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Archive for October 20th, 2008

Kibaki plan to pardon leaders who financed post election violence, while the US promises money to fund Kenya’s education sector

Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

Politicians oppose Kibakis call for amnesty

By Beauttah Omanga

Leaders reacted with fury to President Kibakis proposal that those implicated in the Waki report be pardoned.

LSK chairman Okongo Omogeni, lawyers Paul Muite, Wanyiri Kihoro and Harun Ndubi said implementation of the Waki report was a must if the country was to avoid a recurrence of post-election violence.

The lawyers warned that if the Coalition Government failed to make use of the opportunity given by the Waki Commission to set up tribunals to try the suspects, chances were high that the International Court of Justice would take over the matter.

“President Kibaki should be warned that the ICC (International Criminal Court) can make a follow-up of the cases even after he leaves office. The best for him is to implement the report,” said Mr Ndubi, a human rights lawyer.

Kenyas future doomed

Mr Omogeni said Kenyas future was doomed if the Waki Report was not implemented immediately.

“What connection does a new constitution have to do with crimes committed early in the year?” he asked.

German Ambassador Walter Lindner, who attended the Kenyatta Day celebrations, said it was important for action to be taken against those implicated to address impunity.

“The fact that President Kibaki and two of his key opponents to his throne in last years elections were together today (yesterday) addressing a national day from the same podium is a true confirmation of the right direction towards healing for Kenya. However, those who caused bloodshed must face the law,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka and Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu demanded that those named be prosecuted.

“Kenyans died and the only consolation we can give bereaved families is having those who plotted the chaos prosecuted,” said Mr Onyonka.

Mr Waititu said it was wrong for the President to advocate amnesty, saying: “That amnesty should be given after those who killed have admitted they committed offences and then openly apologise.”

Whose interest?

Mr Muite, a former Kabete MP, challenged the President to explain on whose interest he was acting.

The leaders petitioned the international community to take over the report and implement it to save Kenyans.

“Our image in the international community will be tarnished if we dont act now,” said Omogeni.

Mr Kihoro, a former Nyeri MP, said the Presidents proposal was premature.

“The President has powers to set free prisoners. He should have waited for those suspects to be tried and convicted to invoke Section 35 of the Constitution to extend clemency to those imprisoned,” said Kihoro.

But Cabinet ministers Kiraitu Murungi and Najib Balala supported the President and Prime Minister Raila Odingas position of forgiveness for the sake of national cohesion.

However, Kiraitu said the Waki Report touched on weighty issues that called for sober handling.

“The issues are too important yet very delicate with the possibility of drawing the nation into danger again,” he said.

Balala said: “The issues Waki came up with were of national importance and it is only the Cabinet that will determine the next course of action”.

Talking to reporters at Nyayo Stadium after the celebrations, the Tourism minister said there was need for an overhaul of ECK, with all parties having a hand in the appointment of new commissioners.

He said it was necessary to rally Kenyans behind unity and forgiveness.

Onyonka said given that the commissions had been formed to help establish causes and those behind the mayhem and “we must know who were behind the chaos even if they will not necessarily be prosecuted”.

He said if blanket amnesty was given to the criminals, it would be difficult to deal with impunity in future.

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API/Source.standard.ke

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Kenya: Does political power reside in the left hand? (opinion)

Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

Nairobi (Kenya) – Now US presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama (and we shall never tire of repeating that his father was from the Kenyan shores of Lake Victoria), are tackling each at each vigorously as election day approaches.

However, News & Curiosities reports that McCain and Obama at least have one thing in common they are both left-handed.

And there is more; four of the last five American presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton were left-handed.

So were a bunch of US presidential candidates in the last 20 years Al Gore, Bob Dole, John Edwards, Bill Bradley, and Ross Perot.

This might suggest that left-handedness confers power and greatness, of sorts.

However, if you take a group of 1,000 Africans who are over 40 years, there will probably be only two among them who are left-handed. If you took a group of 1,000 Africans aged 10 to 20 years, you could well find that up to 20 of them are left-handed.

The reason for this is that Africans used to believe that the devil and all manner of ill spirits lived in the left hand. Everything was done to persuade a left-handed child to abandon using it and shift to the approved right hand.

Parents went to extraordinary lengths to achieve this. Some tied the childs hand behind his or her back; others splashed hot pepper on it; and in some extreme cases, the hand was burnt. Indeed, in some ancient African societies, the left-handed child would be thrown into the river or fed to hyenas in the forest.

These are more enlightened times and the left-handed have a right to be, although parents in the villages still enforce repressive measures against the limb.

Now, if political talent resides in the left hand, then we can assume that the reason Africa has been so badly led and is as corrupt as it is, is because of the wars we used to wage against the left-handed. With the more tolerant attitude today, perhaps we can now hope for a brighter future. One feature of this future is, I suspect, going to be the domination of the world by multicultural societies.

Prospect quotes the online news magazine, Slate, as reporting on June 30 that about one-third of the goals in Euro 2008 were scored by players who were not born citizens of the European countries they played for. Indeed, there’s hardly a successful West European football club that doesnt have a player who does not have African, Arab, East African, or South American immigrant blood.

Perhaps that is one reason countries like China and India, though emerging as global economic powers, are hopeless at football. Despite the fact that they both have populations of over one billion, they cant find just 11 men to form a world-beating football team.

The USA and Britain of the last 25 years are two countries that demonstrate the enriching possibilities of cultural diversity.

It seems that however smart a population is, soon, it reaches its limit and needs to rejuvenate itself with ideas from other cultures.

