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Archive for May 6th, 2008

Is Raila and Orengo the Kikuyu people’s nightmare? Orengo orders Kikuyus in Rift Valley resettled elsewhere

Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

Story by Korir, Chief Editor, africanpress@getmail.no

Kenya may yet to face the worst conflict ever. Before the last general elections, in our article titled: Kenya: Does Raila Odinga hate the Kikuyu community?, we posed a question whether the then presidential candidate, now prime ministerRaila Odinga liked or hated the Kikuyu people.

Raila Odinga managed to get the ministry of Lands given to ODM and the ministry landed in the hands of James Orengo who belongs in Railas kitchen cabinet.

<James Orengo, the Minister of Lands – the man of his word.

I will use orders and take back grabbed land without consulting the AG; he said recently

Now the IDPs will feel his presence in the cabinet. Who will he give the land that he takes from the Kikuyus who will be forced to go to their ancestral homes? There is danger that as ODM looks forward to the 2012 elections, there is need to have Luo inflax into the Rift Valley locking out the Kikuyu expansionism. Such a move would enable Rift Valley to vote as a block during 2012 presidential elections. ODM may be planning to have Raila Odinga as the President and reward William Ruto as Prime Minister for his sacrifice in joining in the fight against and displacement of, the Kikuyus in the Rift Valley. Most probably, when Orengo demands that the displaced Kikuyus be resettled elsewhere, he is thinking of Mt Kenya area, because we do not think he means Kisumu or Ugenya.

Orengo has now been quoted by the Kenya media that he wants the displaced people in the Rift Valley to be resettled elsewhere in the country. Orengo knows very well that the people displaced due to post-election violence although they originate from many ethnic groups, the largest single ethnic group that has lost their properties and huge businesses are the Kikuyus.

Orengo and Raila are well aware that the Luos in Rift Valley have lost no businesses. They are not business minded people. The Luos you will find in Rift Valley are employees and can easily get jobs in Luo land if someone was to demand that they also be resettled elsewhere. People can easily look or create job opportunities elsewhere if relocated, but establishing a solid business is not as easy as that.

Therefore, the demand that the Kikuyu people who have lost everything be resettled elsewhere by ODM minister is actually calling for a civil war in Kenya.

Promises to Ruto by Raila and ODM hierarchy

<William Ruto, The Minister of Agriculture.

William Rutofought hard for ODM party in the Rift Valley because he was promised to be appointed Prime Minister. Getting the ministry of Agriculture is ideal for him as well considering the fact that ODM did not capture the presidency.

Our sources inside ODM say Ruto may also have been given a promise to get rid of the Kikuyus in the area to give more space for the Kalenjins in order for him to stabilise his power in the region.

When a minister comes out as clear as this, questions arise. What did Raila and ODM promise William Ruto, now the Agriculture minister, during the campaign last year should he deliver votes to ODM and put the party and Raila in power?

Sources tell API that Raila and ODM may have promised Ruto that if he delivers enough votes to give ODM power, the ODM government was going to uproot the Kikuyu community from the Rift Valley. This is something we are unable to confirm and yet it is near true in the sense that ODM is the one bringing up the issue of sending the Kikuyus out of the Rift Valley.

Reading between the lines. The Kalenjins, represented by Ruto are mostly farmers in Rift Valley.ODM may have promised Ruto the Agriculture ministry so that he uses it to influence the farmers in the region in his efforts to become the King of the Kalenjins.

Ruto may in turn assist the Luo community to settle in the Rift Valley and Nakuru in particular where they can take over the position that the Kikuyus have in the region. The plan is for the Luos and Kalenjins to build up a strong relationship aimed at delivering the presidency to Raila in 2012 and the premiership to Ruto at the same time.

Kikuyu IDPs Being removed

Military vehicles and buses are now put in to ferry the larger Kikuyu population out for resettlement. When the US ambassador emphasises thatthe US will assist IDPs who volunteer to be resettled, he is speaking the same language as the minister for lands Mr Orengo.

The media quotes US ambassador Ranneberger saying: People cannot be forced to resettle. The process has to be voluntary and there is urgent need for provisions that will create restoration of their livelihoods, Rannerberger, who was addressing journalists at the US Embassy, said.

Mr Orengo, the lands minister has angered many leaders in Kenya. On Monday, four central Kenya MPs, among them a Cabinet minister, condemned the Lands minister over his call that IDPs uprooted from Rift Valley be resettled in other provinces; the Kenya media reports

If the Kikuyu displaced people agree to be transported voluntarily to their ancestral homes, the US will assist them. But doing so, assisting them to re-establish themselves in the ancestral homes, will that bring prosperity to Kenya or a civil war?

Raila to the US

Raila Odinga (right>) is about to visit the US for discussions on how to strengthen the PMs office. It will be interesting to see if Raila will be accompanied by Ruto and Orengo on his trip to the US capital. The US intention to put help strengthen the PMs office and operations must not be seen as aimed at bringing peace to Kenya. When the US went in to Iraq, they wanted to the oil but the world got a different story. The story that they wanted to strengthen democracy and help the Iraqi people, the same thing Kenya is now being told. Otherwise, why is the US ambassador in Kenya so busy in all circles in the Kenyan politics as if he is one of the Kenyans. It is very sad affair to have a white ambassador running around and telling Kenya what to do. It is a shame that the Kenyan people allow such a thing to continue instead of staging demonstrations to shut the ambassadors voice from roaring all over Kenya. Raila has a mission for the US in Kenya. Let Kenyans not be blinded by diplomacy. When the US takes over Kenya is when the Kenyans will be forced to wake up and fight for a new revolution.

President Kibaki is being sidelined by the US in favour of Raila.. Kibaki is being punished because of his ties with the Chinese. The US is afraid of the Chinese influence that is now being felt in the African continent.

Related stories:

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Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

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

Fear and hope as victims are moved

Story by NATION Team
Fear and hope in equal measure marked the start of the resettlement of internal refugees in Rift Valley.

At Molo DCs offices Monday, scores of people boarded military trucks for the trip back to their homes.

Mzee Ibrahim Githatwa, 76, stood motionless under an old dombea tree as assistant chief Simon Ruai read out names of the refugees.

I am from Keringet in Kuresoi. I have lived there since the (1942) famine of the yams but we had to leave when our houses were burnt in January, he said with a faltering voice.

Lost houses

Mzee Githatwa, a widower and a father of 13 children, all adults, said he lost seven houses in the 1992 ethnic violence. He, together with some of his children, went back to Keringet and built five houses. The houses were, however, burnt down in January.

Four of my children are here and we are ready to go back. We have nowhere else to go. Life has not been easy here. I want to go back to my two acres, said the old man.

Mrs Naomi Njeri Waweru said she was willing to go back to her four-acre piece of land at Kiambogo Farm in Molo. Her husband, a retired education officer, was killed during the January violence.

