Tomer Avital in the wake of the approval of the 2023-24 budget For the sake of the journalists and presenters…
Written by Diana Thebaud Nicholson // December 8, 2011 // Kenya // Comments Off on Kenya 2008-2011
The Greenbelt movement ; CIA World Factbook ; CIDA overview of Kenya 2011
Kenya: Elections & Aftermath – comprehensive survey of IPS coverage
Kenya inflation rate
An evening with Flora Terah Igoki, Founder of Terah against terror
Next elections a make or break for Kenya, warns Annan panel
Kenyans told to prepare for radical changes the new Constitution brings into their lives, manners, habits, governance systems and ways of delivering justice
(Nation, Kenya) a diversity of Kenyans from politicians, policy makers in ministries and government departments, professionals, heads of commissions, civil society, councils of elders and the media dedicated two days on how the Constitution can be used to conduct the next elections peacefully, and along the course, create enduring institutions that will stop Kenya from going down the abyss as it did in early 2008.
When it opened on Monday, the meeting on reforms progress in Kenya led by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, seemed to follow the script of the first two sessions — all talk, cautions, complaints and buck passing.
Mobile application helps Kenyan herders
A Kenyan farmer has developed a mobile telephone application to help herders improve productivity by registering their cows and providing information on market prices, feeding schedules and area experts. Supporters say iCow is a prime example of how technology is changing the way Kenyans think about business. The Christian Science Monitor (11/11)
Kenya’s displaced suffer inhuman conditions – U.N.
(AlertNet) Kenya needs to resettle thousands of displaced families who are living in dire conditions almost four years after being forced from their homes during post-election violence, a senior United Nations official said on Tuesday.
Some 1,220 Kenyans were killed and more than 660,000 people were displaced when violence flared between supporters of rival presidential contenders, fuelled by historical grievances between different ethnic communities.
This month, the International Criminal Court is holding hearings that will determine whether six high-profile Kenyan politicians and senior officials should stand trial for crimes against humanity related to the violence, including murder, rape and forcible transfer of people.
Wangari Maathai — The loss of a baobab
(The Economist | Baobab) THIS blog was named after a tree because a tree nurtures, it holds together the land and provides sustenance and a gathering point for a local community. The Kenyan environmentalist, Wangari Maathai, understood these qualities better than anyone. The winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, who died on September 25th while undergoing treatment for cancer at a hospital in Nairobi, worked tirelessly over the last decades to plant over 20m trees throughout Africa. As a woman she understood that women were strong like trees; they should do the planting.
She was lionhearted. She took on Kenya’s strongman, Daniel arap Moi, and stood up to the crooks in his government who were trying to steal Nairobi’s central park for development. She was imprisoned and brutalised, but she won: Uhuru Park will be her legacy.
Nobelist, environmental leader Wangari Maathai dies
Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, a founder of the Green Belt movement that pioneered the planting of trees in Africa and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, died Sunday of cancer at the age of 71. Her movement led to the planting of an estimated 45 million trees. BBC (9/26), CNN (9/26), The New York Times (9/26)
Kenya mourns Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai
(The Independent) Wangari Maathai, the first African woman recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, died after a long struggle with cancer, the environmental organisation she founded said today. She was 71.
A Passing: Wangari Maathai
(Dot Earth | NYT) Her work centered on improving the lives of women, building a sustainable relationship between people and the land and education. Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts. … read the defense of her prize, which was criticized by some, from Anna Lappé and Frances Moore Lappé of the Small Planet Institute. Here’s a snippet:
Maathai’s genius is in recognizing the interrelation of local and global problems, and the fact that they can only be addressed when citizens find the voice and courage to act. Maathai saw in the Green Belt Movement both a good in itself, and a way in which women could discover they were not powerless in the face of autocratic husbands, village chiefs and a ruthless president. Through creating their own tree nurseries – at least 6,000 throughout Kenya – and planting trees, women began to control the supply of their own firewood, an enormous power shift that also freed up time for other pursuits.
Then, through popular education, village women – who had watched public forests be used by the Moi regime to grant political favors – began to see forests differently, as something they, as citizens, had a claim to.
KENYA: Thousands of children to be immunized amid polio outbreak
(IRIN) Though polio is targeted for eradication in Kenya, there have been sporadic outbreaks, with cases reported in the northern Garissa and Turkana districts in 2006 and 2009, respectively. The outbreaks were linked to ongoing polio circulation in neighbouring Somalia and Southern Sudan, according to the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation.
Dozens are dead in Kenyan gas explosion
Dozens of Kenyans died Monday in a Nairobi slum when gas from a leaky pipeline ignited. Explosions from burst pipelines are not uncommon in Kenya, and in 2009 more than 100 people died trying to scoop up fuel from an overturned tanker. The Washington Post (9/12)
Kenya outlaws female genital mutilation
Kenya has become the latest country in Africa to take steps to protect girls from female genital mutilation, passing a bill that not only makes participating in the practice illegal, but prohibits derogatory comments about women who have not undergone the procedure. “I have fought for 18 years to achieve this legislation. … today women have achieved independence from the cruel hands of society,” said Linah Kilimo, head of the Kenyan Women Parliamentary Association. The Guardian (London)/Global Health blog (9/8)
Kenya puts its faith in fish farming
(The Guardian) The Kenyan government is pushing fish farming to provide an alternative to small farmers who are scrabbling to eke out a living from poor soil
Raphael Were Owaka cuts an incongruous figure in his bright yellow oilskin despite the warm sunshine as he stands above a huge pond, filled with fingerlings – fish the size of a thumb.
The tall 61-year-old has just led a group, squelching through waterlogged fields, to show 18 ponds to harvest tilapia, which have been practically fished out of Lake Victoria, about an hour away. The lake provides more than 90% of Kenya’s total fish supply, but dwindling stocks have pushed up the price of fish in western Kenya where almost 60% of households are dependent on fish as a source of income, either directly or indirectly.
The ponds form part of a Kenyan government initiative to push aquaculture – a successful concept in Asia – so it can provide an alternative to small farmers who are scrabbling to eke out a living from the poor soil.
Kenya loses bid to stop ICC poll probe
Hague court dismisses plea to halt investigation against six for suspected role in deadly 2007 post-poll violence.
(Al Jazeera) The organisation said on Tuesday that Kenya had failed to show it was conducting its own investigation of six suspects.Improved seeds are promoted to overcome Africa drought
African communities facing prolonged spells of scarce rain and drought would be more likely to survive if farmers grew improved varieties of neglected crops, according to the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. A lack of demand for the drought-resistant seeds is complicating efforts to market affordable trial packs to farmers, who are wary that improved varieties of dryland crops — such as groundnut and pigeonpea — will sell as well as more marketable, lower yielding crops. The Guardian (London)/Poverty Matters blog (8/29)
Kenya’s ‘Ocampo Six’ soon to clear last hurdle before trial
Kenya’s ‘Ocampo Six’ – the name given to the six political figures accused by the ICC of inciting Kenya’s 2007 post-election violence – have one more hearing in The Hague before their trials begin.
In April, the suspects appeared before the Court for a formal presentation of the charges against them. In September, the suspects will return to The Hague for a “confirmation of charges” hearing, the last major stage before trials begin.
