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Archive for September 7th, 2008

Nobel peace Prize winner caught in labor scandal! Is he becoming greedy? Now he wants to own it all.

Posted by African Press International on September 7, 2008

Yunus wants control of GrameenPhone

Muhammad Yunus wants the Norwegian telecom company Telenor to sell its majority holding in GrameenPhone to Grameen Telecom, the company which he heads and which already owns a 38 percent stake.

Mohammad Yunus wants to know what has gone on in Grameenphone. He also wants Telenor to reduce its stake in the company.

PHOTO: SVEIN ERIK FURULUND

Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his micro-credit schemes which give loans without security to the poor in Bangladesh. He is in Oslo to speak at the Peace Corps North-South Conference.

“Relations with Telenor are at an all-time low,” says professor Yunus to daily newspaper Aftenposten.

He thinks Telenor should pay the NOK 300 million fine (USD 55 million) which GrameenPhone has received for illegal routing of international calls in Bangladesh.

He emphasizes that he has nothing against Telenor as a company.

“It’s the new management which is the problem. I had a very close and good relationship with Telenor’s previous head, Tormod Hermansen,” says Yunus.

Jon Fredrik Baksaas took over from Hermansen in 2002.

Telenor and Grameen Bank/Grameen Telecom have cooperated in providing mobile phone services in Bangladesh since 1996 through GrameenPhone.

GrameenPhone have become known for providing a living for poor women living in rural villages, who make money by selling telephone services.

After Yunus won the Peace Prize a deep divide between the partners appeared. Yunus believes that it was the original intention that Telenor would sell its shareholding to Grameen Telecom. This is what he now wants.

Yunus is concerned that both the Grameen Bank and Grameen Telecom will be blamed for what GrameenPhone does wrong, after the recent fine.

“This case has hit us hard. Paying the fine is like admitting guilt, but we havent been told what went on or who was behind it. This hurts both the Grameen name and me,” says Yunus.

A new scandal connected with GrameenPhone was presented to Norwegian viewers on Thursday, when Norwegian Broadcasting showed footage from a sub-contractor which produced radio towers and metal telephone poles. Safety conditions looked poor and many of the employees seemed visibly underage.

“Gazi Engineering is not a sub-contractor to GrameenPhone, but a sub-contractor to a company which supplies GrameenPhone. This is a clear illustration of the dilemmas we meet when doing business in developing countries,” says Telenor director, Hilde Tonne.

“Dangerous working conditions, including child labour, is a major problem in Bangladesh. Neither GrameenPhone nor Telenor came be held responsible for all of Bangladeshs social problems, but we have done our part in improving our supplier’s conditions and working towards long-term improvements in all the communities where we do business,” says Tonne.

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API/Source.aftenposteneng

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Posted by African Press International on September 7, 2008

ODM secretary-general Prof Anyang Nyongo addresses a press conference at the partys headquarters on Friday. He is flanked by executive director Janet Ongera. Photo/PHOEBE OKALL

ByKIPCHUMBA SOME

In Summary

  • Mr Midiwo has alleged that a certain wealthy and powerful minister in PNU is behind the rebellion in ODM.
  • The MPs say they are concerned about the partys continued departure from its principles and pre-election pledges.

The party rebels have denied claims by some MPs loyal to Mr Odinga that they are being sponsored to wreck the party from within.

The legislators said the allegations are solely meant to scare them into silence and hence divert attention from the real issues that are fuelling discontent.

They say their intention is to bolster democracy within the party, ensure that it sticks to its manifesto and that it lives by the pledges it made to Kenyans in the run-up to last years General Election.

If we cannot speak about these issues, then the party is as good as dead, said Mr Benjamin Langat, the MP for Ainamoi.

It is a fact that the party is fast losing favour with supporters and we have a duty to raise the alarm, he added.

However, party chief and Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo dismissed the defence of the dissenting lawmakers. He said the MPs were simply making excuses for destabilising the party for selfish interests.

They cannot claim to be strengthening the party while breaking it at the same time. They are pursuing their selfish interests and should stop using the party to achieve them, he said.

Mr Midiwo has repeatedly alleged that a certain wealthy and powerful minister in PNU is behind the rebellion in ODM.

He accused the minister of sponsoring the party rebels ostensibly to undermine Mr Odingas bid for the presidency come 2012.

Some of our colleagues are under the payroll of this Cabinet minister who is hell-bent on destroying our party. He intends to eliminate his strongest challengers to the presidency in 2012. Mr Odinga is his main target, said the Gem MP.

But Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny dismissed Mr Midiwos allegations and accused him of maligning their reputations. He challenged the Gem MP to name the minister and his beneficiaries in ODM.

Mr Midiwo is a sycophant who perceives things through narrow lenses. He wants to trivialise pertinent issues which are nearly tearing the party apart. That is a strategy that wont work with us, said Mr Kutuny.

He described Mr Midiwo as a destructive element in the party. Mr Kutuny also revealed that some MPs will be seeking to dislodge the chief whip from his post during tomorrows meeting.

Apart from asking him to substantiate his claims, we will also demand that he steps down as the partys chief whip. It is obvious that Mr Midiwo is not fit for that position, said the Cherangany MP.

Sunday’s meeting is intended to thrash out contentious issues that are fanning division within the party.

The meeting will also bring party leader Raila Odinga face-to-face with MPs fronting for the formation of a Grand Opposition and Rift Valley lawmakers who are accusing him of undermining them in their constituencies, alienating himself from his supporters and being high-handed in dealing with party affairs.

We shall boldly tell the PM the nature of our grievances. And for the sake of party unity, we hope to get a fair hearing, said Mr Isaac Ruto, the MP for Chepalungu.

Top on the agenda of Sundays meeting will be the issue of the formation of a Grand Opposition.

The issue has set the PM and a section of party MPs on a collision course. Mr Odinga is vehemently opposed to its formation, arguing that it will weaken the partys strength in Parliament.

However, the party MPs fronting for its formation contend that they are doing so to promote democracy. They say that the Grand Opposition is necessary to check the excesses of the Grand Coalition Government.

Mr Odinga should be the last person criticising the idea since he is a beneficiary of opposition politics, said Dr Julius Kones, the MP for Konoin.

We want to make sure that this government is accountable to the people of Kenya. But we shall remain loyal to our respective parties, he added.

He said that they had marshalled enough numbers to form an opposition party as required by law. He revealed that some Cabinet ministers, too, both in ODM and PNU, have pledged to support their course.

The MPs also say they are concerned about the partys continued departure from its principles and pre-election pledges. They say the party has repeatedly compromised its manifesto principles ever since joining the Grand Coalition Government.

They cite corruption allegations that have been levelled against some of its ministers, its change of stance on delivering a new constitution within one year in power and lack of consultative leadership as some of the principles the party had departed from.

Immigration minister and Mbita MP Otieno Kajwang was accused in June of flouting immigration rules when he overruled his juniors to grant entry into the country to 17 members of an outlawed sect.

Medical Services minister Prof Anyang Nyongo has also been accused of sidestepping recommendations from his officers when he appointed Mr Kipkerich Tanui as the head of the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

Asked about the possibility of dissolving the Pentagon, National Heritage minister William ole Ntimama said he has little to say until he heads to Naivasha for the retreat.

I am told the Pentagon is on the agenda so we will have to wait and see what happens, said Mr Ntimama.

He described the suggestions of instituting a maximum age limit for presidential candidates as political malice.

Mr Ntimama said those who support the Bill to impose age limits have a hidden agenda and are targeting specific politicians.

However, speaking on Friday in Nairobi, Prof Nyongo said he was the sole spokesperson of ODM, and any other issue being fronted was not part of the agenda.

The secretary-general said the main items on the agenda are to do with aligning the partys constitution to the new Political Parties Act and discussing logistics concerning the grassroots elections.

He added that affiliate parties were invited to attend the Naivasha meeting in order to forge a stronger and united party.

Prof Nyongo also said that the Pentagon, the partys top leadership, would not be dissolved under any circumstances, despite demands by a section of the rebel MPs to have equality in the party.

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API/Source,nation.ke

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Uhuru, Karua catfight intensifies

Posted by African Press International on September 7, 2008

By Joseph Murimi and Mutinda Mwanzia

The political rivalry between Kanu chairman Uhuru Kenyatta and Justice Minister Martha Karua continues to stick out.

Between them, as it came out on Friday, it is no longer the exchange of snippets, but brickbats. The man who beat Karua to the Deputy Prime Ministers position hosted a group of central Kenya leaders at a Nairobi hotel to plan for the now controversial recruitment drive.

Karua, who had an official engagement at the end of the city, warned members of Narc-Kenya who will participate in the recruitment they would be deemed to have defected from the party.

Karua, who is Narc-Kenya chairperson, refused to have her party dissolved and entrenched in PNU, against the wishes of the president and his allies. Other than saying the presidential ticket was not reserved for anyone around President Kibaki, she also declined to take part in the PNU recruitment.

Effectively, that put her on the collision path with Uhuru, perceived to be the preferred successor among those close to President Kibaki.

Uhuru climbed down from the central Kenya political command post, to give Kibaki a home turf boost in the General Election, last year.

It was the most unlikely of battles for in 2002, Uhuru marketed the cockerel party against Kibaki and by extension Karua and group. Before last year lapsed, he abandoned the office of the Leader Official Opposition to support the incumbent. There he found Karua, one of the kingpins of the flower party.

Flashback: Uhuru walked the Jogoo (cockerel) into Party of National Unity and is now its key plank in the coming membership drive. Karua stuck to Narc-Kenya, arguing it would remain in PNU as an unadulterated and autonomous affiliate.

She went ahead to take over its command, pushing to the periphery such common names in the party, as Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti believed to be positioning themselves to step into President Kibakis shoes in 2012.

Because few around the President have spoken openly about their dreams for 2012, it is left to Uhuru, the son of a former President and second in the 2002 presidential race, to wage a catfight with Karua. Karua says her name will be in the presidential ballot in the 2012 General Election

Battle for supremacy

Uhurus meeting on Friday was part of the protracted, often hidden battle for supremacy. It was being seen as a strategy by his camp to bring to the PNU stable as many MPs as possible. This would leave Karua with an empty or at worst, a shrunken shell Narc-Kenya.

But she wont take it lying low and on Friday the party constitution was clear on the matter: “We will have no option but to fill any positions they previously held before defecting.”

Cabinet ministers Beth Mugo, George Saitoti and Nairobi MPs Ferdinand Waititu (Embakasi) and Simon Mbugua (Kamukunji) are among those from Narc-Kenya who have said they will take part in the PNU grassroots elections. Mrs Mugo has been Narc-Kenyas treasurer. They are the ones Karua has on the crosshairs.

The Gichugu MP argues the provisions of the Political Parties Act were clear on the conduct of party members.

The new law states that if an MP elected on a given party ticket associates with another, he or she is deemed to have defected and will lose parliamentary seat.

“We will simply treat them as defectors,” said Karua. Other Narc-Kenya bigwigs who have ditched Karua in favour of a united PNU include Cabinet ministers Kiraitu Murungi and Chirau Ali Mwakwere.

The Justice Minister was not invited for Uhurus meeting where Kinangop MP David Ngugi was appointed the co-ordinator for the recruitment drive in Central Province. Uhuru was initially given the position but handed over the responsibilities to Ngugi. He, however, will remain the convener.

Government Chief Whip and Juja MP George Thuo said 20 MPs attended the function and others sent apologies, except three considered rebels.

The three who did not send apologies were Assistant Minister Njeru Githae (Ndia), FT Nyamu (Tetu) and Karua.

At Uhurus meeting, Kirinyaga Central MP John Ngata Kariuki was appointed the PNU co-ordinator for Kirinyaga District, where Ms Karua and Githae come from.

He is to supervise the PNU recruitment in the area and is expected to nominate a co-ordinator for Gichugu represented in Parliament by Karua and Ndia where Githae is MP.

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API/Source.standard.ke

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A young Kalenjin woman wins it all – Golden league jackport

Posted by African Press International on September 7, 2008

Jelimo becomes a Millionaire

Written By:Kennedy Langat

Caption: Pamela Jelimo has been unbeaten this year

At only 18 years Pamela Jelimo of Kenya is already a Millionaire.

The teenage who has dominated this season secured the $1 Million F Golden League Jackpot outright when she won the 800m in Brussels Belgium on Friday night.

The other athlete who was in contention for a share of the million jackpot was high jumper Croatian Blanka Vlasic who did not win.

“I couldn’t find my technique on the wet track,” said Vlasic.

“I’m very sorry but not because of the money but because this was (to be) the consolation prize for this season but in the end I was just too tired because I had so many jumps.”

Newly crowned 800m Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo secured the $1 million dollar jackpot during the 6th and final leg of the IAAF golden league meet in Brussels.

The Brussels golden league meet was the sixth and final stage of the F Golden League this year.

Jelimo ran a tactical race to cross the finish line in 1:55.16.

The Olympic champion was aided to another fast time by pace maker Svetlana Klyuka who finished fourth in Beijing Olympics.

World champion Janeth Kepkosgei finished second behind Jelimo in 1:58.85, with Jamaica’s Kenia Sinclair third in 1:59.11.

Jelimo on accepting the cheque for $1 MIllion from IAAF President Lamine Diack said,

“I’m happy I realised my dream, it is the same happiness as in Beijing.”

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Published by Chief Editor Korir, African Press International – API/source. kbc.ke

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Congo: Anti-peacekeeper protest turns violent

Posted by African Press International on September 7, 2008

Kinshasa (Congo) – At least one person was wounded and a UN vehicle damaged during a demonstration against peacekeepers in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo town of Rutshuru on 3 September.

“A MONUC [UN Mission in DRC] vehicle was set on fire and two civilian demonstrators wounded by bullets, one in both his feet, the other in his stomach,” Benjamin Mbusa, 36, a student in the North Kivu town, who witnessed the demonstration, told IRIN.

MONUC confirmed that one of its vehicles had been burnt but said only one civilian had been wounded and not necessarily by a bullet. This happened when “Indian blue helmets opened fire to defend themselves as per our mandate because the crowd did not want to obey warning shots fired in the air”, said Colonel Jean-Paul Dietrich, MONUC’s military spokesman.

He added that the crowd started to disperse once the army began firing heavier weapons into the air.

Dietrich also said stones had been thrown at MONUC vehicles in the previous four days. “Two Indian peacekeepers were wounded and one vehicle damaged.”

The unrest came five days after fierce fighting broke out between government forces and renegade troops led by dissident general Laurent Nkunda.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the clashes prompted 8,000 civilians to flee to villages along the road to Goma.

“Many of the displaced are now staying with families or in public places such as schools. But we have to move them to allow schools to reopen as normal,” said Gloria Fernandez, head of OCHA in DRC, adding that food rations were being distributed to the displaced.

“People are protesting against MONUC because they want the army to advance and push the rebels right out of the country, rather than withdrawing to positions held previously,” said Mbusa.

MONUC’s civilian spokeswoman, Sylvie van Wildenberg, said: “It is clear that the population doesn’t seem to understand MONUC’s role in the Amani [peace] process” enshrined in a ceasefire deal signed in January.

Under this deal, the various armed groups active in eastern DRC are supposed to disengage, creating buffer zones that MONUC is meant to occupy.

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API/Source.UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

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South Africa: Zuma debate filters on to Facebook

Posted by African Press International on September 7, 2008

Johannesburg (South Africa) – The debate surrounding African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma has made its way on to the internet, with several pro- and anti-Zuma groups having popped up on online social network Facebook. One of the largest, with 52 021 members, is entitled “Help us stop Jacob Zuma from becoming South Africa’s next president”.

It is unknown who started the group or if rival politicians had anything to do with it.

Other Zuma-related groups on Facebook include one entitled: “Dude, I’d rather vote for [US President George] Bush than Zuma!” with 69 members; “Jacob Zuma: Our next president” with seven members; “Jacob Zuma — Innocent until proven guilty” with 14 members; and “I don’t necessarily like Jacob Zuma but put [his trademark song] Umshini Wami on the charts!” with 27 members.

There is also the “Jacob Zuma appreciation society”, which has 81 members.

The person who initiated the “Help us stop Jacob Zuma” group wrote in his online space: “I have started this group in the hope that all South Africans join together to save our country from the possibility of Jacob Zuma becoming the next president. I strongly believe that should Zuma take control, that South Africa would end its prosperous growth. You have the choice.”

The Facebook group states that it also has an official Zuma group ringtone, and says it only allows intelligent debate.

“We encourage mature discussions on whether or not you support this cause. Hate speech not only undermines the credibility of this group, but portrays Zuma as a media victim! This does nothing but backfire against the very cause that this group is striving for,” it reads.

The group says it will not tolerate racist comments, death threats, personal attacks on members of the group, any form of hate speech, foul language and adverts. The group’s discussion board also allows for news of other political parties and whether one should vote for them.

One comment, posted by Njabulo Skhosana, reads: “Zuma doesn’t have an economic point of view, when he’s abroad or talking to business leaders he assures them economic policy will not change … but when talking to the poor he promises better distribution of wealth … he is a political chameleon.

“The only way we’ll find out is if he does become president … I think we need a leader who is a good role model … The only thing I don’t agree with is people claiming he is a criminal, saying that is slanderous and unfair … he lacks morality but isn’t a criminal, like millions of other people out there.”

Political analyst Dr Siphamandla Zondi said he believes the group will have minimal effect on the ANC’s performance in the 2009 elections.

“Anything done electronically has its own limitations, but the internet only covers a small portion of the voting population. The impact of campaigning by internet is very limited,” he said. “These campaigns or groups would have a greater impact if they targeted poorer people through different channels. Targeting poorer people would then swing change.”

However, he believes the “Stop Jacob Zuma” group was not started by another political party.

“I think in this case it was started by people who are genuinely concerned about the country and where it is headed … I think these people are truly concerned.

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API/Source.Mail and Guardian (South Africa), by Miranda Andrew

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Kenya: Kalonzo wife to give Sh400,000 to charity

Posted by African Press International on September 7, 2008

ByMIKE MWANIKI
Vice-President Kalonzo Musyokas wife has accepted Sh400,000 monthly allowance from the Government but will donate it to charity.

Mrs Pauline Kalonzo said she would donate all the money to six charitable organisations countrywide.

Speaking for the first time since it was revealed that she, together with Prime Minister Raila Odingas wife, Ida, are to be paid from the Exchequer, Mrs Kalonzo thanked the Government for the offer.

The proposed allowance came to me as a surprise. I wish to thank the Government for this recognition, she said in a statement to the media.

On Monday, Mrs Odinga rejected the payment with a thank you note to the head of Civil Service and secretary to the Cabinet, Mr Francis Muthaura.

Mrs Odinga said although she played a key role in hosting Government guests, among other functions, her work could not be measured in monetary terms.

On Friday, Mrs Kalonzo, in a rare press statement, said: Rather than decline the good gesture and being aware of the immense suffering of many in our midst, I will instead donate the entire sum to charities.

The beneficiaries will include 48 internally displaced children, formerly based at Kirathimo, who are now at Parklands Primary School.

She said she has been assisting the 48 for the last six months.

Also to benefit from the money are Muli Childrens Home (Yatta), Women and Youth against HIV and Aids and Poverty (Isiolo) and HIV-orphaned children in Mwingi.

Annual audit

Others are Living Positive (Kenya) of Ngong Town and Adopt Access Association (Nairobi).

Mrs Kalonzo, who is a senior official at the Central Bank of Kenya governors office, said an annual independent audit would be carried out to ensure transparency in the use of the money by the organisations.

I will be reviewing this list from time to time to reflect the needs of other disadvantaged Kenyans in line with my long association with charity work and other humanitarian activities, she said.

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API/Source.nation.ke

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EU observer mission head: Angolan election process exemplary way for Africa

Posted by African Press International on September 7, 2008

LUANDA, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) — The electoral process in Angola is taking place in an exemplary way for Africa, similar to what happens in European countries, head of the European Union (EU) observer mission, Luisa Morgantini has said.

After inspecting eight polling stations in the capital Luanda on Friday, she told reporters that “everyone wants to vote without fear. It is positive and shows the normality of the process.”

The EU observer mission head said she had observed mutual respect among citizens, either in the political campaign phase or in the voting process as people are behaving in a civic manner.

However, she admitted she was disappointed at the delay registered in the opening of some polling stations in Luanda.

According to Matundu Vita, head of the Information Office of the Angola Press Center, voting at 320 polling stations in Luanda did not finish on Friday evening due to the delay of ballots because of transportation problem.

But he added that voting resumed at the 320 polling stations in Samba, Cacuaco and Kilamba Kiaix districts on Saturday and are scheduled to complete at 7 p.m. (1800 GMT).

He told Xinhua that voting in Angola’s other 17 provinces completed on schedule on Friday.

Compared with the 12,274 polling stations in the country, voting delay in the 320 polling stations is normal.

Voting in Angola as a whole is underway smoothly and peacefully, he said.

Over 8.2 million Angolans registered for the elections and cast their votes at 12,274 polling stations across the country.

To show the world that Angola pursues democracy, the government also invited 1,200 foreign observers from 17 international organizations and 10 countries to follow up the elections.

Fourteen out of Angola’s 150 political parties and coalitions took part in the elections to vie for 220 parliamentary seats.

API/Source.Xinhuanet

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