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Archive for August 14th, 2008

Kenya: Lawyers move to oust Chief Justice after being brutaly beaten by police

Posted by African Press International on August 14, 2008

Lawyer Lilian Omondi narrates her ordeal at the hands of riot police, after protesting Nakuru lawyers were dispersed in Nairobi on Wednesday. The lawyers are demanding the resignation of CJ Evan Gicheru. Photo/FAITH NJUGUNA

ByNATION Team

In Summary

  • LSK threatens to petition President Kibaki to name a tribunal to establish the CJs suitability to remain in office if he did not resign.
  • Lawyers to push for the introduction of performance contracts for magistrates.
  • Riot police deployed within and outside the Nairobi law courts to block a team of lawyers from presenting their grievances against a Nakuru chief magistrate.
A wave of discontent sweeping among lawyers over the management of the Judiciary came into the open on Wednesday, following the dispersal of some of their colleagues who wanted to present their grievances to Chief Justice Evan Gicheru.

A statement by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) calling for Mr Justice Gicherus resignation highlighted the grievances over the efficiency of some judges and magistrates.

LSK chairman Okongo OMogeni said lawyers would push for the introduction of performance contracts for magistrates.

An LSK member displays a banner during a protest by lawyers in Nairobi. They are demanding the…

Failure to resign

It could mark the beginning of a public campaign by LSK to have Mr Justice Gicheru either resign or be forced out.

Therefore, LSK puts the Chief Justice on notice that his failure to resign will leave the LSK with no option but to call upon the President to set up a tribunal to start the process of his removal from office, the lawyers said in the statement signed by vice-chair James Mwamu.

Huge police presence to discipline the lawyers

It followed the stationing of riot police within and outside the Nairobi law courts to block a team of lawyers from presenting their grievances against a chief magistrate.

LSK accused Mr Justice Gicheru of introducing police brutality within the corridors of justice and said they would petition President Kibaki to name a tribunal to establish the CJs suitability to remain in office if he did not resign.

If the LSK succeeds, it will be the second time in the past five years that a CJ is forced out of office.

Mr Justice Bernard Chunga was forced out of office soon after President Kibaki came to power in 2003, following agitation by NGO activists and the minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs at the time, Mr Kiraitu Murungi.

Mr Justice Chunga had successfully prosecuted cases involving some of the activists during his time as director of Public Prosecutions.

For the CJ to be removed, the President must name a tribunal chaired by the Speaker of the National Assembly, one senior counsel and at least two other High Court or Court of Appeal judges.

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API/source.nation.ke

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Obama’s Strategy to Maximize Vote in Black America

Posted by African Press International on August 14, 2008


by Cash Michaels
Special to the NNPA from the Wilmington Journal
Originally posted 8/13/2008


WILMINGTON, N.C. (NNPA) – Two weeks before his momentous Democratic National Convention appearance in Denver, Colorado, presumptive presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama knows he is in the fight of his life with GOP rival, Sen. John McCain, in their intense battle for the White House.

After a barrage of negative attack ads that questioned the Illinois senators experience and patriotism, and likened his celebrity to that of fluff princesses like Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton, Obama is counting on a 50-state strategy to force McCain to spread his resources.

That means going toe-to-toe with the Arizona Republican in so-called GOP-leaning states like North Carolina, which the Obama campaign has designated as a top tier target they intend to take from the Republicans this presidential election.

While North Carolina remains very much a Democratic state in terms of electing its governor and state Legislature, the Tar Heel state hasnt been won by a Democratic presidential candidate since a little known peanut farmer and governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, took it in 1976.

The Obama campaign says it plans to change that paradigm, and bringing more eligible Black voters into the process will be key.

According to Democracy North Carolina, the nonpartisan nonprofit public policy group, as of June 2008, of the 5,812,519 registered Democrats in the state, 21 percent, or 1,204,415 are African-American.

If the Democrats are to have any chance at all of carrying this state, it will only be because of a much larger-than-normal and completely united Black vote, David Rohde, a political science professor at Duke University, told Bloomberg News.

Thus far, according to published reports, the Obama campaign has opened at least 12 satellite campaign offices across the state, including in Durham and New Hanover counties.

The Raleigh office serves as the state headquarters for the Obama campaign.

Between June 3 and July 26, the Obama campaign, aware that many White working class voters are still weary of the Black candidate, has spent over $2 million dollars on advertising statewide to make inroads into Republican McCains base of support.

In contrast, the McCain campaign hasnt spent a dime, thus far, in North Carolina, and yet still leads Obama in recent polls by an average of 3.7 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics.com (RCP).

Some analysts say with the exception of Virginia (which hasnt voted for a Democratic president since LBJ in 1964), where popular Gov. Tim Kaine has endorsed Obama and is considered in the running as a vice presidential running mate, the odds get longer and longer as you go down the list of the seven red states that Obama plans to be competitive in, including North Carolina, according to RealClearPolitics.

There’s scant evidence in the polls in Georgia and North Carolina that Obama’s spending has had much of an effect, if any, in those states, wrote RCPs Tom Bevan.

In an analysis of Obamas Southern strategy last week, Howard Fineman of Newsweek wrote, to generate a sky-high turnout among young voters and among the region’s heavy concentration of African-Americansskeptics call the projections unrealistic and the strategy a fool’s errand.

The Obama campaign disagrees.
There are 56 million unregistered voters nationwide, 32 percent of the total eligible voter ranks, the Obama campaign says. Of that number, eight million are Black (which is also 32 percent of eligible African-American voters).

Democrats dont want to repeat the Black voter shortfall they had in the 2004 presidential elections when Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry tried to unseat incumbent Republican President George Bush.

Because the Black vote in key regions underperformed based on what its potential was, battleground states like Ohio, Florida and Virginia were lost to the Democrats by single digits ranging from two to eight percent, primarily because of unregistered voters.

Kerry lost to Bush, 51 – 48%, where the key state of Ohio – where Democrats lost by 2% (110,000 votes), and there were 270,000 unregistered African-Americans – became the deciding factor.

Part of the strategy in turning North Carolina from Republican red back to Democratic blue for the presidential contest lies in a full-court press to bring new voters into the fold.

