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Archive for May 25th, 2008

Five die in fierce gun battle in Somalia after insurgents shell an Ethiopian camp

Posted by African Press International on May 25, 2008

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

At least five people died, including three Ethiopian soldiers after a fierce gun battle rocked Tofik Junction in north Mogadishu, when Islamist insurgents attacked at dawn on an Ethiopian bases at the former soccer stadium on Saturday morning, eyewitnesses told APA.

The Islamist insurgents first launched an attack at dawn on the Ethiopian camp with rocket propelled grenades, according to the residents, at least six shells landed inside the camp.

“Early in the morning, I woke up to the sound of mortar shells landing in our neighborhood. I realised that they were being directed at the Ethiopian camp located near our area,” Saalim Darman, a resident, told APA.

During the shelling, the Ethiopians soldiers began to come out of the camp and engage in a face to face fighting with the Islamist insurgents who were believed to be waiting for them near their camps.

As the fighting continued, the battle got intensive after a grenade thrown by the Islamist militants hit three Ethiopians, killing all three on the spot, the eyewitnesses said.

“The insurgents threw grenades at the Ethiopians soldiers and shattered killed three of them instantly. Other Somali and Ethiopian soldiers later joined the fighting, chasing the Islamist rebels,” Adirahman Ali, a resident in the area told APA.

Reports say that a one year old boy also died after he was hit by a stray bullet as his mother was shopping in the market carrying the child on her back, and he died instantly.

Meanwhile, in a press conference held near the international airport on Saturday by African Union peacekeepers, the spokesman, Major Bariyge Bahuko elaborated on Fridays landmine aimed at their vehicle, confirming that five of their soldiers sustained minor injuries from the attack.

“The explosion that hit an AMISOM convoy routinely in the capital resulted five soldiers sustaining minor injuries,” he said, adding, “two other civilians who were passing on the nearby road sustained injuries and are now being treated in the AMISOM medical center.”

Mogadishu has seen more violence after the Ethiopian invasion in December 2006 to support the transitional federal troops drive the Islamists from Mogadishu and take over control of the city and the south and central regions.

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Ethiopian police arrest suspects of recent explosion, accuse Eritrea of complicity

Posted by African Press International on May 25, 2008

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

The Ethiopian police on Saturday arrested several suspects in connection with Tuesdays mini-bus explosion in Addis Ababa in which six people died and accused Eritrea of complicity in the explosion.
The police also said that the explosion was perpetrated by the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), which Ethiopia says is backed by the Eritrean government.

Tuesdays mini-bus explosion occurred near the Ethiopian ministry of Foreign Affairs in which six people, including an Israeli-born America scientist,while another eight people were injured.

The ONLF, which claims to fight for autonomy for the Ogaden region bordering Somali, have been involved in various military operations against the Ethiopian government.

The Ogaden region is largely inhabited by Somalis. In April 2007, the ONLF killed 65 Ethiopians and nine Chinese oil workers in the area.

Since that time, Ethiopia has launched a crack dawn on this rebel group, which mainly operates in the eastern part of Ethiopia, bordering Somalia.

The Ethiopian police however refrain from revealing the names and number of suspects arrested so far.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia also on Saturday accused Eritrea for arming the ONLF to undertake such terrorist acts in Ethiopia to destabilize the countrys peace and development.

However, Eritrea has repeatedly denied such accusations.

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South Africa apologies to Nigeria for xenophobic attacks

Posted by African Press International on May 25, 2008

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

The deputy President of South Africa, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who led her countrys delegation to the 7th Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission in Abuja on Friday tendered unreserved apology to Nigeria for the attacks on its citizens in South Africa.

There has been a wave of attacks on foreigners in South Africa that has claimed lives and property.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said while no Nigerian was killed, but that the action was regrettable, shocking and would be investigated by that countrys government to prevent a reoccurrence.

The violence, she said was being perpetrated by hoodlums whose main aim is to destabilise South Africa and that 200 people were being interrogated in connection with the violence.

The recent attacks on foreigners in South Africa have been and must be further condemned. While it is presently an issue that is concerning us (South Africa) directly, and we are dealing with it, it is a matter that all of us have to grapple with, as a government, as a country and as individuals. Violence anywhere perpetrated against anyone is simply not acceptable and cannot be condoned. Not yesterday not today and not in the future, Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

I cannot believe that the issue is about jobs. I cannot believe that normal South Africans are against their brothers and sisters. While we do not have all the facts, I can say that South Africans have always appreciated the hospitality shown them by the African continent, their African brothers and sisters, during the dark days of apartheid. We appreciated the assistance then, as we still do, and remember even today. And that is why I find it difficult to believe that these (jobs) are the reasons being put forward for this violence against foreigners.

Nigerias Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, thanked the South African government for efforts made in addressing the unfortunate developments of the past few days. As you said, these occurrences do not promote brotherliness between our nations and should be brought to a quick end, he said.

The Bi-National Commission meeting ended on Friday.

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Posted by African Press International on May 25, 2008

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

The Frenchman, Bertrand Marchand, coach of Etoile du Sahel soccer club, has resigned from his post, sports sources told APAon Saturday.

The move followed his teams defeat against “Club Africain” which won the Tunisian championship title.

“Now, I have made up my mind”, Marchand said in Sousse at the end of the match won by “Etoile du Sahel” over “Esprance de Tunis” during the final round of the Tunisian championship.

This 1-0 victory was not enough to overshadow “Club Africain” which totalled two points ahead of “Etoile du Sahel”.

“I resign from “Etoile du Sahel” with the feeling of having done my duty”, said the French coach who also lost the African clubs championship title to the same team.

The officials of Etoile did not expect Marchand to resign earlier.

“A fortnight ago, I thought I would renew my contract with Etoile, but the spate of critics uttered by some officials of the team has prompted my resignation”, he bemoaned, hinting at the words from the clubs president who blamed the loss to an “unsuitable playing system”.

“I led Etoile to its maiden Champions League victory in the history of Tunisia and hoisted it up to the fourth world ranking, but I feel people have forgotten all these achievements following two ties with one during an away match against a team which was vying for its qualification for Division 1, Marchand said.

