Sunday, March 9, 2008

Weekend Headlines - 3/8-9/2009

Hard Road Ahead for Kibaki And Raila

The East African Standard (Nairobi)
NEWS9 March 2008 Posted to the web 9 March 2008 Nairobi

As President Kibaki and Prime Minister-designate Mr Raila Odinga sit back to watch golf on Sunday afternoon, they will be aware of the challenges ahead.

The first hurdle they must overcome this week is the adoption of the entrenchment of the 50-50 per cent power sharing deal in the Constitution. But there are more challenges ahead for the leaders of the prime political powerhouses - Party of National Unity and Orange Democratic Movement.

The most challenging task is how they will share out ministries in line with the Kofi Annan deal, which decrees that the process must take into account the principle of portfolio balance and the parliamentary strength of the two parties.
The deal they signed has timelines they must meet as they embark on the harder stretch of rebuilding the country,
restoring inter-communal trust, resolving recent and historical injustices, and giving Kenya new and comprehensive constitution in 12 months.

The broader justification and guidelines for the process that could fundamentally transform their legacies lie in the four Bills now waiting for parliamentary debate and approval. They all sprang from Annan's negotiating table around which sat four representatives of PNU and ODM, alongside two eminent African leaders.

It will be a delicate process, and daunting too, as the leaders strive to whip their supporters onto the fold, while muting traditional rivalries between their voting blocs.

Before Kibaki and Raila, who police cudgels and clouds of tear gas separated only weeks ago, is also the challenge of forging one government in spirit and form.

The two leaders paint the picture they know they have to walk the tight rope and their differences must take the back seat.

Last week Kibaki again declared he meant business when he said he would keep his part of the bargain that saw the country breath a sigh of relief. On Saturday, Raila declared they had forgiven each other.

Since February 14, when the two leaders signed a comprehensive agreement that calmed a nation scarred by post-election violence, Kenya has focused and celebrated the power sharing deal.

But in about a week's time, a process, called The Independent Review Committee, is expected to start probing what really happened during the December 2007 General Election, which ended in chaos and deaths.

In accordance with agreement reached by PNU and ODM and witnessed by on behalf of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities last month, the non-judicial body is expected to begin sitting from March 15, at the very latest, with a mandate to investigate all aspects of the election and make its findings and recommendations to improve the electoral process. That date arrives this Saturday.

Within three to six months, after both private and public hearings, it is expected to table its findings and recommendations. The findings will have to be made public within 14 days after they are submitted.

But it is not only Kibaki and Raila who have a sobering date with history and destiny. The careers of the officials of the Electoral Commission of Kenya will be on line, together with their reputations and how history will judge those officials when the truth behind the 2007 election mess is told.

Deal with Electoral Commission
From next Saturday, if the parties stick to the programme, the Independent Review Committee is expected to sit and examine the organisational structure, composition and management systems of the Electoral Commission.

The committee will assess the ECK's independence, capacity and functioning during the preparation and conduct of the 2007 General Election.

The committee will be tasked with analysing the legal and constitutional framework for the conduct of 2007 election.
It will also identify any weaknesses or inconsistencies in the electoral legislation.

The committee of seven members, whose chair will be "an internationally recognised eminent jurist," will look at the training, voter registration, logistics, security, polling and counting of the votes.

Three of the members of this committee will be international experts, nominated by the Annan panel. ODM and PNU will nominate two members each. It will look into vote tabulation, results processing and dispute resolution.

The committee will also assess the "functional efficiency" of the ECK and its capacity to discharge its mandate.
The agreement setting up the committee says that the committee will be permitted access to "all electoral materials."
"All national authorities whose activities have a substantive relationship to the above activities are requested to extend maximum co-operation," the agreement says.

But it is not only the inquiry into the electoral process that will put Raila and Kibaki's leadership to the test. Almost concurrently, the two will be required to oversee the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission that will look into the human rights violations, assassinations and community displacements, among other issues.

This commission will inquire into those issues as committed from the first day Kenya got its independence on December 12, 1963, to February 28.

The commission will be free to look further back to days before independence, if necessary to find answers to the tribulations that came to beset independent Kenya.

"No blanket amnesty will be provided for past crimes. Individual amnesty may be recommended by the commission in exchange for the full truth," the agreement says.

TJRC is an explosive issue. When Raila mentioned it as part of his party manifesto, alarm spread across the political landscape, with some accusing him of preparing to embark on revenge. The new agreement now requires the two leaders to jointly tackle it within two years.

The agreement establishing the justice and reconciliation commission binds the Government, to provide information to the commission on request. The Government will also be required to provide access to archives or other sources of information.

That commission will look into the explosive issue of economic crimes, in particular grand corruption, historical land injustices and illegal or irregular acquisition of land.

After two months of pointing accusing fingers at each other before signing the agreement, Kibaki and Raila are also expected to set up a commission of inquiry into the violence that followed the polls.

That commission will look into the facts and circumstances of the violence, actions or omissions by the State during the course of the violence, and recommend what action to be taken.

Inside ODM, a section is said to be pushing hard for the PM-designate and the President to be seen to be complementing each other and helping ease tension and stifle suspicions as they confront the months ahead.

So far, the two leaders appear to understand the task before them and appear to be going to great lengths to strike a rapport.

On Saturday, the Lang'ata MP rallied behind the President, giving unqualified support for laws governing relations between ethnic groups, as proposed by the President in the State opening of the Tenth Parliament.

Determined to sustain the coalition
In an interview with The Sunday Standard, Raila said they are both determined to make the coalition work and confront the task ahead. "We have agreed with the President that we want to make this coalition succeed. The best way to make it work is to remove fears and suspicions between members of our parties and our supporters," Raila said.

He also pledged compromises that will see the team putting together ODM and PNU manifestos come together with a document that would serve the national interest.

In what looked like an indication that Raila and President Kibaki are closing ranks, Raila, taking a journey through Kenya's political history since the 1990s, said the Head of State had played a crucial part in opening up the country.
Raila, speaking about his expectations and plans for the coalition government in formation, said he sees his role as helping the partnership succeed.

He also said he wants to provide an environment that will bring together the forces that fought for the so-called Second Liberation, which included President Kibaki.

The PM-designate said the push for change was later hijacked and frustrated by the Kanu government and the revolution was stolen.

"The situation today is different. There are a number of people who have joined the push for change. Across the political divide, there are many young MPs who were not there at the time, but are progressive and clear-minded and are keen on change. This team of new blood will give impetus to the reform agenda that was stillborn," said the ODM leader.

Raila, who fought the December 2007 campaign on the platform of change, on Saturday acknowledged that President Kibaki was party to the push for change of the 1990s, adding he believes he would be keen to see that process moved to the desired final under his regime.

The exit of immediate retired President Moi and the arrival of President Kibaki, Raila said, saw a change in style. He said President Kibaki allowed people "more space to breathe" and was "not that heavy handed," adding that he would work with the President to help him fortify his legacy.

Listing some of the liberties the President had protected, Raila looked back to 1992, when he was deputy director of elections in Ford-Kenya while President Kibaki was DP presidential candidate. That election, he said, illustrates how different Kibaki and Moi regimes have been and how much Kenya has changed for the better.

"In 1992, on nomination day, 18 opposition candidates were physically blocked from presenting their nomination papers. I remember my friend Moses arap Keino was nearly killed when he tried to present his papers in Kipkelion in the company of his son," the Lang'ata MP recalled.

"We went to that election with some regions called Kanu zones where nobody was allowed to campaign. Rift Valley was a Kanu zone, except Nakuru District. The upper Eastern, Northern Kenya and parts of Coast were Kanu zones.

As we went to the polls, Kanu already had 18 MPs unopposed, most of them getting their seats by State agents physically barring opponents. That is different from the bitter campaign we had last year. Everyone campaigned freely."

Raila recalled that his father, then the Ford- Kenya presidential candidate, was blocked from conducting civic education in Garissa in 1992 on grounds that Garissa was "a special case" for Kanu.

"We landed in Garissa only to be told we were not needed there. The hotels we booked were told to refund our money. The helicopters we hired had returned to Nairobi because we were meant to be in Garissa for two days. Then police descended on us with all sorts of ammunition. There were no mobile phones those days and there were no hotels for us. You look back then and the election we just concluded and you realise Kenya has gone through an evolution."

Copyright © 2008 The East African Standard. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

All eyes on Kenya’s Tenth Parliament

THE OPENING OF KENYA’S TENTH PARLIAMENT last Thursday marked the beginning of the national healing and reconciliation process that the country must undergo to put the post-election crisis behind it.

The manner in which the new Parliament handles the historic constitutional moment that has now presented itself will determine the destiny of the Kenyan nation. More than at any other time in the country’s history, legislators will have to rise above narrow partisan interests to pull Kenya from the abyss of ethnic disintegration and back on to the road of peace, development and democracy.

It is a task that will require the highest levels of patriotism, integrity and selflessness. With more than 1,000 dead, at least 500,000 displaced from their homes, and billions of shillings lost in the post-election crisis, Kenya is today more divided than at any other time in its history. The entire fabric of society is under great strain, threatening the very concept of nationhood that the country’s forefathers fought for.

It is in this environment that Parliament must emerge as a beacon of hope. It is welcome to learn, in this respect, that the first actions of the House will be to pass Bills that entrench the principles of the National Accord and Reconciliation Agreement into the Constitution, as well as lay the foundation of reforms that promote democracy and equity.

These Bills will establish the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, as well as the Ethnic Relations Commission of Kenya. The latter body will delve into the root causes of the deadly ethnic animosity that nearly unravelled the Kenyan state.

In the medium term, Parliament must work diligently to midwife the enactment of a new Constitution that transcends short-term political considerations and affiliations. Kenya’s new Constitution must withstand the test of time, and build on the country’s diversity to create a just and fair nation state.

In all this, the Tenth Parliament must read the mood of the country and move with both circumspection and speed. Kenyans have waited too long for real reforms, The lesson of the recent chaos is that their impatience can easily snowball into destructive violence.

Power sharing bills published.

Written By:Doreen Apollos , Posted: Fri, Mar 07, 2008

The two bills to entrench the power sharing deal struck between President Mwai Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga have been published.

The Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill and the National Accord and Reconciliation Bill are now scheduled for debate in parliament once members complete the seven-day debate o the president's speech.

The Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill 2008 seeks to give effect to the agreement reached between Kibaki and Raila and seeks to amend the constitution to provide for the establishment of the offices of a Prime minister and deputy Prime Ministers.

The Bill also seeks to provide for the enactment of an Act providing for the appointment and termination of offices of the prime minister, deputy prime ministers and various ministers, the functions and powers of the prime minister and deputy prime ministers and the establishment of a coalition government.

It is this latter part that forms the thrust of the National Accord and Reconciliation Bill, 2008.

It states that the Prime Minister and his two deputies will be appointed by the president.

The prime minister will be a MP appointed from the political party with the majority in parliament.

His functions include coordination and supervision of the functions and affairs of the government, including those of ministries.

The office of the prime minister falls vacant if he resigns or parliament is dissolved, through a vote of no confidence by parliament or if the coalition is dissolved.

It states that the cabinet shall consist of the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, the two deputy prime ministers and other ministers, and that the composition of the coalition government will always reflect the partners' relative parliamentary strength.

The coalition shall be dissolved if the tenth parliament is dissolved, if the parties agree in writing, or if one coalition partner withdraws from the coalition.


Major reforms to be debated in House

Story by NATION Reporter Publication Date: 3/10/2008

Parliament resumes its sittings Tuesday with public expectations that it will move fast to create the new coalition government and the post of Prime Minister.

Attorney General Amos Wako played his part on Friday by publishing the two Bills which President Kibaki urged House to tackle urgently when he opened the second session of the 10th Parliament last week.

The first one is the National Accord and Reconciliation Bill 2008 which seeks to bring into existence the coalition government, the post of Prime Minister and two deputy premiers.

It will, in the course of the debate and passage that will result in Act of Parliament, spell the how they will be appointed, their functions and the method of dismissing them.

In addition, the Bill also specifies the terms of the coalition and the relationship of the partner parties.

The second one is the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2008 that aims to entrench the positions of PM and deputy premiers in the Constitution as stated in the National Accord that was signed by President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga on February 28 to end two months of a political crisis.

The Bill, at first, seeks to exempt the Act that will create the coalition and post of premier from Section Three of the Constitution which declares all inferior laws that are inconsistent with the Constitution null and void.

Mt Kenya Leaders Petition Kibaki

The East African Standard (Nairobi)
NEWS9 March 2008 Posted to the web 9 March 2008 By Gakuu Mathenge And Athman AmranNairobi

Politicians from the Mt Kenya region are jittery about the shape and form of the coalition government.
The leaders fears the 50-50 criterion of power sharing could result in the region being left out of government.

And the Central Kenya Parliamentary Group (CPG) is now said to be pressing for an appointment with President Kibaki to discuss their concerns.

In what appears to be a concerted effort to get the region's political voice heard, two petitions have been written to President Kibaki - one by the CPG that has 50 members, and another by MPs from Meru. The groups have made demands on the Head of State ahead of the crafting of the anticipated coalition government.

It is the first time in the last five years of turbulent politics that the regions' political leaders have put down on paper any demands to the President and his State House handlers, an indication of either budding independence or raging turf battles in the vicious palace wars around State House.

While supporting the Coalition government and restoration of peace, the two documents demand the region be accorded fair representation in government commensurate with its voting strength and the support it gave to President Kibaki at the ballot box during the December 27 General Election.

Among issues causing jitters is the fact that the region voted overwhelmingly for President Kibaki and it was now likely to be left out of government as envisaged under the 50-50 rule as contained in the Coalition agreement signed by the President Kibaki and Prime Minister-designate and ODM leader, Mr Raila Odinga.

"If the Cabinet comprises 34 ministers, it can be argued that President Kibaki has already exhausted his slots and therefore should leave the rest to Orange Democratic Movement and Raila to fill. As it is now, Cabinet appointments are not commensurate with the voting strength of Mt Kenya region. If the imbalance is not considered, it would amount to a political injustice against the region and its people," a source told The Sunday Standard.

A letter, dated March 4, seeking appointment for the CPG with President Kibaki, and whose contents The Sunday Standard obtained says in part: "The group has genuine fears that given the current political situation, the central Kenya might be discriminated against and denied its rightful political representation in government. The group would appreciate to meet your Excellency at the earliest opportunity and preferably before the finalisation of the coalition government."

Have signed petition
The CPG chairman and Mathira MP, Mr Ephraim Maina, signed the petition.

When reached for comment, Maina said the region's political leadership was fully behind the efforts to craft the coalition government, resettlement and compensation of internally displaced people. But it insists democratic principles of fair representation should be the guiding criteria.

"We were elected to voice our people's concerns and that's what I am doing. Our people are saying they want to be fairly represented in the coalition government. Otherwise we support the peace efforts and CPG will join hands with all voices of reason and goodwill to preach peace across the country".

From Meru, nine MPs signed a memorandum to President Kibaki demanding more Cabinet and senior Civil Service appointments on account of the fact outside central Kenya, the region gave Kibaki 520,000 votes and nine MPs, the third highest pro-Kibaki voter block after Rift Valley that gave him 618,911 out of the 4.5 million cast for him.

The memorandum, dated January 29, and signed by all the Meru MPs specifically demands two more Cabinet appointments and four assistant ministerial slots. It was signed by Energy minister Mr Kiraitu Murungi, Mr Peter Munya (Tigania East), Dr Kilemi Mwiria (Tigania West), Mr Ntoitha M'Mithiaru (Igembe North), Mr Mithika Lintuli (Igembe South), Mr Silas Muriuki (North Imenti), Mr Gitobu Imanyara (Central Imenti, Mr Mburi Muthengi (Tharaka) and Mr Kareke Mbiuki (Nithi)

Elsewhere, a silent war is going on between Narc-Kenya and Kanu within the PNU alliance over the position of deputy Prime Minister.

Both parties are fighting hard against time, as the process of entrenching the position of Prime Minister in the Constitution is being fast-tracked. This is after the gazetting of the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill 2008, on Friday.

Insiders say there are moves within the two parties to cut one another down using party strength, regional, tribal and minority cards. The Vice- Presidency's position has already gone to ODM-Kenya leader, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka.

Kanu, which is a key partner in the coalition wants chairman, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, to get the post, while Narc-Kenya, which claims to be a senior partner in PNU is proposing Constitutional Affairs minister, Ms Martha Karua.

Others in PNU list are Internal Security minister, Prof George Saitoti, Garsen MP, Mr Danson Mungatana and Kiraitu, who is also the Energy minister.

While Narc-Kenya claims it deserves the post because it is a senior partner in the PNU alliance. Kanu makes the same claim. Kanu disputes claims by Narc-Kenya that of the 43 PNU MPs, it has 29, making it the senior partner.

