Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Today's Headlines - Tues 2/12/2008

1 - Annan seeks to seal Kenya crisis deal in days - Reuters
2 - Kenyans consider grand coalition – BBC
3 - No recount in Kenya vote, says Annan – CNN/AP
4 - Kenyan Politicians Discuss Power-Sharing
5 - Annan calls for independent review of disputed Kenyan polls - Summary – Earthtimes.org
6 - Annan briefs MPs on Kenya crisis - Nation
7 - Mediators Brief Kenya Parliament on Crisis Negotiations – Voice of America
8 - ‘Kenya’s pain is Africa’s pain’ – AFP
9 - Around Kenya: After the violence – BBC
10 - Kenya's helpless students traumatized by crisis - Reuters
11 - US tight-lipped on travel ban threat list - Nation
12 - Tourist arrivals drop by 90 per cent – Nation
13 - New-born rhino named Kofi Annan – BBC
14 - Alarm Bells After Death of Tens of Sea Turtles in a Month - The Nation
15 - Kenya’s War of Words – NY Times Op-Ed
16 - A Deal We Can Live With – NY Times Op-Ed

Google News Alert for: Kenya

Kenya: Hopes of a Breakthrough in the Post-Election Crisis
AllAfrica.com - Washington,USA
Negotiations to bring an end to the political chaos in Kenya that was sparked by disputed presidential elections entered their third week, Monday, ...
See all stories on this topic

Some 600000 displaced in Kenya
BBC News - UK
The United Nations believes up to 600000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Kenya as a result of the violence that followed elections. ...
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Kenya: Election Tragedy
AllAfrica.com - Washington,USAThe horror pictures of electoral violence coming out of Kenya since the closing days of 2007 into 2008 have shocked the television-viewing world. ...
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UN postal body says cancelled congress in Kenya
Reuters South Africa - Johannesburg,South Africa
BERNE, Feb 11 (Reuters) - The United Nations' Universal Postal Union (UPU) said on Monday it had decided not to hold its four-yearly Congress in Kenya later ...
See all stories on this topic

Kenya: Team Survive CAF Axe On Defaulters
AllAfrica.com - Washington,USA
Kenya has escaped sanctions by Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) after the continental body cracked the whip on five countries for not meeting their ...
See all stories on this topic

Kenya: We Sat And Watched As Choked
AllAfrica.com - Washington,USA
When Rift Valley burns, Kenya does. Our economy and national welfare are that intertwined. No one community or region can be effectively autonomous. ...
See all stories on this topic

Kenya's Economy Suffers Amid Unrest
Voice of America - USA
By Derek Kilner Kenya has been one of Africa's strongest-performing economies in recent years, averaging more than five-percent growth since 2003 and with ...
See all stories on this topic

Kenya: Return, Refugees Told
AllAfrica.com - Washington,USA"Most Ugandans in Kenya have become easy targets due to the perception that our country is involved, in one way or the other, in the Kenyan crisis. ...
See all stories on this topic

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1 - Annan seeks to seal Kenya crisis deal in days - Reuters

Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:24am EST
By C. Bryson Hull

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya should have a political solution to its election dispute this week, but its divided parliament must swiftly endorse wider reforms, former U.N. chief Kofi Annan said on Tuesday.

The Ghanaian mediator said both sides had agreed on an independent investigation into December's election to make findings and recommendations to guide electoral reforms.

Expecting a deal within days to end the immediate conflict over President Mwai Kibaki's re-election, Annan was due to take the government and opposition negotiating teams to a secret location outside of Nairobi.

"I expect that we shall conclude our deliberations ... resolving the political conflict this week," Annan told parliament in an address that was as much a status report to the nation as a call for unity among legislators.

Kenya's closest-ever vote thrust the country into its darkest moments since 1963 independence, with more than 1,000 killed and at least 300,000 displaced in violence that dented its image as peaceful and prosperous trade and tourism hub.

Sources on both sides have said the deal will entail some kind of power sharing, and Annan said they were discussing the form it would take -- hinting at a cross-party "grand coalition".

"Grand coalitions have served other nations well ... when you have the sort of urgent political grievances we seem to have here," Annan said. "They come together to try and work out ... the divisive issues, to make the constitutional and other changes required, and then eventually organise an election."

The crisis laid bare perceived and real grievances between tribes about wealth, land and power that have existed since British colonial rule, and that most Kenyans believe have been aggravated by politicians over the years.

Annan has said the negotiating teams will tackle those issues in the talks, with the aim of producing concrete reforms over the constitution, land, and election laws within a year.

"You will need to move quickly to implement this heavy agenda," he told the parliament, which is split almost down the middle between the opposition and government.

"Your active involvement across party lines is necessary and will be necessary. Without this, the government is paralyzed."

Annan said that the both sides had agreed that there was "no immediate, viable way forward either through retallying, recount or an audit" of the election.

But both assented to an independent commission to investigate the vote "to make findings and recommendations to ensure that what we've gone through doesn't happen again," Annan said.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga had initially demanded that Kibaki step down and the vote be re-run, and refused any kind of power-sharing.

Kibaki urged Odinga to go to court to challenge the vote as Kenya's laws prescribe, and has said he is open to having some opposition members in his cabinet -- so far only half-filled.

A senior government official with direct knowledge of the talks said the government will only share power "in the form of cabinet posts to be decided by the president himself."

All other proposals on the government side were reforms aimed at being in place before the next scheduled election in 2012, the official said.

Opposition officials declined to comment, citing the sensitivity of the talks.

(For special coverage from Reuters on Kenya's crisis see:

(Additional reporting by Duncan Miriri and Jack Kimball; Editing by Keith Weir)

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.


2 - Kenyans consider grand coalition - BBC

Former UN chief Kofi Annan has briefed Kenyan MPs about the progress of talks aimed at defusing the election crisis before they move to a secret location.

He did not give any details but a BBC correspondent says he seems to be moving towards the idea of a grand coalition with new polls next year.