Contacted by telephone in Sousse on Friday evening, Marchand wondered “if there are coaches throughout the world that can equal him in such a short period”.

“I turned down many enticing offers from Arab clubs as well as the opportunity to coach the Tunisian senior soccer team, but all at once, I am blamed for everything wrong with Etoile.

He added that in Tunisia, “it is impossible to coach a team for over one season”.

The resigned technician did not reveal his prospective team, but various sources predict his destination to one of the Arab Gulf countries.

The Sousse club is expected to officially unveil the name of Marchands successor by next Monday.

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Zimbabwe: ZANU PF violence has crippled our campaign ? MDC

Posted by African Press International on May 25, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no sourceZimonline, by Tinotenda Kandi

Harare (Zimbabwe) Opposition on Thursday said sustained violence by soldiers and ruling ZANU PF party militia against its structures and supporters had crippled its campaign for next month?s run-off presidential election.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party ? whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai is expected in the country tomorrow after staying away for more than a month because of assassination fears ? said ZANU PF militia have tracked down campaign teams, beating and torturing them. ?There is no way our people can campaign. They are being hunted down by ZANU PF vigilante groups so canvassing for votes is proving a very big problem for us. Violence is the major hurdle to our campaign,? said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa.

He added: ?More disturbing is the crackdown on our MPs, councillors, and structures. ZANU PF has a clear strategy to decimate our structures from the very lowest levels.? The run-off presidential election on June 27 is being held because Tsvanigirai defeated Mugabe in the first round election on March 29 but failed to garner more than 50 percent of the vote required to takeover the presidency. The MDC, Western governments and human rights groups have accused Mugabe of unleashing state security forces and ZANU PF militias to wage violence against the opposition party?s supporters and structures in an attempt to regain the upper hand in the second ballot.

The opposition party says that at least 41 of its members have been killed in political violence over the past two months while several thousands more had been displaced from their homes. But ZANU PF spokesman Patrick Chinamasa denied charges the party was behind political violence and accused the MDC of raising the issue of violence only as a scapegoat for what he said was the obvious defeat Tsvangirai faces in June.

Chinamasa said: ?They are preparing for defeat. I have asked them to form a joint committee with us to investigate the violence and they have not responded. Their supporters are attacking ZANU PF activists hence they should stop pretending to be the victims.? Meanwhile the MDC yesterday wrote to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to express its lack of confidence in the body?s capacity to ensure a free and fair presidential election run-off.

A lawyer for the opposition party, Selby Hwacha, said in a letter to the ZEC an election managed and conducted by the commission would not produce a result that reflects the will of Zimbabweans.
Hwacha said: ?On the basis of the concerns expressed in this letter, MDC hereby formally notifies the ZEC that it has resolved that the ZEC is presently incapable of conducting elections in Zimbabwe that are free, fair, transparent, proper, efficient, and credible.?

The MDC lawyer cited the long delays to issue results of parliamentary and presidential elections in March and the recounts ordered in some constituencies before full results were known as some of the reasons the opposition party had lost faith in the commission?s ability to conduct credible elections.

ZEC deputy chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana refused to discuss the MDC letter but said the commission would respond to the opposition party at the appropriate time. He said, ?our response will come at the appropriate time. We will respond to the MDC, not the media.? ? ZimOnline.

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African Press International – API

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Raila fails to get support from ministers

Posted by African Press International on May 25, 2008

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

Is Mr Raila Amolo Odinga under siege?

By Oscar Obonyo

Prime Minister Raila Odinga stoked the embers of the Orange Dream to rule Kenya after President Kibaki to rekindle the party’s vibrant spirit in one of its low seasons.

Twice in a week, he spoke of the transitory nature of the Grand Coalition as a way of patching up internal schisms over Grand Opposition plan, which he opposed.

Raila also joined Orange Democratic Movement’s leaders in calling for amnesty to suspects being held over post-election violence, arguing they were demonstrators.

It was another week Raila strove to walk the thin line between Mr Prime Minister, with its attendant responsibilities and burden of image, and being the leader of a party whose supporters feel was short-changed in the power-sharing deal.

On May 17, Raila notably promised the country a new constitution by next April. It came again with another promissory statement to ODM: The new package in the Constitution will ensure a change in governance.

Some thorny issues

But the thorniest issue in the Grand Coalition, and which must be preying on Raila’s political mind, remains amnesty, which ODM supports.

The Cabinet did in the week slam the door on the idea; with the rider Government cannot abdicate its responsibility no matter the political season.

Then there is the grand opposition, which ODM and Party of National Unity wings of Cabinet resist in equal measure. But it appears to curry favour with backbenchers from both sides.

In the pursuit of amnesty as well as projection the PM’s office is up and running, along with the admission the lack of good faith could cripple the coalition, Raila appeared to send a coded message. That, either not much structural support is coming his way from President Kibaki’s direction, or it is but just in token.

The dilemma

Privately, it is believed Raila is grappling with a two-faced dilemma: He has to project himself as the ideal “supervisor and co-ordinator” of Cabinet affairs as envisaged by the National Accord, even when in reality there is still perception the power-sharing deal did not go the way it should.

It is here that examples of appointment to the Office of the President of former Cabinet ministers Raphael Tuju and Prof Kivutha Kibwana are given. Raila is reported to have been in the dark just as was the case with the shuffle that affected three Permanent Secretaries, last week.

The challenge comes along with the headache of convincing ODM members the party is in the Government on equal terms and they should treat it as their own. That is why such euphemisms as ‘come we stay’, ‘forced marriage’, and even serikali ya ukarabati (a patch up government), came from ODM bigwigs last week

Eyes on State House

Secondly, Raila has the arduous task of showing his capacity to lead, as opposed to the rebellious streak that he is associated with.

Unlike Kibaki who is serving his last term, he has made it clear the coalition arrangement was just a temporary truce. The real war is ahead and on the boxing ring will be such Cabinet members as Prof George Saitoti, Ms Martha Karua and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka.

It is a tight line Raila has to walk; projecting the face of an efficacious leader, as well as laying the ground for another stab at the presidency. In the process he has to juggle the interests of ODM while working to eat into PNU base. In the process he has to ensure he does not lose a slice of the ODM machine.

Raila is however optimistic and yesterday he reiterated his message of peace and optimism. “Though we did not get want we anticipated in the General Elections, it was an experience this country needed to unite. Let us forget and live in harmony…we want a ‘tribeless’ society,” said Raila.

“Today we have people from the lake marrying from the mountain…what we have experienced is a grand coalition of marriages. And just as the inter-tribal marriages are working, our Grand coalition will work. We just need to be optimistic,’’ he added.

He concluded: “Bygones are bygones. Let us focus on the present and the future.

Hidden hands

The disquiet in ODM is partly anchored on what MPs perceive to be the President’s indifference and hidden hand trying to undermine the PM’s office.

There is also the muted dejection from those who missed out in the sharing of ministerial and assistant ministerial seats. The near permanence of the appointments for the duration of the coalition gives them the signal their status may not change soon, and so should explore a greener pasture. That is where the grand opposition beckons, along with its modest tidings.

One month since being sworn-in as Kenya’s second premier, Raila is yet to fully get the compass and instruments to work. With President Kibaki and his key aides, including Head of Civil Service, Mr Francis Muthaura, practically playing the “co-ordination and supervisory” role of Government, the PM is still jostling for space to exercise “real power”.

An ODM backbencher best captures the emerging scenario: “I really sympathise with his situation. I see a man who is genuine and who went to bed with PNU to save this country from further bloodshed. Now they are shamelessly plotting to cut him and our party to size.”

That timing of the latest could not be worse. It comes at a time when the PM is facing internal dissent from some members of his party and a section of party supporters who disapprove of his political engagement with President Kibaki.

Signs that all was not well with the party that swept the boards in the last elections, was evident during the party’s parliamentary group meeting. Less than 40 of the party’s 102 MPs attended the meeting.

Although party Treasurer, Mr Omingo Magara explains that a host of MPs were involved in the parliamentary by-elections’ nomination, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Public Investments Committee (PIC) meeting in Mombasa, the deficit is still huge.

Hints of disquiet

Meanwhile, the ODM backbencher points out that even as he ceded ground “after being robbed of victory”, he did it for the sake of this country. “But from the look of things, it is clear that these people have something else up their sleeves,” he charges.

Asked to comment on the allegations, Karua refused to be drawn into the discussion. She said only the PM himself was best placed to react.

“I have not heard such a complaint from ODM. But if you insist on my response, then I will only do so after hearing it from them or reading it in the papers,” said the influential minister allied to PNU.

Although Raila has kept his cool, a couple of his ODM ministers, especially Mr James Orengo (Lands), have thrown hints to the effect that their boss and party are being undermined.

Last week, the vocal Ugenya MP warned his PNU allied colleagues against thinking they were “more ministers than their ODM counterparts”.

He, in the same light, warned junior Government officers against disregarding ODM ministers.

“We know a plot has been hatched to humiliate the PM because Kibaki and PNU were never interested in dialogue over the December electoral fraud, in the first place. Although few want to talk about it within ODM, we all know it and are doing something about it,” says the MP.

Even more glaring indicators of the problem are latest developments such as the handover to Government and alleged sale of the Grand Regency Hotel by businessman, Mr Kamlesh Pattni. The PM who has openly confessed he had no knowledge of the move, and has since asked relevant Government officers to furnish him with “proper details”.

Similarly, the PM, who by the nature of his position in Government is supposed to be at the centre of its operations, was reportedly kept in dark over the return of businessman Deepak Kamani, the man alleged to be the key player in the multi-billion shilling Anglo Leasing scandal.

Asked to react to the simmering tension, an Assistant minister of Trade in the Office of Deputy Prime Minister, Magara, brushed off the issue as a transitional challenge. The office, he said, was barely a month old and the Government was “cleaning up its act”.

The minister would not, however, reconcile the fact that the Head of Civil Service was running an almost parallel office with related roles as the Prime Minister’s.

The ODM Spokesman, Mr Salim Lone is more optimistic. Pointing out that progress is being made. Lone says the PM is intensely involved in learning about Government and ministries and is constantly briefed by ministers and Permanent Secretaries.

“Of course, there are challenges, which is to be expected in such an unprecedented arrangement, but there are daunting,” he added.

The PM’s office remains at the Treasury House, which also houses Finance Minister. It is the holder of the docket, Mr Amos Kimunya, who vacated his space for Raila.

Albeit the PM’s array of responsibilities and support staff, The Sunday Standard has established that the PM has been allocated 11 offices at the Treasury, which fall far below the requirement. But arrangements are under way for the PM to move to Shell House within six months.

On moving to Treasury House, a Ministry of Finance official casually remarked that the PM would have to make do with the furniture and other facilities available since the Government “lacked enough cash” to foot such a bill.

Perhaps owing to this and other challenges, the US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger made a disclosure that the US had committed $500,000 (Sh30.5 million) to support the development of the PM’s office.

In an earlier interview with The Sunday Standard, Ranneberger said his country was putting hope in the PM’s office because of the role the Constitution has assigned it – to co-ordinate and supervise government ministries.

Junior officers not cooperating

In the meantime, tension continues and it is the apparent defiance by junior officers and colleagues, which Orengo points out, that exacerbate the situation.

While snubbing a meeting called last month by Raila to meet US ambassador, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula took a swipe at the PM for inviting “busy ministers” to meet a “junior embassy officials”.

But even more telling has been the habit of junior officers jumping in to react to the PM’s statements. The latest was his call for amnesty for youth held by police for allegedly fanning post-election violence. A quick response came from police spokesman.

The apparent frustrations notwithstanding, the PM looks strong, focused and determined.

Says Lone: “Everything aside, the Prime Minister and the President are developing a rapport and real co-operation is emerging between the two.”

Nonetheless, the ODM official does not rule the fact that party politicking and positioning still thrive amid this loose understanding.

But in what could be an indicator that he is the ‘co-ordinator and supervisor’ of ministries’ functions, the PM plans to visit Mau Forest with ministers and senior officials from the Ministries of Environment, Lands, Water, Security and Forests. If they turn up instead of sending representatives, Raila would have in his delegation to the area squatters were controversially evicted by government three Cabinet ministers from PNU: Prof George Saitoti, Environment minister John Michuki and Dr Noah Wekesa (Forestry and Wildlife).

The out of town excursion could give the country and his colleagues perceive idea of the extent of Raila ‘seniority’. From ODM will be two outspoken ministers on the role of PM’s office –Mrs Charity Ngilu (Water) and Orengo.

Meanwhile, the picture of Raila as a man under siege from various interests in and outside his party continues to form. But to his credit he has the knack of sidestepping political landmines. But the question remains: what is really in it for him in the ruling coalition?

This question must also be preying on the mind of the man who before elections styled himself, thus: “I am that bridge – the bridge that links the historic moments of our past to the golden tomorrows of our future.’’

Is Mr Raila Amolo Odinga under siege?

Published on May 25, 2008, 12:00 am

By Oscar Obonyo

Prime Minister Raila Odinga stoked the embers of the Orange Dream to rule Kenya after President Kibaki to rekindle the party’s vibrant spirit in one of its low seasons.

Twice in a week, he spoke of the transitory nature of the Grand Coalition as a way of patching up internal schisms over Grand Opposition plan, which he opposed.

Raila also joined Orange Democratic Movement’s leaders in calling for amnesty to suspects being held over post-election violence, arguing they were demonstrators.

It was another week Raila strove to walk the thin line between Mr Prime Minister, with its attendant responsibilities and burden of image, and being the leader of a party whose supporters feel was short-changed in the power-sharing deal.

On May 17, Raila notably promised the country a new constitution by next April. It came again with another promissory statement to ODM: The new package in the Constitution will ensure a change in governance.

Some thorny issues

But the thorniest issue in the Grand Coalition, and which must be preying on Raila’s political mind, remains amnesty, which ODM supports.

The Cabinet did in the week slam the door on the idea; with the rider Government cannot abdicate its responsibility no matter the political season.

Then there is the grand opposition, which ODM and Party of National Unity wings of Cabinet resist in equal measure. But it appears to curry favour with backbenchers from both sides.

In the pursuit of amnesty as well as projection the PM’s office is up and running, along with the admission the lack of good faith could cripple the coalition, Raila appeared to send a coded message. That, either not much structural support is coming his way from President Kibaki’s direction, or it is but just in token.

The dilemma

Privately, it is believed Raila is grappling with a two-faced dilemma: He has to project himself as the ideal “supervisor and co-ordinator” of Cabinet affairs as envisaged by the National Accord, even when in reality there is still perception the power-sharing deal did not go the way it should.

It is here that examples of appointment to the Office of the President of former Cabinet ministers Raphael Tuju and Prof Kivutha Kibwana are given. Raila is reported to have been in the dark just as was the case with the shuffle that affected three Permanent Secretaries, last week.

The challenge comes along with the headache of convincing ODM members the party is in the Government on equal terms and they should treat it as their own. That is why such euphemisms as ‘come we stay’, ‘forced marriage’, and even serikali ya ukarabati (a patch up government), came from ODM bigwigs last week

Eyes on State House

Secondly, Raila has the arduous task of showing his capacity to lead, as opposed to the rebellious streak that he is associated with.

Unlike Kibaki who is serving his last term, he has made it clear the coalition arrangement was just a temporary truce. The real war is ahead and on the boxing ring will be such Cabinet members as Prof George Saitoti, Ms Martha Karua and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka.

It is a tight line Raila has to walk; projecting the face of an efficacious leader, as well as laying the ground for another stab at the presidency. In the process he has to juggle the interests of ODM while working to eat into PNU base. In the process he has to ensure he does not lose a slice of the ODM machine.

Raila is however optimistic and yesterday he reiterated his message of peace and optimism. “Though we did not get want we anticipated in the General Elections, it was an experience this country needed to unite. Let us forget and live in harmony…we want a ‘tribeless’ society,” said Raila.

“Today we have people from the lake marrying from the mountain…what we have experienced is a grand coalition of marriages. And just as the inter-tribal marriages are working, our Grand coalition will work. We just need to be optimistic,’’ he added.

He concluded: “Bygones are bygones. Let us focus on the present and the future.

Hidden hands

The disquiet in ODM is partly anchored on what MPs perceive to be the President’s indifference and hidden hand trying to undermine the PM’s office.

There is also the muted dejection from those who missed out in the sharing of ministerial and assistant ministerial seats. The near permanence of the appointments for the duration of the coalition gives them the signal their status may not change soon, and so should explore a greener pasture. That is where the grand opposition beckons, along with its modest tidings.

One month since being sworn-in as Kenya’s second premier, Raila is yet to fully get the compass and instruments to work. With President Kibaki and his key aides, including Head of Civil Service, Mr Francis Muthaura, practically playing the “co-ordination and supervisory” role of Government, the PM is still jostling for space to exercise “real power”.

An ODM backbencher best captures the emerging scenario: “I really sympathise with his situation. I see a man who is genuine and who went to bed with PNU to save this country from further bloodshed. Now they are shamelessly plotting to cut him and our party to size.”

That timing of the latest could not be worse. It comes at a time when the PM is facing internal dissent from some members of his party and a section of party supporters who disapprove of his political engagement with President Kibaki.

Signs that all was not well with the party that swept the boards in the last elections, was evident during the party’s parliamentary group meeting. Less than 40 of the party’s 102 MPs attended the meeting.

Although party Treasurer, Mr Omingo Magara explains that a host of MPs were involved in the parliamentary by-elections’ nomination, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Public Investments Committee (PIC) meeting in Mombasa, the deficit is still huge.