There are a million people who are eligible to vote who arent registered in North Carolina, Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee told The Wilmington Journal during his recent stop in Raleigh two weeks ago. We believe that the vast majority of those voters would vote for Barack Obama if they had the opportunity, and weve got to reach every single one of them.

When asked what particular message he had for the North Carolinas African-American community, the DNC chair replied, Yes, we need your help!

The church groups [and others] have been unbelievably helpful already. We need every singled person to be registered to vote, every single one, and we need them to vote, Dean continued, adding, This is an historic election for the African-American community.

Michelle Obama, who hopes to become the first African-American First Lady of the United States if her husband is elected in November, says a much better job must be done to get all eligible Black voters not only registered, but educated on the issues, and then mobilized in mass to the polls on what some have already begun calling O-lection Day.

We do know whether people arent voting because either theyre not registered or registered and staying home, I think the broader point is that we cab and must do a lot better in our community in getting people to the polls, Mrs. Obama told The Journal during a phone interview from Chicago last week.

Referring to Sen. Obamas impressive 14-point victory over rival Sen. Hillary Clinton, with 91 percent of the Black vote, in the May 6 Democratic primary, Mrs. Obama observed, North Carolina provides an example of how the African-American community can make a fundamental difference in the race. The effects of Black vote in North Carolina on the primary race was amazing.

Michelle Obama continued, Its not just about registration, but we have to make sure that people understand why their vote matters, and whats at stake in this election. We need people to understand the disparities not just at the economic level, but also in health and educationyou name it. And I can guarantee you that our efforts arent just limited to registration.

Last week the Obama announced a new initiative to increase Black voter participation in states like North Carolina with significant African-American voting populations.

Called The Barber and Beauty Salon National Voter Registration effort, the strategy targets perhaps the one institution where African-Americans historically have come together not only for good grooming, but to discuss and debate the important issues of the day.

Calling them a source of empowerment for the African-American community, senior Obama advisor Rick Wade said this week that just as during the successful Democratic primaries, Obama campaign voter registration efforts will now center in Black barber shops and beauty salons.

Our campaigns success during the primary season was driven not just be community organizers and traditional campaign activists, but it was also driven by barber shops and beauty salons, their owners and their stylists becoming engaged in this process across America, Wade told The Journal Monday.

The new Obama registration effort kicked off at the popular Bronner Brothers International Hair Show in Atlanta, Ga. last weekend. where over 60,000 Black hair stylists gathered.

Wade says over 700 Black barbers and beauticians signed up at the show to participate.

Obama campaign workers would come to the shops to run a video on Sen. Obamas vision for America, and also register voters there as well.

Wade says the Black Press, and specifically Black newspapers, will be key in communicating the Obama campaign message.

During the primary, and certainly during the general election, we value the role of the Black Press, Wade told The Journal. And we will continue to do that as we move forward.

Another strategy to excite the Black vote for Obama in November is to have highly visible African-American involvement in the upcoming Democratic Convention in Colorado beyond just the entertainment.

Having numerous speakers, representing all strata of the Black community, especially young people, address the nation from the convention podium, would send a clear message to the community that not only do they have a presidential nominee who may indeed continue to make history, but also that they have a place in the Democratic Party.

And if many of those Black Democratic Party Convention participants are from North Carolina, observers agree that sends a specific and powerful message to African-American voters that they must not only be registered, but must indeed vote to help deliver the Tar Heel state to Sen. Obama.

The Republicans are not oblivious to the Obama Black voter registration strategy.

Last year a Republican challenged the voter registration eligibility of several Elizabeth City State University students who voted in local Elizabeth City municipal elections. The complaint was ultimately dismissed by the local county elections board, but the episode set the template for what many suspect will be multiple GOP legal challenges to newly registered Black voters.

We’re going to be vigilant through the election cycle that all the rules are followed, Brent Woodcox, assistant legal counsel to the NC Republican Party, told Bloomberg News.

And the GOP has gotten help from the High Court, which ruled in April that Indianas law requiring all voters to have photo identification was constitutional. Other states like Georgia and Louisiana where Republican elected officials are in charge, have instituted similar measures that many Democratic and civil rights activists see as nothing more than efforts to intimidate new Black voters to the process.

Still, the N.C. GOP will have its work cut out for it.

Since January, Republican registration not only in North Carolina, but across the nation, has flatlined, while Democratic voter registration has exploded, thanks to the war in Iraq and high gasoline and food prices under a Republican administration.

In North Carolina, according to Democracy North Carolina (DNC), Democratic registration has exploded by 208,099, with 76,333 of that African-American.
Thats a seven percent increase overall in North Carolina for Black Democratic voter signups.

Thats the good news.

However, DNC reports that the number of African-Americans who remain unregistered in the Tar Heel state as of June is a staggering 273,000.

If that number or greater can be registered, DNC concludes, it could result in an impressive 71 percent (or 922,176) Black voter turnout in November.

To contrast the enormity of that goal, the total turnout for the May 6 primary in North Carolina for Democrats statewide was 37 percent, which was considered a success.

In the end, the Obama campaign says, mobilizing the Black vote like never before in history will be the key to putting the first African-American president ever in the Oval Office.

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Published by African Press International -API/ Source.seattlemedium

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President Morales wins Bolivian election

Posted by African Press International on August 14, 2008

President Evo Morales won a resounding victory in Bolivia elections

(AP)

President Evo Morales of Bolivia won a resounding victory in a recall vote yesterday after calling a referendum to break a political stalemate and revive his leftist campaign.

More than 63 percent of voters in this bitterly divided Andean nation ratified the mandate of Mr Morales, the country’s first indigenous president and his vice president, Alvaro Garcia. He had proposed the referendum in an attempt to topple opposing governors who want autonomy in their resource rich provinces and have frustrated his attempts to improve the lot of the country’s impoverished indigenous majority..

“What happened today is important not only for Bolivians but for all Latin Americans,” Mr Morales, a former coca leaf farmer, told several thousand cheering supporters last night from the balcony of the presidential palace. “I dedicate this victory to all the revolutionaries in the world.”

Calling on the country’s governors to work with him for Bolivian unity, he stressed the importance of advancing the battle against poverty. His supporters and those of his opponents took to the streets waving banners, chanting, dancing and setting off fireworks afte a peaceful vote that contrasted with violent protests earlier in the week.

Mr Morales’ leftist agenda has met with bitter opposition in the unabashedly capitalistic eastern half of the country, where protesters who accuse him of being a lackey of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last week blockaded airports to keep him from touching down for campaign visits.

“I’m glad he has won, because Morales is one of us, he’s working class like me,” said Hector Gutierrez, 32, a computer technician. “I expect things to improve now because someone from the same background as me cannot let me down,” he said.

The power struggle between Mr Morales and the opposition governors has exposed deep divisions between the wealthy east of the country and the impoverished, indigenous west. The governors are enraged that the president has cut their share of windfall natural gas revenues and accuse him of governing only for his supporters.

Since coming to power in 2005, Mr Morales has nationalised the oil and gas industry and worked to reform the consitution.

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Published by Chief Editor Korir, African Press International – API/Source.timesOnline

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McCain On The Russian Invasion And Negative Ads

Posted by African Press International on August 14, 2008

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain says that Russia’s invasion of neighboring Georgia signals a new political era, but not necessarily a return to the Cold War.

“I don’t think there’s going to be nuclear-weapons buildups,” the Arizona senator told NPR’s Renee Montagne. “But I do think that Russian behavior is not acceptable, and we will do what we can to maintain our alliances and friends and make the Russians understand that this kind of behavior is not a part of what we view as the 21st century.”

McCain spoke to NPR shortly after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered his troops to halt military action in Georgia.

McCain spoke to Montagne from York, Pa., where he has been campaigning relatively unopposed this week, since his Democratic rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, is on vacation.

In addition to Russia, McCain spoke about the negative ads his campaign produced comparing Obama to celebrity heiress Paris Hilton, as well as his vice-presidential selection process. Below are excerpts of the conversation.

RENEE MONTAGNE: Russia’s president did order an end to Russian military operations there. To the degree that that is in effect, and to the degree that peace talks are in motion, how much did statements from the West make a difference here? Because there is an argument that they didn’t make much difference at all, that Russia had its own agenda, and it came and went as it pleased in Georgia.

JOHN MCCAIN: Well, I think, to a large extent, unfortunately, that’s the case. They want a friendly country on their border. They want to control the oil pipelines that goes through there. And this is clearly in keeping with the Russian ambitions for the old, near a broad control of or absolute takeover of surrounding countries. And this may be trying to send a message to Ukraine and other countries in the region.

Well, there would be those who would say that that message has been sent and heard even beyond the region. What, realistically, could the U.S. in particular do to prevent, as you say, other sorts of influence that the Russians would like to exert in that region?

Well, I think, in the short term, there is limited options, certainly, that we have. Long term, I think we may be in a period of relations with Russia where we have to make sure that we help our friends, that we do what we can to protect democracies and freedom, and make sure that we understand that there is a new era that obviously began when President Putin took over, and so we will adjust our relations accordingly.

And I don’t think that there’s going to be a re-ignition of the Cold War; don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there’s going to be nuclear-weapons buildups, et cetera, but I think that Russian behavior is not acceptable. And we will do what we can to maintain our alliances and our friends and make the Russians understand that this kind of behavior is not a part of what we view as the 21st century.

So, to move on to domestic questions, Steve Schmidt, who is running your campaign, has said something kind of simple and understandable. He said that a campaign needs one positive message about its candidate and then one good, strong negative message about the opponent. Your camp

I never heard that statement, and I’d have to know who attributed it to him before I would agree with that. We’re not sending any negative message in our campaign. We’re drawing differences in positions between myself and Sen. Obama, which are significant. He wants to raise taxes; I want to keep them low. He doesn’t want to drill offshore or have nuclear power; I want both. I’ve never heard Steve Schmidt say we need a negative message in the campaign.

I’m quoting The Wall Street Journal here.

I’ve run many, many campaigns, and I have never believed that we need a strong negative message. And I’ve been in -

However, do you not consider it a negative message, though, when a campaign ad goes on TV that blames your opponent, Barack Obama, for high gas prices or -

I believe strongly that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. And he voted for the energy bill that had all kind of tax breaks and giveaways for the oil companies. I believe if you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. And it’s a big problem in America today.

And are you comfortable with ads where your opponent is being compared to Paris Hilton?

I’m very comfortable with my campaign. And I strongly recommend that people who don’t find humor in that relax, turn off the computer and go on it and get some fresh air and try to regain some

Well, Paris Hilton found some humor in it.

Yeah, sure.

As you know, certainly, everyone is waiting for you and Sen. Obama to announce your picks for vice president. Are you going to wait for the senator to announce his pick first?

No, we’re not going to be dictated by Sen. Obama’s schedule; we’ll be dictated by our efforts to arrive at a at the most qualified and best candidate.

So can you give us a sense of when you are going to make your pick?

No, I can’t.

And who’s on your short list?

Thanks for asking. No, I can’t do that, either.

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API/Source.NPRorg

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Bakassi has never been part of Nigeria, says boundary director

Posted by African Press International on August 14, 2008

The Director General of the National Boundary Commission (NBC), Alhaji Sadiq Marafa Diggi has said Bakassi peninsula was never a part of Nigeria and so it would not distort the map of the country when transfered to Cameroon.

Last week, the Nigerian president said the handover of Bakassi will go ahead as planned on 14 August 2008 (today) in keeping with the Green Tree Agreement signed by both countries in 2006.

“I want to seize this opportunity to talk on Bakassi Peninsula and that the Federal Government will be handing it over to Cameroon on August 14, this year, (today).

I want to inform this gathering that Bakassi was never part of Nigeria and it was only included in our map in 1991. Other treaties signed by the Federal Government also proved that the place actually belongs to Cameroon,” said Diggi at the Annual Conference of Surveyors.

The conference took place at the Presidential Lodge Birnin Kebbi, north east Nigeria, Tuesday last week.

He said Bakassi peninsula was included in the map of Nigeria in 1991 and that the creation of Bakassi Local Government by the Federal Govvernment in 1996 further confirmed that the Bakassi was never part of Nigeria.

Ceding Bakassi to Cameroon, he said would not affect the nations oil wells that were well protected and defended by the federal Government Lawyers.