For this reason, I dont think even when China eventually becomes the worlds undisputed economic power in 20 years as some experts predict, it will achieve the political dominance that the US enjoyed in the world in the last half of the 20th century. By extension, I think that the more culturally diverse India will be the next true global superpower, not the more homogenous China.

The biggest test for multiculturalism is Obama. If he becomes the next American president, then we shall know that the multicultural or multiracial project will have reached the breakthrough point.

Finally, we learn that there are an estimated 10,000 trillion ants on earth roughly 1.6 million ants for each citizen of the world! Their combined weight is equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.

Like you, I am wondering which human beings counted the ants to arrive at these numbers. That we have developed very sophisticated methods for counting such things explains why we are able to dominate a world where we are a tiny majority.

Last year, it was reported that if humans were all to disappear from the earth, in some 30 or so short years, the grasses, trees and waters of the world would consume and cover up most of the cities, roads, and other symbols of vanity that we have built over the last 2,000 years. Now, think about it: If all creatures voted on who should rule the world, we would never be in charge. Mans dominion of the world, is the ultimate dictatorship.
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API/Source.The Nation (Kenya), by Charles Onyango Obbo – October 20, 2008.

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Malawi: Beauty queen joins politics, citing Palin as inspiration

Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

Lilongwe (Malawi) – The reigning Miss Malawi, Peth Msiska, has hit the campaign trail, not seeking another crown but to be voted into Parliament in her country’s general elections in May 2009.

Msiska, 24, says this is the right time to join the majority Democratic People’s Party (DPP) and run for office because she is “young, focused and determined to serve others as I have always done over the past two years in my capacity as Miss Malawi.”

Trading high heels for flat shoes, the beauty queen with a degree in accountancy has swapped fashion and charity events in Blantyre for rallies along dusty roads in her home area of Chileka, in the south of the country.

“I decided to join politics to make a difference in the lives of people, especially those in the rural areas,” Msiska told IPS.

Hers is no easy task. Up to 70 percent of Malawi’s population of 14 million is rural, more than half live in poverty and 22 per cent live in extreme poverty, according to the United Nations.

For the people of Chileka, Msiska wants to bring boreholes and taps closer. She knows from her childhood that local women and girls walk up to 10 kilometres to fetch clean water.

Second in her to-do list is bringing electricity. Ironically, Chileka is close to a hydro-electrical power station on the Shire River, Malawi’s longest watercourse, but people here use paraffin lamps and candles.

“Electricity is generated right on their door-steps but they don’t have access to it,” she fires. “And it’s unacceptable to see women travelling long distances in search of clean water.”

Orphanages and schools are another priority. As Miss Malawi, Msiska fundraised for charities dealing with orphans and the elderly. There are one million orphans in Malawi, according to United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

Msiska is a powerful motivational speaker, urging young women to see themselves just as capable as men. Just like she does: “I am aware that some people might not take me seriously because I am young but politics it is not about age. I am a very determined woman, principled, confident and qualified to be a member of parliament.” Msiska, who is single, has the backing of her family, and derives strength from praying at the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian.

Malawian women do not often venture into politics because of harassment, intimidation and cultural perceptions that bind them to domesticity, says Emma Kaliya, of the Gender Coordination Network (GCN). Malawi scores below the sub-Saharan Africa average of female representation in government. Women account for 14 percent in Parliament, 16 percent in the executive arm of government, and 12 per cent in the judiciary.

Kaliya says the small number of women in parliament hampers discussions on issues such as maternal deaths and property grabbing from widows.

There is now new hope for improvement. Msiska, like all 425 women parliamentary candidates, has the backing of the 50/50 Campaign, a national effort of government and 42 civil society groups to boost women’s participation in politics and decision-making positions. The Campaign wants at least half of the 193 parliamentary seats to go to women.

To get there, the Campaign is putting its money where its mouth is. All women candidates will be trained in advocacy, lobbying and campaigning, and get $700 as a campaign start-up in their constituencies.

Miss Malawi is further inspired by the vice-presidential candidate for the Republican party in the United States, Governor Sarah Palin, who won the third place in the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant.

Unlike Palin, who has received a lot of negative coverage in the American press, Msiska has been portrayed positively in the Malawi media.

“It’s high time that people realised that beauty queens can make great leaders,” Msiska told IPS.

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API/Source.Inter Press Service (IPS) – October 20, 2008.

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Sudan: Nine Chinese oil workers kidnapped

Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

Khartoum (Sudan) – Kidnappers have snatched nine Chinese oil workers in central Sudan, the third such incident over the past year in the oil-producing region, the Sudanese government and diplomats said on Sunday.

The government blamed a Darfur rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), for the kidnapping. Diplomats, however, said the captors were probably local tribesmen.

Chinese Embassy spokesman Raymond Yu said the kidnappers abducted the workers on Saturday in South Kordofan, source of a large part of Sudan’s oil wealth. China is the biggest foreign investor in the African country.

Ali Youssef, head of protocol at the Sudanese foreign ministry, told Reuters “initial information” indicates that the kidnappers were members of a the “Kordofan sector” of JEM.

“Initial information also indicates that the hostages and the captors are still in the South Kordofan area,” he said. “Security forces are trying to chase them.”

JEM leaders were not immediately available for comment. The group, however, said recently it was taking its campaign against the government beyond the borders of Darfur to Kordofan and other regions, which it claims Khartoum is neglecting.

The group kidnapped five oil workers — an Egyptian, an Iraqi and three Sudanese — in October 2007.

It said at the time the move was a warning to oil firms it accuses of funding Khartoum through oil revenues. The men were later released.

The government and rebel groups routinely trade accusations about various violations in Darfur, which borders South Kordofan and where a conflict between both sides has raged since 2003.