Hints of disquiet

Meanwhile, the ODM backbencher points out that even as he ceded ground “after being robbed of victory”, he did it for the sake of this country. “But from the look of things, it is clear that these people have something else up their sleeves,” he charges.

Asked to comment on the allegations, Karua refused to be drawn into the discussion. She said only the PM himself was best placed to react.

“I have not heard such a complaint from ODM. But if you insist on my response, then I will only do so after hearing it from them or reading it in the papers,” said the influential minister allied to PNU.

Although Raila has kept his cool, a couple of his ODM ministers, especially Mr James Orengo (Lands), have thrown hints to the effect that their boss and party are being undermined.

Last week, the vocal Ugenya MP warned his PNU allied colleagues against thinking they were “more ministers than their ODM counterparts”.

He, in the same light, warned junior Government officers against disregarding ODM ministers.

“We know a plot has been hatched to humiliate the PM because Kibaki and PNU were never interested in dialogue over the December electoral fraud, in the first place. Although few want to talk about it within ODM, we all know it and are doing something about it,” says the MP.

Even more glaring indicators of the problem are latest developments such as the handover to Government and alleged sale of the Grand Regency Hotel by businessman, Mr Kamlesh Pattni. The PM who has openly confessed he had no knowledge of the move, and has since asked relevant Government officers to furnish him with “proper details”.

Similarly, the PM, who by the nature of his position in Government is supposed to be at the centre of its operations, was reportedly kept in dark over the return of businessman Deepak Kamani, the man alleged to be the key player in the multi-billion shilling Anglo Leasing scandal.

Asked to react to the simmering tension, an Assistant minister of Trade in the Office of Deputy Prime Minister, Magara, brushed off the issue as a transitional challenge. The office, he said, was barely a month old and the Government was “cleaning up its act”.

The minister would not, however, reconcile the fact that the Head of Civil Service was running an almost parallel office with related roles as the Prime Minister’s.

The ODM Spokesman, Mr Salim Lone is more optimistic. Pointing out that progress is being made. Lone says the PM is intensely involved in learning about Government and ministries and is constantly briefed by ministers and Permanent Secretaries.

“Of course, there are challenges, which is to be expected in such an unprecedented arrangement, but there are daunting,” he added.

The PM’s office remains at the Treasury House, which also houses Finance Minister. It is the holder of the docket, Mr Amos Kimunya, who vacated his space for Raila.

Albeit the PM’s array of responsibilities and support staff, The Sunday Standard has established that the PM has been allocated 11 offices at the Treasury, which fall far below the requirement. But arrangements are under way for the PM to move to Shell House within six months.

On moving to Treasury House, a Ministry of Finance official casually remarked that the PM would have to make do with the furniture and other facilities available since the Government “lacked enough cash” to foot such a bill.

Perhaps owing to this and other challenges, the US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger made a disclosure that the US had committed $500,000 (Sh30.5 million) to support the development of the PM’s office.

In an earlier interview with The Sunday Standard, Ranneberger said his country was putting hope in the PM’s office because of the role the Constitution has assigned it – to co-ordinate and supervise government ministries.

Junior officers not cooperating

In the meantime, tension continues and it is the apparent defiance by junior officers and colleagues, which Orengo points out, that exacerbate the situation.

While snubbing a meeting called last month by Raila to meet US ambassador, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula took a swipe at the PM for inviting “busy ministers” to meet a “junior embassy officials”.

But even more telling has been the habit of junior officers jumping in to react to the PM’s statements. The latest was his call for amnesty for youth held by police for allegedly fanning post-election violence. A quick response came from police spokesman.

The apparent frustrations notwithstanding, the PM looks strong, focused and determined.

Says Lone: “Everything aside, the Prime Minister and the President are developing a rapport and real co-operation is emerging between the two.”

Nonetheless, the ODM official does not rule the fact that party politicking and positioning still thrive amid this loose understanding.

But in what could be an indicator that he is the ‘co-ordinator and supervisor’ of ministries’ functions, the PM plans to visit Mau Forest with ministers and senior officials from the Ministries of Environment, Lands, Water, Security and Forests. If they turn up instead of sending representatives, Raila would have in his delegation to the area squatters were controversially evicted by government three Cabinet ministers from PNU: Prof George Saitoti, Environment minister John Michuki and Dr Noah Wekesa (Forestry and Wildlife).

The out of town excursion could give the country and his colleagues perceive idea of the extent of Raila ‘seniority’. From ODM will be two outspoken ministers on the role of PM’s office –Mrs Charity Ngilu (Water) and Orengo.

Meanwhile, the picture of Raila as a man under siege from various interests in and outside his party continues to form. But to his credit he has the knack of sidestepping political landmines. But the question remains: what is really in it for him in the ruling coalition?

This question must also be preying on the mind of the man who before elections styled himself, thus: “I am that bridge – the bridge that links the historic moments of our past to the golden tomorrows of our future.’’

Is Mr Raila Amolo Odinga under siege?

Published on May 25, 2008, 12:00 am

By Oscar Obonyo

Prime Minister Raila Odinga stoked the embers of the Orange Dream to rule Kenya after President Kibaki to rekindle the party’s vibrant spirit in one of its low seasons.

Twice in a week, he spoke of the transitory nature of the Grand Coalition as a way of patching up internal schisms over Grand Opposition plan, which he opposed.

Raila also joined Orange Democratic Movement’s leaders in calling for amnesty to suspects being held over post-election violence, arguing they were demonstrators.

It was another week Raila strove to walk the thin line between Mr Prime Minister, with its attendant responsibilities and burden of image, and being the leader of a party whose supporters feel was short-changed in the power-sharing deal.

On May 17, Raila notably promised the country a new constitution by next April. It came again with another promissory statement to ODM: The new package in the Constitution will ensure a change in governance.

Some thorny issues

But the thorniest issue in the Grand Coalition, and which must be preying on Raila’s political mind, remains amnesty, which ODM supports.

The Cabinet did in the week slam the door on the idea; with the rider Government cannot abdicate its responsibility no matter the political season.

Then there is the grand opposition, which ODM and Party of National Unity wings of Cabinet resist in equal measure. But it appears to curry favour with backbenchers from both sides.

In the pursuit of amnesty as well as projection the PM’s office is up and running, along with the admission the lack of good faith could cripple the coalition, Raila appeared to send a coded message. That, either not much structural support is coming his way from President Kibaki’s direction, or it is but just in token.

The dilemma

Privately, it is believed Raila is grappling with a two-faced dilemma: He has to project himself as the ideal “supervisor and co-ordinator” of Cabinet affairs as envisaged by the National Accord, even when in reality there is still perception the power-sharing deal did not go the way it should.

It is here that examples of appointment to the Office of the President of former Cabinet ministers Raphael Tuju and Prof Kivutha Kibwana are given. Raila is reported to have been in the dark just as was the case with the shuffle that affected three Permanent Secretaries, last week.

The challenge comes along with the headache of convincing ODM members the party is in the Government on equal terms and they should treat it as their own. That is why such euphemisms as ‘come we stay’, ‘forced marriage’, and even serikali ya ukarabati (a patch up government), came from ODM bigwigs last week

Eyes on State House

Secondly, Raila has the arduous task of showing his capacity to lead, as opposed to the rebellious streak that he is associated with.

Unlike Kibaki who is serving his last term, he has made it clear the coalition arrangement was just a temporary truce. The real war is ahead and on the boxing ring will be such Cabinet members as Prof George Saitoti, Ms Martha Karua and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka.

It is a tight line Raila has to walk; projecting the face of an efficacious leader, as well as laying the ground for another stab at the presidency. In the process he has to juggle the interests of ODM while working to eat into PNU base. In the process he has to ensure he does not lose a slice of the ODM machine.

Raila is however optimistic and yesterday he reiterated his message of peace and optimism. “Though we did not get want we anticipated in the General Elections, it was an experience this country needed to unite. Let us forget and live in harmony…we want a ‘tribeless’ society,” said Raila.

“Today we have people from the lake marrying from the mountain…what we have experienced is a grand coalition of marriages. And just as the inter-tribal marriages are working, our Grand coalition will work. We just need to be optimistic,’’ he added.

He concluded: “Bygones are bygones. Let us focus on the present and the future.

Hidden hands

The disquiet in ODM is partly anchored on what MPs perceive to be the President’s indifference and hidden hand trying to undermine the PM’s office.

There is also the muted dejection from those who missed out in the sharing of ministerial and assistant ministerial seats. The near permanence of the appointments for the duration of the coalition gives them the signal their status may not change soon, and so should explore a greener pasture. That is where the grand opposition beckons, along with its modest tidings.

One month since being sworn-in as Kenya’s second premier, Raila is yet to fully get the compass and instruments to work. With President Kibaki and his key aides, including Head of Civil Service, Mr Francis Muthaura, practically playing the “co-ordination and supervisory” role of Government, the PM is still jostling for space to exercise “real power”.

An ODM backbencher best captures the emerging scenario: “I really sympathise with his situation. I see a man who is genuine and who went to bed with PNU to save this country from further bloodshed. Now they are shamelessly plotting to cut him and our party to size.”

That timing of the latest could not be worse. It comes at a time when the PM is facing internal dissent from some members of his party and a section of party supporters who disapprove of his political engagement with President Kibaki.

Signs that all was not well with the party that swept the boards in the last elections, was evident during the party’s parliamentary group meeting. Less than 40 of the party’s 102 MPs attended the meeting.

Although party Treasurer, Mr Omingo Magara explains that a host of MPs were involved in the parliamentary by-elections’ nomination, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Public Investments Committee (PIC) meeting in Mombasa, the deficit is still huge.

Hints of disquiet

Meanwhile, the ODM backbencher points out that even as he ceded ground “after being robbed of victory”, he did it for the sake of this country. “But from the look of things, it is clear that these people have something else up their sleeves,” he charges.

Asked to comment on the allegations, Karua refused to be drawn into the discussion. She said only the PM himself was best placed to react.

“I have not heard such a complaint from ODM. But if you insist on my response, then I will only do so after hearing it from them or reading it in the papers,” said the influential minister allied to PNU.

Although Raila has kept his cool, a couple of his ODM ministers, especially Mr James Orengo (Lands), have thrown hints to the effect that their boss and party are being undermined.

Last week, the vocal Ugenya MP warned his PNU allied colleagues against thinking they were “more ministers than their ODM counterparts”.

He, in the same light, warned junior Government officers against disregarding ODM ministers.

“We know a plot has been hatched to humiliate the PM because Kibaki and PNU were never interested in dialogue over the December electoral fraud, in the first place. Although few want to talk about it within ODM, we all know it and are doing something about it,” says the MP.

Even more glaring indicators of the problem are latest developments such as the handover to Government and alleged sale of the Grand Regency Hotel by businessman, Mr Kamlesh Pattni. The PM who has openly confessed he had no knowledge of the move, and has since asked relevant Government officers to furnish him with “proper details”.

Similarly, the PM, who by the nature of his position in Government is supposed to be at the centre of its operations, was reportedly kept in dark over the return of businessman Deepak Kamani, the man alleged to be the key player in the multi-billion shilling Anglo Leasing scandal.

Asked to react to the simmering tension, an Assistant minister of Trade in the Office of Deputy Prime Minister, Magara, brushed off the issue as a transitional challenge. The office, he said, was barely a month old and the Government was “cleaning up its act”.

The minister would not, however, reconcile the fact that the Head of Civil Service was running an almost parallel office with related roles as the Prime Minister’s.

The ODM Spokesman, Mr Salim Lone is more optimistic. Pointing out that progress is being made. Lone says the PM is intensely involved in learning about Government and ministries and is constantly briefed by ministers and Permanent Secretaries.

“Of course, there are challenges, which is to be expected in such an unprecedented arrangement, but there are daunting,” he added.

The PM’s office remains at the Treasury House, which also houses Finance Minister. It is the holder of the docket, Mr Amos Kimunya, who vacated his space for Raila.

Albeit the PM’s array of responsibilities and support staff, The Sunday Standard has established that the PM has been allocated 11 offices at the Treasury, which fall far below the requirement. But arrangements are under way for the PM to move to Shell House within six months.

On moving to Treasury House, a Ministry of Finance official casually remarked that the PM would have to make do with the furniture and other facilities available since the Government “lacked enough cash” to foot such a bill.

Perhaps owing to this and other challenges, the US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger made a disclosure that the US had committed $500,000 (Sh30.5 million) to support the development of the PM’s office.

In an earlier interview with The Sunday Standard, Ranneberger said his country was putting hope in the PM’s office because of the role the Constitution has assigned it – to co-ordinate and supervise government ministries.

Junior officers not cooperating

In the meantime, tension continues and it is the apparent defiance by junior officers and colleagues, which Orengo points out, that exacerbate the situation.

While snubbing a meeting called last month by Raila to meet US ambassador, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula took a swipe at the PM for inviting “busy ministers” to meet a “junior embassy officials”.

But even more telling has been the habit of junior officers jumping in to react to the PM’s statements. The latest was his call for amnesty for youth held by police for allegedly fanning post-election violence. A quick response came from police spokesman.

The apparent frustrations notwithstanding, the PM looks strong, focused and determined.

Says Lone: “Everything aside, the Prime Minister and the President are developing a rapport and real co-operation is emerging between the two.”

Nonetheless, the ODM official does not rule the fact that party politicking and positioning still thrive amid this loose understanding.

But in what could be an indicator that he is the ‘co-ordinator and supervisor’ of ministries’ functions, the PM plans to visit Mau Forest with ministers and senior officials from the Ministries of Environment, Lands, Water, Security and Forests. If they turn up instead of sending representatives, Raila would have in his delegation to the area squatters were controversially evicted by government three Cabinet ministers from PNU: Prof George Saitoti, Environment minister John Michuki and Dr Noah Wekesa (Forestry and Wildlife).

The out of town excursion could give the country and his colleagues perceive idea of the extent of Raila ‘seniority’. From ODM will be two outspoken ministers on the role of PM’s office –Mrs Charity Ngilu (Water) and Orengo.

Meanwhile, the picture of Raila as a man under siege from various interests in and outside his party continues to form. But to his credit he has the knack of sidestepping political landmines. But the question remains: what is really in it for him in the ruling coalition?

This question must also be preying on the mind of the man who before elections styled himself, thus: “I am that bridge – the bridge that links the historic moments of our past to the golden tomorrows of our future.’’

——————-

African Press International – api

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The Revenge of a Congolese Militia Leader

Posted by African Press International on May 25, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no

By Scott A Morgan

Once again the situation in the Kivu Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has taken another strange turn. This time however the conduit for this potential crisis is NOT the United Nations.

According to Press Reports eminating from Uganda the main Congolese Rebel General Nkunda is drafting Ugandan Military Members into his Militia. This act has the potential of highlighting two key areas of concerns along the DRC-Uganda Border.

MONUC (United Nations Mission in the Congo) has sought to rein in the Militias that are literally controlling the East of the Country. At one point in time the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) the Main Armed Opposition Group in Uganda had a base in the region. Several Militias from Rwanda have been hiding in that lawless part of the DRC as well.

The UN and the Government of Joseph Kabila periodically launched raids into the Kivu Provinces to confront and disarm the Militias. Some of these Missions have been fruitful and others have not. Also Uganda and the DRC have signed a treaty pledging to work together in disarming the Militia Groups that are active along their border.

So then what does the fact that General Nkunda is recruiting from the UPDF (Ugandan People’s Defence Forces) mean? It could mean that he is recruiting to launch an offensive against the Congolese Government. It could also mean that there are far more sinister forces at work. There have even been reports of raids into Uganda itself.

The attempted recruitment of the UPDF soldiers could be seen as dissension within the Military regarding the Leadership of President Museveni. After all the Highly Lauded Peace Accord that was to be signed with the LRA was not signed when the LRA leadership did not show up. Uganda has also been one of the few African Countries to send troops to Support the AU Mission in Somalia.

Both Nations are signatories to the Tripartie Plus Security Agreeement.

This means that both countries are obligated to return suspected belligerents to their homelands. At this time there is no word about whether or not the dissidents will be turned over to the Authorities in Kinshasa or face justice in Uganda. Currently the Ugandan Military has raised its alert level in twe districts.

This is not what one of the most Unstable Regions of the World needs right now.

———————

API

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Exposed: Spymaster plan for Uhuru, Raila

Posted by African Press International on May 25, 2008

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

Story by KAMAU NGOTHO

Raila Odinga was to become prime minister in 2002, under a Uhuru Kenyatta administration, according to a Moi succession plan put in place by a former Intelligence chief, the Sunday Nation has learnt.

Picking Uhuru Kenyatta to succeed Mr Moi was the former spy chiefs idea, the sources claimed.

The late Mr James Kanyotu, who was at the helm of the Intelligence services for 27 years. Photo/FILE

Mr James Kanyotu had been secretly tasked by retired President Moi in 1994, to work out a smooth succession plan for the former Head of State, according to people privy to power politics at the time.

Wide ranging interviews with this correspondent revealed the extent to which Mr Kanyotu and the intelligence services shaped the history of Kenya most times for good, sometimes in the wrong direction.

They reveal the complex life of a man who went to great lengths to serve and protect his country.

For that cause he betrayed friends and foreign countries with equal ease, took big risks, broke the law but at all times kept his mouth shut.

Early January six years ago, a four-man committee burning the midnight oil at the Serena Hotel, had resolved that the position of prime-minister be created for Mr Raila Odinga, then a Cabinet minister in then ruling Kanu/National Development Party of Kenya (NDP) coalition.

However, the idea was shot down by hard-liners in the dominant coalition partner, Kanu, according to a former Intelligence source, who had access to the committees deliberations.

Giving Mr Odinga the premiership, according to the source, was to be the culmination of a carefully choreographed Moi succession plan, crafted behind the scenes by, among others, James Kanyotu, the long serving head of Kenyas Intelligence.

Separately, Mr Odingas brigade in the Kanu/NDP coalition was also asking for the same thing, unaware that their Kanu counterparts were sitting on a similar proposal by the late spy chief.

Retired President Moi sacked Mr Kanyotu as Kenyas spymaster after 27 years of service in December 1991, only to quietly bring him back three years later with a request to help him work out his succession plan, according to the source.

The Kanyotu blue-print was that Uhuru Kenyatta take over from Mr Moi as president at the expiry of his term in December 2002 with Mr Odinga as his prime minister, the source revealed.

Mr Kanyotu died on February 13 this year and just two weeks before his prime minister plan was resurrected – this time by different players and under different circumstances altogether.

On February 28, President Kibaki and Mr Odinga signed the deal that eventually saw the latter sworn in as prime minister last month.

Mr Kanyotu, were he alive today, would mentioned, let alone credited, for having been first with the formula that he thought would give Kenya a more stable political dispensation in the post-Moi era.

Secrecy was a creed and a way of life for him.

Even news of his death filtered out the same way he toiled and bowed out.

Messages of condolences upon his death too, would be couched in a cryptic language perhaps the most fitting tribute to the man who spent his adult life in the dark caverns of espionage.

Twelve hours after he was pronounced dead from a cardiac arrest at the Nairobi Hospital, even his closest friends were telephoning whoever they thought could confirm the rumour that Mr Kanyotu was dead.

The Press would not know about the death until 15 hours later. And when a family spokesperson finally came out to confirm the news, it was just a vague one-liner.

He had told the media: There is some truth in what you are talking about but find out the details for yourself.

The secretive world Mr Kanyotu lived was only hinted at by those who have more than just a clue.

At his burial in Kirinyaga district on February 21, President Kibaki described him as one who knew so much about what he knew and did what he thought should be done.

Earlier, retired president Moi had mourned the man who was his top spy for the first 13 years of his administration as a man of immense knowledge and great powers but who was guarded not to show it.

A more curious message came from another man who at one time worked very closely with Mr Kanyotu, former powerful Attorney-General, Charles Njonjo.

Speaking at Mr Kanyotus memorial service at the All-Saints cathedral a day before he was laid to rest, Njonjo repeatedly said his dead friend could never have hurt a fly.

Outside the church, a retired top civil servant and close confidant of the late spy chief remarked to this writer only in half jest: Of course Njonjo is right. Why would Kanyotu have hurt flies when he was killing elephants?

Born in 1936, Mr Kanyotu joined the police force as a direct-entry inspector at the age of 24, after only three months working first as a school-teacher and then a journalist.

He had attended Alliance High School and attained a diploma in teaching at Makerere university.

In January 1965, he was named the countrys second head of Intelligence, a position he held for the next 27 years, earning himself the nick-name J. Edgar Hoover of Kenya, a comparison to the long-serving head of US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

He had taken over from Bernard Hinga who doubled up as independent Kenyas first African Intelligence head and later police commissioner.

It is a testimony to Mr Kanyotu mastery of his job that three years after his controversial exit in December 1991, retired president Moi informally recalled him to help steer his succession plan behind the scenes.

Unknown too, is that up to the time of his death, he was an occasional and valued guest at Mr Kibakis State House.

Owing to his privileged position as the countrys longest serving top spook, his finger-prints are to be found in all major events that have shaped independent Kenyas history, for better and for worse.

Highlights:

  • When rebels from the Kenya Air Force attempted to seize the government in August 1982, Mr Kanyotu stayed awake for 72 hours to make sure it never happened.
  • Eleven years earlier in 1971, his secret liaison with then Ugandas armed forces chief of staff Gen Idi Amin later to become president saved Kenya from a military coup.
  • At the climax of the fight for return to a multi-party system in 1990/91 period, Mr Kanyotu played the delicate game of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.
  • When the government decided to detain key leaders of the multi-party campaign ahead of the Saba Saba riots of July 1990, he leaked the news to Paul Muite, then lawyer and key strategist to politicians Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia, and advised him to go underground.
  • A few days later, the spy chief made arrangements for the latter to surface in the newsrooms and later at State House briefed the President on the need to constructively engage the growing opposition. Mr Kanyotu had correctly read the signs and knew the wind of change was unstoppable hence the need for the countrys leadership to embrace it and manage it to its benefit rather than wait to be swept aside.

Mr Muite, however, has a different version of events. He says that in 1990, he visited then President Moi at State House through an arrangement made by former high ranking official Walter Kilele, whom he had represented in civil matters in court.Kanyotu had nothing to do with it, Mr Muite told the Sunday Nation Saturday.

The immediate former MP for Kikuyu, however, recalls an earlier incident in 1986 when his lawyer friend Gibson Kamau Kuria was detained.

At the time, Mr Muite was to represent Dr Kuria in court and ask that he be formally detained to avoid torture at the hands of Special Branch men.

The Special Branch officers decided that they would arrest Mr Muite, too, because they had heard him tell Dr Kuria not to allow the torture to break you.

I was referring to Ngugi wa Thiongos Detained in which he advised anyone who might go into detention not to let the officers break their spirit even though they could break the body.

After Dr Kuria was arrested, a friend of Mr Muites who he did not wish to name tipped him off that he was next.

I went to (Charles) Njonjos house because I knew that he and Jeremiah Kiereini were friends of Kanyotu and asked him to find out the true position, Mr Muite said.

(Njonjo in turn went to Kiereini the following morning who, in turn, went to see Kanyotu about it. Later that day, Kiereini and Kanyotu went to see Moi who was startled that I even knew what was going on.

Mr Muite says that he came to learn that, at the State House meeting, President Moi decided to drop the plans to have him detained over worries that the Americans had taken a very keen interest and international pressure was high on the government over the growing list of political detainees.

Mr Kanyotu will be remembered as the mysterious hand in the Goldenberg scandal. He and Kamlesh Pattni were co-founders of the company associated with the biggest heist of tax-payers money.

——————-

African Press International – api

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