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Archive for August 5th, 2008

Cairo, Kampala and Dar es Salaam are now asking tough questions about Mau Forest controversy

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

Parts of this feature are sourced from EASTAFRICAN, Unep and other agencies

By Leo Odera Omolo

The controversial Mau Forest Complex has taken a new political dimension with Egypt and all the major movers of the Nile river basin Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda have all been reported as being in the process of putting pressure on Kenya to keep the Mau alive.

The fact that Kenyas most influential WEEKLY this week dedicated its several pages discussing the Mau Complex issues and their long term economic repercussions reveals it all about how the matter is touchy and so important to close to 300 million people in the Great Lakes region.

The EASTAFRICAN, a weekly publication of the Nation Media Group in a lead article revealed that Lake Victoria which is shared between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and Lake Turkana shared by Kenya and Ethiopia As well as Lake Natron shared by Kenya and Tanzania are all facing environmental degradation as the result of wanton destruction of trees in the 400,000 hectares Mau Complex.

The paper further revealed that six major rivers, the Nzoia, Yala, Nyando, Sondu Miriu, Kuja and Mara are part of the Nile Basin and Kenya is a signatory to several International conventions obliging it to protect the fragile ecosystems.

The paper further traced the problem to extensive corrupt and ill-planned settlements perpetrated by the prevous KANU regime of former President Daniel Arap Mois during which time the administration was involved in illegal excision and state sponsored encroachment led to the destruction of some 104, 6000 hectares of land in the Mau Forest representing 24 % of the Mau Complex area.

Mois regime is to blame for the massive destruction of forests that is now threatened major productive sectors in the country.

Although Mois regime had since 1979 occasionally hived off pieces of land from the countrys forests, it embarked on a grand plan to excise a total of 67,185 hectares of forests land on February 16, 2001. The aim was to easy out land pressure among his Kalenjin tribesmen especially the Tugen and Kipsigis sub clans of the larger Kalenjin ethnic groups.The Kipsigis in particular lost most of its prime land to the white British settlers at the turn of the 2oth century, which the Whites used for tea plantations in the Kericho region leaving this particular community to be densely populated in a small area of unproductive reserve land.

Kenya is a member of the Nile Basin Initiative and lately the pressure has been applied, not only by the Nile Basin Countries, but also by super power- Japan, a country credited for having extended to Kenya Multibillion dollars financial credit line in Kshs 13 billion which was recently utilized in the construction and establishment of the new Sondu-Miriu Hydroelectric Power Station.

Sondu Miriu power project is facing a real threat due to acute shortage of water to run its double turbans as most river feeding it with waters are reportedly drying upstream due to wanton destruction of water catchment at the Mau complex.

Mois administration had then explained that it needed to regularize the boundaries of existing forests to reflect the massive encroachment on forests that had already taken place over the years.

But despite this explanation, environmentalist groups started sustained campaigns to oppose the scheme, with some groups to count.

The Kenya Forestry Working Group (KFWG), which brings together non-governmental conservation organizations, community groups, private environmentalist and Quasigovernmental bodies, entered into partnership with the Division of Early Warning And Assessment Programme, which supplied personnel and equipment to ascertain whether it was true that people had been settled in the forest concerned.

The largest excision affected Eastern Mau Forest Reserve and South West Mau Forest Reserve where 35,301 hectares were excised and 22,797 hectares respectively were excised, representing 54.3 % and 27.3 % of these forests, according to a report by Mr. Chriatian Lambretch and other experts who flew over the forest on the request of NGOs.

Mr. Lambretch recently presented his report during a workshop in Nairobi to address the crisis.

The report says the Mois regime had started to settle people in such areas as Ndoinet, Saino,Karao, Boraget, Tinet and Kabongoi in the south western and eastern Mau forests.

Mau complex is estimated to cover 400,000 hectares- an area as large as Mount Kenya and the Abaredare Forests combined. The Mau Forest Complex is a mountain Forest that is also water tower from which 12 major rivers flow in to five lakes in East Africa.

The new power Station is already in dilemma due to acute shortage of water. Only one turbine is running while the second is currently shut down. The official commissioning of the project by President Mwai Kibaki last month could not take place and was put forward to a later date.

Egypt is known to have never wanted the contentious 1959 Nile Treaty, which gave Egypt exclusive rights to 76 % of the Nile waters-to be reviewed and is likely to play rough should it feel that the source of the Nile is threatened.

The issue has now taken an international angle because the Mau Complex also affects the neighbouring Tanzania by virtue of Mara River, which feeds into Serengeti National Park.

Tanzanian authorities who closely monitor the changes in the Mara River had raised their concern through the East African Community (EAC) three years ago. However, unknown to the public is the fact that as early as in the year 2005, Dar-es-salaam, Kampala and Cairo had started applying pressure on Nairobi to arrest the degradation of the Mau Complex before it got out of hand.

This is a clear testimony that Mau Forest Complex is not really a Kenyan affair, but rather an international issue whose ramifications are nightmares and unimaginable, should the Mau Forest collapse.

The Mara River is classified as an international river shared between Kenya and Tanzania. However, since it flows into Lake Victoria, the dimension grows bigger and other players come in.

The World Wildlife Fund(WWF), which runs the Mara River Basin Initiative, notes that the Mara River Basin is about 13,750 square kilometers, of which about 65 percent is located in Kenya and 35 per cent in Tanzania.

It runs through the famous Maasai Mara game reserve on the Kenya side and the Serengeti National Park on the Tanzanian side, both of which are of global conservation significance and great economic importance. The Mara River empties into Lake Victoria-the source of the Nile.

And that is how Kampala and Cairo came into play. Anything that affects Lake Victoria has a multiplier consequences on the Nile River.

