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Archive for August 24th, 2008

President Biya reassures Nigerians of their security and rights after Bakassi hand-over

Posted by African Press International on August 24, 2008

By Tansa Musa
YAOUNDE, Aug 23 – CameroonPresident Paul Biya, in atelevised address to the nation on Thursday evening,reassured Nigerians living in the country of their security and rights following thetransfer of authority in Bakassito Cameroonon August 14.
Recalling that Cameroon and Nigeria resorted to dialogue and negotiations to resolve the dispute over the oil-rich peninsula instead of the use of force, Biya said the peaceful outcome of the issue will set a precedent in Africa.
It stands to reason, he added,that Cameroon and Nigeria must henceforth do everything possible to consolidate the settlement reached and seize the opportunities afforded them to develop their relations in all fields.
”In this regard, I want to reaffirm that Cameroon will honour all the commitments made concerning our Nigerian brothers and sisters who have chosen to reside in Cameroon, that is, those living in Bakassi as well as those who, in large numbers, have been livingon Cameroonian territory for many years,” he said.
”I want to reassure that their security and their rights will always be guaranteed; they will, as in the past, be able to go about their business undisturbed, as long, of course, as they abide by Cameroonian laws and regulations.”
On August 14 in Calabar, Nigeriacompletedwithdrawal of its administration and security forces from Bakassi and transfered authority in the territory in line withthe 2002 International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling and the 2006 Greentree Agreement to pursuant to that decision.
In his Thursday speech, the Cameroonian leaderpaid glowing tribute to the peoples of Nigeria and Cameroon for their attachment to peace, maturity and sense of responsibility.
He said the peaceful settlement of the dispute marked the dawn of a new and bright era in relations between theCentral African country and its western giant neighbour, anera of peace and fraternity that will enable the two nations to fight the real fight, that is for progress and development.
“Bound by history and geography to live together, and by numerous links rooted in a common culture, the Nigerian and Cameroonian peoples have every possible reason to promote mutually beneficial ties of friendship and cooperation. As far as I am concerned, I intend to lend my full support to such relations,” he stated.
The statement came amid fears expressed by Nigerians living in Bakassi that the withdrawal of Nigerian forces and hand over of authority to Cameroon may revive the Cameroonian gendarme brutality and harassment on them that resulted in the 1993 skirmishes between the two country’s forces that almost led to a full war.
It is in the wake of those skirmishes that Nigerian forces moved into and occupied the 1000 km2 oil-rich Bakassi peninsula in the Gulf of Guinea, officially to protects its citizens who make up over 90 percent of the inhabitants of the region.
Full scale war was only averted when one year laterCameroon decided to seek the arbitration of the ICJ in The Hague. In 2002, the court recognised Cameroon’s sovereignty over the disputed territory, based on a 1913 treaty between the two colonial powers of Germany and Great Britain.
The August 14 hand-over came amid growing insecurity as militant groups opposed to the ICJ ruling mounted attacks on security posts in the peninsula, killing over 50 people in the last one year.
It is this heightened security concerns in Bakassi that forced organizers of the transfer of authorityto cancel a flag-exchanging ceremony at the peninsula’s main town Abana, relocating it insteadto Calabar city, some 192 km (120 miles) away, in south-eastern Nigeria.
One of the militant groups, the little-known Niger Delta Defence and Security Council (NDDSC) which claimed responsibility for two armed attacks in Bakassi,promised more violence in the area on the eve of the hand-over.
“Our struggle will continue until our demands are met..,” said its spokesman Commander Ebi Dari.(END)

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Cameroon 07/08 cocoa output up at 187,355 tonnes

Posted by African Press International on August 24, 2008

By Tansa Musa
YAOUNDE, Aug 20 – Cameroon produced a record 187,355 tonnes of cocoa in 2007/08 (Aug/July), up from a revised figure of 183,297 tonnes the previous year, according to the country’s Cocoa and Coffee Interprofessional Board (CCIB) and National Coffee and Cocoa Board (NCCB).
Last year’s output was the previous record in the West African country, the world’s fifth biggest cocoa producer.
Meanwhile, cocoa exports from Cameroon were also a record 162,084 tonnes in the season, up from 157,378 tonnes in the previous year.
Cocoa exports for the season which ended July 31 earned Cameroon 137 billion CFA francs ($309.6 million), NCCB General Manager Michael Ndoping said.
Despite harvesting a record cocoa crop in the season just finished, Cameroon is in danger of missing out of high prices on world markets because the quality of its product is falling, trade officials said at the launch of the new campaign.
Benchmark cocoa prices in New Yorkhit a 28-year peak of more than $3,000 per tonne in July. Though they have since fallen to $2,820, analysts expect prices to stay at these historically high levels for the foreseeable future as demand is set to remain strong.
As stated above, Cameroon registered its biggest ever haul of 187,355 tonnes in the season ended July 31. Of that, the highest quality beans, known as Grade 1, represented only 1.06 percent of cocoa exported from the world’s fifth-biggest producer, down from 7.5 percent in the previous season.
Trade minister Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana blamed the decline in quality on buyers and exporters picking up wet beans, mixing of different grades, drying beans on tar, door-to-door and night-time purchases in violation of the rules in force, poor storage facilities, and the growing presence of unlicensed buyers in search for quick profit.
In order to deal with the situation, he said his ministry and the cocoa and coffee development fund have signed a 2.83 billion CFA convention ($6.40 million) agreement to better administer the sector.
“The project is aimed at creating regularly-held markets, and making sure products can be traced,” he said.(END)
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Posted by African Press International on August 24, 2008

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On circumscision in Kenya: Raila states the need to have the cut and get healthier

Posted by African Press International on August 24, 2008

To all,

I have always thought of circumcision as disrespect of genital integrity. It doesnt matter to me whether its done for cultural or religious or medical or personal reasons. I will accept this denigration of the male tool only if ones life is in danger and the only way to save that life is to get the cut. I am inclined to accept that Prime Minister Hon. Raila Odinga believed that the lives of boys in Kenya is in danger and one of the ways to save them is to get cut. Considering the weight that words from leaders of Hon. Odingas status carry, we must move very quickly to review the scientific report Hon. Odinga is referring to and determine if we can reach the same conclusion. After a sober and scientific review of the research we can get back to the PM and inform him that the data is correct, faulty or need more research. I am disappointed that we do not have leading medical professionals on the ground addressing this issue.

The hue and cry directed at Jakoms call is amusing considering those who are making the loudest noise. I can state confidently that one out of every three people who commented on this call is either cut or are the parents of a cut boy. Elite (for lack of better word) Luos have been cutting their children as far back as the sixties and the number has increased every year. When the wazungus left, the Luos became the wazungus of Kenya and if you follow this group you will be astounded by the sheer number of cut men and boys in their lineage. Wazungu did another number on us again when they handed us the Bible and buried our cultural practices each time we open a verse in the Bible. As a result, the Luos have become private pracitioners of some of their cultures but very publi c noise makers for other cultures they dont even practice. Many Luo mothers or Kenyan women in general have been convinced by their OB/GYN to get their boys cut and this is a wide spread practice by those who deliver in hospitals. Women from tribes that cut for cultural reasons will gladly get their boys cut in the hospital as opposed to facing the knife in some bush. Others have even persuaded their husbands and boyfriends to go for the cut to get rid of the white thing under the foreskin. Many Luo male parents do not even know that their wives arranged to have their new born boys cut because they do not visit the maternity wards or get close enough to the infants to examine the tools. In some cases the teen age boys decide to do this on their own due to the influence of girlfriends and male friends, both Luo and non-Luo. The days Luo boys used to go bathe in the lakes and rivers with their fathers or age mates are long gone. No cut Luowould dare jump in the water in those days in the glare of their age mates. Nowadays these boys and men have bathrooms in their homes and can keep their secret from just about anybody.

