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Archive for May 5th, 2008

The Mt Kenya elites are the main cause of the current bloodshed and land crisis in the country

Posted by African Press International on May 5, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no

Story from Rev Okoth Otura
The current resettlement of IDPs in Rift Valley is short term political bandage:

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The presidency: Kibaki succession war is on

Posted by African Press International on May 5, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.standard.ke

Kenya after Kibakis presidency

Story by Sunday Standard Team

Because President Kibaki is serving his second and final term, his legacy may be uniquely defined by the succession wars building up around him. Signs are out the combatants, some reluctantly crammed into the Grand Coalition by circumstances beyond their control, have staked out their claim. The portfolio and protocol wars are signs of the undercurrents in Kibakis backyard both within his Party of National Unity and Prime Minister Raila Odingas Orange Democratic Movement. Little is said about it but behind the mask, post-Kibaki era is on the lips.

The Grand Coalition as propped up by the National Accord is transient. The real battle is ahead and the leaders are buying time, while oiling their war-machines. It is probably the lull before the storm and that is why some ministers around the President who shouted the most, staking out their careers for him, have gone quiet. They are said to be keen on pulling away from his shadow to be judged on their own merit.

In ODM Raila, having come so close, and with the feeling his victory was stolen, will before then be remoulding his electoral machine, while ensuring he keeps on his side the Pentagon. With the executive powers he has, and the appointment of ministers the President cannot fire, including him, it will be a journey in self-reinvention.

That is why Kalonzo, who his party perceives as the presumed rather than heir apparent, given his dismal performance in the General Election last year, has to be dealt with first.

That is how Kilome MP John Harun Mwau could be coming in. Raila nominated him for an assistant ministerial position, though he is not an ODM member. Behind the scenes, he has been a strong supporter of the party and its leadership.

With Water Minister Charity Ngilu, Mwau can be trusted to keep Kalonzo busy in lower Eastern Province. It is a policy of containment and Raila knows he might be meeting Kalonzo in the ring again for what could be the final round and this time without Kibaki.

The protocol wars, on who is higher in the executive hierarchy, burst out of the Kibaki succession. Raila will obviously be fighting to keep the ODM brigade on his side while at the same time winning over some in PNU with the assurance he is neither vengeful nor bound to a particular group.

Kalonzo, on the other hand, will be counting on Kibakis anointment, to reciprocate his joining him in a coalition at the time the President was at his weakest, with the country going up in smoke.

But two things are unlikely; Central Province will traditionally field its own candidate; and Kibaki may in the sunset of his political career, choose to be neutral and so let the boys fight it out. This is reinforced by the perception he never fights anyones war, especially when things are going his way.

Central Kenya heir

Kibaki may want to bequeath the seat to a trusted ally and could be spoilt for choice among the four leading PNU politicians who have made it clear they want a higher profile and Cabinet posts are not enough.

They include frontrunner that is also a party leader Mr Uhuru Kenyatta. Kibaki gave Uhuru a head start by appointing him Deputy Prime Minister. Uhuru has been close, having come second to Kibaki in the 2002 presidential election. His youthfulness could be handy as Kenyans push for a generational change. The only handicap is that he is from central Kenya and it may not be easy for Kenyans to pick the fourth President from a region that has produced two of three since independence.

But as DPM he will be repositioning himself for the duel of his life, when the whistle is blown.

Next, is Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua, who last week declared her name would be on the ballot paper in the 2012 General Election.

For the moment her focus is improving Narc-Kenyas fortunes a party whose profile her backers say was lowered by alliance to PNU.

Sources around her say she is working on a strategy to change her image as a hardliner, a perception reinforced during her stint as one of Kibakis representatives at the Serena Peace talks.

She is also said to be keen on winning the image of a mother figure, with an equally improved image of a national leader.

There is also Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti, the mathematics from the University of Nairobi, and a former Vice-President. Last year he said he was going to support Kibaki but in 2012 he would be in the ring.

Saitoti has deep pockets; has almost outgrown the Goldenberg stigma; and has his roots in the Rift Valley and Central provinces. His friends, too, are well spread out. Though he was not appointed DPM, he has the Presidents ear.

There are those who argue the President could have set off the protocol war, especially by refusing to intervene even as it played itself out before him, to appear to be above the fray. Some observers, however, see peril for both the President and his principal assistant, should they escalate the protocol wars.

For the VP, it will be a journey down a trodden path, littered by ambitions of predecessors who saw themselves as heart beats away from the presidency only to realise how far they were, abandoned or dropped at the convenient time.

Kalonzo, unlike the ODM brigade in the Cabinet, can be replaced at the convenience of the President.

For the President, the peril is that, by presiding over the attempt to undermine the Prime Minister, who gave him a run for his money and has almost equal following across the country, he could spark off a succession battle that would derail the national agenda.

The battle could also render Kibaki a lame duck President too early in his second term, with politicians and their supporters planning for government without him.