She said she was now destitute. Her son, who was a third-year student at Sigalagala Technical Institute in Western Province, was hit by an arrow in the ear and has been receiving medical attention ever since. I am willing to join others who are returning to Kiambogo, but I dont know how we shall start life all over again with these problems and uncertainty, she said.

Mrs Mary Nyokabi was returning to her half-acre plot, where she had lived with her 13 children since 1992 when they were evicted from Kericho.

Join the rest

She embraced the Rudi Nyumbani Operation as she did not have any other home. If I had an alternative, that would be a different matter, but as things stand, I have to join the rest.

Mr Dickson Mweresa said he bought two acres at Langweda Farm in Molo in 2006 but his houses were burnt down in January, leaving him and his family of four children destitute.

This camp was a desolate place for a family. We want to go back to our farms and start life afresh, Mr Mweresa said.

Mr Samuel Ayieny of Muteme Farm said he and his family fled to Molo after the three houses he had built on his five-acre piece of land were torched.

I saw my neighbour killed during the attack, but we are determined to go back and see what the future holds for us, he said.

The Molo district commissioner, Mr Katee Mwanza,said that initial arrangements had beenmade to ferry people to only four farms Monday.

The number was later increased to 13 farms after more people expressed willingness to return home.

Eager to return

At the show ground camp in Eldoret, Peter Mbugua said he was eager to return. Though the maize planting season is over, we can take advantage of the rainy season by growing horticultural crops, an upbeat Mbugua says.

Despite being assured by local MPs and the Government of co-operation and adequate security once they return home, some are adamant about not returning.

They say unless their neighbours commit themselves to live with them, they will not go back as yet.

My neighbour shot at me but I was lucky to escape it (arrow). He proceeded to burn down my house and took away my livestock.

How will I live together with him in peace when he is milking my cows while I buy milk from him? It is simply not possible, declared Mzee William Njuguna.

On Sunday, Agriculture minister William Ruto led eight other lawmakers in an interdenominational prayer service at the show ground as a way of preparing the smooth resettlement of the refugees.

The use of security personnel, without addressing the root causes of the recurrent clashes in the province, has been criticised by the regions leaders and residents.

Calls for the release of those arrested on suspicion inciting the chaos have been given as a condition for genuine reconciliation and resettlement.

Some, who are reluctant to return, have adopted a wait-and-see attitude, fearing for their safety.

They are also unhappy due to lack of compensation from the Government. They would be glad to go back after those who are resettled first face no resistance from the local community.

We have not interacted with our former neighbours, and I dont know how they will react to our return. They have demanded that we dialogue together, but this has not happened.

Given what I saw and went through, I will not be the first to go back, Ms Grace Wamaitha said.

A firm assurance of security is the only thing that prevents a hesitant Peter Njoroge from looking forward to his resettlement.

They (provincial administrators) have promised adequate security, but I am concerned that they might ferry us to the farms and abandon us.

Will they afford my family an all-round security, even when going to the market? Mr Njoroge asked.

Reports by Michael Njuguna, Sammy Cheboi and Simon Siele

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Kenya: IDPs being removed and send away from the camps where they were safe

Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

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

It is being reported that the IDPs are being send home from the camps. The camps were congested and they were suffering from lack of food and proper shelter. Now they are being moved and yet no one can fully guarantee their safety when they get back. The same neighbours who dislodged and killed some of them are still there and they can turn against them once again. People are full of anxiety.

We reported earlier that the Lands minister James Orengo from ODM party would like to see land disputes sorted out and Kikuyu IDPs from Rift Valley to be resettled in other regions. His remarks has sparked outcry in the country forcing som MPs to castigate him terming his utterances as careless and dangerous. API

Thousands go home

Story by NATION Team

Nearly 10,000 victims of the post-election violence were resettled in their homes as the process of ending the nightmare that started with Decembers disputed presidential election got underway.

Internal refugees at Noigam camp in Cherangany, Trans Nzoia East District, wait to board army lorries to their homes at Geta farm in the district.

Six thousand were resettled in Molo, while 3,855 were taken back to their homes in Trans Nzoia District.

Some of the families returning home expressed fears over insecurity even as the refugees were ferried back home in military and National Youth Service trucks and private buses.

The Government has built police posts on some of the farms where the uprooted people were returning.

As the resettlement kicked off, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees transferred 1,600 Kenyans from eastern to western Uganda. The agency said that another 200 who had volunteered to return to Kenya will be brought back on Friday.

And at the Nakuru Show Ground, where an estimated 14,000 have been camping, the internally displaced people staged a protest complaining that they had been excluded from the recent visit by President Kibaki and the Prime Minister, Mr Raila Odinga.

More than 1,200 people died and 350,000 were displaced in the violence that ended on February 28 with the signing of a power-sharing agreement between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga.

Rift Valley provincial commissioner Noor Hassan Noor launched repatriation of 3,855 internal refugees in Trans Nzoia East District after witnessing a similar exercise of more than 6,000 victims in Molo. The PC, who was with Special Programmes permanent secretary Ali Mohammed and the chairman to the humanitarian and resettlement trust fund committee, retired Archbishop Ndingi Mwana aNzeki, addressed the refugees at Noigam where he called for reconciliation.

The administrator also kicked off rebuilding of houses destroyed during the violence at Geta Farm and distributed building materials to the victims.

Timber and nails

It included 25,000 pieces of iron sheet, tonnes of timber and nails.

He said the Government will beef up security and offer financial assistance to the victims to enable them buy household items damaged in the mayhem.

Security personnel including regular and Administration policemen and the General Service Unit personnel have been posted to affected areas to ensure that law and order is maintained, the PC said.

Six posts have been set up in various farms in Trans Nzoia East District.

But some uprooted people said their former neighbours were unwilling to accept them back.

There has been cold reception from our former neighbours. We are uncertain about our security in the farms despite the deployment of more security officers, Mr Bernard Omandi, 48, said.

Raised concern

Some of the victims raised concern that the Government had rushed the settlement before reconciliation.

We have no otherwise but to vacate the camps since it is a government directive and some of our colleagues have already started going back, said Ms Christine Moraa who was displaced from Matierio in Geta farm.

Most of those interviewed asked the Government to give them relief food and building materials.

We have to start from scratch since we lost almost all our property during the clashes, said Ms Moraa.

At Kitale show ground, 5,589 refugees said they would not go back to their former land unless the Government conducts a security operation in Kwanza and Saboti constituencies to seize illegal firearms. They said that they had evidence that those who evicted them from their farms were in possessionof firearms and vowed never to return.

Speaking to the Nation, their chairman, Mr John Shikuku, said going back to their farms before disarmament would expose them to great danger.

They criticised the Government for building a police post at Matisi area instead of Kalaha where the affected people had fled to.

