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Archive for May 16th, 2008

Raila meets Kriegler Commission

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

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

Story by LUCAS BARASA

ODM has voiced concerns over alleged irregularities in last years General Election to a team formed to investigate the polls fiasco.

Independent Review Commission chairman Johann Kriegler addresses a news conference as Prime Minister Raila Odinga looks on. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA

Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the ODM leader, met the Independent Review Commission led by Justice Johann Kriegler at his Treasury office in Nairobi to briefly give the party concerns, wishes and expectations.

We came to speak to you (Mr Odinga) in your capacity as ODM leader, Mr Justice Kriegler said after a joint press conference with Mr Odinga.

Mr Justice Kriegler said the tallying of presidential votes at Kenyatta International Conference Centre was ODMs main concern.

The commission chairman and Mr Odinga, however, refused to divulge more details of their closed-door discussion, only saying they were secretive.

Sources, however, said the ODM leader also raised concern over the preparations for last years polls and the appointment and composition of the Electoral Commission of Kenya.

He is also said to have expressed concern over the use of civil servants and administration police to steal the votes and delay the announcement of the presidential results he claims to have won.

Mr Odinga said ODM was ready to appear before the Kriegler commission any time to give its views on the disputed polls.

The poll results sparked violence across the country, leaving more than 1,000 people dead and 300,000 displaced.

ECK announced President Kibaki who contested on PNU ticket the winner of last the December 27 polls.

The Head of State was then hurriedly sworn in for a second term in office.

ODM, which had a clear win in six of the eight provinces, however, disputed votes presented at KICC from certain constituencies saying they were altered in favour of President Kibaki.

The dispute ended following the intervention of the international community through former UN chief Kofi Annan who brought President Kibaki and Mr Odinga to a negotiating table and made the two leaders agree to share power.

Mr Annans led National Dialogue and Reconciliation Committee also led to the formation of the seven-member Kriegler Commission to investigate last years polls.

Mr Justice Kriegler said his team was on track and that it was certain it will present its report within six months from March 15 as required.

Mr Justice Kriegler admitted that his team which has since met ECK officials, media, civil society and religious leaders to shed some light what happened during the polls, was facing some challenges.

Mr Odinga said he was happy with Krieglers team progress and an assurance that they will complete and release their report in time.

We encourage them to continue with the work that they are doing, Mr Odinga said.

He further expressed hope that the commissions report will be satisfactory to all Kenyans.

The Prime Minister said Kenyans wanted to know the truth about last years polls so that they could focus on nation building.

Kenyans, he added, did not want a repeat of the violence that rocked the country following the disputed poll results.

Mr Justice Kriegler said his team will also meet PNU leaders.

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Ethiopia: Country moves to clip wings of NGOs

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source:Business Daily (Kenya),

Story by Argaw Ashine

The Ethiopian government is proposing a new law to restrict activities of the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the country. The law would allow a government agency to assign a police officer or an official to attend any NGO’s internal meetings without a court order.

It will also authorise the seizing of property, conducting searches and removing NGO staff if their activities are believed to be unlawful. The law excludes international and non-Ethiopian organisations from democracy, human rights, good governance, and conflict resolution activities. Known as Charities and Societies Proclamation, the law restricts local NGOs to source more than 90 per cent of their funding from within the country.
Observers have protested the development, saying the funding clause was unrealistic for a country dependent on high amount of foreign aid.

Most NGOs depend on foreign aid, and local financing is negligible. Western diplomats and donor groups are preparing to request Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, one of the architects and chairman of African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) forum, to reconsider this move which they believe is another attempt at crippling the country’s democracy. After the 2005 post-election crisis, Meles was seen defiant of Western pressure and he described their aid cut as “a shameful act”.

The government has alleged some NGOs affiliated to international organisations operating in Ethiopia have a hidden agenda. Last year, the government expelled the International Red Cross Society from eastern Ethiopia claiming it was involved in “illegal” activities. The charity dismissed the allegations. In the attempts to have the law reviewed, local and international NGOs have appealed to the government for further discussions.

Minas Hiruy, the head and founder of Hope- a local orphanage – has asked the authorities to reconsider the move. “It’s death penalty against us and we are appealing and crying to the government for dialogue before the law is sent to Parliament” Mr Minas said. Getnet Assefa, a consultant with the European Union, said a government that receives the highest percentage of international aid lacks the moral stand to disqualify NGOs based on how they get the funds.

Executive director of Poverty Action Network in Ethiopian (PANE), Eshetu Bekele, asked the government to appreciate the role of NGOs towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals. “The government must respect its commitment in various international conventions including NEPAD and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)” Eshetu said. Five religious groups have aslo indicated they will be seeking audience with the authorities, saying the development would not only be limiting participation in development activities, but will also threaten religious rights.

Assefa Kesito, Minister of Justice, however, said the law would first be sent to the Cabinet before it goes to Parliament within a “short period of time.” “We are running out of time to send out the law and they [NGOs] can forward their inputs in the coming days” Assafa added. Assefa said Parliament had until the end of June this year to approve the law. There are more than 3,000 NGOs covering various sectors in the country. They are estimated to be controlling more than $1 billion.

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The publisher, Korir, is the Chief Edito,r African Press International – API

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Kate’s stand-in role for William at his cousin’s wedding

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

Publisher.korir, source.dailymail

By REBECCA ENGLISH and RICHARD KAY

Kate Middleton in black sequin dressStand in: Kate Middleton will attend the wedding in William’s place.

Kate Middleton will attend Saturday’s royal wedding alone while Prince William sees a former girlfriend’s brother marry in Africa. Miss Middleton will represent the Prince at the marriage of Peter Phillips.�

The fact she is doing so at a ceremony where the Queen and most of the senior royals are guests is the clearest signal yet that an engagement may come sooner rather than later.

It is also an indication of Miss Middleton’s intimacy with the Royal Family.

Her relaxed attitude demonstrates the extent to which the couple have patched up their relationship since their brief split last spring.

The wedding of the Queen’s grandson, Peter Phillips, to Canadian-born Autumn Kelly in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, is likely to attract the biggest royal turnout for years.

Prince Harry is using the occasion as an opportunity to introduce his girlfriend Chelsy Davy to his grandmother.�

William, however, will be in Kenya to see childhood sweetheart Jecca Craig’s brother Batian wed in an exotic Maasai-themed ceremony.��

Clarence House declined to comment yesterday on the Prince’s trip but a senior royal source revealed: “Prince William is going to be out of the country this weekend on a long standing prior engagement.�

“It’s an unfortunate clash but he spoke to his cousin Peter and he is fine with the situation. His girlfriend will be going in his absence.”

While some have accused William of snubbing his cousin’s wedding, friends say he was asked last year by Miss Craig’s brother to be the guest-of-honour at his marriage, long before the date was set for Mr Phillips’s big day.

“It was a difficult decision as Peter and William are very close but the two talked it through,” said a friend of the Prince.

“William felt he had to go to Kenya because the Craigs asked him first and it was the fairest thing to do. That’s why William was so keen to go to Peter’s stag party last month.”

He and Miss Middleton hit on the solution to solve the diary clash.�

Away: Prince William will be in Kenya to see childhood sweetheart Jecca Craig’s brother Batian wed

“It’s a classic royal manoeuvre and just what William’s mother Diana used to do with Prince Charles,” said a royal aide.

The plan underlines the strength of the couple’s relationship. Many friends believe the pair are already unofficially engaged – though none will say so on record – and that the next royal wedding they attend together could be their own.�

William flew out to Lewa Downs, a wildlife conservancy run by Jecca’s parents, Ian and Jane, in the foothills of Mount Kenya, last weekend.�

Eight years ago he spent several weeks working on the estate as part of his gap year where he is said to have enjoyed a teenage romance with Miss Craig – who bears an uncanny likeness to Kate.�

There was even a suggestion that the pair enjoyed a “pretend” engagement, although this has been denied by Clarence House and Miss Craig has since had several long-term boyfriends.�

The pair have, however, remained close, with William travelling out to Kenya almost every year since to visit her family, who have been praised for their work protecting rare rhino.

The Prince regards the Craigs as something of a second family.

Not only is he passionate about the couple’s conservation efforts, but he relishes the freedom of living on their isolated 45,000-acre estate.

Tale of two venues: Prince William will attended a wedding at Kenya’s Lewa Wilderness Lodge, while Kate will be a guest at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
Three years ago, he took Miss Middleton out to meet them too.

William will take part in an outdoor ceremony which will continue into Sunday morning when brightly dressed Maasai elders will pour milk over Batian and his bride, British-born Melissa Duveen and offer prayers for long life and happiness.�

When he returns to England next week William will start preparing for a three-month attachment with the Royal Navy.

Love match: Autumn Kelly with her fiance, the Queen’s favourite grandson, Peter Philips

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AFRICAN PRESS INTERNATIONAL – API

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Kenya media lied to the public: Government corrects the lies, WHAT WAS REALLY DECIDED AND NOT DECIDED BY CABINET YESTERDAY

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

PUBLISHER.KORIR, africanpress@getmail.no source.kenyagvt.spokesmansoffice

The Government takes great exception to speculative and misleading stories appearing in various media outlets on what was discussed in yesterdays (May 15, 2008) Cabinet meeting. The Government would like to make several points very clear:

  1. Cabinet meetings follow an agenda where issues are discussed and Cabinet memorandum presented. Decisions are either reached or deferred.
  2. Not all items in the agenda are discussed due to time constraints.
  3. In yesterdays Cabinet meeting, the issue of the Grand Coalition was in the agenda but was NEVER discussed due to time constraints;
  4. The issue of Mungiki was NOT in the agenda and was NOT discussed.
  5. The issue of Anglo Leasing was NOT in the agenda and was NOT discussed.
  6. Cabinet discussions do not amount to Cabinet decisions. Cabinet decisions are communicated after every Cabinet meeting from State House by the Presidential Press Service (PPS).
  7. Only the items highlighted by the PPS dispatch yesterday were agreed on.
  8. Quotes attributed to who said what during the Cabinet meeting are manufactured and deceitful. Cabinet discussions are secret and there is no public discussion of deliberations in the Cabinet meeting room. Cabinet Ministers swear an oath to keep secret matters discussed in Cabinet unless they are for public consumption.
  9. It is critical that media respect Cabinet and the process of Cabinet decision making and policy setting.
  10. Media owners and editors should realize that speculation on Cabinet meetings is very dangerous and could lead to disharmony in the country.

The Government requests that these issues be communicated to Wananchi so as to set the record straight.

Dr. Alfred N. Mutua
Public Communications Secretary &
Government Spokesperson

May 16, 2008

10:00 Hrs

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AFRICAN PRESS INTERNATIONAL – API

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Norway increases support 30 % to UN-HABITAT

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.No.embassy.ke

Society & Policy

On 3rd April 2008 the Norwegian Ambassador to Kenya, Ms Elisabeth Jacobsen (left on the photo)signed on behalf of the Norwegian Government, a new Programme agreement with the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, Ms Anna Tibaijuka at UN/Gigiri in Nairobi.

08/04/2008 :: With the new cooperation agreement Norway has increased its support to UN-HABITAT with almost 30 % compared to the previous biennium.

The agreement will cover the Norwegian contribution towards the implementation of the Programme of Work for 2008-2009 and the Medium Term Strategic and Institutional Plan for 2008-2013.

UN-HABITAT will receive nearly 25 mill USD over the next two years, and the focus of the Norwegian support will be on issues as:

  • creating an enabling environment for integrated pro-poor investment in water and sanitation
    addressing the youth agenda as an important crosscutting issue
  • support for local authorities and governments in adapting to climate change in urban settings
  • supporting gender issues as a crosscutting theme
  • developing innovative, pro-poor, affordable and gender sensitive land tools.

This grant is provided in addition to Norways general core support to UN-HABITAT, which will amount to an annual support of 5 mill USD.

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“Dismantle UNAIDS says international health expert”

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no

The writing is on the wall

for UNAIDs

PERSONAL VIEW Roger England

The creation of UNAIDS, the joint United Nations programme on HIV and AIDS, was justified by the proposition that HIV is exceptional. The foundations of exceptionalism were laid when the “rights” arguments of gay men succeeded in making HIV a special case that demanded confidentiality and informed consent and discouraged routine testing and tracing of contacts, contrary to proved experience in public health. But exceptionalism grewto encompass HIV as a disease of poverty, a developmental catastrophe, and an emergency demanding special measures, requiring multisectoral interventions beyond the leadership of the World Health Organization.

The exceptionality argument was used to raise international political commitment and large sums of money for the fight against HIV from, among others, the World Bank, through its multi-country AIDS programme, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the US Presidents’ Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. With its own UN agency, HIV has been treated like an economic sector rather than a disease.

The proposition of exceptionality is now under stress. The poverty argument has been exposed as baseless. The country surveys carried out by Measure DHS (Demographic and Health Surveys) of, for example, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania show that prevalence is highest among the middle classes and more educated people. Although HIV can tip households into poverty and constrain national development, so can all serious diseases and disasters. HIV is a major disease in southern Africa, but it is not a global catastrophe, and language from a top UNAIDS official that describes it as “one of the make-or-break forces of this century” and a “potential threat to the survival and well- being of people worldwide” is sensationalist. Worldwide the number of deaths from HIV each year is about the same as that among children aged under 5 years in India. Similarly, multisectoral programmes were misguided and have got nowhere slowly and expensively.

Some small projects of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have successfully integrated sectoral efforts, but government ministries such as agriculture and education have not succeeded in the HIV roles imposed on them. Vast sums have been wasted through national commissions and in funding esoteric disciplines and projects instead of beefing up public health capacity that could have controlled transmission. Only 10% of the $9 billion (4.5 billion; 5.8 billion) a year dedicated to fighting HIV is needed for the free treatment programme for the two million people taking those treatments. Much of the rest funds ineffective activities outside the health sector.

It is no longer heresy to point out that far too much is spent on HIV relative to other needs and that this is damaging health systems. Although HIV causes 3.7% of mortality, it receives 25% of international healthcare aid and a big chunk of domestic expenditure. HIV aid often exceeds total domestic health budgets themselves, including their HIV spending. It has created parallel financing, employment, and organisational structures, weakening national health systems at a crucial time and sidelining needed structural reform. Massive off-budget funding dedicated to HIV provides no incentives for countries to create sustainable systems, entrenches bad planning and budgeting practices, undermines sensible reforms such as sector-wide approaches and basket funding (where different donors contribute funds to a central “basket,” from which a separate body distributes money to various projects), achieves poor value for money, and increases dependency on aid. Yet UNAIDS is calling for huge increases: from $9 billion today to $42 billion by 2010 and $54 billion by 2015. UNAIDS is out of touch with reality, and its single issue advocacy is harming health systems and diverting resources from more effective interventions against other diseases.

Steadily, the demand is increasing for better healthcare systems, not funding for HIV. Mozambique‘s health minister stated: “The reality in many countries is that funds are not needed specifically for AIDS, tuberculosis, or malaria. Funds are firstly and mostly needed to strengthen national health systems so that a range of diseases and health conditions can be managed effectively.”

HIV exceptionalism is deadand the writing is on the wall for UNAIDS. Why a UN agency for HIV and not for pneumonia or diabetes, which both kill more people? UNAIDS should be closed down rapidly, not because it has performed badly given its mandate, which it has not, but because its mandate is wrong and harmful. Its technical functions should be refitted into WHO, to be balanced with those for other diseases.

Putting HIV in its place among other priorities will be resisted strongly. The global HIV industry is too big and out of control. We have created a monster with too many vested interests and reputations at stake, too many single issue NGOs, too many relatively well paid HIV staff in affected countries, and too many rock stars with AIDS support as a fashion accessory. But until we do put HIV in its place, countries will not get the delivery systems they need.

Roger England is chairman, Health Systems Workshop, Grenada roger.england@healthsystemsworkshop.org

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The publisher isChief Editor Korir, African Press International – API

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Pardon for poll violence crimes

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

Publisher, korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.nation.ke

Story by LUCAS BARASA

People who committed crimes in the post-election violence period might have a chance to apply for amnesty if Parliament enacts a proposed Bill.

However, those associated with crimes against humanity or where evidence exists they might have been involved in acts of genocide will not benefit.

The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) Bill published last week allows people to apply for amnesty to the commission, which will then assess and may grant a pardon.

Published by Justice, Constitutional Affairs and National Cohesion minister Martha Karua, the Bill follows recommendations by the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Committee chaired by former UN boss Kofi Annan.

Blanket amnesty

The Bill is aimed at promoting peace, justice, national unity, healing and reconciliation. It empowers the commission to recommend for reparations or rehabilitation of a victim if the application is found to be meritorious.

The Bill was, however, immediately dismissed as flawed by London-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) for suggesting blanket amnesty to some perpetrators of past crimes.

The national dialogue and reconciliation process was supposed to create institutions that can address Kenyas historical injustices and bring criminals to book, said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at the watchdog body.

But as currently drafted, the Bill has serious flaws that must be urgently addressed by Parliament, especially its amnesty provisions.

The human rights body said the amnesty provisions were inconsistent with Kenyas obligations under international law, which rejects impunity for serious crimes such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture.

The Bill should also make perpetrators of crimes of sexual violence ineligible for amnesty. The independence of the commission is further compromised as the Bill gives the Justice minister the power to scrutinise and approve all its expenses, allowances, and budget, HRW added.

The rights body further wants the Commission to be granted immunity from being sued for its actions to prevent it being obstructed by spurious lawsuits.

The commission will further have powers to take, purchase or otherwise acquire, hold or dispose of movable or immovable property.

It is required to prepare and submit a report to the President at the end of its operations and publish it in the Kenya Gazette.

The commission will be mandated to investigate violations and abuses of human rights relating to killings, abductions, disappearances, detentions, torture, ill-treatment and expropriation of property between December 12, 1963 and February 28, this year.

Economic crimes

The commission will also investigate economic crimes, those of a sexual nature and any other matter to promote and achieve reconciliation.

And for the first time in Kenyas history, the commission will inquire whether or not some communities had been marginalised economically and propose redress.

The seven-member Commission will have powers to summon any person to appear before it and those who refuse will be liable to a Sh100,000 fine.

Religious organisations are to nominate two people for appointment to the Commission and Law Society of Kenya, Fida, Cotu/KNUT, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Kenya Private Sector Alliance/Federation of Kenya Employers and Kenya Medical Association one each.

Three of the seven Commissioners shall be non-citizens. The commissions chairperson will be appointed by the President from among them.

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API

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Kenya – No agreement yet on talking to Mungiki. Food and security top Cabinet meeting agenda

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

Publisher, korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.nation.ke

Story by BERNARD NAMUNANE

The Grand Coalition Cabinet meeting on Thursday failed to reach a decision on how to handle Mungiki and other armed groups.

President Kibaki chairs the first session of the Grand Coalition Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi on Thursday. Top on the agenda was the need to boost security and ensure there was enough food in the wake of rising prices. Photo/PPS

The meeting, chaired by President Kibaki at State House, Nairobi, also resolved that food security would be the governments top priority.

It was the first formal coming together of the 42-member Cabinet.

Talks centred on the agenda and policies of the Government that brings together PNU, ODM and ODM Kenya.

It is understood that the meeting had on its agenda how to handle the security threat posed by the Sabaot Land Defence Force in Mt Elgon District, Mungiki and other outlawed armed groups and the fate of youths who were arrested during the post-election violence in the Rift Valley. Also on the agenda was the need to promote harmony among the ministers from various political parties.

Corruption

Sources said that other issues on the agenda included resettlement of internally displaced people, corruption and the question of protocol in Government.

The attempts by backbenchers to form a grand opposition coalition also featured as did debate on adoption of a harmonised Government manifesto to provide policy guidelines for the next four-and-a-half years.

Thursday’s meeting had been postponed twice; once because Prime minster Odinga was out of the country for treatment and on another occasion to create time to heal differences among the ministers from different political camps.

To promote harmony in the Cabinet, an induction and bonding session was organised in Nairobi was last week held with the aim of getting the Cabinet ministers, assistant ministers and permanent secretaries to work as a team and drive the reform agenda of the Grand Coalition.

President Kibaki convened Thursday’s meeting to drive the agenda of the coalition and find ways to tackle challenges posed by post-election violence, including finding solutions to the challenges posed by Mungiki, the Sabaot Land Defence Force and other armed groups.

Mr Odinga has in the past said he would hold talks with leaders of the sect. But in a ministerial statement earlier this week, Internal Security minister George Saitoti ruled out talks with the sect.

Protect lives

Although a plan for talks with Mungiki leaders was being put in place, it is understood that Prof Saitoti told the sitting that he was faced with the dilemma of accepting to start talks with outlawed gangs when the Constitution requires him to use the law to protect the lives of Kenyans and their property.

Those pushing for dialogue said the armed gangs had developed into complex outfits and using force to crush them would not succeed as the crackdown on Mungiki had showed. The final decision on the issue was put off until next week.

However, the meeting resolved that making the country food situation secure would be among the top priority of the Government. In this regard it was resolved that the country must urgently increase its food reserves, which will see the strategic maize reserves increased from four million bags to eight million bags in the next two years.

It was further decided that due to an anticipated grain shortage later in the year, the National Cereals and Produce Board should import three million bags of maize in the next few weeks as a precautionary measure.

The Cabinet noted that escalating international food prices were posing a serious threat to Kenyas food security hence the need to take immediate measures to cushion wananchi.

In recent months, consumers have raised concerns over rising prices of food and other basic products. Inflation, post-election violence and rising oil prices globally have been blamed for the high cost of food and other basic consumer goods.

Ministers agreed that the importation of grains would only be a temporary measure as the Government seeks ways of increasing food production.

The Cabinet also reviewed the re-settlement of internally displaced families. Members expressed satisfaction with the four-week old resettlement drive that has taken an estimated 70 per cent of displaced families back to their homes.

The ministers also agreed on the approach to be taken in the second phase of the programme to benefit those who were living with well-wishers and relatives.

Over the next few months, the Government will continue assisting those who are returning to their homes until they resume their normal lives. About 350,000 people fled to safety when violence broke out following the release of the disputed presidential election results on December 30, last year.

The Cabinet emphasised the need for national reconciliation and economic recovery to lay a firm foundation for social equity.

The meeting also agreed on the formation of five Cabinet committees on national security; finance, administration and planning; infrastructure; services and production.

Chaired by President

The National Security Committee will be chaired by the President. The other four will be chaired by the Prime Minister with the assistance of the two Deputy Premiers: Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Musalia Mudavadi.

In his opening remarks, President Kibaki urged the ministers to resist being distracted by issues that would delay implementation of crucial programmes.

Among other things, the Grand Coalition is expected to write a new constitution within one year.

We must have the drive to succeed in serving our country and Kenyans at large, there is much expectation from the Kenyan people and we must deliver on the promises we made, the President said.

He later hosted the ministers for lunch after the talks ended at 2 pm.

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API

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Obama accuses Bush on Israel speech – cheap politicking in search for votes

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

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

George Bush spoke as part of Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations [Reuters]
Barack Obama, the US Democratic presidential hopeful, has accused George Bush of launching a “false political attack” in remarks the US president made about holding talks withstates accused of supporting terrorism.
Obama accused Bush of implying in a speech in Israel thathe wanted to “appease” countries like Iran by talking to their leaders.

Bush, who is in Israel as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations, compared negotiating with “terrorists” to “appeasement” – the UK’s strategy ofseekingto negotiate withthe Nazis in the 1930s in an attempt to avert conflict.

Bush said in Jerusalem on Thursday: “Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all the time.
“We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into
Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if I could only have
talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.’

“We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

Obama has said he would personally negotiate with Iran if its leaders abandoned any pursuit of nuclear weapons and their support of violence and also said he would meet Cuban and North Korean leaders.
Hillary Clinton, Obama’s rival for theDemocratic nomination,says those meetings could be used for propaganda purposes.
Obama, the Illinois senator, said ina statement: “It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack.”
Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds said the remarks, which invoked thehorrors of the second world war and were made in Israel,”seemed calculated to drive a wedge between Obama and American Jewish voters”.
The White House later denied that the US leader’scomments were aimed at Obama.
However, John McCain, the presumptive Republican candidate, said he backed Bush’s comments.
“Barack Obama needs to explain why he wants to sit down and talk with a man who is a head of a government who is a state sponsor of terrorism that kills young Americans,” McCain said.
Iraq withdrawal
EarlierMcCain had said most US troops could be withdrawn from Iraq by 2013.

McCain predicted violence in Iraq would be much reduced after his first term [File: AFP]

The Arizona senator predicted fighting in Iraq would be “spasmodic and much reduced” by the end of his first term in the White House if he is elected president in November’s poll.

“By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom,” McCain said in a speech predicting the results of his first term in office.
It was the first time the Arizona senator had put a date on when US troops could be withdrawn from Iraq, although he had previously said they could be there for 100 years if necessary.
“The Iraq war has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced,” McCain said.
He said that although the US would still have a troop presence in Iraq, those soldiers would not need a “direct combat role” because Iraqi forces would be capable of providing security.
The conflict in Iraq is unpopular with the US public and McCain’s Democratic rivals for the White House have both vowed to begin bringing US troops home soon after either takes office.
McCain has called such promises reckless, rejecting timetables for withdrawing troops from Iraq and has agreed with George Bush, the US president, that changes in troop levels should be determined by conditions on the ground.
The presumptive Republican candidate also predicted that Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, would be captured or killed, and that he would have improved military intelligence cooperation with Pakistan.
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API

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Cabinet rejects formation of grand opposition

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

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

BY Standard TeamCabinet ministers closed ranks to overrule the formation of a grand opposition.

In their first meeting since the formation of a grand coalition, chaired by President Kibaki, the ministers agreed that opposition was not necessary, as it would rock their unity.

The meeting on Thursday also agreed to open dialogue with the outlawed Mungiki sect. Sources said the Cabinet was unanimously united against a grand opposition with the Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and the Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, leading the drive against the push. The coalition, they said, needed cohesion not divisive effects.

Ministers who spoke on the issue and other rocky items insisted that everything possible should be done to keep the coalition together.

“I can tell you there is no fallback position in the coalition which will last till 2012,” said a minister from Eastern Province who sought anonymity.

“We agreed that we have no option but to pull together. All of us have to extend our goodwill to the coalition. Nothing more, nothing less,” said the minister, one of the few who spoke to journalists as others remained tight-lipped.

The Cabinet thrashed out key areas that have been threatening the coalition, giving hope that the partners would stand together.

The tone of the first Grand Coalition Cabinet meeting, chaired by President Kibaki at State House, was “unite or perish”, according to ministers who spoke to The Standard in confidence.

The meeting, which had started at 10am under a shroud of strained relations mainly caused by calls for formation of a Grand Opposition, ended with the Cabinet agreeing to strive to keep the coalition together until 2012.

President Kibaki set the mood of the meeting with the words: “We must have the drive to succeed in serving our country and Kenyans at large. There is much expectation from the Kenyan people and we must deliver on the promises we made.”

Another minister from Nyanza said: “The beginning was difficult but after we understood our common course, we spoke from the same script and if you can read my body language everyone is hopeful.”

However, before the meeting stabilised, it was rocked by a flare-up between two senior ministers who argued over one of the prickly issues the call to release suspects of post-election violence in Rift Valley.

A minister from the Rift Valley had proposed that the suspects be released since reconciliation had taken shape.

But the Minister from Central Province said everybody who took part in violence must face justice. It took the intervention of other ministers to calm the two down as they took on each other.

Another issue that cropped up in the meeting was the recent return into the country of businessman, Mr Deepak Kamani.

Delicate issues

Sources said a Minister questioned under what circumstances Kamani had returned to the country and settle normally despite having been named a suspect in the Anglo-Leasing case.

“The image of Kenya is being dented. We must unanimously be seen to act against corruption,” the minister was quoted saying.

President Kibaki maintained that those implicated in graft, including Cabinet ministers, would have to step aside to allow for investigations.

The debate on whether or not to talk with outlawed militia groups was raised. It was agreed that dialogue that can lead to improved security should be encouraged.

Cabinet was told by one minister that talks with Mungiki would kick off next week.

Raila had on Wednesday said he would lead the Government in seeking dialogue with Mungiki and other militias.

A statement issued by the Presidential Press Service after the meeting said the meeting dwelt largely on security, the Grand Coalition, resettlement of IDPs, development of infrastructure and tackling famine in the country.

The meeting, according to PPS, agreed on the formation of five Cabinet committees to handle the most pressing issues.

The committees to be formed will be National Security; Finance; Administration and Planning; Infrastructure; Services and Production.

The President will chair the National Security committee, while the Prime Minister will chair the other four with assistance of his two deputies.

Other issues discussed in the meeting include the broad reform agenda and delivering a new Constitution by next year.

Ministers drawn from parties that form the coalition sat side by side in the rectangular seating arrangement. Kalonzo sat to the Presidents right while Raila sat to his left.

In his opening remarks, the President challenged members of the Cabinet to resist being distracted by issues that would delay implementation of crucial Government programmes aimed at improving the lives of disadvantaged members of the society.

The meeting started with a word of prayer by the Minister for Co-operatives Development, Mr Joseph Nyagah.

They first discussed measures to enhance security around the country, and the policy the Government would adopt in resolving issues like Mungiki sect and other militia.

The resettlement progress for the internally displaced was discussed at length, with the ministers calling for speedy resettlement.

“Members agreed on the approach to be taken in the second phase of re-settling those who were staying with well-wishers and relatives. In the next few months the Government will continue assisting those who are re-settling until they have resumed their normal lives,” said the PPS statement.

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African Press International -api

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New appointments to Sports Tribunal

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

Publisher; Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.kenyatimes.worldnews.NZPA

Alan Galbraith, Anna Richards and Lynne Coleman have been appointed to the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand.

Their appointments were announced today by Sport and Recreation Minister Clayton Cosgrove.

The tribunal is an independent body that determines anti-doping violations, hears appeals against decisions of national sport organisations or the New Zealand Olympic Committee, and determines other “sports-related” disputes.

Alan Galbraith QC, a barrister and former Rhodes Scholar who was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1987, had a long career in athletics, winning several New Zealand and Australian age group track titles and more recently winning world masters age group titles in the 1500m and the 10km road race.

Richards is this country’s most capped female rugby player. With a legal background, she has worked as a tax consultant for KPMG Peat Marwick and is now programme manager for the Alan Duff Charitable Foundation (Books in Homes).

Coleman is a general practitioner and sports doctor who has been the team doctor for several national teams. She was the health team leader at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and will hold the same position at this year’s Beijing Olympics.

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African Press International – api

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Rugby: Wales to play Australia in November

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

Publisher; Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.kenyatimes.worldnews/AP

CARDIFF – Six Nations champion Wales will host Australia in November to mark 100 years of rugby union matches between the two countries.

The match will be played November 29 at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, after Wales play world champion South Africa on November 8, Canada on November 14 and New Zealand on November 22.

“South Africa, New Zealand and Australia are all World Cup winners, so it will be an important milestone in our progression towards the 2011 World Cup,” Wales coach Warren Gatland said on Wednesday.

“I have always said we must test ourselves against the best and I am delighted we have been able to secure this series.

“The squad has made significant progress this year and the … games will now provide a perfect opportunity to test how far forward we are in our development.”

Gatland led Wales to a Grand Slam in the Six Nations earlier this year. He will take the team on a tour of South Africa in June.

“We will have played the current world champions three times this year by the end of November, and that is just the sort of benchmark rugby we require in order to keep getting better,” Gatland said.

The Australia game falls outside the IRB window for internationals, but clubs Cardiff Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons, Ospreys and Llanelli Scarlets have agreed to release Welsh players for the game.

Australia also play New Zealand in Hong Kong on November 1, Italy on November 8, England on November 15 and France on November 22.

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API

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World Food Program appeals for $ 100 mn to fight hunger

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

Publisher, Korir, africanpress@getmail.no
Sources. Kenyatimes/agencies25.04.08
UNITED NATIONS: The World Food Program appealed for hundreds of millions of dollars (euros) to cope with rising food pricesthat have sparked protests and food riots in 34 countries and led to bans on food exports in about 40 nations.

Josette Sheeran, the WFP’s executive director, said the UN agency is facing a 40 percent increase in the cost of food and requests for food aid from countries unable to cope with the rising prices.

It expects additional requests from nations like Haiti whose citizens are becoming part of “the new face of hunger,” she told a video news conference from Rome with UN correspondents in New York on Thursday.

WFP usually helps between 80 and 90 million people a year and it is entirely funded by voluntary contributions. It traditionally helps refugees and internally displaced people in places like Darfur, and victims of natural disasters.

Sheeran said WFP’s initial budget of $3.1 billion needed to be increased by an additional US$755 million just to cope with the 40 percent increase in food prices. It also needs an extra US$418 million for new requests including $77 million (euro48.83 million) to help feed “2.5 million newly urgently hungry people” in Afghanistan, and new Iraqi refugees in Syria and elsewhere, she said.

That brings WFP’s needs for 2008 to $4.3 billion (euro2.73 billion) _ without any additional requests from the newly hungry. The agency’s New York spokeswoman, Bettina Leuscher, said so far it has received just US$1 billion (euro630 million).

Sheeran warned that if donors don’t provide US$280 million (euro177.56 million) quickly, “we will need to be rolling back in the coming weeks our core work that’s already assessed and already decided.”

“So we are in a situation of making some heartbreaking choices,” she said. “We are really going through our program and looking at where the greatest vulnerability is and which programs we can keep whole until we can raise that full amount.”

Sheeran said this year will mark the first time that the majority of WFP’s new needs “are coming because of this kind of market shock.”

“I have called this the new face of hunger because we are seeing many millions of people who were not in the urgent category even six months ago being pushed into the urgent category _ and we are seeing many people who were already vulnerable being put at great risk for malnutrition,” she said.

“We are seeing a more urban face of hunger,” Sheeran said. “We are seeing again people’s diets changing so maybe their caloric intake is the same but their nutritional status is deteriorating. We’re seeing people cut out health care and education.”

She expressed concern that in Burundi some people were only able to eat a few meals a week, and she said that during a recent trip to Kenya’s Rift Valley, farmers who were not displaced by the post-election violence were only planting about a third of the crop they did last year because they couldn’t afford fertilizer and seeds.

Sheeran said right now Africa is producing a tenth of the yields of farmers elsewhere _ and about half of the “urgently hungry” people in Africa that WFP is dealing with are farmers who can’t even produce enough food to feed their families.

“We are also concerned because this isn’t only an issue of hunger but one of stability as we’ve seen with more than 34 countries having the protests and the food riots in recent months,” she said.

Sheeran said there is an additional challenge of food supplies, with “up to 40 countries now that have some sort of exporting bans … which is challenging for the importing countries which are most at risk here.”

The vast majority of African nations, and the vast majority of the world import food, and the price hike is seriously stressing their reserves, she said. “Many are already facing inflationary presusres and many have populations that already spend a huge portion of their household income on food.”

WFP itself is having “some difficulties” buying food, she said, explaining that some sellers are breaking contracts and paying a 5 percent default charge because they can get more money elsewhere.

Nonetheless, Sheeran said, “I will say I’m an optimist because the world knows how to produce enough food.”

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API

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Mano River Union summit opens in Monrovia

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no

<Filed by J. Cholo Brooks/Liberia

A one-day summit of Heads of State and Government of the Mano River Union gets underway Thursday in Monrovia, with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf chairing.
The Monrovia summit, will among other issues consider concrete measures, aimed at strengthening the Unions secretariat. The leaders will also discuss peace and security in the sub-region as well as the looming global food crisis, with the aim of adopting a comprehensive approach to tackle the food crisis.
According to an Executive Mansion release, La Cote dIvoire, which recently announced its decision to join the Union, will formally be admitted into the Union.
The Current chair of the Union, Liberias President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (left- hand on the chest)will open Thursdays session with a statement. The leaders of Sierra Leone, Guinea and La Cote dIvoire will also deliver statements at the opening ceremony, following which they will retire behind closed doors for deliberations.
Meanwhile, Sierra Leones President, Ernest Bai Koroma arrives in the country later this afternoon for Thursdays summit. President Koroma will be received upon arrival by President Ellen Johnson at the Roberts International Airport in Harbel, Margibi County. Guinean Prime Minister, Lansana Kouyate, arrived Wednesday afternoon at the James Spriggs Payne airfield in Sinkor. Prime Minister Kouyate was received by the Vice President, Dr. Joseph Boakai. Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo, is being represented by the Head of the Countrys Economic Council, Mr. Laurent Dona Fologo.Thursdays Mano River Union Summit is the first in Liberia since the ascendancy two years ago of Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as President.
Mano River Union was formed in 1973 to foster economic and regional cooperation between Liberia and Sierra Leone. Guinea joined the Union a few years later and has since remained an active and influential member.

The writer: J. Cholo Brooks is the CEO Global News Network, Nic. -Publisher of The Star Newspaper- Website: http://www.gnn.theliberiantimes.com Mobile Phone: +2316461010/+2315461010

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African Press International – api

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Witnesses say Kenya police emptying refugee camp

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2008

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

By KATHARINE HOURELD

Associated Press Writer

Kenyan officials backed by armed police are forcing thousands of Kenyans displaced by postelection violence to leave a refugee camp, a resident and an international aid worker said Wednesday.

The head of Doctors Without Borders, Remi Carrier, said local officials accompanied by armed police officers were going from tent to tent Wednesday in a camp housing 9,000 people in the western town of Kitale, and ordering people to leave in a matter of hours.

“The police have removed my tent … put it in the road,” said 42-year-old farmer Ronald Barasa.

Barasa said officials would not listen when he explained that he, his pregnant wife and five young children had nowhere to go. They were squatters on a farm and fear attack if they return, he said. The family left after seeing a neighbor’s young son shot dead in front of them.

“They say we must leave this camp,” Barasa said. “They say they don’t want to see anybody because Kibaki says we must go home,” he said.

The reference was to Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki. Government spokesman Alfred Mutua did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The government began encouraging people last week to leave camps, offering them transport and food, but officials said the exercise was voluntary.

Barasa said his wife was at first reluctant to leave. But she changed her mind when she saw a district official beat another woman to the ground with a log when she questioned the order. The woman curled up in the mud as the official rained blows on her for nearly five minutes, said Carrier, the head of Doctors Without Borders.

Barasa said that, after the beating, which was witnessed by hundreds of people in the camp, the woman was hauled away by police.

Carrier said many of the camp’s inhabitants have nowhere to go, and even those recuperating from surgery are being told they must leave.

Thousands of houses and businesses were torched and about 600,000 people were forced from their homes in violence following Kenya’s disputed Dec. 27 elections. Clashes took an ethnic turn, and tribes with long-held land and political grievances began attacking each other.

After months of peace talks, Kibaki and former opposition leader Raila Odinga formed a unity government last month.

The government is anxious for displaced farmers to return home and plant crops during the rainy season, which already has started. Kenya faces a severe shortfall of the staple corn, just as world prices are skyrocketing, because many farmers’ homes and fields were burnt in the violence.

Last week the government launched an operation to help the displaced get home. But many interviewed by The Associated Press said they fear more attacks if they return. Others who left camps swiftly have returned, saying they found inadequate food, shelter and security.

At the Kitale camp, Carrier said many people were considering fleeing to neighboring Uganda.

“They are saying if we can’t be displaced in our own country, we will be refugees in Uganda,” he said.

More than 2,400 Kenyan refugees are living at a camp in northwestern Uganda and countless others are staying with friends or relatives there. Given a choice last week to move to a permanent refugee camp or return home, only 323 chose to return to Kenya.

Stephen Ndichu, a father of three, said he would never go back, because a mob had attacked him with machetes and left him for dead.

“I can never go back after what I’ve experienced. I saw someone skinned alive. There is too much hate,” he said. “These politicians have reached agreement before but it didn’t last. Why will it last this time?”

Associated Press Writer Katy Pownall contributed to this report from Mulanda, Uganda.

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API

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