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Archive for September 1st, 2008

AU demands restoration of constitutionality in Mauritania

Posted by African Press International on September 1, 2008

The African Union(AU) Commission has demanded the immediate restoration of constitutional order in Mauritania following a military coup and whose leaders are refusing to release the ousted president.

The call on Saturday, was the second following last weeks visit of the AU Chairperson, Jean Ping.

The AU in a statement after Pings visit said that the commission has made a presentation to member states on the situation in that country, and its effort in bringing stability to Mauritania.

During his stay in Mauritania, Ping met with by General Mohamed Abdel Aziz and discussed the release of President Ould Sidi.

The commission has also decided to despatch the AU Peace and Security Council commissioner to Mauritania to further discuss the situation in that country.

Meantime, the Commission urges all Mauritanian authorities concerned to refrain from taking any measure that would jeopardize the on going dialogue in that country.

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API/Source.apa

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Tanzania signs bilateral agreement with Brazil

Posted by African Press International on September 1, 2008

Tanzania has signed a cooperation agreement with the government of Brazil aimed at fostering existing bilateral relations in the areas of mutual interest, APA leanrt here Sunday.

Tanzanias current outstanding indebtedness to Brazil now stands at $240m which arises from a 1979 loan agreement amounting to $49m to finance construction of the MorogoroDodoma highway.

Brazil has invited Tanzanian experts for the negotiations on how to wrap up the debt issue, said the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives, Mr Peniel Lyimo, who co-chaired the meeting.

The agreement was reached on saturday at the end of a two-day meeting of the first session of the Joint Commission of Tanzania and Brazil.

Both sides identified and discussed potential areas of co-operation including agriculture and livestock, energy, finance, sports and culture, education, health, immigration and foreign affairs.

Brazils ambassador Roberto Jaguaribe and foreign ministry officials responsible for Africa, Asia, Middle East and the Pacific, also attended the meeting.

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A story of a white woman lawyer: Jailed, harassed or banished, Gonzalez is unstoppable

Posted by African Press International on September 1, 2008

By Maureen Mudi

She might have broken the world record by having gone behind bars 40 times after brushes with the law, but she has no regrets.

For 63-year-old Candy Gonzalez, controversy has been like her third name and she had to move from her country and settle in another.

She can be compared to Kenyas Nobel peace laureate, Wangari Maathai; the only difference is that she has no award to her name.

Ms Gonzalez narrated her story to The Standard in Mombasa recently when she attended a lawyers conference on environment.

“I care about the future of my children, and their offspring, so I have to ensure I protect the environment for them,” she said.

Born in Springfields, Massachusetts, US, Gonzalez always knew that one day, she would fight against discrimination, oppressive laws and bad governance.

growing up

That realisation, when she was 11, years old, made her join a civil rights movement. Her family later moved from her birthplace.

“We left the town and as we headed downstream with my parents, I could see from across the bridge how textile from industries had milled at Connecticut River and caused a lot of pollution,” she said.

Gonzalez says industries in those days were moved out of town to places where the owners could pay for cheaper labour.

Ms Candy Gonzalez in Kenyan dress when she attended a lawyers conference on environment in Mombasa recently.

The family moved to Los Angeles but 14 years ago, when she had a family of her own, she moved to Belize, a former British colony which used to be known as Honduras.

“I met my husband at a conference on the rights of political prisoners 38 years ago in California and we vowed to stay together as long as we read from the same script and the basis of our marriage would be to believe in basic environmental and human right principles,” she told The Standard.

Gonzalezs husband is a Puerto Rican who, she says, has been in favour of the islands independence from the US.

Earlier in 1985, Gonzalez went to law school so that she could defend people, especially those who faced charges related to human rights and the environment.

treason

When the family moved to Belize, they realised that environmental laws and issues were very minimal.

Initially, she says, she was almost charged with treason in the US for allegedly fighting against the construction of a hydro-electricity dam on a river to produce power and make the country independent from buying Mexican electricity.

According to her, she has since established that if she travels back to the US, chances are high she could be arrested and jailed for life under the Patriotism Act.