They said Matisi Police Station was too close to Kitale Town.

Why should we have a police post at Matisi, which is hardly three kilometres from Kitale Police Station and have none in Kalaha about 25 kilometres away where people were affected? Mrs Nancy Wechuli posed. A survey by the Nation showed that none of the refugees at the camp were willing to leave for their farms.

There was no activity at Ruringu Stadium in Nyeri, which hosts a number of refugees.

Their spokesman, Mr Samuel Mugoy, said they will not return to their homes and asked the Government to give them alternative land.

Reported by Michael Njuguna, Patrick Nzioka and Barnabas Bii

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Tears, anxiety as IDPs arrive home – Are they safe or will they be burnt alive as was done in the church in Ruto’s area?

Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.nosource.standard.ke

Tears because they are not sure of what will happen when they are abruptly ordered out of the camps. These are mostly Kikuyus in the Rift Valley who own large pieces of land and businesses. Now that the ministry of Lands is under a Luo minister, things are changing in Kenya. There will be more tears to see in the weeks to come.

Ruto, the agriculture minister has said that the IDPs should not be taken back to their original homes because having security and police stations will not provide a lasting solution. He knows that the people fear for tehir lives and when he says the security forces is no solution, the IDPs are filled with anxietybecause the security forces may abandon them some day and they will be burned and butched as witnessed in William Ruto’s area when people – form the Kikuyu community – were burned to death. API

Tears, anxiety as IDPs arrive home
By Standard Team
Thousands of displaced people began their emotional journey back home in military trucks and buses, amid confusion and uncertainty in an exercise that is bound to severely test the resilience of the Kibaki-Raila led Grand Coalition Government.
Claims of forceful resettlement and threats by Government officials further cast a dark cloud over the exercise.
This was unfolding on a day four MPs and a Cabinet minister lashed out at Lands minister, Mr James Orengo, over his stand on the resettlement of IDPs.

Uprooted and scattered by the bloodletting triggered by the disputed December 27 presidential elections, President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are keenly aware that a botched resettlement plan for the IDPs could have far reaching political implications.

Dubbed, “Operation Rudi Nyumbani”, the resettlement has been made possible by leaders of PNU and ODM the two combatants at the elections that plunged the country into unprecedented chaos.

In Molo, one of the epicentres of post-election violence, the Rift Valley PC, Mr Hassan Noor Hassan, supervised the exercise.

Seven Kenya Army trucks and two buses were used in the massive translocation never witnessed before in the country.

The more than 10,000 IDPs who had been camping in Molo will be resettled in 13 farms in the region.

They are Sirikwa, Kiambogo, Githirika, Muthenji, Nyota, Kangawa and Lagwenda.

Other farms are Sasumua, Willa, Muchorwe, Karirikania, Kadonye and Nyaruai.

Yesterday, the PC launched the resettlement exercise that will see thousands of IDPs return to their farms. The launch at the Molo District headquarters was, however, received with mixed feelings.

Some IDPs still preferred to remain in the camps, fearing for their lives, even as the PC reassured them on security.

But an upbeat Ms Rose Nyambura Thuo said: “It is the happiest moment of my life because I am going back to my farm though we are parting with friends I had gotten used to during the difficult times.”

In a gesture that enmity by two communities living in the area had been buried, eight leaders from the Kalenjin community visited the camp and assured the victims that all was well.

“We welcome you back to your farms and we ask for forgiveness on behalf of our people,” said Councillor Joshua Sigilai of Nyota Ward.

In Trans Nzoia and Marakwet districts, up to 3,000 IDPs started their journey back home with mixed feelings. Tents at the Kachibora camp were pulled down as displaced people boarded military trucks to return home.

They included Ms Eunice Gesara, a mother of four, who said she did not know what to expect on her first day home after four months at the camp.

“To be honest, Im apprehensive about this trip. It is like going back to meet my tormentors,” she told The Standard outside the camp.

But Mr Justus Masi, a village elder in Kiboiye, Cheragany, expressed optimism that the resettlement plan would succeed as it had the blessings of elders in the host community.

He said: “They came to the camp (in Kachibora) and sought forgiveness on behalf of their community. We hope that it was genuine and we will live in harmony.”

Mr Abednego Atuya and his brother, Mr Jared Mecha, who earlier lived in Marakwet District, said everyone was told that they had to go home as the camp would be closed.

But on Monday, the sheer scale of the exercise appeared to send the message that the Government would not countenance failure.

Water, Health, Energy and Education ministries have already deployed staff and materials for the resettlement of IDPs in Molo and Trans Nzoia districts.

Internal Security PS, Mr Francis Kimemia, said the efforts would be coordinated by the Special Programmes and Internal Security ministries.

Personnel from the four ministries will re-construct basic education and health infrastructure destroyed in the violence, the Government said.

In a statement to newsrooms, the PS said the two ministries would coordinate logistics and provide security. The statement added that the military had also been deployed to rebuild schools, hospitals and other amenities gutted or destroyed in the carnage that erupted when the ECK controversially declared President Kibaki winner.

After Molo and Trans Nzoia, the Government will move IDPs integrated or living in Central, Nyanza, Eastern and Western provinces back to the Rift Valley.

Eleven guidelines to direct the resettlement which include registration of genuine IDPs, identification and prioritisation of farms where IDPs will be resettled, listing of destroyed infrastructure, deployment of security personnel, water boozers and movement of IDPs returning to their homes voluntarily have already been published.

They also include reconciliation and enhancement of security in volatile areas. Genuine IDPs will be issued with support kits in their homes or farms, reconstruction of schools, hospitals and other essential services.

The resettlement programme, which began with the Rift Valley peace tours by President Kibaki and Raila, were not entirely incident free. The Head of State, Vice-President, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, and Internal Security minister, Prof George Saitoti, were booed in Eldoret during the tour.

“Sina haja ya kukasirishwa na mtu ambaye hajui anachosema (I will not be angered by those who dont understand what they are saying,” the President, who restrained himself after a section of the crowd in Eldoret walked out on him, said.

On his part, Raila said some politicians had warned him not to go to the Rift Valley allegedly because the atmosphere was not yet conducive.

“But I decided that we should start efforts to reconcile communities so that displaced persons can be resettled,” he said.

In Nairobi, US Ambassador, Mr Michael Rannerberger, said his government would support IDPs who voluntarily returned to their homes.

“People cannot be forced to resettle. The process has to be voluntary and there is urgent need for provisions that will create restoration of their livelihoods,” Rannerberger, who was addressing journalists at the US Embassy, said.

On Monday, four central Kenya MPs, among them a Cabinet minister, condemned the Lands minister over his call that IDPs uprooted from Rift Valley be resettled in other provinces.

The legislators, who included Gender and Childrens minister, Ms Esther Murugi, termed Orengos sentiments careless and senseless.