Uhuru could be lying low now but he is seen to be the leading contender for the presidency from Central Province. A leadership style that leaves these politicians fighting for space could bury Kibaki early and bog down his agenda and his attempt to salvage his battered legacy.

Fight for supremacy

It is a delicate balance because even if they work together and deliver on the national agenda, credit would most likely go to the President as Head of State and the PM, who is the supervisor and co-ordinator of functions of the Government.

That scenario could also spark battles for supremacy in the coalition, each would-be contender for the presidency angling to be seen to be the one driving that national agenda.

The national agenda, as laid out in the peace accord, focuses on resettlement of the displaced, investigating past abuses through the Justice, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, investigating the Electoral Commission, and atoning for historical injustices.

“If the leaders concentrate on these, the succession battle may wait until, say, three years into the Kibaki presidency, then the fighting for supremacy may begin. If that does not happen, the succession battle may begin soon, as each fights for himself or herself,” a PNU supporter said.

But even those close to the President say it is highly likely that he supports the line up that puts Raila below Kalonzo, although the Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura has been seen to be the one pushing it.

For the VP, the odds are greater. That struggle, which some politicians and legal experts see as unnecessary and instigated, has refocused attention on the explosive number two office, and where it will leave Kalonzo in 2012.

From independence in 1963, the Vice-President has been touted as the Presidents principal assistant, making it look like the holder is president-in- waiting. But the reality is different: Only one holder of the office has become President, and in 2002 Saitoti and Mudavadi who were VPs in the dying months of Kanu, were sidestepped.

The assumption in ODM is that it should remain united for the unfinished business the Presidency. To their advantage they have a solid political movement, not a cluster of parties like PNU. Its leadership line-up is set and its support blocs mapped out.

Over in Kibakis camp, without him in the race it is a scramble. For both parties, and barring the emergence of a third force with the capacity thrice as ODM-Kenya, and however far the election is, the drumbeats of another PNU-ODM war is in the air. The Grand Coalition could just be the changing room players occupy before the next round.

In what they do as members of one government, the eye is on the next election, and it can never be far. It is the war for control of Kenya after Kibaki.

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African Press International – api

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Grand coalition partners dig in for by-elections in five constituencies

Posted by African Press International on May 5, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.nation.ke

Story by MUCHEMI WACHIRA
Barely four months after Kenyans witnessed one of the most heated election campaigns since independence, another competition is fast approaching.

The House in session recently. Political parties go back to the campaigns with by-elections in five constituencies to be held on June 11. Photo/JOSEPH MATHENGE
This time it will be by-elections in five constituencies.

And like what happened during the campaigns for the General Election last year, ODM and PNU protagonists are expected to lock horns as they go flat out to grab the five parliamentary seats.

They are currently preparing the process of nominating their candidates who are supposed to get the nod from the Electoral Commission of Kenya to enter the parliamentary race.

Every party is expected to have completed the nomination by May 27 while elections will be held on June 11.

It is after the ECK clears the candidates that the real battle will begin.

Both PNU and ODM recently entered into a grand coalition that marked the end of political crisis, which almost plunged the country into anarchy.

Election results

The post election violence was triggered by disputed presidential election results and politicians were blamed for having stoked the fire during their campaigns.

Fighting was reported in most parts of the country especially in towns.

During the skirmishes more than 1,200 people were killed while about 350,000 others were displaced from their homes.

Most of the displaced people are still in refugee camps. They cannot return to their farms, as the situation especially in the Rift Valley and parts of Western Kenya has remained volatile.

The country has just begun to heal after signing of the National Reconciliation and Peace Accord at the beginning of March. The accord saw President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga share power defusing the tension that had engulfed the country threatening to tear it apart.

Only two months since the tension started to subside, another election has come.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Kenneth Marende, has already declared the five seats vacant. They are Embakasi, Ainamoi, Kilgoris, Wajir North and Emuhaya constituencies. The Emuhaya seat fell vacant after Mr Marende, who had been elected on ODM ticket, was picked as Speaker.

Once an MP is elected as Speaker, the law requires that he or she immediately resigns from his parliamentary seat.

The Embakasi and Ainamoi seats in Nairobi and Kericho district respectively fell vacant following the deaths of Mr Melitus Mugabe Were and Mr David Kimutai arap Too. The two had been elected on ODM ticket. They were murdered in two separate incidents in January.

But in Kilgoris the ECK nullified results for the parliamentary elections over irregularities. They did the same for Nairobi’s Kamukunji constituency. However ECK’s decision to cancel Kamukunji results has been challenged in court.

In Wajir North constituency ECK ordered a repeat of the elections after two candidates tied.

Mr Ali Abdulahi Ibrahim of Kanu and Mr Mohammed Hussein Gabow of ODM garnered 3,675 votes each.

In such a case the two candidates are required to face of again in an election.

The battle for the five parliamentary seats is expected to be a matter of life and death for both ODM and PNU because they need numbers in the August House.

Currently ODM with 99 MPs is ahead of PNU or the so-called Government coalition (PNU/ODM Kenya coalition).

