Tuesday, February 5, 2008

More Headlines - Late Tues 2/05/2008

1 - Kenyan foes tackle key political issues
2 - Kenyan opposition makes new protest threat
3 - Team discusses disputed presidential poll results
4 - Crisis looms over Igad meet
5 - Post poll chaos: Top CEOs warn of economic slump
6 - Kisumu’s perilous slide into anarchy

7 - UN chief urges donors to provide funds for dire humanitarian emergency in Kenya

1 - Kenyan foes tackle key political issues

NAIROBI: Kenya’s feuding factions on Tuesday began talks on key political issues, in a bid to find a negotiated agreement to the deadly conflict that erupted after disputed December elections.

“The talks have opened and they are discussing about power-sharing,” a foreign ministry official told AFP, describing the talks as “tough”. “Today we are tackling the political issues and the controversial elections, I hope we move as expeditiously as possible because we have no time,” said former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, who is leading the mediation efforts.

Negotiations began last week between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, whose dispute over the December polls has ignited deadly violence across the country and rattled the region’s largest economy. The two sides have already reached common recommendations on how to end the security crisis and alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Kenya.

The Red Cross said Tuesday that the violence has left at least 1,000 people dead and displaced a total of around 300,000.

Many commentators have said that one of the most viable solutions to end the deadlock would involve a power-sharing deal whereby Kibaki remains the president, albeit with fewer powers, while Odinga is given a prime minister position which has to be created through a constitutional amendment. afp


2 - Kenyan opposition makes new protest threat

Tue Feb 5, 2008 2:55pm EST
By Duncan Miriri and Helen Nyambura-Mwaura

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's opposition on Tuesday threatened new street protests if a meeting of regional leaders chaired by the government goes ahead this week while the two sides are locked in political negotiations.

The rivals on Tuesday began the toughest part of their talks so far to try to end the crisis over a disputed election that has killed at least 1,000 people and hurt the east African country's reputation for stability and economic promise.

Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, mediating talks, said the opposition threat should not have been made in light of the talks and a pledge by both sides to avoid antagonistic proclamations.

"We have a demand that the parties avoid provocative statements outside negotiations," Annan told reporters. "We are going to be vigilant on that. I think there is a clear understanding that it should not have been done and there will be no mass protests."

The opposition had attacked plans to hold a meeting in Nairobi of the seven-member east African regional bloc IGAD, the rotating chairmanship of which is held by Kenya.

Foreign ministers are due in Kenya on Wednesday, with talks due the next day. IGAD last week said it supports Annan's mediation, and offered any help needed.

It was not immediately clear whether IGAD's heads of state would come later -- as is normally the case -- to endorse the statements agreed on by their foreign ministers. An IGAD official who declined to be named said it was likely.

"If the IGAD meeting goes on in spite of our call for it not to go on, we shall call upon Kenyans to come out in their big numbers for a peaceful demonstration in Nairobi to strongly protest," ODM secretary-general Anyang' Nyong'o said.

The government has banned street protests, and earlier ones have led to looting, rioting and a bloody police crackdown.

South Africa on Tuesday strongly attacked President Mwai Kibaki's government for raising objections to a prominent anti-apartheid figure as a mediator in Kenya's crisis.

Cyril Ramaphosa, a Johannesburg business tycoon, was nominated by Annan to lead longer-term negotiations in Kenya. But he pulled out on Monday after the government accused him of having business links with opposition leader Raila Odinga, allegations he denied.

"The reasons given by the (Kenyan) government are rejected with the contempt they deserve," Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad told reporters.

What started as a dispute over the December 27 re-election of Kibaki has laid bare divisions over land, wealth and power dating from colonial rule then stoked by Kenyan politicians.

Most of the deaths, in one of Kenya's darkest moments since independence from Britain 44 years ago, have come from cycles of ethnic killings, adding to fatalities from police clashes with protesters.

Odinga insisted on external mediation, which led to the Annan mission that so far has produced commitments to end violence and help those displaced.

On Tuesday, Annan pushed the two sides to focus on the third item on their agenda -- "the political crisis arising from the disputed presidential electoral results."

Odinga argues the president was illegally returned to office through vote-rigging, and Nyong'o said the IGAD regional meeting would "legitimize Kibaki's position through the back door."