Egypt seems adamant on the continuation of the 1959 agreement it signed with the British Colonial rulers long before riparian states attained their political independence in the early 1960s and does not want to permit new vistas and agreements on the sharing of the Nile waters. This is the most worrying points for Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Instead of co-operating with Ethiopia and other Nile countries, Egypt resorts to subterfuge on a number of occasions to divert world public option and even went to the extent of sponsoring disgruntled political groupings such as the Somali warlord factions and the Ertrean government as a form of deterrence and probably as political intimidation directed against Ethiopian government.

For the past 10 years, the division of Early Warning and Assessment of the United Nations Environment and plethora of civic society organizations and relevant government agencies have kept a close watch on the Mau Complex and produced concrete reports and recommendations in the grim prospects fomented by the settlers in the area.

The reality of the destruction of the Mau Complex in economic terms surpasses the figure given by UNEP of USD 300 million. It simply unquantifiable, when one considers the geopolitics involved at play.

Being the largest closed-canopy ecosystem in Kenya, the Mau Complex is moderately estimated to be as large as the forests of Mt. Kenya and the Abardare combined.

Rift Valley Nyanza and Western Provinces depends entirely on the Mau as it is the single most important water catchment for these three provinces.

Extensive illegal, irregular and ill-planned settlements, as well as illegal forest resources extraction and overuse of water by large-scale irrigation plantation are leading other capitals in the region to ask Nairobi some hard questions.

Key tourist destinations that are both nationally and internationally recognized reserves including the famous Maasai Mara, Serengeti and Kakamega Forest Reserve depend on the Mau Complex. All these are distressed by the current scenario that is at play in the Mau Complex.

According to a recent survey carried out by a private consultant firm for Kengen, Masinga Dam-which provides over 50 percent of Kenyas electricity-is as a result of forest loss upstream. The same scenario now faces the Kshs. 13 billion Sondu-Miriu Hydro Power Project, even before its inauguration.

This is not the first evictions have been affected in the Mau. In 2006, a similar attempt was made to reclaim the already depleted forests, but political expediency reigned over environmental concerns.

It is also significant to note that the Kenyan politicians vehemently opposed to the reclamation of the Mau are using the plight of the settlers and their economic and social vulnerability to score points in the public-relations sphere.

Issues such as poverty are being bandied about to block the government of Kenyas attempt to reclaim the prized possession.

At the centre of the storm is the politics around the Orange Democratic Movements(ODM) survival in the South Rift where the party had enjoyed almost 100% support in the 2007 general elections and the tug-of-war with its equal partner in the grand Coalition Government, the Party Of National Unity (PNU).




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Kagame tells why he is against ICC charging Bashir

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. Photo/REUTERS


In Summary
  • Kagame has lashed out at the ICC, referring to the tribunal as a fraudulent institution.
  • He says “ICC is made for Africans and poor countries.”
  • As of July 2008, 108 states have ratified the ICC treaty with Rwanda yet to be among these countries

KIGALI, Sunday – President Paul Kagame has lashed out at the International Criminal Court (ICC) referring to the Hague based tribunal as a, fraudulent institution.

Kagames remarks come just weeks after the ICCs prosecutor, Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo sought the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Asked what his impression was on Mr Bashirs indictment, Mr Kagame said: If you use a fraudulent mechanism or institution against somebody who needs to be held accountable, in the end you are not helping people understand whether this person needs to be held accountable. The mere fact is that the system and institution you are using has flaws.

Mr Kagame, one of the biggest critics of the nature in which some international laws like the principle of universal jurisdiction are used.

Mr Kagame told journalists Rwanda cannot be party to ICC for one simple reason with ICC all the injustices of the past including colonialism, imperialism, keep coming back in different forms. They control you. As long as you are poor, weak there is always some rope to hang you.ICC is made for Africans and poor countries.

Two thirds of the countries that have signed for this ICC are these poor countries. When they were signing (the treaty) they didnt know what they were signing. They dont know they were signing for a rope to hang themselves, Mr Kagame added.

Try individuals

The ICC is a permanent international tribunal to try individuals – not states, responsible for some of the most serious international crimes. It gives the tribunal the right to prosecute individuals accused of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

To date the ICC has opened investigations into four situations in Northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Central African Republic and in Darfur. According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) only seven countries including China, Libya, Iraq, and the United States voted against the establishment of this treaty.

As of July 2008, 108 states have ratified the ICC treaty with Rwanda yet to be among these countries.There are other issues Sudan is known for. Rwanda already has an experience of locking horns with two European judges over indictments issued using the principal of universal jurisdiction.

In 2006 a French judge implicated the Rwandan leader and nine of his top officials in the 1994 assassination of former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana. Recently another Spanish judge issued indictments against 40 senior officers of the Rwanda Defence Forces.



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Ministry can lift ban on caning

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

Pupils of Kisumus Golden Elite School are all smiles on arrival for this years Kenya Schools and Colleges National Music Festival which starts Tuesday at Aga Khan Hall in Kisumu. Photo/ANTHONY NJAGI


In Summary
  • Government can reverse the ban on caning in schools without going to Parliament
  • However, Childrens Act of 2001 forbids any form of abuse; whether physical or psychological.
  • A parliamentary committee has been given 21 days to do a report on the cause of the mass strikes
  • Wave of student unrest affected more than 300 schools and left one student dead and another injured after a dormitory was set on fire.

The Government can reverse the ban on caning in schools without going to Parliament, it emerged on Monday.

The ban, which took effect in March 2001 through a legal notice issued by then Education minister Kalonzo Musyoka, can be reversed through another notice by the same ministry.

However, whereas the Education Act empowers the minister to change the regulations concerning the management of schools and the nature of punishment for errant students, the Childrens Act of 2001 forbids any form of abuse; whether physical or psychological.


But the Education Ministry that is expected to implement the lifting of the ban has said that it has not received official communication about the matter.

The global trend has been to do away with corporal punishment and Kenya was complying with the trend when it did so in 2001, said Mr John Mwandikwa, a public relations officer at the Ministry.