Diplomats in Khartoum said the kidnappers were probably members of the same tribal group that seized four Indian oil workers and their driver in the region in May. The captors were described at the time as disaffected locals.

One diplomat said the nine men and two Sudanese drivers were seized from a small field while doing contract work for the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC).

The company is a consortium led by China’s CNPC, that also includes India’s ONGC, Malaysia’s Petronas and Sudan’s state-owned Sudapet.

“One driver was released and handed over a note by the captors demanding a settlement through a share of oil production,” the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The source said locals had ransacked a Chinese camp in the same area two weeks ago and taken everything “including the beds and bed sheets.”

“This is a dangerous area. This could happen again.”

Walid Khadduri, a respected Arab oil analyst, said the kidnappings make work in the Sudanese oil industry more dangerous, but said “it will not stop the investment.”

“Look at Nigeria, oil workers have been kidnapped and killed … but the investment has not stopped,” he said.

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API/Source.The Nation (Kenya)- October 20, 2008.

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Africa at large: Summit seeks to forge grand economic bloc

Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

Kampala (Uganda – Twenty-six countries, mainly south of the Sahara, are seeking to merge into one trading bloc, a move pundits say will lead to faster African economic cooperation.

If endorsed during the ongoing summit in Ugandas capital Kampala, the regional economic cooperation will be the largest in Africa.

Inevitably, the summit of member states from the East African Community (EAC), Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC), and Common Markets of East and Southern Africa (Comesa), will tackle the global financial crisis.

Citing strains on resources and manpower due to multiple entries in various trading blocs, the three regional economic co-operations are seeking to dissolve their sub-regional bloc and merge into one.

Under the African Union (AU), there is an ongoing debate on how best to move towards an Economic Community and Union Government for Africa, but many countries choose to go slow, while others, especially the movers like Libya, say hesitation by other countries denies the largely poor continent the desired growth rate. “The best strategy is to consolidate regional integration and use regional economic communities as a building bloc towards an eventual AU government,” says Mr Eriya Kategaya, Ugandas Minister for EAC.

“We are implementing a strategy of moving towards a continental economic cooperation in a systematic manner than we would be in our small and economically weak regional economic cooperations,” he said.

“Our first tripartite summit will bring together heads of states from the three trading blocs to share ideas on how best we can merge into one economic cooperation.”

He said the summit would focus on cross cutting issue that affect the three blocs: EAC, SADC, and COMESA with the sticking issue being infrastructure development and connectivity, promotion of free movement of persons and integration covering economic and trade liberalisation.

“While EAC heads of states have resolved to commit more resources for development of infrastructure: roads, railways, sea ports and civil aviation, there is need to enhance the inter-connectivity with the other regions to benefit from synergies.

This summit is expected to provide an impetus in this regard,” said Kategaya. According to world statistics of 2006, the three blocs have a combined population of 527 million people, representing 57 per cent of Africas population.
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API/Source.The Standard (Kenya), by Samson Ntale – October 20, 2008.

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Uganda: ‘Western response to crisis shows double standards’

Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

Kampala (Uganda) – As the US and European economies sink deeper into economic turmoil described as the worst since the Great Depression that set in, in 1929, the rush by Western governments to rescue their distressed financial institutions has provoked disbelief and wonder among economists here who view those interventions as contradictory.

Some of these economists were amazed that the US, UK and other European governments that were the ones forcing the Ugandan government to divest itself of business and not interrupt the market forces are now instead scrambling to save their private sector companies that have been run into insolvency by imprudent management.

Mr Lawrence Bategeka, a fellow at the Economic Policy Research Centre, Makerere University suggested to Sunday Monitor that there was indeed a strong whiff of hypocrisy on the part of the West which compels poor countries like Uganda to part with some of their most prized public commercial institutions ‘because governments are not supposed do business’ while the same governments are currently doing the opposite of what is expected.

The US Congress on October 3 passed a massive $700 billion spending package that will be pumped into several key financial institutions and pull them back from the brink of collapse. The UK has also announced plans to pour vast amounts of cash into the nation’s financial system and partially nationalise some of the country’s biggest banks–Barclays, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Bank of Scotland and others.

The World Bank and IMF, which mostly tout the preferred economic policies of influential western governments, forced the NRM to sell Uganda Commercial Bank, Uganda’s largest bank then, to South Africa’s Stanbic at $19 million, a price said to have lower than its true value. The two institutions argued that UCB had to be sold because it was badly managed and was tottering on the brink of bankruptcy.

“It is easy to understand though. Our institutions like UCB were emerging as strong competitors for some of their companies and they had to invent a reason to force our government to sell it,” Bategeka said. He said it was “politically expedient” for the NRM then not to reject the West’s advice.

“The NRM was conditioned to do whatever it did with UCB and other companies because it had to do that if it wanted Western aid,” he said.

Mr Simon Rutega, the CEO of Uganda Stock Exchange, too, said it was intriguing that the US and Europe were scrambling to use taxpayers’ money to save collapsed private banks, mortgage and insurance companies yet they preached a different gospel to the NRM government.

He suggested that the NRM should have known better that there were certain instances when the government had to save a private sector company on account of the profound national interest it serves.

“The US and Europe realised that the cost of not saving these companies was going to be devastating and so they had to come in,” he said.

Even then, Mr Rutega argued that increasingly many economists are coalescing around the idea of responsible and humane capitalism which accommodates a broader role for the government that would otherwise not be permitted in a pure, free market economy.

The NRM government, according to Mr Nandala Mafabi, the shadow finance minister and chairman of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committe, government should take current global economic crisis as a stark reminder of their folly in allowing the IMF and World Bank advice to sell key economic institutions on the cheap.

“Any reasonable government will support companies that play a major role in the economy. UCB was a countrywide bank, the largest in the country but the NRM foolishly allowed silly advice from the IMF and World Bank to sell them,” he said.

“Going by what they (IMF and World Bank) lectured the NRM you would be expecting them to be telling the US government not to use taxpayers’ money to rescue private sector companies.”

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API/Source.The Monitor (Uganda) – October 20, 2008.

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Zimbabwe: SADC troika expected to break impasse

Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

Masvingo (Zimbabwe) – A summit of regional leaders on Monday should break a deadlock over sharing of Cabinet posts blocking formation of a unity government in Zimbabwe, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Sunday.

Tsvangirai told thousands of supporters in Masvingo city that his MDC party, President Robert Mugabes ruling ZANU PF party and a faction of the opposition led by Arthur Mutambara expected to conclude negotiations over Cabinet posts at a summit of the regional SADC alliance in Swaziland on Monday.

The rival political leaders and their negotiators will attend the meeting of the heads of state of Angola, Swaziland and Mozambique comprising SADCs organ on politics, defence and security that will discuss Zimbabwes deadlocked power-sharing deal.

We said this issue should be finalised there. This time we won’t fail,” said Tsvangirai, who was addressing his second rally in as many days.

The September 15 power-sharing deal brokered by former South African President Thabo Mbeki on behalf of SADC has hit a snag over who should control the key ministries of finance defence, home affairs and foreign affairs in a unity government outlined under the deal.

Mugabe two weeks ago unilaterally allocated all powerful ministries to ZANU PF and Tsvangirai who insists the MDC will not accept a junior role in the unity government has said he will quit the deal if the veteran President does not reverse his decision on ministries.

ZANU PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa offered little hope for a quick solution to the stalemate over ministries, telling state media on Sunday that Mugabes party would resist any attempts by SADC to dictate how ministries should be shared among the Zimbabwean parties.

“They can’t impose anything on us, especially on such a small matter as the allocation of ministries,” Chinamasa told the government-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper.

The historic power-sharing agreement retains Mugabe as president while Tsvangirai will become prime minister and Mutambara deputy prime minister. The agreement allots 15 Cabinet posts to ZANU PF, 13 to the Tsvangirais MDC and three to Mutambaras faction. However it is silent about who gets which specific posts and the rival parties have since the signing of the agreement wrangled over who should control the most powerful ministries such as defence, finance and home affairs.

Meanwhile, South Africas foreign affairs department said acting President Kgalema Motlanthe will lead a delegation to Swaziland on Monday. South Africa, the regions economic superpower and which under Mbeki shielded Mugabe from censure by the international community, is current chair of SADC.

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API/Source.ZimOnline (South Africa), by a correspondent – October 20, 2008.

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Kenya: Kibaki and Odinga to blame for election violence

Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

Nairobi (Kenya) – President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are not blameless over the post-election violence in which more than 1,200 people were killed early this year.

Even though the two principals, alongside former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, were last Friday honoured by the University of Nairobi for restoring peace in the country, the Waki Commission has referred to them over a number of acts of omission and commission that may have led to the violence that threatened to tear up Kenya at the beginning of this year.

The report also traces some of the causes of the unprecedented violence to the retired President, Mr Daniel arap Mois era, saying that his failure to implement findings of the Akiwumi commission into ethnic clashes that rocked parts of the country during the 1992 and 1997 elections contributed to the latest chaos.

And on Sunday, Justice minister Martha Karua said the Grand Coalition Government has to implement the report, stating that President Kibaki and Mr Odinga have given their pledge to meet the Herculean task.

As a Grand Coalition we must implement the report and President Kibaki and Mr Odinga have given their pledges, she said.

The Waki Commission report accuses President Kibaki of failing to exercise the required political control that would have convinced the public and the international community that the 2007 General Election would have been free and fair. This includes the Presidents failure to lead the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) from the front when he took over power in 2003 after winning the December 2002 elections.

The post election-violence is, in part, a consequence of the failure of President Kibaki and his first Government to exert political control over the country or to maintain sufficient legitimacy as would have allowed a civilized contest with him at the polls possible, the report observes.

The report also blames the Presidents decision to renege on the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Presidents National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAK) and Mr Odingas Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) before the 2002 elections. Under the agreement, the post of PM was to be introduced after 2002 General Election and the Constitution reviewed to recognise the new position. Failure to honour the MoU broke the trust that had been built between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga, in the process splitting Narc.

Cabinet ministers, senior civil servants and business people straddling the Presidents inner court at State House were blamed for the failed MoU. Mr Odingas allies blamed them for refusing to share power with others and branded them the Mount Kenya Mafia.

The Waki report also blames President Kibaki for the way he handled the search for a new Constitution and the 2005 referendum and its aftermath.

Even though the 2005 referendum was peaceful and results were accepted rather than contested, the parameters were nevertheless drawn, the report noted.

Worse was the decision by President Kibaki to dissolve the entire Cabinet after losing the referendum and excluding Mr Odinga and his allies from the Government a month later when he reconstituted his administration. The net effect, the Waki Commission stated, was further political polarisation.

Kibaki Governments turning away from it and removing from government the group of ministers associated with Odinga had the effect of increasing the polarisation of politics along ethnic lines, it says.

By so doing, the Waki report points an accusing finger at the President saying that he failed to take actions that would have bridged the escalating ethnic and political divide, which fuelled the political violence.

Kibakis regime failed to unite the country, and allowed feelings of marginalisation to fester into what became the post-election violence.

The Waki Commission blames Mr Odingas party ODM for the impression it created after winning the 2005 referendum regarding its Presidential candidate.