International observers have said the vote counting was so chaotic that it was impossible to tell who won.

The government says Kibaki was elected under Kenya's laws.

On Tuesday, Kenya's Red Cross said the death toll had risen to more than 1,000, while some 304,000 Kenyans have been displaced by the crisis -- and the figure was expected to rise.

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.


3 - Team discusses disputed presidential poll results

Story by BERNARD NAMUNANE Publication Date: 2/6/2008

The Annan-led mediation team Tuesday started hearing presentations from ODM and PNU in support of their claims of victory in the presidential election.

The Orange group was the first to present the argument that Mr Raila Odinga won the presidential race. But the Government side refuted the claim in a preliminary presentation set to continue today.

Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, who is leading the talks, captured the mood in the meeting room when he noted that the issue on the table was hot, but he had not been shocked by arguments advanced by any of the two groups.

“Although the issue on the table is hot, the talks are going on well. There are no hardliners in the group. Nobody has said anything that has shocked me,” he told a press conference at Serena Hotel.

The team had started digging out issues relating to the disputed poll, which is at the heart of the political crisis which has pushed the country to the brink of s civil war. “We are beginning to work as a team seeking a long-term and viable solution to the political crisis. A solution that would strengthen the country’s institutions, democratic set-up and how they function. It will include electoral, land and constitutional reforms.”

The Orange team that comprises Pentagon members Musalia Mudavadi and William Ruto and MPs Sally Kosgei and James Orengo was the first to present their case for victory in the presidential election.

Sources close to the talks said that ODM presented a tough argument backed with evidence to show that Mr Odinga floored President Kibaki.

In their presentation, they argued that PNU rigged the elections before and after the voting day, giving as evidence deployment of Administration Police officers in ODM strongholds such as Nyanza and Rift Valley.

They also cited what they described as higher voter turnout in pro-Kibaki areas of Central Province, use of Provincial Administration and the manipulation of presidential poll results at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre where the Electoral Commission was based.

Presidential votes
Owing to the “open and blatant manipulations at KICC”, they submitted, glaring discrepancies were identified between the original Form 16As sent by returning officers and the ones that ECK was holding. The result, they said, was reflected between the difference in the presidential votes and parliamentary votes cast countrywide.

They further claimed that all original Form 16As were taken to the city’s Industrial Area on December 31, 2007 and destroyed.

Later, all returning officers were called to Nairobi to fill in new Form 16As.

In addition, they stated that Mr Odinga, whose vote was placed at 4.3 million by the electoral commission, won in six provinces compared to President Kibaki who only led in two and that their close scrutiny had shown that ODM was the winner.

That was why they had ruled out the option of re-tallying the votes and were pushing either for a re-run of the presidential election or formation an interim power-sharing government to prepare a fresh poll.

However, the Government side gave a brief overview of their argument in support of Mr Mwai Kibaki’s presidential victory. They are expected to continue with their presentation today.

Through Mr Kilonzo and Ms Karua, PNU submitted that the election results announced by the ECK were verified by representatives of all presidential candidates before the verdict was made public.

They argue that Ms Karua, the Justice minister was President Kibaki’s agent at the verification of votes while Mr Orengo represented Mr Odinga and they both endorsed the results.

The Government side also claimed it was ODM that rigged elections in its strongholds. They have lined up more than 10 constituencies in Nyanza and Rift Valley where voter turnout per constituency ranged between 85 per cent and 96 per cent.

Defending the issue of the difference between the presidential and parliamentary votes, the Government submits that the discrepancy has existed since 1992 elections when the record gap was 652,832 votes. In 1997, they add that the gap was 363,709 votes.

The Government, further, argues that the Constitution has clear mechanisms of settling election disputes, including the Presidential elections and suggests that ODM should go to court to present their grievances.

After all, they argue, all ODM MPs who felt aggrieved in the polls had filed petitions against the victors.

They accuse ODM of instigating violence that has rocked the country since the announcement of the elections and are ready to table documents to prove their claim.

The mediation team, also known as the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Committee, hosted Internal Security permanent secretary Cyrus Gituai to updated them on the security situation and the measures they were taking to end violence.

It was understood that Mr Gituai was at pains to explain the deployment of police officers in affected areas, the number of civilians who had been shot dead by police and inability to end the violence.

Streamline operations
Sources said Mr Annan wanted to know the fate of the police officer who was shown on TV clips killing a protester in Kisumu and on alleged shoot-to-kill orders.

It is said that Mr Gituai assured the team that corrective measures, which he did not specify, would be taken to streamline their operations and gave an assurance that they had the capacity to end the violence that has claimed nearly 1,000 lives.

Mr Annan welcomed Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula of PNU and Mr Orengo to the dialogue team.

The two other members of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities leading the dialogue, Mrs Graca Machel, and Mr Benjamin Mkapa, the former Tanzanian President are scheduled to arrive back in Nairobi today to rejoin the talks.


4 - Crisis looms over Igad meet

Publication Date: 2/6/2008

The Opposition party said Tuesday it is opposed to the holding of a meeting to be attended by Foreign Affairs ministers from member countries of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (Igad) in Nairobi on Friday.

ODM secretary-general, Prof Anyang Nyong’o warned that the party will mobilise its supporters to protest against President Kibaki’s Government hosting the meeting while the political impasse occasioned by the disputed presidential election remains unresolved.

But Mr Kofi Annan, the chief mediator in the political crisis, warned against the protests, saying they will be an act of provocation.

Peaceful demonstration
Speaking on phone, a Foreign Affairs ministry official said Kenya had been chosen to host the regional meeting which will be attended by ministers from the Igad member states of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti.

Earlier, while addressing journalists at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi, ODM MPs led by their chairman Henry Kosgey, said they will mobilise their supporters to hold a peaceful demonstration.

In a statement read by Prof Nyong’o, the MPs said they were against President Kibaki hosting the meeting in Nairobi while mediators, led by Mr Annan, were working to resolve the political crisis.

President Kibaki is the current chairman of the Igad Heads of State summit.

When contacted on phone, the ODM secretary-general said: “As a party, ODM is against Kenya hosting such a regional meeting while the country is gripped by a political crisis.” The MPs said they saw the convening of the meeting in the middle of the current political crisis as an attempt to spite their party.

“That is why we plan to mobilise our supporters to hold a peaceful demonstration against President Kibaki’s Government hosting the meeting,” they said.

Mr Annan said his team had discussed the matter and agreed that there would be no street protests while the mediation process was on course.

“We have discussed it (street protests) and it is clear that there would be no mass action,” he said.

He stated that the issue of engaging in provocative activities had been dealt with at length and all parties in the talks had agreed to steer clear of them.

“We demanded that both parties avoid provocation and that issues taking place in our sessions should not be discussed outside out talking table,” he said.

Asked whether President Kibaki was overstepping his mandate by inviting Igad ministers, Mr Annan said that the Head of State could call any meetings in as long as they were not aimed at mediating in the country’s crisis.

“President Kibaki is free to invite whoever he wants. They are not here to mediate. To the best of my knowledge, there is only one mediation going on and it has the support of the UN, US, European Union and African Union,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Kosgey has asked the Government to provide security to all ODM MPs following the recent killings of Embakasi MP Melitus Were and his Ainamoi counterpart David Kimutai.


5 - Post poll chaos: Top CEOs warn of economic slump

Publication Date: 2/6/2008

The economy is unlikely to register the predicted five per cent growth this year due to political turmoil.

And 400,000 people could lose their jobs if the violence that has nearly 1,000 people killed and 300,000 displaced continues.

Chief executive officers of various companies said the economy which grew by seven per cent last year could record zero per cent growth or less if the instability persisted.

The economy has been in upward trend since 2003.

In a meeting to discuss the post election situation, the the business leaders said lower investment, slowed down lending and poor performance of tourism, transport and manufacturing sectors would lower economic growth.

Political balance
“Down to how much depends on how and when we regain our political balance: If sometime this quarter then down to four to five per cent. If later- then we are in serious trouble,” said Eveready Batteries boss Steve Smith.

The CEOs said the future economic growth was in danger “and there is no assurance that investments postponed or transferred to other countries will be made or returned to Kenya.”

“No one owes Kenya a living,” Mr Smith said in a paper titled “Kenya’s economy post election: Reality check.

The CEOs warned that without economic growth, the jobs promised and tax receipts factored into various political calculations will not materialise.

“Instead we all face the prospect of a disillusioned populace, angry at leaders, political and economic, irrespective of political affiliation or ethnic background,” Mr Smith said.

