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Archive for June 29th, 2008

Kalonzo to take over after Kibaki – 2012 Kenya Politics

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

Thousands at Kalonzos party

Story by KITAVI MUTUA

Thousands of people on Saturday thronged the Musila Gardens in Mwingi town when Vice- President Kalonzo Musyoka held a prayer service to celebrate his being appointed VP.

Excitement was high as Mr Musyoka made a triumphant entry into Mwingi town escorted by jubilant supporters.

The visit, which saw the VP hold a joint party with his Mwingi South counterpart David Musila, is the first since he was appointed the countrys 10th Vice- President six months ago.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta led cabinet ministers, 40 members of parliament and hundreds of other dignitaries from across the country in escorting Mr Musyoka to his political home.

The ceremony was quickly turned into a forum to endorse Mr Musyoka for the presidency in the next General Election as speaker after speaker said the VP was their preferred candidate.

MPs from Rift Valley and Central provinces allied to President Kibakis Party of National Unity said they had attended the fete to show solidarity with Mr Musyoka for agreeing to form a coalition with their party early this year.

Molo MP Joseph Kiuna echoed sentiments from local MPs that the PNU alliance should rally behind the VP in 2012 in reciprocating the ODM Kenya gesture to stand with President Kibaki after last years disputed presidential election results.

We want to assure ODM Kenya that the PNU coalition will support Mr Musyoka in the 2012 General Election, Mr Kiuna said.

The prayer service-cum-public rally kicked off a series of three-day events to celebrate Mr Musyokas election as the area MP for the sixth consecutive term beside his appointment as VP.

The VP is scheduled to address rallies in Mwingi town, Kyuso and Tseikuru markets among other centres as he meets his constituents.

Mr Musyokas tour, which had been postponed following the plane crash that killed Minister Kipkalya Kones and assistant minister Lorna Laboso, comes in the wake of growing discontent within his ODM Kenya party over the way he handled appointments to government jobs.

Some ODM Kenya MPs recently criticised the VP for allegedly failing to fight for the interests of the Kamba community, claiming that the region was short-changed in both ministerial and senior public service jobs.

However, MPs Isaac Muoki (Kitui South) and Wavinya Ndeti (Kathiani), among those who had criticised the VP, attended the party and vowed to support the VP. The MPs had skipped the VPs thanksgiving ceremony held in Machakos town two months ago.

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API/Nation.ke

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Scam rocks the boat in Kenya – The PNU men fooled ODM men

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

Grand Regency: What does Kibaki know?

By Sunday Standard TeamPresident Kibaki is in the eye of the storm stirred by the controversial sale of Grand Regency Hotel to the Libyan Government.

The question is, “What did the President know?” And he is not alone; the winds of accusations are also swirling around Finance Minister Amos Kimunya and Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula.

Calls for Kimunyas resignation rose on Saturday as the nation began confronting the latest storm to jolt the Kibakis administration in the second and last term.

Cabinet ministers Martha Karua and Charity Ngilu said the way the sale was executed was suspect and those involved should disclose what they know.

Cabinet Ministers William Ruto and Najib Balala also spoke out against the sale, saying collective Cabinet responsibility did not mean “sitting down and working with crooks.

Kimunya did not produce copies of the sale agreement and valuation reports, amid claims by a parliamentary committee the hotel is worth more than the Sh2.9 billion the minister said the Libyans paid. This has also opened up the President and his subordinates, to claims there is more than meets the eye.

They will all be hard put, especially the President, because of his oversight and Executive powers, to allay fears even within the Cabinet that the Libyans could have paid more, which was not factored in the Government records.

Even if he was not briefed, and since the Cabinet was not involved, the President and his ministers may also have to field questions, including whether businessman Kamlesh Pattni, who put up the hotel on public funds, was paid US$18 million (around Sh1 billion) in two instalments to play ball.

Questions

But the trickiest claim doing the rounds in Government and legal circles is that the Libyans could have paid, and which Kimunya has denied, Sh7.5 billion. With this comes the question, if it is true: Where did the Sh4.6 billion go?

Kimunya, under whom the vendor, Central Bank falls, and who shrugged off the hotel was sold to a single-sourced merchant, has a date with the relevant committee of the House.

There will also be questions on reported sale of a plot lying between the hotel and Kenyatta Avenue, which is also said to have been sold by the National Social Security Fund, for Sh1.6 billion, to Libyans. If it were true, again the question why there was no bidding, as well as publicised independent valuation, would be asked.

On Saturday, Kibaki met Prime Minister Raila Odinga at his Harambee House office, but though their discussions were not made public, the coincidence of it coming hot on the heels of the latest controversy in which Kimunya said he was personally involved, fuelled speculation it could have been the agenda.

Wetangula, because of his docket in the Cabinet, is also believed to be familiar with the process it took the Government to hand over the hotel to the Libyans following the deal between Presidents Kibaki and Muammar Gaddaffi.

There were also reports a law firm with which he is associated, undertook professional work of conveyance, for which is earned millions of Shillings.

The latest controversy rekindles memories of the Sh7 billion Anglo Leasing scandal in Kibakis first term, which were vehemently dismissed as “scandals that never were” by ministers, until the denials could no longer hold, given the evidence that kept popping up locally and internationally.

Ngilu, who unlike Karua comes from the Orange Democratic Movement wing of the ruling Coalition, said the deal was shady, should be investigated and those involved dealt with.

Karua joined Lands Minister James Orengo who lifted the lid on the sale denied as non-existent by Kimunya until Friday.

AG in the dark

Attorney General Amos Wako has also said he was not part of the amnesty deal that saw businessman Kamlesh Pattni reciprocate by surrendering the hotel to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission and Central Bank.

The probing eyes are also riveted on the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission director Justice Aaron Ringera. He entered into a barter trade with Pattni, who built the hotel he has been fighting to keep for 15 years, on skimmed public funds.

In return for dropping cases KACC lined up against the architect of Goldenberg scandal, Pattni signed away the hotel to the Central Bank.

Also on the crosshairs in so far as the hard questions are concerned is CBK Governor Prof Njuguna Ndungu whose institution, which falls under the Treasury, was the theatre of the shady transaction.

The flurry of questions revolve around how much they knew, their contributions to the deal now threatening to split the Grand Coalition, and the reason it was executed stealthily, with some key offices being by-passed.

Even if the sale was by Treaty, the AG ought to have known. The AG also needed to have approved the amnesty deal with Pattni as the Governments chief legal adviser.

The Grand Regency scam is a test for the Kibaki presidency that said on May 9 that, any minister, assistant minister and permanent secretary cited adversely in corruption would have to step aside to allow for investigation.

Grand Regency: What does Kibaki know?

Published on June 29, 2008, 12:00 am

By Sunday Standard Team

President Kibaki is in the eye of the storm stirred by the controversial sale of Grand Regency Hotel to the Libyan Government.

The question is, “What did the President know?” And he is not alone; the winds of accusations are also swirling around Finance Minister Amos Kimunya and Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula.

Calls for Kimunyas resignation rose on Saturday as the nation began confronting the latest storm to jolt the Kibakis administration in the second and last term.

Cabinet ministers Martha Karua and Charity Ngilu said the way the sale was executed was suspect and those involved should disclose what they know.

Cabinet Ministers William Ruto and Najib Balala also spoke out against the sale, saying collective Cabinet responsibility did not mean “sitting down and working with crooks.

Kimunya did not produce copies of the sale agreement and valuation reports, amid claims by a parliamentary committee the hotel is worth more than the Sh2.9 billion the minister said the Libyans paid. This has also opened up the President and his subordinates, to claims there is more than meets the eye.

They will all be hard put, especially the President, because of his oversight and Executive powers, to allay fears even within the Cabinet that the Libyans could have paid more, which was not factored in the Government records.

Even if he was not briefed, and since the Cabinet was not involved, the President and his ministers may also have to field questions, including whether businessman Kamlesh Pattni, who put up the hotel on public funds, was paid US$18 million (around Sh1 billion) in two instalments to play ball.

Questions

But the trickiest claim doing the rounds in Government and legal circles is that the Libyans could have paid, and which Kimunya has denied, Sh7.5 billion. With this comes the question, if it is true: Where did the Sh4.6 billion go?

Kimunya, under whom the vendor, Central Bank falls, and who shrugged off the hotel was sold to a single-sourced merchant, has a date with the relevant committee of the House.

There will also be questions on reported sale of a plot lying between the hotel and Kenyatta Avenue, which is also said to have been sold by the National Social Security Fund, for Sh1.6 billion, to Libyans. If it were true, again the question why there was no bidding, as well as publicised independent valuation, would be asked.

On Saturday, Kibaki met Prime Minister Raila Odinga at his Harambee House office, but though their discussions were not made public, the coincidence of it coming hot on the heels of the latest controversy in which Kimunya said he was personally involved, fuelled speculation it could have been the agenda.

Wetangula, because of his docket in the Cabinet, is also believed to be familiar with the process it took the Government to hand over the hotel to the Libyans following the deal between Presidents Kibaki and Muammar Gaddaffi.

There were also reports a law firm with which he is associated, undertook professional work of conveyance, for which is earned millions of Shillings.

The latest controversy rekindles memories of the Sh7 billion Anglo Leasing scandal in Kibakis first term, which were vehemently dismissed as “scandals that never were” by ministers, until the denials could no longer hold, given the evidence that kept popping up locally and internationally.

Ngilu, who unlike Karua comes from the Orange Democratic Movement wing of the ruling Coalition, said the deal was shady, should be investigated and those involved dealt with.

Karua joined Lands Minister James Orengo who lifted the lid on the sale denied as non-existent by Kimunya until Friday.

AG in the dark

Attorney General Amos Wako has also said he was not part of the amnesty deal that saw businessman Kamlesh Pattni reciprocate by surrendering the hotel to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission and Central Bank.

The probing eyes are also riveted on the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission director Justice Aaron Ringera. He entered into a barter trade with Pattni, who built the hotel he has been fighting to keep for 15 years, on skimmed public funds.

In return for dropping cases KACC lined up against the architect of Goldenberg scandal, Pattni signed away the hotel to the Central Bank.

Also on the crosshairs in so far as the hard questions are concerned is CBK Governor Prof Njuguna Ndungu whose institution, which falls under the Treasury, was the theatre of the shady transaction.

The flurry of questions revolve around how much they knew, their contributions to the deal now threatening to split the Grand Coalition, and the reason it was executed stealthily, with some key offices being by-passed.

Even if the sale was by Treaty, the AG ought to have known. The AG also needed to have approved the amnesty deal with Pattni as the Governments chief legal adviser.

The Grand Regency scam is a test for the Kibaki presidency that said on May 9 that, any minister, assistant minister and permanent secretary cited adversely in corruption would have to step aside to allow for investigation.

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API/Standard.ke

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A Policy being Criticized: The US in the Horn of Africa

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

By Scott A Morgan

In Recent Weeks there has been some focus on events in the Horn of Africa. A Border Clash between Djibouti and Eritrea appears to have stablized and intervention by France and the United States is not expected at this time. However this is not the only area where the US should be concerned about.

Also during this time period there has been ample criticism of the US Relations with Ethiopia. Ethiopian Forces are currently in neighboring Somalia propping up a weak Western Backed Regime. There are two main issues that the Zenawi regime has to deal with. First there are persistent reports of Famine in the Country and there is an insurgency currently active in the Ogaden.

In a recent report Human Rights Watch was very critical of the close relations between the Ethiopians and the US and British Governments. The Group feels that the support of London and Washington gives the Zenawi Regime Carte Blanche to deal with its Adversaries within the Country and in its neighbors.

There has been an effort within the US Congress to have both Transparency and Accountability in dealing with the Ethiopian Government. The Ethiopian Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 passed the US House of Representatives.It is currently dormant in the US Senate. The Legislation was first introduced in response to the Highly Controversial Elections in 2005 and their violent aftermath.

Key Elements of this Legislation include a suspenstion of US Military Assistance and other sanctions until the Zenawi Government follows specific steps outlined by the US Government. Exemptions will be allowed for Peacekeeping and Counter-Terrrorism Operations. Any Government Official that is found to have used Lethal Force against peaceful demonstrators would be prevented from entering the United States.

The Ethiopian Regime has spent over a Million Dollars in attempting to defeat this legislation. It has recruited Prior Members of Congress such as former House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas to defeat this Bill. One tactic that is being used is that this Bill will be Detrimental to the National Security Interests of the United States.

The announcement of the timing of the Bill being stalled in the Senate coming on the Heels of the Criticism of turning a Blind Eye towards Ethiopian Human Rights Violations will have Conspiriacy Theorists going crazy with Glee. After All there was a concerted effort by members of the Ethiopian Diaspora in the USA to support this Bill. This could be the time when American Human Rights Defenders to contact their Senators to Bring this Bill to a Vote.