Mr Annan has ruled out a recount and says Kenya is too unstable for new elections for at least a year.

At least 1,000 people have died after the opposition said polls were rigged.

More than 600,000 people have been forced to flee their homes amid clashes between rival ethnic groups, seen as pro-opposition or pro-government.

As they enter a third week, the talks between government and opposition teams are being moved away from the capital, Nairobi, for three days to avoid the glare of publicity.

The current crisis is a big challenge but it provides an opportunity for Kenyan leaders to steer the country to a new level of stability Kofi Annan

Mr Annan said he had asked both sides not to discuss the contents of the talks with anyone else, calling for a complete news blackout.

He says that at the appropriate time, he will release the outcome of discussions to the media.

Mr Annan has hinted that the deal will include comprehensive constitutional, judicial and electoral reforms.

Both the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and President Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU) have tabled proposals for a power-sharing agreement.

Mr Annan has however cautioned against speculation over the proposals being discussed and hinted that a deal may be reached in three days.

He described the teams at the negotiating table as level-headed and expressed confidence that they will deliver a negotiated settlement.

"The current crisis is a big challenge but it provides an opportunity for Kenyan leaders to steer the country to a new level of stability," Mr Annan told MPs at a special session in parliament.

He commended the government for lifting a ban on live media coverage and holding of political meetings.

The former UN chief reiterated that both ODM leader Raila Odinga and President Kibaki have been well briefed of the progress so far and are in total support of the process.

Mr Annan also called on the MPs to travel to their constituencies and preach peace and tolerance insisting that both teams have agreed to ensure that those behind the recent clashes are investigated and prosecuted.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/02/12 09:34:34 GMT© BBC MMVIII

updated 3 hours, 26 minutes ago

3 - No recount in Kenya vote, says Annan – CNN/AP

Story Highlights

§ Annan says both sides have agreed not to pursue a recount or audit of votes
§ Ex-U.N. chief suggests a "grand coalition" government as lasting solution
§ Both sides agree to independent committee to probe vote irregularities
§ Political violence has killed at least 1,000 since December

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Both sides in a disputed presidential election in Kenya have agreed not to pursue a recount or audit of the votes, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said Monday as he suggested a possible solution to a bitter and bloody political crisis.

The agreement means the re-election of President Mwai Kibaki will stand despite international monitors citing flaws in the voting.

Yet Annan suggested that a "grand coalition" government could lead to a lasting settlement to the political crisis that has convulsed Kenya since Dec. 27, sparking violence that has killed at least 1,000 and displaced 300,000. Such a coalition, he said, could pursue constitutional reforms that would precede another presidential election.

Both sides also have agreed to the creation of an independent committee to investigate irregularities in the Dec. 27 election and suggest reforms.

He said he hoped both sides would reach an agreement by the end of this week.

Annan has been in Kenya, meeting with supporters of Kibaki and the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, to try to broker a lasting political solution to a crisis that has sparked violence in a country long known as as island of calm and relatively healthy economic development East Africa.

No agreement has been reached on what Annan called a "grand coalition," but he said it would involve the major political parties governing and pushing constitutional reforms together. After those reforms were passed, he said, another election could be held.

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Kibaki 'considering power-sharing deal'
He urged members of parliament to work "across party lines" and said the parties could paralyze government and stymie reforms if they do not.

Meanwhile, negotiators trying to resolve a political crisis in Kenya plan to move to an undisclosed location and make no public statements for the next few days, a senior aide to Annan told CNN.

Teams representing Kibaki and Odinga plan to move their discussions from a hotel in Nairobi to confer in private at a secret location, the aide said.

The goal is to meet far from the media spotlight in hopes of reaching an agreement, the aide said. The negotiating teams plan to make no public statements for the next 48 to 72 hours, the aide said.

Violence that followed the election has taken on ethnic overtones, with members of each candidate's ethnic group attacking the other.

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CNN's David McKenzie in Nairobi contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.
Associated Press contributed to this report.


4 - Kenyan Politicians Discuss Power-Sharing

By MALKHADIR M. MUHUMED – 4 hours ago

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya's main opposition has proposed that it share power for two years with the president's party, and that the country then hold fresh elections, negotiators from each side said Tuesday.

The statements are reason for hope for many Kenyans, who have seen more than 1,000 die and some 600,000 flee their homes since the dispute over who won Dec. 27 presidential elections sparked violence, much of it pitting ethnic groups against one another.

Opposition legislator William Ruto said, "We put forward our proposal to the other side, which among other things, include forming a broad-based government that lasts for two years .... We are going to agree on how are we going to work together in governance."

Government negotiator Mutula Kilonzo confirmed that the president's party had received the proposition and would debate them "to see if we can reach an agreement." He added in an interview with The Associated Press that the current constitution gives the president the power to appoint opposition members to his Cabinet.

Ruto said that during the two years his party proposes leaders share power, they should concentrate on reforming the constitution and electoral commission and establishing a plan to rebuild parts of the country destroyed by violence. [Note Ruto cannot keep his mouth shut and is speaking against the request of Kofi Annan to keep silence until the agreement is actually reached!]

He also suggested a truth and justice commission to look into land disputes that have contributed to the violence.

Separately, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan urged Kenyan parliamentarians to enact laws needed to resolve the political turmoil and said the two parties agreed to form an independent commission to look into the electoral commission.

Annan is the chief mediator in the dispute between the opposition, which charges that President Mwai Kibaki stole the election, and the government, which insists the vote was free and fair despite heavy criticism from international and domestic observers.

"It will be critical that a legislative agenda be agreed so that we can move forward expeditiously with the important business of reform," Annan said at a special session of parliament to brief legislators about the mediation. "You will need to work together to implement this heavy agenda. Your active involvement across party lines is necessary."

"Let's pull together and get it done," he said. "We can't afford to fail."

Ruto, the [one of three?] opposition negotiator, had said Friday that a power-sharing deal had been struck. Annan later called the announcement premature, although he said the two sides had made significant progress toward reaching an agreement.