Numerical strength
A Kanu insider says Narc-Kenya has only three MPs, while Kanu has 21, a few having been elected on PNU ticket.
If Kanu argue its case of superiority in numbers compared to Narc-Kenya, it feels it could get the deputy PM's post, which would go to Uhuru.

And within PNU, there is said to be a struggle between the Karua and Saitoti camps to get the seat if the party's argument that it is a senior partner in PNU holds water.

Some in Narc-Kenya who support Karua are said to be pushing for ODM to choose Pentagon member Mr William Ruto, which would shut out Saitoti, where regional considerations are concerned. Both Ruto and Saitoti are from the Rift Valley Province. This would give Karua a chance.

But while the regional heavyweights are trying to outdo one another to get the post, some Muslim MPs met recently in a Nairobi hotel to try to create an alternative situation.

This would be in the case where ODM settles for Mr Musalia Mudavadi.

The Muslim MPs would play the "minority card" if the fight for the post with PNU is concentrated within Central Province, pitting Uhuru, Karua and Saitoti.

The alternative, the Kanu insiders say, would be Special Programmes Minister, Ms Naomi Shaaban.

She has the advantage of belonging to "minority" Muslim group, minority Taita tribe, and being a woman, where gender balancing is concerned.

But while the position for the deputy PM's post continues, some North Eastern MPs are hoping to benefit in the distribution of Cabinet positions.

Ijara MP, Mr Yusuf Haji is the Defence minister, but area MPs are pushing for some MPs from North Eastern headquarters, Garissa, to be in the Cabinet.

Those in Kanu argue that because ODM has a Deputy Speaker from the area, they need to balance it with a ministerial position, especially from someone belonging to a large clan.

Family of former Chief of General Staff, Mr Mahmoud Mohammed, have been holding sway in North Eastern politics and it is said to be pushing for someone like Fafi MP, Mr Adan Sugow, who is considered a "young Turk".

Sugow's position covers Garissa, which would include Fafi and Lagdera as the only PNU/Kanu point man.
PNU MPs in Narc-Kenya and Kanu are said to be positioning themselves for the 2012 General Election as President Kibaki is serving his final term.

Copyright © 2008 The East African Standard. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

We all belong to one ethnic group known as Kenya

Story by RASNA WARAH Publication Date: 3/10/2008

BECAUSE KENYANS WERE robbed of a reason to celebrate New Year’s Day, they decided to celebrate the day on February 29, the day after President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga agreed to form a coalition government that would fundamentally change the way the country is governed.

After two tense months that were marked by killings and mayhem across the country, the changed mood in Kenya was palpable: workmates and neighbours belonging to different ethnic groups or political parties who had ignored each other for weeks began talking to each other again.

“Happy New Year” greetings could be heard everywhere — in bars, on the streets, even in matatus.

However, unlike the jubilation that followed the landslide victory of the Narc government in 2002, this year’s celebrations were rather muted. This is perfectly understandable given the levels of trauma experienced in the country since December 30.

Hundreds of Kenyans are still mourning the loss of their loved ones who were killed during the clashes and hundreds of thousands of Kenyans are still living in camps, having lost not just their homes, but their sources of livelihood as well.

Those who were not physically affected suffered other kinds of emotional trauma. Most Kenyans have felt the effects of ethnic animosity and hatred since the elections in subtle and not so subtle ways.

The biggest casualty during the crisis was Kenyans’ sense of nationhood, of belonging to one ethnic group called Kenya. This loss is immeasurable and will haunt us for years to come.

But it may not be too late to reverse the situation. The true test of our leaders will be whether they can forge a national identity in a country that is deeply divided ethnically.

Unfortunately, we are yet to see signs of this happening. Already politicians and their lackeys are talking about which group will get which post, and whether more posts should be created to accommodate all of the country’s 42 ethnic communities.

I am all for diversity and proportional representation in public service jobs. What I object to is the myth perpetuated by Kenyan politicians that a position in Government automatically leads to prosperity among all members of the ethnic group to which the politician belongs.

Ask a Luo peasant in Nyanza whether having a Government minister from his community helped him put more food on the table, and I can bet you anything that the answer will be “No”.

Similarly, having a Kikuyu as president did little to improve the living conditions of the hundreds of Kikuyus living in Mathare and Kibera.

WHILE IT IS TRUE THAT THE enormous powers bestowed on past presidents gave them unlimited access to public resources which they often used to benefit their own communities, evidence suggests that most used their powers, not to benefit whole regions or ethnic groups, but certain cliques within them.

But they created the illusion — a sort of grand deception — that made millions of Kenyans believe that having a member of their own ethnic group in power would miraculously transform their lives. To maintain this illusion, it was necessary for politicians to keep Kenyans ethnically divided.

As Karuti Kanyinga, a researcher at the Institute of Development Studies, has pointed out, the loyalists who took over the reins of government after independence were not keen on de-tribalising the country; their main concern was de-racialisation of the state because racial institutions prevented them from accessing state power.

The interests of this group thus coincided with the interests of the departing colonial settlers, which was to concentrate power and resources among themselves.

The de-ethnicisation of politics should be one of the first tasks of the new coalition government. Another is to change the way people view ethnicity.

Because of their colonial history, most Kenyans have a love-hate relationship with ethnic identity. On the one hand, those aspiring to be modern and upwardly-mobile actively disassociate themselves from their ethnic identity — they discourage their children from learning their mother tongue and spend years practising to remove traces of their ethnic accents when speaking English.

On the other hand, these are the same people who will make ethnicity the main consideration when making appointments and will close their eyes when a member of their own ethnic group is caught with his or her hand in the till.

Ethnic identity itself is not a bad thing. People’s ethnic identity is part of their cultural heritage, and should be a source of pride. But when ethnic identity is used to suppress or exclude people, it becomes oppressive.