“I do not mind being sent to detention in Cuba, but my worry would be Guatanamo Bay. That is one place I hope I will never end up one day,” Gonzalez says.

She also fought against discrimination and unemployment while in America.

“Despite the claims that the US would not buy more electricity from Mexico, the trend continued and they even constructed two more dams and the situation became worse,” she says.

The dams made water temperatures change and led to high levels of mercury that affected fish, she says. According to her, this would later harm humans.

jailed

Such incidents, which made her oppose the authorities, landed her in jail for short and long-term sentences before she could secure freedom.

“It so happened that at times I could be jailed over the weekend but would be bailed out just in time for my studies during weekdays,” she said.

The activist says the authorities claimed she and her colleagues were out to change the economic, social and political situation in the state of Mississippi.

During her student days, Gonzalez belonged to the Students Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, which would bail her and her colleagues out.

New country

In her new country, one of the controversial cases she dealt with was when the government gave a concession to an oil company to carry out oil exploration in South Belize.

“We fought against the construction of dams but they were given the go-ahead. However, it was the first ever environmental case in Belize the state had handled,” she says.

Gonzalez, who is a researcher, consultant and lecturer at the Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy, later filed a case against the company for flouting some requirements, which further endangered the environment.

“They were supposed to maintain the dams when they were broken, put emergency plans and test the quality of water to ensure mercury levels were fine, but they failed,” she says.

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Published by Chief Editor Korir, African Press International – api/ Source.standard.ke

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Dalmas Otieno, a Kenyan minister accused of clandestine activities aimed at sabotaging the Chairman of South Nyanza Sugar Company located in Awendo

Posted by African Press International on September 1, 2008

<By Leo Odera Omolo

Trouble is brewing at the Awendo based South Nyanza Sugar Company with cane farmers reportedly up in arms against what they termed as gross interference in the smooth operations in the government owned sugar company by politicians

Discontent is simmering while tension is building up within Awendo Town and its environs following rumours and allegations that a Member of Parliament from the area is currently involved in clandestine moves to have the highly performing chairman of the companys board of directors, Mr. Herbert Ojwang removed.

Those privy to information and other sources say Dalmas Otieno the Minister for Public Services who is also the MP for Rongo is hell bent to have the highly productive chairman replaced with one of his cronies a Mr. Charles Ogalo from his home turf of Kamagambo location.

The allegation bout interference in the activities and businesses of Sugar company if proven could bring the MP directly at loggerheads with his constituents who depend entirely on the sugar manufacturig company for their upkeep and welfare.

The financially ailing sugar manufacturing firm, the only of its kind in greater Southern Nyanza Region has yet to pay the cane farmers for the raw cane they delivered to the factory in April 2008. Cane growers in its zones are crying faul, claiming they will not be able to send their children back to schools when the new term opens this week..

Sony sugar resumed its operations a week ago after the month long stoppage during which the factory underwent its annual maintenance .

What has fuelled the latest acrimony is the unconfirmed rumours and allegations that cabinet Minister Dalmas Otieno is meddling in the smooth operations of the company.

These allegation are backed up by other rumours that the Agriculture PS Dr. Kiome had written a letter to the Head of Civil Service Ambassador Francis Muthaura requesting that Herbert Ojwang be removed as the chairman of the board of directors of Sony Sugar and that the Minister is fronting for his relative to be appointed the new chairman of the board.

Farmers in Awendo say they have full confidence in the current board of directors and its chairman, whom they have credited for having turned the hitherto financially strapped sugar company into a viable and vibrant business outlet for the government and wanted him to be given a chance to continue doing the good job

The Minister for Agriculture Willaim Ruto is the appointing authority. He is said to be reluctant to succumb to clandestine manoeuvres to have Herbert Ojwang ousted as the board chairman, and does not entertain pressures from his cabinet colleague.

The sugar cane farmers, have appealed to Dalmas Otieno to steer clear and de-link himself from the operations of SonySugar in order to allow its competent board of directors and technocrat management team to perform their duties without hinderance from any quarters.

Ojwang a shroud businessman and the most eloquent personality is the darling of the sugarcane growers in the region and such rumours if entertained could have serious repercussion within the Awendo zone.

SonySugar has contracted close to 27,000 out-growers cane farmers in six administrative districts of Rongo, Migori, Kuria, Trans-Mara, Homa-Bay and Gucha. At the same time it serving almost equal numbers of none-contracted cane farmers scattered all around its zone.

Dalmas Otieno could not be reached immediately forcomment. His mobile phone rang, but nobody was picking up the call, Close political associates of the Minister says he does not pick up phone calls ever since he was appointed to the cabinet. He has remained elusive and inaccessible even to his former election campaign aides.

Insiders says Minister Otieno has no love lost for Ojwang and that the two differed during the reign of the former powerful Permanent Secretary in the Office Of the President, the late Hezekiah N. Oyugi who was in charge of Provincial Administration and Internal Security and the old differences are likely to spill over with negative impact on the operations of SonySugar.

Politically Minister Otieno for many years was aligned to KANU and had no love lost for the Prime Minister Raila Odinga something which had provoked sharp protest from ODM loyalists in South Nyanza when he was forgiven by Raila who appointed him to the cabinet, even leaving out his staunchest supporters like Ndhiwa MP Joshua Orwa Ojode who is believed by many to have been destined for Ministerial appointment. A good number of ODM supporters in the region and even inside his own Rongo constituency are known not to be comfortable with him to-date owing to his past utterances against the Odinga family..

A prominent sugar cane farmer in Awendo who wished to remain anonymous told this writer that South Nyanza Sugar company must not be used as the battle ground for settling old scores between the Minister and his political detractors. The farmer advised the Minister to steer clear of the operations of the sugar company and to mind his business of representing farmers interests. He has been told to tread carefully, especially when handling Sony Sugar issues.

The alleged effort by Minister Otieno to have thechairman removed is said to have caused stirs within the ODM.. Ojwang hails from Kasipul-Kabondo constituency where the party had received the largest votes during last years general elections. He is a former PA to Raila Odinga and what perhaps not known to Dalmas Otieno is that the Sony Sugar Board chairman is having good rapport with the Odinga family. He is a close friend of the Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo and has maintained warm relations with Prime Ministers family.

Raila was recently quoted as having told his aides that he does not entertain the idea of removing the seemingly productive people from their jobs and then replacing them with those whose leadership quality and performance are rather alien..

Two other Luo MPs have advised Minister Otieno to stop stooping very low on petty issues as influencing the sacking of a Luo board chairman. It makes no sense to remove a serving Luo and replace him with a fellow. The arithmetic of job creation does not augur well in that sense. MPs should thrive to create more jobs, but not to scramble for the few scarce job opportunities,remarked one MP from Nyanza who had requested not to be mentioned fearings reprisal.

The rumours about the impending removal of Mr. Ojwang from Sony Sugar spread like bush fire and has provoked sharp reaction from ODM members in Kasipul Kabondo who have stated that they would volunteer into a peaceful demonstration to be staged by the Awendo farmers against the Minister.

Meanwhile sugar cane farmers in Awendo zone have threatened to boycott the cane delivery to the factory unless they are paid all their duesdating back to March and April this year. The farmers have given the company up to 5th September to clear all the payments in arrears or else they will stop delivering their cane to the factory. They have accused the top manager of the company of being excessively arrogant, inaccessible and poor public relations.

On top of that the cane growers in the Awendo zone .have appealed to the management to make constant check at the weighbridge with the view to ensure there is no cheating directed against the farmers in any way. The management should also enhance harvesting programme to ensure that all mature cane are cleared from the field within reasonable time.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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Published by African Press International – API

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Obama, said to be king of hearts: Will he make it to the White House?

Posted by African Press International on September 1, 2008

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) smiles as he addresses the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado on Thursday. Photo/REUTERS

BySAMUEL SIRINGI, SATURDAY NATION Reporter in Denver, Colorado

In Summary

  • He reminded the 80,000-plus crowd of a speech he made in 2004, stating that his father was from Kenya.
  • Mr Obama for the first time heavily criticised competitor John McCain (Republican), saying he had wrong credentials
  • The senator asked voters to reject the Republican candidate in the election, adding eight (years) is enough.
  • He now has eight weeks to campaign before voters can go to the polling booths.

Presidential nominee Barack Obama extolled his Kenyan connection in a bold 44-minute speech which has raised the stakes in the race to the United States White House.

Accepting the nomination as the Democratic Partys presidential nominee for the November 4 US General Election, the Illinois senator had space to mention Kenya in his first paragraph, according to extracts of a speech issued to the Press.

He reminded the 80,000-plus crowd of a speech he made in 2004, stating that his father was from Kenya.

The senator used the line, that came in paragraph three of his prepared speech, to explain that his father and mother had a good dream.

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who werent well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well, he said.

In the wide ranging speech, Mr Obama for the first time heavily criticised competitor John McCain (Republican), saying he had the wrong credentials to deserve an office in the White House.

As Mr Obama was delivering his speech from about 5.10am East African time, Kenyans in their thousands woke up to watch him live on television.

Tourism minister Najib Balala and his wife and three children were up as early.

By the time the Saturday Nation team arrived at his house at 4.45am, the minister was seated in front of his TV with an Obama for President button pinned on his shirt.

In Obama there is a new leadership that gives inspiration and hope not only in America but all over the world, Mr Balala said. He added: Obamas leadership gives a new meaning to democracy in total disregard of whether one is black or white.

Mr Balala said he related to Mr Obama because of his youth.

But more importantly, I see him in direct relevance to my position as having the same background … I am not black but I am a Kenyan and I am a Muslim, so how shall I be judged … will it be on my race or my determination to serve the country and the values of which I stand? he asked.

The minister described Mr Obamas speech as classic because of the way it was presented and the decor of the stadium which I strongly believe will turn votes in his favour.

It would be difficult for him to lose this election, he added.

Nyangoma-Kogelo village in Siaya District also came alive moments after Mr Obama accepted his party nomination to run for the presidency.

Extended family members of the Democratic party nominee gathered at his grandmother, Mama Sarah Husseins house, to celebrate a milestone in the history of the small village.

The home was abuzz with activity as hordes of local and international journalists pitched tent to document the reactions of Mr Obamas Kenyan relatives after the historic moment.

Mr Obamas uncle, Said Hussein, described the occasion as fantastic.

Central Organisation of Trade Union secretary general Francis Atwoli, assistant ministers Ayiecho Olweny and Sylvester Wakoli said they remained awake on Thursday night to follow the proceedings live from the US.

After accepting the nomination, with gratitude and humility, Mr Obama called the current period a defining one for America.

He now has eight weeks to campaign before voters can go to the polling booths.

Our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more, he said to chants of Yes We Can, his slogan.

More Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and more are watching your home values plummet.

He added: More of you have cars you cant afford to drive, credit card bills you cant afford to pay and tuition that is beyond your reach.

Mr Obama said next weeks Republican convention in Minnesota would be seeking to ask for another four years under the party, implying a third term for the (President) Bush administration.

The senator, who is seeking to be the first black president in the history of America, asked voters to reject the Republican candidate in the election, adding eight (years) is enough.

(John) McCain has voted with George Bush 99 per cent of the time. He likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think (George) Bush was right more than 90 per cent of the time

I dont know about you, but Im not ready to take a 10 per cent chance on change.

Outlining his promises if elected, Mr Obama said he will cut taxes for 95 per cent of all working families.

Under an Obama presidency, America will finally end its dependence on oil from the Middle East in 10 years.

As president, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power, he said to a deafening song of Obama, Obama.

He promised to invest Sh1 trillion ($150 billion) over the next decade in affordable and renewable sources of energy.

I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harms way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home, he explained his defence policy.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts.

The 47-year old said he would renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

He called his wife, Michelle, the next first lady and later the family, including their daughters Malia and Sasha, stepped forward to the podium as fireworks rent the air. Running mate Joseph Biden and his wife, Jill, also came to the stage.

Retired Air Force Maj-Gen. J. Scott Gration praised Mr Obama saying he did well to speak about corruption when he came to Kenya in 2006.

Key personalities joined thousands of Kenyans in the US in following Mr Obamas acceptance speech on TV.

Additional reporting by Edmund Kwena, Lucas Barasa and Walter Menya

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Published by Chief Editor Korir, African Press International – api /Source.nation.ke

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Posted by African Press International on September 1, 2008

Narc leaders (from left) Mrs Ngilu, Mr Wamalwa, Mr Kibaki, Mr Odinga, Mr Musyoka and Mr Saitoti in a show of solidarity after Mr Odinga declared Kibaki Tosha. Photo/FILE

ByKAMAU NGOTHO

In Summary

  • Although Mr Kibaki was the main beneficiary of the manoeuvring that led to Narc ousting the Kanu government, he was a very reluctant, even ignorant, actor in the proceedings, leaving others to do battle for him.
  • Behind-the-scenes manoeuvring by former Vice-President Moody Awori and Cabinet minister George Saitoti succeeded in convincing Mr Odinga to make the Kibaki Tosha declaration that served as the springboard for Mr Kbakis successful bid for State House.
  • The radicals in the Raila group did not entirely trust any of the conservatives, be they Kibaki or Nyachae, and hoped to manipulate the situation to a position in which they would be calling the shots.

Mwai Kibakis rise to the presidency is famously attributed to the declaration Kibaki Tosha (Kibaki is the one) made by Raila Odinga at Uhuru Park on October 14, 2002, two months before the election that year.

Today we can shed light on the backroom politics and manoeuvring that culminated in the Tosha declaration and the anointment of a reluctant Mr Kibaki as the Narc candidate.

According to a diary by a serving Cabinet minister made available exclusively to the Sunday Nation and cross-checked with people in the know, the countdown to the famous slogan began with a secret meeting of representatives from main opposition parties, dubbed the Progressive Elements Forum on August 3, 2001 at Trisan Hotel on Nairobis Turbo Road.

Among attendees were Mukhisa Kituyi, Waithaka Mwangi, Moses Wetangula, Kipruto Kirwa and Noah Wekesa. Willy Mutunga represented civil society.

Mr Kibakis rise to the top came in two stages. The first was his selection as the joint opposition candidate of the National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAK) made up mainly of his DP party, Michael Wamalwas Ford Kenya and Charity Ngilus National Party of Kenya (NPK).

The second stage was the declaration that he would be the candidate of the larger amalgam of NAK and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), also known as the Rainbow Alliance. The larger grouping dubbed the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) was his springboard to State House.

Information seen by the Sunday Nation indicates that although Mr Kibaki was the main beneficiary of the manoeuvring that led to Narc ousting the Kanu government, he was a very reluctant, even ignorant, actor in the proceedings, leaving others to do battle for him.

NAK candidate

We can now reveal that Mrs Ngilu had to literally drag him to a key meeting on August 26, 2002 at the Milimani Hotel where he was declared the Nak candidate.

Had he not been present, there could have been strong lobbying at the plenary for NAK to pick a neutral candidate from outside the orbit of DP, Ford Kenya and NPK.

The name floated, according to the Cabinet ministers notes, was that of then National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) chief executive, the Rev Mutava Musyimi, who is now the Gachoka MP.

The other alternative, strongly backed by Ford Peoples Simeon Nyachae, was to select the Nak candidate through a primary. But the physical presence of Mr Kibaki, backed by strong lobbying by Mrs Ngilu and Mr Wamalwa, carried the day.

Two weeks earlier on August 11, 2002 at another joint opposition gathering at Elmenteita Lodge, Mrs Ngilu and Mr Wamalwa had salvaged Mr Kibakis shot at State House when they convinced him to change his partys hardline position on whether to dissolve the constituent parties in Nak, the opposition alliance.

New information indicates that behind-the-scenes manoeuvring by former Vice-President Moody Awori and Cabinet minister George Saitoti succeeded in convincing Mr Odinga to make the Kibaki Tosha declaration that served as the springboard for Mr Kbakis successful bid for State House.

Initially, Mr Odinga had planned to have the LDP (also called the Rainbow Alliance) ignore the Kibaki/Wamalwa/Ngilu Nak axis and team up with Nyachaes Ford People.