Murugi, who is also the Nyeri Town MP, led legislators Mr Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaregwa), Mr Lenny Kivuti (Siakago) and FT Nyammo (Tetu) in criticising Orengos remarks, saying the displaced persons had “every right” to be returned to where they had been evicted.

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Harvesting body parts in Tanzania: Sexual organs of male and female albinos are particularly sought

Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

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

The Tanzanian president has been forced to step in and save the situation. He now wants a crackdown by the government. In some regions, it has been reported that some people have even gone as far as killing their own children for witchcraft purposes. Albino persons are the one being tacketed andcaptured, killed and body parts uprooted and sold. API

Deadly harvest of body parts

Story by Khadija Yusuf

If you are an albino in Tanzania your life is likely to be at risk from enemies more deadly than the rays of the sun, an ever-present foe.

Since last month, there have been reports from that country about weird incidents of witchcraft and devil worship rituals involving human body parts.

Though in Kenya too there have been rumours of traditional healers who use human body parts in rituals, it is nothing compared to recent revelations of widespread use of body organs from albinos in Tanzania.

According to reports, the sexual organs of male and female albinos are particularly sought because it is believed they can effect miracle cures or offer mystical powers.

Witch doctors and devil worshippers believe that the organs of these people are a potent remedy when mixed with certain concoctions.

TOOLS OF A GRUESOME TRADE: In Tanzania, the body organs of albinos are being sought for witchcraft and devil worship rituals.

The notion that human body parts can be used to heal or bestow special powers has caused panic among the albino community in Tanzania.

The problem has reached such proportions that Tanzanias President, Jakaya Kikwete, used his monthly television address to announce a crackdown on the traditional healers as well as plans to register albinos to improve their safety. “These killings are shameful and distressing to our society,” said Mr Kikwete in his Wednesday night speech to the nation. “I am told that people kill albinos and chop their body parts, including fingers, believing they can get rich.”

Videos and films from Nigeria that tout the efficacy of witchcraft are widely to blame for the current crisis in Tanzania.

The phenomenon recently took on an East African dimension when Tanzanian police arrested two Kenyans in the Mara region of Tanzania for allegedly killing an albino woman.

The two men who are said to be from western Kenya are now in police custody in Tanzania.

Reports in Tanzanian media say the incident so incensed the Mara Provincial Commissioner, Luteni Kanali Issa that he revoked licences for foreign traditional healers and ghost busters from Kenya, Uganda and the DRC Congo.

“The influx of these traditional healers has contributed to mass deaths of albinos and soon they will be wiped out,” said Issa. “We will not allow any one to violate their fundamental rights.”

The administrator says the woman was killed at her house at Sarari in Tarime District on March 3 while another was killed at Kijiji cha Bwai Kwitururu, popularly known as Paris among the locals.

It later emerged that the Kenyan men had been sent by a traditional healer to collect body parts of an albino, which he claimed would make them fabulously wealthy.

Reports from Tanzania say unknown people have been stalking two albino pupils at Mtibwa Primary School in Turiani, Morogoro.

It is said the strangers have been making indiscreet enquiries about the two siblings.

Many albinos some estimates put the number at over 50 have been killed in various parts of Tanzania in recent months for get-rich rituals.

In the past albinos were regarded as a bad omen in Tanzania. Now they have become endangered as traditional healers lead people to believe that their body parts can be used to bring good fortune and sudden riches.

A number of incidents have been reported of albinos being killed in horrific circumstances and cases of exhumation of their corpses to retrieve body parts.

Recently a newspaper in Tanzania reported a number of atrocities ranging from a school pupil in Geita District whose hand was chopped off, to unidentified people who exhumed the body of an albino from a freshly dug grave and disappeared with it in Ukerewe District.

Last December, a teacher in Arusha was arrested for killing his own child, an albino with for unstated reasons.

In 2001, the Mbeya area experienced a wave of similar attacks in which a total of six people were believed to have been abducted and killed and their skins allegedly routed through Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo before reaching their final destination in West Africa.

At the time it was claimed that prices for the human skins ranged from Sh168,000 to Sh672,000, depending on the age of the victim.

Incidentally a gruesome exhibition of the human skins in question was shown during one of the annual trade fairs along Kilwa road as part of the official campaign to raise awareness about the underground human trade.

During the qualifying preliminaries for the 2006 World Cup, it is claimed that hippos, lions, elephants and hyenas were slaughtered to make a potion for the Swaziland soccer team to give its footballers extra strength.

Ritual murder involves the killing of someone in order to remove body parts for incorporation as ingredients in medicine or concoctions used in witchcraft.

It is said that practitioners of the dark arts are particularly keen on certain parts.

For example human skulls are placed on the foundations of new buildings to bring good luck to a business. Other body parts are buried on farms to secure big harvests, while hands are built into shop entrances to encourage customers. Hands are also burnt to ashes and mixed into a paste and supposedly used as a cure for stroke.

Human blood is believed to boost vitality while brains deliver political power and business success. Genitals, breasts and placentas are used for infertility and good luck, with the genitalia of young boys and virgin girls being especially prized as uncontaminated and therefore highly potent.

It is said that in South Africa, the organs of white men fetch more since whites are perceived as more successful in business. There is a belief that body parts taken from live victims are rendered more potent by their screams, according to a report by the South African Police Service Research Centre.

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Myanmar cyclone kills 10,000 people

Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

Publisher: korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.aljazeera

The government says4,000 have been killed and aid groups say the toll is likely to climb [AFP]
The Myanmar government has said that the cyclone that struck the south-east Asian nation this weekend has killed10,000 people.
Nyan Win, the foreign minister, told state television: “According to the latest information, more than 10,000 people were killed.”
The toll from Cyclone Nargis may rise further with about 4,000 morepeople still missingon Monday.
“Information is still being collected, and there could be more casualties,” Nyan Win said.

Nyan Win added that the country would be willing to accept international aid to assist with the disaster, which has left thousands without shelter and water.

Thailand, Myanmar’s neighbour,has offered to send emergency food and medicine.
Norway has also promised 1.3m ($1.96m), channelled through the UN or Red Cross rather than the government, for the disaster.
UN ‘to enter’
The UN said on Monday that the government had accepted its offer to help, with shipments of aid being prepared immediately.
Al Jazeera’s John Terrett at the UN headquartersin New York said that the United Nations Disaster, Assessment and Co-ordination team, which is based in Thailand, has been put on alert since Saturday to enter Myanmar to offer assistance to the government there.
He added that this team was expected to enter Myanmar at about 16:30GMT on Monday.
Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless and without clean drinking water, a UN official has said and aid agencies have called on Myanmar’s military government to allow free movement so help can be given to victims of the storm.
UN disaster experts said it could be days before the extent of the damage is known because of the government’s tight control of communications.
Call for access

The UN office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said that the government – which has indicated it will press ahead with a referendum on a new constitution on Saturday – was “having as much trouble as anyone else in getting a full overview” of the destruction.