Energy minister Kiraitu Murungis announcement that the Cabinet had resolved to reverse the ban drew protests on Monday.

The chairman of the parliamentary committee on education, Mr David Koech, expressed dissatisfaction.

I would have expected such an announcement to come from the President, the Prime Minister, the Vice President or the Education minister, the Mosop MP added at Parliament Buildings.

The parliamentary committee has been given 21 days to do a report on the cause of the mass strikes. A childrens foundation, The Cradle, said that caning would not help end the unrest, but would instead amount to a breach of childrens rights.

Wave of unrest

Reintroducing corporal punishment is sentencing the countrys children for problems defined by a society gone wrong, said Mr Brian Weke, an officer at the organisation.

The wave of student unrest affected more than 300 schools and left one student dead and another injured after a dormitory was set on fire.

Butula MP Bifwoli Wakoli, a former teacher, welcomed the lifting of the ban, but said that caning should not inflict much harm on students.
We cannot treat our children like eggs. Caning can be helpful, he said.

Last month, five human rights groups wrote joint letters to the ministers for Justice, Education and Gender and Children, asking for corporal punishment to be abolished in all settings.



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ODM-K rejects calls to join Kibaki party

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka acknowledges greetings from members of the public when he arrived at Tala, Kangundo on Sunday. Photo/FILE

ODM Kenya has rejected plans to dissolve PNU affiliate parties.

The partys top decision-making organs, whose leader is Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, on Monday announced that they will not dissolve their party to join PNU.

The decision was aimed at quelling divisions that have threatened to split the party.

ODM-Kenya now joins Narc-Kenya, Ford-Kenya, Safina and the Democratic Party of Kenya, all of which have rejected President Kibakis call for PNU unity.

Last month, the President proposed that the PNU affiliate parties should form one formidable outfit.

On Monday, as a group allied to Mr Musyoka reachead the decision, another one of rebel ODM-K MPs were meeting at the Labour Party of Kenya offices to plan their own meeting scheduled for next week.

The rebel group has been criticising Mr Musyokas leadership and has threatened to dethrone him as party leader. They accuse the VP of entering into a coalition with PNU without the partys blessings, of being unfair in nomination of councillors and MPs and keeping quiet despite ODM-K being short-changed in sharing of positions in the Grand Coalition.

But the Musyoka group reached out to the critics on Monday by forming a team to reconcile the party leaders.

Members include party secretary general Mutula Kilonzo, MP Lucas Maitha, and other officials, Ms Peris Tobiko and Dr Mohamed Sirat, a statement from Wiper Chungwa House in Lavington, said.

Mr Kilonzo, who is also the Nairobi Metropolitan Development Minister, accused the partys enemies of being behind problems facing it. The party defended its move to join the Government, saying the decision was reached after extensive consultations and that it saved the country from collapse in the wake of the post-election violence.

Recruitment drive

And to meet the Political Parties Act requirements, the party said it would conduct a recruitment drive between September and October.
Among the requirements of the law are that parties should have at least 200 supporters in each province.

Kangundo MP Johnstone Muthama, who was thought to have been pushing for the dissolution of ODM-Kenya, attended yesterdays meeting and expressed solidarity with those against the move.

MP Isaac Muoki, who was claimed to be in the rebel camp, also turned up for yesterdays talks.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party of Kenya has announced that it will soon go for grassroots elections as a way of strengthening its political base and to comply with the Political Parties Act.



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Grand Regency sale was legitimate, says Lands Commissioner

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

By Alex Ndegwa

Commissioner of Lands Zablon Agwata has said all legal requirements and land registration procedures were followed in the Grand Regency Hotel sale.

Agwata, the first witness to testify at the commission of inquiry into the sale of the luxury hotel, said he had no reason to object to the registration of the transfer documents.

President Kibaki appointed the team last month.

Agwata told the commission that CBK, which placed a charge on the hotel worth Sh2.5 billion in 1993, had exercised its statutory powers as a chargee to dispose of the property.

He said he issued a consent order for registration of transfer instruments, since all the paperwork was done properly and the laid down procedures had been followed.

He explained that a land rates clearance certificate had been issued, since outstanding fees totalling Sh16.3 million had been cleared earlier.

He told the commission that in June, Central Bank Governor Njuguna Ndungu asked him to speed up the transfer of the hotel to its Libyan owners because the sale was a “government-to-government transaction”.

Agwata said Njuguna informed him in a telephone conversation on June 19 that CBK had sold the hotel, and the Lands ministry should expedite the transfer of the property, because there was “urgency in the matter”.

Asked by Commission Chairman Justice Majid Cockar whether the Governor had explained what the urgency was, the witness replied:

“He told me the transaction was a government-to-government transfer, since another government (Libya) was involved, and it was necessary that the transaction be done with speed.”

Transfer of property

Agwata produced the title deed that indicated the property Land Reference No 209/9514 was transferred to the Libyan Arab African Company limited on June 24.

He said it was sold for Sh1.85 billion, although the Chief Government Valuer valued it at Sh2 billion.

However, on July 1, the Principal Registrar of Titles Theresia Mburu imposed a caveat on the property following a directive by Lands Minister James Orengo who queried the sale, said Agwata.

Orengo blew the whistle on alleged irregularity in the Sh2.9 billion hotel sale, which set off a chain of events, leading to a Parliament vote of no confidence against Finance Minister Amos Kimunya.

Kimunya was forced to step aside last month over his role in the saga.

Yesterday, Kimunya sat through the two-and-half-hour proceedings in the company of his lawyer Prof Githu Muigai.

During cross-examination by Muigai, Agwata said he had no contact with Kimunya in the course of the transaction.



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How terror suspect eluded police trap

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

By Standard Team

Al-Qaeda mastermind Fazul Abdullah Mohammed may have been tipped off by a police officer about the impending operation to arrest him.

Fazul is believed to have escaped in a hurry from a Malindi house where he was holed up. The Standard has obtained details of how he managed to slip away minutes before the police struck at his hideout.