“In the case of Bakassi, we loose in some areas and we gain in other places. But all our oil wells were protected”.

He said necessary demarcations between both countries were being done as prescribed by the International Court of Justice, adding that 33 villages lost to Cameroon and appealed to Nigerians to accept the courts judgement in good faith.

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API/Source.apa

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INTERVIEW: ICC prosecutor dismisses Sudan special courts on Darfur

Posted by African Press International on August 14, 2008

By Wasil Ali

August 11, 2008 (WASHINGTON) The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo today dismissed the recent move by Sudan to probe Darfur war crimes through the appointment of a special prosecutor. Ocampo said that Khartoum established special courts before but end up investigating no one.

The International Criminal Courts prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo reacts during a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands (AP)

The ICC prosecutor stressed throughout the interview with Sudan Tribune that the main focus of his work in Darfur is to prevent future crimes against the 2.5 million people in the camps.

The Argentinean born lawyer emphasized that had the duty to present his case against the Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir to the judges and that if an arrest warrant is issued the world has the challenge to stop the ongoing crimes in Darfur.

The ICC prosecutor underscored the need to end impunity and said that there should be no immunity for Al-Bashir or any other officials who commit crimes.

On the charges of genocide the ICC official said that his findings are not inconsistent with those of the UN commission of inquiry (UNCOI) that went to Darfur in 2004. He said that the commission concluded that there are no acts of genocide if the government put the people affected by the conflict into camps.

The ICC prosecutor said that the Sudanese government is carrying out a massive rape campaign against women in the camps and hindering the delivery of aid to the displaced who are mostly from the African tribes of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups. This he said falls under the definition of genocide.

Ocampo further said that he hopes his investigations will put an end to crimes committed against people in all cases he is investigating including Northern Uganda and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

He rejected the notion that the ICC is targeting the poorer nations saying that the ultimate goal of the court is to apply the law equally in the cases where it has jurisdiction. However he acknowledged that double standards exist in the world before saying that he is trying to work towards a different world with less double standard.

Below is the text of the interview

-Do you have any regrets on proceeding with the case against Al-Bashir in terms of timing and indicting a sitting head of state?

Ocampo: How can I have any regrets? The decision to investigate in Darfur was taken by the UN Security Council (UNSC) in March 2005 and in June of the same year I formally opened the investigation. We conducted the best investigation we could and started with the case against Ahmed Haroun, state minister for humanitarian affairs, and militia commander Ali Kushayb. Then we collected evidence showing the involvement and responsibility of Al-Bashir. My duty is to present my case to the judges once I have enough evidence. That is my responsibility and as such my office is performing its duties.

-Article 53 of the Rome Statute says that your office should consider whether or not initiating an investigation would serve the interests of justice and the victims. Do you think that you have satisfied this requirement considering that Al-Bashir still retains firm control over state bodies that could make life harder for Darfuris in the camps?

Ocampo: We are working to stop the crimes and I think investigating them is one of the ways to put an end to them. I believe the application I submitted is part of the solution; of course there are other solutions. But here is an independent body saying that there are crimes happening now. The state apparatus in Sudan continues to attack those people in the camps. My evidence shows that there is genocide today. What could be worst? There is genocide against 2.5 million people. Again in line with my responsibility I presented my case and the judges will decide.

The government of Sudan has a responsibility to protect its people and then the international community. This is a very complex moment and if the judges confirm the charges in my application it will be the first time an independent judicial body endorse the fact of ongoing genocide. Then the challenge becomes how to stop it? For me this is the most important question. My duty was to go forward with the case against Al-Bashir in accordance with the evidence I gathered.

-What was the main source of information in your case against Al-Bashir?

Ocampo: I have to conduct an impartial investigation so I collected information from different sources. This is what distinguishes the work of my office because I have to gather information to understand responsibilities in the commission of crimes. For example when we presented our first case against Haroun people were shocked because he was not a well known figure. Because of my case now everyone realizes that Haroun was the minister in charge of attacks on the villages and the camps. The issue for me is to show clearly that what is happening in the camps today is a crime because without humanitarian assistance they will die. Not only is Al-Bashir not providing them with humanitarian assistance but also trying to block and hinder the work of these humanitarian organizations. This is the most compelling issue now and we have to stop it.

-So you are saying that Al-Bashir himself was blocking aid to the Darfur refugees?

Ocampo: Through his people of course. That is why Haroun and the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) are critical elements because they are secret service people under the title of humanitarian affairs; in fact they are hindering humanitarian assistance.

-Was Al-Bashir in the list of names you received from the UN commission of inquiry (UNCOI)?

Ocampo: This list contained the opinion of UNCOI. It is irrelevant to the court. I read the list but for me it was nothing more than an opinion. In terms of my case I follow the evidence.

-The US State department said you requested some information from them though not relating to the case of Al-Bashir. Is this your first time and did you get a response yet?

Ocampo: We dont disclose the information requests we make to different parties. We keep them confidential.

-Sudan contends that Al-Bashir has immunity from prosecution under international conventions.

Ocampo: In the Rome Statute there is no immunity for heads of states. Back in the 17th century there was a case against King Charles I of England. In those days the king was above the law. Three centuries later we are discussing the same problem. So just because someone is a head of state he is immune? That they are above the law? For me the answer is no; the law says no and I will abide by it.

-Some Sudanese are not necessarily supporters of Al-Bashir but they say that by moving against the countrys president you are targeting the country and trying to undermine its sovereignty

Ocampo: I am investigating crimes and the evidence show that an official in the government is committing crimes against 2.5 million people from Sudan. That is the problem. Normally members of the government have to protect their citizens and in this case Al-Bashir is using the state apparatus to attack the people he has a duty to protect. I respect the government of Sudan even if I had to press charges against Al-Bashir. That is why my requests to arrest Al-Bashir and Haroun go to the government of Sudan. They have to do it.

I understand that this is an armed conflict in Sudan and it is obvious that rebels are committing crimes and it is also obvious that the government has the right to protect its territory. But it is also obvious that they cannot attack the civilians. They cannot attack these people in the villages, rape the women and kill the elders and do the same thing in the camps. It is a massive rape campaign to the women who leave the camps today and block humanitarian aid. This cannot happen. It must stop. I am doing my work to protect 2.5 million African citizens.

-The Rwandan President Paul Kagame said that the ICC is a new form of imperialism created by the West to control the worlds poorest countries.

Ocampo: I am from the south and my deputy is from Africa. We are trying to establish justice in the world. I was criticized because I invited African leaders to refer cases to the ICC. I always respect African leaders and I will keep respecting them because to solve the Darfur case we need them. Any solution to the Darfur crisis relies on Africa.

-You likened Darfur crisis before to a fire and that to put it off you have to get rid of the arsonists, apparently Al-Bashir in this case. However Jean Ping, who chairs the AU commission, said you poured more oil in the fire. What is your reaction to this?

Ocampo: I found evidence pointing to Al-Bashirs responsibility in attacking the 2.5 million and submitted to the judges. The political leaders have their own responsibilities. I am sure the final solution we will require the involvement of African leaders.

But at the same time if we are not recognizing the problem we can never solve it. Al-Bashir is conducting attacks against villages and camps. This is the situation today.

-Are you saying that justice is never an obstacle to peace?

Ocampo: I am not doing this kind of political assessment. It was the UNSC decided that solution in Darfur requires the intervention of justice. Last June the 15 members of the UNSC including Libya, South Africa and Burkina Faso emphasized the importance of justice in Darfur in a presidential statement. I received a mandate conferred upon me by the UNSC that I am fulfilling.

-When was the first time you disclosed your intention to seek an arrest warrant against Al-Bashir. It is true that you told the US officials first?

Ocampo: I informed the UN secretariat two weeks before my public announcement on July 14th. The UN has responsibilities in the areas of humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping in Darfur. They started analyzing the impact of my move and probably consulted with other parties. That is why I suppose the leak came from these discussions a week later.

I respect those who are involved in other aspects of the conflict such as political, security and humanitarian. But I did my job while respecting the work of the others.

-So you never met with the Americans specifically to let them know?

Ocampo: Our decisions have no connection and are not influenced by any outside party. We are independent. Even if you read the US reaction following my application on July 14th it was not so supportive.

Let us be clear. In December 2007 I told the UNSC that Haroun is involved in attacking the camps but he was not alone. I said there is someone providing instructions and protecting him. I was totally predictable in what I said seven months before I presented my case against Al-Bashir. Of course there are those who will make up their own scenarios but this is what happened.

-Why was your application not under seal similar to the case of the former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba?

Ocampo: For every case we handle we do an assessment of the best way to ensure the appearance of the suspect in court. In the case of Bemba we decided it had to be under seal. However in the case of Al-Bashir we determined that it had to be public. We need a public discussion on the issue. It is hard to imagine that once I present my case against Al-Bashir it can be kept secret for long. He is a president of a country. If I kept it sealed I cannot talk or explain my case so it would have been a useless approach. People are making their own opinions but we determined that it is best to do it in the way I did it.

-Are you disappointed with the world reaction to your move particularly the UNSC which asked you to investigate the Darfur crimes?

Ocampo: Not at all. I am doing professional work. I cant let myself be disappointed. I am doing my work. I presented a strong case against Al-Bashir. Once the judges return from recess they have confirmation hearings against Germain Katanga and Mathieu Chui. After that I assume that we will discuss case of Al-Bashir. This is my responsibility. Anything else is not my responsibility. I respect the efforts of other parties which is why I informed the UN in advance and did my best to be predictable. It is not about emotions but about doing my work. My focus is to prevent future crimes against the 2.5 million people.

-What is the nature of the communications you received from countries after the indictment?

Ocampo: I received some calls from political leaders requesting some clarification on our case. Some asked whether or not there are other names in the pipeline. In my opinion this is another reason why we couldnt have a sealed indictment. We had very important discussions not just about Darfur but how the world would be organized. Can a head of state commit crimes or not? This is similar to the question of Charles I in the 17th century. If the judges endorse my request then another question arises; how the other political leaders would react. How the future would look.

-Some diplomats at the UN alluded that you would be willing to drop the case if Sudan handed over Haroun and Kushayb. Is that true?

Ocampo: No. In December 2007 I said Haroun and Kushayb have to be arrested and spoke about my upcoming cases. Now there is a pending case before the judges. What I say publicly is always what I say privately.

-In the TIME magazine interview you mentioned a meeting you had with a Sudanese envoy who implied that they will hand over Haroun and Kushayb if you dont pursue other senior officials. Can you give us more information on this meeting?

Ocampo: The Sudanese government discussed how to handle our request to arrest Haroun and Kushayb and formed a committee. As I always say, arresting Haroun will stop the crimes because no one will follow instructions to commit crimes if they see that others who were following instructions are arrested. Now we moved to the second case and its a new debate and a different discussion. As a prosecutor I can only discuss the details of the case in court.

-ICC judges return Monday from judicial recess. How confident are you that they will endorse your application particularly with regards to the genocide charges?

Ocampo: I present a case to the judges because I am convinced that my case is strong. Before this case I have requested 12 arrest warrants to date since I took office and we secured all of them. Of course judges are judges and they dont need to follow what the prosecutor says. They can dismiss my entire case or some of the charges. This is the normal judicial process but I believe we have a very strong case.

I mentioned in my application summary that the UNCOI said that there would be no policy of genocide if the populations surviving attacks on villages live together in camps organized by the government where they are assisted. But today the government is attacking people in the camps through rape and hindering aid. That is why it is genocide. My findings are not inconsistent with those of the UNCOI.

-Haroun is now unable to leave the country fearing apprehension. Do you foresee same fate for Al-Bashir?

Ocampo: If the judges issue an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir, he can choose to appear voluntarily and we said that in our application. If he refuses then arresting him will be a challenge not to the court but to the international community. How the other states will secure to stop the crimes by arresting an individual. But if the world accepts that a leader can commit crimes and nothing happens then this is a difficult world to live in.

-Sudan appointed special prosecutor. Are you willing to give the Sudanese judiciary a chance to investigate Darfur abuses?

Ocampo: They did it many times. They end up investigating no one. They even appointed Haroun to head a committee on Darfur human rights. This is part of the cover up and they have been saying this for years. The only individuals prosecuted are those who resist illegal instructions to attack people in Darfur such as pilots or soldiers.

-UNSC is discussing invoking Article 16 to suspend ICC case against Al-Bashir. Why should they not do that?

Ocampo: It is not my responsibility to try and lobby the UNSC in its decision making process.

-How close are you to completing your case against the rebels?

Ocampo: We are progressing. As soon as I have enough evidence I will present my case. It is extremely important that I receive support from the government of Sudan as well as rebels. It is time to stop the crimes. Whoever commits the crimes must be stopped. I hope our intervention will contribute to putting an end to these crimes.

-Did you receive personal threats after your press conference?

Ocampo: No

-Your term as a prosecutor expires in 2012 and is not renewable. What do you hope to accomplish before then?

Ocampo: I think if we contribute to stopping the crimes and bring justice for people in Darfur, DRC, Northern Uganda or helping to ensure justice in Columbia or Afghanistan then that means we are helping millions of people. I feel privileged to have this kind of job. If we are working correctly we will make a difference. Second I have a responsibility to build the foundations of this institution. This is an institution for the next century and for the world. Therefore I want my successor to take over an institution that is working on solid grounds. This is what I will do. It is a piece in this long process of trying to do justice in the world.

-So you never thought about resigning at any point?

Ocampo: I have a 9 year term and I am planning to fulfill my commitment. It is a privilege and a responsibility at the same time.

-Do you acknowledge that people in many parts of the world including Arabs look with suspicion to the ICC? They think there is double standard when it comes to applying justice.

Ocampo: I have no doubt that the world is full of double standards. This is why I am privileged to work in this court because it is an opportunity to establish one standard. Our aim is to ensure that no militia leader or powerful authority has the right to commit these kinds of crimes. We consistently applied the law against those who commit the crimes under my jurisdiction. Everyone who lives in the south knows double standards. In Brazil they have a saying everything to my friend, to my enemies it is the law. It is not just an African or Arab issue. Coming from this environment I think it is so important to be sure that we are establishing this basic law in the world. No one with power can commit these crimes of genocide or crimes against humanity and be immune. We are ending impunity. This is my mission. It is an opportunity to work together to build a different world with less double standards. It is just a beginning but a long way from being perfect.

(ST)

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Kenya exported fish worth kshs. 4 billion out of Lake Victoria

Posted by African Press International on August 14, 2008

By Leo Odera Omolo

Fish worth Kshs. 4 billion was caught in Lake Victoria last year, according to statistics from the fisheries department Suba district produced the bulk of fish, accounting for 43 per cent of the 117,232 tones caught from the lake.

Neighbouring Homa-Bay had the lowest catch producing only 446 tons. Karachuonyo and Migori districts in South Nyanza contributed 10 and 12 per cent respectively, while Kisumu and Busia jointly produced only 83 tons, Nyando produced 1,981 tons.

According to the statistics, Dagaa {omena} was the most caught species, accounting for 42.2 percent of the catch. Nile perch , the largest fish export, was second at 39 per cent, according to the report 46, 558 tons of the fish were landed last year, Synodontic and Carias were the last counted  species, both contributing only one per cent of the total catch

Other species were protopterus and Haplochromines as 2.5 and 4.9 per cent

Last year’s catch represented a decline from 2006 when fish worth about 6 billion was caught.The Minister for fisheries Dr. Paul Otuoma said that his ministry was in the process of changing of approach by encouraging fish farming for twice fishing pressure pm the lake.

He noted that while the global ratio of captured fisheries to fish produced in forms was 50-50. In Kenya farms produced less than one per cent of total harvest annually.

The Minister who was speaking in the lakeside lily of Kisumu said Ministry is set to launch a new policy next month as part of efforts to boost the fishing industry.

In parliament MPs this week urged the government to revamp fish landing beaches across Lake Victoria. Franklin Bett the chairman of the Parliamentary seat committee on Agriculture bands and natural resources said the State should fins the installation of cols rooms in the 306 beaches at a cost of Kshs. 2 million each to turn around the sub-sector.

The country is losing billion of shillings annually over lack of refrigeration facilities in beaches to preserve fish in lake Victoria Mr. Bett said. He said roads leading to the beaches were in deplorable state that affected the market of the Nile perch scheduled for the export. The government has to invest in the fishing such sector to realize more return; Mr. Bett Said

The country earned Kshs. 8 billion from the fish sub-sector with Ksh. 2.7 billion from Suba district last year. Seventy percent of fish landed from Lake Victoria is from Suba district, most of which is the Nile Perch scheduled for export as fillets for the west and for east

Bett who is also the Buret MP was speaking in Kisumu when he led the committee members to the tour of Ogal Beach in Kisumu Rural Constituency in the newly created Kisumu West district.

Meanwhile the Kisumu branch chairman of the Kenya National Fisheries Association Mr. Jared Ochanda said it was regrettable that the local fisheries did derive much benefit    from the resources.

This is a classic example of capital flight. He said a kilo of fish goes for 260 in the export market whereas it sold for only Ksh. 100 as the beach.

Mr. Ochanda disclosed that his association is soon establishing structure in the district surrounding the lakes to increase the fishermen awareness and bargaining power.

It was reported that the lowest has nested Ksh. 1.6 billion from export of Nile perch since the beginning of this year, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of fisheries indicate.

The money was made from the sale of Six million metrics tones of this prized fish species from Lake Victoria. The fish product was exported mainly to the European Union countries, Israel and Japan.

The exported products included frozen and fresh fish fillets, scanned and skinless fish fillets, and headless and gutted fish. The highest sales were made in April, with fish worth Kshs. 223o million exported. January had the lowest export standing at Kshs. 174, million which is attributed to post election violence.

There are six processing factories and 316 landing sites on the Kenya site of Lake Victoria , Kisumu had three out of these factories, while Homa-Bay, Migori and Nairobi have one each.

Mr. Ochanda blamed the fish processors against whom the accounted of giving fisheries a raw deal because they to not speak with one voice. But an official at the western Kenya regional fisheries office said the fishermen also are substantial money how the fish sales.

At the same time the government of Kenya has anointed that it will soon establish a special fund to promote fish farming.

Fisheries Minister Dr. Paul Otuoma said the government also plans to push for new legislation to regulate the fisheries sector.

Speaker in Kisumu, the Minister advised farmers to venture into agriculture to meet increasing fish demands in the face of dwindling stockist. The funds, said the minister, would be used in develop hatcheries and provide extension to farmers will to refer fish.

The more, he said, had been prompted by the fact that the Lake Victoria when contributed in excess of 90 per cent of the fish to the Kenyan market was over exploited.

The Minister said the proposed legislation walled restrict the amount of fish that could be remarked from the water body at any given time to make the fishing sustainable over the year.

Dr. Otuoma said that the improvement of the infrastructure around Lake Victoria was key to boosting fishermen’s living standard by eliminating middlemen from the supply chain.

The Minister said the installation of cooling facilities along the major beaches and value addition mechanism for the catches would gave way for an auction market where the foodstuff would be key commodities.

The more, he explained, would promote the packaging and branding of the fish from the lake in an hygienically and nutritionally acceptable standards.

Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang district that plans were underway by East African countries to create a single fishing regime that would allow fishermen from the region to fish across boundaries.

The two ministers were speaking at the just ended Nyanza Economic Forum Kajwang’ said the more is expected to be a welcome relief especially to the fishermen in border area who constantly run in the wrong side of the law with Tanzania and Uganda a Authorities.

The Nyanza Economy Forum intent to come up with a new development agenda for the region.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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The endless political squabbles among Luo leaders likely to hurt Raila Odinga’s mission in government

Posted by African Press International on August 14, 2008

News Analysis By Leo Odera Omolo

The issue about the existence of political deadwoods among the current crop of Luo MPs in the 10the Parliament is causing worries and serious concern among the level minded members of the community.

The community view Raila Odinga elevation to the coveted position as the prime Minister in the grand coalition as Gods answer to the people who for many years were marginalized, isolated and suppressed by all the previous successive regimes.

But the community, which boost the largest number of intellectuals in excess is surprisingly represented in the supreme August House by a large number of politically mediocre and semi-illiterate MPs. This is shocking, especially in this twenty first century many decades after Kenya attained her political independence from Great Britain in 1963.

Quite a good number of the current crop of MPs from Luo-Nyanza are known to be incapable of making their maiden speeches in the August House due to the fact that they are either handicapped of command of either English or Kiswahili languages to communicate their views.

Local political pundits have analysed these new legislators in a negative in negative perspective saying some of them did not go beyond the primary eight standard of education and only gained the opportunities to be elected to the August House due to excessive bribery of voters. The allegation also paint the community negatively as full of people languishing in abject poverty and as such cannot a better choice of electing properly educated persons to the House.

In Uriri constituency in Rongo district, the new MP Cyprian Ojuwang Omolo, it is being alleged to have gone to school up to primary eight class, and was later trained in electrical mechanic course in a village polytechnic. He is today one of the wealthiest Luos after establishing his own electrical firm, and using connections in winning lucrative tenders and contracts. Omolo is said to have spent colossal amount of money in excess of Kshs 100 million in bribing the voters, and even the ODM leadership for favour.

Another deadwood is the Kasipul-Kabondo MP Oyugi Maguwanga wgho is credited that his academic standard of education never exceeded beyond Ringa Secondary School within the locality. The legislator is credited to have made his money via a lucrative NGO, which he is the CEO. The NGO is believed to have received millions of shillings meant for assisting orphanage children, part of which financed his election campaign to the chagrin of the donors.

The chagrin of the foreign donors.. He too is being rumoured as someone who cannot make a maiden speech in the House,.

The same is said about the Nyando MP Fred Outa who it is being alleged to be related to Raila Odinga through his wife. The legislator is believed to have attained only Form two academic standard, and later moved to the US on a religious scholarship to study theology, but returned home minus any degree. The MP is believed to have manipulated his connection to the Odinga family and an NGO donor funds to support his election campaign.

In all the constituencies mentioned above, the electorate had rejected a good number of academic giants and people of substantial means and settled on political mediocre simply for the lust for money.

In Kasuipul-Kabondo the electorate had rejected and abandoned the best brains like Dr. Richard Otieno Muga who is a now a Professor at the great Lake University in Kisumu City and a former director of medical services in Kenya as well as Dr. Kambona Oyugi, the Finland based Professor Dr. Otieno Mbare and other academic giants and voted in someone who cannot express himself properly both inside and outside the August House.

In Nyando the voters rejected the former incumbent Eng. Eric Opon Nyamunga, the man who is credited for having made enormous contributions towards the development of the constituency, Eng. Oyuke and Eng Omanga and settled on Fred Outa an excessively arrogant man whose academic background is questionable. The six million question now being posed by level minded people is that; Which way are the Luos heading to?

The Migori MP John Pesa is an intellectual per excellence. He was formerly the Principal of several secondary schools and later Migori and Igoji Teachers Training Colleges before retiring into a private business life. But he has chosen. To remain silent in the House, may be for some reasons best known to himself, therefore he cannot be accused of having communications problem like the others.

In Uriri the MP Cyprian Omolo spent millions in voters bribery and overcome the most educated lots like Eng. Kobado, ex-secondary school teacher with a masters degree Okoth Obado who is now a director of the Kenya Sugar Board representing Sony Sugar zones. It defeats all the logics as to whether the Luos asre only scavenging for money, but not interested in quality leadership at the parliamentary level.

In Raried Constituency, there ius a big tug-of-war between the Uyoma and Asembo sub-clans over the place where the newly established district headquarters should be located. Previously the twio community had settled on Madiany Divisional headquartersi East Uyoma Locations. But all of a sudden the area MP Eng. Nicholas Gumbo, allegedly working in collaboration with the chairman of the Rarieda County Council Akelo Gwela have secretly and without the consent iof the all the communities involved changed this to Aram Market in Asembo West Location. Both Eng Gumbo and Gwela hails from Asembo..

The alleged relocation of the DCs office is causing jittery. The Uyoma community argues that Madiany has all the lands available as well as water and sub-district hospital, whereas there is no land space which is freely available at the Aram Market, thouygh it is centrally located. A Massive demonstration has been planned by the Uyoma community to take place later this months.

In Alego-Usonga, the excessively wealthy MP Edwin Ochieng Yinda, the only Luo MP who has publicly defied Raila Odinga instruction over the Mayoral election in Siaya town is causing ripples.

Raila Odinga wanted his friend Nicholas Rajula to be nominated to the Council, though he had lost the elections to Yinda in the Alego-Usonga Parliamentary election battle at all cost. It is being alleged that after Rajula was nominated Raila instructed the Siaya Town Clerk Lumumba Ouya to ensure that Rajula is the new Mayor of the town at all costs.PM was working in cohoot with the Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo.

But Yinda used his enormous wealth, rounded up all elected Councillor and a few nominated ones, and drove them across the Kenya-Uganda border andbooked them for the whole week in a posh hotel in Jinja

At Home in Siaya Yinda mobilized hundreds of youth who menacingly invaded the Town Hall to ensure his man Obiero Otari was made the Mayor at all costs. Rajula had, however, obtained a court order restraining the Town Clerk from conducting the Mayoral election, but the orders were ignore and the election went one. On occasions Yinda has been heard bragging that no any Luo leader present or past who can match him with money..

Yinda made his money through his marital status. He is married to the daughter of the late Eliud Mahihu, a former PC, who made it possible for him to get lucrative business contracts at the coast, especially with the KPA. For many years, he was a KANU blue eyed boy and had tried his hand at Parliamentary politics, but miserably failed dislodge the former Alego-Usonga MP Peter Castro Oloo Aringo who represented the constituency for close to 22 years uninterruptedly. He only switched and joined the ODM in the year 2007 with the purpose of clinching the seat, but has since gone solo operating independent mindedly

Yindas academic background indicated that he only studied after O level and failed to score sufficient marks to go further for University education and thereafter he settled in business in Mombasa and got involved in KANU politics, which enabled him clinch government contracts.

Gerald Otieno Kajuwang , the MP for Mbita who was recently marooned with allegationms of corruption scandals at his Immigration Ministry has been walking on a tight rope until last week when he was salvaged by a parliamentary select committee headed by the Mt Elgon MP Fred Kapondi..

But sources in Mbita said the Immigration Minister has since changed his previous contacts and reaching him by his constituents remained a mystery.. Sources in Mbita backyard says nowadays theMP is not a frequent visitor to his constituency thus impacting negatively to his political structure

Those his constituents looking for him could only manage so by luck, but at the same time could only trace him in posh hotels in Kisumu and Nairobi while he is on his trade mark- drinking spree. In fact some of the Mbita constituents are said to be getting good services from the youthful nominated MP Millie Odhiambo a lawyer who hails from the area who is.The peole are now grateful to Raila Odinga for having considered s Odhiambo for nominatyion to parliament because she she has since become a great asset to the people of Mbita supplementing the work of a tired nd reluctant MP.

The only Luo MP with moderate academic background who is serving his people effectively is the Nyakach MP Ochieng Daima, a former insurance executive. He is credited for having constructed Sondu-Nyabondo access road, which has elusively dodged the previous MPs for the area. The hilly terrain had for many years even defeated the much more mightier colonial administration in Kenya to construct it to all wheather road.

Daima and Karachuonyo MP Eng. James Rege, though they are first timer have alreadyprinted their presence as formidable contributors in all issues of debate in the house. He two have joined the class of the likes of Joshua Orwa Ojode and Jakoyo Midiwos class of excellent representation.The Rangwe MP is reported to be deeply sunk into controversies involving the disbursement of CDF money and the composition of the funds local committee while the wassi and Macalder MPs have yet to make their presence felt..

There are a lot of murmuring about inside fighting between Luo MPs over who should be close to the PM and who get the Luo kingpins close to the ears.

The leadership is full of idle gossing, and even those who misses to attend Railas functions are vilified as rebels. One example is the Ndhiwa outspoken AAssistant Minister for Internal Security who failed to attend the funeral of the sons of another Minister Dalmas Otieno in Rongo. The Assistant Minister was engaged on official duties in the volatile Mt. Elgon district where the military and police combined were battling the rebels of the Sabaot Lands Defence force militiamen.

Ojodes absent from the funeral was later interpreted as rebellion against Agwambo abd yet funeral ceremonies are matters of individuals and not of public interests. Gossippers are in full control of Kisumu City streets. They are found at posh hotels and in the streets making all sort of insinuations against the sitting MPs. So many power brokers have emerged since Raila Odinga became PM, and some of these brokers are even allegedly extorting money from members of the public seeking favour from the PM

It is not clear why an MP from Luo-Nyanza must attend all the functions of the PM and that failing to attend such public appearances potrayed an MP as not very loyalto the PM or the legislator are required to engage themselves in development activities in their respective constituencies. It is a well known factor that not all MPs from Central Province usually attends all the functions conducted by president Mwai Kibaki, but in Nyanza missing such a function conducted by Agwambo is dismissed as being unfaithful to the Luo political kingpin. Surely this is rather primitive and madness of its kind. What is first and paramount is that MPs must be answerable to their constituents before they do anything else. Loyality to the party leadership is also essential, but there are so many way of doing so rather than following the MP wherever he goes.

Nyanza Club a relics of the colonialists, it is being alleged is the venue of transaction. Unconfirmed reports says that a senior official with the ministry of Water who was recently ordered to be transferred to the headquarters parted with a fortune uin bribery so that he could be left alone in his Kisumu station of work despite of claims that millions of shillings meant for the improvement of water supplies to the Kisumu residents evaporated in the thin air, and the acute water shortage still persist despite the government having sopent hundreds of millions.

Resident, according to other sources are very thankful to the Water Minister Madame Charity Kaluki Ngilu who stood her ground and affected the transfers of the errand water official whose performance leaves a lot to be desired

Undercurrent gossiping and undercutting are the order of the day, but apart from Dr. Oburu Oginga {Bondo} Jakoyo Midiwo{Gem} Orwa Ojode {Ndhiwa} Eng James Rege{Karachuonyo} James Orengo{Ugenya} Prof.AnyangNyongo{Kisumu Rural}.Ochieng Daima(Nyakach} Prof. Ayiecho Olueny{Muhoroni} and John Olago Aluoch {Kisumu Town West} the rest lots of Luo-Nyanza MPs have gone on holiday not to be seen nor to be heard. Only the gentlemen mentioned above are actively working with the electorate other have gone napping.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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