The Author publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet (morganrights.tripod.com) and comments on US Policy towards Africa

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API

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Obama fever will kill the world – his presidency might cause third world war

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

Everyone is said to be entitled to his or her opinion. This means I am also entitled to have mine. Obama fever will kill the world. The world may be forced to deal with third world war situation. USA is not ready to have a black man as their president. What we see is pretence. There is someone somewhere planning on how to stop Obama from ruling the most powerfull nation in the world.

My reaction is not because people say Barack Obama is a muslim. Hussein Obama has the right to choose his religion if at all he is a muslim and he must be respected for that. Muslims are as good as christians. There is one thing that is very important. Obama, if he gets to the top will eliminate the Palestinians in favour of Israel and yet he tries to emphasise on solving problems diplomatically now while campaigning.

If Obama is murdered before he becomes the US president, he will have made history anyhow by being a daring black man having challenged many forces of darkness including the KU KLAX KLAN.

Assassinating Obama will kill Oprah Winfrey’s dreams to put a black man in the white house. She has used her daily show and the large number of women followers in her TV show to campaign for Obama.

The problem with politics of colour is a situation that is created to reflect blind mad support in the order of – our own colour must win! The behaviour of this kind makes people fear to speak out in support of a different colour than their own because then they are branded colour unconscious.

I have a problem to support Obama. Many who support Obama now are simply blinded and do not know that there is the unknown  side of him and because they want to join in chorus singing without knowing that the chorus song is a simple Obamarising method creating a popular mood that will die slowly when real politics come to bear.

Should I support him because he is a black man? The question is not difficult to answer. The answer is No.

President George Bush has not been kind to the Muslims. People will get a shock if Obama wins. He may even become more cruel to the Muslim world than the White Bush. It is better the enemy you know than one you do not know. But since everyone is entitled to choices, let us make individual choices and live with them when the real politics meet us early next year.

Korir, Chief Editor, African Press International – API

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Government threatens to shut down Kalenjin Radio Station

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

By Leo Odera Omolo

The threat to close down the popular Kass FM by Kenyas Ministry of information for allegedly airing and broadcasting subversive materials which are prejudicial to law and order, peace, reconciliation and cohesiveness has taken a new political dimension.

Many leaders in western Kenya have read a hidden malice attitude on the part of the grand coalition government.

Group members of the Luo Council of Elders who met in Kisumu condemned the government. They told the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information Dr. Bitanger Ndemo that the countrys airwaves was liberalized during the reign of President Mois KANUand therefore there is no way of allowing the country to plunge back to the old draconian days.

The group challenged the government to come out with specific materials allegedly aired by KASS FM which are likely to cause despondency and undermine the good governance. In the absence of such materials, the group cannot accept to see the government frustrating and persecuting the Kass FM simply because of the earsay related issues.

The Luo Council of elders meeting was held under the chairmanship of Ker Meshack Riaga Ogalo..

The Luo Elders also pleaded with the Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga to abandon the idea of going to Nyeri for the planned installation of him as a Kikuyu elder, arguing that the already controversial ceremony would not add any value to Railas political and social standing within the society.

They said Railas leadership role has already been recognized internationally therefore bending and stooping low to some tribal installation was uncalled for.

Ker Riaga, however, made it clear that their opposition to the planned ceremony was not motivated by any ill-feeling against the Kikuyu community as such.

We Luos once installed the late president Jomo Kenyatta as a Luo elder immediately he was released from prison and detention. But then there was no much hue and cry surrounding it. The. community had used the occasion to unanimously recognize the leadership quality of Kenyatta on political implications it has had on Kenyans.

The planned installation of Mr. Odinga as a Kikuyu elder in Nyeri, the backyard of President Mwai Kibaki. Has generated a lot of heat and speculation on its political implications.

In Kericho and its environs, the alleged threat by the government to shut-down Kass FM radio station has become the popular talk of the town. Civic leaders, teachers, opinion leaders and local branch officials of both ODM and KANU were united in vehemently opposing the threat of closing the station.

A prominent Kericho and London based businessman-cum-politician Mr. Joel Kirui made a long phone call all the way from London to this correspondent and told the information ministry to leave Kass FM station alone

Mr Kirui who contested the Kipkelion parliamentary seat during the last general election on an ODM ticket, but who is also believed within the locality to have won the partys primary nomination, but was robbed of the victory through political intrigues said Kass FM was doing a good job in sensitizing members of the larger Kalenjin ethnic group. He pleaded with the retired president Daniel Arap Moi to stop vilifying the vernacular station for personal reasons.

It could be true that the Kass FM might have offended the former president in one way or the other through its bold and well presented programmes, but that does not imply that the station is prejudicial to good governance in the country.

Mr. Kirui who runs chains of businesses both in London and Kericho lost the ODM ticket to Hon Langat Magerer who is a close political associate of the Prime Minister Raila Odinga..He said despite having lost the election in a much flawed ODM nomination exercises, he was still a very loyal member of the party. He wanted the retired president Daniel Arap Moi to stand tall and not stooping too low on petty matters concerning a local vernacular radion station.

The airwaves was liberalized during Moi’s reign, andwas unable to stop its waves, therefore it is now too late to try to take the Kalenjin back to the old days of dictatorship and police state. let Moi establish another Kalenjin speaking radiostation and compete honourably with Kass FM, because business competition is very much allowed in country. But he should not try to gag the station using the government facilities, said Kirui.

In Kericho, the chairman of the Small Scale Tea Owners Association in the region Mr. Joel Chepkwony Bwana Maendeleo defended the Kass FM saying he has been a keen listener of the station ever since its inception, but has never heard it broadcasting any sedition materials, which could lead Kenyans to hating one another.

Mr. Chepkwony a staunch supporter of the grand coalition government said the Kass FM was a good station because it has been highlighting good programmes for the farming fratenity. Anyone having a grudge with the station should seek dialogue and have the matter sorted out peacefully and amicably.

Last week the PS for information Dr, Ndemo had given Kass FM a seventy two hours altimatum to state why its station should not be shut down for broadcasting materials which could jeopardize the existing peace and tranquility in the country.

