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Archive for May 17th, 2008

United Bank for Africa extends operations to Cameroon, to invest $100 million dollars

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008

Publisher: Korir,

Story written by Tansa Musa

DOUALA, May16 West Africas largest bank, the UnitedBank for Africa (UBA), will invest 100 million dollars to develop small and medium scale enterprises in Cameroon as a means to boosting the countrys economy, UBA Cameroon managing director and CEO, Emeke I. Iweriebor has said.

We are starting with 10 million dollars, but we intend to invest 100 million dollars Iweriebor told the press this weekin Cameroon’s main commercial centre, Douala. Our strategy in Cameroon is to be embedded in the economy and society. We have supported and will continue to support small and medium size enterprises and the commodities sector (cocoa and coffee), because we know that most economies are built by small and medium size entities. We will provide credits to small and medium scale enterprises because we are a bank focused on reaching the largest number of people within the shortest possible time.

The UBA took over the assets and liabilities of the British and French Bank Limited, a former subsidiary of Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP), which carried on business in Nigeria since 1949 and commenced business officially as UBA in 1961. Today, according to Iweriebor, it is a bank with a balance sheet plus contingents in excess of 13 billion dollars and more than 6 million customer accounts, operating in Africa, notably in Nigeria where it has 700 branches, Ghana , Ivory Coast , Uganda and Cameroon , and intends to expand to Liberia and Sierra Leone later this year.

Todays United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) is the product of the merger of Nigerias thirdand fifthlargest banks, namely the old UBA and the former Standard Trust Bank Plc, and a subsequent acquisition of the erstwhile Continental Trust Bank Limited (CTB). The union emerged as the first successful corporate combination in the history of Nigerian banking.

In Cameroon , the bank was licensed as an investment services provider in August 2007 in line with its intention to expand its activities in Africa and participate in the development of the CEMAC (Economic and Monetary Community of Central African) region economies, he said.

It commenced operations in this country straddling West and Central Africa in last December and as at now has five branches in four provinces, two of them in the main commercial centre and port town of Douala , and one each in Yaounde , Bamenda and Bafoussam.

We intend to reach all the provinces in Cameroon in this season because our strategy is to be where the people are and the people and not only in the major cities. The people are every where in Cameroon . We want to democratize banking services, make our services accessible and affordable to all.

Iweriebor said the bank is driven primarily by a desire to provide its customers with world-class services based on access to its extensive network branches as well as c comprehensive and well-priced products suite.

The UBA Cameroon CEO regretted the countrys poor rating on the international scene as far as doing business is concerned, but said this should serve as a challenge to the bank and other financial services providers who want to see Africa progress economically, provide jobs to its youths and end or significantly reduce brain drain.

We are an African bank, we cannot run away from our home. We have the responsibility and challenge to develop Africa, that is why we are in Cameroon , he said. As the largest bank in Africa south of the Sahara, except South Africa , we have seen that banking has the capacity to exponentially improve any economy when people and individuals have access to financial services. Our intention is to be the undisputed leading and dominant financial services institution in Africa .

He said the UBA is offering a wide range of products to its customers in Cameroon , including, beyond traditional banking operations, electronic banking solutions as UBA debit cards which will be used to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines or make purchases on the internet and round the clock access to banking services. Another main product beingoffered byUBA to its customers isCashfast, which will enable customers to transfer money from one town to another within three seconds, he stated.(END)


The Publisher Korir, is the Chief Editor African Press International API

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Edward Kennedy, brother of late JF Kennedy president of the US has been taken ill – rushed to hospital

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.aljazeeratv

Edward Kennedy

Senior Senator

Ted KennedyAljazeera tv has just reported that senator Edward Kennedy, the brother of the late US president JF Kennedy has been rushed to hospital after colapsing.

Kennedy was rushed to a Cape Cod hospital from the Kennedy Compound and then was subsequently transferred by helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. According to other sources, Kennedy was suffering from symptoms of a stroke.

Edward Kennedy has served the US people in the senate for many years as Massachusetts Senator. One time , he wanted to run for thepresidency but changed his mind fearing he could be assasinated like his two brothers JF Kennedy who was murdered while he was US president and his brother Robert Kennedy who was killed while campagning to take over the presidency. He had just been nominated by the Democrats as their sole candidate.

Edward Moore “Ted” Kennedy (born February 22, 1932) is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. In office since November 1962, Kennedy is the second-longest serving member of the Senate, after President pro tempore of the United States Senate Robert Byrd of West Virginia. The most prominent living member of the Kennedy family, he is the younger brother of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, both of whom were assassinated, the former on November 22, 1963, the latter on June 5, 1968. He is also the father of Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy.

Ted Kennedy is a staunch advocate of liberal principles, and is one of the most influential and enduring icons of his party.

Kennedy is the youngest of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, a prominent Irish-American family. He attended the Fessenden School, and later Milton Academy and entered Harvard College in 1950, where he resided in Winthrop House. Kennedy was also a member of the Owl Club. He was expelled from Harvard in May 1951 after he was caught cheating during a Spanish examination. Kennedy entered the United States Army for two years and was assigned to the SHAPE headquarters in Paris. He eventually re-entered Harvard, graduating in 1956. In the 1955 Harvard-Yale football game (which Yale won 21-7), Kennedy caught Harvard’s only touchdown pass.[2] In 1958, he attended the Hague Academy of International Law. He earned his law degree from the University of Virginia, where he was the winner of the William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition, and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1959. While he was in law school, he managed his brother John’s 1958 Senate re-election campaign.

His home is in Hyannis, Massachusetts, where he lives with his second wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, a Washington lawyer and the daughter of Louisiana judge Edmund Reggie, and her children from a previous marriage, Curran and Caroline. Victoria is president and co-founder of Common Sense about Kids and Guns, an advocacy group that seeks to reduce gun deaths and injuries to children in the United States. He has three grown children from his first marriage with Virginia Joan Bennett (married on November 29, 1958, in Bronxville, New York), whom he met while delivering a speech at Manhattanville College: Kara Kennedy (born February 27, 1960), Edward Jr. (born September 26, 1961) and Patrick (born July 14, 1967). Kara married Michael Allen on September 9, 1990 in Centerville, Massachusetts. They have two children: Grace Kennedy Allen (born September 19, 1994 in Washington, D.C.) and Max Greathouse Allen (born December 20, 1996 in Rockville, Maryland). Kennedy has five grandchildren. After his brothers John and Robert were assassinated (in 1963 and 1968 respectively), he took on the role of surrogate father for his brothers’ 13 children.


The Publisher -Korir, is the Chief Editor African Press International API

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Tribalists in Kenya will soon face the law – no more employment along tribal lines

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008

Publisher: Korir,

This is a good step for the Kenyan people. Employment along tribal lines is unacceptable and must be discouraged by all peace loving people. Now that the government is publishing a bill to curb the situation, the Kenyan people should be vigilant and report those who will not obey the law when it comes into force. API

Government declares war on tribalists

The Government has finally conceded tribalism is a national problem that needs serious remedial attention.Consequently, if you are one of those who ever felt that your application for employment was rejected because the appointing authority was favouring his or her tribesmen, and women, you may soon have an office with which to register your complaints.