Rushing to cry foul for the Luo culture is misplaced because Luo culture have been neglected by the same Luos who are now reacting with rage. Why are we all of sudden ready to fight for our culture when it comes to tero nyange (getting cut) but we are ready to let go our culture of tero mon (Wife inheritance is not tero mon but lets leave that for another day) yet both involve HIV/AIDS? How many Luos here have ever made a courtesy call on Ker Riaga Omolo or responded to his call about the same issue? Ker Riaga is opposed to the cut but there was no rush to support him. At the last funeral you attended in Luoland what was your reaction to jobul (traditional drummers) and did you hear any oporo/tung (cow horn blowing) at all? Did you consider tero buch baba (taking away bad spirit from the home) or did you golo ywak jaduong (announcing the death of a male elder) after sun down or in the morning? Did you tero ayie (money to ask for parent s acceptance of intended marriage) by western union or sent your family with cows to your wifes home? Have you actually paid dowry for your wife after so many years of marriage? Let us not deal selectively with Luo culture, we need to be serious about it and provide support for its preservation.

The Luos have not done a very good job of teaching their children about the Luo culture. Occasionally you will find yourself arguing with some Luos on cultural issues and you begin to wonder if they are really Luos or where they get the information. Internet has been the home of arguements that is not in line with what is actually taking place on the ground. You will only find a few Luos who have a clear understanding of what tero mon is all about. Many have jumped on the NGO labeling of it as wife inheritance and the number one contributor of HIV/AIDS. Complete nonesense. We will only be good defenders of the Luo culture when we learn, practice and support it. Naming your children Achunga, Ojiko, Ogingais notgood enough, even feedingthem omena, mariawa, osuga will not do it. You must teach them about Luo and let them see you practising Luo cultures.This is where I have failed and I believe there are many like me in a nd ouside luoland.

We should take note that the statement by the Prime Minister was directed at boys, ”I am taking the challenge of calling upon elders in the Teso, Luo and Turkana communities to ensure people embrace circumcision of boys, although it has not been part of their culture,” My interpretation is that he was avoiding a mass exodus by men to the cutting tables by not addressing them directly This is because men will rush to get cut then rush to have unprotected sex believing that they are now safe. The end result of that is an increase in HIV cases and death. A boy on the other hand is a male child still under the guidance of men/women and would not rush to get a cut without permission. A very small percent of this under 15 years age group engage in unprotected sex and for those who do, their number is not included in the calculation of the HIV prevalence in Kenya by WHO. Each of us here will testify that many boys have sex and many have HIV but the number is too low to show up on the HIV radar.

Statistics show that more cut Kenyans carry the HIV virus than the uncut. The math is very simple, 1.5 million Kenyans have the virus and HIV prevalence is only 10% in Nyanza province as per WHO. This fixation with cutting residents of Nyanza province will not make any dent in the number of HIV cases. Even if every male in Nyanza province were to get cut, the number of HIV cases amongst the cut will always be higher than the cases amongst the uncut. The big secret in Kenya is that the cut people already know that the cut does not protect them from the virus. That is why there is no explosion of circumcision ceremonies among the tribes that practice it. This is only a story because of the prominence of Prime Minister Hon. Raila Odinga.

In the though I may be right, In the though I may be wrong, Akuot Diri Nyawanga.

By Nyanja

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The political war between Raila and Ruto has started: Who will control Rift Valley votes in 2012?

Posted by African Press International on August 24, 2008

News Analysis By Leo Odera Omolo

In the 9th Parliament members of the Kipsigis community were represented by a total number of eleven MPs. The community then had its root in all major political parties.

But in the 10Th Parliament, this same community banked its hopes in the Orange Democratic Party of the Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga and bugged a total of nine MPs for the ODM,but none of the members were considered for nomination to the Parliament.

In the 2002, the late Kipkalya Kones was a Presidential running mate of Ford People party leader Simeon Nyachae. Kones lost his seat in Bomet constituency to the youthful KANU aspirant Nick Salat,but was later nominated by the party to Parliament.

