing mediation talks.

Kittony appealed to women in both ODM and PNU to set aside their differences and jointly call for cessation of violence. “The crowds are hostile on the ground and as mothers we are appealing to all Kenyans to stop this violence,” Kittony said. She said it was an embarrassment for a country that had attained its independence 46 years ago to behave this way. She said what took place since December 31 was difficult to comprehend, adding that the economy was declining.


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Recovering money – Transparency Initiative

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008

Abuja (Nigeria)- President Umaru YarAdua on Tuesday said that the Federal Government had recovered more than $1bn(about N115.81bn) from the oil sector through probes by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

The President disclosed this while inaugurating NEITI National Stakeholders Working Group in Abuja. The NEITI NSWG ensures due process and transparency in all payments and receipts made between the Federal Government and operators in the extractive industry. YarAdua noted that the government had benefited from its decision to check corruption in the extractive industry by signing on to the Transparency Initiative four years ago.

He said, We signed on to the EITI four years ago with a view to boosting our fight against corruption in all its ramifications. I am glad to state that NEITI has recorded major achievements in its four years of operations. Among other accomplishments, it commissioned and popularised the first comprehensive audit of the petroleum sector from 1999 to 2004; conducted studies that swelled governments coffers by over $1bn; and catapulted our country into a leading position among countries implementing the EITI.

The President tasked the new NEITI working group to live up to the standards of its predecessors under the leadership of the World Bank Vice-President for Africa, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, and Dr. Silyan Malomo.
The President also stressed the importance of NEITI to the realisation of his administrations plans for the country. He said, Given its specific mandate which is the promotion of transparency and accountability in the management of revenues from the oil and gas, as well as the mining sectors of the economy, NEITI is critical to the realisation of our developmental and national restoration objectives.

Today, the extractive sector approximates the soul of our economy, with the petroleum sub-sector alone accounting for more than 40 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product and over 80 per cent of our foreign earnings. The obvious centrality of the sector to our national economy makes the transparent, efficient and prudent management of revenues from our extractive industries imperative. He pledged his administrations readiness to partner with NEITI in the discharge of its mandate.

The President added that his administrations resolve to fight corruption and follow the rule of law was not mere propaganda. Fighting corruption is, for us, not just a rating-boosting or public relations gambit. Rather, it is a manifestation of our unequivocal commitment to delivering on our social contract with the people of Nigeria as encapsulated in our seven-point agenda, YarAdua said. The Head of the NEITI, Prof. Asisi Asobie, in his response said, We cannot perform these tasks effectively if we are corrupt.

He promised that the new working group would go a step further than its predecessors by making timely public disclosures of payments, receipts and application of revenue from the extractive industries.
Asobie said, We are determined too to ensure that NEITI transcends periodic auditing and makes public disclosures of payments, receipts, and application of revenue from natural resources a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly regular and timely routine for extractive industries, companies and Nigerian governments alike.

We are also determined to ensure that the revenues accruing to the nation from extractive industries are maximised, while the costs borne by the nation in terms of expenditure on the sector, environmental damage and associated health hazards are minimised. The former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities added that NSWG would look at outstanding issues in the industry.

He said, We shall implement the NEITI Act faithfully. We shall have a work plan, an action plan, which is embedded in a strategic plan. We will not however neglect outstanding issues, such as the remediation of deficiencies and incapacities of certain public agencies charged with regulating the oil and gas industry, as identified by the NEITI auditors in their reports which cover the years 1999-2005.


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Peace agreement signed – But how long will it last?

Posted by African Press International on January 31, 2008

Goma (Congo DRC) – A peace agreement signed between the government and the various armed groups active in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including the faction led by dissident general Laurent Nkunda, marks an important step towards restoring peace and stability in the region, according to analysts.

“I think this agreement will succeed because one person who could block it, President Joseph Kabila, has agreed to sponsor it and was present at the closing ceremony,” Dieudonne Kalindye, professor of law at the University of Kinshasa, told IRIN. Kalindye said he was encouraged by the willingness of Nkundas National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) to transform itself into a political party without having to worry about the legal consequences of its insurrection. The government agreed, at the insistence of the CNDP and other armed groups, to bring to parliament a draft law on amnesty for insurgency. War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, however, will be excluded from the legislation.

The agreement, signed 23 January in the North Kivu capital, Goma, included an immediate cessation of hostilities, disengagement of troops and the creation of a buffer zone. In his speech after signing the accord, Kabila said peace could not be attained without dialogue and forgiveness after so many years of war but he stressed that justice would come sooner or later, with the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, agreed almost unanimously at the conference. “From this perspective, justice and law are indispensable because they are the balance that will restore trust in our institutions and check the machine that has produced looters, rapists and warlords,” said Kabila.

That statement raised eyebrows among many, with some saying it could put doubts in the minds of some parties about the government’s commitment to reconciliation. Other observers, however, said Kabila’s remarks should not be feared because all he wanted was to emphasise the importance of law and order. “This should reassure everyone that the DRC is moving towards a state of law and the government has not waived its commitment to amnesty,” said Kalindye.

“All parties – the government, CNDP and Mai Mai [traditional warriors] have agreed one thing – that war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide must not be pardoned,” said Anneke van Woudenberg, senior researcher on the DRC for Human Rights Watch. She, like Kalindye, said people who may be prosecuted for crimes that are actionable by the International Criminal Court in The Hague could be found on all sides of the civil war in the DRC. “Nkunda, like any other person, is presumed innocent until proven guilty by competent courts,” said Kalindye. “In all successive wars since [the overthrow of] Mobutu Sese Seko, acts of war have received amnesty. The Goma agreement continues the same principle. What is important now is peace, the end of the war, the return of the displaced and refugees, stability of the region and development.”

The government in Kinshasa issued an arrest warrant for Nkunda in 2007 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. There are unconfirmed reports that this warrant has lapsed and will not be renewed.
“There is a need for a proper inquiry into all violations that have been committed in the DRC. Justice will come, it takes time, and we must be reassured that it will come one day,” said Van Woudenberg. She said the successful implementation of the Goma agreement would depend on the goodwill of neighbouring Rwanda, which has been accused of supporting Nkunda, a charge it has repeatedly denied. A Hutu-dominated armed group that fled Rwanda after the 1994 genocide, the Forces Dmocratiques de Libration du Rwanda (FDLR), has also been party to the conflict in the eastern DRC, and according to Van Woudenberg, the FDLR issue should be dealt with according to the provisions of an agreement signed in the Kenyan capital in November. Under the Nairobi agreement the FDLR should be disarmed and its members repatriated to Rwanda. The Goma accord was signed by 40 parties, including representatives of international organisations and the US, who are required to adhere to the rules of international humanitarian law and human rights.

The agreement also provides for the return of DRC refugees living in neighbouring countries under the supervision of a tripartite committee of the UNs Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the DRC government and countries of asylum – Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. The return and resettlement of internally displaced people to their villages would be overseen by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN Mission in Congo (MONUC) and other humanitarian organisations. “I do not believe the victims were adequately represented in the agreement. But there is a section which refers to the need for the displaced to return home, respect for human rights, for the respect of the refugees as well. But now, they must be at the centre of discussions – the refugees, the displaced, because it is they who must return home,” stressed Van Woudenberg. Fighting in eastern DRC has, according to UNHCR, displaced an estimated one million people since 2006. Various clashes have pushed more than 300,000 Congolese to neighbouring countries while the DRC itself is host to almost 300,000 refugees who have fled war in neighbouring countries.

The reaction to the agreement from Goma residents was mixed. “I am indifferent. I prefer to ignore everything because those who have signed the agreement fought for their own self-interest. Both the government and rebel camps may sign peace today and take up arms again tomorrow according to what suits their interest,” said Ntabira Mangaribi. “What we fear is that when the insurgents are awaiting amnesty, the president has said that justice is imperative. This declaration made after the signing of the agreement can make Nkunda and other armed groups feel concerned that charges of war crimes or crimes against humanity could be brought against them and resume the war to evade justice,” said Bushiri Ngongo, a hotel manager in Goma.

“The signatories were sincere,” said Jerome Buyama, a book seller. “I think the war is over because they are all in agreement. It will be good that our displaced brothers and the refugees are beginning to go back to their communities of origin. I am not afraid, I have confidence,” he added.


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