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Archive for June 21st, 2012

Turkey steps up trade in East Africa

Posted by African Press International on June 21, 2012

  • Thomas Ochieng reporting for API from Kenya 

In a bid to act as the bridge between the developing and the developed world, Turkey has embarked on a massive trade engagement with the East Africa region with Kenya being the hub in the trade engagement. The Turkel trade fair that has been successful carried out in Kenya since the year 2000 which brings together manufactures from Turkey, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Indonesia, Iran and Jordan for an international trade fair has created one of the biggest opportunity for the East Africa region business community in finding future partners, technology transfer and new business deals.

The annual event organized by Turkel Fair has through years created an excellent and unique business opportunities to participants from a wide range of manufacturers in a single platform for interaction with potential business community and consumers in an environment that breeds confidence and mutual linkages by both parties.

While officially launching the 2012 Trade fair in Nairobi, the Turkey’s envoy to Kenya H.E Tuncer Kayalar implored the importance of Kenya’s manufacturing sector entering into joint programmes with the visiting trade delegation. “Kenya is the gateway to the East Africa region hence its imperative for Kenya to develop its manufacturing sector to match the big demand in East Africa region by expanding its manufacturing sector by adding value to its raw materials” said the Ambassador. He added that for Kenya to enjoy the benefits of large-scale manufacturing, it has to encourage competition which has ripple effects in encouraging innovation, creation of employment and making finished goods affordable.

These sentiments were echoed by Turkel Fair Chief Executive Officer,Bulent Erten who stressed the importance his organization has placed on Kenya “The East Africa region blessed with a population of over 400 million people, and Kenya being the strategic hub is the natural choice for the investment trade fair of the magnitude so far” He added that the trade fair has the express goal of creating mutual understanding and cooperation between East Africa and the world.

The week-long trade fair that brings over 55 professional exhibitors with a wide range of products ranging from textile, cosmetics, edibles, kitchen ware, automotive, engineering, furniture, clothing lines and footwear among the wide range of products both for domestic and industrial uses.


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Shun Tribal Politics for Kenya to Progress.

Posted by African Press International on June 21, 2012 Patience Nyange - a Kenyan journalist

<Patience Nyange reporting for API from Kenya

It has been a week of sadness and sorrow as Kenyans mourn fallen heroes. The 10th of June, 2012 will forever be remembered by many Kenyans as a day that robbed them of their Minister for Internal Security, Professor George Saitoti, 67 and his assistant, Joshua Orwa Ojode, 53.  These two perished in a police helicopter crash in Ngong Forest in Kajiado County alongside other victims,  pilots Nancy Gituanja and Luke Oyugi and bodyguards Thomas Murimi and Joshua Tonkei.

Though speculation is rife in regard to what could have caused the deaths, investigations are underway. The cause of the crash was not clear, but several witnesses said the chopper burst into flames as it hit the ground.

It will also be remembered that this same day, 10th of June in 2008, Kenyans lost yet two other ministers, Kipkalya Kones and Lorna Laboso who died in a light aircraft crash near Narok.

The deaths of these two Kenyan heroes, Saitoti and Ojode, seems to have marked a new beginning in Kenyan politics as all leaders call for unity and an end to political ethnicity that has continued to divide Kenyans for a long time.

Cabinet ministers, members of Parliament led by the His Excellency, President Mwai Kibaki, the Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and the deputy Prime Ministers Uhuru Kenyatta and Musalia Mudavadi attended both burials and all echoed calls for harmony.

The Late Prof. Saitoti was laid to rest on Saturday at his Kitengela Farm in Kajiado County with more than 20,000 Kenyans attending the 7 hours service. His colleagues in Parliament lavished great accolades on him and promised Kenyans that they will do everything to continue Saitoti’s Legacy.

“Saitoti was a great man, who fought for Kenya as a country regardless of his tribal inclination. I am therefore, ready to put my personal ambitions aside so that I can take this country to where George Saitoti wanted it to go,” said Uhuru Kenyatta who is also a presidential hopeful.