You may also soon have a chance to legally raise alarm and ask the Government to investigate an institution you have reason to believe is recruiting staff or conducting its affairs on tribal lines.

At the same time, Government officers who may have violated the rights and committed abuses on Kenyans by virtue of their offices have reason to worry.

Coming alongside the Ethnicity Bill is that on Truth, Justice and Reconciliation, which will be charged with establishing an accurate, complete and historical record of violations and abuses of human rights and economic rights inflicted on individuals by the State, public institutions and public officers since December 1963.

The National Ethnic and Race Relations Commission Bill, published this week, is a product of a realisation that lasting peace and co-existence can only be realised if communities cultivate goodwill and have access equal to opportunities.

The Bill seeks to give the Government powers to “deal effectively with the negative aspects of tribalism and ethnicity, which have pervaded various levels of the Kenyan society”.

The publication of the Bill may mark the beginning of the end for those who have thrived on hate speech and making fun of the cultural practices of other communities, making them look like lesser beings.

The Bill seeks to establish the National Ethnic and Race Relations Commission whose mandate will be, among others, to eliminate all forms of discrimination based on ethnicity.

The Commission will also discourage persons, institutions, political parties and associations from advocating or promoting discrimination or discriminatory practices on the ground of ethnicity.

“The Bill is borne of the realisation that lasting peace and co-existence cannot prevail unless various communities cultivate goodwill and have equal access to opportunities that may arise without discrimination grounded on ethnicity,” the Bill states, in its Memorandum of Objects and Reasons.

Further, it will promote tolerance, understanding and acceptance of diversity in all aspects of national life and encourage full participation by all ethnic communities in the social, economic and political life of other communities.

Should it come to pass, Kenyans will legally be required to respect the religious, cultural, linguistic and other forms of diversity in a plural society.

The Commission will also be required by law to promote equal access and enjoyment by all ethnic communities to public or other services and facilities provided by the Government.

The issue of access to public resources and employment in public institutions was a critical issue in the election campaigns last year, with claims that certain institutions were hiring on tribal lines. The Government denied the claims.

The Bill is, however, pushing for the establishment of a commission that will investigate complaints of ethnic or racial discrimination and make recommendations to the Attorney General or the Kenya National Human Rights Commission on the remedies.

That commission will have powers to recommend to the Government the criteria for deciding whether any public office or officer has committed acts of discrimination on grounds of ethnicity.

Another critical role is to identify and analyse factors barring harmonious relations among communities and recommend how these can be overcome.

The commission will recommend criteria for deciding if a public officer has committed acts of discrimination based on ethnicity as well as monitor legislation with implications on equal opportunities and ethnic relations with proposals for revision of such legislation.

It will have the added task of recommending penalties to be imposed for any breach of the provisions of the Constitution or any law dealing with ethnicity.

The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission Bill will have powers to investigate abuses and violations running from December 12, 1963, the day Kenya became independent, to February 28, the day President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga signed a power sharing deal that ended the countrys worst case of violence, with attempts to make the chaos appear ethnic.

The Justice Commission will have powers to investigate circumstances in which such violations were committed, listen to the victims and establish the motives of the persons who committed the violations.

Such violations will include massacres, sexual violations, murder and extra-judicial killings. The Commission will establish who was responsible.

Also to be investigated by the Justice Commission is grand corruption and the exploitation of natural or public resources.

The Justice Commission will also delve into the explosive issue of land, particularly illegal acquisitions of public land, and making recommendation on the repossession.

It will inquire into misuse of public institutions for political objectives. Further, the justice commission will inquire into acts of State repression including torture, cruelty and degrading treatment for political objectives.

There will be no amnesty under the proposed law. Those who want amnesty will have to apply for it, if investigations show that they did not take part in acts of commission of omission that constitute crimes against humanity or genocide “within the meaning of international human rights law”.

Those wishing to apply for such amnesty must do so within one month after the commission announces this.

The commission, the Bill says, shall give priority to those in custody and prescribe measures in respect of such applications after consultations.

After this, the applicant may be asked to provide further particulars and the Commission may make “such enquiries as it may consider necessary”.

Investigations will follow after which the applicant may be informed of his fate or accorded the chance to make further submissions. The application could be rejected summarily after a probe and the applicant informed accordingly, the Bill says in Section 36 (3) C.

“If the Commission is satisfied that there is no need for a hearing upon an application and investigation under this section, the Commission shall recommend amnesty and inform the applicant accordingly,” says Section 4.

The Bill says that the commission may recommend amnesty for violations committed between December 12, 1963 and February 28, provided that all relevant facts are disclosed and other requirements of the Act are met.

It goes on to say that whether an act, omission or offence “is an act of gross human rights violation shall be decided with reference to the motive of the person who committed the offence”.

Other criteria to be considered will be the context in which the act took place, the legal and factual nature of the act and its gravity.

The commission will consider the objective, especially whether the act or offence, was primarily directed at a political opponent or State property or personnel or against private property or individuals.

The relationship between the offence and objective pursued will be considered along with the directness and proximity of that relationship but will exclude persons who acted for personal gain or out of personal malice, ill will or spite directed against the victim.

If any persons are recommended for amnesty, the commission shall gazette their names, along with sufficient information to identify the act or offence for which the amnesty is recommended.

But if amnesty is recommended to any person for an offence, which has formed the grounds for a civil judgement delivered before the granting of the amnesty, the judgement will not be affected by such an amnesty.

If the commission refuses any applications for amnesty, it will notify the applicants in writing “as soon as practicable, giving reasons for its refusal to the person who applied or any person who may be a victim”.

The new law allows any person who feels they may have suffered harm as a direct consequence of gross violation of human rights to apply to the commission for reparation. If they prove their case, the commission may make recommendations to restore the human and civil dignity of such a victim.

The commission will, thereafter, recommend the basis and conditions for such reparation, the authority responsible and measures that may be taken to grant “urgent interim reparation to the victims”.

The commission will be a corporate body charged with the responsibility of promoting peace, justice, national unity, healing and reconciliation among the people of Kenya.

It is borne of the realisation that lasting peace and co-existence “cannot prevail unless historical injustices, violations and abuses of human rights have been addressed”.

The Bill stems from the discussions of the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Committee formed after the political crisis following the disputed December 27 presidential election.

The crisis brought to the surface deep seated and long-standing divisions within the Kenyan society and to heal those divisions, a raft of constitutional, legal and political measures were proposed, among them the formation of a commission to deal with historical injustices and human rights violations.

Says the Bill: “The establishment of the Commission was conceived with a view to addressing historical problems and injustices, which, if left unaddressed, threatened the very existence of Kenya as a modern society.”

The Commissions members will be vetted by a selection panel, after which their names will be forwarded to the President for appointment. It will have 15 members.

The commission will submit a report to the President after its deliberations. The report will be tabled in Parliament.