“Roads are not accessible and many small villages were hit and will take time to reach,” Terje Skavdal, the regional head of UNOCHA, said.

Teams of foreign aid workers were trying to assess the damage and aid needs, but their access and movements are restricted by the military.

“That is the existing situation for international staff. The way most agencies work is they use national staff who have more freedom to move,” Skavdal said.

“We will have a dialogue with the government to try to get access to the people affected,” he added.

Aid groups’ plea

The Forum for Democracy in Burma and other dissident groups outside of
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma,have alsourged the military government to allow aid groups unfettered access to the country.

“International expertise in dealing with natural disasters is urgently required,” said Naing Aung, secretary-general of the Thailand-based group.

“The military regime is ill-prepared to deal with the aftermath of the cyclone.”

The government has declared the former
capital of Yangon a disaster area

The government has declared the former capital of Yangon a disaster area after the storm’s 190kph winds blew roofs off hospitals and cut off electricity supply.

Yangon, the Irrawaddy Delta, Bago as well as the Karen and Mon states were heavily damaged and have been declared disaster areas.

State-controlled television reported that 20,000 homes had been destroyed on Haingyi, an island in the Andaman sea.

A further 90,000 people on the island, the first part of the country to be hit by the cyclone, wereleft homeless, the government said.

‘Flattened’

Chris Kaye, the UN’s acting humanitarian co-ordinator in Yangon, confirmed that “the Irrawaddy delta was hit extremely hard not only because of the wind and rain but because of the storm surge”.

“The villages there have reportedly been completely flattened.”

The storm blew roofs off hospitals and cut off
electricity supply [AFP]

Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Myanmar said residents living in slums on the outskirts of Yangon have been among the hardest hit as many struggle to repair their homes before the next rainy season downpour.

The owner of a house which lost its roof in the cyclone said he was not expecting assistance from local authorities as he struggles to feed a family of six after recently losing his factory job.

“No one has come to help us. Tomorrow I will have to look for another job because I need money to repair my house,” he said.

It is unknown to what extentthe destruction caused by the cyclone will affect the holding of a referendum on May 10,ona new charter backed by the ruling generals.

But the government indicated that it would proceed as planned.

“It’s only a few days left before the coming referendum and people are eager to cast their vote,”the state-owned newspaper Myanma Ahlin said on Monday.

The militarysays the voteisthe firststage in a seven-step “road map to democracy”, intendedto culminate in multi-party elections in 2010.

The process has been criticised by opposition groups which say the process is intended only to tighten the military’s grip on power.

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Thousands riot in Somali capital

Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

Publisher, korir, africanpress@getmai.no source.aljazeera

Hundreds of shops and restaurants closed after thousands of Somalis took to the streets [AFP]

Thousands of Somalis have protested in the capital, Mogadishu, burning tyres and hurling stones at shopkeepersamid record-high inflation and rising food prices.
The violence started on Monday after traders refused to take devalued Somali shillings -a measure they say is meant to counter fake notes that have flooded the market.

However, up to 7,000 protesters accused the traders of pushing inflation to its highest level in at least 17 years by refusing to accept the old currency and favouring US dollars.

Witnesses said several people were injured in the protests, while AFP news agency reportedfive people were killed.

Cars and buses were damaged, and hundreds of shops and restaurants in the city closed their doors from fear of looters.
Mohammed Omar Hussein, a local journalist, told Al Jazeera: “People could no longer endure [it], they said enough is enough.
[Protesters] started from the north side of the capital, coming downtown. They were throwing stones and rocks and had clubs in their hands.
“They were beating up the shop owners they came across … if any shop was opened.”
Record inflation
Although there are no official inflation figures, UN monitors say cereal prices have increased by between 110 and 375 per cent in the past year as central Somalia has endured its worst drought in recent memory.
Currently, the Somali shilling is valued at roughly 34,000 to $1 – more than double what it was a year ago.
The problem has been compounded by sharply rising world food prices and the UN has warned of a looming famine in the country.
Somalia has been without any kind of real government since Mohamed Siad Barre, the former ruler,was ousted from power in 1991 by subordinates who then tried to carve up the country among themselves.
Since then, the country’s agriculture has withered to the point where Somalis rely on imports.
With a transitional government backed by neighbouring Ethiopia focusing its efforts on fighting opposition forces, little control has been enforced on rampant counterfeiting of currency.
Thevalue of the country’s legal tender has dropped so low that most Somalis must carrylarge stacks of 1,000 Somali shilling notes – the only denomination available – just to buy daily necessities.
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Arab league to send fact-finding mission to Djibouti, Eritrea border

Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

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

The Arab league decided Sunday to send a fact-finding mission to the disputed border area between Djibouti and Eritrea to evaluate the situation and prepare a report to the league, the under-secretary of the Arab league for political affairs, Ambassador Ahamed ben Hely, told the press.

The under-secretary of the Arab league for political affairs, Ambassador Ahamed ben Hely, said Sunday that the Arab Peace and Security Council approved Djiboutis request to send the mission in an effort to solve the crisis between the two countries.

According to him, the Council discussed the border problem between Djibouti and Eritrea in its first ever meeting Sunday at delegates level.

Ben Hely revealed that he will meet the ambassadors of the two countries to explore ways to defuse tensions and prevent more escalations.

The Council called Djibouti and Eritrea to exercise restraint in dealing with the border issue and seek to solve it through peaceful means, he pointed out.

The Arab Peace and Security Council stressed the need to respect the principles of good neighbourliness between the two countries, not to make any changes in the existing borders since independence, respect unity and territorial integrity of their territories and deepening Arab-African cooperation.

The Council also requested the Secretary-General of the Arab League Amro Mussa to contact the concerned parties, the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the African Peace and Security Council in a bid to secure an Arab-African joint action to address the crisis.

Djibouti indicated, on the sidelines of the meeting, that it sought regional and international efforts after the failure of bilateral dialogue

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Nigeria: Country moves to tackle food crisis

Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

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

Abuja (Nigeria) – Nigeria has announced plans to import 500,000 metric tonnes of rice and release an additional 11,000 mnetric tonnes of grains from its strategic reserve to cushion the effect of the global food crisis.

Already, the government has allocated 80 billion naira for the massive rice importation (117 Naira=US$1). The decisions were reached at a meeting between President Umaru Yar’Adua and the governors of the country’s 36 states, held in the capital city of Abuja Tuesday. Nigeria had earlier released 40 million metric tones of grains from the reserve.

The rice to be imported will be sold to Nigerians at subsidized prizes, perhaps about half of the current all-time high price of between 10,000 (US$85) and 12,0000 naira (US$102) per bag. According to the World Bank, the price of foodstuffs has gone up 83% in three years due to, among others, the effect of climate change on agricultural production and the issue of reduced production area, triggered by the increase in the use of land to grow crops for transport fuels instead of food.