Saitoti who had publicly declared his interest to vie for the top seat in the forth-coming general elections was lauded by many as a great leader who protected Kenyans day in and out in his internal security docket.

“He worked tirelessly; he put Kenya’s interest at heart at all times. Saitoti saw Kenya as a mirror. Unlike many of us, he never saw Kenya as a broken mirror. When we look at ourselves through a broken mirror, our image gets distorted,” said James Orengo, the Minister for Lands.

Other dignitaries present during Saitoti’s burial were former President of Kenya, Daniel Torotich arap Moi, in whose administration Saitoti served as the Vice President for 13 years. Until his death, Prof. George Saitoti was member of parliament for Kajiado constituency for 19 years.

Moi described him as a focused man, strong-willed and who shunned ethnicity for the sake of Kenya’s peace and unity.

Many will recall the fall-out in Kasarani in 2002 between Moi and Prof. Saitoti. During his subsequent speech, Saitoti made what was to become one of his memorable comments….”there comes a time when the nation is bigger than an individual”

Jerry Rawlings, the former President for Ghana said he received the news of Saitoti’s death with shock and disbelief. He narrated his encounters with Saitoti who was a Mathematics Professor and said Kenya had lost a visionary leader.

All the ministers who rose to eulogize Saitoti warned Kenyans against perpetuating tribal politics, a vice that Saitoti tirelessly fought against. “One thing that made him angry was when you asked him what tribe he was, he preferred to be called a Kenyan,” said James Orengo.

Prof. George Saitoti leaves behind a widow, Margaret Saitoti, a son, Zachary Msengi Saitoti and his orphaned Kajiado constituency. He was put to rest shortly after 5pm East African Time while many Kenyans prepared for yet another burial, that of his assistant minister the following day at Kanyamwa Location, Ndhiwa Division, Homa Bay County.

Sunday 17th June saw Orwa Ojode the assistant minister laid to rest. This day was no different as all the leaders called for unity ahead of the general elections. The President was present and restated the plea he made during Prof. Saitoti’s burial that leaders should honor their words.

 “Why do we keep repeating the same words rather than acting on them, rather than allowing those words to become our guide? Why? If we do so, this is what will make a difference. We will become genuine people,” he said.

More than 100 dignitaries composed of Cabinet ministers and members of Parliament were present during Ojode’s burial. All who made speeches showered praise and shared fond memories about Ojode during his term in Parliament. Ojode served as an MP representing his constituency for 13 years until his untimely death.

 “We Kenyans are good at funerals and weddings. But when it comes to making choices we cease to be Kenyans. We speak here as politicians, but when we leave here we will go back to our ethnic cocoons,” said the Lands Minister James Orengo who described Ojode as a selfless leader who served his Ndhiwa constituents and the country at large with a lot of commitment.

Kenneth Marende, the speaker of the National Assembly credited the MPs for showing great unity during the mourning period as well as the final journey of the late ministers and asked them to uphold the same spirit.

“We should now say no to ethnicity, regional ethnicity and call for unity; this is what will bring us together as Kenyans.” He added.

His sentiments were echoed by the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, who cautioned Kenyans against putting their tribes first if full prosperity was to be achieved. “Lets us dream of uniting this country so that we remove the barrier of ethnic divide. Let us be Kenya and one Kenya, that’s how we can pay tribute to Ojode and Saitoti,” said the PM, warning leaders against popularizing political groupings like Gema and Kamatusa.

Hon. Ojode who leaves behind a widow, Mary Ojode and son Andrew Ojode was laid to rest shortly after 3 pm East African time.

Curiously, most of the dignitaries made their way to Ndhiwa by road and there was speculation that this could have been as a result of the continued deaths though air-craft crashes. Incidents of helicopter crashes in Kenya have been on the increase and have claimed the lives of top government officers including then Roads Minister Kipkalya Kones and Home Affairs Assistant Minister Lorna Laboso, former leader of opposition Bonaya Godana, then Internal Security Assistant Minister Mirugi Kariuki and former Labor Minister Ahmed Khalif.

With the great unity born of a shared loss and the promises made by political leaders during this mourning week, there’s a general hope that the vice of ethnicity that has divided Kenyans since time immemorial will finally come to an end.



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How close is an African criminal court?

Posted by African Press International on June 21, 2012

Analysis: How close is an African criminal court?

An AMISOM soldier on patrol near Bakara market in the Somali capital of Mogadishu

JOHANNESBURG,  – The long-running spat between the African Union (AU) and International Criminal Court (ICC) over perceived bias has prompted the AU to push ahead with plans to form its own Africa-wide criminal court, but analysts believe the move could complicate, rather than enhance, international justice.

“Africa wants regional ownership of its crimes and its leaders,” Alan Wallis, an international justice lawyer at the Johannesburg-based Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC), told IRIN, but pointed out: “There is a misbelief [by the AU] that Africa is being targeted, as all cases before the ICC concern African situations, but this ignores the fact that of those six [cases], three were referred to the ICC by the countries concerned.”

AU commission chairperson Jean Ping has accused ICC of “bullying” Africa, with a key bone of contention being the 2009 indictment of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir for alleged atrocities committed in Darfur.

Plans for an African criminal court moved into an advanced stage with a final draft protocol drawn up in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on 15 May. It is widely expected to be adopted at an AU summit meeting of heads of state in July.

The venue for the summit was originally intended to be Malawi, but the host president, Joyce Banda, said it would honour its ICC obligations and arrest Sudan’s president should he attend. The meeting was subsequently switched to Addis Ababa.

Adoption of the new court, according to analysts, requires formalizing the crime of “unconstitutional change of government”, and it would require ratification by 15 AU member states – a process which could take a few years.

The jurisdiction envisaged by the new AU court replicates that of the ICC, covering such things as the major international crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – and adds others such as piracy, terrorism, mercenary activity, corruption, money-laundering, human and narcotics trafficking and the illegal exploitation of natural resources.

Calls by the AU “in the interests of peace and security” on the UN Security Council to defer or postpone legal proceedings against Bashir – and against the alleged instigators of Kenya’s post-electoral violence in 2008 – have fallen on deaf ears.

Stephen Arthur Lamony, Africa outreach liaison and situations adviser for the Coalition for the ICC, an umbrella organization of 2,500 civil society organizations in 150 countries, told IRIN: “The AU feels ignored”. He said AU requests to defer legal proceedings in the two cases would remain “a sticking point” between the AU and the ICC.

He added that the ICC had been attempting to establish an AU-ICC liaison office for “quite a while”, but had not met with success.


The African Court of Justice and Human Rights is supposed to be formed through a merger of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights and the AU Court of Justice, and is envisaged to comprise three sections: general affairs, human rights and international criminal law.

According to the court’s draft protocol, the AU Peace and Security Council and the office of the prosecutor will be eligible to submit cases; the court’s jurisdiction for international crimes will commence after its inception. This means that the court would not trump current cases being considered by the ICC regarding the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Kenya and Sudan.

''Here is a completely new creature – a regional criminal court, with identical jurisdiction to the ICC''

Wallis said the court’s composition, combining a human rights function and criminal prosecutorial powers was “unprecedented” under international law, and the process appeared to be rushed. “Here is a completely new creature – a regional criminal court, with identical jurisdiction to the ICC, but with no bridges between the two and it is difficult to anticipate the potential implications and challenges.”

Where the ICC will fit in, if at all, was unclear. Lamony said the ICC has agreements with national courts but not with regional courts. Wallis foresees confusion should the AU court materialize. “In this regard guidance to African ICC states parties on balancing the relationship between obligations assumed through their ratification of the Rome Statute and the anticipated obligations imposed by the proposed expansion, and the legal implications, should be properly canvassed through further state engagement. A wait-and-see approach may do more harm than good.”

Jonathan O’Donohue, Amnesty International’s legal adviser for international justice, told IRIN: “The ICC already exists, but it does not seem clear and it is not set out if there is any relationship between the ICC and the [proposed] regional criminal court. There is a danger of duplication [between the two international criminal courts] and also the potential for conflict over jurisdiction. This needs to be resolved before it goes any further.”

Weapon of the West?

In 2009, the AU adopted the Sirte Resolution calling for non-cooperation by African ICC member states in the arrest of Bashir. Malawi (during the presidency of the late Bingu wa Mutharika), Chad, Kenya and Djibouti – all ICC state parties – have hosted Bashir since the arrest warrant was issued and did not apprehend him.

The ICC was established by the Rome Statute in July 1998 and the court entered into force four years later and now counts 121 state parties – 33 of which are African – but noticeable by their absence are the USA, Russia, China, Israel, Sudan and India among others.

Established as an international court of “last resort”, it was designed to pick up the slack should domestic laws or local criminal justice systems be unable to proceed against the major international crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. In August 2002 South Africa became the first African state to enact the Rome Statute’s provisions into its domestic law, and is only one of four African states to have complied so far.

In a 2010 Institute for Security Studies monograph entitled The International Criminal Court that Africa Wants, the author, Max du Plessis, a practising advocate and associate professor of law at South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal, cites Bashir’s arrest warrant as the “flashpoint” that spawned a raft of allegations by the AU against the ICC, with the AU accusing the ICC of being “a hegemonic tool of Western powers” and of having double standards.

Don Deya, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and CEO of Pan African Lawyers Union which was tasked with drawing-up the legal foundations of the AU’s regional court, said in a March 2012 article for the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa entitled; Is the African Court Worth the Wait? that there was no reason an African court and the ICC could not work “harmoniously” to end impunity for international crimes, “despite the current bitter divide between Africa and the ICC”.

Deya said in the article that the genesis for the African criminal court was not the “furore” surrounding Bashir, but three other pertinent issues – universal jurisdiction, Senegal’s impending prosecution of former Chadian President Hissene Habré, and formulation of the international crime of “unconstitutional change of government”.

A French court’s November 2006 arrest warrant for, and subsequent arrest of, Rose Kabuye, the post-genocide Rwandan chief of protocol, in Germany in 2008 was “a turning point”, Deya said: The AU determined that “African states… try international crimes on African soil.”

Is it affordable?

An AU report following a two-day meeting of justice ministers and attorney-generals in May 2012, attended by 29 African states as well as representatives of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, the Pan African Parliament and the Africa Prosecutors Association, highlighted the cost implications of establishing an international criminal court.

“Technically it is not a bad idea on paper. Any forum that seeks to punish perpetrators of international crime is a good idea. But the concern is that you create this institution which may take years to formally get off the ground, but technically could nonetheless allow for ‘forum shopping’ by providing a choice between the African criminal court and the ICC, and could delay prosecutions and frustrate efforts at accountability,” Wallis said.

Lamony said many AU member states do not pay their fees, which handicaps the continental body’s operations. “I do not know where they will get the money from [for the court]. In the past [former Libyan president] Muammar Gaddafi would have probably contributed.”

O’Donohue said there were also concerns that the proposed combined AU court could see the criminal functions of the court drain resources from the already under-resourced human rights court and there “needs to be clarity on the budgetary system”.

The estimated average cost of an ICC trial is about US$20 million or 14 percent of the AU’s overall annual budget. The ICC trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor cost about $50 million. The 2011 costs for the Special Court of Sierra Leone (SCSL) were $16 million, while the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) had a budget of $130 million in 2010, with 800 staff involved in simultaneous trials.

The cost of individual criminal trials far outweighs those of civil and human rights cases, Wallis said, adding: “The nature of international criminal proceedings makes them extremely resource intensive. Insufficient funding has the potential to prevent the proper dispensation of justice and could raise questions about the integrity and credibility of the court’s future proceedings…

“There is no excuse in this day and age to make anything less than a perfect criminal court… The experience of international criminal tribunals demonstrates that states’ broad support is essential to arrests and assistance in investigations. The conceptualization of a regional criminal tribunal must take into consideration the experiences and shortcomings of other international criminal tribunals such as the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and ICTR and the ICC, so as to avoid problems down the line.”




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Health workers get TB too

Posted by African Press International on June 21, 2012

Health workers get TB too

DURBAN,  – Dr Elizabeth Serogo Nkhi is a medical doctor with a master’s degree in business leadership. She is also CEO of her own consultancy, where she trains NGOs and government departments on capacity building and tuberculosis (TB) management. And she runs her own private practice east of South Africa’s capital, Pretoria.

At the South African National TB Conference, Nkhi reminded the audience that health workers get TB too. She spoke to IRIN/PlusNews about her struggle to deal with the complications left behind by a disease she cured almost 20 years ago.

“Unfortunately, TB, even if cured, can still cause residual damage and long-term complications in those who’ve had it. In 1994, while I was a medical student at the University of Cape Town, I was diagnosed with TB of the uterus. I received TB treatment and I took every single dose for fear of my DOTs [Directly Observed Treatment Short course] supporter, who happened to be the [residence] matron.

“Having dedicated my time and energy to the fight against TB, I know first-hand the stigma – even in those years, if you got TB [people thought] you were either from a very poor home or you were HIV-positive.

“Nevertheless, I did finish my treatment and I was TB-free. Unfortunately, the TB did not leave me as it found me. I’ve been through the challenge of living with the complications, or what I call the aftermath of TB.

“Fast forward a few years after 1994. I met the love of my life. In 2003, he proposed. Two months later I fell pregnant. The same day I started experiencing severe lower abdominal pains and had to be taken into casualty. I was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy and a laparotomy was performed.

“A year or so later, in early 2005, I started having mild lower abominable pain. I visited my gynaecologist and received the good news – I was pregnant. I was ecstatic, I was ready for this.

“My happiness was short-lived. Three days later, I collapsed at work had to be rushed to the hospital. I ended up on the theatre table – ectopic pregnancy again.

“I thought, ‘Enough is enough. Two years in a row?’ I was still busy with my master’s in business leadership. I thought, ‘We can’t continue like this, I need to finish my master’s. If I am going to be pregnant every year and have to take six weeks off, this is not going to work.’

“We decided to take matters into our own hands. We decided I was going to have a tubal ligation – sterilization. We were now in control. We were going to start planning for children when we were ready.

“Mid-2006 we were ready for in-vitro fertilization (IVF). We went to a fertility specialist and started treatment. During the course of the IVF, I had complications so I had to go into theatre. A laparotomy again.

Photo: Foundation for Professional Development
“The aftermath of TB”

“The problem was sorted and we continued with IVF. It was successful and we were very happy. Then, a week later, I was back on the operating table There I was, having a third ectopic pregnancy.

“A year later, in 2007, I went back for IVF. Now there was a new problem – my eggs were acting up. I was advised there was nothing that could be done about the eggs. They are finished. We were devastated.

“Since I am one who never gives up, in 2009 I went for a second opinion on the egg situation. I know about the [fallopian tube] situation – TB damaged them – but the egg situation was new to me. I was 35 [years old] – I mean, eggs are still good then, right?

“I went to a different fertility clinic, and God bless the doctors at Steve Biko Academic [Hospital], they beat those ovaries until they actually produced some eggs. Then the eggs didn’t implant. Another disappointment.

“We thought, ‘Okay, we’ll relax and then try again before I’m 40’. I’ve seen people… they have twins at, like, 45. I was even thinking I should try to raise some money to go to New York, because they seem to produce these babies.

“We let go of the process – [IVF] is a taxing process, emotionally, physically and financially. Then in February 2012, I was going about my business, training healthcare workers on TB management, and in a workshop I started experiencing lower abominable pains.

“I went to see a gynaecologist. She broke the news – I was pregnant, but it was in the [fallopian] tubes once more. Off we went for the fourth laparotomy.

“In total, I’ve had five laparotomies, but we haven’t given up. I still dream of the pitter-patter of little feet.”



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Everyone is looking for safety: UNOCI peacekeepers in western Côte d’Ivoire

Posted by African Press International on June 21, 2012

UNOCI peacekeepers in western Côte d’Ivoire

ABIDJAN, ) – Up to a dozen people jostle for space in small houses meant for families of four, but at least they have found refuge in Duékoué, a town near the Liberian border. A new militia attack in Côte d’Ivoire’s restive western Tai area left 16 people dead, including seven UN troops, and triggered the displacement of around 300 families from villages to nearby towns.

“It’s survival for the fittest. Everyone is looking for safety,” said Fabrice Kouablan, a primary school teacher who fled to Duékoué after the attack on 8 June, when gunmen ambushed UN peacekeepers in Para village. Thousands of civilians are believed to be still hiding in forests with little to survive on.

“I did not have the time to carry a shirt or trousers. As soon as I saw my parents ready to leave, I had no choice but to follow them,” Kouablan said. “Now all the villages have been deserted.”

Most of the civilians displaced by the June 8 attack are on the Ivoirian side of the border, but scores of others crossed into Liberia, said Anouk Gesgroseilliers, the spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The UN mission in Côte d’Ivoire (ONUCI) said around 300 families who fled the violence have been registered.

The latest spate of attacks in Côte d’Ivoire’s western border regions is being blamed on mercenaries from neighbouring Liberia and Ivoirians loyal to former president Laurent Gbagbo. Gbagbo’s refusal to concede defeat in the November 2010 polls plunged Côte d’Ivoire into months of violent crisis.

The porous Côte d’Ivoire-Liberia border is densely forested and difficult to police, and has been plagued by intermittent violence since Gbagbo’s fall. Fighters opposed to the current regime of President Alassane Ouattara have been attacking villages for months, according to analysts.

Land disputes – occasionally violent, with offences on both sides – are not new in western Côte d’Ivoire, but landowners say the post-election crisis raised existing tensions to a new level, triggering violence in which countless homes have been destroyed and tens of thousands of people displaced.

Thousands of Ivoirians, many of them Gbagbo supporters, fled their villages in the 2010-2011 violence and are displaced either in Côte d’Ivoire or Liberia as they fear attacks, or because their homes have been destroyed or occupied by others.

Some 160,000 Ivoirians have sought refuge in Liberia, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

In a report released two days before the attack on 8 June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) blamed the Liberian government for failing to prosecute Liberian mercenaries and Ivoirian gunmen who are hiding out in Liberia.

“For well over a year, the Liberian government has had its head in the sand in responding to the flood of war criminals who crossed into the country at the end of the Ivoirian crisis,” said Matt Wells, HRW’s West Africa researcher.

“Rather than uphold its responsibility to prosecute or extradite those involved in international crimes, the Liberian authorities have stood by as many of these same people recruit child soldiers and carry out deadly cross-border attacks.”

The UN Panel of Experts on Liberia noted in a December 2011 report that the gunmen would worsen insecurity in the border areas and land conflict in western Côte d’Ivoire, especially if the attacks were coordinated and sustained.

Liberia closed its border with Côte d’Ivoire a day after the attack. Ivoirian Defence Minister Paul Koffi Koffi said they would pursue the militia across the border if they carried out another attack.

In Tai, host families struggle to keep up with the influx, while their guests yearn for security and being able to resume a normal life.

“I have already suffered this situation less than a year ago. This can no longer continue,” said Mathieu Glougoueu, 64, a farmer and father of four. “We left food in granaries. We were preparing for the rice planting season. We are wondering whether it is worth returning.”

Aid is yet to reach the people in the remote region where poor roads and insecurity make access difficult, but for Alice Momblehi and her six children, the crowded living conditions are slowly taking a toll.

“At the moment we are sleeping several people in the houses of those who have agreed to host us,” she said. “Even with food aid, we will not be comfortable.”


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