That is why the party triumphed during the elections of the speaker.

So ODM will use all tricks in their books to retain Embakasi, Ainamoi and Emuhaya seats.

Should they lose any of the three, it will be seen as a big political setback. And it will apparently affect the morale of their supporters.

Retaining Ainamoi and Emuhaya may not require much struggle for ODM. The two constituencies are in the Rift Valley and Western provinces strong holds.

Nevertheless retaining Embakasi and Wajir North and to a lesser extent, Kilgoris will be tricky.

PNU would have easily captured Embakasi seat in December if they had done their assignment well. They lost the seat to ODM after their coalition partners decided to field candidates.

Had they fielded one candidate it would not have been difficult to secure the seat since members of the Kikuyu community who are predominantly PNU supporters are the majority.

Same mistake

PNU also did the same mistake in Kasarani constituency,  Nairobi. Almost all their coalition partners had a candidate who lost to the well-organised ODM.

Will the PNU alliance repeat the mistake?

“This time round we have decided to field single candidates in each of the five constituencies. We are consulting ODM Kenya to join us in identifying one candidate,” PNU secretary general Mr Albert Kamau said.

The party, he said, has formed a by-election steering committee, which will be charged with the work of selecting the best candidate in each of the constituencies.

Despite the move the party principals will have to provide leadership or conduct their preliminaries in a very transparent way.

Only last week Narc Kenya, one of the PNU affiliates announced that they will be fielding their own candidates in the by-election.

The party’s organising secretary, Mr Danson Mungatana, visited Emuhaya last week where he made the announcement.

And he told President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga to keep off the by-election.

Some Kanu leaders were enraged by Mr Mungatana’s statement. Kanu is another PNU affiliate.

“It is Narc Kenya people who messed us up in the December elections since they made us to lose several seats like Wajir North after they fielded their own candidates to compete against those who had been sponsored by the alliance,” Mr David Murathe, a confidant of Kanu chairman Uhuru Kenyatta, said.

“We have all decided that we shall field a single PNU candidate in the five constituencies. But I won’t be surprised if Narc Kenya will let us down,” Mr Murathe said in a telephone interview.

In Wajir North PNU had sponsored Mr Ibrahim. He tied with Gabow of ODM.

Narc Kenya had fielded Ahmed Maalim Omar who is believed to have spoilt chances for PNU.

The PNU secretary-general Mr Kamau is confident that Mr Mungatana will rethink his plan of fielding Narc Kenya candidates in the by-election.

This is a matter we shall sort out. We have even listed him (Mr Mungatana) as a member of the by-election steering committee. So I believe we shall eventually field single candidates in all the five constituencies, Mr Kamau said.

Perhaps it will be easier to convince Narc Kenya not to field candidates against the coalition nominees.

PNU’s problem will be their defiant partner Safina.

Go it alone

The party, which defied a directive by the alliance to take part in joint nominations during the last year’s elections will be fielding candidates independently.

We will go it alone like we did in the General Election, Safina’s national coordinator Mr Dome Wamagata said.

Recently PNU announced that they had picked Mr Ferdinard Waititu as their nominee for Embakasi.

Though ODM is yet to announce their nominee, several candidates have started showing interest.

They include a brother of the slain MP, Mr Julius Were.

Others expected to go for the ODM ticket include Mr Mohamed Sumra. Mr Sumra has been a long-time challenger of former MP David Mwenje who died a month ago.

Should PNU and ODM Kenya combine forces they may frustrate efforts by ODM to retain the seat.

But in politics anything can happen. Recently jailed Mungiki leader Maina Njenga urged followers of the outlawed sect to throw their weight behind ODM.

In Kilgoris, Transmara District, ODM has more following than PNU. Mr Murathe told Saturday Nation that Kanu is trying to compel Mr Julius Sunkuli to step down for Mr Gedion Konchella.

Mr Konchella was the PNU’s nominee in the General Election while Kanu had sponsored Mr Sunkuli. With him and Mr Sunkuli splitting votes, ODM will have an upper hand. In the last elections ODM had sponsored Mr Peter Sapalan.

PNU will also have to put its act together if it hopes to win in Wajir North. Last time it is due to the sharing of votes that the party failed to carry the day.

Ainamoi is one of the constituencies, which was affected by post-election violence.

A big number of voters are still in refuge camps in Nakuru and Naivasha.

At least 22 people have shown interest for the seat.

They include Bureti County Council Clerk Onesmus Langat who has since resigned to try his chance. He is a lawyer.

Others are Retired LT Gen John Koech who is brother to the late area MP, Mr Benjamin Langat who works with Kenya Tea Development Authority, Mr Onesmus Langat, who is a lawyer and a Nairobi businessman Mr Paul Chirchir.

There is also Dr Paul Chepkwony , a senior lecturer at Moi University and Micro LAN Chief Executive David Kitur.

Most of them are in ODM.

Shown interest

In Emuhaya, 35 candidates have shown interest and  22 of them will fight for the ODM nomination.

