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Archive for June 8th, 2008

The coalition is in the learning stages on how to behave respectfully

Posted by African Press International on June 8, 2008

Nr 1. Kibaki, Nr 2. Kalonzo, Nr 3. Raila and included seated is Marende and Gicheru

This photo shows that the leaders are beginning to settle down in their positions protocol-wise.

Grand Coalition Government: Has the union gone sour?

By Oscar Obonyo
Barely 50 days into a forced political marriage, the Grand Coalition Government is under a barrage of “friendly fire”.
Although initially fought quietly in the boardrooms, the battle has exploded with key generals, President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, at the war front.

Delivering his Madaraka Day speech last Sunday, the President ordered that those who committed criminal acts during post-election violence be punished. Curiously, he announced his stand on the issue only minutes after Raila had explained the Government would resolve the problem.

The following day, a fired up PM adorning party colours attended a campaign rally in Nairobis Embakasi. Here Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) allied MPs made a “No Amnesty for Party Youths, No Reconciliation!” declaration.

When the two leaders signed the National Accord and Reconciliation Agreement on February 28, they committed themselves to a “real” power sharing arrangement in Grand Coalition Government.

Then President Kibaki said: “My Government will fully support the implementation of the agreements reached under the National Dialogue and Reconciliation process until we achieve the results we want.”

President added, “There will be challenges along the way, but I am confident that through dialogue and a sense of unity and purpose for the good of all Kenyans, we shall succeed.”

Raila on the other side, said: “We should not waste a single minute to ensure that Kenyans seize the opportunity to get on with their lives. We should ensure that no Kenyan ever loses his life again senselessly.”

He noted that the crisis should be a springboard to a prosperous nation. Saying: “The crisis has taught Kenyans an important lesson to forge a firm foundation for a united country.”

But what Kenyans are seeing now is different. Differences followed almost immediately following an impasse over the formation of the Cabinet. Although the two principals finally agreed on a line-up, Railas ODM cried foul over what they claimed was portfolio imbalance.

What makes the emerging differences explosive is that politicians and the rest of Kenyans are roughly equally split in support of Kibaki and Raila. What is more is that the two leaders have now made public their differences.

From quiet boardroom battles, the wars between the two have finally come to the fore. And last Sunday, ugly symptoms of the same were displayed during the Madaraka Day Celebrations at Nairobis Nyayo Stadium.

A common saying among some Kenyan communities suggests that if one wants to gauge the degree of respect a local chief commands, one only needs to observe the treatment accorded to his dog(s).

Depending on whether the chiefs hosts choose to stone the dog, kick it out from the house or spread a mat for it to lie on, one can judge aptly how his subjects or rivals regard the administrator.

The embarrassing incident where President Kibakis security detail handled the Premiers security officers at VIP entrance to Nyayo Stadium, for instance, surprised many.

A source close to Raila told The Sunday Standard the PM was “utterly horrified” by the incident involving his bodyguards.

“Although he is aware of the discomfort among some top Government officials, he was at a loss as why anybody would want to stage such an ugly show on a national day before the eyes of local and international community as well as in the full glare of a live media coverage,” confided the source.

A few minutes earlier, there was an even more dramatic episode along Uhuru Highway involving the PM and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka. The roadside standoff between the two leaders unfolded at exactly 10:27 am drawing the attention of motorists and a curious crowd of wananchi heading to Nyayo Stadium for the national fete.

In what must have been one of the-now-usual protocol wars between the two, the VPs motorcade racing for the stadium stopped midway to park by the roadside. The PMs convoy following almost immediately equally stopped and parked slightly ahead of the VPs.

For nearly two minutes, wananchi watched in disbelief as aides of the two leaders shot out of their vehicles and squabbled over who should drive ahead and enter the stadium before the other.

The high drama died down when those in the Kalonzo motorcade opted to zoom ahead. But there was more drama ahead. Other than the scuffle at the VIP entrance involving his bodyguards, the Raila/Kalonzo feud fresh from the roadside standoff played out again at the main podium in the stadium.

Few might have noticed that as the PM walked in, all those seated at the presidential pavilion rose to shake his hand and share pleasantries, except for the VP. Save for few shared moments of plastic laughter, tension between the two reigned throughout the event presided over by the President.

While the Madaraka Day drama has been blamed on wrangles over the pecking order between Raila and Kalonzo, a section of ODM MPs attribute it to State House.

“Kalonzo is only but being used as a pawn in this war,” claimed one MP.

Although this is a quiet war, those close to the President and the Prime Minister maintain that the two principals are determined to ensure the Grand Coalition Government works and lasts through to 2012.

“I know for sure that the President was really proud of his achievements, especially economic recovery, during the Ninth Parliament. The post-election violence briefly halted and destroyed this progress, but he is eager to work to the end and leave a legacy,” observes Mr Njeru Githae, who is Assistant Minister for Local Government.

And the ODM Spokesman and Communication director Salim Lone, equally points out that Raila is committed to the coalition because he strongly believes it is the only way the Government can work and deliver to the people.

“He has demonstrated this locally and internationally even to the point of disappointing his own supporters,” Lone said.

“Lately the Prime Minister has embarked on a mission to explain to his supporters why he must work with Kibaki.”

And speaking yesterday at a funeral in Muhoroni constituency in Nyanza Province, the PM told off those casting aspersions that the Coalition might not work in harmony, saying their relationship is cordial.

“President Kibaki and I work in unity. The Presidents duty is spelled very clearly in the Constitution, same as the PMs role. So we work along our lines very well without friction,” he said.

Separately, The Sunday Standard has established that under the current security arrangements, the VP in fact enjoys more control than the PM. While Raila does not have a security detail while on private or official functions outside the country, Kalonzo does. It is not clear whether this is by default or design.

Nonetheless, the posting of the security detail to the President and the Premier definitely poses the biggest problem. For while Railas escort is led by a Chief Inspector of Police, that of Kibaki is led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police. The two officers are accordingly far apart in ranking and this possibly explains why officers in the PMs detail, are treated as juniors by colleagues in the presidential escort.

“I was at the stadium on that day and I confirm to you that some junior ranking officers, including bodyguards of assistant ministers were allowed in through the VIP gate. So why would anyone Prime Ministers guards?” poses a National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) official.