Last month, the opposition Action Congress (AC) called on the federal government ”to move quickly to mitigate the effects (of the rising prices) on the millions of the country’s poor citizens by paying more attention to food production”. “We don’t want our people to engage in riots before the government will know that an increasing number of them are going to bed hungry at night,” AC said. On Tuesday, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) called on the international community to act fast to defuse the food emergency. “We must produce more food where it is urgently needed to contain the impact of the soaring prices on poor consumers,” FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said in a statement.

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Raila is suffering from eye illness – went abroad for surgery

Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

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

One thinks that Kenya has qualified doctors. But as it has emerged, it seems they do exist but not to the trust of the country’s prime minister who chose to have eye surgery in the safe hands of the European doctors in Germany.

Not long ago, former President Daniel Moi chose to leave the country for treatment in Germany. When Kibaki got an accident before his presidency, he was treated in the UK. The late Wamalwa, Kibaki’s first vice president did the same.

Why do these leaders fear to be treated at home.? Kenyans, the people they lead are treated in Kenya’s hospitals while their leaders prefer comfortable treatment abroad.

It is however clear now that the leaders do not want to be treated at home for fear that the doctors in Kenya may leak out to the Kenyans on their illnesses.

We know HIV/AIDs is now rampant in the continent and does not choose who to take on, no matter what status one has as long as they mess around misusing their opportunity and power in getting unprotected sex. We know that some leaders will only higher women in positions as long as the women in question meet them in the bars and hotel rooms where they give sex unwillingly but simply for the sake of getting jobs. API

The protocol war is all about succession

Story by GITAU WARIGI

Fresh from the protocol wars in the Rift Valley, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka arrived in Nairobi to find his docket under fire as prison warders went on strike.

From left, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, President Mwai Kibaki and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka. Photo/FILE

To add to Mr Musyokas misery, two heavyweight appointees he named to a committee to investigate the prisons fiasco former Vice-President Moody Awori and former Prisons Commissioner Abraham Kamakil publicly turned down the appointments.

One of Mr Kalonzos aides, Mr Kaplich Barsito, hinted that the government, with the VPs consent, encouraged the duo to turn down the appointments after the prison warders rejected them outright. However, the tone Mr Awori adopted while claiming he was busy writing my memoirs did not sound calculated enough to save Mr Musyoka much face.

Political enemies

There have been the usual suspicions about whether the strike was instigated by the VPs political enemies, but so far there has been no hard evidence of such. However, Mr Musyokas vulnerability certainly was in the political interest of his main nemesis, Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

It so happened that Mr Odinga tactfully kept out of the fracas; it coincided with a trip he had scheduled for Germany to undergo minor eye surgery.

It is entirely possible that the prime minister would have sought to intervene at some stage if the prison crisis got prolonged. The VPs circle did not hide their fear that such an intervention would have made him appear in even worse light than he did when Mr Awori declined to be a part of the proposed prisons reform committee.

And the protocol issue continues to fester. The National Reconciliation and Accord Act has introduced a novel experiment where a new political office, that of the prime minister, has far more political clout than that of the VP, a situation the VPs aides concede while pointing out that such seniority should not be confused with constitutional precedence, even where the latter is largely ceremonial.

The latest government circular yet again classified the VP as second to the President in order of precedence, and it is noteworthy that it was leaked in the wake of the protocol wars that erupted in the Rift Valley.

The circular, signed by Cabinet Secretary Francis Muthaura and dated April 25, is meant for ministers and top-notch government officers to acquaint them with the different responsibilities and roles of the President and the prime minister ahead of an induction ceremony for all of them that had been scheduled for last week at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies.

The induction ceremony, where the prime minister was to give a keynote address, was postponed at the last minute to enable Mr Odinga travel to Europe, from whence he detoured to South Africa.

According to an official in the Cabinet office, the delay in announcing the postponement was occasioned by the letter from the prime ministers office about the trip to Germany arriving late.

Dramatic direction

The protocol problem had taken a potentially dramatic direction when some initial reports intimated the prime minister had been invited to be chief guest at the Labour Day rally, but then in a curious reversal it later transpired the invitation had gone to President Kibaki, who since coming into office has customarily graced the occasion.

There is clearly unfinished business on all sides as the prime minister tentatively seeks to chart out the extent of his new fiefdom.

That is probably the best way to interpret a letter from the PMs office to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission asking the Commission to explain the latest deal where corruption charges against Mr Kamlesh Pattni were dropped in exchange for him giving up all ownership claims to the Grand Regency Hotel.Chief of staff

The letter had been dispatched through a certain Mr Caroli Omondi, who gave his designation as chief of staff in the prime ministers office.

Mr Muthaura reportedly chose to ignore the letter on the grounds that such a position of chief of staff did not exist in the known civil service structure and because the chain of command acknowledged by the Head of the Public Service is through line permanent secretaries, of which there is one at the PMs office.

The letter had been copied to Mr Muthaura and Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, among others. This is probably going to be the first litmus test on how much room some entrenched departments of government are willing to allow the prime minister, even with the anti-corruption mandate Mr Odinga has set upon himself and which he is to some extent accorded under Mr Muthauras latest circular by virtue of such departments as the Efficiency Monitoring Unit being put under his overall supervisory wing.

It did not escape notice that the target of the enquiry from the prime ministers office the Commission is a body presumed to enjoy constitutional autonomy.

Nobody has any illusions that the protocol drama in Eldoret was anything else but the opening salvo of the epic succession war that is already shaping up in the countdown to 2012.

Contesting the presidency

Mr Musyokas position is complicated by simmering mini-shows in Central Province about the probability of either Security Minister George Saitoti or Justice Minister Martha Karua or Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta contesting the presidency in 2012.

The danger in this, as Mr Musyokas people see it, is not that any of the trio can make a runaway impact nationally the national political mood playing out suggests it will be improbable for another figure from the province to succeed Mr Kibaki at State House.

Rather, for the VP the danger is that the possibility of either Prof Saitoti or Ms Karua or Mr Kenyatta running for President would frustrate him out of the bloc vote from Central Kenya, which he now critically depends on for his own 2012 candidacy.

The person who the VPs advisers express the deepest anxiety about is Prof Saitoti. Technically, he is not a Central Province politician, but for years people have been linking him culturally to the region.

The worry from the VPs corner is because the Security Minister has, as is his character, stoutly refused to confirm or rule out his intentions for 2012.

And as all his rivals know, Prof Saitoti has at his command the resources and networks to seriously complicate the VPs delicate succession strategy.

Mr Kalonzos camp seems more comfortable with Mr Kenyatta, who they believe will opt to bide his time and support their man in the meantime, a position that, interestingly, Mr Kenyattas aides have not contradicted so far. Indeed, the two camps have quietly been building a rapport which, barring something unexpected, could mean a Musyoka-Kenyatta ticket for 2012.

Ms Karua does not have the resources or networks of either Prof Saitoti or Mr Kenyatta; but for the VP or anybody else interested in the Mt Kenya vote, underestimating her might prove costly in view of the hero status she has acquired for herself in the region for the steadfast pro-Kibaki role she has played throughout the turbulent post-election period.

However, her viability nationally has been hampered by precisely this perception that she is a PNU hardliner.

Fizzled out

Earlier expressions by Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi that he would also run for President seem to have fizzled out.

The real question is whether any of the PNU claimants, starting with the VP, has what it takes to stop the powerful Mr Odinga and his ODM. Mr Musyokas advisers are hoping the threat alone of ODMs might will sooner or later simply force the VPs PNU rivals for the presidency to band together behind him.

President Kibakis own severely circumscribed authority is unlikely to be of much help in the meantime.

The President himself did not escape the booing subjected to his VP in Eldoret. His inability to tame the Labour Day crowd at Uhuru Park, which otherwise was very responsive to the prime ministers name whenever it was mentioned, was a reminder that Mr Odinga remains the real crowd puller of Kenyan politics.

It is understood Mr Odinga was reluctant to take up COTUs invitation to the Labour Day rally, but not entirely because he wanted to avoid upstaging the President so early in the grand coalitions life.

Unlike Kibaki, the prime minister reportedly anticipated the assembled workers would expect a salary hike and they, in their understanding, believe Mr Odinga is now in charge of government and hence in the position to meet all their demands.

As it turned out, it was President Kibaki who endured the embarrassment from the crowd when he showed up but declined to order the desired wage increments.

Parliamentary by-elections scheduled for June 11 in Embakasi, Kamukunji, Kilgoris, Emuhaya, Ainamoi and Wajir North will be an eye-opener as to whether PNU is any shape to put up a fight against a still potent ODM.

Already, the latter has taken care to clarify that it will treat the PNU as a rival and competitor, whether they are in a grand coalition together or not.

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African foreign ministers to discuss AU performance report in Arusha

Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

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

The Executive Council of the African Union (AU) will convene a two-day meeting from Tuesday in Tanzania’s northern town of Arusha to discuss the organisation’s performance report, a statement issued Monday by the Tanzanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation revealed.

According to the statement availed to APA, the two-day meeting will involve 53 ministers and leaders from the AU Commission.

The AU audit report was released by a team of experts, the High Level Panel, under the leadership of Prof. Adebayo Adedeji of Nigeria.

The heads of state and governments appointed the team of experts for the purpose of assessing the organisation’s performance.

The statement further said that the Council will also evaluate the economic and political integration of AU, and the African Economic zones.

The African Foreign Affairs Ministers will also discuss the performance of AU institutions and organs to identify weaknesses and decide on redress.

The Tanzania Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Bernard Membe, will chair the meeting, the statement concluded.

The AU audit report focuses on the functioning of the AU Commission, which it described as a malfunctioning body after only four years of existence.

The document was drawn up after a three-month work, it takes stock of the African Union as a whole, and made 172 recommendations.

It reviews the performance of the Authority of Heads of State, Council of Ministers of the PRC (the body which brings together ambassadors accredited to the AU), the pan-African parliament, ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council).

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Great Lakes experts draft good governance action plan in Lusaka

Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

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

Experts from eleven countries of the Great Lakes Region (GLR) are meeting in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, to draw up a plan of action to promote good governance in the region.

Several of the countries have gone through bitter conflicts, war and genocide over the past years, leaving the democratic governance institutions battered and fragile.

The Executive Secretary of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Liberata Mulamula, told APA at the start of the conference that the meeting is aimed at moving the countries that have been involved in conflict to peace and stability.

She said one way this could be accomplished is through the establishment of strong democratic institutions and systems.

The experts would take the opportunity of being in the Zambian capital to learn how the country has developed its democratic systems because it was considered to have some of the strongest democratic processes in the region, Milamula pointed out.

She also said a number of countries in the GLR had made some progress over the last few years despite the serious conflicts they faced, citing the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as one that had managed to hold democratic elections despite the conflict in eastern Congo.

Others include the resolution of the deadly election impasse in Kenya which has now seen a government of national unity in place, while Tanzania had managed to rid itself of senior government officials alleged to have been involved in corrupt practices.

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Rights groups call for immediate arrest of Sudan war crimes suspects

Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

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

One year after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for two war crimes suspects in Darfur, human rights organizations around the world are launching a Justice for Darfur campaign, calling for the two to be arrested, according to a release issued on Friday.
The organizations behind the campaign, including Amnesty International, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, and Sudan Organization against Torture, have joined forces to call on the United Nations Security Council, regional organizations and individual governments to press Sudan to cooperate with the ICC.

The ICC has been investigating crimes in the region following a decision three years ago by the UN Security Council to refer to it the situation in Darfur.

One year ago on April 27, 2007 the ICC issued two arrest warrants against Sudans former State Minister of the Interior Mr. Ahmad Harun and Janjaweed leader Mr. Ali Kushayb for 51 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Today the two men who face charges of persecution, rape, and killing of civilians in four West Darfur villages remain at large.

According to the human rights organizations, the Sudanese government has publicly and repeatedly refused to surrender either Kushayb or Harun to the court. Instead, Harun has been promoted to state minister for humanitarian affairs, responsible for the welfare of the very victims of his alleged crimes.

Justice for Darfur adds that as well as having considerable power over humanitarian operations, Mr. Harun is responsible for liaising with the international peacekeeping force (UNAMID) tasked with protecting civilians against such crimes.

The other suspect, Mr. Ali Kushayb, was in custody in Sudan on other charges at the time the ICC warrants were issued, but in October 2007 the government announced he had been released, reportedly due to lack of evidence.

The members of Justice for Darfur are urging the UN Security Council to pass a resolution calling on Sudan to cooperate fully with the ICC and immediately arrest Harun and Kushayb and surrender them to the court.

The Justice for Darfur campaign organizers called on states and regional organizations including the European Union, a strong supporter of the ICC and a key player in bringing the Darfur crimes to the ICC prosecutor to press Sudan to cooperate with the ICC and comply with the warrants.

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Biofuels likely to cause hunger worldwide by next decade, says Oxfam

Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

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

About six hundreds million people (600million) worldwide could go hungry by the next one and half decade if the continuing demand on bio-fuel grows to the projected level, the UK based non-profit organisation Oxfam has cautioned in a released issued Monday.

According to Oxfam, the current bio-fuels mandates in rich countries are widely recognized as fuelling food price rises and speculation.

The projected population to go hungry is equivalent to six times the current population of the East African Community and about half of the India population.