If we, as a nation, can reconcile our ethnic identities with our common aspirations as one nation, then we will truly have a reason to celebrate this year.

The proposed establishment of an Ethnic Relations Commission, is therefore, a welcome development.
Ms Warah is an editor with the UN. The views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations.

Where was the EAC when the region's head was being cut off?


At the signing of the power-sharing pact between President Mwai Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga two weeks ago, both leaders thanked the international figures who had helped make the deal possible.

Lead mediator Kofi Annan received the most kudos; then Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete and former president Ben Mkapa, who was a member of Annan’s team, were also showered with praise . Ghana’s President John Kufuor, the man who started it all as chair of the African Union, was mentioned, as was another member of the Annan team, Graca Machel.

Raila was particularly generous in his appreciation, reeling off a long list that included the US and UK (indeed, he stopped just short of thanking the chaps who served tea at the meetings).

There was one man whom Kibaki and Raila seemed agreed not to mention — Uganda President Yoweri Museveni. It was understandable that Raila wouldn’t acknowledge Museveni, because the ODM feel Museveni was too hasty in congratulating Kibaki immediately he was announced victor in the disputed December polls.

However, in Uganda, the government was keen to explain that Museveni had not had a falling out with Raila or ODM and that, after all, when he was fleeing Daniel arap Moi’s oppression in 1991, the Museveni government harboured and helped Raila move on to Norway.

Museveni was one of the long chain of big men and women who came to Nairobi to get Kibaki and Raila to make peace, and according to one version helped open the door for Annan, who was till then being stalled.

In Kampala, the word was that, as chair of the East African Community, Museveni was asked by regional leaders to call a summit on the Kenya crisis, given that it was hurting the economies of its neighbours.

To invite President Kibaki to the summit, Museveni had to acknowledge his legitimacy, and therefore to congratulate him on his victory. In the end, Kibaki couldn’t travel for the summit and requested that since Kenya was the main item on the agenda, the meeting should not take place without him. It didn’t.

The bigger story this tells is that the Kenya violence exposed the new EAC as deeply ineffectual in the first big crisis to face a member state since it was formed. In a recent speech to the East African Legislative Assembly in Arusha, Museveni said the fact that Uganda, Rwanda, eastern DR Congo, and Southern Sudan faced shortages only proved just how much the countries in the region are interdependent. He said the region was like a body — you cannot cut away the head and hope that the torso will remain alive.

Right. But what did the EAC do to prevent the head from being cut off? Little. It can’t take credit for Kikwete’s contribution, because he jumped into the fray as the new chairman of the African Union.

STILL, THE KENYA CRISIS AND ITS regional effect are just what the EAC needed to understand the meaning of the world “relevance” and “authority” in international power play.Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s controversial remarks that the army should have intervened to stop the killings in Kenya —construed by some observers as a call for a military coup — might just be where the EAC’s salvation lies.

It might consider forming a “humanitarian” intervention force, which could be rushed into situations like the Rift Valley at the height of the crisis, in countries where there are too many political sensitivities about using the national army.

When what happened in Kenya happens again anywhere in East Africa, the EAC should deal with it before the UN or AU come to town. And you can almost be sure that this is not the last such violence that region has seen.

Charles Onyango-Obbo is Nation Media Group’s managing editor for convergence and new products.

Poll chaos: Killers to face law

Story by NATION Team Publication Date: 3/10/2008

The days of people who killed others and destroyed property during the post-election violence are numbered, Attorney General Amos Wako has warned.

“Kenyans feel that the culture of impunity is going on. But let me assure you that we must now ensure that this culture is dealt with once and for all,” he told the annual Law Society of Kenya dinner at the weekend.

Mr Wako said he had approved several cases for prosecution of individuals involved in the election related violence.
Over 1,200 people were killed when violence erupted in the wake of the disputed presidential election results last December. Another 350,000 others were displaced and hundreds of houses burnt in the month-long violence.

Conduct of ECK
Last week, MPs from the Rift Valley had proposed that those behind the violence be pardoned after President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga signed a power-sharing agreement.

Investigations will be extended into the conduct of Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) officials whose actions or inactions may have sparked the violence. Several institutions had written to the AG asking him to investigate the ECK but he said priority will be on prosecuting those behind the killings and destruction of property.

The US ambassador to Kenya, Mr Michael Ranneberger, who was the chief Guest at the dinner, said Kenya had an opportunity to emerge with stronger democratic institutions, a more cohesive society and a vibrant economy.

On the implementation of the Bills he published last week to pave way for the power-sharing agreement between President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga, Mr Wako said their fate would be known Tuesday when Parliament reconvenes. “My hope is that they are debated as quickly as possible so that we have the coalition government and we move forward,” he said.

He dispelled fears that the coalition would kill multi-party politics. Instead, he said, the coalition will restore peace without which multi-party democracy cannot survive.

In a related development, House Speaker Kenneth Marende Sunday asked displaced families to return to their homes as the Government was determined to restore security.

Mr Marende said the victims should have faith in the Government which did not want to see some Kenyans suffering in camps.

The Speaker said that the Government will assist those whose properties were burnt to rebuild them.

“We should continue coexisting peacefully,” he told journalists outside the Nakuru Christian Centre after attending a church service. He said every Kenyan has a right to own property and live in any part of the country without fear.

Meanwhile, NGO leaders have asked the Government to vet internally displaced persons to establish the bona fide ones before embarking on the proposed resettlement programme.

The coordinator of the Internally Displaced Persons Network, Mr Kepha Magenyi also asked the Government to vet NGOs seeking to participate in the resettlement programme as some were merely interested in making money.

Healing process
Speaking in Nakuru Sunday, Mr Magenyi said some organisations wrote beautiful proposals on how they planned to assist the victims but the money never reached the intended beneficiaries.