Campaign for the ODM ticket has already started. PNU is likely to support a Ford Kenya candidate, because the party is popular in the area.

So far the person seen as the favourite to secure the ODM nominations is Wilberforce Angatia. Mr Angatia had during the general elections stepped down in favour of Mr Marende when he lost in the ODM preliminaries. PNU has Julius Sikalo Ochiel who lost to Marende during the December 27 election.

Additional reporting by Solo Kiragu.

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Teachers in Zimbabwe have fled from their schools

Posted by African Press International on May 5, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.IWPR

story by wonder madiro.

Harare (Zimbabwe) – Hundreds of rural schools in Zimbabwe are battling to reopen for the new term this week because most teachers have fled local violence.

War veterans and militias have reportedly unleashed a reign of terror in the countryside, and although many victims are said to be opposition supporters, ordinary teachers have also borne the brunt. Teachers unions say the major targets of the violence are members who were presiding officers during the elections. These are being accused of rigging the elections in favour of MDC (the opposition Movement for Democratic Change), said Raymond Majongwe, secretary-general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, PTUZ.

Our teachers are being targeted by the militia. There is no way that they can go back to such dangerous areas. Timothy Rusere, an English teacher at a rural Mutoko school about 200 kilometres northwest of Harare, is one of the hundreds of teachers who have fled their schools. He said he left after war veterans attacked the school at midnight. They arrived two weeks ago, rounded up all the teachers and started accusing us of supporting the opposition, said Rusere, who is now staying with his in-laws in Harare.

Three teachers known to be active members of the opposition, he said, were severely beaten up, When they said they would come the next day to deal with the rest of us, I knew things were getting bad so the next morning I packed my bags and left. Rusere’s colleagues, who stayed, sustained serious bruises during the attack. They have since fled the school. The prospect of a run-off presidential vote is not helping matters either. The ruling ZANU-PF lost control of the lower house of parliament in the March 29 elections, for the first time since 1980, when Zimbabwe became independent from Britain.

President Robert Mugabe is also widely believed to have lost the presidential election to MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai, even though the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, ZEC, has been holding on to the election results for the past month. Violence ensued in the aftermath of the polls. Hate speeches are being uttered against teachers. Some are being systematically assaulted, said Majongwe. The union said it has told teachers to abandon their schools once threats are made.  PTUZ, which represents about 12,000 teachers, said it would call a national solidarity strike if there were further reports of violence against teachers.

The situation has worsened the crisis in the education sector, which has been hit by a massive brain drain. Reports say 8,000 teachers have left the country since the beginning of the year because of poor working conditions. Thomas Karwe, who teaches mathematics in Dambamadzura in Gokwe, said he was warned by some of his colleagues against coming back to the school because his name was at the top of a hit list.
They said the war veterans had come to the school looking for me, said Karwe. I will not be going back to work until my security is assured.

My workmates tell me that some of the houses at the school have been taken over by militias who are camping there. Teachers have long been regarded as community leaders and opinion makers, particularly in the rural areas, and often they have found themselves the target of militias loyal to the governing party. Mavis Rugare, a teacher from the mining town of Shamva northwest of Harare, was part of a group that fled their homes after an attack by ZANU-PF militia in mid-April.

She narrated her ordeal at the hands of ruling party supporters to members of the media at the offices of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, Zimrights. My house was burnt and everything taken away from me, including my cellphone and teaching items,” she said. Rugare is one of the hundreds of opposition supporters who are seeking refuge at safe houses organised by the MDC. A report released on April 30 by Zimrights told of the extent of violence in both rural and urban areas, where property is being destroyed and people are being displaced and assaulted.

A humanitarian crisis is unfolding and we are hoping other organisations will be able to help. The official number of those displaced so far is about 400 but this is just the tip of the iceberg of what is happening in our country at the moment, said Kucaca Phulu, Zimrights national chairperson. About 300 MDC supporters who had sought refuge at the party offices in Harare were arrested last week but released without charge this week. Our members are being brutalised, said Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesperson.

The MDC said that 15 of its supporters have been killed by followers of ZANU-PF since the March 29 elections. The government, however, has denied that ZANU-PF has been responsible for any of the violence, saying instead that the MDC is the only guilty party. Mugabe’s chief spokesperson, George Charamba, released a statement on April 29 in which he accused the opposition of deliberately stirring up tensions. “There is a flurry of distortions and irresponsible statements which are vainly calculated to heighten tension to spark incidents of politically motivated crimes around the country,” said Charamba.

But human rights organisations have been reporting an upsurge in politically-motivated violence cases throughout the country. The Zimbabwe Peace Project said in its latest report that it had noticed an “alarming increase in incidents of violence and human rights abuses committed by soldiers, adding that accounts by some of the soldiers victims were synonymous with a country at war. For example, an MDC supporter in Uzumba, once a ZANU-PF stronghold, told of how he was nearly castrated by assailants, just because he had chosen to support the opposition party.

*Wonder Madiro is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.

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President Kibaki sacks two judges – they are blamed for misbehaving while execising their duties

Posted by African Press International on May 5, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.nation.ke

Story by JEFF OTIENO

Two High court judges have been sacked after they were found to have engaged in unethical behaviour.

The two judges are Justice Tom Mbaluto and Justice Joseph Vitalis Odero Juma.

The decision was reached after President Kibaki received three reports from the tribunals he appointed to investigate the conduct of judges at his Harambee House office today.

However, Justice Amraphael Mbogholi Msagha was reinstated after the team appointed to investigate him recommended that his suspension be lifted.

The tribunal investigating Justice Mbaluto found him to have engaged in unethical practices and absence of integrity in the performance of the functions of his office. The tribunal added that his behaviour amounted to misbehaviour as provided for by section 62 (3) of the Constitution of Kenya.

The tribunal, therefore, recommended that in accordance with section 62 (5) of the Constitution of Kenya, Justice Mbaluto be removed from the office of Puisne Judge for misbehaviour under section 62 (4) of the constitution, the statement from the President Press Service said.

Members of the tribunal that investigated Justice Mbaluto were, Hon. Lady Justice Jessie Lesiit, as the chair, Hon Lady Justice Hannah Kwengu, Justice Jackton Ojwang, Justice Festus Azangalala and Justice Luka Kimaru.

A different tribunal investigating the conduct of Justice Juma also reached the same verdict. It concluded that of the 12 allegations he faced, nine were proved while three allegations were rejected.

The tribunal concluded that the nine proved allegations disclosed that Hon. Justice Juma was engaged in unethical practices and absence of integrity in the performance of the functions of judge of the High Court of Kenya.

It unanimously recommended that Justice Juma ought to be removed from office under section 62 (4) of the Constitution of Kenya.

The tribunal was chaired by Hon. Justice (Rtd) Abdul Majid Cockar with Hon. Mr. Justice John Mwera, Hon. Mr. Justice Leonard Njagi, Hon. Mr. Justice Daniel Musinga and Hon. Mr. Justice Isaack Lenaola as members.

However, Justice Mbogholi Msagha was the decision of tribunal, derived from its investigations of the facts presented is that the judge should not be removed from office.

Based on the recommendation, the tribunal said the current suspension of Justice Mbogholi Msagha from exercising the functions of his office immediately ceases to have effect.

It cited the provisions of section 62 (6) of the constitution in making its decision.

The tribunal was chaired by Hon Mr. Justice (Rtd) Abdul Majid Cockar . Its members were Hon. Mr. Justice John Mwera, Hon. Mr. Justice Leonard Njagi, Hon. Mr. Justice Daniel Musinga and Hon. Mr. Justice Isaack Lenaola as members.

Speaking after receiving the reports, President Kibaki commended the tribunals for their professionalism and for conducting the investigations expeditiously.

Present were Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua, Attorney General Amos Wako and the Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Ambassador Francis Muthaura.

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African Press International – api

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Liberia: Is our police ready to fight crime? (editorial)

Posted by African Press International on May 5, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.theanalyst.liberia

story by abdoulaye w. dukule.

Just last week, in our article on the visit of UN Secretary General ban Ki Moon visit to Liberia, we wrote that the Liberian police, without the basic logistics such as transportation and communication could hardly be force to combat crime.

With mounting criminality, especially armed robberies, the police, in the absence of social and economic solutions, are the last resort to fight crimes. My argument then was based on our bold perception of the police as well as sporadic contacts and conversation with police officers I offered rides to from time to time. An accident brought me into a police station last week and I saw officers at work and was able to document.

The accident occurred on Sunday afternoon when Emmanuel Dolo with whom I was riding on Tubman Boulevard to pick up Winsley Nanka, near the junction of Catholic Hospital decided to make a U-Turn and we were hit by a taxi that could not stop because of its speed. While we waited for the police to arrive, Emmanuel put the seven passengers in a taxi that drove them to the emergency room at the JFK Hospital. The police arrived in a pickup truck and inspected the scene. By the time we got to the Zone 3 police station in Congotown for the report, it started to get dark and we had all but forgotten about going to the beach. We followed the police officer into the traffic office, a small room with a padlock on the door. When we entered, I was taken aback by the state and small size of the room. There were two broken armchairs, with their upholstery worn out, with a yellowish sponge exposed through the torn plastic cover of undeterminable color. Emmanuel, as the driver, took a seat in a chair facing the policeman. After looking at each other and at the armchairs, Winsley and I felt safer to take seat on a small wooden bench against the wall. The floor in the room was cover with some plastic tile. Piece of the same tile covered the desk.

A yellowish light bulb hung from the ceiling in the middle of the room. Given the state of the wire and cardboard ceiling, it would only take a spark to set the whole place at blaze. On the floor, three old car batteries that seemed to have been out of service since the last days of J. J. Roberts while five tires piled up behind the desk. I asked the officer if they had light because the night was setting in by the minute and he was squinting to read his own notes from an old school notebook. He said there was no electricity at the station. Our generator broke down almost three weeks ago. He reached in his drawer and pulled out a two-inch burned out candle, and said this is my source of light. He sat behind the desk and proceeded to interrogate Emmanuel.