But yesterday twelve MPs came to the defence of the station saying it has done nothing wrong to warrant such a harsh action. The MPs who addressed the poress and spoke in favour of the station were Zakayo K. Cheruiyot {Kuresoi}Dr. Julius Kones {Konoin} Franklin Bett {Buret} Joshua Kutuny{Cheranganyi} Fred Kapondi {Mt. Elgon} Jakoyo Midiwo{Gem} Peris Chepchumba, Kiema Kilonzo, Musa Lesonet and Lukas Kigen of Rongai.

The MPs said the position the government had taken amounted to raw threats and offended the bill of rights which guarantees the right to secure protection of law and the freedom of the press.

Hundreds of Kass FM fans in Kapsabet, Kericho, Sotik, Litein have been gluing themselves to radio stations fearing that the worse could befall the popular Kass FM at anytime of the expiry of the 72 hour deadline given last week by the PS.

In some places, the youth have threatened to take to the street should the popular Radio station be taken out of the air by the government. We shall demonstrate in the streets against the government if it dares to close the KASS fm, Retorted a KANU youth in Kericho.

Another politician who highly praised the Kass FM is the Lt. Gen{rtd}John Koech, the former Deputy CGS who is now a politician. Koech said he was fond of the station because it promotes Kalenjin cultural value and educating the youth on the value of their mothers tongue.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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API

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Boycott Grand Regency Hotel

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

With the revelations that the Director General of Kenya Anti Corruption Commission Mr Aaron Ringera, the Governor of Central Bank Mr Njuguna Ndungu and the Finance Minister Mr Amos Kimunya have conspired to sell Grand Regency Hotel to the Libyan Government, all that Kenyans can do is to immediately boycott doing business with Grand Regency Hotel immediately.

This is what all those who do not believe in corruption must do.

It is very sad that the person we are paying so much to fight graft has become an agent of corrupt mandarins. By the way, Ringera was a thank you token to the lords of graft for having purged from the Judiciary people who could stand firm against the corrupt tendencies of that government that was incoming.

Things get a little bit tricky when the Governor of Central Bank and our Finance Minister decide to become less truthful about the whole saga. The question is, if this guys can be this bold to sell Grand Regency Hotel like they have done, then what can’t they do?

The trio were summoned by Hon Okemo to shed some light to the parliamentary committee and they played games, all the times saying that nothing was amiss. Now that all has been amiss, can we continue to trust these people with those sensitive dockets?

The answer is no. These are thieves, pure and simple.

Kenyans must demand the return of Grand Regency Hotel to the Kenyan Government. And if the Hotel must be sold, then the law must be followed. Not a deal. It was sad watching Kimunya explaining that it was such a sweet deal they could not leave it.

No. It must be the law, not the deal.

If the Hotel is to be auctioned, then it must be so advertised in at least 2 major mass circulation dailies. If it must be sold otherwise, the government must still invite bids from interested parties, and still place the invitation for bids in at least 2 major mass circulation papers.

But if we have to cut deals as a government, then we are surely headed in the wrong direction. Government building will be sold to the best deal cutter, because the deal will be too tempting to be refused, according to Kimunya.

In the whole, this thing stinks, and Kimunya, Ringera and Ndungu have all fallen short of the glory of Kenyans. They must be sacked, arrested and charged accordingly.

Odhiambo T Oketch
Komarocks Nairobi

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API

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Is Tsvangirai sick or well? Why hide in a foreign embassy without making a formal asylum application?

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

Tsvangirai is now a man not easy to understand. He hides in the Dutch embassy as if he is really a target for death. Recently, he came out of the embassy and nothing happened to him. Now he is back to the embassy again.

What is he doing there when his supporters are left alone. If his life is in danger, what about the lives of his supporters: Does it mean his life is more valuable than that of his supporters? Many leaders tend to fool their supporters to go wild and riot and yet they are not willing to be caught in the crossfire themselves.

This is wrong. President Mugabe is now the elected president afterthe coward Tsvangirai chickened out.

The same thing happened in Kenya. When Kibaki was sworn in, Raila called on his supporters to riot. They were killed. Was Raila hurt at all?

Why are these leaders fooling their supporters and yet they are not ready to die for the course they claim to champion?

It is time those who are interested in politics woke up and refuse to be misused by leaders who are only thinking of themselves and their own families.

Many young people supporting MDC and Tsvangirai are dying fighting because he tells them to fight the government. Recently, Tsvangirai’s daughter was interviewed by the media. She lives abroad safely while the young people are dying for his father. How right is that? Why is Tsvangirai not putting his own children in the front line like he does with the youths – sons and daughters of other Zimbabweans?:

Looking at Kenya for instance. Have we heard of anyone from the Odinga family getting hurt whilefighting for equal rights? It is sons and daughters of others being used to fight and the Odingasget ready made cake later.

By Korir, Chief Editor, API

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Give them personalized car number plates: If they are caught speeding, the media will make their identity public

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

Transport Minister shifts gears on ‘vanity’ plates

Norway’s Transport Minister has gone into reverse after crashing into criticism over her decision to halt a project aimed at introducing personalized license plates in Norway. Now she’s backing away from her stand that such plates are just so vain.

Liv Signe Navarsete, photographed Thursday atop Oslo’s new Opera House with other transport officials from the EU, admits the jewelry she wears can also be considered vain.

PHOTO: JON-ARE BERG-JACOBSEN

Related stories:

She probably thinks opinion is against her.

You could almost hear Transport Minister Liv Signe Navarsete humming the old pop song “You’re so vain” in the background, when news broke this week that she had halted a project that would have allowed motorists in Norway to purchase personalized license plates. The project could have been a new source of funding for state transport projects, and simply fun for those buying the plates and others who spot them.

Navarsete didn’t like the idea, and still maintains that she thinks personalized plates “are a bit vain, and un-Norwegian.” But she admitted to newspaper Dagens Nringsliv, after earlier being unavailable for comment, that “I’m wearing this jewelry, and that can also be vain.”

She claimed she didn’t, “in principle,” oppose a project that would allow motorists to buy special plates, and even thinks such plates can be a “good idea” if they’ll raise money for traffic safety. The state highway department already had planned to propose earmarking revenues from personalized plate sales to safety programs.

Her new comments come after Navarsete was summoned by the opposition parties in parliament to explain why she earlier did not want drivers in Norway to be able to buy special plates. She now claims she never went so far as to send a letter to transport authorities ordering them to stop the program.

“We’ll now clarify for the highway department anything that’s not clear,” she said.

Plates may not be popular after all
It remains to be seen whether personalized plates will catch on in a country where flaunting wealth is often frowned upon. Rally car racer Petter Solberg told Dagens Nringsliv that while cars have a lot to do with their owners’ personalities, and special plates can be prestigious, he didn’t want one himself. If he did, though, he’d choose “IM FAST.”

Affluent real estate broker Petter Andreas Poppe claimed he wasn’t “snobbish” enough to buy such a license plate.

Investor Ola Mle, who’s been in the news lately after being harshly criticized by a top Labour Party official for being part of a new “vulgar overclass” in Norway, rejected the idea of getting a personalized plate. “It’s stupid,” he said. “If you get caught driving too fast, everyone will know who you are.”

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API/Aftenposeneng

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Africa must take firm action against Mugabe (Editorial)

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

Nairobi (Kenya) – Zimbabweans went to the polls on Friday in a presidential election run-off. A walkover for President Mugabe.

His challenger, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, pulled out of the polls, citing the government-sponsored campaign of violence that has seen dozens of opposition supporters killed and tens of thousands forced to flee their homes. Mr Tsvangirai has himself been seeking refuge in the Dutch Embassy in Harare, citing fears for his life.

Kenya is among the growing number of countries in Africa that have abandoned the usual see no evil policies and has condemned President Mugabes violent campaign and the declaration that he would not hand power even if the people voted him out.

The Kenyan position, alongside many other countries, is that the elections must be called off until the conditions are ripe for a free and fair election.

Mr Mugabe has rejected all such appeals. He insists that the polls will take place as scheduled. The octogenarian president, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, has been dismissing pressure in increasingly strident and intemperate terms.

The kind of language he has been using indicates that Mr Mugabe is no longer amenable to reason.

Chances are that he will go ahead with the uncontested poll on Friday and claim an extension to his 28 years in power. Should that happen, the international community must move with firmness to rescue the people of Zimbabwe from more misery under Mr Mugabes tyranny.

Whatever measures are taken must be initiated and driven by African countries that must recognise that the crisis in Zimbabwe is a blot on the continent. To start with, Zimbabwe must be suspended from the African Union and all the regional bodies in which it is a member. African countries must also break diplomatic ties and recall their envoys from Harare.

They must also impose targeted sanctions by denying Mr Mugabe and his ministers entry into their territories. And if push comes to shove, then even military intervention under the auspices of the African Union must be considered.

That is probably the only language Mr Mugabe would understand.

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API:source.Daily Nation (Kenya)

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Narc Kenya Scandinavia Aganist tax exemptions

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

The Narc Kenya Scandinavia requests our Kenyan Government not to exempt the Mps from paying taxes. We in the diaspora are totally aganist the tax exemptions of some people while others keep paying taxes .

We live in a democratic country where all are equal under the law . In this all abled Kenyans should pay taxes , there is no one special or above the law.

It is indeed a big shame to see the Mps asking for tax exemptions when they are the forefronts at selling their great ideas of national building and visions , where do they think this money will come from ? Why should a poorly paid civil servant be taxed heavily while an Mp who is paid highly be exempted from taxation and be allowed to lavish in their riches.

Taxes are for Kenyas growth , if used apropriately it can help bridge the big gap between the rich and poor and bring about development .

We talk of change in Kenya , and if this change has to occur it has to come from the top with the Mps joining hands with all the Kenyans in paying taxes .

By Mwaura Njuguna in Sweden

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API

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Mugabe is a shame to both the UN and the AU (Opinion)

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

Kampala (Uganda) – Sometime last week, I received a hate mail from one Larry Hill, who though his name looked European, I suspected was some blind Zimbabwean supporter of Robert Mugabe come rain or sunshine.

The man was annoyed with me over an article I had written earlier in the week. In that article I questioned why the World Food Programme in Rome had excluded Mugabe from a farewell dinner soon after the World Food Summit in Rome.

This is what Larry Hill said:

Hello Jerry, in regards to your article, How Mugabes speech caused him a plate of chips in Rome written on Wednesday, June 11, 2008, I have to say I read the article and felt pitiful that I almost cried at Africa. You have sold your soul to the white propaganda machine for a mere $0.10 and you are not bothered at all. I would rather you go pick up a book and read about the colonisation of Africa, The Berlin conference of 1884, the 500 years of slavery. The stupid African kings thought they were just selling their brothers from different tribes, but in turn the whole continent was enslaved. Now the continent is again under siege from the great grandsons of the former colonisers and you cant see that? Why not talk about the promises the British reneged on, they have not paid a dime of the 50 million pounds they were to pay for the resettlement of the white settlers. The land question in Zimbabwe had not been answered. I believe this is hard to envision, given Kenyans lost their land a long time ago and they dont even remember what it means to own land. Very sad.

When I read this article, I didnt even feel angry at this Zimbabwean African who found it necessary to judge me for writing about Robert Mugabe. What was even more annoying was the fact that Larry Hill, in his blind faith for Robert Mugabe despite the latters atrocities, didnt even bother to open his eyes to see what was unfolding in his country! Perhaps his kind is the reason despots in Africa continue to act with impunity. They have a cult-like following despite their crimes against humanity.

This article is directed at the African and the world community. What is happening in Zimbabwe is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to go on when the Rwanda trials are still going on next door in Arusha, Tanzania. How can the world community, more so Africa stand there and fold their arms while Mugabe is slaughtering his own people?

How can the African leaders, especially Thabo Mbeki and Jakaya Kikwete call themselves African leaders while one of their own in the SADDC region is carrying out genocide right in front of their eyes?

Why is it that when there is a crisis of this nature in Africa, it is always an African problem that requires an African solution? On what basis did the Allied Forces invade Iraq twice in 1993 and 2003, the latter still going on today? On what basis did America and her allies hang Saddam Hussein? Were Saddams sins against humanity worse than Mugabes murderous orgy that is in progress?

On what basis did the NATO forces invade Bosnia and Kosovo at the height of genocide in that region? How come when Rwanda was burning in 1994, it was an African problem that did not require superpower and UN interventions?

How come when the apartheid regime was carrying out genocide inside South Africa while murdering innocent civilians in cross-border raids among frontline states, the superpower that controlled the UN decisions stood by for 40 years and did nothing for Africans except Fidel Castro who intervened militarily in the region?

To the African leaders and the United Nations, I say that Robert Mugabe has crossed the line. The despot must be removed by force if necessary to stop him from further annihilating his country, his record as a freedom fighter notwithstanding. Zimbabweans did not fight for freedom only to be massacred by one of their own!

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API/New Vision (Uganda), by Jerry Okungu

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World needs a plan for Mugabe lunacy (Editorial)

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

Nairobi (Kenya) – There is no easy way to tell the story of Zimbabwe, a country most of whose citizens have only known one leader independence war veteran, President Robert Mugabe.

He has over the years systematically emasculated the opposition and silenced any dissent within his ruling Zanu-PF party. All opposition has been branded puppets of the West. Mugabe has presided over a slide into economic chaos to record 80 per cent unemployment and the worlds highest inflation rate.

Following a massively rigged March 29 General Election, he decided to withhold the final results and instead released a statement three weeks later declaring a tie and ordering a run-off in 21 says. This was later rescheduled to today and has been preceded by unprecedented acts and statements of aggression by the State and its agents.

Not even the chorus of appeals and protests from a clearly enraged world has moved Comrade Mugabe. He argues that he cannot afford to lose this election and “hand over power to the British colonialists through the back door”.

If he does, he promises war.

Having fought so hard to liberate his people from colonial rule, he has now enslaved them in a manic grip that has seen hundreds of thousands unemployed and famine stricken Zimbabweans become economic refugees. He has created a nation of sick and poor billionaires, awash in a currency so depleted everyone carries bags of it.

Are these not crimes against humanity? Are we not witnessing a form of genocide against the people of Zimbabwe? Some commentators have suggested forcible removal of Zanu-PF from power. But, obviously, an invasion is not the first choice of engagement. More sanctions are pointless as there is very little left to strip.

However, new investments especially by Zimbabwes biggest investor Anglo-American, which plans to build a $400 million platinum mine should be postponed.

The clearest option seems to be a negotiated settlement that would allow Mugabe to retain his nationalistic fervour as he participates in a government of national unity. This would accommodate everybody even as efforts are started to prepare for new elections under a revised constitution. For the sake of the people of Zimbabwe, the world needs to engage Mugabe constructively. He is looking for a reason to fight dont give him one since he has nothing to lose.

Human rights abuses anywhere are abuses everywhere. Similarly genocide anywhere is genocide everywhere since no country exists in isolation. The comrade is clearly an unstable man and such people need counselling. Not chains.

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API/The Standard (Kenya) – June 27, 2008.

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PNU fools ODM – A sale that the junior partner in Government, ODM was not supposed to know

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

PNU has managed to fool ODM. A sale was not meant to reach the ears of the junior partner ODM, but it has and many are now wondering whether ODM really believes the party and Raila are actually part of the government at all. They are there to cool the tempers of their supporters, but are not in control of anything. Most of the ODM ministers are satisfied to fly the ministerial flag but wields no meaningful power. (API)

Outrage over secret sale of Regency hotel

Story by LUCAS BARASA and ALFONCE SHIUNDU

Kenyans expressed outrage on Friday over revelations that the five-star Grand Regency Hotel had been sold in a secret deal that may have cost taxpayers Sh5.5 billion.

The entrance to the luxurious Grand Regency Hotel. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA

And a parliamentary committee summoned Lands Minister James Orengo, who disclosed the sale, to shed more light on the transaction.

The outrage came as Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, who until now was insisting that the hotel had not been sold, confirmed that it was actually sold to the Libyan Government through going concern and the final transaction done this week.

Mr Kimunya said Mr Orengo did well to blow the whistle over the sale and added that his ministry could not have involved every ministry whose operations were related to the hotel in the transactions.

Shame and fraud

Speaking at his Treasury office, Mr Kimunya expressed happiness over the disposal of the hotel formerly owned by Goldenberg saga architect Kamlesh Pattni, saying the offer was too good to turn down.

But Parliaments Finance, Tourism and Trade committee, headed by Nambale MP Chris Okemo has ordered Mr Kimunya and Central Bank of Kenya head Njuguna Ndungu to appear before it.

Transparency International chairman Richard Leakey termed the saga a shame and a fraud.

International Commission of Jurists director Wilfred Nderitu supported Dr Leakeys sentiments.

Dr Leakey, who was speaking at a workshop on the Freedom of Information Bill, said such fraud occurred in government because nearly all documents are classified.

It is appalling that a sale of such magnitude, can go on without the knowledge of the minister and his permanent secretary, he said.

A furious Dr Leakey recalled his days as the Head of Public Service, when information is stamped as confidential, secret and top secret.

It is this secrecy that leads to this kind of illegal business in government houses, he said.

The TI boss called for the urgent enactment of the Freedom of Information Bill, saying it was the only way to make public officers accountable.

Mr Okemo said his team would fight for the truth about the transaction.

Kenyans must know who is behind the scam. The Sh2 billion is peanuts and based on valuation done in 1990s, the value of the hotel is now between Sh6 billion and Sh7.5 billion, said Mr Okemo.

The Grand Regency was at the centre of the Goldenberg scandal in which the taxpayer was conned of Sh160 billion in a fictitious gold exports racket masterminded by Mr Pattni.

Mr Shakeel Shabir, a member of the committee added: Even residential property worth Sh6 million 10 years ago now fetches Sh15 million.

Mr Okemos committee said it wrote to Mr Kimunya on May 29 and asked him to ensure that no further transactions on the matter occurred after he insisted the hotel had not been sold.

Unusually, the letter was answered the same day, with Finance Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua saying Mr Kimunya was not comfortable with the position taken by the committee on the matter.

Mr Kimunya was later summoned to re-appear before the team on June 6, but he did not show up.

The next thing we hear is that the hotel has been sold at Sh2 billion. We (committee) are not acting on our own behalf but Parliament, which has a constitutional oversight role, Mr Okemo said.

His committee would present a report after questioning Mr Orengo on matters relating to his ministry, Mr Kimunya and Mr Ndungu, added Mr Okemo.

Parliament, he said, would recommend specific action against those who sold the hotel. He accused the executive of belittling Parliament in the saga.

Mr Ntoitha Mmithiaru, the Igembe North MP and member of the committee said: There could have been some arm-twisting in the disposal of the hotel. Somebody somewhere has special interest.

Mr Shabir said Kenyans have been cheated and that the 10th Parliament will not allow graft to prevail as in the past.

He said investigations revealed Mr Pattni had been given amnesty over cases he was facing in court for surrendering the hotel. He added that the hotel was sold six months ago and that only its transfer, which Mr Orengo said was done on Wednesday, was remaining.

Even the adjacent parking lot was sold around the same time, he said and regretted that the public coffers were in the hands of people with questionable credibility.

Grand Regency has been in the news since March following reports that Mr Pattni had returned it to CBK and sold it in exchange of amnesty.

Mr Kimunya and Mr Ndungu have since appeared before Mr Okemos committee and denied that it had been sold.

The committee also questioned the monetary value of the hotel and whether proper government procedure was followed.

The team also wanted to know how the hotel would be disposed of so that the taxpayer does not lose a penny in the transaction.

But Mr Kimunya said the sale was above board, ends a 15-year court tussle, will strengthen Kenyas relationship with Libya, and bring other investors into the country and that the Sh2.9 billion.

We have secured jobs and business. Central Bank of Kenya has got its money back. The people of Kenya have got their money back and the relationship between the two countries is now deeper, he said.

He said the Libyan Government bought the hotel through one of its investment companies and that the Kenyan Government was preparing to hand it over.

The minister, whose tenure has been hit with hue and cry over the ownership of Safaricom and a tender to print new currency, said the Libyan Government was chosen to buy the hotel through private treaty, in which the vendor only approaches parties they think can buy what they are selling. The vendor also decides on who finally buys the property.

The CBK, said Mr Kimunya, asked potential buyers to give their offers and the Libyan Government emerged the best, with the second bidder offering Sh1.8 billion.

Three valuers

Although the parliamentary committee on Finance, which had written to Mr Kimunya to stop the sale of the hotel says the property is valued at between Sh6 billion and Sh7.5 billion and that valuation done 15 years ago placed it at Sh2.5 billion, Mr Kimunya said three valuers put the price at a maximum of Sh2.1 billion in February.

He said the hotel receiver managers since 1999 were to blame for the deteriorating price due to poor maintenance. The hotels ceiling and other facilities were in bad shape compared to 1993, he said.

Mr Kimunya said CBK speedily sold the hotel because it did not want to be dragged back to court or engage in the hotel business. The minister said all money collected from the hotel since 1999 would be given to CBK, bringing the total, including the selling price, to Sh3.3 billion.

Sh340 million is awaiting settlement of the hotel liabilities, including salaries.

Mr Kimunya said the sold asset is plot number LR209/9514 with the building with it.

He said the Libyan Government had also expressed interest on the land adjacent to Grand Regency which was used as a private parking lot and which the National Social Security Fund wanted to sell. He however said his ministry had nothing to do with the adjacent land.

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API/Nation.ke

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Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

Harare (Zimbabwe) – Queen Elizabeths decision to withdraw an honorary knighthood bestowed on President Mugabe in 1994 is actually a blessing in disguise as it removes one of the last vestiges of colonial titles on an outstanding African statesman and revolutionary, analysts said yesterday.

While the rabid western media ranted and raved about the event because of their warped value system, progressive Zimbabweans saw it as signifying the further decolonisation of Africa. A social commentator said Zimbabwe was independent and has its own value systems that protect African humanism, integrity and empowerment.

“The decolonisation process was a rejection of British value systems and so as Zimbabweans we simply see this as the removal of one of the last vestiges of colonialism. No one has ever referred to our President as Sir Robert Mugabe. He is known as Comrade Robert Mugabe and that says it all,” he said.

Observers said it was shameful that the Queen still thinks the knighthood has more meaning to Zimbabweans than the 100 percent black empowerment programme that President Mugabe has embarked on. The Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity, Cde Bright Matonga yesterday laughed off the development, saying the continued existence of the knighthood had given the British the mistaken impression that they still held some form of sway over the country.

“My President never used that knighthood. It meant nothing to him and it means nothing to us as Zimbabweans and this is why it was never talked about here.

“My President has nothing to benefit from being considered a subject of the British Queen. It is something we rejected and that is why Britain today is trying to meddle in our affairs. The same goes for the honorary degrees that various Western institutions gave him.

“Cde Mugabe is a very educated man with seven degrees of his own that he earned through his own sweat. You will not hear him talking about his honorary degrees and in fact, they can take them away along with the knighthood,” Cde Matonga said.

The withdrawal of the knighthood comes at a time when Britain, America and their allies have upped pressure to divide Sadc by clandestinely engaging individual regional leaders to isolate Zimbabwe and effect regime change. The Americans have joined in the fight disguised as a democracy lecturer yet it is looking for soil to establish its military base for Africom in the region.

“The whole American story is that of trying to establish military base in Africa and President Mugabe is a threat because he would certainly reject such a move. The British story is a bilateral problem emanating from the historical colonial land issue.

Interestingly, on the same day that Queen Elizabeths decision was made public, the British monarch was knighting Mr Salman Rushdie, an Indian-born writer who for 10 years was wanted in his homeland for blasphemy after authoring the novel, The Satanic Verses. In 1989, the Supreme Leader of Islam Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini passed a death sentence on Mr Rushdie for desecrating the Moslem faith and the writer has since lived in the UK under the protection of British special agents.

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API/The Herald (Zimbabwe) – June 27, 2008.

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The truth and lies on Grand Regency

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2008

By David Ohito and James Anyanzwa
The mask has fallen off the Grand Regency Hotel saga: It was sold to the Libyan Government in a deal between Presidents Kibaki and Muammar Gaddaffi.

The minister, who came out on Friday after his colleague exposed a secret ‘discharge’ on Thursday, said the offer by the oil-rich State was “too sweet to resist”.

The controversial sale, initially denied by Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, now presents President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga yet another test on their commitment to power-sharing deal, team-building and anti-corruption war.

Before Kimunya’s confession, the Grand Coalition Cabinet had split on the matter along the traditional Party of National Unity and Orange Democratic Movement fault line.

The sale is yet another chapter in the multi-layered story now on the 15th year. Built on stolen public funds by businessman Kamlesh Pattni of the Goldenberg notoriety, the disgraced architect of one of the country’s biggest scams returned it in exchange for termination of court cases lined up against him.

Another leaf on the tripartite barter trade between Pattni, Central Bank and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission turned as another battlefront opened up in the Grand Coalition. Libyans, according to Kimunya who initially denied the sale was on, now own the hotel paid Sh2.9 billion. But according to the relevant parliamentary committee, which has summoned two ministers at the centre of the latest storm, the value for which it was sold, is a decade-old. It argues the edifice at the heart of Nairobi, the preference of visiting heads of State, moneyed tourists, and private sector mandarins, it could have easily fetched Sh10 billion.

Kimunya faced the camera, and in a change of tune following Lands Minister James Orengo’s disclosure on Thursday, it is gone, said it went for Sh2.9 billion. It went under a private inter-government arrangement, no bidding and no publicised negotiations.

Last evening it was believed not even the Party of National Unity’s coalition partner, Raila’s ODM, was in the picture.

“We had an offer that was made and we thought it was too good to refuse. Indeed the best offer that we received came from the Government of Libya,” Kimunya told reporters at his Treasury office.

He added: “We are very happy that the deal has succeeded.”

The minister, who just waded the storm raised by the Safaricom Initial Public Offer, said three independent valuers commissioned by CBK in February valued the property at Sh1.62 billion, Sh1.75 billion and Sh2.18 billion. He said the Libyan Government gave a price that was much higher than the highest received.

Kimunya, however, did not provide evidence of the bids and the valuation reports.

He saw another sunnier side to the deal: It would help deepen the relationship between the two countries. “We are organising for a handing over so that the new owners can come in and we exit.”

And because of the latest storm, which could undermine the new Government’s claim to tag of enemy of corruption, Parliament is now going to question two ministers, one from each side of the coalition, and the Central Bank Governor. The sessions will be an expedition through the possible truth and lies Government officials gave either to justify or camouflage the hotel’s sale, whimsically seen as Anglo Leasing II.

The centre of the latest face-off is the controversial sale of Grand Regency Hotel; the five-star edifice built using the billions skimmed by the disgraced businessman through Goldenberg International Limited.

Thursday Orengo said though his ministry would have been involved in the paperwork following the secret hand-over deal between Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority and Pattni, everything was done behind his back. He said he was speaking up as a matter of personal honour and conscience; notwithstanding he could be accused of breaching the Cabinet’s cardinal rule of collective responsibility.

Unmask the new owners

He revealed the hotel which could cost more, had gone for Sh2 billion, right behind his back, and Sh900m less than the figure Kimunya gave. Though the tourism market had been throbbing with claims it was sold to Libyans, believed to be proxies of their President, Muammar Gaddaffi, it was not until Kimunya spoke, that he confirmed what the public had heard before. However, some Libyan nationals who have been frequenting the hotel had told some of the employees they were now their new ‘bosses’, and should be served even after the opening hours set for some of its expensive bars.

When Pattni bartered the hotel for amnesty in the corruption courts, Attorney General Amos Wako, said he too was in the dark. He insisted Pattni’s cases would go the whole hog.

On Friday, the latest corruption claim swirling around President Kibaki’s Government, second only to the Sh7 billion Anglo Leasing in his first term, snowballed as Parliament stepped in.

The House committee investigating the controversial sale pledged to unmask the new owners of the controversial property.

Finance House Committee chairman Chris Okemo revealed it would summon Orengo to table evidence of the land transactions and documents relevant to the deal.

Okemo’s committee argues it could have gone, just when the Government thought it had won it back, in total disregard of Procurement and Disposal Procedures of Government.

The committee also wants public interest protected and its oversight role and independence respected by the Executive, as well as ministers to honour summons.

But later Kimunya said the Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) had sanctioned the sale in April.

“We received a letter saying the committee had said we should not sell the hotel but as for me, meeting the committee and the sale of the asset are completely unrelated.”

He added the transaction was in the best interest of the people.

“We are answerable to Kenyans and to Parliament. This is a matter of great public interest and the truth must be told,” Okemo said on Friday.

“The committee has been taken in circles enough times and we will summon Orengo, Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, and Central Bank Governor Prof Njuguna Ndung’u to come clean on the deal,” Okemo announced.

Okemo accompanied by committee members Mr Ntoitha M’Mithiaru (Igembe North) and Mr Shakeel Shabbir (Kisumu East), at a Press conference in Parliament, challenged Kibaki and Raila to help unravel the scandal.

“Kimunya, even after a written caution, proceeded with the sale in total disregard of the law. He must explain why,” Okemo said.

KACC Director Justice Aaron Ringera would also reappear before the committee to shed more light following fresh revelations.

 

Executive ingoring Parliament

Okemo read details of a letter Kimunya wrote through his Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua, to the committee, saying he was uncomfortable with the manner it was pursuing the matter.

“We are concerned that Government officials have been hiding crucial information from us, but Orengo’s statement has confirmed our fears, the hotel may have been sold irregularly,” Okemo said.

“We will demand to know from Kimunya and Ndung’u why the sale was allowed to proceed even after Parliament advised against the same.”

On Thursday Orengo said he was embarrassed his Finance colleague had sold the Grand Regency Hotel behind the Cabinet’s back and vowed he would escalate his complaint right up to the President.

In the press briefing Okemo added: “It appears Parliament’s role is being ignored by the Executive. We will make recommendations to the House for stern action to be taken against those implicated.” M’Mithiaru queried why a price of Sh2 billion was accepted yet it was the value of the hotel land and building over 10 years ago.

Two committee members accompanied Okemo – Mr Ntoitha M’Mithiaru (Igembe North) and Mr Shakeel Shabbir (Kisumu East).

“We are told businessman Kamlesh Pattni owed Central Bank Sh2.5 billion. If the hotel was sold for Sh2 billion where is the balance of Sh500m, and didn’t this debt accrue any interest?” M’Mithirau asked.

“Kimunya must stop ducking meetings with the committee. Last week he said he was busy with the Budget and has since been avoiding us. We are ready for him even now,” Okemo said.

Kimunya argued legally, CBK being the chargees, would single-handedly choose whom to sell the property to through either private treaty or public auction.

He said the bank opted to sell off the property through private treaty.

The hotel had been placed under charge in the mid-1990s over US$210 million (Sh14 billion at current exchange rates) that Pattni’s defunct Exchange Bank had borrowed from the Central Bank and failed to pay. Pattni said he had surrendered the prestigious hotel under the Economic Crimes Act of 2003, which allows for pardoning of perpetrators who forfeit proceeds and assets from stolen public funds to the State.

The Libyans wanted the hotel as part of their bid to entrench themselves into Kenya’s business sector. In March, when the country was in the thick of a political stalemate, President Kibaki flew to Kampala to meet Libya’s President Muammar Gaddafi who was commissioning a mosque. Eight years after they re-opened an embassy in Nairobi — which was shut in 1987 after the Moi regime accused the embassy officials of espionage — the Libyan oil merchants want to have a footprint in the region and are keen to edge out competitors.

Several MPs among them Jakoyo Midiwo, Martin Ogindo, and Gitobu Imayara, on Friday demanded the truth be told over the matter.

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API:Standard.ke

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