He said that giving the victims seeds and tents to return to their farms where houses were burnt and hundreds of people killed would not succeed as no healing process had taken place.

“Many groups want to go it alone instead of working closely with others and the Government. The reason is obvious, they are only interested in getting a share of the money coming from the US, the UNDP, UNHCR, the Government of Kenya and other donors,” he said. Reported by Samwel Kumba, Sollo Kiragu and Michael Njuguna

Turning political crisis into opportunity

Story by MICHAEL RANNEBERGER Publication Date: 3/9/2008

The profound crisis that Kenya has experienced provides an opportunity for the country to emerge with stronger democratic institutions, a more cohesive society, and an even more vibrant economy that can more equitably benefit all citizens.

My optimism is based on the substantial record of democratic achievement of the past five years, and on the successful way in which Kenyans resolved the electoral crisis. Although the crisis unmasked long-simmering underlying problems, it also revealed underlying strengths.

Few other African or developing countries anywhere in the world could have survived the tremendous strains placed on their institutions by such a political crisis.

The underlying strengths that helped Kenyans pull through include a dynamic civil society, strong religious institutions, the highest functional literacy rate in Africa, the enormous democratic space opened up since the 2002 elections, a forthright media, an increasingly modern and booming private sector, and a high rate of economic growth, to name just a few.

Yet another important institutional strength of Kenya must be noted: the highly professional armed forces, whose integrity and professionalism shone throughout the crisis.

Despite all the problems many prefer to dwell on – including the undeniable inequity in the distribution of resources, corruption and ethnic politics – Kenyans have remained remarkably engaged in the political process, as evidenced by the high turnout in the elections.

Four factors brought the parties to the negotiating table and produced a positive outcome. First and foremost, this democratic spirit was felt as Kenyans across the economic, social, ethnic and political spectrum made their voices heard.

The people sent a clear message to their leaders on both sides that they wanted a political solution to end the violence and return the country to a path of progress.

Kenyans’ voices were heard through civil society, religious groups, the media and the private sector. Kenyans placed remarkable pressure on the political leadership of both sides.

Second, international pressure complemented this domestic outcry, and made clear to both sides that there was no viable alternative other than a political accord.

Secretary of State Rice and Assistant Secretary Frazer travelled to Kenya to bolster the efforts of the African Union and Kofi Annan and urge an immediate end to violence.

Third, President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga are essentially pragmatic politicians who have worked together before and who realised that they are accountable to the people.

They saw that sharing power was the only way to prevent the country from slipping into chaos and isolation. Fourth, the negotiations greatly benefited from the skilful and forceful direction of Kofi Annan and his team. Kenyans and friends of Kenya are grateful for their important contribution to peace in this country.

Kenyans should be justifiably proud that they have been able to find a way back from the edge of the abyss and sustain the country on a democratic path.

The prevailing mood I sense in Nairobi and across the nation is one of immense relief, with a positive focus on the way forward.

I found this to be true in the Rift Valley, during my visit on March 1st and 2nd. One highlight of that visit was speaking to several thousand primarily Kikuyu internally displaced persons at their camp and later – not more than one kilometre away – speaking at a peace rally attended by thousands of Kalenjins.

I am proud that the United States stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Kenya in its darkest hour, at times pushing both sides harder than they wanted to be pushed, because that is what a real friend does.

In that same spirit of friendship, let me offer my thoughts on the steps that need to be taken quickly in order to maintain momentum.

First, President Kibaki and Mr Odinga must work together effectively to put in place the coalition government in a way that reflects the letter and spirit of the agreements signed.

Government positions must be equitably shared, but even more importantly, immediate steps must be taken to carry through with the ambitious reform and national policy agenda, particularly with respect to constitutional, electoral and land reform.

Second, a transparent process must be put in place to begin work on the reform agenda to be completed within a designated time frame. Third, Parliament must quickly pass the necessary legislation to make the coalition structure legal and constitutional.

Let us not forget that well over 60 per cent of all sitting MPs are newcomers who are being asked, without the benefit of orientation or training, to implement some of the most important legislation in Kenya’s history, and then to deal with sweeping and long overdue reforms.

Fourth, political leaders, elders, and the respected personalities of Kenyan society from the top down must cooperate to send unequivocal messages on the importance of rapid reconciliation between communities and individuals.

Fifth, urgent practical steps must be taken to advance the process of reconciliation by helping the country deal with the havoc wreaked during the crisis.

This includes returning people to their homes in conditions of peace and safety as quickly as possible, and restoring their livelihoods. Returning displaced to their so-called ancestral homelands is not a viable option politically, socially or economically. Diversity is one of this country’s greatest strengths and it must be cherished.

Sixth, steps to promote reconciliation must include establishing a legally independent Peace, Truth and Justice Commission and holding those responsible accountable under the law.

Kenyans are giving real meaning to my favourite verse in your national anthem: haki iwe ngao na mlinzi (justice be our shield and defender).

One of the most important results of the mediation process was agreement to examine Kenya’s history of violence and the long-stranding grievances which fuel it.

Seventh, the Independent Review Commission charged with investigating the conduct of the 2007 General Election must credibly complete its work within the proposed time frame.

Chain of custody issues make it highly likely that we will never know what the actual vote was, but determining where and how the electoral system broke down is vitally important to fixing it and restoring Kenyans’ confidence in the democratic system.

Eighth, the crisis put into sharp relief the plight of youth, and that problem must be addressed. The massive unemployment among youth provided fuel for violence.

A national youth agenda needs to expand vocational training and employment. Ninth, concerted efforts must be made to get the economy back on track.

Only an inclusive process can turn the crisis that the country experienced into an opportunity. Kenya has a finite window of time to address an ambitious reform agenda.

