Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Today's Headlines - 1/15/2008

Kenya gov't, opposition face off in parliament

Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:33am EST
(Updates with new details, quotes)

By Andrew Cawthorne and Wangui Kanina

NAIROBI, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Kenya's new government and opposition clashed in parliament for the first time on Tuesday in a bad-tempered session reflecting deep bitterness over the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki.

Despite demands for urgent action to end a crisis in which more than 600 people have been killed, opposition and government legislators argued for an hour before eventually deciding the poll for a new speaker should be secret.

"We went through (national) elections with a secret ballot, and you stole the vote," said William Ruto, of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), which says it was robbed of victory in a rigged Dec. 27 presidential ballot.

Government legislators called for calm, saying the rowdy behaviour was dishonouring those who have died.

"This is the 10th election of a speaker. It has always been by secret ballot," Justice Minister Martha Karua told the house. "Some people with the title 'Honourable' in this House are planning murder and instituting murder."

Roads were closed and riot police ringed the building as Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga entered parliament at the same time, without looking at each other.

It was the first time they had been in the same room since the election.

In the 222-seat parliament, ODM commands the highest number, 99 after many of Kibaki's former ministers and supporters were swept away in the election. ODM hopes to elect its candidate Kenneth Marende as speaker.

View full story at

Kenya: Mwai Kibaki Snubs Kofi Annan Mediation

New Vision (Kampala)

14 January 2008Posted to the web 15 January 2008

Vision reporter and agencies

THE Kenyan government yesterday rejected a mediation mission by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to try to end political unrest and sent a stern warning to the opposition ahead of nationwide protests.

Annan was due in Nairobi today, two weeks after President Mwai Kibaki's contested re-election sparked violence, which claimed the lives of over 600 people and displaced at least a quarter million.

But Kibaki's government again rejected international mediation of the crisis.

"If Kofi Annan is coming, he is not coming at our invitation," roads and public works minister John Michuki, a hardline member of Kibaki's new cabinet, told reporters in Nairobi. "We won the elections so we do not see the point for anyone coming to mediate power-sharing."

View full story at

Kenya: Another Litmus Test As House Picks Speaker

The East African Standard (Nairobi)
15 January 2008Posted to the web 15 January 2008

The country on Tuesday faces another litmus test at the ballot and by extension its now increasingly fragile democracy as the doors of the Tenth Parliament open with another high stakes political game - electing the House Speaker.

By 2.30pm, 207 MPs-elect are expected to be seated in the Chamber at the main Parliament Buildings in readiness for yet another battle, whose outcome for Party of National Unity (PNU) and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) could have far-reaching political implications.

If the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) gazettes in good time some 12 Nominated MPs, who have already been picked by entitled parties and their names forwarded to Anniversary Towers, the number of combatants could swell to 219.

The nominating parties would, however, not divulge the names of their respective nominees.

This came on a day Safina Party went to court to challenge a controversial decision by Mr Samuel Kivuitu, the ECK chairman, to bar the party from picking its designated single nominee. There were also unconfirmed reports of parallel nominees lists from ODM and ODM-Kenya finding their way to Anniversary Towers.

But three MPs will still miss out in action after ECK nullified, citing irregularities, the parliamentary election outcome of three constituencies - Kamukunji, Kilgoris and Wajir West.
In preparation for a fight that will again be determined by numbers, both PNU and ODM went into retreats and onto the drawing board to plot how to garner the winning numbers.

The voting is expected to be another closely contested affair, perhaps even "too close to call", as pollsters variously described the now fiercely contested presidential vote outcome between President Kibaki (PNU) and Mr Raila Odinga (ODM), whose announcement promptly plunged the country into a crisis of an unprecedented scale.

It is within this politically polarised background that MPs converge today to transact business.

View full story at

Angry exchanges as Kenya MPs meet


Parliament in Kenya has met for the first time since disputed elections, amid continuing tension between the government and the opposition.

Security is tight, with troops deployed around the building in Nairobi.

Voting for a new Speaker, the nation's third most powerful person, is entering a second round after candidates backed by the rivals finished almost level.

There were angry exchanges earlier as the opposition said it feared the secret Speaker vote could be rigged.

We hope and we expect that eventually everybody will come to their senses, realise that we've got to learn to live with each other.
Martha Karua Justice minister

Senior opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) official William Ruto said: "We went through [national] elections with a secret ballot, and you stole the vote."

But government MP Mutula Kilonzo retorted: "You are now violating the very principle this country has been seeking."

After one false start, MPs were called forward to cast secret ballots into a transparent box in the centre of the chamber.

The first round ended with 104 votes for ODM-backed Kenneth Marende and 99 for the government-backed Francis ole Kaparo. One of the other three candidates received two votes, and there were two spoilt ballots.

A two-thirds majority is needed in the second round but a simple majority will suffice in the almost inevitable third round.

View full story at

EU could cut aid to Kenya
- senior official Story by REUTERS
Publication Date: 1/15/2008

The European Union could cut its aid to Kenya over concerns about disputed elections, the EU's top aid official said yesterday.

Another EU official said the 27-nation bloc was considering suspending all aid and imposing sanctions if mediation efforts to resolve the crisis failed.

"It's difficult to continue the same level of budgetary support if we see that the election has not been fully respected," EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel told a meeting of the European Parliament's development committee.

The crisis has dented Kenya's democratic credentials and rattled Western donors. Post-election turmoil, in which hundreds have been killed, has hit the country's economy as well as supplies to east and central African neighbours.

View full story at

From the United Nations news service IRIN:

Latest News and Features

KENYA: Angela: "My children need to start school but we're stuck in the camp"
NAIROBI, 15 January 2008 (IRIN) - Angela, in her thirties, who did not wish to be identified, was born in the vast slum of Kibera in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and has lived there all her life. Today, however, she is one of an estimated 2,400 people living in the city's Jamhuri Park, where she fled during violence in Kibera after the 27 December elections. full report

KENYA: Health workers grappling with conflict-related sexual violence
NAIROBI, 15 January 2008 (IRIN) - As Kenya counts the human and material cost of the political violence, hospitals are reporting an increase in reported rapes during the immediate post-election period, spurring the government and health organisations to find ways to treat these cases as well as protect the displaced from further incidents of sexual violence. full report

View full stories at:

No comments: