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Archive for June 2nd, 2009

Greedy beings to face the rope: Five Kenyans to hang over drugs in China

Posted by African Press International on June 2, 2009

Their greediness is now taking them to face the rope and get hanged by the Chinese. Instead of studying, they resorted to try and get rich quickly by getting involved in dealing with drugs. API

By Cyrus Ombati

Five Kenyans have been sentenced to death in China after they were found guilty of drug trafficking.

Six others have been condemned to life imprisonment in Chinese jails for drug peddling, The Standard has established.

And 20 others, majority of them young women, are serving a cumulative jail term of 150 years. Some of them may not even have known that they were carrying drugs.

These are among more than 200 Kenyans currently being held in various jails in China, India, Pakistan, UK and other Asian countries over drug-related offences.

Some of those already serving jail terms were university students before they were lured to serve as drug couriers. Among those sentenced to death are Mr Peter Amisi Obonyo, 36, who was arrested in Shenzhen, China. Others are Ms Josephine Achieng Onim, 25, and Ms Grace Lucy Omondi, 57 both arrested in Guangzhou on different dates.

Ms Leah Muthoni Mweru Kimani and Ms Christine Nyabera Ongowo, 47, were also sentenced to death after being arrested with drugs in Guangzhou. Those sentenced to life imprisonment are Margaret Mudasia Engesia, 36; Ms Oliviah S. Munoko, 26; Ms Peris Mumbi, 39; Jemimah Wairimu Wangai, 43; Ms Catherine Wambui, 39; and Ms Jacinta Wambui Kuria, 44.

More Arrests

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the number but said the figure could be higher as more Kenyans had been arrested last month on drug-related offences and their particulars remained unclear.

The acting Head of Press and Communications

Unit at the Foreign Affairsministry, Mr Kiboi Waituru, however, clarified that none of those handed death sentences has been hanged yet.

The Standard has also established that many other Kenyans are serving sentences in jails around the world for drug-related offences, but the Government is unaware because they used fake documents, or were not registered with Kenyan missions abroad. A number of them have died in foreign jails.

“It is unfortunate that some of our missions do not have records of Kenyans arrested or serving sentences on drug charges because many of them do not register with the embassies as required. Some only do so when seeking assistance when they encounter problems,” said Waituru. Most of the convicts were caught carrying a kilo or less of the drugs, which range from cocaine to heroin and amphetamines. The traffickers are usually paid between Sh200, 000 and Sh300,000 on delivery of the drugs. Waituru said police in other countries contact the Kenyan missions to verify the nationality of suspects arrested while traveling on Kenyan passports.

The Government too assists the families of those in custody to travel abroad to visit their relatives. A list of names of the traffickers in Chinese jails alone, a copy of which was obtained by The Standard, show that some Kenyans were given death and life sentences after pleading “guilty” to the charges.

Many of the traffickers were arrested in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Beijing on diverse dates between 2007 and last month. “Some of them have had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment for good behaviour while in jail. They are hardly executed,” Waituru said.

Some Confessed

A big number of the Kenyans in custody have allegedly confessed they had been recruited by a Nigerian drug kingpin a Mr Ken Amadu Obina Okuoma in Nairobi. Okuoma has since been deported.

Okuoma had operated a drugs empire in Kenya for more than a decade until early this year when he was caught in a dramatic police operation. He was also linked to the arrest of former Miss Tourism and fashion model Ms Loise Ambasa, who was found with 4.2kg of cocaine valued at Sh21 million on arrival at Nairobis JKIA airport from Accra, Ghana, in 2005. She was released in November last year after police failed to produce a bag that they had earlier claimed contained the drugs.

Police investigations show that drug barons operating from Nairobi have been recruiting couriers, especially young women, who are lured with the promise of large amounts of money and lavish lifestyles.

Head of CIDs Anti-Narcotics Unit Ms Judy Auma said the number of Kenyans in custody over drug offences abroad could be higher because some of the cases go unreported.

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Air France flight crashes with 228: Could it be intentional crash?

Posted by African Press International on June 2, 2009


Undated file photo of an Airbus A330-200 similar to the Air France plane which vanished from radar after leaving Rio de Janeiro in Brazil on route to Paris, early June 1, 2009. The Air France plane on its way from Brazil to Paris has gone missing with 228 people on board, the airline said on Monday. Its last known location was unclear. Brazilian television said the Brazilian air force had started a search mission over the Atlantic Ocean for the plane. PHOTO/ REUTERS


In Summary

  • French minister rules out the possibility of a hijacking

An Air France plane with 228 people on board was presumed to have crashed into the Atlantic Ocean today after hitting heavy turbulence on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

Air France said in a statement the plane sent an automatic message reporting an electrical short-circuit at 0214 GMT, roughly 15 minutes after flying into the turbulence.