It will be dissolved three months after it hands in its report to the President, in which time, it will have wound up its activities. It will have a two-year lifespan from the date of its inauguration.


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One-quarter of prisoners in Norway are foreigners

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.aftenposteneng

Some 25 percent of prisoners in Norwegian jails are citizens of other countries than Norway.This is a huge jump from 2003, when just 15 percent of the prisoners were non-Norwegians, reports

For comparison, just 5 percent of those living in Norway are not Norwegian citizens.

The Justice Department report reveals that 683 prisoners began serving sentences in 2007, although the actual figure could be higher, as the report only counts sentences and doesnt include criminals who are directly transferred from arrest to imprisonment.

The list of nationalities in Norwegian jails is topped by Poland, Iraq, Lithuania, Sweden, and Somalia.

Less time for Norwegians
In general, non-Norwegians serve much longer sentences than Norwegian citizens. A large portion of them have been incarcerated for drug-related crimes, which tend to be relatively harshly punished.

Over 20 percent of the Norwegians behind bars were put there for drunk-driving related offences, which usually carry shorter sentences.

How the jailed foreigners came into Norway differs greatly by nationality. Some come from countries that don’t require a visa for entry, others had obtained work visas, and some entered illegally (without papers).

Some of the non-Norwegian prisoners are also asylum-seekers.

Story by Aftenposten’s reporter Kjetil Ster and Aftenposten English Web Desk
Catherine Stein



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Tents await asylum seekers

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008

Publisher; Korir, source.aftenposteneng

Norway’s left-centre government, overwhelmed by a sharp increase in the numbers of would-be refugees arriving in Norway, plans to start housing the asylum seekers in tents. “We don’t have any choice,” says Bjarne Hkon Hanssen, the cabinet minister in charge.

Cabinet minister Bjarne Hkon Hanssen is trying to crack down on the influx of asylum seekers to Norway.


Norway’s asylum centers are filled to capacity and there’s neither enough time nor immediate funding available to build proper housing for them. So the government is resorting to tents.

The proposal has sparked outcry from refugee advocates and was soundly criticized on national television Thursday night, after details of the tent plan were revealed. Petter Eide, secretary general of Norwegian People’s Aid, which is charged with building refugee facilities in Norway in addition to its overseas work, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that he didn’t like the proposal at all and didn’t want to be part of any effort to scare off people trying to seek refuge in Norway.

Hanssen, however, believes that Norway is spending far too much money on asylum seekers who have no real need for refuge. The tents, he claims, are viewed as a means of temporarily housing asylum seekers until their cases can be reviewed.

The large tents, to be set up near existing asylum centers at Tanum in the Oslo suburb of Brum and at Lierskogen in Buskerud County, would be able to house 80 and as many as 300 persons. Hanssen promises they would be of good quality with adequate sanitary facilities.

More than 3,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Norway since New Year, double the number last year. Both Hanssen and Justice Minister Knut Storberget, both of the Labour Party, view tents as the only way to handle the influx.

Hanssen also admitted he’s sending a signal to prospective asylum seekers that Norway will be strict in its evaluations of their applications. He said the government also will step up efforts to repatriate refugees from Russia and Iraq, send special agents to overseas missions to help fight human trafficking and evaluate whether asylum seekers must be able to document their identity, not simply provide probable evidence of it, in order to obtain working permission in Norway.



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Norwegians set for chilly national celebration

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.aftenposteneng

State meteorologists were predicting the coldest 17th of May in 50 years this weekend. Not necessarily bad weather, given the heavy wool national costumes that many Norwegians wear to celebrate their Constitution Day.

It was also cold and rainy all over the country on the 17th of May two years ago.


Gloves were due to come in handy when Norwegians celebrated the 17th of May Constitution Day on Saturday.


Recent warmish days were over on Friday. Weekend forecasts called for rain and maybe even sleet or snow in southern Norway, with only slim chances the sun might peek through the clouds later in the day.

The snow and sleet were predicted at elevations of 300 meters or higher, and also at lower elevations in the northern areas of stlandet near the Swedish border.

Western Norway was due to fare better, with a bit more sunshine. Rain and sleet were also in the forecast in northern Norway, but those living in Nordland County were due for fairly clear and crisp weather, at least in the morning.

“It will be cold all over the country,” state meteorologist Haakon Melhuus told “There will also be rain and snow many places during the night, and the 17th of May can actually be the coldest weve measured in 50 years.”

It was expected to be warmest in western Norway, but not much above 10-15C (around 55F).


African Press International- api

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Geldof ‘disappointed’ over Norwegian hypocrisy

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008

Publisher; Korir, source.aftenposteneng

Sir Bob Geldof, one of the world’s most famous humanitarian activists, has respectfully but bluntly blasted Norwegian governent hyprocrisy on poverty and environmental issues. Geldof said he’s “disappointed” that his efforts to prod Norwegian officials into meaningful initiatives have failed.

Sir Bob Geldof succinctly pointed out that Norway doesn’t always practice what it preaches.


Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg talks warmly about the need to cut carbon emissions and help the world’s poor, but his government continues to allow Norway’s oil and gas industry to spew carbon into the atmosphere and to keep cheaper agricultural imports from developing countries out of Norway.



Geldof has been in Oslo this week in part to speak at an international conference on trade and peace at the Oslo City Hall. He praised Norway’s intentions to fight poverty and control global warming, but respectfully suggested that Norway could start by changing some of its own policies at home.

Specifically, Geldof zeroed in on Norwegian politicians’ tendency to portray the country as a champion of the environment and human rights, at the same time as they conciously block agricultural imports from poor countries and pollute the environment with their oil and gas industry.

He noted that agriculture makes up only 2.4 percent of Norway’s economy, yet the country subsidizes it to the tune of hundreds of millions of kroner a year. “Why?,” he asked, following up in an interview with Aftenposten TV that Norway only makes things harder for farmers in Africa and other developing countries by keeping their lower-priced goods out of Norway through punitive tariffs.

“Calling yourself a humanitarian superpower invites people to point out the deficiencies,” Geldof told Aftenposten. He took up the invitation, not least because he feels strongly that Norway is in “the perfect position” to make a real difference in the world, and is squandering its opportunity.

He said he recently presented Norwegian government leaders with a written plan, outlining “adjustments” the country could make itself and programs it could champion in the international community “to help bring Africa into the world loop.”

He said Norway “gets listened to” because it’s seen by other nations as neutral with no agenda, sitting right between Russia and the US. Nor is Norway a member of the European Union.

“I spoke with (Prime Minister) Jens (Stoltenberg) and (Aid Minister) Erik (Solheim), and all those guys, great guys,” Geldof said. “Here you are, at the top of the world, wealthy… in the perfect position to do something…

He now feels he was speaking to deaf ears. There has been no response to his proposals. “Nothing happened,” Geldof told Aftenposten. “I’m kind of disappointed, you know.”

The rock star who organized the world’s “Live Aid” benefits and has been a tireless champion for Africa doesn’t seem to be giving up, and his comments may shame Norwegian politicians into action.