Witnesses from Coast said it had been expected that Mr Odinga would win with a huge margin and when Mr Kibaki was declared the winner, it triggered mass riots.

We (the commission) heard that the referendum had created very high expectations and the majority of the Coastal people saw real hope for positive change in the ODM party and its presidential candidate Raila Odinga who was widely expected to win the presidential poll.

The common belief in the region was that Raila could only lose if the poll was rigged, it said.

The PM is also accused of having been present at rallies during which core members of the ODM team labelled the Kikuyu community residing in the Rift Valley as madoadoa (blots or blemishes) who should be evicted from the region.

Rising up in arms in the context of the post-election violence therefore was self-driven imposition of this version of majimbo, through a forceful removal of people from places that were not considered to be their homeland, the report adds.

Former President Moi stands accused for allowing the culture of impunity to take root following the election violence of 1992 and 1997.
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API/Source.The Nation (Kenya) – October 20, 2008.

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Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

Nairobi (Kenya) – Question: Who is the man with over Sh37 billion to play with; is a nose away from winning the most powerful job on earth, and has paternal roots in Kenya? Answer: US Senator Barack Obama.

If opinion polls are to be believed, barring a disaster in the next two weeks, then Democratic Party presidential candidate Obama will be the countrys next president. Obama, whose father was a Kenyan student in America, has had a stunning performance in the campaign because he has put together the most organised and disciplined political organisation in recent US history, is charismatic, politically astute, and a very adept orator.

But America being America, Mr Obama has done something else that has made all the difference his fund raising abilities have become legend. He has raised more cash than any candidate in recent US presidential campaign history, thanks to an awesome internet-driven fundraising machine.

Going by figures from September, Mr Obama has been beating his Republican opponent, Mr John McCain, with a money raising 2:1 ratio for much of the campaign period. And with a healthy campaign war chest, he has spent big. By August, Mr Obama had attracted more than $450 million in funding, according to the Los Angeles Times, against Mr McCains $210 million. The same newspaper estimated that Mr Obamas figure in that respect will have exceeded US$500 million by election day. This is no mean amount by any rating.

Translated into Kenyan currency, it works out to about Sh37 billion (at Sh74 to the dollar). Imagine for a moment that Mr Obama was raising this money for his campaign, but had it to spend on his fathers motherland, what would it buy?

Well, it is enough to take care of all the expenses of the entire (recurrent and development spending) of the Kenyan Health ministry in the present financial year. And there would still be some Sh4 billion change.

According to statistician Mungai Kihanya, Sh37 billion could alternatively build 10 five-star hotels in the same league as Laico Regency (formerly Grand Regency).

The money could also fund more than half the budget of our Ministry of Roads, or, as Kihanya says, foot all the expenditures of the Ministry of Education for a whole school term.

Using Mr Kihanyas estimate that it takes about Sh20 million to build a kilometre of road in Kenya, Sh37 billion is enough to construct a dual carriage from Mombasa to Kisumu, and there will still be some Sh3 billion left over to finance the governments Sh2.9 billion roads budget for Nyanza Province.

By political comparison, if Mr Obama were a politician in Kenya and he had raised a similar amount of money for campaigns, he would have outspent ODM, PNU, and ODM-Kenya parties many times over.

Between September 28 and October 4, according to the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project which monitors political advertisements, the Obama campaign spent about $17.5 million (about Sh1.2 bilion) on TV ads.

This is equivalent to about Sh1.3 billion spent on TV ads for one week. The amount makes peanut of the approximately Sh200 million combined expenditure by ODM, PNU and ODM-K in total TV advertising during the entire last years election campaign season. And we thought the local parties had last year spent astronomical amounts of money in advertising! Even by US standards, the expenditures in political TV advertising are record breaking.

When Obama first announced his interest in the US presidency, his political opponents dismissed him as a nonentity, especially in terms of the necessary financial might that always went with people projecting such aspirations. But he seemed to have had something up his sleeve.

Backed by very many small contributors who were mobilised and galvanised through the internet and a wide range of new technologies (his ads are currently running in DVD games, a first), a few big financial supporters, Mr Obama was able to run a robust enough campaign during the primaries to clinch the Democratic nomination for the presidency.

In a June article in The Atlantic senior editor Joshua Green puts into perspective how the Democratic presidential candidate has deployed creativity in technology to his advantage.

He reports: To get a better sense of why it has succeeded, I opted to undergo the full tech immersion while reporting this piece, and soon had Obama ring tones on my phone, new networks of online friends, text-message updates from the campaign, and regular e-mails from its manager, all gently encouraging me to give money, volunteer time, bring in new friends, and generally reorient my life in ways that were made to seem hip and fun and inexorably aimed at the greater glory of Barack Obama.
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API/Source.The Nation (Kenya) – October 20, 2008.

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Nigeria: At last, Powell endorses Obama

Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

Lagos (Nigeria) – Asked last week at the THISDAY Africa Rising Festival in London to pick between John McCain and Barack Obama in the race for the White House, former US Secretary of State, Gen. Colin Powell, refused to disclose his choice.

“I am close to both of them,” he said. “I have known McCain for 25 years – we fought in the Vietnam War together. We’re both in the Republican Party. I have not known Obama for that long, though. But I have told McCain, I won’t support you simply because I’ve known you for so long. I told Obama, I won’t endorse you simply because you’re black. It would be a negation of my belief that we should all be judged by merit.”

Yesterday, Powell – the first African-American to be appointed Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US military and the first African-American to be appointed Secretary of State – finally endorsed Democratic Party’s Barack Obama – the first African-American presidential candidate in the history of US.

Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, the Chairman/Editor-in-Chief of THISDAY, had, in introducing Powell to give a keynote at the event, extolled Powell as paving the way for the emergence of other African-Americans in the world’s only Super Power.

“If not for Gen. Powell, there would not have been a Condolezza Rice, and there would not have been an Obama phenomenon today,” Obaigbena said to an applauding audience.

Powell broke his silence yesterday, saying the Democrat had the “ability to inspire”. “All Americans… not just African-Americans” would be proud of an Obama win, he said.

According to the BBC, Powell’s endorsement carries weight. This is in part because, as a former chairman of the Joint chiefs of Staff and former secretary of state, Powell’s backing says to undecided American voters “I trust this man as the Commander-in-Chief and so you should too”.

In regard to the financial crisis, which Powell called the candidates’ “final exam”, Powell said McCain appeared unsteady in dealing with it, while Obama had excelled in handling the situation.

“Obama displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge,” he told CNN. “He has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president.”

He has spoken to both McCain and Obama regularly and watched carefully and he has concluded, he said, that Obama has the style and substance to lead America in the future.

Obama was better suited to handle America’s economic problems, the former secretary of state said. “In the case of Mr McCain, I found that he was a little unsure as how to deal with the economic problems that we’re having,” he said. “Almost every day there was a different approach to the problem and that concerned me. You got the sense that he didn’t have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had.”

Powell had also been “concerned at the selection of Governor [Sarah] Palin” for running mate. “She’s a very distinguished woman, and she’s to be admired,” he said. “At the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don’t believe she is ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice-president.”

Last Tuesday at the THISDAY Africa Rising Music and Fashion Festival held at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall, London, United Kingdom, Powell spoke on his vision for the African contient.

He asked “the big men of Africa” to rise up to the challenge of lifting the continent out of its current state of abject poverty and underdevelopment.

“As Secretary of State, I pushed for support for the continent. Aid quadrupled during my tenure. We supported the fight against HIV/AIDS with over $15 billion,” he said. “However, big Africans must rise and take the responsibility for the development of the continent. They must end the wars. They must fight corruption.”

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API/Source.This Day (Nigeria)- October 20, 2008.

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Africa: Citizens enthuse about Obama, but governments more cautious

Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

Africa Confidential – A victory for Barack Obama in the United States Presidential elections on 4 November would be greeted with a roar of approval across Africa and the diaspora.

For many, it would be seen as a hugely symbolic victory for Africa at a time when the continents economies are growing in the slipstream of the more dynamic Asian powers. It would strengthen Africa-US ties amidst a long-term geopolitical re-ordering in which African traders and policymakers have been turning to Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

In Africa, the prospect of an Obama presidency is already raising high expectations, which are being quietly dampened by financial analysts well aware of the current damage to the US economy and the likelihood of cuts to Washingtons foreign aid budget (a possibility that Obama has already conceded). Some African governments, too, are playing down the benefits of an Obama win; particularly those harbouring concerns that as president he would take an unprecedentedly tough line on corruption and human rights abuses.

The belief that Obama would come to the presidency with more understanding and knowledge of African issues than any of his predecessors worries some African regimes. A senior African official, whose government is receiving substantial US military aid, suggested that some regimes on the continent might soon pine for some benign neglect.

The Obama campaign, complete with local sideshows, has been running in Kenya for over a year; Senator Keg beer has been informally renamed Obama beer. Last years barroom joke that the USA would have a Luo president before Kenya (Obamas father hailed from Nyanza) was intended to mock the presidential ambitions of Luo leader Raila Odinga; it quickly soured amid the post-election violence that killed more than 1,000 Kenyans this year.

Odinga, who says that his and Obamas father hail from the same area of Nyanza, told Africa Confidential that Africans would have to be realistic about an Obama presidency: He is first and foremost answerable to the US voters, maybe under him Africa will receive more attention in US foreign policy at the moment the US sees Africa only as a humanitarian crisis but not a place where you need to do more investment.

The two men speak regularly and Odinga says that Obama sees the need for a maturing of the US-Africa relationship to a point where we benefit not only from US technology but from US markets as well. One of the campaigns leading Africa advisors, Witney Schneidman, said Obama worked with a range of Kenyan politicians on a settlement after the post-election explosions.

In a public debate with Senator John McCains Africa advisor Peter Pham, Schneidman spelt out the three main poles of Obamas Africa policy: accelerating Africas integration into the world economy; enhancing the peace and security of African states; and strengthening relations with governments and civic activists who are committed to promoting democracy and accountability on the continent. Both speakers said the well-attended debate at Washingtons Press Club showed that Africa policy was growing in importance.

Critical of George Bushs administrations extension of the War on Terror into Africa, Obamas campaign has called for a recalibration and a more nuanced approach in Somalia because they say Washingtons efforts at state building, humanitarian relief and counter-terrorism have worked at cross-purposes.

More usefully, Pham and McCain are arguing for an end to US domestic agricultural subsidies. This would be hugely popular in Africa but unlikely to be a vote-winner in the USA. McCain says the cotton subsidies, for example, cost US taxpayers about US$3-5 billion a year but only benefit elite farmers. Ending the US cotton subsidy alone, Pham argues, would raise the incomes of West Africas cotton farmers by some 12%. That would mean boosting Burkina Fasos economy by some $40 million a year; the unspoken implication is that US foreign aid, running at about $18 mn. to the Burkinab government, could then be heavily cut or dropped altogether.

Africa was missing from the presidential and vice-presidential debates save for the question of US policy on Darfur. The elevation of Darfur to a litmus test of US foreign policy commitment owes much to lobby groups such as the Enough Action Fund, the Save Darfur Coalition and the Genocide Intervention Network. When Africa Confidential asked the Africa advisors in both campaigns about their stance on the proposed indictment of President Omer Hassan Ahmed el Beshir by the International Criminal Court, both said their candidates would fully support the indictment and would veto any move to suspend or defer it at the United Nations Security Council. McCains campaign suggested that Washington would contribute towards the cost of trying Sudanese officials (the US is not a signatory to the ICC) and Obamas campaign said it would seriously review the benefits of the US joining the ICC.

On Chinas ties with Khartoum, McCain says US policy should not be constrained by a Chinese threat to use the veto and Obama promised to elevate the genocide in Darfur to a top level priority in our bilateral dialogue with China. Both candidates insisted that they would not soften US policy towards Khartoum in exchange for intelligence cooperation. These pledges will be quickly tested.
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API/Source.Africa Confidential – October 20, 2008.

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Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

Press Release

Contact: Liz Hart

Phone: +27 11 783 5313

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 2008

South Africas energy sector is facing a series of challenges that no country can address in isolation. It is therefore critical for the energy industry to recognise and prevent potential risks as well as develop innovative solutions such as creating infrastructure and policies for development, thus ensuring a positive future for this country.

As South Africa continues to register consistent and positive economic growth rates, there are serious concerns that the energy supply and access challenges are hindering the countries’s overall growth prospects. It should, however, be noted that South Africa, a country forming part of the SADC Regional Hub, has vast renewable and non-renewable energy resources that largely go unexploited. Statistics state that only 7% of hydroelectricity and less than 1% of geothermal potentials on the entire continent have been exploited.

In order to address the above mentioned challenge and to explore viable energy solutions, an energy conference is scheduled to take place in Johannesburg, South Africa at Mintek Campus on the 13 November 2008 and is entitled ADEA Energy Conference in Southern Africa. The conference will allow the opportunity for representatives from respective South African companies to learn about best practices in the South African context, debate on viable energy solutions and form collaborative mechanisms that will assist in addressing the energy challenge that is hindering the continents economic growth.

The conference aims to showcase the various initiatives and solutions that South African Companies have developed and to present these innovative solutions as a case study for African countries to utilise when these countries develop innovative solutions for combating the energy crisis experienced in their respective countries says Dr Olga Svoboda (Dr), Director of Minerals and Energyat the Education andTraining Institute

The following topics will be critically discussed:

Energy in the world, in Africa and Southern Africa

Oil Products Supply and Transportation in South Africa

Electricity in South Africa from Eskoms perspective

Coal and Synthetic Fuels

Renewable Energy in South Africa

Project Financing for energy projects

Note to Editors:

For further information on the event please visit www.siyenza.za.com or to contact Siyenza Management- Liz Hart 083 227 5156 or liz@siyenza.za.com

***********************END************************************

RELEASE PREPARED BY:

Siyenza Management: Liz Hart

Tel: +27 11 783 5313

Email: liz@siyenza.za.com

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All Press no longer cares about accuracy because they have an agenda to get Obama elected.

Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

By Kim Keay-Dickert

In the story regarding Mrs. Michelle Obama, if indeed you have a taped recording of it, then I would recommend FOX NEWS because they are the only ones, anymore, who report the FULL truth. All the other media outlets would refuse to air it or try and suppress it or distort the story.

All Press no longer cares about accuracy because they have an agenda to get Obama elected. If you gave it to one of the big 3 and CNN, they might never air it or make such a small mention that it would go unnoticed. FOX will bellow it from the roof tops.

The other thing that could be done is to give it to a radio talk show host who is very credible like Bill O’Reilly or Michael Medved or Glenn Beck — these guys are trusted for the most part and not given to passionate distortions.

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Obama to be given a status in Kenya – airport to be named after him

Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

Kenya seeks big airport for Obama

Sarah Hussein ObamaBarack Obama’s grandmother lives in the village where his father was born

Kenyan MPs have called for an airport in the west of the country to be upgraded for Air Force One in case Barack Obama wins the US elections.

Mr Obama’s father was born in Nyanza Province and the MPs say the local Kisumu airport should be expanded in case he wants to visit.

The Illinois senator is a local hero in his father’s homeland, where a local beer has been named after him.

Mr Obama has never lived in Kenya and he has visited just three times.

The MPs from Nyanza Province said it was clear that Mr Obama was going to clinch the US presidency, the private Nairobi Star newspaper reported.

Mr Obama will face Republican John McCain in the 4 November elections.

Mr Obama’s father was from Alego-Kogello village which is 60km (37 miles) from Kisumu.

Kisumu Town MP Aluoch Olago told parliament that the delay in the airport’s expansion was a major concern, the Nairobi Star reported.

Transport Minister Chirau Mwakwere said the airport’s expansion programme was behind schedule, and is expected to be complete by July 2010.

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API/Source.

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Posted by African Press International on October 20, 2008

Kenya: Looking at our Senator Obama in an African way (commentary)

In the part of Africa where I come from, the older relatives (particularly in the village) used to judge the failings of children in a manner that was very unfair to their mothers.

ByDaily Nation (Kenya), by Charles Onyango-Obbo | 02.21.2008

If a child failed her examinations in school, they would say she is stupid like the mother. If she topped the class, they would say she takes after her father or one of her paternal relatives. They will say this with a straight face, even if its common knowledge that the father dropped out of school to become a businessman, and its her bright mother who graduated from university with flying colours, therefore the child probably takes after her.