Kenya waffles on new camp as refugee population explodes
While the world’s most populous refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, is bursting at the seams — prompting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to move thousands of people to an overflow area — a nearby $60 million camp, new and fully-equipped, stands empty. A human rights group has called upon the Kenyan government to open the camp, which was built with funds from international donors. The Independent (London) (8/11)
Craig and Marc Kielburger: East Africa Needs Infrastructure to Fight Famine
(HuffPost) Kenya isn’t immune to the drought; there is a food security emergency. In many northern regions, failed crops have forced families to flee their homes; cattle skeletons lay by the roadside; fathers sell daughters, “drought brides,” for food. The short rainy season isn’t expected until October. Still, some regions were spared — which means all of Kenya might have been.
… But Kenya, with an established government and envoy of UN missions should have avoided the hunger now gripping its northern regions. Drought is a natural disaster, but stronger infrastructure might have kept it from wreaking havoc and causing famine, which is a preventable human error. Kenya might have been slowed instead of crippled by an onslaught of nearly 400,000 Somali refugees.
Kenya’s unwinnable war
(Al Jazeera) In Kenya, corruption is a way of life for most people: from paying a small bribe to avoid a parking ticket to multi-million dollar deals by corrupt businessmen and politicians.
It costs the country billions of dollars. And despite many investigations, no-one can ever remember a high-ranking official going to jail.
But a new constitution that is supposed to end impunity and create more transparency is giving people hope that things might change.
Today, The Cafe talks to Kenyans about how bad the problem of corruption is and whether it can ever be overcome.
Africa’s Most Successful Women: Njeri Rionge
(Forbes) In East African business circles, few entrepreneurs shine brighter than Njeri Rionge. One of Kenya’s most successful and revered serial entrepreneurs, Rionge has co-founded multi-million dollar companies in quick succession. She co-founded Wananchi Online, a leading Internet service provider which has gone on to become East Africa’s leading cable, broadband and IP (Internet-based) phone company. Wananchi has become immensely successful, so much that it has raised close to $60 million in growth capital from a consortium private equity firms. She also founded Ignite Consulting, a thriving business consultancy; Business Lounge, Kenya’s leading startup incubator; Ignite Lifestyle, a health care consultancy; and Insite, one of Kenya’s most successful digital marketing outfits. She now divides her time between homes in Nairobi and Toronto where she runs her diverse business concerns. She recently recounted to me her earliest days in business and reiterated her relentless pursuit of the African dream.
Five African Ideas That Have Changed The World
Kenya did not pioneer mobile money transfer, but it showed the world how to do it right.
(Forbes) In March 2007, Safaricom (Kenya’s leading mobile phone company) launched M-Pesa, Africa’s first SMS-based money transfer service.
A simple yet ingenious idea, M-Pesa (M for mobile, and Pesa-a Swahili word for money) lets users deposit, transfer and withdraw funds via text message. To send money, a subscriber goes to a registered M-Pesa agent with the money and the phone number of the recipient. For a fee of a little over $1, the agent sets up a virtual account for you, credits the account with the money, and then sends the amount to the recipient’s account. A subscriber can send money even to a recipient on a different mobile network, who can cash it at any M-Pesa agent simply by presenting an ID and entering a secret code. Today, M-Pesa has over 19,000 registered agents all across Kenya, and the service has 20 million subscribers.
M-Pesa is now arguably the most successful mobile phone‐based financial service in the world today, and the model is being adopted and studied by countries in Asia and other parts of Africa. Read more about M-Pesa
Kenya fails to manage its food crisis
(World Food Program) Poorly organised water systems, land and markets have worsened the effects of the food crisis, with the UN now classifying the emergency as one notch from ‘famine’
(Al Jazeera video) Kenya’s state of tribalism
What have Kenyans to say about unity and identity after an election in 2007 that sparked violence along ethnic lines?
Kenya is on the brink of its own disaster
While the situation in Somalia deteriorates, millions of its neighbours are at risk of malnutrition
(The Independent) … 385,000 malnourished children in northern Kenya, who, together with 90,000 starving pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, are caught up in a catastrophe. While the world focuses on Somalia and the starving refugees pouring across the Kenyan border, Kenya is on the brink of its own famine, with 3.5 million people at risk of malnutrition.
Donors cut aid over fresh funds scandal
(G-47) A scandal similar to one that led to donor freeze of Free Primary Education funding has emerged in the programme to save communities from the effects of drought.
Billions of shillings committed by various donors and international lending institutions for fighting drought in Northern Kenya are frozen as the country begins to confront suspension by the World Bank of a critical drought management project that has been running since 1996, and which is currently under the ministry for the Development of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands. It is financed by the government and a World Bank loan.
Kenya opens its books in revolutionary transparency drive
The government says making data public through the Kenya Open Data Initiative is key to improving transparency
(The Guardian) When violence erupted after the 2007 Kenyan elections, a team of activists produced Ushahidi – a digital open-source platform to monitor crises in near real-time. Taking its name from the kiswahili word for testimony, or witness, Ushahidi has since been deployed to monitor unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, track violence in Gaza, and gather global reports about the spread of Swine Flu. Around the same time, a partnership between Vodafone and Safaricom, Kenya’s largest mobile operator, produced M-PESA, the mobile banking system that has revolutionised the way many Kenyans manage their money.
Projects from Ushahidi to M-PESA have put Kenya firmly on the map of ICT innovation in international development – a position and a trend the Kenyan government now seems eager to promote. Last week, Kenya became the first sub-Saharan African country to launch a national open data initiative, opening the books on public expenditures, parliamentary proceedings and the locations of public services.
The Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI), which went live last Thursday, holds more than 160 datasets organised under six subheadings: education, energy, health, population, poverty and water and sanitation. Users can explore data at the country-level, but also by county or constituency. The platform includes newly created geospatial boundaries for Kenya’s 47 counties and geocoded datasets can be visualised quickly using simple built-in tools. Data is pulled in from the national census and government ministries as well as from the World Bank.
KENYA: People Dying Because of Lack of Anaesthetics
(IPS) – One person dies weekly in Kenya due to a shortage of anaesthetics and the situation is worse in slums and rural areas across the country.
Empowering Women through Micro-Finance Credit
By Miriam Gathigah
(IPS) Government’s drive to empower women economically through the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF).
3, 913 groups received loans since the inception WEF. Women could apply for loans that would be repaid in instalments over a predetermined period. And after they successfully completed paying the first loan, women would be eligible for a second and even a third loan of greater amounts.
Official government statistics show an estimated 40 percent of Kenyans are unemployed. Millions survive by doing occasional work – non-permanent manual work.
The situation is worse for women in rural areas. High numbers of rural women are illiterate and at least 70 percent work as small-scale farmers, providing the bulk of Kenya’s food supply. Their wages are dismally low and often uncertain.
The annual Foreign Policy Index of Failed States now ranks Kenya 16th – this is an improvement from last year.
“On Aug. 4, 2010, Kenyans approved a widely applauded new constitution, one intended to modernize the government, accommodate grievances over land and local power, and prevent the electoral violence that shocked the world in late 2007 and early 2008. In many ways, Kenya’s rank on this year’s index still represents that legacy of political violence — a recent history it is trying desperately to transcend.
Doing so won’t be easy. The government has been slow to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the unrest, leaving the work to the International Criminal Court. Land, often handed out as patronage, also remains a contentious issue. And the violence hasn’t totally disappeared. … Still, Kenya is a positive story in many ways. The country is on track to achieve five of eight development goals set by the United Nations in 2000. With a relatively well-educated population (87 percent are literate) and a strong middle class, it will likely retain its reputation as the economic center of East Africa.