According to the NSIS official, the action was deliberate with the aim of sending a strong political message to the PM and his handlers.

Regretting the Nyayo Stadium incident, Githae, however, explains that it may have happened because this was the first public national function attended by the “big two”.

“This is still a learning process for all, the politicians and even the security forces. Otherwise, the presidential guards should have explained their case to their colleagues in a better way,” he says.

Citing instances involving US presidents, whose security detail ordinarily takes charge even in foreign countries, Githae explains that it is the norm for the presidential guards to take over security control at a presidential function that lasts over 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, the current amnesty debate continues to exacerbate the rift between ODM and PNU politicians. Even on this, it is evident that political interests persuade Kibaki and Railas standpoints. The two seem driven by guilt following the bloody repercussions of post-election violence.

While Kibaki is keen on the IDP resettlement plan to “appease his people”, Raila is focused on securing amnesty for the pro-ODM youths police arrested. He cannot possibly enjoy the fruits of Grand Coalition Government while “his youths” languish in jail.

“As a society, we should reject those who incite others to violence. We should not spare them or those who recruit the gangs that cause mayhem,” said the President last Sunday.

Raila and ODM ministers have demanded the unconditional release of their supporters “because they committed no crime”.

“Is it a crime to fight for your democratic rights? Is it a crime to stand and say that last years elections were rigged?” posed the Prime Minister during a lawyers forum last week.

A number of sceptics within PNU and ODM have dismissed the political union between the two leaders with Water minister Charity Ngilu terming it, a “come-we-stay” marriage without a firm commitment.

But her Gender and Children Affairs colleague Esther Murugi is positive about the marriage analogy: “If the sceptics consider it a marriage, then I am sure it will work. This is because in a marriage couples give their very best to hold their union together.”

A host of other ministers polled by The Sunday Standard are equally optimistic the political marriage between President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila would work this time.

“What we are observing are mere side-shows and they should be treated as such mere side-shows,” said Fisheries Minister Dr Paul Otuoma.

Warning against focusing on the negative aspects of the Grand Coalition Government, the Funyula MP challenges everyone to first remember and understand “where we are coming from”.

He warns: “We are working on a negotiated document that pulled us from a crisis and anybody playing games now is playing with the lives of Kenyans.”

Both Otuoma and Murugi agree, however, that working, as unit is not easy.

Says Murugi, “It is very difficult to say whether the coalition will work but those who are for it are working hard in the best way they know how to ensure a smooth running.”

She points out that the biggest challenge is the amnesty question: “If we pass through this particular difficult hurdle then I think we shall succeed as the rest will follow with ease.”

Otuoma says there is nothing out of the ordinary in the current reactions.

“It is scientifically a proven fact that even in a class, it is normal to have fast and slow learners. So let us give everyone a chance. The doubting Thomases may soon realise that this coalition will have to work anyway,” he observes.

Nonetheless, the minister is alive to fact that apart from the disputed elections, there are other underlying issues, including land and political marginalisation that are responsible for the varied opinion on the amnesty question.

“We hope the amnesty question will not slow us down. And for those trying to make political capital from it, they are bent on nothing but undermining the very healing process that the country is going through,” he states.

But Dr Noah Wekesa, Forestry and Wildlife Minister, says the current crop of political leaders “has no option” but make this Government work.

“If they have an eye on 2012 and beyond, then they must work together to nurture this coalition because if it collapses the political equation will change drastically,” warns the Kwanza MP.

“We will end up with completely new players being thrust to leadership positions.”

The minister further suggests that a seminar for all MPs be immediately organised to help legislators understand the possible gains and concept behind grand coalitions. He even suggests that qualified speakers be identified from Germany and US to help the MPs gel better.

The life of the Tenth Parliament and indeed the Grand Coalition Government is largely dependent on the two leaders. They have done it before as a team, and succeeded but with serious hiccups as in 2002, when they parted ways under Narc because of failure by one party to honour a Memorandum of Understanding.

They came together as a team and managed to destroy Kanu, but today they are busy destroying one another. To Kibakis advantage, though, he is doing his last five-year lap of leadership. As for Raila, every step he makes matters as he would be judged by the same in future.

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API – source.standard.ke

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Sudan rejects calls to hand over 2 wanted by ICC for their role in Darfur crisis

Posted by African Press International on June 8, 2008

Sudan rejected demands Saturday to hand over two Sudanese men indicted on crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the Darfurcrisis.

State Minister of Information Kamal Obeid was responding to a new call by the International Criminal Court prosecutor for Sudan to hand over Ahmed Harun, a cabinet minister, and Ali Kushayb, a militia commander. Both are accused of organizing a system to recruit, fund, arm and command a militia that terrorized villages inDarfur.

Speaking to the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, the prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, charged for the first time that “the whole state apparatus” of Sudan is implicated in crimes against humanity in the Darfur region, linking the government directly with the feared janjaweedmilitia.

But Sudan’s official news agency, SUNA, quoted Obeid as saying the ICC was playing a “political role that has nothing to do with the law” and accused it of complicating peace efforts in Sudan. He said the ICC has shown no evidence for its claims, SUNAreported.

The court had issued warrants for the arrest of Harun and Kushayb more than a year ago. Moreno-Ocampo promised to present evidence next month to a pretrial chamber of the court in The Hague,Netherlands.

ICC spokeswoman Florence Olara said Saturday that an attempt to arrest Harun while en route to Saudi Arabia in December failed when he was tipped off to theplan.

“We heard that Harun might be traveling to Mecca. Basically, using cooperation from some states, there were plans in place to divert the plane and a country was willing to take the diverted plane,” she told The Associated Press. But Harun never traveled to SaudiArabia.

The court, established in 2002 as the first permanent war crimes tribunal, has no police to enforce its warrants. Sudan does not recognize the Court and has repeatedly refused to turn over thetwo.

Harun, speaking to the Arabic satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera on Saturday, denied he had plans to travel to Saudi Arabia, and called the court’s plan “a criminal” and “terrorist” act to pressureSudan.

The ICC “really didn’t consider that fear has no way to our hearts,” he told thestation.

Olara said Harun would be arrested as soon as he leaves Sudan. But “Sudan has a legal obligation to arrest” him and Kushayb, she said. The pair face 51 charges including murder, rape and forced expulsions in 2003 and2004.

Up to 300,000 people are believed killed and 2.5 million displaced since the war erupted in Darfur in 2003. Ethnic African rebel groups accuse the central Arab-dominated government of marginalization and discrimination. Critics accuse Sudan of arming the janjaweed Arab militias that have terrorized Darfur villages a charge Khartoumdenies.

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API – source associated press

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Hillary endorses Obama – Historic chapter has began in America

Posted by African Press International on June 8, 2008

Sunday 07. June 2008

Hillary Clinton (right photo)>

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has just ended her presidential bid by boldly endorsing Barrack Obama as the Democratic Presidential Nominee.

This was a powerful speech that many Kenyans would have watched. The Nation promised to televise the same live, but when it came to, NTV was not there.

Kenyans have a lot to learn from how the Americans conducted their campaigns. They fought hard to win, but they did not physically fight each other. Can we also fight hard politically and fail to engage in fist fights? Can we argue and still remain civil to each other.

By watching Clinton endorse Obama, I was filled with that happy feeling; I felt I was part of that history being created. How I wished Kenyans could evelove to this level, having leaders who have the grasp of issues at finger tips, and as eloquent as Clinton, or yes, Obama.

Time has come when the young generation must stand up to be counted. We must create a new wave of politicians who love Kenya, just like the American politicians love America. They alwaya end their speaches with; God bless America.

I have never heard any Kenyan politician end his speech with God bless Kenya. Ours is always a plethora of confusion, heavily scaled with tribal emotions. You will find most politicians being heavily backed by people from their tribes, even if they have nothing to offer.

Time has come when the young generation have to break these tribal political leanings. Let us support he who offers Kenya hope. Not he who comes from our tribal background!

How I wish Kenyan politicians could create an enabling environment to foster Peace, National Healing and Reconciliation, so that we all build a new Loving Kenya.

How I wish the Kenyan politicians will call for forgiveness and practice the meaning of the word. How I wish all victims of the bungled elections could be released, so that we all take part in creating that new Kenya.

How I wish we could all love Kenya the more, and rally behind he who will give us that true hope for Peace, National Healing and Reconciliation.

God bless you, God bless Kenya.

By Odhiambo T Oketch,
Komarock Nairobi.

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Before making her endorsement speech, Hillary Clintonsent out the following message to her supporters:

Dear Friend,

I wanted you to be one of the first to know: on Saturday, I will hold an event in Washington D.C. to thank everyone who has supported my campaign. Over the course of the last 16 months, I have been privileged and touched to witness the incredible dedication and sacrifice of so many people working for our campaign. Every minute you put into helping us win, every dollar you gave to keep up the fight meant more to me than I can ever possibly tell you.

On Saturday, I will extend my congratulations to Senator Obama and my support for his candidacy. This has been a long and hard-fought campaign, but as I have always said, my differences with Senator Obama are small compared to the differences we have with Senator McCain and the Republicans.

I have said throughout the campaign that I would strongly support Senator Obama if he were the Democratic Party’s nominee, and I intend to deliver on that promise.

When I decided to run for president, I knew exactly why I was getting into this race: to work hard every day for the millions of Americans who need a voice in the White House.

I made you — and everyone who supported me — a promise: to stand up for our shared values and to never back down. I’m going to keep that promise today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my life.

I will be speaking on Saturday about how together we can rally the party behind Senator Obama. The stakes are too high and the task before us too important to do otherwise.

I know as I continue my lifelong work for a stronger America and a better world, I will turn to you for the support, the strength, and the commitment that you have shown me in the past 16 months. And I will always keep faith with the issues and causes that are important to you.

In the past few days, you have shown that support once again with hundreds of thousands of messages to the campaign, and again, I am touched by your thoughtfulness and kindness.

I can never possibly express my gratitude, so let me say simply, thank you.

Sincerely,

Hillary

Hillary Rodham Clinton

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African Press International – API

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Progress Party now the largest in the land

Posted by African Press International on June 8, 2008

Norway’s most conservative party has suddenly cemented its position as the largest in the country, confirming a trend that voters in the traditional social welfare state are now leaning to the right.

Siv Jensen says she’s ready to be Norway’s next prime minister.

PHOTO: LISE SERUD/SCANPIX

The Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp) commanded nearly 31 percent of the vote in a new public opinion poll. The poll was conducted by research firm Norstat for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

It shows a big jump in support for the Progress Party, up around four full points from another recent poll.

The party’s popularity comes at the expense of the Labour Party, which now leads Norways left-centre coalition government. Labour dropped to 26.6 percent of the vote. Its two coalition partners, the Socialist Left (SV) and Center Party (Sp), held 6.9 and 5.9 percent respectively.

Support for the Conservatives fell 1.3 points from NRKs last poll, to 17 percent. But the support they do have means that Norway’s non-socialist parties would have a clear majority in Parliament.

Progress Party leader Siv Jensen called the new figures “fantastic,” but added that “they just show a development that’s been building over time.”

Jensen, who could emerge as Norway’s next prime minister if her party hangs on to such support through the September 2009 elections, told NRK that she thinks the numbers reflect public disenchantment with the current government. She doesn’t think they necessarily reflect only current outcry over Norway’s high fuel prices, and the government’s controversial plan to further boost fuel taxes.

Voters in Norway are accustomed to high tax levels, and many still claim they “pay their taxes with joy.” But increasing numbers are complaining they’re simply not getting an adequate return on their tax investment any longer, given cuts in government services, run-down schools, hospital waiting lists and a lack of police on the streets and nursing home spots.

Analysts have pointed out that voters are getting tired to hearing that Norway is so wealthy, when they’d don’t experience that themselves.

Labour Party secretary Martin Kolberg conceded that if the poll’s numbers were election results, it would mean a change of government “and a clearly right-wing-dominated” government.

“But that won’t happen,” Kolberg claimed. “When we can document what we have done, and show what a right-wing government will say, the tide will turn.”

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African Press International – api source.aftenposteneng

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Police chase ‘brutal’ assailants

Posted by African Press International on June 8, 2008

Masked and armed men broke into a home in Otta and took the family living there hostage, while another armed man attacked passersby in the hills above Oslo. Police continued massive searches for the assailants on Friday.

A family was held at gunpoint inside this house in Otta for several hours Thursday afternoon and evening.

PHOTO: BRD BRDLKKEN

The two assaults were unusual and brutal, police said.

In the case in Otta, located at the northwestern end of the scenic Norwegian valley Gudbrandsdalen, a man came home from work to find the armed robbers holding his partner and daughter hostage.

The intruders demanded money and forced the family at gunpoint to open a safe inside the house. The robbers took what police say was a relatively small amount of cash.

The masked men then forced the family of three into their own cellar, where they were bound and gagged before the intruders left the house. The father, an affluent local businessman, eventually managed to loosen his restraints, climbed out of a cellar window and called police.

A search went on through the night for the two men, said to be driving a black Audi A6 stationwagon with a broken back window that was covered with plastic.

Unprovoked assaults in the woods
In the second bizarre assault, a heavy-set man dressed in military attire attacked a woman who’d been riding her bicycle near the lake Skjrsjen in the forest known as Nordmarka, on Oslo’s north side.

She had stopped to ask whether he needed help as he studied a map. Instead, he knocked her off the bike, hit her in the head with a rock and fled into the woods. She was found by other passersby who summoned medical assistance and called police.

Several hours later, while still searching for the assailant, he struck again. A man walking near the small forest settlement of Bjrnjolt reported being threatened with a knife and robbed of cash and his mobile telephone.

Police were using specially trained dogs and a helicopter in their search for the man, who was described as stocky and around 35 years old.

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African Press International – api , source.aftenposteneng

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Oslo couple charged with mutilating their daughters

Posted by African Press International on June 8, 2008

The mother and father of five daughters born and reared in Norway have been charged in what’s considered the first enforcement and test of the country’s new law against genital mutilation.

Hanne Kristin Rohde said the two daughters in Oslo have placed with child protective services.

PHOTO: SARA JOHANNESSEN/SCANPIX

The couple is originally from Gambia but both partners are now Norwegian citizens. They have a total of six daughters, and five of the six have been subjected to genital mutilation, according to Hanne Kristin Rohde of the Oslo Police District.

Rohde told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Friday that the parents were charged because they allegedly contributed to the genital mutilation of their daughters. The father is being held in police custody, while the mother is ill and pregnant with their seventh child and considered too weak to be held by police.

Only the couple’s youngest daughter, a three-year-old who lives with them in Oslo, has so far escaped genital mutilation, according to doctors who examined the girls. Her five-year-old sister had not, and both girls have been placed in the care of Norway’s child protective services (Barnevernet).

The six daughters range in age from three to 14 years. The four eldest live in Gambia with one of their father’s other wives, according to police. Efforts were being made to bring the girls, who all have Norwegian passports, back to Norway, where they once went to school.

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African Press International – API, source.aftenposteneng

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Public figures who made the best of court jesting

Posted by African Press International on June 8, 2008

A Kenya standard story

By Patrick Wachira Daniel arap Moi
Daniel Toroitich arap Moi

Beneath the fasade of a harsh exterior and a no-nonsense approach to issues, former President Daniel arap Moi had a soft spot for rib-tickling humour.

That, partly, explains why he surrounded himself with individuals who not only excited him beyond description but also made light of some of the extremely weighty issues the President had to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Some of them catapulted themselves onto the national arena and became household names, instantly resonating well with the prevailing national psyche.

Moi had an uncanny way of identifying individuals who possessed the rare talent and making such leaders friends and close allies.

It was also remarkable that such people, who could leave the Head of State in stitches, spread across the length and breadth of the countrys borders and even across communities. Although some acquired notoriety of sorts for outrageous utterances, which invited odium and scandal, most were careful enough to ensure the jokes they cracked were not ribald and did not offend the sensibilities.

And Moi, too, had his own version of witticism, which he used to the maximum in handling rising tension and create humour to his audience whenever the mood was not right or in his favour.

But rightly or wrongly, even after the former president left the scene, the names remained and mere mention will bring more than just a smile to the face of many a Kenyan.

They were the court poets and court jesters who ensured that the man on the throne enjoyed a good dose of laughter, sometimes even at their own expense!

At one time during a graduation ceremony at a public university, Moi once told the girls to beware the machinations of the boys, who may use flattering language that could be seen through if one was thinking.

“These young men will tell you: I love you so much that I can swim across the ocean just for you and then when you are leaving they say see you tomorrow if it does not rain!”

Such anecdotes brought the house down. On other occasions, he would be addressing a public rally and, apparently, irked by demands by the then opposition leaders. At such a point, he would pause and swing round in a dramatic fashion before quipping: “Hawa wanafikiri wanaweza zungusha Moi kama marinda? (Do they think they can twist me, Moi, around like a womans skirt?)

Interestingly for Moi, he never saw his own as humour and remained serious even as the crowds laughed themselves hoarse.

Kenyans still recall one occasion during a HIV/Aids awareness event when the former President told Kenyans that abstention was still the safest method of keeping the pandemic at bay.

But in his characteristic fashion, he added a rider that even if one stayed for long without engaging in the heterosexual behaviour responsible for most transmissions, one would still be okay. “Hata ukikaa bila hiyo, huwezi kufa!” (You cannot die from abstaining!) he said.

Of course, there was the line that became something of a household name, in which he would enumerate things his Government was doing or would do and add: “na hiyo yote ni maendeleo!” (And all this amounts to development!).

The phrase became so famous that, in subsequent event or speeches, all he could say the first bit and the crowd could join him in chorus to complete it.

Mulu Mutisya

The undisputed King of Ukambani politics until his death, Mr Mulu Mutisya was actually a Class Two case but went on to rise to the echelons of national politics as Nominated MP and board member for Kenya Power and Lighting Company.

Owing to his illiteracy and that he could not contribute in House session, among other reasons, a motion was tabled in Parliament to include Kiswahili as an alternative language.