Despite Ruto's statement, it's unclear whether main opposition leader Raila Odinga, who says the presidency was stolen from him, stands on the issue.

Speaking in English in Nairobi last week, Odinga he backed off his demand that Kibaki resign or hold a new election.

But on Saturday, speaking to supporters in western Kenya in Kiswahili, the common tongue of East Africa, he said Kibaki "must step down or there must be a re-election — in this I will not be compromised."

Then on Sunday, he again said he was prepared for "giving and taking."

Odinga's supporters, meanwhile, have applied their own pressure.

In his stronghold in western Kenya, the epicenter of much of the violence of the past six weeks, they have threatened to burn down his farm and a large molasses factory owned by his family if he returns as anything less than president.

More violence would only sink Kenya further into a deepening hole — it has already gutted the country's once-booming economy and left its reputation as a budding democracy in tatters.

The ethnic component to the violence has polarized Kenyans to an extraordinary degree. In many parts, members of some tribes have been forced to flee their homes and many people are moving to their ethnic group's historic homelands, even if they themselves had never lived there.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


5 - Annan calls for independent review of disputed Kenyan polls - Summary – Earthtimes.org

Posted : Tue, 12 Feb 2008 13:04:03 GMT
Africa World News Home

Nairobi - Former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan has called for an independent commission to review the results of Kenya's disputed polls and said a coalition government was needed to resolve the country's political woes.

Annan, who was briefing parliament in a special session, said by Friday rival politicians should agree to a political settlement, seen as the best hope to return stability to the East African nation after disputed elections in December set off a wave of violence.

Annan's mediation efforts have led teams representing President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga to agree on how to end the violence and address the humanitarian crisis crippling the country, but they have yet to come to a political solution.

"We have agreed to establish an independent review committee that would be mandated to investigate all aspects of the 2007 presidential election and would make findings and recommendations to improve the electoral process," he told lawmakers.

An interim coalition government looks to be the most viable option, but how the government will be formed still needs clarification, and with both sides putting forth very different demands, it's questionable if three days is enough time to find a solution.

Odinga's negotiators are calling for a prime ministerial post with executive powers that would lessen the president's while Kibaki's side has demanded no change to the president's role as head of state and government.

But Annan praised the progress the talks have made, telling lawmakers "we cannot afford to fail."

Annan said the teams would leave the capital Nairobi, where they have been camped in a posh hotel thrashing out details to end the stalemate, and would head to a secret location to continue the talks.

"Annan invited the negotiating teams to resume discussions outside of Nairobi with the goal of reaching agreement on the outstanding political issues in the next 48-72 hours," said a statement.

He quashed hopes of a breakthrough last Friday, saying there was reason for optimism in the talks but that no final settlement had been reached.

Local media had speculated that a joint interim government was agreed upon.

Odinga, 63, charges the presidency was stolen from him by Kibaki, 76, who insists he won fairly.

More than 1,000 people have been killed and 300,000 displaced in the post-election turmoil that has virtually paralyzed Kenya's bustling economy and thrown its reputation of stability into question.



6 - Annan briefs MPs on Kenya crisis - Nation

Publication Date: 2/12/2008

Mediator Kofi Annan has addressed an informal session of Parliament and briefed MPs on developments to end the political impasse.

The options to undo the political dispute in Kenya has emerged to be: The possibility of a grand coalition government, independent committee to investigate last year’s General Election, electoral reforms, constitution, institutional judicial reforms and a political solution to be unveiled in the next few days.

204 Members of Parliament have been told that the task of re-uniting Kenyans is urgent, “we cannot afford to fail” and nothing should be swept under the carpet.

The MPs numbers dropped from 207 following the deaths of Embakasi MP Mugabe Were, Ainamoi MP David Too and elevation of Emuhaya MP Kenneth Marende to Speaker of the National Assembly.

The MPs met with the Koffi Annan- led mediation team at the Old Parliament chambers and the agenda, to restore unity, love and peace among members of their bigger constituency and country, Kenya became the focus of the meeting.

The former United Nations secretary general and team member Mrs Graca Machel were unanimous as they briefed the MPs into what task lay ahead of them that the question at hand is about a political crisis and only an urgent political solution will restore the glory of Kenya into the family of nations.

Speaker of the National Assembly Mr Kenneth Marende commended all the parties in the mediation team for their resoluteness in the search for peace.

Mr Annan said having listened to all sides and consulted widely including visiting parts of the country, political reforms must be made.

The first is the possibility of a Grand coalition government that will bring unity through service and give the country a united front as other options continue to take shape.

He said measures to end violence, restore peace and respect for human rights was the major shift they started with and as a result will address measures for reconciliation and healing through the formation of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

There must be a secure environment of co-existence among all vulnerable people mostly children and women. The process must be achieved through the MPs going to their people and preach peace as the first virtue for tolerance.

Annan said Kenya is divided and so is Parliament and therefore a grand coalition government will bring all parties together.

Annan said that there will be no quick-fix solution such as retallying, recount or audit of votes that led to the disputed Presidential elections. Instead an independent review committee will be formed with the mandate of investigating all aspects of the 2007 general elections and then revert back to the mediation team with recommendations. Measures will be put in place to ensure that what transpired will not be repeated.

Parliament should be actively involved in pushing legislative agenda on electoral reforms, constitutional issues, and judicial, legal and institutional reforms across party lines.

Long-term solutions to poverty and inequality, land reforms, accountability and transparency will be tackled by the team as agenda number four.

Creating equal opportunities for all Kenyans to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor is of necessity. The task is urgent and Mrs Machel recounted her experiences in South Africa.

“We are here because we are Africans, we are concerned and we care. Africa cares and we share in the pain and success of Kenya,” she said.

She said that: “We don’t come with solutions, but we will insist on a solution.”

Kenya she said is divided and profusely bleeding because of the political crisis which can only be solved by a political solution. Women and children have paid the highest price and this is an opportunity to confront the truth, challenges and problems we have overlooked or postponed over a long time.