Corruption costs Kenya’s education and health ministries $48-million
(Reuters via Globe & Mail) Corrupt officials in Kenya’s education and health ministries stole up to 4.2-billion shillings ($47.67-million U.S.) from 2005 to 2009 and names have been given to the police, Kenya’s finance minister said on Monday.
East Africa’s biggest economy loses up to 40 per cent of its gross domestic product to graft annually, according to the country’s top graft-buster, the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission.
Kenya, Uganda spending plans may fuel deficit fears
(Globe & Mail) Government spending across East Africa is set to balloon this year as Kenya and Uganda pursue expansionary, pro-growth budgets, putting continued pressure on domestic borrowing and forcing up already lofty bond yields.
The largesse is also likely to erode support for the Kenyan and Uganda shillings, both of which have hit record lows against the dollar this year amid signs of a lukewarm commitment to tackling double-digit inflation.
(Forbes) Obama Freezes Assets Of Kenyan Drug Lords
Kenya faces political ‘meltdown’
(BBC) Ongoing political wrangling in Kenya’s coalition government is having a major detrimental effect on its fight against corruption, a lobbying group warns.
Transparency International warned Kenya risked turning into a failed state.
A rift in the fragile power-sharing government developed after PM Raila Odinga announced the suspension of two ministers after corruption scandals. President Mwai Kibaki annulled the suspensions, saying the Mr Odinga did not have the power to take the action.
Drought threatens return of good times in Kenya
(Reuters) “Trying to forecast the macro-economic fundamentals of the Kenyan economy requires a good dose of meteorological skills,” a Kenyan economic analyst once told me.
He was referring to the agriculture sector’s outsized influence on east Africa’s largest economy. Farming, including coffee and tea growing, accounts for a quarter of output and employs nearly two-thirds of the population.
Over a third of electricity is generated from dams which are fed by rainfall, with drought leading to outages, which affect manufacturers and other firms.
While any slack in agriculture usually results in a reduction in the overall growth rate, shortfalls in food items usually drive inflation higher. Inflation rose to 4.5 percent in December from 3.8 percent in November.
And so officials, investors and pundits have been fixated with the outlook for rains this year to determine whether a celebration of third quarter economic growth data and an optimistic forecast for 2011 were a bit premature.
Kenya minister resigns over graft
Henry Kosgey, named by international criminal court as a suspect in post-election violence, resigns over graft charges.
Special Report: As ICC names suspect Kenyan leaders, records reveal talk of more ethnic cleansing
(CSM) The International Criminal Court (ICC) is expected Wednesday to accuse up to six Kenyan leaders of orchestrating the ethnic violence that killed some 1,200 people after Kenya’s Dec. 27, 2007 elections.
When Luis Moreno Ocampo – the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands – names six top Kenyans Wednesday accused of orchestrating mass violence in late 2007 and early 2008, Kenyan security forces around the country will be prepared for the worst.
Supporters of at least one senior Kenyan, William Ruto, who was minister of both agriculture and higher education, have vowed to make their Rift Valley region “ungovernable” and to unleash a wave of mass violence modeled after the Rwandan genocide. Their motive: to punish their enemies, especially those who have testified against Mr. Ruto, and to prevent Ruto’s possible arrest and extradition to The Hague.
John Githongo: Fear and Loathing in Nairobi
(Foreign Affairs) Kenya was once Africa’s poster child for stability and growth. Then, in late 2007, it descended into ethnic violence. The current coalition government has not solved the underlying problems of corruption and inequality, and ethnic resentments are likely to remain until Kenyans elect a clean and inclusive government.
Kenyans Approve New Constitution
Kenya’s new constitution, written to address a flawed system that has exacerbated ethnic rifts, passed overwhelmingly.
No doubt, the new constitution and the remarkably peaceful way in which the referendum was conducted on Wednesday was a much-needed boost of self-confidence for the country.
It showed that Kenya can run a clean election without a violent aftermath, that the losers can graciously accept defeat, that their supporters can move on peacefully and that the police and security forces can be deployed to maintain stability throughout the country
Kenyan constitution may drive tensions it seeks to repair
A new constitution referendum in Kenya that would strip land from owners who obtained it illegally may expose tribal conflicts — and undermine the campaign for a peaceful resolution to the country’s ongoing conflicts. Kalenjin elite, who stand to lose their land, count among their supporters former President Daniel Arap Moi, a vocal opponent of the reform. The constitutional reform — which has the support of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who share power in the beleaguered government — is expected to pass. Los Angeles Times (8/3)
Kenya: Country Falls in ‘Failed State Index’ Rankings
(AllAfrica.com) Kenya’s standing in a “Failed State Index” compiled by US researchers has fallen for the fourth consecutive year, with the country now ranked 13th among 20 states in a “critical condition”.
Kenya is said to be in greater danger of collapse than North Korea or Iran in the annual stability ranking of 177 countries. The index is the product of Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace, a Washington-based NGO.
… But Kenya does have a vibrant civil society and a free press, so why is it ranked so poorly? A senior associate at the Fund for Peace, Mr Will Ferroggiaro, defended the rating.
He told the Daily Nation that Kenya scored worst with regard to “demographic pressures” and “delegitimisation of the state”, two of the 12 ranking criteria that are, in turn, based on what the index’s researchers say are 90,000 public sources.
The demographic criterion includes Kenya’s high rate of poverty, while delegitimisation refers to “extreme factionalism” among political parties and “heavy group grievances,” Mr Ferroggiaro said.
“These are very high pressures that should serve as a warning to Kenya,” he added. Kenya fell one notch this year from 14th place in the 2009 index. It was ranked 26th in 2008 and 31st in 2007.
Women’s Rights and Constitution – Challenging ‘Men of Faith’
(AllAfrica.com) … A large number of contradictions have arisen in the Kenyan debate on the new constitution just passed through the Kenyan parliament in preparation for a referendum scheduled for 2 July 2010, and particularly around the clauses on the right to abortion.
We are Kenyan women in the diaspora who have struggled with other women in Kenya and other nations on the right to life for the mother as well as the unborn child. With CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women) and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, particularly the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, established, we wish to join a debate which is a fundamental concern over the fundamental right to life and which is critical in the bill of rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Beaten, tortured, but undaunted – Kenyan human-rights activist vows to continue her fight
(Montreal Gazette) Flora Terah brought pieces of her homeland with her when she fled Kenya for the safer shores of Canada.
Terah today is a permanent resident in Canada, helped in her new life by the Stephen Lewis Foundation, Canadian Lawyers Abroad, and the Sauvé Scholars Foundation.
From a haven where people have the luxury of taking their rights for granted, Terah watches her homeland anxiously. Will she go back? “If things change,” she said. “If it’s safe.”
Kenya faces political ‘meltdown’
(BBC) Ongoing political wrangling in Kenya’s coalition government is having a major detrimental effect on its fight against corruption, a lobbying group warns. Transparency International warned Kenya risked turning into a failed state.
A rift in the fragile power-sharing government developed after PM Raila Odinga announced the suspension of two ministers after corruption scandals. President Mwai Kibaki annulled the suspensions, saying the Mr Odinga did not have the power to take the action.