Once we were done, he said we needed to go to the hospital to see the passengers of he other car. He asked if he could ride with us in the taxi we had hired since they had impounded Emmanuels car which had lost one eye and its front fender. I asked him if he could get back there in the police car. He said they only had one vehicle that took officers to various emergency locations and return to base. So if you are victim of a crime, you have to hire a taxi, go to the police station, bring an officer or two with you and then ride with the police and the person who victimized you to the station. He finally took a taxi.

On Monday morning, we reported to the police station at about 8:30. We got there early and waited outside, watching the surrounding. There were at least six cars badly damaged by accident. Three of the damaged jeeps were government vehicles, judging by their license plates. These were expensive late model jeeps, costing in the high US $40,000. It seems that a great part of the government budget goes into buying expensive cars and providing gasoline to officials. It is hard to fathom the logic behind paying someone $12,000 a year and putting in their care a $45,000 car and give them 200 gallons of gasoline a month? Why not pay them well and allow them to buy their own car through a credit system? At least government could make some money collecting duty fees on the cars imported by merchants. And officials would take better care of their own car they paid for.

When the commander arrived, the young lieutenant drew a very precise diagram of the scene of the accident and a blackboard hanging by a thread to the ceiling. He used bits of chalk of different colors that he fished in a small basket. They went through the motion of questioning and finally, the taxi driver admitted going well above the speed limit and was charged with the responsibility of causing the accident. Nanka and I sat quietly and listened to the whole exercise. It was certainly the most professional display of police work. From the diagram to the questions and to the reasoning behind ever step,the commander left nothing to chance and I felt that I was taking a driving lesson. Then when time came to write the report, the commandant left his office and brought a manual typewriter, a relic of the 1960s. I took a walk in the corridors and there was another such machine in another office where a woman was giving a deposition.

It was very apparent that the officer knew what they were doing and talking about. But here is the problem: how could they fight crime, or simply do their job under these working conditions? This is what we wrote about last week: we can have the best trained police in the world but if they dont have the basic logistics, they cannot work. How can a police station in the city of Monrovia not have a small generator to light the building at night and provide current? How does an entire police station function with one vehicle? How do we expect police officers to be typing reports at candlelight? These people did not even have chalk to write with. In the morning, police officers fight like everyone else to find a seat in the overcrowded taxis that ply the dangerous roads of Monrovia. Minister of Justice Philips Banks was on the air and in the newspaper declaring war on crime. He cited the highlights of a great program that looks wonderful on paper and in the air. But as former US Defense Secretary said, you go to war with the army you have and not you expect to have. How much does the Minister know about the moral of his troops?

Did the tough talk of Minister Banks convince the public? Did he scare the criminals? Do our men and women in uniforms have enough incentives to fight crime in its multiple forms? It is too early to draw any conclusion. However, as Minister Bropleh always speaks of change, we must change our attitude towards the police and their role in our society. We cannot train a professional police force and relegate it to the old status. In our candid conversation, one officer told us that they only receive one uniform per year. How many times a person can wear the same shirt every day to go to the same job? In the end, you start to lose respect for yourself. Fighting crime is not just a law enforcement issue, it has several components that all need to be in place for it to be successful. But if we have to rely on the police in the immediate future to deal with the emerging social fear, it must be given the ammunitions to fight.

There is fear in certain quarters about arming the police, because of our recent history of conflict. But we must start at some point to trust them. We cannot wait until UNMIL phases out before giving guns to our police. Sooner or later, the police will be armed. It may be better to try them now while we still have UNMIL than later we are left on our own. Beyond the issue of arms, revamping the police means also providing them with adequate working and living quarters, transportation, uniforms and other logistics needed to protect society. If our police stations continue to function under the current conditions, if our police officers have to stand at street corners and beg for ride or hustle taxi drivers to get home, if the stations lack the basic necessities such as chairs, electricity, computers and chalkboards, we can hardly expect them to fight crime. Fighting crime can only be successful if law enforcers are well trained and well equipped in this world where criminals have access to the deadliest weapons. If we take our security seriously, we must take the police seriously.

Using very graphic images, some legislators called for stiff penalties for arm robbers. There are talks about forming a special armed unit in the police. All that is good and well, but the first line of defense is the community police. And to hang someone, as people are saying, you must first arrest them. To arrest a criminal, you must have a strong and determined police, with the adequate logistics and working conditions.

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African Press International – api

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Insurance watchdog hits road running

Posted by African Press International on May 5, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.nation.ke

Story by JUSTUS ONDARI

The Insurance Regulatory Authority, an autonomous body expected to regulate the country’s troubled insurance industry, has been launched.

 

 

 

Finance Minister, Mr Amos Kimunya (left) listens to assistant minister Oburu Odinga, make a point during the launch of the Insurance Regulatory Authority at the Carnivore Restaurant on Wednesday night. Photo/MICHAEL MUTE

And with its launch, came a warning that to insurers that they must get their act together.

 

Speaking during the launch, IRA chairman, Mr Steve Omenge Mainda, said insurers must conform to international norms and standards under a new risk-based regulatory philosophy.

In a move aimed at improving the industry’s poor image in the eyes of the public following the collapse of several companies such as United, Invesco and Lakestar, Mr Mainda said the insurers must adhere to capital adequacy and solvency requirements.

“IRA will require insurers to match their capital requirements with their appetite for underwriting risks and with the size and complexity of their business,” said the chairman during the launch on Wednesday evening at the Carnivore grounds in Nairobi.

The function was presided over by Finance Minister Amos Kimunya. Also present was his assistant, Dr Oburu Odinga. Mr Kimunya said the authority would enforce good corporate governance, early warning systems and protect  policyholders.

The authority started its operations on May 1, 2007 following the enactment of the Insurance (Amendment) Act of December 2006. IRA takes over from the office of Commissioner of Insurance, a department in the Ministry of Finance set up in 1986.

Mr Kimunya said the authority’s creation is part of the public financial reforms that the government has been undertaking to increase efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery.

The minister urged the authority to replicate the success of other regulatory bodies around the world.

“IRA has the powers and independence necessary for successful regulation of the insurance industry, but with sufficient integration with the industry to allow for a continuous consultation,” said Mr Kimunya.

It joins other regulators in the financial sector – the Central Bank of Kenya, Kenya Revenue Authority, the Retirements Benefits Authority and the Capital Markets Authority.

The insurance industry received a gross premium income of about Sh40 billion last year and also contributed about 2.5 per cent to the GDP.

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African Press International – api

 

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UN should intervene in Zimbabwe, says opposition

Posted by African Press International on May 5, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

The South African Development Community (SADC) must make way for the United Nations to find a solution to the Zimbabwean political impasse, according to Patricia de Lille, the leader of South Africas opposition Independent Democrats (ID) party.

I dont have faith in SADC. The UN does not need the blessing of SADC to intervene in Zimbabwe, she told the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in a live broadcast on Friday.

She said there was a need for the UN, with the backing of the African Union, to help bring a solution to the crisis-ridden country.

Mbekis role as a mediator is questionable. His statement that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe is unforgivable, she added.

She berated the South African governments attempts to block the issue of Zimbabwe being placed before the UN Security Council.

The in-fighting in the ANC (African National Congress party) should not transfer to the UN, she added, accusing Mbeki and the SADC of being an old club not accountable to the people it supposedly represented.

On his part, the opposition Democratic Alliance partys foreign affairs spokesman, Tony Leon, said: South Africas resistance amounts to shameful hypocrisy.

After all, in the 70s and 80s, it was the same ANC which used the Security Council to bring pressure against apartheid South Africa, and explicitly rejected the White racist National Partys argument that in terms of the UN charter, apartheid was a domestic concern.

He added South Africas quiet diplomacy was nothing less than active support for the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe.

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African Press International – api

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Senegal: Pharmacists strike over fake drugs

Posted by African Press International on May 5, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.nation.ke

story by Hamadou Tidiane Sy.

Dakar (Senegal) – The Union of Senegalese Private Pharmacists on Thursday called a seven-hour general strike – from 8 am to 3 pm- to protest against the illegal sale of drugs and increasing attacks on their businesses.

The strike, the first to be called by the union, was widely heeded, with most pharmacies across the country remaining closed, observers said. Illegal sale of drugs is widespread in West Africa, and Senegal is no exception. Medical experts say that drugs sold in these parallel markets in Senegal are worth more than $23.7 million (Sh1.4b) a year. According to the pharmacists, tough action needs to be taken and these illegal sales stopped for both health and economic reasons.

In the heart of the capital, Dakar, for instance, is a compound known as Keur Serigne-bi, where tens of traders illegal sell anything, from aspirin tablets to prescription drugs. The same is done by hundreds of street vendors with no qualification or licence throughout the country. “With its rapid expansion, Touba (a religious city in the centre of Senegal) is fast becoming a major concern,” the union’s deputy chairman, Alioune Kane, said, adding that the problem needed to be dealt with more seriously by the government. .

Some people in Dakar believe that influential people are involved in the parallel drug business, which could make it difficult to eradicate. “Any medicine is dangerous, so our action is also because we are protectors of public health”, Mr Kane told the Nation in Dakar. According to Mr Kane, medical doctors in the country are diagnosing more and more cases of “unknown” or “inexplicable” cases in the country, which might be linked to uncontrolled use of medicine bought from the streets.

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African Press International – api

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Congo DRC: A tentative step to accountability

Posted by African Press International on May 5, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.IPS

Story by Michael Deibert

Johannesburg (South Africa) – The indictment against a militia leader whose alleged abuses span the Democratic Republic of Congo’s war-ravaged east was finally made public at the end of April, almost two years after being delivered under seal to war crimes prosecutors.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) alleges that Bosco Ntaganda “committed war crimes of enlistment and conscription of children under the age of 15”, using the children “to participate actively in hostilities in Ituri, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from July 2002 until December 2003.” Formerly the chief of military operations for the Union des Patriotes Congolais (Union of Congolese Patriots, UPC), Ntaganda now serves as military chief of staff of the Congrs National pour la Dfense du Peuple (National Congress for the Defence of the People, CNDP).

The warrant was made being made public now because it would “not endanger the witnesses of the DRC cases” at the present moment, the ICC said in a statement. The conflict in the DRC’s north-eastern Ituri region, lasting from 1999 until 2007, initially involved the Lendu, a group made up principally of farmers who migrated from Sudan centuries ago, and the Hema: more recent arrivals in the area. Fighting soon spread, however, to encompass other ethnic groups such as the Ngiti, generally perceived as loyal to the Lendu, and the Gegere, seen as supporting the Hema. The bloodshed claimed at least 60,000 lives (see POLITICS-DRC: Cautious Calm Settles Over War-Scarred Ituri Region).

Militias such as the Forces de Rsistance Patriotique d’Ituri (Patriotic Resistance Forces of Ituri, or FRPI) and the Front Nationaliste et Intgrationniste (Nationalist and Integrationist Front, FNI) fought on one side, claiming to defend the Lendu and Ngiti — while the UPC took up the banner of Hema supremacy. Human rights activists welcomed the news of Ntaganda’s indictment. “Ntaganda’s track record from Ituri is atrocious,” said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior researcher at the Africa division of the New York-based Human Rights Watch. “The UPC were an armed group that slaughtered civilians on an ethnic basis and Ntaganda was very much in the thick of that.”

Rights groups believe that Ntaganda is also culpable for crimes not dealt with in the ICC indictment. He is alleged to have served as the overall military commander for the UPC attack on the town of Songolo in August 2002. An estimated 1,500 UPC and allied combatants swept into the village, killing at least 140 people — most of them Ngiti civilians — with firearms, machetes and spears.

The former UPC leader is also thought to have taken a lead role in the November 2002 siege of the gold-mining town of Mongbwalu. During the six-day battle, UPC cadres and allied forces from the Mouvement pour la Libration du Congo (Movement for the Liberation of Congo) of Jean-Pierre Bemba killed at least 200 people in and around the village, including Abb Boniface Bwanalonga — an Ngiti priest affiliated with Mongbwalu parish. Bemba would later unsuccessfully run for the Congolese presidency in 2006.

The unsealing of the indictment against Ntaganda may present the rebel’s new allies in the CNDP with a difficult choice as to his future. This group operates in the mountainous province of North Kivu, directly south of the Ituri region where Ntaganda’s UPC crimes are alleged to have taken place.

Led by Laurent Nkunda, a renegade general and ethnic Tutsi who claims to be defending the rights of Tutsis in the province, the CNDP has engaged in brutal fighting in the region over the last two years. Enemies of the faction run the gamut from army forces loyal to President Joseph Kabila and local paramilitaries such as the Patriotes Rsistents Congolais (Congolese Resistance Patriots), to the Forces Dmocratiques de Libration du Rwanda (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda): a group with its roots in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, comprised mainly of ethnic Hutus with links to the former genocidaires.

A peace deal signed in January provides the CNDP and other signatories with a general amnesty for “acts of war”, but does not cover war crimes and crimes against humanity. By some interpretations this might oblige Nkunda, who was the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by the Congolese government for war crimes, to hand Ntaganda over to the ICC.

Sporadic clashes continue in North Kivu despite the peace agreement, with all sides in the conflict accused of gross human rights abuses. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that since 2003, some 800,000 people have been displaced by fighting in North Kivu out of a population of 4.2 million, or roughly one in five.

“They’re like chameleons,” Van Woudenberg asserts of the architects of eastern Congo’s turmoil. “They change colours, they change groups, but they continue with their brutal and oppressive ways.” Attempts to reach CNDP representatives for comment proved unsuccessful. The arrest warrant against Ntaganda, delivered Aug. 22, 2006, is the fourth issued by the ICC for crimes committed in the DRC. Germain Katanga, a former leader of the FRPI, was arrested in October 2007 for war crimes and crimes against humanity. A former FNI leader, Mathieu Ngudjolo, is also in custody.

Thomas Lubanga, former president of the UPC, now awaits trial on war crimes charges, while a fourth militia leader, the FNI’s Floribert Njabu, is currently in detention in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa. The indictments themselves have proved somewhat controversial, with some Lendu leaders claiming a double standard in having Lendu paramilitary heads charged with crimes against humanity — systematic atrocities — while Hema warlords have been charged only with war crimes. The latter are seen as less serious offences.

“It is clear that what they are charging is not correct; everyone can see it,” said Sylvestre Sombo, political co-ordinator of the newly-minted FNI political party, when interviewed by IPS recently in the Ituri town of Bunia about previous indictments.

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African Press International – api

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