Perhaps the most important item on the reform agenda is constitutional change. Kenyans relentlessly debated almost every salient issue during the 2005 referendum and did so after a broad, consultative process.

This shared national experience should give Kenya’s new parliamentary leaders a running start on resolving even the most difficult issues at hand.

While the current political accord justifiably focuses primarily on constitutional, electoral and land reform, it is important not to lose sight of other pressing issues which must be addressed.

These include intensified and more effective efforts to combat corruption, continued liberalisation of the economic sector, and promoting gender equity, among others.

There is an urgent need for reform in the judicial sector as has been made clear by the Chief Justice himself. The fact that Kenya has experienced such a fundamental crisis does not mean that the democratic progress made during the past five years was an illusion or that in some way Kenya is a fundamentally flawed country.

Almost all democracies have experienced crises of similar or greater magnitude. Our own experience as Americans
helps us understand what transpired here.

After the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, violence erupted in many of the largest US cities.

This became so serious that military forces had to be deployed to restore order.

The assassination was the spark that set off the riots, but the violence reflected the anger of the black population of the United States regarding underlying grievances not resolved since the Civil War 100 years before.

Once again, Americans rose to the challenge and seized the opportunity for fundamental change. Poverty programmes were expanded, urban problems were addressed, the inner cities were rebuilt and civil rights legislation was passed. As a result, our country again emerged with stronger institutions, a stronger economy and a more inclusive society

The extraordinary amount of attention Kenya received during the crisis reflects its importance in the regional and global context. The crisis demonstrated that Kenyan stability is critical to the economies and the stability of the entire region.

Kenya is now uniquely positioned to show the region and the world that through dialogue and a commitment to reform, it is possible to rise above political crises and come out even stronger than before.

Earlier this week I met separately with President Kibaki and Mr Odinga to discuss the way forward. They recognise that the seeds of Kenya’s future must be planted now and share a sense of urgency.

I told them that we want to help. We are moving quickly to amplify the US-Kenya partnership, which already results in about $2 billion of resource flows from the United States to Kenya each year.

I am pleased to announce that the United States will provide an additional $25 million in funding for reconciliation and reconstruction. This $25 million is in addition to the $14 million in immediate humanitarian assistance the United States has provided since January.

This $25 million will be used to promote dialogue and reconciliation; facilitate the return of the displaced to their homes and resumption of their livelihoods, as well as assistance with related infrastructure and youth agenda programmes; support for implementation of the coalition accord, particularly carrying through with the reform agenda; and assistance for key governance programmes, including strengthening Parliament and supporting as appropriate the establishment of the new office of the Prime Minister.

Kenya stands at a defining moment in its history. The political accord is the first step on what will be a long and challenging journey – but the United States will travel it with you. We are confident, even “bullish” about Kenya’s future.

Mr Ranneberger is the US ambassador to Kenya. This is an abridged version of his speech to the Law Society of Kenya on Saturday evening.

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Kenyans drink deep at the well of amnesia

MARTIN MBUGUA KIMANI Special Correspondent

President Kibaki opening Kenya’s Tenth Parliament: “Please succeed. Please forget the history of what has happened.” Victory, peace, stability, goodwill, unity, good faith, integrity, courage - he used all these words and more. They were like warm little blankets tossed over sleeping babies.

Amnesia calls and I desperately want to slip into its embrace and wake to a bright, happy Kenyan dawn.

Parliament observed a minute’s silence for Melitus Mugabe Were and David Kimutai Too, the parliamentarians who were murdered in January. Then another minute of silence was added for the more than one thousand murdered people.

President Kibaki’s was a good speech as such speeches go. The words followed one after the other to form a picture of a government once again embarking on its work of governing justly and well, a country with its eye on the future.

Kenya has again come to a “crucial turning point,” said the president, and its people — as they have in the past — are reaching for a “collective vision of a free, just and prosperous nation.”

Accords have been signed, parliamentary Bills will be passed, commissions will sit and inquiries will be made. Funds with many millions of shillings have been established, the humanitarians are busy, the donors are pledging and the churches are praying. The happy future beckons.

THE PRESIDENT LEFT NO doubt about the state of the nation he leads: “Kenyans will always prefer peace over conflict, prosperity over desolation, unity over discord, and justice over injustice.” That is it then, case closed.

Peaceful, harmonious Kenya is open for business. Even a Mungiki march in the central business district only momentarily dented my optimism, which I am holding onto like a drowning man does to a lifejacket.

What I crave most of all is a return to the ordinary routines of my life in which I do not have to worry how to get my mother out of Ngummo Estate in case the violence spreads out of Kibera or whether my cousin in Kawangware is safe. It is good to feel relieved.

Parliament was informed by the president that he had “seen Kenya go through some very critical moments,” and then emerge from them to embrace peace, love and unity just as his predecessor constantly reminded us. Fuata Nyayo.

What will be different about this new dawn that was not different about the ones in the past?

I wonder how long the two minutes of silence observed in parliament on March 6 will last. Kenyan silences tend to last for very many decades. Our forgetting is not closure but is, I suggest, a form of trauma so terrible that it stills our tongues and makes us want to drop to the floor and wrap a pillow tightly over our ears. It is better to be part of a carnival of celebration than to be sucked into one of violence. Better to be an inciter or murderer one day and a healer and reconciler the next, with hardly a heartbeat between the two selves.

How curious that words like courage, unity and victory that were used in the Tenth Parliament to speak of peace were being used two weeks ago to celebrate violence and terror.. Words themselves now feel unreliable, as if they can be arranged any which way to save or to kill, to cleanse or to rehabilitate.

Sentiments of peace and harmony are being expressed as if they are surgical tools that will reach into my mind and press the switch that allows the unforgettable to be forgotten.