KANU which shared the same number of seats with LDP nominated Dr.Esther Keino to Parliament,while the LDP picked Franklin Bett as its parliamentary nominee.

The Kipsigis ,the most populous subtribe of the larger Kalenjin ethnic groups stands as the bedrock of the Rift Valley Province and plays the most significant political role in the region.

In 2007,the ODM swept the board in all the eight parliamentary constituencies which are scattered in five administrative districts namely, Kericho,Bureti,Sotik,bomet and Kipkellion. It unceremoniously ended the nearly 42 years of uninterrupted KANU political dominace of the South Rift region.

Those who went to Parlaiment on ODM ticket were Dr.Julius Kones (Konoin),Franklin Bett (Buret) Charles Keter (Belgut),Isaac Ruto (Chepalungu) Magaret Langat (Kipkellion),Lorna Laboso (Sotik),David K Too (Ainamoi) and Kipkalia Kones (Bomet)

The community bugged another important seat in the diaspora that of Kuresoi in the newly created Molo district where the former powerful PS in the moi regime Zakayo K Cheruiyot won a popular vote for the ODM.

All these electoral parliamentary constituencies were for many years had remained steadfastly in the hand of KANU until the euphoric of the ODM waves changed the political dimension of the South Rift.

And soon after the 2007 general elections two names of prominent Kipsigis political elite whose active participation in the ODM elections campaigns were proposed by the elected MPs for consideration for nomination to Parliament.

The persons whose names were proposed and submitted to the ODM hierarchy for nomination were the former deputy CGS Lt Gen (rtd) John Koech and a prominent gender campaigner Mrs Rachel yegon. Both had contested the election on ODM ticket but lost in the party primaries ,but were later to become big asset in the party campaign in the region and its eventual victory which locked out and sealed the fate of KANU in Kipsigis land.

Gen Koech who has now ditched ODM and took over the mantle of UDM party leadership was arguably the man who became an instrumental tool for the ODM victories not only in the Kipsigis region but in the entire Kalenjin Community.

But the newly MP David Too who had beaten the General in a much flawed ODM nomination system, the retired and highly respected former Army Commander stood again and contested the Ainamoi seat in the by-election ,but this time around he was rigged out for the second time having been rigged out in the 2007 for the first time.

Political pundits and local observers were quick in pointing their finger at the Eldoret North MP William Ruto and the Belgut MP Charles Keter accusing the two for having allegedly conspired with others to ensure that only weak and inexperienced candidates who could be prone to political manipulation won the seats in the South Rift region.

The two its further being alleged were also not happy with Raila Odinga closeness to the late Kipkalya Kones and the late Lorna Laboso.

In the cabinet appointment in the grand coalition government Raila Odinga picked Kones and Laboso for ministerial posts mainly due to their unwavering loyalty to the ODMM. Rutoʼs camp had proposed other names, but only Keter survived when he was named as assistant Minister for Energy.

It later emerged that Raila Odinga avoided the names of those MPs whose loyalty to the ODM was questionable and those alleged to have been in secret contacts with KANU.

There was hue and cry for the ODM flawed and much abused nomination susytem,but the partyʼs hierarchy did not adequately addressed the issue to the satisfaction o f the electorate and the stakeholders.

And because of turning deaf ears to the general cow pants of its poor corrupt and highly manipulated nomination system,ODM has lost a sizeable number hitherto unchallenged supremacy in Kipsigis land.

The man who was architect for its victory in the region Lt Gen (rtd) Koech has ditched the party and neatly taken over the leadership of the previously adamant and run down United Democratic Movement (UDM) with a completely changed new faces of the registered national officials. UDM is now said to be making major inroads in Kipsigis land in expectation of the inevitable major fallout between Raila Odinga and the Minister for Agriculture William Ruto before the year 2012.

UDM blames Ruto for having made sure that the Nandis a majority community compared to the Kispsigis bugged three cabinet slots in the grand coalition government whereas the Kipsigis a sub-tribe which gave the ODM and Raila Odinga a total of 1.3 million votes in 2007 was locked out of the cabinet with only Kones being appointed to the cabinet due to the insistence of Raila Odinga who had faith on the late Minister as a staunch ODM supporter.