The former Machakos Kanu branch chairman when Kanu was the chama cha mama na baba became famous for his oft-mentioned phrase, “wakamba wote wanangalangala kama nyanya ya masokoni! (The Kamba people have a sheen like tomatoes at the marketplace!)”.

Of course, the import of all this drama was that the community was contented with the Government and were happy never mind the perennial drought headache for the region that has not been tackled to date.

Mulu Mutisya

Mutisya became a darling of President Kenyatta when he delivered politician Mr Peter Kioko of the then Kamba Peoples Union, which assignment took him two weeks flat.

His rising popularity hit a glass ceiling as he could not contest, owing to his low level of education. But that was not to get in the way as Kenyatta ordered the then Nairobi Provincial Commissioner, Solomon Mburu to pass Mutisya off a Form Six, so he would be exempted from proficiency language tests.

Five years on, another hurdle presented itself. It was time for the general elections and again, there was this little issue of academic credentials.

So, again, Kenyatta summoned him and asked him to write his level of education. Such was Kenyatta, you did not play ping pong with him unless you knew what you were doing.

And, again, Mutisya wrote Standard Two on the piece of paper. Kenyatta took the piece of paper and put it in a drawer in his desk. The next day, Mutisya was an MP. Again. Another lease of life.

Once that was done, the sky was the limit for the self-styled kingpin of Ukambani who was thrice nominated to Parliament although his exact role was not clear.

But his public antics were legendary. So much so that he was once reported to have played the part of a master of ceremonies at a public function and went ahead to call himself a “master of Solomon”, much to the amusement of the crowd! Talk about beginning from the known.

Mutisya was later to head the Presidential Commission on Soil Conservation and Afforestation.

At one time, in the true spirit of the love-hate relationship that occurs naturally between journalists and politicians, Mr Mutisya was irked by some press report, so much that he condemned all members of the Fourth Estate as people who were conceived by the riverside!

The slur was not taken kindly by journalists who hit back with such venom that one of them said that with such details, he must have been party to the happenings!

Stinging editorials and commentaries followed, in which Mutisya was vilified. It is not clear if he ever apologised over this most unfortunate of unguarded remark.

Still, he managed to groom Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and the late Tony Ndilinge who made it to Parliament and, for 40 years, marshalled the Akamba voice to speak as one in the political scheme of things, never mind some little dissent here and there.

Kuria Kanyingi

If any politician correctly earned the title of Mr Moneybags, Kanyingi did it with such alacrity he must still be holding it to date.

Fished from the Motor Vehicle Inspection Unit to engineer a smear and ouster campaign against former Vice-President Dr Josephat Njuguna Karanja, Kanyingi burst into the limelight as the politician who would bring to fund raising functions lots of money in cash.

0n June 5, 2006, he did manage to contribute in cash Sh2 million to a fund raising event at St Monica Catholic Church, Karanjee Village in his then constituency Limuru.

Just six months earlier, he had donated Sh4 million to yet another church project, yet in cash.

Kuria Kanyingi

At the height of this bounty, Kanyingi was known to sing such praises for the ruling party, Kanu, then. He is quoted to have said, at one time, that: “Hata ukinikata, damu yangu ni Kanu!” (Even if you slit my skin, it is just Kanu blood you will see!).

At one time, responding to the challenge of his academic background, Kanyingi retorted that he had floored in the polls seven graduates and that his predecessor had nothing to show after ten years of representation, his degree notwithstanding. He promptly dismissed calls to elect educated people as “mere propaganda”.

Kanyingi was to change tune in 2006 when he ditched Kanu and began singing praises for Narc-Kenya, saying it was unbeatable as it comprised people of all tribes and had supporters countrywide.

Paradoxically, he was to rubbish the role of money in his high profile public standing when he declared that he had spent huge sums in 1992 and 1997 but did not make it.

The world watched, open-mouthed, as he averred that only when he submitted himself to God did he make it to Parliament.

“You can not buy leadership with money”, he concludes.

It has never been clear if this was double-speak from a politician or a realisation borne of years of “serving the people”.

Dickson Kihika Kimani

If there was one politician able to have Moi in stitches within seconds, then Kihika was one. And this extended to crowds he addressed across the Rift Valley, which he bestrode like a colossus during his time.

He must have been one of the very few people who could poke fun at Moi and still leave the latter roaring with hearty laughter.

For instance, during a function at the Jomo Kenyatta High School in Nakuru, Kihika thoroughly amused the crowd when he told them that he had known Moi in his early days when he had little wealth.

Dickson Kihika Kimani

Pointing to the former head of States motorcade, Kihika said: “Nilimjua zamani wakati yeye iko na kaChevrolet kablue hapana kama sasa iko haya magari yote! (I came to know him (Moi) at a time he owned a blue Chevrolet vehicle let alone now when he has all these)”.

On his role in the Change the Constitution Movement in the early 1970s, which sought to amend a section of the constitution in a bid to bar Moi then Kenyattas Vice-President from ascending to the throne in the event of the death of the president, Kihika could say in the presence of Moi: “Ndio, tulipanga hayo mambo lakini Moi ni mtu mzuri na alitusamehe” (True, we hatched those schemes but Moi is a good man and has forgiven us!).

Kihika would often brag that he was of superior breed and not like individuals who were constantly to be seen with Chapati on their pants (patches) owing to their extreme poverty.

In the early 1970s, he could say at a public rally that he and his ilk could literally get away with anything. “We can even get rid of anyone through the back door!” he would say, as quoted in The Kenyatta Succession, edited by veteran journalist Phillip Ochieng and Joseph Karimi.

Not even journalists escaped his sharp tongue as evidenced in Nyahururu when he once went to book for coverage at the local Kenya News Agency offices.

His poor sight missed a Standard reporter, Amos Kareithi and he asked other reporters in Kikuyu: Kaihu gaka getagwo Kareithi kena ku? (Where is this mongoose called Kareithi?)

On another occasion, he bragged that he would bequeath the Molo seat to his son, Ndungu Kimani then a law student. And he promptly summoned the young man to be shown to the people present at his home in Njoro.

Now, the young Ndungu hesitated and walked with halting gait, which invited his fathers acerbic tongue. “Na ndagwita ugokaga ta mundu muthomu, ti guthii ta baniani! (If I summon you, walk like an educated person, not like a dukawallah!)”, were Kihikas words.

Perhaps because he rubbed shoulders with the wealthiest people during Kenyattas regime, Kihika developed a sort of arrogance that made him blind to the boundaries of decorum.

It was this arrogance that saw him threaten to have his two wives contest for Subukia constituency when he decamped to Molo and trounced John Njenga Mungai without as much as a campaign poster being printed! Of course, the two women did not go past the nomination stage and he never really made his point.

It was this streak that made him vow to make history by representing three constituencies by adding Naivasha to Laikipia West and Molo but no serious party took him in during his last bid and from there, he sort of faded into oblivion, at least politically.

Hezekiel Barngetuny, 87

The father of 16 joined school at the age of 12 but dropped out six years later to join the military, which he left to get married for what he satirically put as “I realised I was getting old”.

Mr Barngetuny, who served with the colonial Kings African Rifles (KAR) endeared himself to Moi and was said to have a rare ability to excite the former president.

But their history together had began long ago, when the two were boys and students at the Kapsabet African School, now Kapsabet Boys. Later, Moi was to be a Sunday School teacher while at Kapsabet.

He made a name at the annual Kimalel Goats Auction, where he would play the role of Master of Ceremonies. Now this function was held every year in December, two days before Noel.

And Barngetuny would be the one to auction the animals, at times taunting the galaxy of ministers and other top-ranking Government officials as he moved from one to another when they bid-to-buy the goats.

In his characteristic strongly-accented Kiswahili, the man would be heard live on national radio as he raised the antes between two competing individuals, cajoling one if they shied away from bidding in the middle of a sale.

A normal sale would go something like this:“Elbu tano kwa Saitoti, tano kwake, tano, tano, saba gwa Gamotho, Gamotho na saba, saba, saba nasema lasima agule hii mbuzi, tena kumi gwa Moi, Kumi gwa Moi, mbusi na Moi Moi na mbusi, elbu kumi, kumi, nani mwingine, kumi, gwa Moi mara ya gwansa, ya gwansa, ya bili, ya bili, bili, na mara ya tatu, Moi lete hiyo besa!”

Over 7,000 goats would be auctioned in this manner and dignitaries would take them away ahead of Christmas, knowing they would enjoy the delicacy of a country goat.

Hezekiel Barngetuny, 87

Once, I was having a drink with colleague, Mr Martin Masai, at the Midlands Hotel in Nakuru in 1993 when Mr Barngetuny happened by. He joined us and promptly regaled us with tales of his exploits in politics, which he compared to a fight in the jungle.

Atui agingia aba saa hii, lasima uchue utatorogea wabi ata gama nabigana na yeye!” (You see, if an enemy appears here now, you must think fast on a possible escape route even if it calls for confrontation to fight him), a strategy I was to relate years later to his career in the military.

The man who spots a scraggly beard smiles mischievously, especially when he is about to say something controversial, like his recent support for Kibaki and the Government.

But his has a sense of aesthetics, too, as his home overlooks the Nandi escarpment and has a panoramic view of the Lake Victoria.

Now, that is something of a contradiction, which does little to help define Mzee Hezekiel Barngetuny.

Kariuki Chotara

When Mr Kihika Kimani and others started the Change the Constitution Movement aimed at barring Mr Moi from within earshot of power in the event of the then presidents death, one man, Kariuki Chotara, identified with Mr Moi and apparently empathised with him.

Mr Chotara, later rose to become the undisputed Kanu kingpin in Nakuru, championing the party cause and being heard across the entire country.

And when Kimani fled to Tanzania in 1979, Chotara replaced him as Kanu boss and went ahead to create real and imaginary enemies whom he fought with alacrity and gusto.

He constantly locked horns with another Kanu pillar, the late Mr Nganga Kihonge, then Nakuru County Council Chairman (in late 1980s).

Kariuki Chotara

In one incident, Chotara arrived in his Naivasha backyard to find Kihonge had organised a visit to State House, along with other Kanu officials and were being feted by Moi.

Not one to be outdone, Chotara immediately drove there, where he launched into a verbal attack on his foes, telling the former president: “Hapana sikiriza mambo ya hawa. Hawa marirara makinywa muma na hapa wanaongea!” (Do not listen to these people. They spent the night taking an oath and here they are to fool you!).

Moi did not take the oath claims lightly, at a time when he was trying hard to consolidate his hold on power but the outburst caused some amusement while it lasted.

In another incident, Chotara was addressing a public rally and dropped the microphone but when he bent to pick it, his gun fell, too, along with several bullets from its shoulder holster.

As the crowd surged forward to catch a glimpse of the pistol, Chotara was to retort as he picked his firearm “Munanjua mimi ni chap chuta na hata DO natoka Ebakathi hawethi gushooti kama mimi!” (I am a sharp shooter and even a DO straight from training in Embakasi would not come a close second!).

The most famous gaffe was the incident at the University of Nairobi, where student riots were the order of the day, at times over such issues as meals and their demands were always about “dialogue”, which was lacking.

Now Chotara, completely oblivious about what “dialogue” really meant, was to tell the Government that “kama ni hiyo dialogue wanataka, si wapewe tu, kwani wananyimwa kwa nini? (If they want dialogue, let them have it. Why are they being denied).

And when the riots persisted, Chotara came to learn that they were being influenced by a man he heard was called Karl Marx.

Sasa huyo Karo Maxi kama ni yeye anasubua watoto na kufudicha hawa mabo baya, si achikwe and kufugiwa dani? (If Karl Marx is the one teaching the students bad things, why shouldnt he be arrested and locked up?)

James Njiru (MP, Ndia 1969-1979 and 1983-1992)

The Kanu supreme who founded the Kanu moto! battle cry that became a rallying call for the ruling party when it was the sole party in the land.

Njiru distinguished himself as one of the most vocal Kanu defenders, so much that a ministry was created just for him and fashioned Ministry of National Guidance and Political Affairs in Mois era.

He got so excited about this development that he began to play a supervisory role over the other ministries, perhaps owing to the amorphous nature of the new docket, which other ministers resented.