Mr Marende said parliament supports the process and will enact all laws required to bring about the envisaged change for the good of Kenya. He said his office is working on a programme to deal with national conflicts, conflict management and preparedness.

“Let us not seek easy and superficial reforms,” Mr Marende said as he quoted a US Congressman who said Kenya’s problem is not an ethnic conflict but a political conflict with ethnic overtones.

Additional reporting by Anthony Kariuki.


7 - Mediators Brief Kenya Parliament on Crisis Negotiations – Voice of America

By Scott Bobb Nairobi12 February 2008

The chief mediator in the Kenya reconciliation talks, Kofi Annan, has briefed the Kenyan parliament on the negotiations. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Nairobi that the former U.N. Secretary-General placed a media blackout on the talks as part of efforts to forge an accord by the end of this week.

A member of the government negotiating team, Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula, told VOA that chief mediator Kofi Annan told lawmakers they are part of the process aimed at ending the dispute over December's elections.

"Kofi Annan and his team were briefing parliament on the dialogue and mediation process so far, so that they [parliament] are in the picture, they are kept abreast and they become fully engaged and seized with the issue," said Wetangula.

The speaker of Parliament and opposition member, Kenneth Marenda, discounted reports the talks had hit hurdles over how to end the confrontation between the government of Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

"Almost all issues appear to be on course," said Marenda. "Both sides of the political divide are prepared to dialogue and continue. They are all looking forward to a solution and so we do not see a stumbling block as of where we are."

The opposition accuses Mr. Kibaki of rigging the election in order to stay in power. It wants a form of power sharing to be enacted until new elections can be held.

But Foreign Minister Wetangula said the Kenyan constitution does not provide for power sharing.

"There has been no such [power sharing] institution so there are no terms to suit what is not there," he said.

But he indicated that some reforms being discussed could require parliamentary action.

"There will be some [changes] that will require legislative action to be implemented," said Wetangula. "There will be others that will require constitutional amendment to be implemented. So parliament must come on board."

Opposition member Marenda said Annan told parliament he hopes to conclude the negotiations soon.

"We expect a road map in the next one week," he said. "In other words, we expect a program of action which will then lead to peace in the country."

Kenyan leaders are under pressure to settle the dispute rapidly. Relief officials say the country faces a humanitarian crisis if the stalemate continues.

More than 300,000 people have been displaced by the violence in which an estimated 1,000 were killed. The crisis has also hurt the Kenyan economy, in particular tourism, transportation and agriculture.


8 - ‘Kenya’s pain is Africa’s pain’ – AFP

Published:Feb 12, 2008

NAIROBI - Rights activist Graca Machel delivered an emotional plea to Kenyan lawmakers today to help end the crisis sparked by disputed elections, saying they were facing a “historical mission.”

Machel, the wife of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, is helping former United Nations (UN) secretary general Kofi Annan mediate negotiations to resolve the dispute over presidential polls that unleashed violence in which 1,000 people have died.

“This parliament has a historical mission,” Machel told the assembly convened after Annan was making headway toward a deal that he said could be announced by late Thursday.

“It has to help to redefine the common place, the common ground where every Kenyan has a place of belonging.”

Kenya descended into violence after elections on December 27 that President Mwai Kibaki officially won but the opposition claims were rigged. International observers have also found flaws during vote-counting.

“Kenya’s pain is Africa’s pain. Kenya’s success is Africa’s success,” Machel said.

The post-election turmoil has laid bare tribalism as well as simmering resentment over land issues and wealth disparities in Kenya, long considered a model of stability in Africa.

The new parliament, elected also in the December 27 polls, is almost equally divided between Kibaki’s party and its allies and the parties supporting opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Machel, who was also married to late Mozambican president Samora Machel, made the appeal to lawmakers on behalf of “the children who have learnt and discovered that their ethnic identity has become life-threatening.”

”The women who are caught in this crisis,” she said, “they are mothers, they are wives, they are sisters of someone, they are dear, so dear to someone as our own mothers, our wives, our sisters are dear to us.”

“Please do redefine a new sense of citizenship based on what unites Kenyans and not on what divides them.” Machel, 62, is a member along with Annan and former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, another member of the Kenyan mediation team, of the African Union’s panel of eminent Africans.


9 - Around Kenya: After the violence - BBC

After six weeks, Kenya's violent ethnic and political clashes are easing, following disputed elections.

Here is a snap-shot of the situation in what have been some of the worst trouble spots:

Relative calm is returning to the opposition strongholds of Rift Valley and Western provinces, particularly to Eldoret town, after weeks of bloody clashes.

Government statics show that of the 1,000 people killed in the violence, almost half were killed in Rift Valley and Western provinces.

The worst incident came when armed youths set ablaze a church on the outskirts of Eldoret, killing at least 50 people, mostly women and children, who had sought shelter there.

An estimated 150,000 people, mostly members of President Mwai Kibaki's Kikukyu community, have left the two provinces to move to their ancestral homelands in Central province and Nairobi.

Some 20,000 people, mostly Luos like opposition leader Raila Odinga, have moved in the opposite direction.

Business in most towns, such as Nakuru and Eldoret have reopened. Banks, shops, hotels and petty traders are operating without fear.

All the roadblocks, where gangs had dragged Kikuyus from minibuses and hacked them to death with machetes, have been removed and armed police are keeping watch.

But life in camps for the victims of the violence is harsh owing to the rains that are now pounding the region.

Many people, especially the elderly and children, run the risk of contracting diseases. There is also an urgent need for supplies of food and medical services.

Public transport has resumed and minibus taxis are doing well again, as they no longer need a police escort.

But a heavy police presence remains in Eldoret and adjacent towns.

Trucks full of the paramilitary General Service Unit (GSU) are now a common feature on the streets.

Residents no longer shy away from this squad that used to be known for ruthlessness and brutality.