If, in her rebellious adolescent years, she jumped over the fence to go to a party against her parents wishes, they would claim that she is badly behaved like the mother, or an aunt on the mothers side. But if she were an obedient child who helps out in the local church, then she would have taken after her father. Never mind that he is a hard-drinking bloke who hasnt attended prayers of any kind for years. This approach towards assessing childrens character and abilities allowed generations of, sometimes largely incompetent, African men to maintain some dignity and respect despite their many failures.

It also reinforced the patriarchal architecture of society by enabling the husbands side of the marriage to look always better than the wifes. We tell this story because we have to comment on the stunning success that Senator Barack Obama is enjoying in his quest to be the Democratic Partys presidential candidate in the US elections in November. If he keeps up his present winning streak, then he is going to whip Senator Hillary Clinton to take the prize. And, though at this point it sounds too good to be true, opinion polls say that if the election were held today, Obama would beat the man who will almost definitely be the Republic Party candidate, John McCain, to become Americas first black president.

Senator Obama was born to Barack Hussein Obama, a good Kenyan man from Kogelo, Alego, in Nyanza, and an American mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. When he came to Kenya in 2006, and visited his ancestral home (there was that memorable hug with his 85-year-old grandmother Sarah), they were the headiest days in Alego. According to The Times, there are prayers aplenty for Obamas good fortunes in Kogelo.

The paper quoted his uncle, Said Obama, apparently not a particularly cosmopolitan gentleman, saying in apparent reference to leader Raila Odingas claim that he was cheated out of the presidency by President Kibaki in the December polls, a claim which the president vigorously denies, that: Now we are praying for Obamas success… Even if we never get a Luo in Kenyas State House, we may have one soon in the White House.

Nyanza is, of course, nowhere near Illinois that Obama represents in the Senate, and Kenya is a far cry from the US. Still, he must be the most famous person with Kenyan ancestry in the world today, and could soon be the most powerful Kenyan to walk the earth. So one wonders how the elders in my village would call this one; does his fathers genes, or his mothers account for Obamas success? There are no rewards for guessing what his grandmother and relatives think, but after the post-election genocidal, ethnic fury, it has become that much harder to argue that the Kenyan blood flowing in Obamas veins is what accounts for his success.

To the Americans, Obamas case is clearly one of those where the child is the product of a strong-willed mother, and not a deadbeat dad. But its not too late for Kenya to settle this matter. Look at it this way. Barely two months ago, Kenya, as The Economist put it, was an admirable example for Africa. After the disputed polls, many have been quick to write it off as another African basket case. But now there are the Kofi Annan-mediated talks between the Government (Party of National Unity) and the opposition ODM, to resolve the post-election impasse through a power or responsibility sharing deal.

A settlement that allows Kenya to get back to work and to exorcise the demons that plunged it into crisis might see the country being touted as the comeback African nation by the end of the year. It might look unlikely today, but its not impossible. One would have said the same thing of Obama a year ago. A first-time senator with no experience in government or foreign policy; a black man in a country with a history of racism that is still fresh in the memory of civil rights activists, running against a Clinton. It looked like his goose was cooked. Methinks if the country bounces back and gets on a high roll, and Obama wins the American presidency, it will be hard to deny that the Illinois senator has a Kenyan streak in him.

Source: http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/

10m Africans to participate in anti-poverty campaign
Thursday, Oct 16, 2008
The United Nations Millennium Campaign and Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) said yesterday that over 10 million Africans are expected to participate in this years Stand Up Campaign scheduled for later this week. Tajudeen Abdul-raheem, director of the UN Millennium Campaign told a news conference in Nairobi that the UN anti-poverty plan campaign will take place between October 17 to October 19 this year.

This is an opportunity for Africans to demand accountability. We need to send a clear message to their leaders that they will no longer stay silent while promises to end extreme poverty remain unfulfilled, Abdul-Raheem told journalists in Nairobi .

Globally the campaign aims to mobilise more than one per cent of the worlds population over 67 million people on October 17 to 19 to demand that world leaders deliver on their promises to eradicate extreme poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

This will be almost one and half times more than the 43 million mobilised globally in 2007.

Its incredible to see that in times of economic instability people are even more motivated to show their leaders that they want poverty eradication to remain at thetop of the agenda, said Kumi Naidoo, co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP).

From the smallest villages to city streets, sports events and political lobbies, the sheer diversity of actions is staggering.

We are showing the power of our growing movement in an unprecedented way this year, said Naidoo.

Amongst the millions of people Standing Against Poverty are individuals with compelling stories to tell, such as activist and journalist Jenerali Ulimwengu, who has dedicated his life to exposing and fighting bad governance in Tanzania.

Ulimwengu will spearhead demands for the government to fulfill the MDGs by ensuring that poor people have access to clean portable water, improving access to healthcare (particularly for women and children), putting in place pro-poor development policies and improving service delivery in all key sectors.

Also Standing Against Poverty is James Njoroge Gitau, who lives in the Kariobangi slums in Kenya , surviving on less than one dollar a day.

Gitau has mobilized more than 100 schools and churches to Stand Against Poverty and is organising a medical camp to care for sick people in his community.

Gitau is calling on his government to put in place pro-poor policies, stop corruption and allocate resources for programs for the poor.

Several top artists will join hands in Nairobi on Saturday to host a concert aimed at protesting rising costs and reminding world leaders that Africans will not accept a new slavery through retrogressive trade policies such as the Economic Partnership Agreements.

In U.S. Presidential candidate Barrack Obamas village of Kogelo in Nyanza province, citizens will come together to demand better services from government.

Across Africa anti-poverty campaigners will be calling on their governments to implement several key policy demands including acceleration of fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and ensure food security and scrapping value added tax on basic foodstuffs.

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API/Source/Nation.ke-

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