Calling on politicians to give “us” peace and hope, the CEOs said Kenya could bounce back to its feet within 12 to 18 months if it attained stability and good governance.

They cited tourism, agriculture, transport and manufacturing as some the sectors worst affected by the chaos.

Production, they said, had dropped by between 40 and 50 per cent and some investors were contemplating relocating as Kenya had become an expensive point. Some 12 hotels, the CEOs said, have closed shop in Malindi and Mombasa while occupancies had dropped to 10 percent.

In Nairobi, hotel occupancies have reduced to 30 percent. Transport and logistics had become a nightmare with blockages of highways and railway.

Mobile telephone usage is however expected to rise as experience in other strife-torn countries show it normally picks up in times of trouble.

Exporters also have a favourable shilling. Inflation, the CEOs said, has been hovering at 10 to 12 percent and was heading to 20 percent as high energy prices, currency depreciation, possible food shortages and other production bottlenecks bite.

The shillings exchange rate to the dollar which is currently around 70 could also hit 75. Kenya’s economy is reputed to be Africa’s fifth largest and the largest non-resource based in Africa.

The CEOs said the violence has destroyed critical infrastructure and distribution network with some companies losing as much as Sh6 billion.

Mr Jimnah Mbaru of Dyer and Blair said the Nairobi Stock Exchange has lost about Sh70 billion to the violence. He is the chairman of the NSE.

The meeting at Nairobi’s Grand Regency Hotel which was also addressed by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan was organised by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.


6 - Kisumu’s perilous slide into anarchy

Publication Date: 2/6/2008

Kisumu Town and its environs has now been turned into gangland where criminals are robbing and looting from door-door in broad daylight.

What began as mass action over the disputed presidential elections has mutated into criminal acts seemingly beyond the political goodwill.

The criminals are now targeting the working class, business community and generally everybody trying to embrace order.

The situation is so pathetic and the branch chairman of Law Society of Kenya, Mr James Mwamu, and several leaders have cautioned political leaders that very soon, people are going to lose confidence in them for failure to restore order.

“Kenya does not belong to politicians and soon they may have no country to lead. They should combat the escalating crime without giving it a political angle,” said Mr Mwamu.

But ODM local officials led by Mr Dave Okwatch, say the ban on rallies and peaceful assembly had hindered their resolve to preach peace.

The officials said if any meeting is deemed illegal, then it is difficult to create a platform from which they could condemn the criminal activities.

They blamed the Government for having heightened the insecurity but absolved ODM leader Raila Odinga from culpability.

During the formation of mediation committee spearheaded by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan last Wednesday, Mr Odinga captured the situation on the ground by saying “violence is spiralling out of control. The country’s security forces seem unable to act. Unless we ourselves here resolve to act quickly to save our nation, there might be no nation left to save.”

When the post-election violence erupted, the gangs were basically driving the political agenda. They later took advantage of the situation to loot and rob, thereby plunging the town into disorder and ruins.

The domino effect has been disastrous. Youths whose only source of livelihood was in supermarkets, hotels, motor industry and the non-indigenous investment firms have been rendered jobless.

When fresh violence erupted in reaction to the heart-wrenching killings in Naivasha targeting communities from western Kenya, the reactions in Kisumu took a shockingly different angle.

Gangs mounted a door-to-door search ostensibly to flush out members of the perceived “enemy community”. But the target victims turned out to be the working class and the rich.

The working class
At Kenya-Re Estate where the working class stay, a Maseno University lecturer, Dr Francis Ang’awa, was stoned by the gangs when he tried to prevail upon the protesting gangs to stop targeting “remnants” of a particular community.
At the posh Mountain View estate, men kept a night vigil to keep off some youths who had threatened to attack.

In the neighbouring Tom Mboya estate, a private school proprietor had his house looted by a group that stormed his house under the guise of ensuring members of the “enemy community” were not hidden there.

Milimani estate residents which border the sprawling Nyalenda slums remained in panic when a new wave of violence hit the town following the murder of Embakasi MP Melitus Mugabe Were.

At Usaid estate, the gangsters literally carried furniture and household items through unfenced Robert Ouko Government quarters to their hideout in the Manyatta Arab slums.

The Obunga and Bandani slums are the main hideouts for gangsters currently raiding families of their own community under the guise of flushing out “enemies”.