Senior French minister Jean-Louis Borloo ruled out the possibility of a hijacking of the flight AF 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

There was very, very strong turbulence. For now we can’t understand what happened, Borloo, the second most senior in the government, said on France Info radio.

Apparently the possibility of a hijacking has been excluded, Borloo said.

Flight AF 447 has 216 passengers and 12 crew on board. It left Rio de Janeiro on Sunday at 7 p.m. and was expected to land at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on Monday at 11:15 a.m.

It’s an awful tragedy. It’s dreadful … Until 10.45 a.m. we could still have some hope, but at this stage the kerosene reserves have been more than used up, Borloo added.

The jet’s last exact location at the time of going to press was unclear.

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38 more killed in the battle for Mogadishu – Fight for power raging in Somalia

Posted by African Press International on June 2, 2009


In Summary

  • Thirteen civilians among the dead as al Shabaab militia fight government soldiers
A roadside bomb and more fighting between Islamist insurgents and government forces have killed at least 38 more people in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, a local rights group and residents said today.

In the worst fighting this year in the war-scarred coastal city, al Shabaab rebels have been battling Somali police and soldiers in mortar and machine-gun exchanges that have sent tens of thousands of residents fleeing Mogadishu.

The battle to control the city is the biggest test to date for the new government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed — himself a moderate Islamist — which was formed in January under a U.N.-brokered reconciliation process in neighbouring Djibouti.

The violence has drawn in several hundred foreign jihadists, experts say, as well as fuelling a humanitarian crisis, allowing piracy to flourish offshore, and perpetuating a cycle of civil conflict since the 1991 fall of a Somali dictator.

In a favoured tactic of the rebels, a roadside bomb on Monday killed at least 10 people, including four officers, police said.

The bomb hit the car badly and some of the dead bodies could not be recognised, said Abdiqadir Odweyne, a senior police officer.

The local Elman Peace and Human Rights Organisation said that brought to at least 38 the number killed in the last 48 hours in Mogadishu. About 70 have died in the last two weeks.

Most of the latest fatalities were combatants, though at least 13 civilians had also died, Elman deputy Ali Yasin Gedi said.

I have seen 10 dead people including government soldiers and Islamists lying near Yaqshid police station, meat-seller and mother-of-three Halima Ali told Reuters.

The fighting started yesterday and continued to this morning. The Islamists were chased away but they are likely to come back.

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Kibaki’s new agenda for jobs, food and key reforms – Celebrating Kenya Madaraka day

Posted by African Press International on June 2, 2009

Kibaki during the Madaraka day

President Mwai Kibaki, First Lady Mrs. Lucy Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are entertained by Najile Boys secondary school from Kajiado District during celebrations to mark Madaraka day at State House Gardens, Nairobi. PHOTO/ PPS


In Summary

  • Kibaki and Raila in bid to rise above party bickering and tackle Kenya’s problems

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday used the independence day celebrations to rally a country reeling under the weight of a poor economy and political instability.

In their speeches, the two leaders tried to drag the attention of the nation to urgent problems ranging from the rising cost of living, job losses across the economy, famine and insecurity.

They also signalled that the coalition was serious about dealing with these problems.

Share power

President Kibaki and Mr Odinga share power in a coalition whose constant bickering and wasteful spending has sometimes attracted the criticism that the leaders are either unaware of the problems facing the people or they only care about power and its trappings.

Once again, the President sought to reassure the public that the coalition was working fine.

The Prime Minister and I are determined to ensure that the Grand Coalition functions harmoniously. We are fully committed to faster and sustainable development, peace, unity and stability, he said.

The Head of State, who was the chief guest during the commemoration of the day Kenya attained internal self-rule 46 years ago, said occasional disagreements in the coalition should not be construed to mean that the country or the government is in a crisis.

He, however, asked political parties and the public not to take rigid positions so that a new constitution can be written in the next few months.

The two coalition parties, the Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement, pull in opposite directions on nearly every issue.

In his 24-page speech, the President attempted to address the most important problems facing the country, describing a new constitution as an important reform pillar which should be written as quickly as possible.

Unite the people

“Now that we have the Committee of Experts in place, it is essential to move ahead without further excuses, he said.

The new document should also unite the people, make sure everyone takes part and feels part of the nation and be able to withstand the test of time.

The President steered clear of quarrels that are consuming a lot of political energy: the fight for the positions of Leader of Government Business in Parliament and chair of House Business Committee, the contest over who between Mr Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka is second to the President in rank, foreign trips by Cabinet ministers and a UN report accusing police of illegal executions.

But he announced a raft of measures to help struggling families: To ensure there is food, the President ordered the Ministry of Finance to extend the importation of duty-free maize by private firms to the end of the year. The order was scheduled to end this month.

He also announced that the government will continue distributing food to needy families.

Reacting to increased job losses as a result of the global economic crisis and increased cost of production, the President directed Labour ministry to work with the Federation of Kenya Employers and the Central Organisation of Trade Unions to find ways of saving jobs.

While we understand the difficult economic times we face locally and internationally, I want to appeal to all employers to be more innovative in overcoming the difficult times, he said.

The President said there must be alternatives to laying off workers.

According to FKE, about 10,000 jobs have so far been lost. Speaking after the celebrations, Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli welcomed the Presidents directive saying the global economic recession is not affecting us wholesomely.

President Kibaki also announced that Sh3.4 billion had been disbursed to various ministries under the Kazi kwa Vijana programme to create jobs for the youth and an additional Sh6.6 billion will be allocated in the next financial year.

We expect to generate 300,000 jobs from the programme in the initial six months. The Office of the Prime Minister has already formed a committee to harmonise, monitor and evaluate the efficiency of the programmes, he said.

Additionally, the Sh2.3 billion Youth Enterprise Development Fund has financed 65,000 groups countrywide and created 200,000 jobs. The allocation for that programme is to be raised to Sh5 billion in the next three years.

The Women Enterprise Fund has since been disbursed to 92,000 women and will be increased from Sh1.2 billion to Sh1.7 billion this month.

Several multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects, the Head of State said, were being implemented and will create much-needed jobs and stimulate economic activity countrywide. They include Special Economic Zones, construction of the Lamu Port, Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor and a new standard gauge railway line between Mombasa and Kampala.

These new highways, railways, ports, power stations, oil and water pipelines, tourist resort cities, airports as well as business and technology parks will altogether create thousands of jobs and give a boost to our economic growth, he said.

Despite the economy registering a 1.7 per cent growth last year, a drop from 7.1 per cent in 2007, President Kibaki said the future was good and the economy was likely to grow by between two and three per cent this year.

Criminal gangs

On insecurity, he said the police were under firm instructions to deal decisively and swiftly with those who threaten the lives and property of Kenyans.

He said the country has to deal firmly with threats posed by organised criminal gangs, militias, commercial cattle rustlers and vigilante forces if we are to create a modern society.

As part of judicial reforms, the President said funding for the Judiciary, State Law Office, the Police and Prisons Department will be increased. He directed the Attorney General, the Judiciary and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission to speedily deal with graft cases.

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Kenya to enforce police reforms soon: 24 top officers set to lose their jobs

Posted by African Press International on June 2, 2009


Administration Police women march past the presidential dias during the 46th Madaraka celebrations at the Nyayo stadium. At least 24 senior police officers are to be dropped from the top police command as part of the planned reforms in the security agency. PHOTO/ HEZRON NJOROGE


In Summary

  • Merging of APs and regular units will also trim leadership

At least 24 senior police officers are to be dropped from the top police command as part of the planned reforms in the security agency.

These are part of a wide range of proposals that would see the force transformed into the Kenya Police Service.

The restructured command would leave only six senior officers reporting directly to the police boss instead of the more than 30 at present.

The Police Reforms Task Force was constituted to drive the process of transforming our police force into a police service, President Kibaki said during Mondays Madaraka Day celebrations.

The team of experts headed by retired judge Philip Ransley is scheduled to meet senior officers from the Administration and regular police this week.

Ahead of the discussions, Vigilance House has prepared a document titled: Kenya Police Reforms Framework in which it proposes the roadmap for a revamped law enforcement agency.

The two policing agencies have sharply differed over a proposal to merge their operations, with the APs preferring to maintain the status quo.

The proposed merger notwithstanding, the regular police headquarters has agreed that some specialised units under the force be combined, culminating in the lean command at the top.

This would see independent units like the Anti Stock Theft Unit and the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit brought under the General Service Unit.

The Flying squad and the Special Crime Prevention Unit would be combined and their bases spread out in Nairobi, Mombasa Urban, Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu.

Among other reforms, re-organising the structure of command is meant to give the police boss ample time to concentrate on policy matters, leaving field commanders to oversee the technical work.

The revamped law enforcement agency would be headed by an Inspector General enjoying security of tenure just like the Chief Justice.

Unlike today

The holder of the office would also be the chief accounting officer unlike today, where the force is a department within the Internal Security and Provincial Administration ministry with a permanent secretary as the accounting officer.

A deputy Inspector General will be second in command, unlike today when the police chief is deputised by several commanders.

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