Bio-fuels are said to be not only a major cause of increasing prices but are also linked to labour rights abuses and land grabs in developing countries, the organization observes.

Global food prices have doubled over the last three years, and the cereal bill for low-income food-deficit countries in Africa is projected to increase another 74 percent this year.

In Tanzania, the ministry of agriculture and food securitys recent food security assessment has also revealed that food prices, especially cereals have doubled over the last two years.

This situation has created a big economic impact among the low-income earners and rural Tanzanian. Some of them have even failed to get two to three meals a day.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, 33 million young children are malnourished, even as food riots have broken out in more than half a dozen African countries.

With Africas own food production tragically low, the continent remains dependent on food imports and food aid

Furthermore, a recent research by Oxfam suggests they may make climate change worse. In this context it is absolute madness to have mandatory targets.

Oxfam has also accused rich countries and global institutions of hypocrisy for criticizing poor countries policy responses, while failing to acknowledge their own culpability, according to a press release.

Decades of trade liberalization and dumping have increased poor countries dependency on food imports and vulnerability to shocks.

According to the release, the export bans may not be the ideal response, but without coordinated global support they are among the only options poor countries have.”

Oxfam is calling for fairer trade rules and increased investment in agriculture in developing countries, focused on small-scale producers and women.

Donors should provide support for this and help fund safety nets and social protection schemes for the most vulnerable people.

Oxfam warned that increasingly erratic weather caused in part by climate change would cause further disruption in world food production and undermine poverty reduction in the future, unless dramatic and immediate action was taken.

Rich countries have also called to step up to the plate on climate change by increasing funding for adaptation and taking immediate action to mitigate further warming.

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Can the new PM do justice: Prime Minister Raila Odinga is cited in the Kisumu Molasses land yet none of those lawyers has raised a finger over his being in Cabinet

Posted by African Press International on May 6, 2008

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

MPs being accused by lawyers and demanding they resign from the parliamentary watchdog committee PIC, are now angry. They are wondering why the same lawyers are not concerned that the new prime minister has also been mentioned in reports on questionable financial deals. They want the samer treatment as the PM. If they are to resign because of financial deals, the Raila should also resign, the MPs demand. API

MPs under scrutiny over House team

By Standard Reporter

The credibility of the respected Public Investments Committee (PIC) is in question after it emerged that its new members comprise MPs who have been censured by the same committee in the past.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) pointed out the contradiction and called on the affected MPs to quit the watchdog committee that investigates details of public investments.

Four MPs who have been censured by PIC over their investment conduct were picked when parliamentary committees were formed last week.

MPs whose names or companies associated with them have featured in previous PIC reports include Lugari MP, Mr Cyrus Jirongo, Mathira MP, Mr Ephraim Maina, Baringo Central MP, Mr Sammy Mwaita, and Igembe South MP, Mr Michika Lintuli.

The LSK said there was a likelihood of a conflict of interest if the legislators continued sitting in the PIC. LSK vice-chairman, Mr James Mwamu, said it was not possible for the MPs to effectively discharge their duties in the committee.

“There is a conflict of interest. They could interfere with investigation if cases touching on their companies are brought into focus,” argued Mwamu.

He said if they refused to relinquish their positions, they should be removed. Mwamu said even if some of the MPs had been cleared, they should still relinquish their positions or be removed for the sake of public interest.

“They can be moved to other committees,” said the lawyer.

He said there were close to 100 MPs who were not named in the committee and could replace those adversely mentioned.

However, three of the MPs said calls for them to resign were part of “calculated vendetta” to dent their careers because they have indicated their desire to be part of an opposition group against the grand coalition.

Jirongo, Maina and Mwaita wondered why Cabinet ministers who have had numerous cases in the past against them were not being asked to resign.

“They are targeting us because of the stand we have taken to be an opposition against the grand coalition,” said Jirongo.

“If they are sincere in their attack against me and my colleagues, why havent they questioned some characters in the Cabinet who are challenging court cases? None of them (lawyers) has contested their being in the Cabinet,” said Maina.

The MPs or their companies have been adversely mentioned in the 14th and 15th report of the last Parliaments PIC that was chaired by then Siakago MP, Mr Justin Muturi, on the accounts of State Corporations.

The Muturi committee gathered evidence that the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) entered into an agreement with M/s Cyperr Enterprises, associated with Jirongo, for development of a staff housing project on Mbagathi Road next to Nyayo Highrise in Nairobi.

It was then estimated that it would be completed by February, 1991 at a cost of Sh165 million.

The report said no action was ever taken against the company despite the breach of contract. Denials

But Jirongo on Sunday said he had never been mentioned personally in any PIC report and that companies associated with him had been aggrieved in the contracts and had gone to court seeking recompense.

“We are not starting an opposition to fight the grand coalition, but to ensure we stay on course of all issues agreed on with Mr Kofi Annan,” added Jirongo.

He was referring to the February 28 agreement President Kibaki and now Prime Minister Raila Odinga signed to end the crippling post-election crisis.

In another investigation by Muturis committee, Mwaita, a former Commissioner of Lands, was accused of arbitrarily transferring various land parcels in Ngong Forest land that had not been de-gazetted from various vendors to the Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC).

The Ngong Forest land had title deeds that issued by the Government to the first allottees.

The committee expressed concern in the manner the 33 plots were hived off the forest and sold to the company as industrial plots for Sh291 million.

When reached on the telephone, Mwaita said his appointment would not prejudice the independence of the watchdog House committee.

“If anything, I am valuable to the committee. Im an authority on land matters and will discharge my duties without prejudice,” said the MP.

He said despite cases pending in court, it did not mean that he was not fit to seat in the PIC.

Maina also scoffed at calls on him and others to resign, saying LSK was being used by politicians who had developed cold feet over the PIC formation.

Mainas company, Kirinyaga Construction (K) Ltd, was also cited in the 14th Report. The committee said although Kirinyaga had been paid Sh283 million, about 64 per cent of the contract sum of Sh440 million, a site meeting progress report indicated that the works were far from completion and the contractor was behind schedule.

The report, for instance, indicated that only 11km of the 24.6km Magumu-Njabini Road had undergone surface dressing and first and second seal.

Maina claimed that some ministers who had pending court cases had resorted to using the LSK to malign MPs who had beeen named in the parliamentary committee.

“If it is a case of ever being under the public spotlight over any deal, even the Prime Minister Raila Odinga is cited in the Kisumu Molasses land yet none of those lawyers has raised a finger over his being in Cabinet. None of them has questioned his ability to work fairly,” he said.

But the LSK vice-chairman would not relent: “PIC will lose credibility unless the MPs do the honourable thing and resign.”

The PIC is a select committee established under Standing Order Number 148 with the mandate of examining the reports and accounts of public investments.

Previous committees complained of the slow pace or none at all at which the Government has implemented recommendations of the House arising from previous reports.

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