ODM leaders in Kisumu and Western Province have cautioned top brass that if the violence is left unchecked, many of their supporters who have fallen victims may reconsider their stand.

“We all know our supporters, rich and poor. But when a certain class we are fighting for to gain socio-economic equality in a new government turn against us under these painful circumstances, then ODM could lose its face in the ongoing crisis,” Dr Arunga Sino said.

Dr Sino, who is the party’s Western Professionals Group chairman, said when the left hand is robbing the right hand, the mass action ODM has effectively used may lose its knack.

He said the first reaction on December 30, was too emotional to contemplate, but the subsequent ones are now becoming “man-eat-man” criminal actions.

Illegal toll stations are now erected in certain points and people pay as much as Sh1,000 to access the city centre.

The education sector has been adversely affected as schools are also being looted, while many are yet to reopen.

The situation was however brought to normal by Mr Odinga’s plea that children must return to school.

The Nyanza provincial commissioner, Mr Paul Olando, together with area educationists have been in the forefront demanding a return to normalcy to enable teaching to resume.

However, most teachers fear for their safety and that of learners.

The social life has suffered a blow since many beer joints were looted and burnt down regardless of the ethnicity of the owners.

Cheered them
The once popular multi-million Kimwa Grand hotel in Kondele was looted then burnt by rioters. Those who cheered them are now the targets of violent groups who rob, maim and kill in broad day light.

Dr Sino said President Kibaki and Mr Odinga should summon the zeal they exhibited during their presidential campaigns to conduct a massive drive to restore peace, law and order.

He said if the passion seen in the campaigns could be employed, then the youths would be assured of life after elections.

Kisumu police boss Simon Kiragu has warned that the gangsters will not be spared. Last Friday alone, 70 people were arraigned in court facing charges of robbery with violence and related crimes in the recent past.

“They are criminals and we are not overwhelmed. All effort is being put to restore order through community policing links... Let them be told that their days are numbered and the law will take its cause,” said Mr Kiragu.

He also asked members of the public to cooperate with police, saying, criminals will not be allowed to roam the town and its estates under the guise of pursuing a political agenda.


7 - UN chief urges donors to provide funds for dire humanitarian emergency in Kenya

The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 6, 2008

UNITED NATIONS: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged donors to provide additional funds to cope with the "grave emergency" in Kenya and appealed again to political leaders to stop the violence and resolve their differences through dialogue.

Ban told reporters at U.N. headquarters Tuesday that he was sending U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes to Kenya for a firsthand look at the plight of hundreds of thousands of people who have fled their homes to escape the violence.

The United Nations and humanitarian organizations working in the country "have been able to meet the initial basic needs" of some 310,000 internally displaced people over 192 sites in the western and central provinces, he said.

"Needless to say, much more needs to be done," Ban said. "I urge donors to provide additional funding to address this grave emergency."

Supporters of President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga have been clashing over who won a Dec. 27 presidential vote. Protests since the vote have turned violent and deteriorated in many cases into ethnic clashes, with much of the anger aimed at Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe, long resented for dominating politics and the economy. More than 800 people have been killed in a country once considered among the most stable in Africa.

Ban reported to the Security Council on his meetings last week with Kibaki and Odinga, and with leaders at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

"As I warned at the African Union summit last week, ethnic clashes threaten to escalate out of control," Ban told reporters after his closed-door session with the council.

He said he told Kibaki and Odinga "that they bear a particular political responsibility for the future of Kenya."

"I stressed to all the Kenyan leaders the need to stop the unacceptable violence and killings and to resolve their differences through dialogue and the democratic process," Ban said. "I also appealed to all the political leaders to think beyond their individual interests or party lines, and to look to the future of Kenya as one country."

Ban reiterated his support for the mediation efforts led by his predecessor, Kofi Annan. He said he has assigned several members of his staff to assist Annan's team and had established a trust fund in the U.N. Development Program to support the mediation process.

"The parties are now talking and discussing practical measures to stop the spiral of violence, to address the humanitarian crisis, and to restore fundamental human rights and liberties," he said.

The Security Council in the coming days is expected to approve a statement deploring the violence in Kenya, expressing concern at the dire humanitarian situation, welcoming the
announcement of progress in the negotiations, and urging leaders to reach a political solution.


No comments: