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Archive for November 2nd, 2008

Waki Report exposes the beasts in Kenyan politics: If blame was to be apportioned, it should, first and foremost, go to the top leadership of the ODM, including Raila himself.

Posted by African Press International on November 2, 2008

By Edward Kisiangani

Over the past few weeks, there has been heightened disquiet within the ranks of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party.

Such tension is not necessarily unusual, especially within political outfits, which encourage the nurturing of diverse opinions on various issues. In many respects, dissent is good for the growth of our democracy.

However, the current dissonance in ODM is significant because it originates from the controversial findings of the Waki Commission on post-election violence. Soon after the release of the report, Regional Development Minister Fred Gumo asked Kenyans to forget about the Waki findings and endeavour to forgive each other.

Gumo was of the view that implementing the report findings would serve the twin purpose of destabilising the coalition government and renewing conflict between opposing communities.

Following submissions by Gumo, more politicians from both the ODM and the PNU joined the debate. Some supported the total execution of the Waki revelations while others vouched for selective or partial implementation. Still more asked for the total rejection of the release.

In ODM, the unanimous disapproval of the report by Kalenjin MPs was rather unconcealed. Led by Agricultural Minister William Ruto, Kalenjin members of Parliament have trashed the report and accused Justice Wakis team of taking Kenyans for a ride. On the other hand, the ODM faction led by both Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his deputy Musalia Mudavadi hold the view that the Waki report should fully be adopted. That changed on Thursday when the party agreed to trash the report.

Acrimony

At the centre of the acrimony is the yet-to-be-opened envelope containing the list of suspected perpetrators of the post election violence. The Rift Valley lawmakers think that if blame was to be apportioned, it should, first and foremost, go to the top leadership of the ODM, including the Prime Minister himself.

It explains why Isaac Ruto, William Ruto, Henry Kosgey, Joshua Kutuny and others have gone ballistic. There is a sense in which one could sympathise with the sentiments of the lawmakers from Rift Valley.

Most of them feel that whatever they did in the aftermath of the December polls was aimed at defending the party and Raila. Thus they see Railas take on the report as a callous exhibition of malice and betrayal.

Kenya is obviously bigger than any political party and the implementation of the Waki Report should not be determined by the extent to which it has either acquitted or implicated certain political party stalwarts.

It is important to understand that the Waki Commission was not obliged to only accept evidence, which favoured the leadership of political parties. Supported by the United Nations, the commission had a duty to secure Kenyas national interests and not to protect partisan preferences.

Though the report has exacerbated the rebellion in ODM, the problems of the party go back to the final years of the Narc administration.

Because of President Kibakis failure to implement the mutually agreed upon Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Narc disintegrated with one faction remaining with Kibaki and the other one walking away with Odinga.

The Odinga group transformed itself into the Orange movement that mobilised the Kenyan people to reject the government-friendly Wako Draft Constitution.

Referendum

But the events of the 2005 constitutional referendum also revealed that the Orange team was united by two major factors.

First, most of its members are former Kanu conservatives and young members who had quit the independence outfit to protest President Mois move to anoint the relatively unknown Uhuru Kenyatta as the partys presidential torchbearer in 2002.

In this group, we had, among others, such personalities as Raila, Ruto, Ntimama, and Balala. These people were not necessarily revolutionaries.

Thus, the 2005 constitutional referendum provided the Kanu wing in Narc a chance to take political revenge on Kibaki.

The new anti-Kibaki faction transformed itself into ODM and was soon joined by more Kanu leaders like Mudavadi, Chris Okemo, Kosgey, Bett and Ruto, and for a brief period, Uhuru.

In ODM, the struggle for party leadership and ownership has taken a very dangerous ethnic angle.

Two ethnic communities are rivalling over the control of the three-year-old party.

On one hand we have Luo MPs and councillors fighting hard to retain control of the party and on the other hand there is the Kalenjin faction, which wants to wrest power from the Luo.

Each of the two camps has a chief priest. Odinga for the Luo camp and Ruto for the Kalenjin faction. Beyond the two camps, the remaining members form the cheering crowd. Some of the cheerleaders who have taken factional positions include but are not limited to Mudavadi, Magara, Gumo, Alfred Sambu and Ababu Namwamba. A party so much embroiled in ethnic politics can hardly find time to address national issues.

It is against this background that Kenyans might appreciate why the Kalenjin leadership is currently intimidating Raila to back out of the move by the Government to evict from the Mau forest people who, several years ago, fraudulently acquired land in the water-catchments area.

Nobody in the Ruto faction seems to care that the destruction of the Mau forest will irreversibly damage the ecological system of the entire region of East Africa.

Like their ODM counterparts, some PNU leaders have also dismissed the Waki Report, saying the findings had ensnared those who had defended themselves against the attackers. Led by Central Kenya MPs, these legislators have been holding several ethnic meetings to divert national attention from the real issues raised in the Waki dossier. On Wednesday, Uhuru held a meeting with his tribesmen and cousins from Nairobi, Central and upper Eastern provinces to drum up ethnic hostility against the report. His response is hardly surprising.

Friends

His political operations have always been fed by ethnic chauvinism. He was not expected to act outside the ethnic ethos of his fathers and Mois Kanu.

Being in Kanu and PNU, Uhuru and his political friends in Central and Eastern provinces are not expected to be reformers. Uhurus sentiments on the report are similar to Rutos. How can Ruto the supposed reformist concur with Uhuru the conservative over such an important matter as the post-election violence?

It has become apparent that PNU and ODM are hatching similar plans to dismiss both the Waki and the Kriegler findings before they eventually conspire to kill the efforts of the Kenyan people to write a new constitution.

Alongside ODM, PNU should never be allowed to control our lives again. What we require in the coming years is for Kenyans to press for a new constitution that provides a suitable avenue for nurturing a leadership filled with fresh ideas and a commitment to build a new Kenya.

The scenario begs a few questions. If Ntimama, Ruto, Raila or Balala had taken power in 2003, would they have performed differently from Kibaki?

Can any leader in ODM persuade Kenyans that they can provide this country with more progressive leadership what we so far have today? Where is the evidence that an ODM leadership could solve the problems caused by PNU?

Apart from some people distributing government jobs and tenders among themselves, what else has changed in this country?

Both PNU and ODM should not be allowed to interfere with the full implementation of both the Waki and the Kriegler findings.

The Kenyans must demand action from politicians. I am afraid we need real change in this country but that change might never be realised through ODM or PNU.

Dr Edward Waswa Kisiangani teaches History and Political Studies at Kenyatta University

—————-API/Source.standard.ke

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Raila’s ODM party Breaking up?: Kalenjin MPs are leaving the Party – The tete-a-tete that saved party from implosion is temporary.

Posted by African Press International on November 2, 2008

By Oscar Obonyo
A breakfast meeting between Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Agriculture minister William Ruto on Wednesday morning may well have saved ODM from a major split.
Coming in the wake of a frosty relationship between the two leaders and against the backdrop of a rebellion, mainly by MPs from Rift Valley Province, the meeting was meant to calm rising tempers.
The two leaders might have succeeded to rescue the situation at least for the moment but MPs polled by The Standard On Sunday confess that this was just a stop-gap measure and “trouble is far from over”.

Raila and Ruto have fundamentally differed on how to approach the Waki Report and there is no denying that this document has hit the Orange party harder than any other political party.

Although rage and discontent has been boiling among ODM MPs for some time, their frustrations came to the fore rather dramatically last Tuesday when a group of 23 legislators defied an order by the partys parliamentary whip Jakoyo Midiwo of holding a Parliamentary Group meeting.

Led by the PG Secretary Ababu Namwamba, they met and dismissed the PMs position as “personal”.

They resolved to stage another meeting two days later. While the PM supported the implementation of the report of the Court of Appeal Judge Phillip Waki-led probe committee into post-election violence, Ruto wanted it trashed “in toto”. He carried the day.

The argument advanced by Ruto and Water Development minister Charity Ngilu, in blocking the implementation of the report, is that it would harm the partys political class, who were only but protesting over a stolen election and by inference protecting Railas political interests.

Railas attempt to have the legislators see it another way has failed flatly. During the Thursday meeting, Raila reportedly implored on his colleagues stating that the “matter at hand is larger than you see it”.

Image before international community
According to one MP, the PM stated that even as they trashed the report, they needed to think about the image of the party in the eyes of Kenyans and the international community. Raila was disturbed that Kenyans would in future judge the party harshly for condoning crimes against humanity.
“Listening to Raila, I really felt pity for him. Even as we told him to forget about Waki, these issues are heavy and he may still have to rethink his decision considering that he has a huge responsibility in this matter and Kenyans are watching, as well as the US, UK and the UN,” observes the MP.

Nonetheless, the development partially vindicates Raila and now effectively catapults Ruto into the drivers seat. Having been heavily outgunned by the ODM PG, the responsibility of what transpires as from this moment, in regard to the Waki document, squarely lies in the hands of those who have pushed for the ODM standpoint.

Incidentally, both Raila and Ruto are signatories of the statutes that led to the setting up of the Waki Commission. Raila by appending his signature to the National Accord that ushered in a shared Government with President Kibaki and Ruto by signing the establishment of the resultant probe committees, as member of the Serena negotiating team.

One of the documents signed on March 4 partly stipulates that the Waki team will “carry out investigations of gross and systematic violations of human rights and that those found guilty are brought to justice.”

And touching on the dreaded “secret envelope”, it is categorical that “certain aspects of the report or annexes may be kept confidential in order to protect the identity of witnesses or persons accused.”

Separately, The Standard On Sunday has established that prior to ODMs decision, a group of top party lawyers had been mandated to read the report and establish “whether it raises grounds and hard evidence against members of the ODM fraternity.”

Admittedly, there was a huge sigh of relief among members following the lawyers findings. These included, that it was heavily flawed and attempted to shield certain individuals.

The report, the lawyers point out, targets the ODM fraternity over reactionary activities (street protests) while it totally excludes “real actions” (alleged rigging plot) by those who triggered the poll mess.

But most importantly, the lawyers return a verdict that there is no serious and credible evidence to prosecute any of the ODM legislators or partys top brass.

The lawyers recommend, among other things, the prosecution of members of the police force responsible for a third of the post-election violence deaths and other “minor” perpetuators of the violence.

Neglect

“The lawyers are competent and known to all of us, in fact some are personal lawyers of the partys top brass and were nominated for the task by these politicians. It is therefore unfortunate for some to deliberately poison the situation as a weapon to settle political scores,” laments a party official.
But an MP from Coast Province instead accuses Raila of “abandoning members and neglecting interests of Rift Valley residents to appease the Kikuyu”.
Says he: “These guys will never vote for him come what may. My colleagues in Rift Valley feel that their place in the party is not taken seriously.”

Namwamba concurs that things were indeed getting out of hand: “Discontent is not just from Rift Valley alone. There has been a disquiet right from Coast, Northern Kenya, Western and even Nyanza. The only difference is that Rift Valley MPs have been more vocal.”

And while noting that the PM might have been consumed by responsibilities in Government, including projecting a national image, a host of ODM legislators accuse their Rift Valley colleagues of washing the partys dirty linen in the public and wrecking the party from within.

“Much as we need to address our internal issues, let us do so with decorum. The PM has enough problems with the President Kibaki and (Head of Civil Service, Francis) Muthaura in Government and (DPM Musalia) Mudavadi, Ruto and others ought not give him more stress,” says a Nominated MP.

According to Namwamba, however, the sole challenge rests with Raila. He observes that the President and Muthaura are by extension part of ODMs frustrations and Raila should make clear some issues.

Says the Budalangi MP: “As they put pressure on us to deliver on several fronts, our supporters need to be told that we are not fully in charge Kibaki and Muthaura are.

This is the reality that our PM needs to confess as it will ease a lot of pressure on him from his expectant supporters in Rift Valley and across the country.”

Agriculture Minister William Ruto and Prime Minister Raila Odinga at a press briefing. Photo: File/Standard

The Standard On Sunday has reliably established that the breakfast meeting at a “very quiet location” had only two main items on the agenda a ceasefire of the verbal tirade among legislators and an agreement that they both attend last Thursdays Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting “without failure”.

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API/Source.standard.ke

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Posted by African Press International on November 2, 2008

The Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht Saturday called for the review the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force (MONUC) in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), to effectively protect civilians targeted by armed groups, said a statement after his closed door meeting with Rwanda President Paul Kagame in Kigali.

Kagames meeting with the Belgian minister at his Village Urugwiro office comes amidst a queue of Western diplomatic efforts across the region aimed at preventing a fresh deadly conflict that has thousands of Congolese displaced and without shelter or food.

According to the statement from the Belgian embassy in Kigali and signed by Bart Ouvry, the Belgian foreign affairs spokesman, De Gucht called for review of the MONUC mandate to that of a robust and effective force with more freedom to intervene when civilians are targeted by armed groups.

The minister urged MONUC to act effectively and prevent the illegal exploitation of mining sites.

The statement also quoted De Gucht as having urged Kagame to use his influence to ensure that the current still-standing ceasefire continues to be respected by both parties.

On Friday evening, Kagame met the European Union Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, and discussed the DR Congo question.

However according to state media, Kagame reportedly told Michael that the DR Congo conflict is an internal matter and DR Congo government was responsible for 95 percent of its problems.

The EU diplomat said both Kagame and DR Congos Joseph Kabila have agreed to an emergency summit aimed at resolving the crisis.

UN agency and several humanitarian organizations in the eastern Congolese town of Goma, estimate that more than one million people have been displaced by the conflict pitting DR Congo government forces against rebels of the renegade general Laurent Nkuda.

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Posted by African Press International on November 2, 2008

King Mohammed VI of Morocco urged Algeria, on Saturday, to endeavour for the implementation of an Arab Maghreb, based on healthy and solid foundations and to enhance the brotherly and neighbourly relations between the two Maghreb countries.

The call of the king was underpinning a congratulation message sent to Algerian president Abdelhaziz Bouteflika for the 54th anniversary of the Algerian revolution.

The Moroccan King expressed “his resolved determination to continue, together with the Algerian president, the joint action aimed at strengthening the relations of brotherhood and neighbourliness, of profitable cooperation and active solidarity between the two countries to achieve the rightful aspirations of the two peoples towards attaining an Arab Maghreb established on healthy and strong bases”.

The Maghreb is set to become an “active grouping both within its regional space and in its Euro-Mediterranean and international environment, while respecting the national components and characteristics of its five countries,” King Mohammed VI pleaded.

The Union of the Arab Maghreb (UMA) was established in 1989 by the five countries of the region i.e. Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia and Libya.

The UMA is facing troubles to take-off due to tensions between Morocco and Algeria, which were exacerbated by the Western Sahara conflict.

The kings message also underscores “the common destiny and unavoidable unity and integration required in a bid to face the various challenges” between the two countries.

Last July, Morocco had urged Algeria to normalise its relations with the Sherifan Kingdom and to reopen the land borders that Algiers closed since 1994.

“Whatever differences of views” on the Western Sahara conflict “cannot justify the continued closure of the borders,” King Mohammed VI deplored.

Algeria decided to close its borders after its nationals carried out terrorist attacks on the Moroccan land in 1994.

Rabat had accused Algiers of being behind the attacks against Marrakech (centre), which claimed two lives among foreign tourists.

Algeria is unconditionally supporting the separatist Polisario Front, headquartered in its territory since late 1975, following the withdrawal of the Spanish colonisers from Western Sahara that was then placed under Moroccan dominion.

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API/Source.apa

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Egypt poised to host dialogue to solve crisis in DR Congo

Posted by African Press International on November 2, 2008

Egypt is ready to host an expanded regional dialogue between the parties involved in the recent confrontations in eastern DR Congo, namely the governments of DR Congo and Rwanda as well as the militias, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit said on Saturday.

Abul-Gheit said the proposed dialouge should concur on mechanisms to implement any agreed upon agreements, offering Egypts support to hold such dialogue.

Abul-Gheit expressed optimism over the ceasefire declared by parties involved in the conflict in eastern DR Congo following the recent fierce clashes.

Though the truce is a positive step there is need for a serious dialogue between the parties concerned, he said.

He urged the international community, including the United Nations and the European Union, to offer all needed support for Congo to achieve peace and implement a disarmament program for the militias.

Abul-Gheit added that Egypt will consult with all parties concerned to find a solution to the crisis in DR Congo which threatens the whole Great Lakes region.

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