“He may have been tipped when the raid was very close,” said a police source. The officers recovered a T-shirt and a kikoi, which Fazul is believed to have been wearing before he escaped the dragnet.

Also found in the house was food he was eating on the table, while the TV he was watching was still on.

Police said Fazul literally ran out of the house since he also left his two passports behind. About 40 police officers, from a special squad consisting GSU and anti-terrorism unit officers, were involved in the raid.

In such operations, according to a police, only a few people are privy to the details until shortly before they storm a hideout.

Fazul may have taken a matatu or a bus to Mombasa from Malindi.

And last night, police said Fazul was holed up in Mombasa after dramatically eluding arrest in Malindi on Sunday.

“We are sure Fazul is in Mombasa. We are closing in on him and the operations are slowly bearing fruit,” said a top officer at the anti-terrorism department.

Police said the suspect, who had sneaked into Kenya from Somalia to seek treatment for a kidney ailment, apparently used public transport to Mombasa.

Security was thrown into a spin in the Coast with a high alert signal sent by the office of the Director of CID, Mr Gatiba Karanja, ordering that everything be done to capture the suspect.

But Fazul, who is wanted for the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi and the 2002 bombing of Paradise Hotel at Kikambala, is known to be a master in disguise.

But with police moving hot on his trail in the coastal town, details that will put the security machinery in a spot emerged, as detectives found two Kenyan passports, which Fazul had managed to acquire one given this year.

Mr Mahfudh Ashur Hemmed (left) and his son Ibrahim at the Mombasa Law Courts on Monday. They were charged with helping terror suspect Fazul Abdullah to escape arrest.[PHOTO: MAARUFU MOHAMED/STANDARD]

The passports found in the Malindi house bore one picture, but different names, date and place of birth.

One passport was obtained on February 21 and is due to expire in 2018 and identifies him as Mirza Adan Hussein Ali, born on January 1, 1980 in Mombasa.

The second identifies Fazul as Ali Mohammed Abubakar, born in 1972 in Garissa and issued on December 6, 1999, a year after the 1998 Nairobi bomb blast, and expired in 2004.

Director of Immigration Services Joseph Ndathi said last night the two passports could be fake and that Fazuls pictures had been super-imposed.

Latest pictures

Two latest pictures of the terrorist, scanned from the two passports, were circulated to all police teams hunting the suspect at the Coast.

Part of the alert to all police chiefs in North Eastern and Coast provinces, shown to The Standard, read in part:

“All public and private hospitals in Mombasa and Malindi should remain under guard. All border points and the routes from Somalia should equally be manned properly. We must not also forget the proper surveillance of our sea line.”

The alert also said: “Fazul is expected to be sneaked in for treatment in a private hospital in Mombasa or Malindi anytime. We must stay alert.”

Smarting from the embarrassing escape of the terror suspect from under their nose, police in Mombasa rushed to court a couple and their son and charged them with giving refuge to Fazul.

The accused, Mr Mahfudh Hemed Abubakar, Ms Luftiya Abubakar Bashrahil and their son, Ibrahim Mahfudh Ashur, appeared before Mombasa Chief Magistrate Catherine Mwangi and denied the charges.

They denied helping Fazul to escape arrest knowing that the suspect, also known Abdul Karim aka Adan Hussein Mirza, bombed Kikambala Paradise Hotel in Kilifi on November 28, 2002 that killed 15 people.

Ibrahim Ashur denied a similar charge that in December last year in Malindi he harboured and helped Fazul to escape another attempt by police to arrest him.

Terror connection

The accused, who were arrested in Malindi, were remanded in custody for four days following a request by the police.

The prosecutor, Superintendent Dominic Mate, said the police also wanted to interrogate Luftiya over her connection with the terror suspect.

Two more people, a man and a woman, were arrested in Malindi late yesterday afternoon after they went to secure a house belonging to one of the suspects who appeared in court.

The Standard witnessed the arrest of the two who were by the time of going to press being interrogated at the Malindi Police Station.

Meanwhile, the hunt for Fazul in Mombasa moved a notch higher as the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit head, Mr Nicholas Kamwende, arrived at the Coast.

Kamwende and Coast anti-terrorism chief Elijah Rop were in Malindi for the better part of yesterday, to collect evidence, including hair samples for DNA testing.

Kamwende and his team will scrutinise contents of a digital video camera and mobile phones confiscated during the Malindi operations.

The police have also been directed to guard strategic installations against possible attacks.

According to Intelligence reports, Fazul was first sighted in Barani, Malindi, last week.

He then gained entry from Ras Kiamboni in Somalia to Ngomeni in Kenya using a fishing vessel:

“He then used a matatu to Malindi. He camouflages his appearances whenever he goes to the mosques. His nickname is Chameleon,” said a police source.

Kiamboni is the next town to Kiunga in Lamu and is about 13km from the Kenyan border.

The Intelligence reports further say before entering Kenya, Fazul was spotted at the residence of a Union of Islamic Courts leader identified as Sheikh Abdille Hirsi alias Haman Turki in Ras Kiamboni town.

Police have urged the public to help arrest the suspect. A reward of Sh325 million will be given to anyone who will give information that may lead to his arrest.

Those with information can call police on 0714-746144.

Reports by Cyrus Ombati, Willis Oketch, Caroline Mango and Paul Gitau

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Harmonization of trade – East African Business summit

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

By Leo Odera Omolo

More the 150 business leaders from across East Africa recently gathered in the UgandanCapital City of Kampala to deliberate on how the region could become more competitive in the global arena.

The East African Business Summit was held between July 19the and 20th 2008.

These business leaders were joined in their deliberation by a number of ministers and other public sector players.

For the East African region competitive, individual corporate players would need to be competitive. The CEOs present undertook to build into their business plan messages from the Kampala summit.

But for the countries and the region to be competitive, the business community and governments need to engage in dialogue and to collaborate in bringing about the desired change.

The business leaders identified the need to prioritize actions to be undertaken and to restrict themselves to a small number of cross-cutting, regional issues that they are able to do something about.

The Kampala meeting resolved to put together a Round Table made up of 5 summit participants from each of the countries to do the following:

  1. Be catalyst for the setting up of Round Table grouping in their respective countries to engage the Presidents quarterly on major issues affecting the competitiveness of the region.
  2. Learn from the Round Table groupings in other countries in their regions and share best practice.
  3. Form a regional Round Table made up of the country Round Table grouping for the purpose of harmonizing their approach to over-arching issues.

  1. Seek audience with the presidents of the five countries before the end of the calendar year to present the outcomes of the Kampala meeting, what they are doing about it and the area where the intervention of the political leaders is required.

The conference identified a number of low hanging fruits that the regional Round Table should prioritize. These are the following:

  1. urgent extension of working hours (probably to 24 hours a day) at border crossing points and the standardization of documentation in order to facilitate movements of goods and services.
  2. The urgent updating signing implementation of double taxation protocols among the East African states.
  3. The introduction of one visa for all visitors to East Africa, in order to enhance the attractiveness of the region as a tourist and business meetings destination.
  4. The urgent removal of barriers to the free movement and employment of East African human capital within East Africa.

As far as the longer term initiatives to make the region more competitive are concerned, the meeting considered the improvement of the railway and road network, ports, and energy as priority number one. In this regard, the regional table will engage political leaders from the following far-reaching plans:

  1. the need to plan and develop seamless and standardized arterial rail and road network on a regional basis, not on a country basis. This should be done through regional rail and road boards.
  2. The possible use of professionals in the military to fast-track the building of roads.
  3. The need to enhance efficiency at the ports through concessioning, and finally the urgent need to make investments now to increase power generation to meet the future needs of the region and to distribute the power efficiency across the region.

Sponsors of the Business Summit were Standard Bank Group, Equity Bank, Kenya Railways, Celtel, Mac Group (Exim Bank), Bidco while the official knowledge partners include Strathmore Business School, Kenya Airways, Interbranding Sampson, Skynet Worlwide Express.

The six joint conveners Mr. Richard Ndungu of KPMA, Mr. Charles Muchene of PWC, Mr. Linus Gitahi of the Nation Media Group and Mr. Ade Agegenui of Citi, Mr. Mahamud Jan Mohammed of Serena Hotel and Mr. Joe Wangai of Deloitte.




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Kenya: Grand coalition is set to boost economic growth

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

By Leo Odera Omolo

Parts of the previously marginalized western regions should expect increased development activities in the near future and will never be kept in isolation again.

The Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga declared this before a mammoth crowd of enthusiastic supporters who thronged this years ASK Agricultural Show at the Mamboleo Show Ground in the outskirts of Kisumu City at the weekend.

The function was Mr. Odingas first major official engagement inside Luo-Nyanza when he officially declared the Show open amid prolonged applause and ululations and shouts of Agwambo, Agwambo.

He said the region had suffered economic isolation under successive regimes over the years, but the grand coalition would ensure this is never repeated again.

I am well aware that this region from economic marginalization over the years, as borne out by a number of studies by the Planning Ministry over the years, said the P.M.

Mr. Odinga made what political pundits and observers alike termed as a major policy speech when he presided over his first official function in his Nyanza home turf since becoming Prime Minister under the Grand Coalition government accord..

Railas entourage which was made up of more than a dozen cabinet ministers, assistant ministers, MPs and top government officials had a lot of difficulties accessing the Show ground, a five minute drive from Kisumu City Center. Huge crowds made it nightmare for Agwambos convoy to maneuver its way around the lakeside city.

The area is perceived to be the bedrock of his political support and it proved this beyond any reasonable doubt when the city streets were jumped to capacity all along from the airport to the city centre from as early as in the morning. The police had hard time keeping vigil to ensure the function was incident free.

Raila promised his audience that he would act tough and precisely against corruption, land grabbing, insecurity and also tackle the issue of poor infrastructure, which hinders investment in Kenya.

Any government officer found to be involved in corrupt practices will go home, declared Mr. Odinga, adding that with the upgrading of Kisumu Airport, which was now due, Western Kenya would be opened and linked to the wider world.

The Prime Minister urged the residents to monitor International trade trends and identify areas they could exploit to the maximum..

Raila said the recently released HIV and AIDS prevalence report had put Luo-Nyanza on top. He appealed to the residents to take necessary precautions to reduce infections. Among recommendation he made was the need for male voluntary circumcision

The PM promised to write off the Kshs 47 billion owed to the Agricultural Finance Corporation, a parastatal organization by Sugar Millers as one way of resuscitating the ailing sugar industry. And at the same time he told Sugar Cane farmers in the Western region that the government would arrange affordable credit for them to increase their yield.

Raila praised the recent regulations on the importation of sugar into the country and expressed full support on action recently taken by the Minister for Agriculture William Ruto who had imposed a total ban on Sugar imports to curb illegal stocks that sell cheaply at the expense of local produce.

The PM gave a stern warning that the government would use its agencies to impound and burn illegal sugar stocks sourced from the outside country.

Nyanza province, said Raila, was especially segregated during the Kenyatta era following disagreement between the first vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and the founding President Jomo Kenyatta. The region, he added, was further shunned by the Moi administration as its leader allegedly engaged in bad politics.

Odinga disclosed that an investment conference like the one he attended in London last week be replicated in Kisumu City to showcase what this region can offer to those who seek to partner with us.

The PM also disclosed that the grand coalition government was planning priority on health, cooperative and irrigation projects to quickly address challenges constraining economic productivity in Western Kenya.

Mr. Odinga also asked insurance Companies to compensate people who incurred losses in Post-election violence.

Many people had suffered losses, but had yet to be compensated. More than 100 were shot dead and hundreds of businesses suffered severe damage in the aftermath of looting spree.

Present at the function were Ministers William Ruto (Agriculture), Dalmas Otieno (Public Service), James Orengo(Lands), Dr. Paul Otuoma (Fishaeries), a host of Local MPs and ASK Kisumu branch officials led by Mr. Rhida Ahonobadha.

This years Kisumu ASK Shows theme is Empowering people through growth in Agriculture.

The Prime Minister also paid homage to the family of the late elderly and respected church leader Pastor Mathayo Wandiga who was given a fitting sending off burial at his home in Simbi village in Central Karachuonyo in Rachuonyo District where he addressed thousands of mourners.

The late Mzee Wandiga is one of the pioneer preachers in the area with SDA church and was the father of Prof. Shem Wandiga of the university of Nairobis department of Applied sciences the late Dan Okwatch and Simmy Wangiga among others. He was a highly respected church elders who preached the word of gospel in the region for well over 60 years..




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Kenya: Campaign for Sotik parliamentary seat hots up

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

By Leo Odera Omolo

BEHIND the scene campaigns have already kicked off in earnest in Sotik constituency in Bureti to replace departed former area MP Ms. Lorna Laboso.

Many candidates are gearing up themselves for a bruising battle to succeed Lorna, a former Home Affairs Assistant Minister who went down in history as the first woman elected an MP by members of the Kipsigis community to represent a rural constituency.

Lorna Laboso, the daughter of the late Mr. Fredrick Laboso a wealthy dairy and large scale tea farmer perished in a plane crash with Road Minister Kipkalya Kones in Narok district a couple of weeks ago. She was buried at her Minaret maternal home, located in the outskirts of Sotik town.

News emerging from Sotik says that up to 12 women aspirants are expected to join the race. They include her younger sister Dr. Joyce Laboso Abonyo who is currently leading the pack with a dozen other ladies who are. expected to declare their interests soon.

Dr. Laboso Abonyo is a lecture at Egerton University who is considered as the mentor and key backer of her late elder sister during the last general elections is said to be a firebrand politician and accomplished orator in public address and this could be to her advantage over the other aspirants.

During the burial of Lorna she is credited for having electrified the crowd of mourners with a powerful speech which she gave as she eulogized her late sister. But Joyce could at the same time be disadvantaged due to her marital status.

She is married to a Mr. Abonyo, a Luo technocrat from Nyakach in Nyando district. The family has a home in Nyalenda peri-urban of Kisumu. It is considered as a stigma for a Kipsigis woman who is married outside the community to come back home and claim the political leadership.

Joyce family background could work against her especially when it is taken in to account that she is married to a Luo, a community which the Kipsigis considered as backward and referred to derogatively as Ngetic uncircumcised people whose social standing in the society id treated with contempt as children (Lagok).According to the Kipsigis tradition and culture, uncircumcised person remain a child even if he is 7o year old, because he was never initiated to manshood.

But there are other candidates whose names have been floated as potential and possible candidates. They include former Nairobi PC, Francis Sigei, a politician-cum-businessman Paul B. Mutai and Jonathan Rotich.

Sigei had supported the late Lorna Laboso ahed of the last general election after she beat him in the ODM Primaries.

Sigei was among the key campaigners for the Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga. It has, however, not been confirmed whether or not Sigei will contest in the ODM preliminaries or he will back another candidate.

But if he chose stand, Sigei will be a formidable candidate who is worth watching. But his detractors say Sigei is being blamed for being a man of classic society who is discredited for having very little interest to ordinary rural folks. He will have to change his campaign strategies and start socializing with ordinary wananchi.

Mutai who is popularly known as Bakamu is another man to watch in Sotik. Mutai is also expected to contest the election o the ODM ticket. He is reported to have already started oiling his campaign machine ahead of the by-election.

In the last years polls Mutai came second to Lorna Laboso during the ODM preliminaries and he is expected to reactivate his chain of networks in the area ahead of the primaries.

It has yet to be made clear whether Rotich was this first round be in the race again in the ODM primaries or stick to the UDM on whose ticket he contested in the last polls. Rotich came strong second to the late Lorna Laboso in the last general elections and had been touted to win the seat, but only lost due to the ODM euphoria that had swept the Kipsigis land like tornado.

Another prospective aspirant is Dr. Stanley Kiplangat who was also in the race last year on a KANU ticket, but performed poorly emerging in the third position overall.

The former MP for the area Antony Sotet Kimeto is another candidate who run on the ticket of the Biwott led New KANU, but performed dismally is also expected to join the race for Sotik seat, which is expected to be the most crowded.

Kimeto is reported be gearing to have another shot at the seat which he lost in 2007.

The most worrying issues included the rapidly changing political trend in the Kipsigis region following the recent campaign by the MPs from the North Rift region that the community had been given raw deal by the ODM leadership.

The MP blamed the party de facto leader Raila Odinga for having short-changed the community in that he did not bargain for the adequate number of its MPs to be appointed in the cabinet and in other senior positions within the coalition government, though the community had given the ODM the largest number of MPs in the last general election.

The region has eight parliamentary constituencies which include Chepalungu, Ainamoi, Kipkelion, Belgut, Buret, Bomet and Kanoin. All the seats went to the ODM plus one extra Kuresoi in which the former internal Security PS Zakayo K. Cheruyot won on ODM ticket bringing the total number to 9. But only three MPs were appointed to the cabinet. They were the late Kones, the late Laboso and Charles Keter who is now the only Kipsigis MP serving in the grand coalition government as an assistant Minister for Energy.

Other issues which are likely to adversely affect the ODM campaign strategies in the region is the government to appoint the members of the community to senior positions in the Civil Service and parastatals bodies. Those who were serving in key positions have since been sacked or shown the exit door for various, but unconvincing reasons, which are viewed as marginalization of the community.

And the most volatile issue is the way the PM Raila Odinga is handling the Mau Forest Complex which thousands of Kipsigis are facing eviction out of the water catchment tower.

Raila is further being accused by the Kalenjin community in general and the Kipsigis in particular of leaning towards the Mt. Kenya and GEMA group at the expense of the Kalenjin, the people who voted for him on a man-to-man in 2007.

Obviously the ODM popularity in the South Rift has evaporated and is waning very rapidly facilitating a come back to KANU and UDM. The party has lost the support of the locals considerably thereby giving for other parties which are said to be making major inroad in both Sotik and Bomet constituencies. It will be a toll order for the ODM to have an easy ride in the two constituencies comes the by elections.




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A People Divide & Distracted are a people Defeated.

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

A Short summary of the real racist Black Matrix
By Franklin G. Jones
We African Americans must continue the long march of our parents. A march for a more just, and equal society. However we cannot solve the challenges of our time while always responding to deplorably negative statistics and information about ourselves that are being totally compiled by whites– which we can in fact neither confirm, nor refute. This unfair arraignment has always given white America the ability to define Black America before the entire world and the power to profoundly manipulate Black self perception.
[The white elites have always been cognizant of this powerful position and ability and have always secretly used it to their advantage]
Through their corporate owned and government controlled media outlets, it is the white ruling elites that gives the world the image of Black America. Their perpetuated depictions have expressed a profoundly distorted view of African Americans. A view that sees their white racism as no longer a significant problem in America; that revises the past to conveniently make themselves appear less inhumane through out our history; and that elevates what is wrong with Black America above all that we know is right with Black America. Their portrayal of Black America is one that ignores all facts that conflict with their own racist conceptions and sees the endemic problems of Black America as rooted primarily with Blacks themselves, instead of emanating from their white racism.
Thesedistorted views of Black America that amplifies the negative to the point that it distorts realityare more than just biased media reports they function as a psychosocial programs. A modern racist system that covertly uses the mass media as a tool for ensuring that its white dominance and control be maintained. And while less overt than in the past, their affects are very real and very powerful.
Their deplorable distorteddepictions of Black America not only conforms African Americans to the caricatures being peddled by many white conservative commentators, it also negatively defines Black America before the entire world and collectively negatively influences the self perceptions of Black America.
This media driven psychosocial campaign –that depicts whites as the standard of ethics and morale value despite a brutal history to the contrary and Blacks fraudulently as being all thats wrong with America–is very powerfulyconvincing. Sadly it convinces many African Americans themselves to accept this frame of thought. It causes many to function as amnesiacs forgetting the history of white barbarity while simultaneously developing profound admiration for whiteness and contempt for their Blackness. It is attributed to the decreaseofovert racial pride, unity and cohesion, and ambitious perseverance that were once the hall mark of Black American identity. The white media told us that Black unity and cohesion no longer existed and we accepted their fraudulent assessment of us thus making it our reality. [Our own negative experience with fellow Blacks merely act asconfirmations to what is being implied to us through their media].
When we African American argueover the disparities within our communities we are in fact doing soover information which we can in fact neither confirm nor refutegiven to us by whites. And this fact gives them power over us. We African Americans in fact cannot even be certain of how many of us are there in America, because were relying upon whites to tell us that amount. They that have been telling us for decades that we’re still only 12% of the American population while in the same breath telling us that our rate of having babies is immorally much higher than theirs.–if the later is true than why has our numbers remained 12% for so long? Could we actually be 15 or even 25%? We would actually never know because the ruling white elites would always give to us a lower number of ourselves to suppress our mental image of our own strenght.
This psychosocial treatment also causes behavior among Blacks that can appear psychologically retarding.Becausesome of what it shows to us is made to look cool many of our youths are imitating rediculous habbits. ManyAfrican Americans, they that have become mentallyfatigued by the media’s unrelenting deporible depiction of Blacks– now consumed by frustration, internalized racism and contempt towards their race often vents their frustration against their own race. These groups then becomes engaged within a constantargument with the collective group. This media psychosocial treatment of African Americanscauses Black disunity at a time when we need unity; it distracts us from solving real problems; increases self loathing at a time when we need to come together to face the complicity in our condition–especially now in the face of a falling economy. It prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances within it needs to bring about real change.
I am aware that because most African Americans are unfamiliar with this media deployed psychosocial method of exercising white racism, therefore many will find it too difficult to contemplate. Nevertheless, it is directly intertwined with the extensive challenges negatively impacting Black America today.
I am also aware that there will be some that will see this article as a wrongful attempt to absolve the black race of all of our own responsibilities- a declaration suggesting that Blacks shouldignore all statisticsand live our lives vicariously. I can assure you it is not.
But clearly most of us will agree that if we are to solve our problems that there must be gained unity among us. A much needed unity that is being deliberately prevented by this massive media’s psychosocial treatment of us that subjects us to seeing only the fraudulent worst within our selves thus divides us as a mean of holding on to its white powers.
We will never be able to come together and solve our many challenges as long as our existence is being covertly manipulated and defined to us by whites. For as long as the power to assess the strengths and weaknesses of Black people remains in the hands of whites they will always deem it necessary to transmit those information that perpetuates their whites superiority over we Blacks.
They will always give to us the fraudulent data that suggest that Blacks cannot govern themselves as a means of keeping its Black population accepting white dominance and white institutions over their lives. [This is even being done in the way that Africa is portrayed to African Americans.]
As long as it is whites that are controlling the societal score board, it will remain we Blacks that are on the losing team.
Although we African Americans now have different incomes, educational levels and affiliations, we must stay cognizant of the fact that America does still harbors deep-seated racial biases. And that if we are ever to obtain our common hopes for a better tomorrow we must recognize that the prospect for this better tomorrow remains grim as long as it is whites that are defining and manipulated us Blacks.
This modern system of covert white racism that uses the mass media as a tool for ensuring that its white dominance and control be maintained will continue to be used by the white ruling elites regardless of whom is sitting in the white house. We should not allow ourselves to be made delusional by the historically and wonderful cadency of Senator Barrack Obama. For it is greatly likely that if he is allowed to win it will be more about restoring Americas eroding global image and standing in the world, rather than bringing equality to us African Americans. Senator Obama himself has stated that ; I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy.
History affirms that white America has never easily retired its system used to maintain its white dominance and control over its Black population. I believe this is an issue that we can no longer ignore. To merely ignore this disclosure and label it as misguided or even reverse racism, without recognizing that it is grounded in legitimate concerns would be a monumental mistake.
Although this literature references African Americans, much of what is discussed is applicable to African people throughout the world.
Franklin Jones aka Thanubian
To learn more and see just how deep that the rabbit hole really goes visit merelyconductan Internet Search under The Black Matrix By Franklin Jones or you can instead take red pill and forget ever thing that you’ve read.

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Thank you to all who helped one way or another – Burial of my Mum

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

Dear friends,

We buried my Mum on 2nd August 2008.

She had died on 25th July at Owen Hospital at Bondo.

I would like to thank the many friends who sent me messages of condolences. I would also like to thank the many friends who shared with me the little they have to help me with the expenses.

Special mention must be made of Joram Odus[UK], Lenny Amollo, Jairus K’Onyiego[US], Patrick Opondi[US], Gideon Ochanda, George Obara, Joyce Wango, MG, Liz Okoth, Sebastian Onyango[Belgium], Dick Aduong’a[UK], Cathy Omondi[Dubai], Caroline Otieno[TZ], Charles Munjal, Dr Otieno Edwin, Dave Ndolo Jabungu, Charles Ochilo, Vincent Ondiff[UG] and the many more that responded to our call for support.

I also have to thank the many people who sent me encouraging messages. Special mention must be made of Mundia Jnr, Orina Namwamu, Bob Arunga, Nick Ayimba and many more.

Your support and encouragement enabled me to have my mum buried on schedule, and with ease. Loosing a Mum is such a blow. I may not list all the people who helped me. but kindly do have my thanks.

Funerals are a community affair, and even for the rich, the community must still come in. This is why I will not mind the kind of insult I got from Elly Odhiambo Omondi on account of my Mum’s death. I take those insults with a humble heart, and I pray to God for more wisdom to enable me not to be that arrogant to any bereaved person here on planet earth.

Thank you and God bless all of us.

Odhiambo T Oketch
Komarock Nairobi



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Sudan to remove obstacles hindering UN-AU mission in Darfur

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

Sudan has reassured the United Nations and African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID) that it will remove all obstacles concerning the use of land by the mission and would facilitate the full deployment of the mission in Darfur.

The government said this during a meeting on Monday with the acting UN-AU Joint Special Representative for Darfur Henry Anyidoho together with some AU officials, according to a press statement issued by UNAMID late on Monday.

African Union Commission chairman Jean Ping is currently in Sudan for a two-day visit to discuss the indictment of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and genocide by International Criminal Court (ICC).

After meeting with Al-Bashir on Monday, Ping said while the AU was trying to extinguish the fire in the region by contributing its own troops, the ICC chose to pour more oil on the fire.

Earlier, he had urged the United Nations Security Council to suspend the ICC move to issue a warrant of arrest against the Sudanese president so as to give peace a chance in the region.



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Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

A stakeholders conference assessing the progress of Rwandas bid to join the Commonwealth, opens this Tuesday morning in Kigali, the Rwandan capital.

At a one-day conference at hotel Novotel in Kigali, Rwanda is expected to showcase its progress to the Commonwealth in central areas of democracy, good governance, access to justice, civil society and public and private sector reform.

According to a press release from the British embassy in Kigali, issued by the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit, the conference to be presided over by the Rwandan minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation, Rosemary Museminari, is part of the countrys planned accession to the mostly English speaking group, formerly under British colonial rule. The statement notes that its the first time there has been a public debate in an applicant country ahead of membership.

This demonstrates that Rwanda takes civil society consultation seriously and moves Rwanda one step closer to its anticipated membership in November 2009, the press statement said in part. It added that the conference will provide a platform for all stakeholders to debate on how they can effectively contribute and benefit from Commonwealth membership.

Participants, drawn from around 40 ministries, businesses, public institutions and non-governmental organizations, will also be introduced to the 80-odd Commonwealth professional associations, with a view to creating new partnerships between the Commonwealth and Rwanda.

The conference will include speeches from the Rwandan ministers of Justice and Local Government; the UK Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell; and Mark Collins of the Commonwealth Foundation.

Rwanda first enquired about joining the Commonwealth in 1996. The Commonwealth Secretary-General is currently in consultation with the 53 members of the Commonwealth and if consensus is achieved, Rwanda will formally be invited to apply for membership. A final decision on the former Belgian colonys bid will be made by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at its November 2009 conference to be held in Trinidad and Tobago.



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Morocco to present Euro-Africa tunnel project to Spanish at EU meeting

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

The head of Spanish diplomacy, Miguel Angel Moratinos, on Monday revealed that the proposed tunnel mega-project between Morocco and Spain would be presented to the European Union (EU) in October.

This project of “great ambition” dubbed “liaison fixe” will be submitted by Rabat to Madrid on 13 October on the day of the preliminary meeting of the Morocco-EU association council, Martinos told a press briefing in Tangiers, north of Morocco, at the end of his meeting with his Moroccan counterpart, Taib Fassi Fihri.

The Spanish diplomat termed as “priority” the project which will link Africa to Europe via Morocco and Spain.

This project, whose technical studies were carried out since 2006, is expected to link Tarifa in Spain to the region of Malabata, near Tangiers, through a 40-km tunnel with 28-km underwater stretch.

The initial budget is estimated at five billion Euros, according to corroborating sources.

The tunnel is billed to be operational by 2020.



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