They came, though, just as the Norwegian government was announcing a record offer of NOK 1.9 billion in aid to its own farmers, and as news broke that Norway is emitting more carbon into the atmosphere than ever before, mostly because of its booming oil and gas industry.


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KENYA: MAKOKHA’S MEMOS – Judiciary tyranny in contempt cases

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008

Judiciary tyranny in contempt casesOne of these days, the Judiciary is going to overreach itself with hypersensitivity. It is one institution that receives criticism very poorly and reacts with excessive force. Nothing illustrates this in the present circumstances better than the summons by the chief justice to Mr Francis Atwoli, the secretary-general of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions, over suspicions of committing contempt of court.

Mr Atwoli breached many parameters of good behaviour on Labour Day. He subjected the President to a torturous 80-minute speech, performed clownish acts, and made numerous accusations against persons named and unnamed.

A supermarket chain responded in the media that same evening, and that was it. But the learned friends being citizens of a higher rank perhaps decided that they would pursue this matter. The judge who had been mentioned as threatening to make a finding in favour of one side if the attorney-general did not do his duty was particularly injured. She completely refused to touch the matter she had been hearing and sent the file to another judge.

She gave no legal reasons for sending the file away, thus giving the impression that judges can decide on the strength of their personal feelings which case to hear and which one not to hear.

File then moved on to the next judge, who went into a verbal fit and sent it on to the chief justice.

Now, the chief justice, Mr Johnson Evan Gicheru, decided that he was going to proceed with the hearing of a contempt of court case.

So far, there is no complaint before the court. If the learned judge who had been hearing the matter Mr Atwoli complained of had felt slighted, she should have gone to a police station and filed a report. Then the attorney-general would have begun prosecutions. The other way it could have been done is for one of the lawyers in court to bring the matter to the attention of the court, and have the judge order the offender show up to defend himself.

The only time that a court can start a case is when contempt is committed on its face that is in the presence and hearing of the judge or magistrate. This is the tricky part: the tradition in law assumes that judges and magistrates do not watch live television broadcasts on NTV and Citizen TV. And they do not read newspapers or listen to radio As far as the law is concerned, no judge saw Mr Atwolis theatrics on May 1. No court was in session, and so any judge who hears about it would have to be educated on it.

The troubles in the Judiciary today are a curious reminder of the charade the Court of Appeal ran on August 20, 1999. Six appellate judges, with Mr Justice Gicheru presiding, sentenced Mr Anthony Gachoka to six months in jail for contempt of court without the option of a fine.

Scurrilous attack

The court had found Mr Gachoka guilty of a scurrilous attack on the Judiciary likely to bring the administration of justice into disrepute, and they did not even have time to hear his defence. They also convicted him of disparaging the Judiciary. Mr Gachokas company, the Post Limited, was also fined Sh1 million and ordered not to publish a thing until the money had been paid. It was a judicial lynching.

The lone dissenting voice was that of Mr Justice Johnson Evan Gicheru, who said: This court being a court of last resort in this country, I shudder at the thought that with clear provisions of the law entitling the first respondent to give oral evidence on his own behalf after he has expressed his wish to do so, this court would be blind to the obvious miscarriage of justice.

Three of the judges among them the chief justice — sitting in judgment had been cited by Mr Gachoka in the Post on Sunday as receiving bribes.

Nearly 10 years later, Mr Justice Gicheru as chief justice has originated a contempt of court case not too dissimilar to the one heard in 1999.

If it was not right to be hyper-sensitive in 1999, it cannot be in 2008. More importantly, judges should not use public courts to settle slights on their personal character.

So this is what that amendment was for…

Last year, when I pointed out in these columns that President Kibaki had enacted an amnesty law without bothering to ask Parliament to debate it, I never thought it would come into use so quickly. After Parliament tried to bar the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission from stretching its work beyond May 2003, the President sent back that amendment to the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.

In rejecting it, he sagaciously said: The proposed amendment also has the effect of indirectly granting amnesty to offenders. Amnesty is, however, a major policy and public interest issue which cannot be properly addressed within the context of this Bill and which can only be addressed through a separate comprehensive Bill.

After Parliament agreed to make the changes the President had suggested, he somehow found a way of doing exactly what he had tried to stop. When the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, 2007 was gazetted in October, Section 25A of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act offered amnesty to offenders. Now, all that the KACC, the Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs minister and the attorney-general need to do is decide that they will not start or go on investigating anyone for corruption. All they have to do is publish their collective intention in two national newspapers, in return for a confession.

The culprit must then pay back all the stolen wealth and be disqualified from holding public office. No wonder Kamlesh Pattni sleeps so soundly, and Deepak Kamani, whose picture has been flashing on the KACC website as a wanted man, is now back in the country and voluntarily presenting himself for questioning. What was that about cancelling his passport and putting a reward on his head? There is an object lesson there for all thieves in Kenya, steal big and confound the authorities. You might even win admirers among the people. If you steal a chicken or Sh100 from your employer, offering to return it, together with interest, will only land you in the cooler.

No reason enough for such cruel behaviour

The Kapkota military base has entered into Kenyas glossary torture sites. On Thursday, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights added its voice to the growing concern about the torture and violations being committed by members of the armed forces under Operation Okoa Maisha in Mt Elgon District.

The findings of the national human rights institution come on the back of several complaints.

Etched in public memory is the image on NTV of a young man whose back had been disfigured with flagellation. The military and the police said the man was lying and that he had simply flogged himself.

Last month, the Independent Medico-Legal Unit published a report of its preliminary findings on systematic torture by military personnel with full police complicity of people suspected to be members of the Sabaot Land Defence Force.

The narratives that were collected by the lawyers, doctors and human rights workers who visited the area are chilling and horrendous.

Says one narrative: Seven helicopters came to the field at that time and dropped off military officers. The officers asked us to remove all our clothes. The officers started beating us and they told us that we should shout Jeshi ni moja [there is only one army] every time they beat us. I was beaten with a whip and wire; I was lying on the ground on my stomach.

They beat me on my back, buttocks and legs.

They told us to stand up and I was beaten on the chest again. We were beaten from about 7am to 1pm. We were then taken to a vehicle that was allegedly for screening and it had a computer inside. We were asked to stand facing the window. I realised that this was a hoax because at some point the wind blew the cover of the vehicle and revealed the faces of men who I identified as local residents and were supporting the government position on Mt Elgon.

The prisons in Western Province are full. The police stations are turning away suspects because they have no holding capacity.

Granted, the SLDF is a nasty piece of work. It is likely that its members have committed atrocities in the area, but that is no excuse for Government officials and members of the armed forces to behave like criminals.



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Why vernacular radio stations should never be banned

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008


Senior Chief Njiiri was a loyalist. Besides having 42 wives, he had a car, a horse and a radio rare commodities in the 1950s.

In 1956, the radio told him that Jomo Kenyatta, who had gone overseas, would never return to Kikuyuland.

One year later, the same radio told him that Kenyatta was coming back.

Liar! liar! liar! he shouted back at the wooden box furiously as he smashed it with a stick (some say he used an axe).

The chief mistook the wooden box for the unwelcome message (news). He forgot, or he did not know, that it was the voice behind the box that mattered.

There was no need for him to destroy his precious radio; rather, he should have confronted the colonial broadcasters.

That incident quickly came to mind when I read in one local newspaper that a decision was made last week to close down vernacular FM radio stations.

THE PAPER SAID THE DECISION WAS made after ministers at an induction seminar discussed what role the media played in the post-election period and what they should be doing to create national cohesion and healing.

But is it the business of the vernacular radio stations, or the media, to create national cohesion and healing? The answer is a qualified no.

National cohesion and healing are the work of politicians, community and spiritual leaders as well as others whose calling or station in life so requires it.

The work of the media is simply to report their efforts. The primary social responsibility of the media is to provide the public with the information and ideas that they need to make intelligent decisions. It is not to preach.

What part did the vernacular radio play in the post-election period? Some people say the vernacular radio merely reported a potentially explosive situation which would have exploded any way, with or without the vernacular radio.

Then there are those, including many in government, who say that the vernacular radio fuelled the conflicts.

They accuse some of the radio stations of hate speech.

However, whatever some of the vernacular radio stations are accused of doing cannot be used to justify a general banning order.

Because this would amount to wholesale censorship and violation of basic freedoms.

The problem, if any, lies in the practice of broadcast journalism. The Government should therefore seek to fix that problem, not to close stations.

Most of the private vernacular radio stations just like English-language ones are enterprises that provide entertainment, news and information without any real or overt political agenda.

All radio stations should be controlled by a uniform broadcasting law, without discrimination on the basis of language. After all, can we outlaw the vernacular, the very core of our cultures?

A thousand times no.

The ministers who want vernacular radio stations banned are mistaken about the use of the vernacular in communication and the value of community radio in development communication.

If the decision is implemented it will wind back the clock of progress.

But, I think, the decision has a rats chance of being implemented.

There is nothing in the use of vernacular that is intrinsically subversive, any more than in the use of English.

If the vernacular radio stations were destructive or divisive in the post-election period, then the medicine lies in prescribing what can or cannot be broadcast, not banning stations.

We should not throw the baby out with the bath water. Community radio stations have been immensely useful in educating and informing communities. They are the best thing ever invented since the village baraza.

Since the airwaves were liberalised in 1996, the emergence of independent vernacular radio stations has revolutionised the way this nation communicates.

Vernacular radio stations there are nearly as many as there are linguistic groups have become the voice of the people. They have proved that the most effective way of communicating with the grassroots is in the vernacular.

VERNACULAR RADIO STATIONS ARE king. They are the peoples voice.

It would be against the basic freedoms of expression and tenets of entrepreneurship to ban them.

It would also be violating Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights which states that all communities have the right to promote their languages without interference.

This country has as many languages as there are ethnic groups. It is obvious that the use of the vernacular radio is a key factor in economic, social, cultural and political development.
Everything must therefore be done to allow these vernacular radio stations to thrive, not to ban them.

There is no justifiable reason to proscribe them any more than there is to ban English-language stations.

To ban them would be discriminatory and unconstitutional. Neither the Constitution nor any other law of the land, criminalises the use of the vernacular.


api –

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Why people who support grand opposition are correct

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008


While they were in Hezroth, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses
Numbers 12:1.

Kenya is enthralled in a grand coalition government with its 42 Cabinet ministers and an attendant civil service and bureaucracy. We were all, or so we thought, celebrating this unique government when MPs Ababu Namwamba, Isaac Ruto, Kiema Kilonzo, Charles Kilonzo and others disturbed the peace and began demanding that a grand opposition also be formed.

Pro-opposition MPs Dr Bonny Khalwale (right) and Mr Kiema Kilonzo (2nd right) address journalists at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi recently where they announced that they were following the legal procedure in forming the grand opposition. Photo/FILE

These MPs have been accused of a plethora of motivations from revenge after failing to be appointed to the Cabinet to selfish attempts aimed at sabotaging the grand coalition Government.

In the political noise, we may be distracted and fail to give the grand opposition and their proponents a hearing. The main argument by opponents of the grand opposition is that the idea is illegal and unconstitutional. Yet I do not remember the proponents of this idea as saying that they will form the grand opposition against the law.

Truly, we are a nation suffering from selective amnesia. When the mediated talks were going on at Serena Hotel, PNU representatives and surrogates argued against a grand coalition government on the same premise that it was unconstitutional.

Ill-founded position

In this column, I argued then that such a position was ill-founded as ODM was not saying that there be power-sharing outside the law. Rather, it was that once power sharing was reached, it was to be embedded in the law, which has been done in the Reconciliation Act and the Constitutional Amendment. The law is a product of a legislative process to a political settlement.

Mr Namwamba and like-minded MPs intend to pursue the same route and have already set in motion the legislative process to anchor the grand opposition in the law. Law is made in and by Parliament only and not anywhere else. Parliament has the sole and exclusive legislative power to make and unmake laws. If, therefore, most MPs desire that there be a grand opposition, then it shall be so. It is only after the passage of such a law that anyone aggrieved and meeting the requirements of locus standi in law will go to the constitutional court to argue that the Grand Opposition Act is unconstitutional.

The role of opposition is not, and has never been, to sabotage the government in power. Sabotaging governments is both a treasonable and seditious offence and MPs are wiser. In fact, the only duty of the opposition in a democracy is to scrutinise government Bills, expenditure and check its exercise of executive authority. Without opposition, government excesses will never be checked. Dictatorships and sham democracies like in Russia, the entire Middle East (excluding only Israel and Palestine) and Ethiopia do not tolerate dissent and executive power runs amok.

Most scholars agree that liberal democracy is the highest form of human political development. This is also proved by the number of countries that have chosen this system which include the entire Western world, South-East Asia and parts of Africa such as South Africa. The rest of Africa is still torn between a semblance of democracy and outright dictatorship.

Liberal democracy is hinged on four pillars limited executive power, elected government, rule of law and basic freedoms. These pillars are maintained and protected by strong institutions, including an independent and impartial Judiciary, independent and accountable electoral organisations, a professional and independent police force and a robust opposition.

Lester B. Pearson remains one of Canadas greatest leaders. Whilst a prime minister twice in the 1960s leading minority governments, he successfully saw in his tenure the establishment of universal healthcare, university students loans, Order of Canada and the modern Canadian flag. What led Pearson to be successful was his respect for the opposition in Parliament.

In retirement

In retirement, he said that as prime minister, he watched the opposition perform their duty vigorously and industriously, with courage and determinationso often and so strongly recommended by those concerned with the vigour and health of Parliament and the health of democracy.

Richard M. Nixon was the 37th US president. He was president when the American war in Vietnam was expanding and finally lost. But that is not what he is remembered for; rather it was for his arrogance of power and disdain for the opposition. He wanted Yes-men to surround him even when the world around him was burning. Finally, in 1974, he resigned after he was impeached for obstruction of justice, abuse of power and failure to comply with congressional subpoenas. Nixon ranks bottom among Americas presidents.

Hans Christian Andersen is a legendary 19th Century Danish poet and author known for his fabled story, The Emperors New Clothes. In this short story, an emperor who was known for arrogance, pride and incredulity invited tenderers to make for him the finest clothes that ever existed. Two con men won the tender and conspired to embarrass the emperor. The two fraudsters gave the emperor allegedly the finest clothes ever woven, but that they cannot be seen by fools. Not wanting to be labelled an idiot, the emperor, his ministers and sycophants all pretended that they were seeing the clothes.

The emperor and his courtiers went through the streets of his kingdom to show out his clothes. No one had the courage to tell the emperor he was naked. It was only when a small and innocent boy started shouting that the emperor was naked that the crowd, after hesitation, followed suit. This was the end of the emperors reign after being exposed in public as naked. He would have remained in office had his ministers, courtiers and servants told him the truth.

In a normal democracy like the US, Canada, France and Britain, the duties, roles and functions of the government and the opposition are known and cut out. In these countries, the opposition is a government-in-waiting and has to at all times show that, given the chance in the next round, it will be able to govern.

Two top parties

In coalition governments like Germany, Austria and Israel, the two top parties form the government, but temporarily till the next elections, and all the other parties form a strong opposition.

A grand coalition is rare and is only formed owing to extraordinary circumstances such as the civil strife we recently went through. Gerd Strohmeier of the University of Passau, Germany, says that grand coalitions come about in only two instances a major political crisis or political fragmentation.

A grand coalition is therefore an imposed and temporary political arrangement not envisaged in a countrys existing laws. The grand coalition we have in Kenya isnt even a proper one as it involves all parties in Parliament, except Cyrus Jirongos.

The absence of an organised opposition in a grand coalition government can sow the seeds of destruction and implosion in both the countrys institutions and the people. Without checks and balances, parties that are members of the grand coalition can conspire to destroy and negate the national institutions. Strohmeier says grand coalitions create political cartels which will destroy all forms of opposition.

In grand coalitions, parties may forget that theirs is a temporary marriage. When the honeymoon is over, they may realise it, although it will be too late when there are no institutions to protect because they are destroyed. And they may also have forgotten to carry out the necessary reforms owing to too many distractions on plotting the next elections.

The opposition is part and parcel of all liberal democracies and its origins go back to the Garden of Eden and in the ruins of the ancient and lost civilisations of Rome, Sparta and Maya. Man fell out with God in Eden because he ate the fruit in the middle of the garden without raising opposition. If only Adam had stood up to Eve and if only Eve had stood up to the serpent, we might still be walking naked without shame in paradise.

Moses remains a biblical icon for which other leaders communed daily with God. Yet, his beloved sister Miriam and brother Aaron stood up to him and told him off for marrying the Ethiopian woman against the then Israeli laws. God chastened Miriam but only for crossing the line of opposition and claiming that God had spoken through her. She ought to have criticised her brother without claiming to be a messenger from God!

The role of the opposition is thus ordained in the law of God and man. There is a strong moral, legal and political basis for the grand opposition to be allowed in Kenya. In the celebration of the moment, we must never forget that we still need our country when the grand coalition government ends in 2012 or collapses, whichever is earlier.

Without an opposition, Anglo-Leasing and Goldenberg scandals will be kindergarten stuff. Without an opposition, the impunities of yesteryears will look innocent and nave. A government without an opposition, organised opposition, is like fire in the hands of an arsonist.

Parliament must thus rise to the occasion under the leadership of Mr Kenneth Marende and pass the grand opposition law by whatever name, and whether by amending the existing Reconciliation Act and the Constitution or by another fresh statute.

But that there be a grand opposition is an idea whose time has come. The soccer captain has to understand that his team, no matter how good, cannot play without an opposing team.


api –

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Raila will hire foreign football coach – where is the money from?

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008

Raila promises help for national team coach

By David Ohito

The national football team Harambee Stars may soon enjoy the services of a foreign coach, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said

Raila said he had secured sponsors who would pay for the coach.

“Well wishers have agreed to sponsor a professional coach for the national team Harambee Stars and help local clubs strengthen their teams,” Raila said.

He, however, did not reveal who the sponsors were but promised to unveil them at a later date.

Raila said the Government was keen on reviving football and taking Harambee Stars to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

“We want to see Kenya in the World Cup finals in South Africa. We promised to rehabilitate football and the journey has just begun,” he said.

The PM, however, did not elaborate for how long the sponsors would bankroll payment of foreign coaches whose salaries are out of reach for many poor countries and clubs.

Raila said he was keen on having football revitalized to tap the enormous talent among youth and create employment.

He was speaking in his office after meeting French Deputy Secretary of State for co-operation, Allain Joyandt.

Joyandt said the French cooperation was capable of offering support in football.

Harambee Stars last enjoyed services of a foreign coach Bernard Lama in 2006 but his tenure was short lived because the Kenya Football Federation (KFF) could not afford his salary.

Lama had just handled one match against Eritrea but soon after negotiations over his pay perks collapsed prompting him to quit in a huff.

The Frenchman insisted on better preparation for the team but KFF could not afford the Sh100 million budget he presented to them.

Before Lama, Reinhardt Fabisch and Nigerian Christian Chukwu were among other foreign coaches hired to manage the national team.

Railas announcement is good news to KFF who are facing financial difficulties.



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Kibaki, Moi urge support for the IDPs resettlement

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008

By Alex Kiprotich President Kibaki and his predecessor Moi have urged Kenyans in areas that were hardest hit by post-election violence to reconcile.

The two leaders said it was wrong for Kenyans to live in camps while others sought asylum in foreign countries because of ethnic hatred.

“It is not right for people to live in camps away from their homes because of misguided fights,” the President said.

Kibaki reiterated post-election violence should serve as a lesson to safeguard peace.

“Whatever happened in the last three months should serve as a lesson to all of us on how to co-exist,” he said.

President Kibaki presents a Mace to Kabarak University Chancellor Daniel Moi at the institution on Friday.

Moi said Kenyans should emulate President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in coming together to work for national unity.

He said the two leaders should be given a chance to address challenges of poverty, escalating food prices and the rising cost of living.

“It is time we gave the President and the Prime Minister maximum co-operation so that they can address issues that are daunting wananchi,” said Moi.

The President said the violence was misguided and urged Kenyans to forget the past.

Kibaki expressed optimism for peace.

“Do not worry about the nonsense of who incited Kenyans against each other. We are now continuing to learn from it,” he said.

The two leaders were speaking at Kabarak University during the award of the institutions charter yesterday.

Kibaki who praised his predecessor for his role in unifying Kenyans while he was president, said youths should not be misused.

He Grand Coalition Government was clear on what it wanted to achieve.

The President said the Government would only embark on initiatives that unify the country.

“We in Government are clear on what we want to achieve to make life bearable for the ordinary man and will not be distracted,” he said.

He said resources would only be channelled to useful projects to help expand facilities that will serve Kenyans.

He said the country almost lost its glorious past when it was rocked by violence immediately after last years polls.

Referring to pre-independence struggle, Moi said: “We did not fight for Kenyans to be free to kill each other.”

He said leaders should not divide people on ethnic blocks but should promote harmony.

President Kibaki said his Government would support efforts by the former president to spread the message of national unity.

He said Moi had accomplished a lot for the country and needed the support from all peace-loving Kenyans.

“Many of us are where we are today because of what Mzee Moi did since he joined politics,” Kibaki said.



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East African Community must be transformed to a Commission

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008

<By Leo Odera Omolo
THE East African Community should be restructured and transformed into a commission before a common market is launched in the year 2010, a special study has recommended.
The study just published reveal that operation of a common market require a commission with strong institutions that would demand partner states to cede some sovereignty to the institution.
Most organs at the EACs at the secretariat are too weak to implement a common market and that they require radical reforms in order to meet the international standards, says the report., just released in Arusha and Nairobi simultaneously
However, ,the report must be discussed by a council of ministers of the EAC before it is presented to the Head of States summit for ratification. The summit is the supreme decision making authority of the community.
The East African Community, the Court of Justice and the secretariat are not adequately strengthen and mandate to to service a deeper level of integration such as a common market, the study says
It further suggests that the commission should be appointed from any of the five countries for a five year term.
The study is prepared by a Nairobi based consulting firm. It further calls for the partner states to cede more powers to the proposed commission and other organs of the EAC to make it more effective.
Under the current arrangement, the Arusha based secretariat has very limited capacity to implement some of the key decision approved by the Council of Ministers.
The study presented by Mr. Kenneth Ameyo{consultant} with the firm to the businbess community and the governments officials, confirms the custom union {CU} that has been in operation for the last three years was a success story.
Under the existing agreement, exports from Kenya to Uganda and Tanzania are charged duty, while imports from the two nations
[Uganda and Tanzania dont attract duty .
The arrangement was designed to give the two countries sufficient time and opportunities to enable them compete favourably with much developed Kenyan industries.
Products from Rwanda and Burundi are also expected to enjoy similar treatmentr, after they join the customs union in July this year.
The Customs Union is now in its fourth year and is implementing a tariff programme, said the Secretary General Juma Mwapachu in a recent comment, adding that Inspite of some hiccups ensuring initially from unilateral and operation decision ma
de by the partner states significant strides have been made
Partner states include Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi

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Matsanga: I resigned for the truth

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008

Posted by API,

Former leader of LRA peace team, Nyekorach-Matsanga attacks the man who gave him the job in LRA Dr James Obita.

THE former head of the LRA peace delegation, David Nyekorach-Matsanga is not out of the picture following his resignation from the team over what he called Joseph Kony’s lies.

Barbara Among interviewed him on phone about his relationship with the cultic rebel leader and the aborted signing of the final peace agreement.

Q: Who is David Nyekorach-Matsanga?
I am a Ugandan who fled the country in 1985 when Milton Obote was overthrown. It was a Saturday morning at 10:00am and since then I have not lived in Uganda. I was born in Mbale District in 1957. I have eight grown-up children and some grandchildren. My principles are truth and nothing but the truth and that is why I resigned from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) peace talks negotiation team. I could not take Kony’s lies anymore.

Q: How did you get linked to LRA leader Joseph Kony?
A: In 1997, I was on my way to a Commonwealth meeting, which was taking place in the United Kingdom, when Dr. James Obita asked me to do public relations for the LRA. I accepted and that is how I started working for the LRA.

Q: Have you ever met Kony?
A: Yes, I have met Kony physically over 16 times.

Q: When you talk to Kony and his commanders, what do they tell you they are fighting for?
When I first met Kony and his commanders, the question of marginalisation of the north came up. And in my subsequent meetings with them, before and during the Juba peace talks, Kony pointed out that President Yoweri Museveni had mishandled the economy and democracy by not allowing other political parties to participate freely.

Q: Are you confident that Kony wants peace?
I am confident that Kony wants peace but it is the people around him who are confusing him. He is surrounded by selfish people, especially in the diaspora who are not focused and are not for peace. They bombard him with calls and all sorts of ideas. They never supported the talks and do not want Kony to sign the peace agreement.

Q: When Kony appointed you leader of the LRA delegation, what were your expectations?
I expected to deliver a peace process. Even the Government of Uganda knows I was going to deliver a peace process. Kony also knew and told me so. I am the one who convinced Kony to allow his team to return to the discussion table after the death of Vincent Otti (ex-LRA second-in-command).
I told him it was better to sign the final peace deal. With it, I informed Kony, that we would hold Museveni accountable. In response, Kony appointed me as the leader of the delegation. However, when consultations took place in Uganda, people were wrangling over money in Uganda.

Santa Okot conned very many people in Uganda and many hotels of millions of shillings in the name of consultations. This raised contention, leading to the sacking of Martin Ojul as chairman.

Q: What is your assessment of the Juba peace talks?

I am confident the peace talks will go on. A solution out of negotiations by signing this agreement must be found. I don’t think the international community will give money for fresh negotiations. So far this is the best agreement that has been drafted. Kony only needs a few things about the International Criminal Court (ICC) and mato oput(traditional justice) clarified. They (negotiation teams) know that these are the obstacles along the peace process.

Q: In your opinion, why did the peace talks drag on?
Previously, there were logistical obstacles which we overcame when I became chairman and made sure we thoroughly discussed and stuck to the programme. That is why we were able to finish the process in time. Of course there are some members of the LRA delegation who wanted money. My policy of delivering an expeditious conclusion to the peace process made them hate me.

Q: Looking at the agreements arrived at so far, do you really think the talks will deliver lasting peace?
A: Even if Kony does not sign this agreement, the Uganda Government can begin implementing it. Kony does not need to sign the agreement in order to implement it; there are signatures on those agreements that we appended in Juba. Kony authorised us to sign, so the agreements are legally binding.

Q: There have been reports of infighting within the LRA political wing (diaspora). Is this true? To what extent has this contributed to the delay of the Juba peace talks?
It has greatly affected the peace process. There are people in the diaspora who think that we should not have gone into talks with Museveni. They have failed this process.

The infighting and the tribal cocoons are because of people like James Obita (deputy leader to the LRA peace team) and Santo Okot are only interested in money. They want big money all the time. All these problems have come up because of money. We don�t understand why people would prefer to have money instead of peace.

Q: How much have Kony and some of his commanders� actions hampered the success of the talks?
In the cessation of hostilities agreement we said nobody should lose their life at the moment, but if the reports are true that he has killed Okot Odhiambo (his deputy) and many others, then it is sad. It is hampering the talks. I know there are commanders who want peace and would do anything to achieve it. Kony’s actions also lower the morale of those involved in the process. For instance, the killing of Otti was a big setback. Otti was approachable, would analyse issues and give Kony good advice.
But Gen. Salim Saleh brought in the money element. He gave Ojul $20,000 in Mombasa which was the cause of problems because it never reached the LRA whom it was intended for.

Q: Kony did not appear to sign the final peace deal on April 10 as was expected. Did he tell you why?
No. He did not, because he knew he could not set me up with another lie on the final day. He feared. But he has now started approaching me through different people and I am still scrutinising the arguments he is putting forward.

Q: What excuses has he been giving you?A: He said I should postpone the signing ceremony from April 5 to April 10. Then he asked me to call his wife, sister and uncles to sign the agreement on his behalf. He told me he would be in Ri-Kwangba, but he wasn�t there. When I found out that he was 300km away from the venue, I resigned.Q: It is claimed you have never met Kony and you kept him in the dark over the developments in Juba. He only got to know about the signing of the final deal on the day he was expected to sign. Is this true?
A: It is not true. Kony told me that he was on his way to Ri-Kwangba, so please, I am not a mad man. I have never been to Butabika Hospital and I could not have assembled so many people at Ri-kwangba if I knew the signing ceremony was not taking place. It was Kony who instructed me to invite the people and that is what I did.

Q: Kony has appointed a new team to the Juba talks. How will this impact on the progress made so far?
The new leader, Alex Oloya, is talking to me. We are looking at having a consultative meeting that could lead to the formation of a consultative committee rather than a team.

Q: But the LRA has said they will not respect any of the four agreements signed with the Government. Does the peace process need to start afresh?
At the moment Kony only wants two explanations on mato oput and the removal of the ICC indictment.

Q: Several legal experts and Acholi traditional leaders have explained mato oput to him. On the question of the ICC, several lawyers have visited him at his Garamba base to explain it. What is it that he does not understand?
You should know that Kony also wants power. From my deduction as a psychologist, he wants power and therefore he will look for all possible ways to get it. He is also being pressured and backed by people from the diaspora to go for it. But if they had left the negotiation to take its course, we would have signed the final peace deal by now.

I had contacted South African president Thabo Mbeki through my great friend Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwean president) to table a motion before the UN Security Council for the removal of the arrest warrant. It would have worked, as South Africa will soon be assuming the rotational chairmanship of the UN Security Council for one month, but we have lost the chance now.

Q: Kony committed serious atrocities in the North. The ICC says he must be punished for this. What is your comment?
ICC justice is not the best way forward. We need justice that can heal wounds and bring lasting peace. To capture and take Kony to The Hague and leave over 10,000 troops in Garamba can result in the rise of another commander to continue with the war. We recognise ICC as an international organisation, but what it is doing will not give Ugandans lasting peace.

Q: Some people say you are on the negotiation team to make money and get a UN job. What is your take on this?A:I want to tell you frankly that I had money when I was in London. The life I lead in London is great. I have my own house with everything. I don�t need anything or money from anybody. In any case, anybody in the LRA will tell you that I have been spending much money buying clothes and essential items for Kony. I have helped him survive.I bought clothes for the women and children in his camps. Now that I have resigned, I will continue to stay in the same Intercontinental Hotel I have been staying in. I only stay in five star hotels no matter what part of the world I’m in, because I also talk with presidents on the continent.Q: Then where is the money and UN job rumour from?
They are making allegations because Kony liked me very much in appreciation of what I did for him and how I treated him. Obita has never bought Kony anything, not even a needle. He only takes his stomach to the camps.

Q: Have you ever accepted or received any money from the Government of Uganda?
No, I have never even met with President Museveni. I only see him in pictures. It is the Obitas who have been there, and they are the ones who have seen President Museveni and received money from the Government. The President can even testify, he has never seen me. He never interfered in the process, neither did he call for a military option while I was head of the delegation. He should continue to leave us who know Kony to pressurise him to come back to the discussion table.

Q: What did you accomplish when appointed head of LRA negotiation team?
I have achieved everything. Let me tell you frankly; I was the one negotiating this agreement. All these people don’t know, even Obita doesn’t talk on the negotiation floor; you can ask Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Okello Oryem and Dr. Steven Kagoda. They will tell you Matsanga was the chief negotiator for the LRA.

It is with my knowledge that all these agendas were drafted. Ayena Odongo and I did very well to draft these agreements. The rest of these people are nincompoops. Obita has nothing to offer the people of Acholi. It’s a shame that he should pretend to be working.

Q: What do you think is the way forward for the stalled peace process?
It’s very simple. Continue to pressurise Kony to sign the agreement. We should not rush for a military solution because that will cause chaos in the country. Kony will bow to pressure very soon.


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Kenyans to get reduced number of cabinet positions – Parliament takes the first step

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source: Business Daily (Kenya), by Mwaura Kimani

Kenyans could in future get a fixed number of ministers after Parliament agreed to a motion seeking to control the size of the Cabinet.

MPs recently voted in support of the motion by Turkana Central legislator Ekwe Ethuro, paving way for the introduction of a Bill which will create specific ministries and provide for the requirements of each. Should the legislation sail through the House, taxpayers will breathe a sigh of relief given they are already feeling the pinch of financing the Grand Coalition Cabinet. Currently, the number of ministers is 42, up from the 34 who served in the previous one.

This is the largest Cabinet in independent Kenyas history and its naming elicited criticism from analysts who argued Kenyan leaders had little regard for public opinion, which was heavily tilted against a bloated government. Analysts said there was a need to cap the number of ministers a Government can have in order to check the huge budget arising from a bloated Cabinet. In determining the size of the Cabinet, the emphasis should be on delivery of value in the most optimal manner using the least resources, said James Thiga, policy analyst.

However, some experts questioned the timing of the legislation, saying some of the MPs pushing for it were disgruntled after being left out of the Coalition Government. Treasury has been hard pressed to raise money meant to finance the bloated Cabinet and the accompanying bureaucracy required for the newly-created ministries. Last week, Parliament approved Sh55.5 billion to be drawn from the Consolidated fund to support Government operations until the end of June. A huge chunk of this will be used to finance new ministries and departments.

Although Finance Minister had many options ranging from raising taxes to borrowing in domestic and foreign markets, he chose to tone down some projects in the Supplementary budget. This was not beneficial since the ordinary Kenyan is expected to face serious hardship in a less vibrant economy underlined by rising consumer goods prices. Inflation is said to have shot up to 26 per cent in April, up from 21 in March this year, buoyed by surging food and fuel prices.

Each minister earns an average of Sh1.1 million a month, including the Sh887,500 they are entitled to as MPs. Assistant ministers take home at least Sh950,000 every month. At the rate of Sh2 billion per year, the Kenyan Cabinet stands out as one of the highest paid group of ministers in the world. The ministers earn Sh200,000 as responsibility allowance every month while assistant ministers take home Sh100,000. Only Sh200,000 of the ministers earnings is classified as basic salary and therefore taxable.

This compares poorly with the rest of Kenyans who have to part with at least 30 per cent on their monthly incomes salaries and allowances.


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

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