The new UDM group, a party in which Ruto was predictably expected to fall back on the event of the expected fallout are said to be having soft heart for Raila Odinga ,but have no love lost for William Ruto and has vowed to have his men and agents rooted out of Kipsigis land. The group see the over ambitious Ruto as someone who is playing the divide and rule tactics of the former Moi KANU regime in the Kipsigis region.

Gen Koech said during a lengthy interview with this writer that the new UDM leadership is out to bring to an end the many years of frustration and maginalization of the Kipsigis by the cousins from the North Rift,the Nandis,Turgens and Keiyos. The party has launched an elaborate programme to popularize itself in the South Rift region hoping to capitalize on the ongoing discontent over the planned Mau Forest evictions ina dispute representation of the Kipsigis community in the grand coalition government ,which are all balmed on Rutoʼs political manipulation scheme.

Ruto, the UDM claim is applying double standard on Raila Odinga citing the recent controversial meeting between the PM and Kipsigis elders and MPs as well as the professionals and civic leaders inKericho. During the tension charged encounter the PM was humiliated and embarrassed by Rutoʼs political cronies led by Keter in a plan hatched to humiliate raila as a friend turned enemy of the community.

Ruto did not attend the meeting but his men on the ground were properly briefed on what to tell Raila, but Rutoʼs political manipulation mechanism was exposed . It has something to do with 2012 general election in which Ruto has already his working machineries on the ground to route Railaʼs influence out of Rift Valley so that he could himself become the President or Prime Minister in the next government in a coalition with PNU.

ENDS

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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Posted by African Press International on August 24, 2008

By Juma Kwayera

They called themselves the Family or Nyumba. But inside the brotherhood gravitating around President Jomo Kenyatta there was a savage hunger for opulence.

The hunger created two classes of the super rich and an army of lowdowns.

After his death on August 22, 1978, Kenyatta left behind a gang of political orphans determined to stop retired President Moi from ascending to power.

Three decades on, little is said about the clique that owned Kenya. Neither have their children attempted to stake a claim in the countrys political sphere.

The Family was Kenyattas Kitchen Cabinet. Some of them ruled Kenya with impunity and maintained a tight leash on national politics and economy. The effects are still felt today.

It consisted of a former Minister of State in the Office of the President Peter Mbiyu Koinange, former Defence Minister James Gichuru, Munyua Waiyaki, Dr Julius Gikonyo Kiano and former Minister of State Njoroge Mungai, who doubled as Kenyattas physician.

The business community was represented by Stanley Munga Githunguri, now Kimbaa MP, who was chief executive of the National Bank of Kenya and Njenga Karume, who lost to the former in last years General Election.

Karume and Githunguri were founders of Gema (Gikuyu, Embu, Meru Association), which in practice represented the interests of the Family. It is estimated this clique owns more than 500,000 acres of land.

Three decades after Kenyattas death, the mess the Family wrought on the country is still evident. This years post-election violence being the nadir of the nations politics.

However, one thing stands out: Their legacy has been an impediment to the families that wielded political and economic power at the time, save for Kenyattas son, Uhuru Muigai.

Were it not for former President Moi, it is widely believed even Uhuru would have given politics a wide berth.

The child will pay for the sins of his father and for Kenyattas Kitchen Cabinet. This is the moment of reckoning for their families, says former Nyeri Town MP Wanyiri Kihoro.

As the country marks the 30th anniversary of Kenyattas death, history appears to have shunted members of the Family.

Their children, Kihoro says, missed an opportunity to correct the wrongs of their parents.

History judges us harshly when we make mistakes. From the onset, they had a limited vision of the country. The nations interests were subordinate to theirs, which is why they went on a wealth-amassing spree, Kihoro observes. Kihoro, a human rights lawyer and author who has published extensively on local politics, says the Family failed the country.

The group sprung up after independence amassed wealth and power, and grabbed land and plum jobs.

Kihoro says the group initiated a system where national resources could not be distributed equitably. Former Kabete MP Paul Muite says the group planted the First Sin, which latter generations are paying for.

They had power and called the shots. Mbiyu Koinange was Kenyattas bosom friend and is responsible for the mess we are in, Muite says.

Like Kihoro, Muite is of the opinion had Koinange not happened on the political scene, Kenyatta would have been a better leader.

But why are children of these great Kikuyu leaders not interested in politics except Uhuru Kenyatta?

It is a question I would rather not an answer. I cannot explain it, said Muite.

Kihoro says: Would they have the courage to solicit for support from voters? Most of them are managing their parents property.

Peter Mbiyu Koinange

He died in 1981, three years after Kenyattas death. However, his reign as the Kissinger of Kenya when he was minister in the Office of the President is synonymous with the political excess of the Kenyatta regime.

Henry Kissinger was US secretary of State associated with the superpowers despised gun diplomacy.

Kihoro and Muite concur the once powerful minister, also Kenyattas brother in-law, was the face of dirty politics.

He did not brook any criticism of Kenyatta. He was the angel who invented the devil by ignoring economic reforms and nationalism, Kihoro told The Standard on Sunday last week.

Koinange, who represented Limuru in Parliament, was among first Kenyans to obtain bachelor and masters degrees.

He spent his years of exile in Britain and in Ghana, where he was adviser on international affairs to Ghanas founding President Kwame Nkrumah.

A February, 1960 Time magazine, said Koinange was co-opted into the struggle for freedom as a counterweight to youthful trade unionist Tom Mboya by Kenyatta and Nkrumah, who viewed him as an upstart rival.

James Gichuru

He would have been President had he not surrendered the chairmanship of Kikuyu African Union, which later became Kenya National African Union (Kanu) in 1946, to Kenyatta on his return from studies abroad.

He also did the same when Kenyatta was released from detention in Kapenguria.

Although a member of the Kitchen Cabinet, people who knew him, say he was not imbued with greed characteristic of his colleagues.

Muite says Gichuru was a down-to-earth leader and loyal to the country.

He was independent-minded and indulged in the excesses of the Kenyatta regime. He loved his drink, but never went to posh hotels and his friends were his driver and the voters, he says.

Gichuru was Kenyas first Finance minister and also held the Defence portfolio. In his autobiography, Walking in Kenyattas Struggles, Duncan Ndegwa, describes Gichuru a chronic alcoholic in his sunset days.

A common thread in the Family; is the obscurity of the offspring. No one knows for sure the children of Kenyattas henchmen. All I remember of Gichurus children is he had a son and three daughters, Muite says, but does not know where they are.

A number of Kiambu leaders The Standard on Sunday talked to remember Gichurus daughter Dorcas Ndungi, but none know her whereabouts.

Power never got into Gichurus head and his family lived a modest life unlike Kenyattas other men, says Kihoro.

Gichuru died in 1979.

Julius Gikonyo Kiano

Like Gichuru, Dr Julius Gikonyo Kiano was a moderate member of the Family.

At independence, says Kihoro, he set out to empower the people of Muranga economically, but failed to engage nationally.

Kianos contemporaries, view him as a traitor of sorts. Muite says when Jaramogi Oginga Odinga refused to accept the presidency from the British until Kenyatta was released from detention, Kiano, then a member of the Legislative Council or Legco (a precursor to parliament), had accepted the mantle.

It was Odinga who twice persuaded Kiano to decline the offer by the British to press for Kenyattas release, Muite says.

Kianos wife, Jane was a founder member of the Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation, which was supposed to address issues related to womens economic and social empowerment. However, it was transformed into a well-funded political machine for the Kanu governments until 1992.

Kianos influence in national politics vanished at his death in August, 2003, and his six children are hardly known in politics.

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Opposition will weaken ODM in the Grand Coalition, says Raila – Why is the government afraid to have a Grand Opposition in parliament?

Posted by African Press International on August 24, 2008

By Biketi Kikechi, Osinde Obare and Isaac Ongiri

The grand opposition debate dominated the memorial service of former Vice-President Michael Wamalwa Kijana.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the move to form a grand opposition is designed to weaken ODMs position in the Grand Coalition Government.

Deputy Leader of Government Business in Parliament Justice Minister Martha Karua said the Opposition Bill will soon be tabled in Parliament.

They were speaking at Wamalwas Milimani residence in Kitale town at Wamalwas fifth memorial, yesterday.

The two ministers spoke after MPs crusading for the opposition led by Mr Cyrus Jirongo, Dr Bonny Khalwale and Mr Ababu Namwamba accused the Government of frustrating their quest to make it accountable.

Raila said ODM MPs pushing the agenda would leave the party with a weak base in the Coalition Government.

We slaughtered a goat which was shared out equally with PNU and that therefore means we will remain with an unequal share should some of us move to the opposition, Raila said.

Khalwale, Jirongo and Ababu had asked the Government to allow them establish mechanisms of checking its excess through the formation of an opposition.

But Raila said it was unnecessary because ODM and PNU have opposition back benchers who can play that role.

Karua said the Government was not scared of an opposition.

We will take the Bill to the House for fine tuning and necessary amendment before it is passed, she said.

Parliamentary independence

Wamalwas widow Yvonne Nambia was said to be away in Australia. She was represented by family members led by Wamalwas mother, Mama Esther Nekesa.

Meanwhile, President Kibaki and Raila have been urged to change their stand on the creation of the grand opposition.

Former Kabete MP Paul Muite said the formation of a strong opposition in the House would promote parliamentary independence.

Muite said he had read the contents of the National Assembly (Parliamentary Opposition) Bill 2008 and it will not undermine the President and the Prime Minister.

I beseech them to look at it again. This is a new idea that has come in the public interest, it will not interfere with parties or individuals in anyway, Muite told The Standard on Sunday.

He said the Government set up was almost like a one party model. He told Kenyans to support the creation of a constitutionally recognised opposition in Parliament.

If passed in Parliament, the Bill published by Namwamba will for the first time define the powers and roles of an official opposition.

On Saturday, Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo dismissed claims that the move is part of vengeance by MPs left out of Government. The Bill is set to be debated in Parliament in October.

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Posted by African Press International on August 24, 2008

By Standard on Sunday Reporter

Prime Minister Raila Odinga, often described as the centre of gravity of Kenyas politics, today exudes the confidence of a man at the place of honour at high table. This is besides the bitterness over what he called a victory snatched from his hands

Prime Minister Raila Odinga (centre) tours the port before announcing management changes recently. Photo: Maarufu Mohamed/Standard

Raila is fast emerging as a man willing to confront delicate issues that could alienate him from his supporters, and ironically convince the enemy he could have been given a rope to hang and he may not disappoint.

In recent months, the PM has taken on a string of sensitive local and international issues, earning himself both praise and condemnation.

On the other hand, for a man who vowed he would after the contested elections live to fight another day, even as he balances a thousand interests, is along with the ministers he brought to the Cabinet, projecting the image of a working and coherent team.

From hosting and speaking of admiration for former Governance and Ethics PS John Githongo, who says he bugged and burst the Presidents men, to plunging into the controversial issue of impending Mau Forest evictions, Raila continues to exhibit bravado and sacrifice associated with his life.

Appearing to lead in public appearances, and working under President Kibaki who prefers to pull the strings from behind the curtain, Raila continues to entrench his office in the position for which it was curved in Dr Kofi Annans peace deal.

As ministers signed performance contracts before him, and as he led a ministerial delegation to Britain, the signal he is no pushover, smarting from the portfolio and protocol wars, he has projected national attention to himself and his on-and-off friend President Kibaki.

But layered on top of this, despite the bitterness of what he called stolen victory in January through to May, the PMs office seems to finally be drawing energy from the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008. It is here that it is mandated to supervise and co-ordinate execution of the work of Government and ministries.

Raila was the first African leader to question President Robert Mugabes contested re-election in Zimbabwe, even calling him an eye-shore on the continent. He also asked the African Union to suspend Zimbabwe until Mugabe held proper elections.

At home, the PM has taken on the delicate and volatile issue of conserving Mau Forest, a source of 12 rivers, putting himself at loggerheads with the residents who he calls, my people, my supporters.

Civil society

At the Coast, he took on the regions MPs over their demand the top position at the Kenya Ports Authority be reserved for a person from the region. The PM has termed such demands as cheap politics. The President on the same day, and by implication, threw his weight behind him.

On Saturday, the PM was on the case of the civil society, a group he has had long ties with. The PM told the civil society their role in constitution making is over.

Some of his close associates, including party MPs, worry that the positions the PM is taking could cost him votes. Some of those affected by the PMs pronouncements have told him they may not vote for him again.

But Raila says it is leadership.

Leaders are elected to lead, not to follow the people. You cant tell people to follow you then you remain behind. You must move in front. That is what I have done in regard to the Mau Forest. Leaders often have information and data that their followers dont have. We have a duty to educate the people, the PM says.

As a leader, some of the issues you have to take up may be unpopular but very, very critical to the survival of the nation. You must take a stand. There may be some populist positions but they may be detrimental to the nation in the long run.

He adds: Leaders have to advise people against bad practises. In the long run, the nation will appreciate.

Last month, the PM braved threats from a section of MPs from the Rift Valley who oppose the removal of those settled in the forest. He formed a task force that will work with local communities in addressing the Mau issue.

The committee will demarcate and fence off the 400,000-hectare Mau complex, a lifeline for millions of people. It will also mobilise resources to restore the water tower.

On Saturday, the PM said he was against populist leadership but maintained he was not turning his back on supporters.

Populist leadership is cheap.

Populist leadership can easily ruin a country. The whole world knows that what is happening in Mau is not sustainable. It will not destroy the Rift Valley alone, but the entire sub-region, Raila said.

The PM said studies have shown that the flooding in many parts of the country, the silting making the lakes shallower have to do with the degradation of the Mau complex.

He cited the Sondu and Mara river systems, which flow into Lake Victoria, and the Ewaso Ngiro system, which flows into Lake Natron, as some of the endangered water masses.

The Mau, he said, is also the main watershed for Lake Nakuru, which is fed by the Njoro, Makalia and Enderit rivers.

If River Mara dies, he said, the world famous Masai Mara in Kenya and parts of the Serengeti in northern Tanzania would also die.

Stand on port

This is not a question of who is right and who is wrong. The issue is that it was a mistake to allow people to settle there. If we allow the Mau to deteriorate further, tea planting will end in the Rift Valley. Even growing of maize will end. The region is experiencing less and less rain, he says.

Soon we will have a desert and pass it to our children. Is that the legacy we want? We decided that Mau requires progressive leadership and that is the way it will be, he adds.

But he maintains the people being removed from the Mau would be given alternative land.

Some say the people in Mau have title deeds. But the truth is, they should not have been there. It is like buying a pair of suits from somebody who had stolen it. When you are caught, it will be taken away, and then you will be charged with handling stolen property. In our case, we are saying, just give us back the suit; we will give you other clothes to wear. The people in Mau will be given alternative land, the PM said.

This week, President Kibaki goes to the Coast where the regions MPs are waiting to lodge a complaint with him over the PMs stand on the port. About two weeks ago, the MPs told the PM to keep off the affairs of the Transport Ministry and KPA. The MPs said a person from the Coast should manage the port.

But the PM told them to their face that they were pursuing cheap politics, arguing any qualified person should run KPA.

In an interview yesterday, the PM maintained he was acting in the best interests of the nation. He accused Coast MPs, almost all of them from his ODM party, of blackmailing the nation.

We cannot ethnicise public institutions, said Raila.

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API/Source.standard.ke

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