In this alternative alliance, the two would have held a primary election to pick a joint candidate. Indeed, the morning before Mr Odinga made the Kibaki Tosha declaration, the Rainbow Alliance signed a memorandum of understanding to work with Mr Nyachae.

Mr Odingas calculation was that in the event of a face off with Mr Nyachae, he could easily floor him. And with Mr Nyachae and Rainbow Alliance behind him, he would be left to tackle two other presidential candidates, Naks Kibaki and Kanus Uhuru Kenyatta.

Odinga strategists calculated that with two strong opposition candidates from the Mount Kenya bloc spoiling the chances for each other, their candidate would face an easy victory.

But according to the ministers notes, while Mr Odinga was secretly talking to Mr Nyachae, Mr Awori and Mr Saitoti were scheming with Kibaki people behind his back.

When the possibility of a split Rainbow Alliance with one side going to Mr Nyachae and the other to Mr Kibaki finally dawned on him, the ever-pragmatic Raila Odinga knew when to say Kibaki Tosha.

Had the opposition split into two strong factions, there was a significant possibility that Mr Mois Uhuru Project could have carried the day.

According to the ministers notes, Mr Kibaki did promise to be a one-term president should the joint opposition pick him as its candidate.

The pledge was made at the Nairobi Club on October 10, 2002, four days before the Tosha declaration, at a secret meeting attended by the joint opposition chiefs. The notes indicate the promise was verbal as Mr Kibaki said it was a gentlemens agreement. His position was heartily supported by Mr Saitoti and Mr Awori.

The notes also reveal that even after being surprised by the Tosha declaration, Mr Nyachae still insisted that the joint opposition pick its candidate through a primary.

Mr Awori attempted in vain to convince him that time constraints and fear of interference from Kanu dictated that the alliance pick its candidate through consensus. Mr Nyachae resolved to go it alone on a Ford People ticket.

Earlier in the year at a meeting at the Trisan Hotel on January 29, 2002, Mr Mutunga of the Kenya Human Rights Commission suggested that National Alliance for Change (Nac) be the movements name.

Three committees were formed to guide the new alliance on strategy, constitutional reforms and coordination.

It was at the next meeting on May 31, 2002, when the first cracks in the nascent alliance emerged that threatened to have the Kibaki group locked out. The bone of contention was whether the constituent parties in the alliance should merge into one entity or retain their identities within the coalition.

Mrs Ngilu and Mr Wamalwa strongly favoured a one-party umbrella to take on the newly merged Kanu/NDP. On the other hand, Team Kibaki insisted that parties remain intact but field a joint candidate.

It was at that point when strong comments were made on the floor of the plenary that the Kibaki group might as well take a walk if they were not about to abandon DP for the alliance party to be created.

Secret plans

As recounted above, Mr Kibakis drive to State House was saved during an August 11, 2002 meeting at Elmentaita Lodge.

Aware of the secret plans to lobby for a neutral opposition candidate who would turn the tables on the Kibaki-Wamalwa-Ngilu trio, the latter two had worked on a counter-scheme that would have them go to the Elmentaita meeting with a proposal for a single alliance party that would field presidential, parliamentary and civic candidates.

The idea was to catch flat-footed the sitting MPs who were for the idea of a neutral candidate but who naturally would jump ship at the prospect of finding themselves without a party, granted that the neutral candidate would not come with a political party.

The plan was to offer Mrs Ngilus National Party of Kenya (NPK) as the joint opposition party; the new outfit would be called the National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAK), with letter p being omitted from the acronym.

Single party

Come the Elmentaita parley, the resolution to have a single party umbrella was passed, and the Ngilu-Wamalwa-Kibaki trio was asked to go and decide among themselves who would be the NAK standard bearer. They were to do that and report back to the plenary session to be held at Nairobis Milimani Hotel in two weeks time.

But the anti-Kibaki troops in the new alliance had not given up yet. As the trio debated who would be the candidate actually they had resolved much earlier it would be Mr Kibaki the anti-Kibaki group went into overdrive to push the idea of a neutral candidate, but one who would come on board on a NAK ticket adopted at the Milimani meeting.

According to the ministers notes, the ringleaders in the push for a neutral candidate were then MPs Shem Ochuodho and Otieno Kopiyo. The Cabinet minister, however, discloses that many others were behind the move but kept their peace lest they antagonise their respective party chiefs who were already set on Mr Kibaki.

On the eve of NAKs last meeting held at Milimani Hotel on August 26, 2002, Mrs Ngilu and Mr Wamalwa sensed things would not be easy at the plenary where they would be presenting Mr Kibaki as their choice for the top seat.

Surprisingly, the notes indicate, Mr Kibaki was taking the whole matter very easy to the great consternation of his two key allies.

The Cabinet minister, who attended an advance meeting of the trio at the Hotel Intercontinental, recalls Mrs Ngilu almost pulling Mr Kibaki by the hand as she impressed on him what a turnaround effect his physical presence would make at the Milimani meeting.

Mr Kibakis position was that MPs Ochuodho and Kopiyo were lightweights who could not sway the plenary with their neutral candidate nuisance.

The minister reckons that aware of the anti-Kibaki feelings among their own troops, Mrs Ngilu and Mr Wamalwa were, to the contrary, convinced that Kibakis absence from the Milimani parley would definitely turn the tables on their game plan.

Mr Kibaki finally showed up at the meeting, and the Ochuodho/Kopiyo group was overwhelmed, but not without a fight, the Cabinet minister recalls.

Elsewhere, things were moving fast and furious.

Mr Moi had unilaterally picked Uhuru Kenyatta as Kanus presidential candidate, setting off a rebellion that saw Raila Odinga bolt the party together with traditional Moi allies, including Mr Saitoti, Mr Awori, Kalonzo Musyoka, Joseph Kamotho and William Ntimama.

But while the group that came to be known as the Rainbow Alliance and later coalesced into the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was united in humiliating Mr Moi and his Uhuru project, it was not unanimous on which political grouping to join, less so on who would be their brigade leader.

The Rainbow Alliance could choose between two groups, the Kibaki Nak alliance or the Nyachae group, which up to this point had left its options open.

Key luminaries

That all was not well in the Rainbow Alliance came out in early September 2002 when key luminaries in the group held a strategy meeting at the Norfolk Hotel. Mr Kamotho, who attended the meeting and would later become LDP secretary general, reckons that the Norfolk meeting never made a specific resolution but agreed on further consultations before a joint position was made public.

However, and to the surprise of those in attendance, recalls Mr Kamotho, Mr Odinga came out to declare that the meeting had resolved to form a Rainbow Alliance. That took all of us by surprise as it had not been resolved at the meeting, Mr Kamotho recalled.

Insiders reckon that it was a typical Raila Odinga strategy to capture the ball and run with it. Of course, he wanted to send out the message loud and clear that he was the de-facto Rainbow leader, said a source familiar with the goings-on at the time.

He added, That way he would be able to whip everybody else into toeing whatever political line he took in the name of Rainbow Alliance.

It is the seed of suspicion planted at the Norfolk Rainbow conclave that gave birth to a month-long flurry of behind-the-scenes activities as two camps within Rainbow, the Raila and the Saitoti/Awori axis, tried to outdo each other by making secret overtures to both the Kibaki/Nak and the Nyachae groups.

The main difference, said one insider knowledgeable about the goings-on, was that the traditional conservative establishment types in the Saitoti/Awori group were uncomfortable with the idea of the supremacy of Raila Odinga, the latter having been active in opposition/radical movements.

Raila group

On the other hand, the radicals in the Raila group did not entirely trust any of the conservatives, be they Kibaki or Nyachae, and hoped to manipulate the situation to a position in which they would be calling the shots.

With no camp assured of a clear victory, the result was an amalgam of the conservatives and the radicals that made Raila Odinga say Tosha on October 14, 2002.

Perhaps history repeated itself this year on February 28 when the same characters, Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga, signed a pact to form a grand coalition government.

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Published by Chief Editor Korir, African Press International – api /source.nation.ke

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