Eldoret police boss Bernard Muinde Kioko told the BBC that the security officers will remain in town as long as former

UN chief Koffi Annan's mediation talks are still in progress.

"We are not taking anything for granted, including the calm that Eldoret is enjoying - things can change very first and we must be prepared at all times," he said.

Kisumu, which featured prominently during the post-election violence with people looting and burning shops, is now calm.

Some businessmen have even started reconstructing their business premises and painting them, hoping that life will soon be "back to normal" in the capital of Nyanza province.

But the economy of the city on the shores of Lake Victoria has been badly hit.

Fishing, which is the region's main economic venture, has collapsed since most of the buyers and factory operators fled following the ethnic clashes that followed the 27 December 2007 elections.

Taxi driver Oiro says: "While in the past I made up to 5,000 shillings ($71, £35) per day, I am today lucky when I make Sh1,000. I hope that Kofi Annan pushes [President] Kibaki and Raila [Odinga] to make peace so that we can continue with our lives."

Maseno University, which is about 50km from the city and should have more than 10,000 students, cannot open because the management cannot guarantee the security of students and workers.

[NB: Several FTC faculty are pursuing advanced degrees at Maseno and will be affected by delays in an already-inefficient government university system!]

Some of the halls of residence were destroyed and are still being repaired.

Tension remains high in Nairobi's Kibera and Mathare slums, which experienced serious post-election violence.

The violent scenes that forced thousands of people to flee have gone and some families have started returning to their homes but they are exercising extreme caution.

Some parts of the slums have been divided along ethnic lines, with many people choosing to live in areas dominated by people from their own community.

In both areas, some landlords have had their houses taken over by strangers who refuse to move out, contributing to on-going tension.

In Kibera, where many shops and houses were set on fire during the violence, police and government officials held a meeting with the residents at the weekend in an attempt to resolve the simmering housing disputes.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said most slum areas have remained calm since the mediation talks led by Mr Annan began.

At the weekend, police chief Hussein Ali lifted the ban on holding public rallies across the country, citing a return to normalcy.

Residents are now pinning their hopes on Mr Annan's ability to mediate a political solution.

The tourism sector, based on along the Indian Ocean coast, which last year contributed 15% of Kenya's national income, has been devastated by the post-election crisis.

Most holiday-makers have cancelled their trips to see the world famous safari resorts and beach hotels, with a few lucky hotels recording 30-40% bed occupancy.

The Coast province alone has more than 120 world class hotels, 20 of which have been closed down, with about 20,000 workers sent home.

Rufus Mwachiru, chairman of the Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO), says about 20,000 of their members have also been rendered jobless.

Kenya Tourism Board managing director Ong'ong'a Achieng' says that the industry, which last year earned the country a record 65 billion shillings ($1bn), is now expected to lose about 5.5 billion shillings ($84m) per month during the first quarter of this year.

He warns that the situation will get worse and the economy will be severely hurt if a solution to the current political impasse is not found soon.

Mombasa's port has suffered an unprecedented cargo pile-up.

This was caused by the unavailability of trucks, as transporters were not willing to travel up-country due to fighting in Nairobi, Rift Valley and the Western region.

By mid-January, the port which has a capacity of 14,300 20-foot containers was overwhelmed by 18,472 containers.

At that time eight ships were floating at sea as there was no space to dock.

Some ships got tired of waiting and changed course to Dar es Salaam in neighbouring Tanzania.

The railway is operational once again, after sections of line were ripped up by protestors.

Some of the cargo back-log is now being moved but at a snail's pace.

The crisis at the Mombasa port has also badly hit Uganda, Rwanda, eastern DR Congo and South Sudan.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/02/12 09:21:13 GMT© BBC MMVIII

10 - Kenya's helpless students traumatized by crisis - Reuters

Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:17am EST
By Michael Georgy

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Winnie Atieno is a typical Kenyan high school dropout these days. She loved math and sciences and dreamt of becoming a doctor -- until the men with machetes came around.

The 14-year-old and her family fled to a makeshift camp like thousands of others fearing for their lives after ethnic bloodshed spilled out of a disputed December 27 election.

Studies are the last thing on her mind.

"They tried to kill my father. They cut him," she said softly, as he pulled up his shirt sleeve to show a scar.
Kofi Annan, the former U.N. boss mediating between Kenya's political parties, aims to reach an agreement soon.

Even if he does, there is no relief in sight for families like Winnie's at the Jamhuri Showground.

Its soccer stadium and horse stables are now home to traumatized Kenyans unable to return to their slum dwellings which have been burned down, looted or occupied by members of rival tribes.

Most are Luos. Their children attended classes and played with Kikuyu friends before the disputed election.

Since then, more than 1,000 people have been killed and 300,000 uprooted in violence that has shattered Kenya's image as a stable democracy and a regional centre for business, tourism and transport.

Idle camp dwellers sat on hay stuffed into sacks beside mattresses and other meager belongings collected in the mayhem.

They first sensed danger when they found leaflets on their homes warning them to leave or "suffer the consequences".

Some parents said they were convinced the bloodshed had been planned because teachers from rival tribes took their children's books away just before the carnage started.

They won't find school supplies at the sprawling fairground, which in better times hosts an annual trade show offering agricultural goods, cattle and horses.

Many are desperate to move to their ancestral homelands seeking safety within their own tribe.

"I don't have a job and I can't afford to take my family to my village. There is nothing I can do," former laborer Mark Ayoma said.

Moving himself, his children and those of relatives who died of AIDS would cost him 6,000 shillings, a relative fortune even when he had a job making 10,500 Kenyan shillings ($145) a month.

For now, all he can do is try to console his children. But hugs won't ease the uncertainty.

It's hard to tell the bloodshed has taken a heavy psychological toll on polite boys in neat uniforms listening to lectures at a Nairobi high school.

"Some of the students needed counseling," said acting deputy principal Mary Karanja. "One heard shooting near his home. For several days he was convinced he had been shot in the head. But he wasn't."

University students are also nervous. Francis and Victor sat around the nearly empty University of Nairobi wondering if they would get their engineering degrees anytime soon.

Ethnic strife may hurt Kenyans long after they graduate.

"My friends in my old school laughed at me because I did not have shoes on. I want to go to a new school, I don't want my old friends, and they hate me because I'm a Luo," said Celine Auma, a sixth-grade pupil.

(Additional reporting by Joseph Sudah; Editing by Bryson Hull and Giles Elgood)
($1=72.35 Kenyan Shilling)

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.



11 - US tight-lipped on travel ban threat list - Nation

Publication Date: 2/12/2008

Major international airlines operating in Kenya are yet to receive the list of politicians and businessmen who risk travel restrictions to the United States.

The US embassy in Nairobi has since last week sent letters to 13 leaders in political and business circles, which could see them denied entry visas to the country.

Speaking for the British Airways, Ms Mary Maina of Advance PR, said they had not received the names.

Ms Yvonne Tharau of Kenya Airways also said the airline had not been contacted on the travel bans while another official of Qatar Airways, who declined to be named, said in the event an embargo is recommended, the firm will treat it in confidence.

Business leaders
Mr Steve Kisaka, a marketing officer at Emirates, also said they had not been given the names.

Officials of Virgin Atlantic, the newest international operator in the country, could not comment on the issue.

US Embassy in Nairobi sent the first batch of eight letters to the Kenyan leaders on Tuesday last week.

On Friday, deputy spokesman for the US State Department Tom Casey disclosed an additional five letters had been dispatched.

However, he was tight-lipped on the identity of the victims who he described as “Kenyan political and business leaders.”

Speaking in Washington DC, on Friday last week, Mr Casey said: “We had the eight letters that were handed out or distributed on February 5. I understand there have been an additional five letters today that have been given.

“We can describe them as Kenyan political and business leaders and the letters, just as the previous ones do, indicate that these people are suspected of having been engaged in incitement and promotion of violence in the post-election period in Kenya.”

“The letters notify them that we are reviewing whether they shall or should remain eligible for US visas.”

In a statement, Mr Casey said more leaders found to have taken part in the violence were likely to be denied visits to the US in future.

Pundits suspect that threats by the US, Canada and the United Kingdom in threatening certain individuals with travel restrictions was meant to force the protagonists in the crisis to strike a deal.

Former UN boss Kofi Annan is chairing the talks.


12 - Tourist arrivals drop by 90 per cent - Nation

Publication Date: 2/12/2008

Kenya’s tourist arrivals last month dropped by nearly 90 per cent as a result of post-election violence, according to industry players.

Consequently, earnings from the sector for the first quarter of the year are projected to fall from Sh21 billion to Sh8.4 billion, says Kenya Tourism Board chief executive officer Achieng Ong’ong’a.

Way forward
Kenya had targeted 1.1 million visitors this year, about 100,000 tourists a month.

Dr Ong’ong’a was addressing hoteliers, tour operators, Tourism ministry officials and tourism stakeholders at Reef Hotel in Mombasa when the Tourism Crisis Committee presented its findings on the impact of the post-election violence on the industry and the way forward.

The meeting was also attended by Ministry of Tourism permanent secretary Rebecca Nabutola and officials from the Foreign Affairs ministry representing the minister Moses Wetang’ula.

The Tourism Board’s chairman, Mr Jake Grieves-Cook, called for the development of marketing strategies that would result in a faster turnaround.

Bounce back
Mr Grieves-Cook said following the ongoing mediation talks headed by former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, there was hope that peace would be restored in the country and it was time for industry stakeholders to plan marketing campaigns for the sector to bounce back.

“Kenya is not the first country to be affected by such a crisis and I urge stakeholders to focus ahead,” he said, noting that once peace was restored the industry would recover.

Mr Grieves-Cook said that it was important for stakeholders to convey accurate information to the outside world and not wait for the media to speculate.

Dented image
He said foreign and local media should be viewed not as enemies but should be used to repair the country’s dented image.

“Those who deal with foreign tour operators should also be ready to spread the word that the situation in the country has changed,” he added.


13 - New-born rhino named Kofi Annan – BBC

A new-born rhinoceros in Kenya has been named Kofi Annan in honour of the former UN Secretary General.

Baby Kofi was born at the weekend in the community-owned Ol Choro Oirogua Conservancy in the Maasai Mara reserve.

Mr Annan is trying to mediate between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who disputed the results of elections in December.

Kofi's birth comes three months after a new strategy was announced to increase the numbers of endangered rhinos.

Rangers did not say there were any obvious comparisons between Mr Annan and the horned beast, but some have suggested he will need a thick skin to push forward difficult negotiations between Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga.

"Thick-skinned Kofi Annan is likely to spend years in the wild," the United Nations said in a statement.

The new strategy to save endangered black rhino seeks to raise numbers from the current 540 to 700 by the year 2011.

Black rhino suffered a catastrophic decline across Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. Numbers plummeted from an estimated 65,000 in 1970 to fewer than 2,500 by 1992.

Despite the devastating effects of poaching in the 1970s and 80s, Kenya now has the third largest population of the species after South Africa and Namibia.

A number of white rhinos have also been imported to Kenya from southern Africa to boost rhino numbers generally.

But with the continued threat of habitat destruction, the future of the black rhino is far from guaranteed.


14 - Alarm Bells After Death of Tens of Sea Turtles in a Month - The Nation (Nairobi)

NEWS12 February 2008 Posted to the web 12 February 2008
By Patrick Mayoyo

The killing of 28 sea turtles in less than a month on the Kenyan coast has raised the alarm among conservationists.

Initial investigations portray a catastrophe of international proportions.

The deaths were not only the highest number recorded on the Kenyan coast in less than a month but the biggest set-back to conservation efforts.

According to data compiled by both the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Kenya Sea Turtle Conservation Committee (Kescom), 22 marine turtles have been killed at Vipingo and two at Kuruwitu both in Kilifi, three at Diani in Kwale and one in Mombasa last month.

The sea turtles are endangered species protected under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (Cites) that prohibits commercial trade in the animal and its parts.

The programme coordinator of Kescom, Mr Andrew Wamukota, said initial investigations into the matter had disclosed that all the dead turtles had been caught in fishing nets.

This has raised queries on the monitoring of fishing activities in the country as fishermen are supposed to comply not only with local fishing regulations but also international ones.

Mr Wamukota said although the gill nets in which the turtles are caught are not prohibited, fishermen were using them unprofessionally.

"Some of the nets stretch up to long distances and are turned into beach seines thereby resulting in them catching even turtles," he said.

He said following the alarming rate at which turtles had died at the Kenyan coast there's need to review the licensing of gill nets to prevent fishermen from using them unprofessionally.

Possible link
Mr Wamukota said they were investigating the possible link of fishermen from a neighbouring country in the scandal after two of them were arrested fishing in Kenya's territorial waters using a local fisherman's licence.

"The Fisheries Department is set to revoke the licence of the local fisherman as a deterrent to those who are encouraging such underhand fishing practices," he said.

Researches conducted by both the Fisheries Department and the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (Kemfri) show that apart from the threats posed to turtles by artisanal fishermen, trawling remains a big threat to the marine creatures.

Both studies reported a 70 per cent by-catch rate that includes turtles by trawlers and it established that Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) currently in use are not effective in the protection of the animals from trawling activities.

The research shows that there were a total of 18 cases of incidental capture of turtles in the trawl nets during the survey period.

The Current Status of Trawler Fishery of Malindi-Ungwana Bay survey recommends the development of appropriate bycatch reducer devices to curb incidental capture of young fish and turtles.

According to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) the biggest threats to turtle conservation come from dynamite fishing, indiscriminate harvesting of eggs, conversion of the sandy areas where turtles nest to resorts and other commercial activities.

Coastal resources
Trade in turtle eggs has been a source of income for many fishing communities not only on the Kenyan coast but throughout the entire Indian Ocean region where most of them depend on coastal resources for livelihood.

The turtle egg is popular as a delicacy-with some believing it is an aphrodisiac while its shell is considered a choice material for decorative items among some coastal communities.

According to WWF, Southeast Asia is considered the world's biggest consumer of turtle eggs with Hong Kong, Singapore and Brunei being cited out as some of the leading markets.

Research has shown that although sea turtles have managed to survive natural hazards over the years they are now under severe threat from human activity.

It is because of these developments that the United Nations has put in place concerted efforts to save the endangered species.

Conservationists in the country have consequently put in place a number of initiatives aimed at creating awareness as part of the global effort to protect the endangered sea creatures.

According to Mr Wamukota, there are more than 18 community-based groups involved in different turtle conservation initiatives on the Kenyan coast through the Kescom project.

Mr Wamukota said 25 countries under the Indian Ocean Southeast Asian (IOSEA) region, which include Kenya, have signed a memorandum of understanding for the protection of the sea turtles.

"Through this initiative we are expected to develop an integrated sea turtles conservation framework for the Western Indian Ocean region under the Nairobi convention," he said.

The Kescom official said human impacts contributed to more than 85 per cent of turtle deaths in the country.

"Of the seven known species of marine turtles in the world, five are found in Kenya. They are loggerhead, leatherback, olive ridley, hawksbill and green turtle. Three of them, the green, the hawksbill and the olive ridley nest in Kenya while the others only come to forage," he said.

Mr Wamukota said since 1997 more than 2,000 turtle nests have been reported in Kenya resulting in more than 150,000 hatchings. However, research has shown that out of 1,000 hatchings only one turtle reaches maturity.

Sold by fishermen
He says although studies had shown more than 150,000 turtle eggs have hatched along the Kenyan coast in the past 10 years many of these ended up being sold by fishermen.

"And a belief among some Kenyan communities that if you take turtle oil you will get cured of asthma has also greatly contributed to the high turtle mortality in the country," he said.

Mr Wamukota said it is estimated that about 30,000 hatchings were reported on the Kenyan coast last year although the exact number will be established after all the data has been compiled.

The campaign to enhance sea turtle conservation activities in the country have been intensified through an integrated project sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAid).

Thee project brings together different stakeholders who include WWF, Kescom and the KWS.

"This project aims to involve more Government institutions and local communities in sea turtles conservation activities," he said.

He said the project would help build the capacity of the community monitoring system, introduce satellite sea turtles monitoring and spearhead awareness and education campaigns.

Copyright © 2008 The Nation. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).


Op-Ed Contributor
15 - Kenya’s War of Words – NY Times Op-Ed

Published: February 12, 2008
Nairobi, Kenya

WHEN you find yourself at a wedding discussing how more than 800 people have been killed and more than 250,000 kicked out of their homes for having certain ethnic origins, you know there is something terribly wrong with your country. Living in Nairobi the past few months has been like living in a relatively comfortable glass cave in the middle of hell.

What began in late December as protests against election irregularities has spiraled into killings based on which tribe your identity card and speech indicate you belong to. English and Swahili, the languages that were supposed to unite us, have now been rendered useless. In these times, when belonging or not belonging to a particular tribe can be the difference between not being dead or being seriously dead, what chance does a person like me have? I was born to a Luhya father and a Taita mother, but I speak the Kikuyu language of Kiambu, where I was raised.

The politicians no longer have the ability to stop the violence, despite their posturing that they could do so at the snap of their fingers. We see Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations, posing with the rival contenders, President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, in photo sessions where the two antagonists shake hands and smile and call for peace. But the political rhetoric seems a joke; we know that revenge and counter-revenge are what the various ethnic groups really seek — to “do to what they did to our tribe mates.”

Daily life is a constant kaleidoscope of languages for those of us who are of mixed ethnic heritage. We must gauge what sort of street or village we are in and, like a chameleon, speak the “correct” tongue.