The head of Transparency International in Kenya, Job Ogonda, said the political dispute in Kenya’s coalition government was sending out a very dangerous message. It was showing that the struggle for power was more important than the fight against corruption and this, he said, would have dire consequences come the next election. “In 2012 it’s very likely we’re going to have a meltdown,” said Mr Ogonda.
Kenya’s government teeters on collapse
Kenyan Attorney General Amos Wako warned that a dispute between the country’s political parties over the suspension of two government ministers could lead to stalemate and even the collapse of the government at a time when the government is nearly finished drafting a new constitution. The fragile coalition government, led by rivals President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga — a stopgap solution to end the violence that erupted after the December 2007 elections — was intended only to shepherd the creation of a new constitution, and the government’s failure could end that effort and lead to new violence. BusinessWeek/Bloomberg (2/16) , The Christian Science Monitor (2/15)
Kenya’s government will scrap the position of prime minister, which was created as part of a power-sharing agreement after the disputed election of 2007.
(BBC) Kenyan MPs have agreed to scrap the position of prime minister in a draft constitution being drawn up as part of a power-sharing deal.
Kenya: UN Roots for Women’s Greater Role in Economy
(AllAfrica.com) There is need to put in place policies that will enable women to drive rural economic growth and poverty reduction, according to the United Nations.
The measures should include legal reforms that promote gender equality; social safety nets; assistance to organisations supporting farmers, women and youth; child care programmes; education; and better access to information and labour markets, a United Nations inter-agency report has recommended.
The report says that women still benefit less than men from rural employment and face new challenges due to the current economic and food crises.
11 January 2010
Future Kenya Port Could Mar Pristine Land
(NYT) To the dismay of many residents and tourists, the Kenyan government is planning to build the biggest port in East Africa here [Lamu]. It is an ambitious, multibillion-dollar project that could transform trade in this region and knit together Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, eastern Congo and southern Sudan as never before.
Pipelines, rail lines, highways, airports, an oil refinery and extra-deep berths for 21st-century supertankers are all in the blueprints, though it is hard to imagine such infrastructure rising up along this long-neglected stretch of the Kenyan coast, dotted by crumbling ruins and impenetrable mangrove swamps.
The Chinese government, one of the most aggressive investors in Africa, is backing the project and has already begun feasibility studies.
17 November 2009
(The Economist) In Kenya a long-awaited constitutional review recommended a big reduction in the powers of the president, with the prime minister getting more responsibility. The suggestions of the review, commissioned as part of a power-sharing deal between the government and the opposition after disputed elections in 2007, are intended to remove the curse of the “big man” in Kenyan. BBC World Service 17/09
International prosecution of senior Kenyan politicians for post-election violence looks inevitable
(CSM) That Kenya’s top political leaders would attempt to protect their own people was inevitable, just as it was inevitable that such efforts would fail. With the departure of International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on Saturday it is clear that those Kenyan politicians deemed to be most responsible for whipping up communal violence after the contentious December 2007 elections will face their day in court, not at home in Kenya, but at the ICC in The Hague.
Odinga to co-operate with ICC Kenya inquiry
In an interview with the Financial Times Raila Odinga, prime minister, expressed hope that successful prosecutions would eliminate the political violence that has threatened to tear Kenya apart
China and Kenya in infrastructure talks
Talks concern the possible development of a multi-billion dollar port and transport corridor that could provide a new export route for Chinese oil in southern Sudan
Easy Money Fuels Rise in Kidnappings in Kenya
(NYT) More than 100 Nairobi residents have been abducted for ransom this year, security consultants say, a huge increase over years past. Big chunks of money are changing hands. And as the security experts say, the minute you start paying ransom, kidnapping goes from a crime to a business. Just ask those in Mexico City, in Baghdad or in Bogotá, Colombia.
Kenyans in refugee camps fear returning home
Many Kenyans remain reluctant to leave the tents they have called home since election violence displaced them a year and a half ago — despite a call by Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki to fully close the camps today. Many of the refugees said they feared returning to the villages from which they fled and were holding out to receive a large plot of land, which they could settle in numbers. BBC (10/9)
Kenya: Rebuilding at a crawl
East Africa’s most important country is failing to pick itself up after a traumatic and bloody election
WHAT exactly has Kenya’s grand coalition government done to put the country right after last year’s post-election violence, which killed 1,500 people and displaced 300,000 more? By its own account, just about everything. A truth and justice commission meant to look urgently into the violence is “currently setting up its secretariat”; it even held a team-building retreat in August. A constitutional review is coming along nicely, paving the way for a new constitution which Kenyans have wasted huge amounts of time and money bickering over for the last decade. And a judicial review has decided on increasing the number of judges—which will cost 1% of the national budget and be implemented “over a period of time.”
Yet the visit of a former United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, was a harsh reminder that in the real world the situation is a lot less rosy. Having brokered the power-sharing deal between the president, Mwai Kibaki, and the former opposition leader and now prime minister, Raila Odinga, Mr Annan has become a confessor to the Kenyan political elite. He was in Kenya to shame the government into getting on with reforms that were promised as part of the deal, and which most think are now stalled.
Kenyans ‘rearming for 2012 poll’
Rival ethnic groups in Kenya who fought after the 2007 election are rearming in readiness for violence at the 2012 poll, a BBC investigation has found. It is feared villagers in Rift Valley province are moving from traditional weapons such as spears to machine guns. Government officials insist they are tackling the influx of illegal arms. But they have been widely criticised for failing to punish the ringleaders of violence after the 2007 election, in which 1,300 people died.
A power-sharing government was formed in early 2008 to quell the violence. It has been under international pressure to investigate the killings ever since, but its failure to organise a local tribunal has forced the International Criminal Court to step in to prosecute suspects.
The Great Migration: An Epic Journey (Text and Video)
60 Minutes Travels To Kenya To Witness One of The World’s Greatest Natural Spectacles
(CBS) The Mara River rises in a place called the Mau Forest and it meanders about 250 miles or so down to Lake Victoria. The Maasai tell us that there is less water in the river now than at any time they can remember. The Mau Forest is falling to a growing population that is trying to make a living off the land. For centuries, the Mau has been a sponge holding and releasing waters into the river. To scientists, the equation is simple: if there’s no Mau Forest, there’s no Mara River. And that means no migration. Saving the Mau Forest has become a crisis in Kenya, pitting the government against its own people. The government has forcibly evicted as many as 50,000 settlers from the Mau.
We are Victims of the Rich World’s Acts and Omissions, Raila tells UN
(All Africa) Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s speech to the UN climate change summit. (no longer available)
Unido, Microsoft to launch e-waste program in Kenya
The UN and Microsoft will launch a program to curtail toxic electronic waste in Kenya. The effort “will involve dismantling computer parts or other related products and shipping them back to companies that are specialized in safely disposing them,” said Kandeh Yumkella of the UN’s Industrial Development Organization. Business Daily (Nairobi, Kenya) (9/30)
Readith Mwila Muliyunda interview with Flora Tehra
(AfriqueCanada. tv) “What does not kill you, makes you stronger,” Kenya’s 2007 Parliamentary candidate Flora Terah recounts the horror of losing her only child during the election that sparked violence.
Lush Land Dries Up, Withering Kenya’s Hopes
(NYT) A devastating drought is sweeping across Kenya, killing livestock, crops and children. It is stirring up tensions in the ramshackle slums where the water taps have run dry, and spawning ethnic conflict in the hinterland as communities fight over the last remaining pieces of fertile grazing land. The twin hearts of Kenya’s economy, agriculture and tourism, are especially imperiled. The fabled game animals that safari-goers fly thousands of miles to see are keeling over from hunger and the picturesque savanna is now littered with an unusually large number of sun-bleached bones.
Obama Chooses Ghana over Kenya — Obama’s Visit to Ghana, Lessons for Kenya
The U.S President spoke of Kenya in very bleak terms, citing Kenya as a case study in backwardness and underdevelopment. “Countries like Kenya which had a per capita income larger than South Korea’s have been far outpaced,” Obama said.
Obama pointed out that corruption and tribalism where among the major forces shaping the life of Kenya as a country and Africa as a continent. “In my father’s life” Obama said, “it was partly tribalism and patronage that for a long stretch derailed his career, and we know that this kind of corruption is a daily fact of life for far too many.” By implication therefore, Kenya was not worthy of his visit whether he carried Kenyan blood or not.
Gathering Storm of Expectations in Nairobi Slum
NAIROBI, Aug 20 (IPS) – For the first time in its 60 years of existence, there is a ray of hope for the one million inhabitants of Kibera, one of the world’s most densely-populated slums. After spending most of his life on opposition benches — or in prison — as a champion of the poor, the member of parliament for this desperately poor constituency is now the prime minister of Kenya.
In Kenya, fear lingers and many remain displaced
Some 10 weeks after Kenya reached a power-sharing deal aimed at ending the bloodshed and political stalemate that followed the country’s disputed election, many people who had been forced to abandon their homes amid the violence remain too afraid to return home, CNN reports. At least 200,000 people are still displaced as suspicions against rival ethnic tribes continue to run deep. CNN (5/16)
Let us hope that this is the end of the beginning and that Kenya will return to normalcy, although power-sharing remains an elusive concept.
POLITICS-KENYA: Big Cabinet, Bigger Challenges
By Kwamboka Oyaro
(IPS) The coalition government, sworn in Thursday, includes members of President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). While it was envisaged that posts would be shared equitably, the PNU has retained control over many key portfolios, notably finance, justice, defence and foreign affairs — raising concerns that the ODM may ultimately feel too marginalised to continue within the unity government.
Kenya’s Great Rift
(Foreign Affairs Newsletter) In this update to his January/February 2004 Foreign Affairs essay “Kenya After Moi,” CSIS Senior Associate Joel D. Barkan analyzes the flawed election process and proposes a federalist solution to remedy the ethnic tensions that lie beneath Kenya’s current political crisis.
The violence that has engulfed Kenya since the disputed December 27 election has deep historical roots and it will take more than a recount or the formation of a national unity government to resolve the crisis. Although December 27 was billed as the crowning event of the country’s two-decade struggle for democratic rule, all of the ingredients for violence were present prior to the election. Public opinion polls indicated that the race between incumbent president Mwai Kibaki and his principal challenger, Raila Odinga, was too close to call; outbreaks of violence had occurred in the run-up to previous elections in 1992 and 1997; and many Kenyans, especially civil society leaders, worried that unless the Election Commission of Kenya (ECK) conducted the December elections in a manner that was free, fair, and universally regarded as legitimate, the losers would not accept the verdict. Sadly, their fears were correct. Between 500 and 1,000 people have died in post-election violence while an estimated 250,000 Kenyans, mainly Kikuyu settlers in the western Rift Valley, have been displaced from their homes. Complete article
More background at the World Peace Foundation Foundation for African Leadership including The Roots of Africa’s Leadership Deficit in which Robert Rotberg examines the best and worst examples of African leadership, and asks: Why do so many African leaders go so wrong? Will a new generation of Africans follow Mandela’s model instead? See also: Strengthening African Leadership
Kenya unveils coalition cabinet
Kenya’s president has announced a new power-sharing cabinet following a deal with the opposition to end the long-running political crisis.
President Mwai Kibaki named opposition leader Raila Odinga as the new prime minister, after the pair agreed the deal on Saturday in secret talks.
Mr Kibaki said in a live televised speech alongside Mr Odinga: “My challenge to the new cabinet members and the entire national leadership at all levels is: let us put politics aside and get to work.” He added: “Let us build a new Kenya where justice is our shield and defender, and where peace, liberty and plenty will be found throughout our country.”
Unrest in Kenya as Peace Plan Falters
(NYT) LAMU, Kenya — Riots erupted in Kenya on Tuesday as opposition leaders announced that they were suspending talks with the government over a stalled power-sharing agreement.
By the close of business on Tuesday, the Kenyan currency had dropped against the dollar, signaling the serious damage a few protests can do to an already jittery economy.
UN urges Kenya to stay away from blanket amnesty
Those who financed, organized and encouraged human rights abuses during Kenya’s recent post-election period of deadly violence should not be granted blanket amnesty, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a report released Wednesday. AllAfrica Global Media/The East African Standard (Kenya)
State ‘linked to Kenya poll clashes’
The BBC learns of alleged state-sanctioned violence after Kenya’s poll, but the government denies the claim.
As Kenya Bleeds, Tourism Also Suffers in Land of Safaris
Tourism is one of Kenya’s biggest industries, but the violence that exploded after a flawed election in December has eviscerated the business, with bookings down 80 to 90 percent in most areas. Even after a peace deal was signed Thursday, government and tourism officials worried that it could take months — if not years — to recover. (Video) Kenya’s Tourism Industry in Shambles – Jeffrey Gettleman reports from the Masai Mara game reserve.
Has Kenya’s power-sharing worked?
(BBC) A year after an accord was signed in Kenya paving the way for a unique political partnership, the country is deadlocked, its people despondent and lawmakers are losing public support by the day.
The sense of frustration is almost tangible.
The good news is at least Kenya is at peace. The bad news is that many question how long it will last.
The coalition government brought with it unrealistic expectations but even the most grounded of observers have become irritated by its lack of progress.
Kenya’s long journey toward rebuilding begins
With a power-sharing agreement finally in place between Kenya’s president and the opposition leader after two months of election-related protests and bloodshed, the country now begins a long and shaky journey toward healing its social wounds and repairing its damaged economy. Raila Odinga, the opposition leader who will become prime minister under the deal, vowed to assist those who have lost their jobs or property or been displaced during the crisis that left more than a thousand people dead. AlertNet.org/Reuters (2/29) , The Economist (2/28)
(AP) Talks resume in Kenya
Kenya’s flagship airline suspended flights between Nairobi and Paris on Tuesday due to the dwindling number of passengers flying to this once-stable African nation.
(NYT) Rice, in Nairobi offers incentives to end violence
Ms. Rice knew going in that she would have to tread gingerly, and it seemed on Monday that she was bringing carrots, not sticks. As she was flying from Tanzania to Nairobi over the Serengeti, the famous game-studded plains, she insisted that she did not intend to dictate a solution and that she would instead use her meetings to dangle the prospect of additional economic help for Kenya if the rival factions could reach a compromise.
Kenya’s rival political parties have agreed to set up an independent panel to review last year’s disputed elections, Kofi Annan has said.
(BBC) The former United Nations secretary general however said that a possible power-sharing agreement had not yet been finalised. (Al Jazeera) Kenya peace deal ‘very close’
Annan has been seeking a power-sharing deal to create a government that would pave the way for fresh elections, possibly in two years. He said on Friday that the rival parties had agreed to a broad reform agenda to review the constitution, improve electoral laws, bolster human rights, among other measures, to “address the root causes of the crisis”.
Signs in Kenya of a Land Redrawn by Ethnicity
Kenya used to be considered one of the most promising countries in Africa. Now it is in the throes of ethnically segregating itself. … hundreds of thousands of people have been violently driven from their homes and many are now resettling in ethnically homogenous zones.
Luos have gone back to Luo land, Kikuyus to Kikuyu land, Kambas to Kamba land and Kisiis to Kisii land. Even some of the packed slums in the capital, Nairobi, have split along ethnic lines.
The bloodletting across the country that has killed more than 1,000 people since the election seems to have subsided in the past week. But the trucks piled high with mattresses, furniture, blankets and children keep chugging across the countryside, an endless convoy of frightened people who in their desperation are redrawing the map of Kenya.
Kenya’s political rivals sign deal to end crisis
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga signed a power-sharing agreement Thursday in a bid to end the political stalemate and ethnic violence that have gripped the country since the disputed elections two months ago. Under the new deal — which was announced by mediator and former United Nations chief Kofi Annan — the opposition will get a prime minister’s post as well as cabinet positions reflective of its popular support. CNN (2/28) , Seattle Post-Intelligencer/Associated Press (2/28)
Nicholas Kristof: Machetes and Elections
(NYT) The U.S. has pursued policies in Africa that are akin to our policies in Pakistan, and Mr. Kibaki is one of our African Musharrafs. In the interest of short-term stability, we acquiesce in despotic behavior that eventually creates instability. Granted, these are tough balances to strike. But look at Kenya or Pakistan today, and it’s clear that we got the balance wrong.
The prime villain is President Mwai Kibaki, who would have been hailed as a hero if he had obeyed the will of the people in the December election. Instead, he — and a cast of thugs around him — appear to have stolen the election, starting a spiral of tribal violence ….
Many Kenyans also say that the United States has been a part of the problem. In our desire for stability, we acquiesced in election irregularities in countries like Ethiopia and Nigeria, inadvertently signaling that Mr. Kibaki could get away with stealing re-election.
The United States cozied up to Mr. Kibaki and initially congratulated him on his “victory,” without being emphatic enough that election-rigging is intolerable. Since then, the U.S. has come around and played a helpful role in nudging Mr. Kibaki to make concessions, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Kenya on Monday usefully added pressure.
Kenya’s middle class struggles amid chaos
Unlike most countries in Africa, Kenya boasts a growing middle class with a rising population of university-educated professionals and growth in professional jobs. However, these middle-class Kenyans are caught up in the post-election violence and economic problems that have gripped much of the nation.
UN calls for Kenya ‘compromise’
(BBC) The UN Security Council has called on Kenya’s political leaders to solve the crisis there through “dialogue, negotiation and compromise”. In its first official response to the unrest sparked by December’s disputed election, the council expressed concern at the “dire humanitarian situation”.
Kenya: Annan Team Agrees On Steps to End Poll Crisis
(AllAfrica) Government and ODM mediators have agreed on major steps aimed at resolving the political crisis caused by the disputed Presidential election.
Among the key issues was the setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, encourage and help displaced people to settle back in their homes or other areas and have safe passage and security throughout.
Others were to encourage the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights investigation team and to ensure freedom of expression, press and peaceful assembly.
The Media Is Not Innocent
NAIROBI, Feb 2 (IPS) – “30 Days in Words and Pictures: Media Response in Kenya During the Election Crisis” — a workshop organised here last week by California-based media advocacy group Internews — enabled media professionals to conduct a “self-audit” of the role local media played in the post-election violence. The audit revealed that media — especially vernacular radio stations — might be partly to blame for the on-going violence sparked off by the announcement of Mwai Kibaki as winner of the Dec. 27 elections.
Killing of second MP halts Kenya talks
(UN Dispatch) A second opposition leader, David Kimutai Too, has been shot dead in Eldoret, overshadowing a second day of talks led by Kofi Annan. Angry crowds have stormed the police station and Kikuyu are fleeing the Rift Valley town. At an AU summit in Ethiopia, commission chairman Alpha Oumar Konare urged African leaders to help diffuse the crisis, as Rwanda’s leader Paul Kagame has suggested that army intervention may be the only way forward.
(The Economist) Representatives of the government and the opposition Orange Democratic Movement started talks, mediated by a former secretary-general, Kofi Annan, to try to resolve their differences over December’s disputed election. See article
(Al Jazeera) The violence in Kenya’s Rift Valley is “clear ethnic cleansing“, the most senior US official for African affairs has said. Jendayi Frazer said on Wednesday that machete-wielding gangs that have burnt homes and businesses in the western province, were trying to force out the Kikuyu people, the tribe of Mwai Kibaki, the president.
Kenyan opposition MP shot dead
(Reuters) Gunmen killed a Kenyan opposition politician at his home in the early hours of today and rival ethnic gangs fought in a Nairobi slum as a month-long political crisis threatened to spiral out of control.
CCR Calls for Immediate Set-up of an Interim Government in Kenya
Coalition for Constitutional Reforms (CCR-Kenya) has called for the establishment of a provisional interim government in Kenya, whose main aim is to re-establish law and order, spearhead constitutional reforms and fresh elections.
An International Peace-Keeping force should be set up
The reform group has called on the international community to rush in and save Kenyans, warning that the signs of imminent genocide are all there.
Annan: ‘Gross abuses’ in Kenya
Kofi Annan has said that he witnessed “gross and systematic human rights abuses” on a visit to western Kenya as post-election violence continued to plague the nation. Annan on Thursday orchestrated a symbolic first meeting between Kibaki and Odinga, who shook hands, called for peace and hinted at a willingness to talk.
Violence Continues in Kenya a Day After Talks
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
(NYT) While the political bickering continued in Kenya, so did the violence on Friday, with young men in gangs from opposing ethnic groups killing each other in the streets with machetes and bows and arrows.
Nakuru, one of the biggest towns in the troubled Rift Valley, seems to be the new hot zone. Witnesses said the trouble there started late Thursday when mobs of Kikuyus, the ethnic group of Kenya’s president, mobilized to avenge attacks suffered at the hands of other ethnic groups.
No let-up in the killing – But perhaps a small breakthrough in the political stand-off
(Foreign Affairs) A MONTH after its disputed presidential election, Kenya remains deeply divided and unstable. Politically motivated killings, hackings and gang rapes continue in the towns and in volatile country districts. The economy is faltering. The latest bigwig to attempt to mediate between the government of President Mwai Kibaki and the opposition Orange Democratic Movement of Raila Odinga is a former UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, who arrived in Nairobi on January 22nd. “We have not come with a solution. We are here to insist on a solution,” he announced.
A glimmer of hope for an end to the political impasse appeared on January 24th when Mr Kibaki’s government announced it would set up a commission to investigate allegations of vote-rigging, although a surprised opposition said it had not been consulted.
Kibaki ‘stole’ Kenyan election through vote-rigging and fraud
(The Independent) Systematic electoral fraud including vote-rigging in a third of all constituencies, stuffed ballot boxes and election officials changing results had a decisive impact on the outcome of the Kenyan elections, an investigation by The Independent can reveal.
Kenya’s government is closing displacement camps, but the refugees have nowhere to go, STEPHANIE NOLEN, Globe & Mail
Kenyan election dispute must be resolved for ‘sake of Africa’: Annan
Kenya’s government and opposition must find a solution to the dispute over the country’s presidential election “for the sake of Kenya and its people and for the sake of Africa,” former United Nations head Kofi Annan said Tuesday.
Annan, who delayed a trip to the country last week because of an illness, arrived in the Kenyan capital Nairobi Tuesday afternoon to begin negotiations aimed at ending weeks of election-related violence in the country.
(BBC) New post-poll violence hits Kenya
Five people have been shot dead in Kenya as opposition leader Raila Odinga made a renewed call for international mediation to end post-poll bloodshed.
(IPS) KENYA: Businesses Suffering in Election’s Wake
Kufuor’s whistle-stop diplomacy was only to pave way for Annan
By JAINDI KISERO
(The EastAfrican) Chairman of the African Union and President of Ghana John Kufuor had clearly come to Nairobi hoping for a quick-fix solution to Kenya’s political crisis.
According to details The EastAfrican has gleaned from individuals who were close to the negotiations, the West African leader was clearly a man in a hurry. It would appear that all he wanted to achieve was to get the protagonists Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki to a face-to-face meeting, arrange a photo opportunity for the two and jet out of the country — leaving the rest to a committee of eminent persons headed by the former secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, to thrash out details of a comprehensive peace deal.
NAIROBI, Kenya — The American government on Saturday took its toughest position yet on Kenya’s disputed elections, calling on Kenya’s president and opposition leaders to meet immediately and saying that the election had been so flawed that it was impossible to know who had won.
Kenya: World Bank Boss in Row Over Kibaki
Nairobi — A row is brewing over a confidential memo from the World Bank’s Kenya office that supports President Kibaki’s victory in the disputed elections. According to UK’s The Financial Times, a story headlined “Leaked memo deepens Kenya crisis”, the leaked January 1 briefing note, originating from Mr Colin Bruce, the World Bank’s country director, appears to support President Kibaki’s victory on the basis of “oral briefings and documents from senior United Nations Development Programme officials.”
African Union asks Annan to broker truce in Kenya
With no sign of a breakthrough in the Kenyan political crisis, the African Union announced Thursday that Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations, was taking over the role played by John Kufuor, the chairman of the African Union who is president of Ghana.
Kibaki v Odinga: no compromise yet – President Mwai Kibaki is loth to back down after his fraudulent election victory
(The Economist) IT SEEMED that Kenya had pulled out of its nosedive into violence earlier this week—until the “big man” complex pulled the country back towards disaster. Now the recalcitrance of its disputed president, Mwai Kibaki, egged on by his bloody-minded backers, threatens to wreck east Africa’s most prosperous economy and increases the chance of a drawn-out civil conflict. Ghana’s president, John Kufuor, who currently chairs the African Union, is still trying to mediate, but so far in vain. Despite a concerted call for peace by Kenya’s leading editors, businessmen and bishops, the prospect of an early compromise looks dim.
… So far the instability has cost the country $1 billion, says the finance ministry. The cost of borrowing abroad is likely to rise, the overvalued Kenyan shilling will fall, tourism has already been badly hit and foreign aid may be cut back. Planned privatisations will get greater scrutiny; some may falter. There may not be enough money to keep Mr Kibaki’s promise of free secondary education for all. But breaking it would sorely undermine him.
Kenya’s neighbours are being hurt too. Several, such as south Sudan and Uganda are landlocked, so rely on Kenya’s roads and its port of Mombasa for their trade to the outside world. Uganda is particularly jittery. Its president, Yoweri Museveni, wants Kenyan troops to protect oil en route to the Ugandan border and says Uganda must build its own oil terminal to lessen its dependency on Mombasa. While Kenya’s big men refuse to compromise, the country’s reputation as a beacon of stability in a sea of regional turbulence is in tatters.
New effort to solve Kenya crisis
Ghana’s President John Kufuor has held separate talks with both sides involved in Kenya’s election crisis. Mr Kufuor – who also heads the African Union – met President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Afterwards, Mr Kibaki’s spokesman said he wanted to reach out to his opponents now the violence had subsided, while Mr Odinga called the talks “fruitful”.
Kenyans riot after cabinet named – It’s estimated unrest could cost economy $1 billion
(Reuters) Opposition supporters rioted in the western city of Kisumu yesterday after Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki named several members of a new cabinet, dashing hopes of an end to post-election bloodshed. Witnesses said protesters burned barricades and stoned cars in Kisumu, a stronghold of opposition leader Raila Odinga, after Kibaki named 17 new ministers.
Obama Reaches Out to Kenyan Leaders
As he campaigned for his presidential bid in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, Barack Obama was following developments in Kenya and was working with the U.S. State Department to speak with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.
Mr. Obama, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee whose father was Kenyan, spoke Monday with opposition leader Raila Odinga in Kenya. Mr. Obama asked Mr. Odinga to meet directly with the president without any pre-conditions, a spokesman for Mr. Obama’s spokesman said.
“He said the country would see the message that both you and Kibaki do not want chaos and that violence on all sides must stop,” said the spokesman, Robert Gibbs. “If the country sees you talking and a willingness to resolve this political situation peacefully, a powerful message will be sent to the people.”
For the last week, as he campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr. Obama has been involved in talks between the United States and Kenyan leaders. He spoke to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a week ago, aides said, and on Saturday he discussed the conditions with Mike Rannenberger, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya.
Note: “Odinga told the British Broadcasting Corp. that Obama’s father was his maternal uncle, and that Obama called him twice ‘in the midst of his campaigning … to express his concern and to say that he is also going to call President Kibaki so that Kibaki agrees to find a negotiated, satisfactory solution to this problem.’ Obama’s campaign, however, said the candidate called Odinga only once and that he was unaware the two were related except by tribal affiliation.”
Joe Klein: Obama’s Other Life
(Swampland) One of the more extraordinary stories of the Obama campaign has been playing out behind the scenes over the past week as the candidate has been working on a daily basis to try to calm things down in his father’s homeland and his grandmother’s home, Kenya, where a contested election has led to riots. … I haven’t been able to talk to Obama directly about this–he is sort of busy right now–but it does seem noteworthy that, in the midst of the most amazing week of his life, Barack Obama has found the time to do a some diplomatic scut-work. I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot of this sort of thing if he wins the nomination and is elected President.
Kenya’s opposition leader called Sunday for more rallies across the country, raising the threat of further bloodshed, but also indicated he was willing to share power with the government he accuses of rigging the presidential vote.
More than 300 people have died in fighting since the Dec. 27 vote, bringing chaos to a country of 34 million people that had been one of East Africa’s most stable democracies and revived simmering tribal resentments.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga rejected President Mwai Kibaki’s offer of a “unity government,” but said he was willing to consider a power-sharing agreement guaranteed by the international community. Still, his call for new protests on Tuesday — despite a government ban imposed during the unrest — dimmed the prospect of a quick resolution.
NORMAN WEBSTER: Barack Obama lends some truth to old Kenyan joke
(The Gazette) How small the world is. In Kenya, a grim joke says a member of the Luo tribe stands a better chance of becoming president of the United States than being elected president of Kenya. Now, the joke might be coming true.
This week, Kenyans rioted bloodily in protest against election fraud that has denied the nation’s top job to Raila Odinga, a Luo. The very same day, citizens in the state of Iowa were casting the first votes to send Barack Obama, son of a Kenyan Luo, to the White House in Washington. Right now, Obama looks like the better bet.
The Luos, a prominent minority tribe in Kenya, have long felt aggrieved. With 13 per cent of the population of 36 million, roughly equal to several other tribes, they have had to accept, with mighty unhappiness, the domination of the country’s largest tribe, the Kikuyu (22 per cent). The history includes the murky assassination in 1969 of Tom Mboya, a Luo, then the rising star of black Africa.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has said he is willing to form a government of national unity.
In response, opposition leader Raila Odinga indicated he was willing to negotiate, but reiterated his view that Mr Kibaki should step down.
Kenyan coastal paradise smoulders
“No peace,” chanted the crowd of angry protesters as they stomped through Mombasa‘s sprawling coastal slum of Bombolulu.
Kenyan Attorney General Amos Wako has called for an independent investigation into vote results that led to President Mwai Kibaki’s disputed re-election. Mr Wako said on national television that “a proper tally of the valid certificates returned and confirmed should be undertaken immediately”. His call came as a planned opposition rally in Nairobi was postponed amid clashes between supporters and police.
More than 300 people have been killed and some 70,000 displaced since Sunday.
Mr Raila and President Kibaki. WE WANT PEACE!
Our beloved country, the Republic of Kenya, is a burnt-out, smouldering ruin. The economy is at a virtual standstill and the armies of destruction are on the march in the Rift Valley and other places.
In the midst of this, leaders — who are the direct cause of this catastrophe — are issuing half-hearted calls for peace, from the comfort of their hotels and walled homes in Nairobi, whence they are conveyed in bullet-proof limousines.
It is unbelievable foolishness for Kenyans to destroy their economy, their homes and their entire way of life in the name of politics and on behalf of people whose lives of comfort and luxury are going on normally.
The media in Kenya today propose to be forthright and united in confronting this bloodshed and disunity in the country.
Right to life
There is no cause and no right more valuable than the right to life.
Political leaders on both sides must be told in no uncertain terms that they are currently in great danger of losing their credibility in the eyes of Kenyans and the international community because of systematic killing of the innocent sweeping Kenya, destruction of the economy and the spread of disaffection throughout the land.
No grievance and no cause is worth the innocent blood of Kenyan children. The orgies of looting, burning, rape and wanton, well-orchestrated blood-letting are undermining the moral basis of the politicians’ cause.
Those in authority must not have more regard for their — tenuous — grip on power than lives and property.
It must be a blind and deaf person who does not hear the cries of the 70,000 people, many of them our children, who are now refugees in their own country.
A final opportunity now presents itself for the political leadership to pull the country back from the brink and help restore the public’s confidence and sense of safety.
Tough talk, grand-standing and empty point-scoring is not getting the nation anywhere. The moment has come to isolate the hard-liners on both sides and to allow the voices of reason to be heard across the political divide.
Negotiations cannot take place, and probably drag on, as Kenyans are slaughtered and the country burns. The first objective, therefore, is to secure the safety of all Kenyans. Let those with armies call them back, let those fanning the fires stamp them out so that an environment is created for constructive dialogue.
The priority now is for leaders — if at all they are interested in their own credibility and in saving the lives of Kenyans and the country as a whole — to get out of their meeting rooms and into the countryside and preach peace and patience to their supporters.
Kenyans expect to see Mr Raila Odinga leading a peace mission to Kondele and other troubled parts of Kisumu and Nyanza in general. They expect to see Mr William Ruto and Mr Henry Kosgey at the head of an effort in the Rift Valley, restoring peace and calm. They expect President Kibaki to come out and calm the passions in Dandora, Huruma and other volatile parts of Nairobi.
It is only with the restoration of peace that reason will prevail.
But there can be no lasting peace without justice. It is therefore important for President Kibaki and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga to enter into immediate negotiations on the disputed elections and arrive at a solution that both sides can live with. The hard-line positions, such as demanding the President’s immediate resignation or the refusal to accept questions raised over the presidential election results, are not very helpful at the moment.
More middle-ground positions that should be explored could include a power-sharing arrangement.
The second option is the creation of an interim government excluding both Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga, and a time-table for fresh presidential elections under a reformed electoral process.
The question yet to be resolved is whether an exhausted country nearing a state of civil war can survive another presidential election.
After the restoration of peace and the reaching of a political agreement, the truth about what went on in this election needs to be established, publicised and used to strengthen our democratic institutions.
There is an urgent need for an open and thorough public inquiry to determine the veracity of rigging allegations which have been raised by ODM, PNU and international observers.
Equally, it would be utter madness to try and go to an election with the same discredited Electoral Commission and election procedures. The ECK must be overhauled, and the laws and procedures of casting, counting and tallying votes made tamper-proof.
Kenya must be prepared to invest billions of shillings in technology and processes to guarantee the integrity of future elections. Daily Nation
Kenya: Election Chief Doubts Kibaki Victory
Kampala — IN a damning admission, the chairman of the Kenyan Electoral Commission (ECK), Samuel Kivuitu, has said he announced the presidential election results under pressure. When asked if indeed President Mwai Kibaki won the elections, Kivuiti told journalists at his Nairobi residence on Tuesday night: “I do not know whether Kibaki won the election”.
(BBC) Kenya’s knife-edge election result has been delayed amid chaotic scenes at the offices of the electoral commission.
There were scuffles at the counting centre in Nairobi as party rivals demanded recounts of Thursday’s vote, amid claims of rigging. Officials suspended the count until Sunday. The delays have already sparked violence and looting across Kenya. Details
Riots Erupt Across Kenya as Rivals Declare Victory
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
NAIROBI, Kenya — With the results from Kenya’s closely contested elections still up in the air, riots erupted across the country on Saturday. Columns of black smoke boiled up from the slums ringing Nairobi, the capital, as supporters of Raila Odinga, the leading presidential challenger, poured into the streets to protest what they said was a plot by the government to steal the election. More
Broken Bodies, Unbroken Spirit
NAIROBI, Oct 7 (IPS) – It was a sad occasion, and an occasion to rejoice. Sad, said Dr Ludeki Chweya, introducing Flora Terah’s new book, because her heart-wrenching story shows that physical abuse and torture are a weapon of choice to deter women’s participation in electoral politics in Kenya.
And it was empowering, said Dr. Chweya, who is Kenya’s permanent secretary for Home Affairs, because the book, “They Never Killed My Spirit, But They Killed My Only Child”, represents the resilience of a woman who on Sep. 7 last year was attacked, pinned to the ground, kicked and punched by three men. She had to swallow balls of hair shaven from her head and mixed with faeces. Her wrists were scorched with thorns and cigarettes. With a dislodged disc in her upper spine from the kicks, Terah spent weeks in agony in hospital before she could walk.
Six months later Flora’s only son, 19-year old John Mark, was murdered in Nairobi. A footballer for a local league club with dreams of becoming a coach, Mark’s murder has been consigned to the unsolved cases file.
Flora Terah’s crime was to dare to contest the election for Member of Parliament for the North Imenti constituency in Meru district, in Eastern Kenya.
Her ordeal was not a rare occurrence. The help desk at the Education Centre for Women in Democracy, a Nairobi-based non-governmental organisation, handled 153 cases of electoral violence against women candidates in the run up to the December 2007 elections and received via email and phone another 258 complaints of harassment and torture of women.