When he finally became something of an embarrassment and the ministry was promptly scrapped.

James Njiru

After multi-partism came into being, he found himself homeless and joined a startling array of parties but never made it back to Parliament.

His rise to infamy was also prompted by an incident in which he was involved in a physical fight with another MP, Nahashon Njuno, (now deceased) also from his Kirinyaga backyard.

One of them drew a knife and Njiru was injured and hospitalised. The incident elicited sharp reactions from Kenyans and became the subject of countless commentaries and editorials as Kenyans condemned them, asking why they carried knives and not notebooks to Parliament.

Njirus attempts to unseat incumbent MP, Njeru Githae came a cropper and it is apparent he has lost most of the sting from the days of “Kanu moto!”

Shariff Nassir

The straight-talking Mombasa Kanu supremo, just like his many contemporaries, had little education but defied this to rise to a national figure status, where he enjoyed and broached little competition.

The late Nassir, who shot to infamy with his “Wapende wasipende” (whether they like it or not) remark was known to entertain no nonsense, especially at the height of his power as a Kanu hawk enjoying the patronage of President Moi.

Nassir, a veteran Kanu politician, is said to have been jailed following a claim that his enemies cheated former President Kenyatta that he (Nassir) had accused his Government of being behind the murder of Mr Tom Mboya.

Shariff Nassir

His transformation from an inmate at Manyani Prison, to a trade unionist, councillor and finally MP and minister was meteoric and did little to persuade his nemesis that he was civil.

Indeed, so acerbic was his tongue that he once told the late MP Paul Ruto Chepkok, himself bold and almost warlike, that he would not mind teaching him a lesson or two, right on the floor of the House.

Wewe Bwana ukicheza na mimi nitakuchafua papa hapa!” (If you play around with me I will beat you up squarely right here!). The former Minister of State in the Office of the President told Chepkok much to the amusement of members.

Now it took some guts to address Chepkok like this because he was not quite averse to a fight or two as his public life attested to.

And when his political enemies made fun of him or spread propaganda about him, he would dismiss them by saying “Vishindo vya mashua havishtui bahari! (The noise of the steamboat cannot startle the ocean).

Wilson Leitich (nominated MP, Kanu chairman, Nakuru)

Leitich took over from Chotara as Nakuru Kanu chairman and curiously, took over the formers peculiar claim to infamy.

Leitich took things a bit far when the clamour for multiparty was at its peak and its proponents were waving the two-finger salute. He ordered Kanu youth wingers to chop off the two fingers of anyone waving the salute!

Wilson Leitich (nominated MP, Kanu chairman, Nakuru)

He never made it clear what he wanted to do with all the fingers, given the popularity of such proponents and the corresponding dislike of Kanu.

Suffice it to say that he made to international news and not for the best of reasons, putting Kenya on the world map as one of the states in the world where political intolerance was at its most ignominious.

The sheer, brazen notoriety that this remark earned him must follow him to this day at his residence at Muchorwi in Molo.

His penchant for controversy has persisted in recent years, with one of his wives taking him to court on claims of abandonment. This did little to redeem his image, more than a decade later.

During public barazas in the early 1990s, Leitich would often blame the population explosion on the males, and would tell women to discourage frequent liaisons with their husbands.

Saa ingine ambia mzee akae kando, awache wewe ulale tu, hii watoto nakuwa mingi sana!” (At times tell your husbands to abstain sex. We are breeding too much!), he would say and amuse the crowd.

Karisa Maitha

His rise to fame was slow and steady and when he died a Cabinet minister, there was a collective sigh among Kenyans, with the sense of loss going beyond his native Coast province.

Known among his people as “Mugogo” (King), “Hurricane” Maitha as he was fondly referred to, endeared himself to many Kenyans in his political sojourn.

But perhaps the most clearly etched incident in the minds of many is the chaos that rocked a political rally involving Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The latter, in the rough and tumble of the moment fled and one of his shoes came off in the melee.

Now Maitha, saw a chance to keep a memento of the days activities and secured the shoe, which he polished to a sheen and displayed it in his house!

Karisa Maitha

Controversy has followed him in death as Transport Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere recent claimed his death was predicted and that it was not a natural death.

Family spokesman Gideon Mungaro told Mwakwere off, saying his utterances were disturbing and the late Maitha should be left to rest in peace.

His past as a colonial DO was not to be forgotten and he would don the complete outfit of his former calling, just for kicks.

Kamwithi Mwinyi

The burly former minister for Co-operatives Development was most famous for his multi-coloured suits, with loud designs and patterns.

Indeed, flamboyant comes close to describing him were it not for the fact that his house was a simple one and does not stand out in Embu where he passed on a few years ago.

Munyi was known to put on two watches and it was not clear what he intended to achieve.

He was also eccentric, even whimsical and puzzled many of his contemporaries as well as the rank and file of Kenyans.

Once when a television crew went to his house for an interview with him on a hot January morning, he declined to even meet them, and asked them, through a house maid to state in writing what their mission was.

KTN Journalist Munene Kamau recalls that even after they complied, the man still sent a househelp to tell the journalists that he would be available the following year in March!

“He lived mysteriously and died in much the same way”, says Kamau. There was no sign or trace of family and up to this day, there is none. The man was a recluse, apparently.

His capacity for comedy was widely noticed as he once pretended to be busy with a paper, to escape press attention but forgot to hold it the right way up. His image as he “read” the paper upside down was to spark off immense laughter among those present.

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African Press International – api

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

Agency speaks out on its recent Kabuga interview

Posted by African Press International on June 8, 2008

Story carried in Rwanda Development Gateway/ Story by Rwanda News Agency

Date: 6th-June2008

Recently Norway-based online agency African Press International (API) published the much publicized interview with suspected Rwandan Genocide financer Mr. Felicien Kabuga.

Concerned parties are believed to have been caught off-guard – suddenly that a man with a $5million bounty on his head surfaces in an interview seeking to surrender to Rwanda. RNA put the different issues that the interview has raised to API Chief-Editor Kipter Korir, and below are the excerpts in which he reveals that government is secretly seeking to contact the man they have hunted for years.

Mr. Kipter Korir, could you just describe the circumstances leading up to the much publicized interview with Rwandan Genocide fugitive Felicien Kabuga and how you managed to secure it anyway.

Many media outlets and other institutions have treated our story on Kabuga and his presence in Norway at the time of interview with caution. It is not difficult to understand why many find it difficult to see the real picture in all that has happened, the fact that API met Mr Kabuga and even managed to secure an interview. Mr Kabuga travelled to Sweden in an effort to meet an elderly Sudanese man who is refugee in that country. While in that country, he discovered that the man he was looking for was not there. He managed, one way or another, to get information that a South Sudanese delegation led by the South Sudan President Salva Kiir was going to be in Norway for a conference.

It was at that time Mr Kabuga chose to travel to Oslo hoping the old man he was looking for in Sweden had found his way to Norway to meet his colleagues from South Sudan.

As things turned out, the Sudanese old man was not in Norway but had travelled to South Sudan. Those close to Kabuga, who met him in Norway, directed him to APIs Chief Editor who happens to be a friend to the Sudanese old man. After discussions on what Mr Kabuga wanted, the parties agreed on an interview on condition, API assisted Kabuga to connect with the Sudanese old man and another man of Ugandan origin now resident in the UK, so that the two men may initiate talks with the Rwanda Government for the purposes of reaching an agreement on a conditional surrender. Both men are close contacts of APIs Chief Editor.

The ICTR and Rwanda government are treating your purported interview with Mr. Kabuga as a hoax. There does not seem to be anything tangible evidence to back up the interview.

API has noted that several media outlets have focused on the behaviour of the ICTR and the Rwanda government on how they have reacted to the story. As a media outlet, API does not go around distributing prove to institutions in order that those who read API articles may believe what is being written.

The Rwanda government and the ICTR have the opportunity to get in touch with API and find out the truth. By doing so, the government will be showing a will to listen to Kabugas story and make a fair judgement on whether to accept his conditions or not.

Mr. Kabuga has rarely spoken in the media directly, the only journalist who met him died later, how would he have trusted you?

API has noted that some media outlets do not have time for Kabuga because he has been accused of genocide. And yet many people tend to say an accused person is innocent until proven guilty. API has been contacted by many media outlets and other international government branches who emphasize that the only journalist who met Kabuga in Kenya died later. As far as API is concerned, nobody has come forward with clear evidence that the journalist who died was killed by Kabuga. API has understood that the murdered journalist had plans to lure Kabuga to a police trap. API has no intention to lure any accused person or persons to police traps. API will remain professional in interviews and will not be party to colluding with others to net people being searched for by any international body.

This, however, does not mean API condones any form of crimes, be it genocide or any other. We are now dealing with a man who has decided to reach out and surrender. The fact that API has become the only media to break the story does not make the story to be a hoax as some would like to have it fall into that category. Many have asked how Kabuga could have trusted API. This only leads API to believe that some have taken the narrow path that has led to underestimate Mr Kabuga. API chooses to believe that a man who has managed to hide for many years, having many friends, and buying his way for safe hiding, knows when to trust and who to trust depending on the place and timing.

Anybody that has tried to blackmail him into a trap has seen their fate. Surely, if you met Mr. Kabuga you must be very scared?

Kabuga has been accused of genocide in Rwanda. Some who have followed the genocide stories in Rwanda are saddened. And yet they must not forget that every story has two sides. Kabuga has decided to surrender because he wants to tell his side of the story to the Rwanda government. If he is guilty, it does not mean that everyone he meets has to fear for his life. API has reported a story as it is and has no reason to be afraid of the man because API has not misreported the facts. And API has not in any way held in its map to blackmail Mr Kabuga, but just to pass on the message on the request for talks geared to a conditional surrender.

The ICTR says the purported interview is just meant to disorganize its search that has been focused on Kenya to indicate that he is not there, so they are not taking the assertion that he is in Oslo seriously.

API has noted that ICTR is relaxed on the issue because they are of the opinion that Mr Kabuga is in Kenya and not Norway. Every institution has the right to believe or not, any given information at any given time. API goes by the correctness of the interview and will publicise more information on the issue when the Rwanda government decides to take the matter more seriously.

One of the last articles says Rwanda had expressed interest to move forward with possible negotiations with Mr. Kabuga. But officials here are not saying anything to that effect. How true can the public be about what you publish?

In our articles, API has categorically stated that Kabuga is not in Kenya. API has also stated that Rwanda has expressed goodwill to start the talks. API appreciates the move and thanks the Embassy of Rwanda in Belgium for taking great interest in the story and by negotiating a way to meet and get evidence on what Kabuga is presenting, all in the effort to start the talks in one of the Scandinavian countries. The communication with the embassy will soon bear fruit because, as API understands it, the participant is mandated by the Government to proceed.

From your meeting with Mr. Kabuga, how would you describe him?

On seeing Kabuga, one notices he is a tired man. It is, however, not difficult to understand that he means what he says when he now wants to go back home. His health seems to dictate the day to day program when it comes to his activities. The man is now aged and he expresses sadness for what happened to his country in 1994.

Some observers are saying the timing of your articles is very suspicious: just after the Kenyan ruling; before the ICTR is to report to the UN Security Council. The suspicion is that somebody is behind it all and you are just doing their job. Dont you think there is some reason in all this?

This is a serious matter that concerns many institutions and people. Due to the fact that Mr Kabuga is the most wanted man, and that he has not given interviews since going into hiding, has led many people to be suspicious on the timing of the articles. To think or even imagine that the timing has any hidden agenda is uncalled for, and primitive, because the interview is not one API was aware of in advance that it was going to take place. It was only after being contacted for a meeting in connection with the search for the Sudanese old man, whom Mr Kabuga wanted to meet in Oslo, that API requested for the interview and was reluctantly granted with conditions.

The ICTR wants to believe that Kabuga is in Kenya, because the institution will soon report on Kenya to the UN Security Council and the Council members may decide to impose sanctions on Kenya. having been accused of giving refuge to Kabuga. API is not in a position to change the ICTRs way of looking at things, because they have their own machinery, and if their machinery confirms to them that Kabuga is hiding in Kenya, that remains to be seen when the man resurfaces one way or another.

RNA

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African Press International – api

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