My sister Rozi, a health worker, was recently taking a patient to a hospital in western Kenya when their ambulance was forced to stop by youths who demanded to know what tribe she came from. The youths were hunting members of Mr. Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe. When they saw that her ID card showed a mixed Taita-Luhya name, they asked her to speak in Luhya to prove she wasn’t a Kikuyu.

“I really can’t speak it because my mother is a Taita!” she pleaded, explaining that our father had never taught us his language. In desperation, staring at the freshly chopped corpses around her, she showed them a photocopy of my mother’s national identity card, which she had had the foresight to put in her purse. This apparently convinced them, and she was let go.

Never before has it been important in our family to know which tribe we should belong to. My sisters and brothers have names from both of our parents’ communities. I know no tribe. I know only languages.

Supposedly cosmopolitan Nairobi has now been Balkanized, with whole neighborhoods turned into exclusive reserves of certain tribes. Some have imported murderous thugs from rural areas to protect their own — the Mungiki street gang for the Kikuyus; the Chingororo for the Gusii tribe; and groups taking the names Baghdad Boys and Taliban for the Luo people.

Where can those of us of mixed heritage, who do not know their tribes’ war cries, find refuge? My Luhya name is problematic in itself: The Kikuyus, who support Mr. Kibaki, are hunting Luhyas, whom they claim voted for Mr. Odinga, a Luo. And the Luos are hunting Luhyas as well, claiming they voted for President Kibaki. Such is my fate for having a father belonging to a tribe that apparently voted 50-50!

Virtually all the major police stations and church compounds in Central, Rift Valley, Western, Nyanza and Nairobi Provinces have been turned into camps for internal refugees. These people’s laments are all the same: We were born here; we don’t even know any relatives in our so-called ancestral lands; we are Kenyans, not people of whatever tribe you want to pin on us. Yet the government now says that it will relocate them to their ancestral homes. For many, this means ethnic cleansing and death.

Many of my friends have now resorted to taking crash courses in the dialects of the tribes indicated on their identity cards, “just in case it comes in handy.” We sit in groups and laugh morbidly at the e-mail messages from our former classmates who are now abroad asking us if we are safe. After we graduated from high school, many of our friends faked bank-account statements to get student visas and fled to the United States, to wash toilets between university courses. Not me: I proudly swore to them that I was sticking here because I am an Africanist, a believer in the African dream. Now my faith in my countrymen has faded faster than the newness of the New Year.

In this climate, inter-tribal marriages have become so rare that they are the subject of TV news reports. This is greatly upsetting to those of us who — thinking about our parents marrying all those years ago — never felt that living a life outside your clan was a significant matter. We love Kenya, without thinking of our neighbors’ lineage. It is from us that Kenya will rise afresh.

Simiyu Barasa is filmmaker and writer.


Op-Ed Contributors

16 - A Deal We Can Live With – NY Times Op-Ed

Published: February 12, 2008
Nairobi, Kenya

UNTIL December, Kenya was the most stable nation in East Africa. It has long been a willing partner in the Bush administration’s war on terrorism. Yet the United States has mostly stood by as our country has descended into chaos.

More than 800 people have been killed and at least 250,000 driven from their homes since rigged presidential elections on Dec. 27. Two opposition members of Parliament have been gunned down, and human rights defenders have received death threats.

Thankfully, for the first time since the election, there is a glimmer of hope. On Friday, Kofi Annan, who has led an African Union mediation effort, announced that President Mwai Kibaki and his opponent in the presidential election, Raila Odinga, have agreed to negotiate a power-sharing agreement. Levels of tension in the country have already abated.

But Kenya will not be able to take the crucial steps to stability alone. We need sustained international pressure for as long as it takes to get the country back on track. Washington must refrain from simplistic characterizations of the violence as a matter of ethnic cleansing or tribal conflict, when in fact the roots of the problem are political. [NB: and economic!]

To play an effective role, the United States must maintain consistent and strong pressure to ensure that Kenya’s leaders treat the mediation with utmost seriousness. Kenyans welcome American leadership on Kenya at the United Nations Security Council. The recent decision to bar hard-line politicians and their families from entering the United States is another step in the right direction. It appears to have been a decisive factor in prompting the parties to finally sit at the table.

Washington should continue to work in concert with other strong voices, like the European Union, to push for the restoration of democracy in Kenya. Additionally, the personal assets of the hard-liners and the leaders of the violence should be traced and frozen.

Congress should call for the International Republican Institute, an elections-monitoring organization that conducted an exit poll on the presidential vote, to release its findings. Suspicions that the institute has suppressed its results not because they were flawed but because they showed that Mr. Odinga won have fueled mistrust.

Finally, the United States can use another pressure point. It must freeze the millions of dollars of military assistance Kenya receives each year, pending a successful outcome to the negotiations. Some of the security forces benefiting from this aid and equipment have been killing Kenyan civilians with impunity. The United States must not be an accessory to their brutality.

The Annan agreement presents an opportunity for Kenya to step back from the brink of disaster. Kenya can now fix the “winner take all” political system that prompted the recent election rigging, and end the impunity for human rights violations that has dogged our country since independence.

The Annan mediation effort must push the parties to agree to a one- to two-year transitional government, with both sides exercising equal powers. This government’s chief tasks, besides keeping the country running, must be to carry out badly needed constitutional reforms around presidential powers, and to create the conditions for new free and fair elections.

Restructuring the electoral commission, the police and the judiciary is also critical. The perpetrators of the election fraud and the violence must be prosecuted to restore Kenyans’ faith in the power of the vote. Only then can new presidential elections be held.

The current calm must not be mistaken for peace. A critical opportunity will be lost if the mediation effort results only in political horse-trading between Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga. Without these critical reforms, the gains made in the last few days will secure only a short-lived truce.

Above all, the United States and the world must ensure that the Kenyan people’s vote is respected. If we cannot uphold our democratic choice, the future of Kenya will be lost.

Maina Kiai is the chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. L. Muthoni Wanyeki is the executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, a nongovernmental organization.


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