But since in fact there are things that cannot be forgotten, such as screams of pain, the smell of burning flesh and the sight of flies settling on blood as it trickles along a crack on the road, then what these words that the president was using must do is force me to remake myself into a new being. A whole new person fleeing into a whole new future.

Yet the past is the reason people were killed. Ancestral land allegedly invaded by foreigners and then the Kenyan phrase to top all others: Historical injustice. These words and what they represented were, I am assured, the cause for machetes being swung at people. Or perhaps they were swung for the heck of it, as sacrifices to a god of happy destruction.

WE ARE DOING MORE THAN repeat history. Ours are cycles of massacre followed by an amnesia that allows us to stand on rooftops and announce our peaceful nature. The men who two weeks ago led us to the edge of the abyss and asked us to peer into it are today the men we lionise. To be more exact, they are the men who lionise themselves and then with mouths open wide, laugh and laugh and then pat each other on the back, push one leg out of the government Mercedes to lean and wave to their adoring supporters. No apology, not even a simple ‘sorry’ was included in the 1,232 words of the president’s formal remarks to Parliament.

Back to routine and a happy, happy Kenya whose eyes are filled with a vision of cool streams and gardens in which lions play with lambs and the dead thousands we have killed over the past 50 years are commemorated and celebrated out of view. Their destroyed lives and bodies are spoiling the party we have held again and again since Independence to forget them and what we have done to them.

I want to hold on to my feeling of optimism. I want to believe that the same political class and the same politics that led me to the brink can drag me away from it. But a worm of horror and shame wriggles in and out of my mind, refusing to go away.

Power-sharing deal a new lease of life for Kenya

THE RECENT power-sharing deal between the Party of National Unity’s Mwai Kibaki and the Orange Democratic Movement’s Raila Odinga has truly given Kenya a new lease of life.

This heralds a new political and hopefully economic and social dispensation.

Three things suffice and need attention. First, our country’s history has a lot of dents and unwisely postponed solutions — land, equity in distribution of resources, tribalism, devolution of power structures, justice and so on.

Secondly, the future belongs to those who move with the wisdom of the past working with the present and futuristic ideas and ideals. Science, technology, new means of property ownership and wealth creation, education, urbanisation, competitiveness, crime prevention, taming evil passions like tribalism and so on need quick rethink.

Thirdly, Kenya needs to be remodelled into a dynamic state — remodel our economy, sort out inhibitions and encourage innovation. For instance, tourism can easily be re-nurtured and kickstarted to greatness and create the many opportunities of wealth creation and employment it is capable of.

As a grand coalition, it brings in many good ideas which were contained in the election manifestoes. Should these be aligned and implemented, we can only expect a country which taps into the intelligent pickings that are there to spur it to great heights.

Harrison Mwirigi Ikunda Nairobi

March 10, 2008

Kenya's strength

Only time will prove the outcome of Kofi Annan's achievement in Kenya

Sir, The relief expressed in your leader (Comment, March 8) about Kofi Annan’s successful mediation in Kenya is probably shared by most.

But you go overboard in praising excessively the President from stepping back from the brink. He chose the Mugabe path, and was pulled back by opposition within and outside Kenya, the strength of which he had not anticipated. The tests of his statesmanship and his Prime Minister-designate’s are still to come. Your effusive compliments are accordingly premature. For the Kenyan Government to send official observers to Zimbabwe’s election would be a bad joke.

Does the British Government now recognise the legitimacy of Kibaki’s Government? Or are we prudently awaiting the passage of the draft National Accord and Reconciliation Act to establish, as Kofi Annan got Messrs Kibaki and Odinga to accept, a quite different government on a totally different footing of legitimacy?

Sir Edward Clay High Commissioner to Kenya, 2001-2005

Kenya determined to make peace deal work: minister

2 days ago

BERLIN (AFP) — Kenya is determined to make a success of a power-sharing deal designed to end a bloody two-month political crisis that has claimed 1,500 lives, Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said Friday.

"We intend to make a big success of it, and even where we quarrel among ourselves, those quarrels hopefully will not attract that kind of international attention that our country attracted since December 27," Wetangula said, referring to the date of Kenya's disputed elections.

"Kenyans have collectively said 'never again shall we descend and degenerate to the level where we went'," he said, speaking after talks with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Kenya plunged into its worst post-independence crisis after opposition leader Raila Odinga accused President Mwai Kibaki of rigging the December elections.

The two rivals signed a power-sharing deal on February 28 and parliament convened this week to begin to enact the landmark pact.

But more people died this week in tribal violence linked to the political turmoil and observers have warned that implementation of the deal could prove fraught.

Wetangula was part of a Kenyan delegation that attended the ITB tourism fair in Berlin in an effort to convince the industry that the east African nation is on its way back to political stability.

Several European countries warned their citizens against non-essential travel to Kenya during the crisis, while foreign travel insurance companies pulled coverage from the area in a heavy blow to a key industry.

Odinga sees speedy Kenya progress - BBC

Fri 3/7/2008

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has said he expects a new government to be formed in two to three weeks.
Mr Odinga told the BBC he believed "this new beginning has a very good prospect of succeeding".

At Thursday's state opening of parliament in Nairobi, Mr Odinga's erstwhile rival, President Mwai Kibaki, also sounded a hopeful note.

He urged MPs to pass into law a power-sharing agreement aimed at ending weeks of post-election violence.

Under the deal, opposition leader Raila Odinga would become prime minister - but the details of the structure and programme of the new government have yet to be worked out.

Hundreds of people have died in violence following polls in December, which Mr Odinga said were rigged.


Mr Odinga told the BBC's Network Africa programme that he and Mr Kibaki had "decided that Kenya is better than all of us, and we must put the interests of the country ahead of our own interests".

ODM MPs: 102
PNU MPs: 46
Pro-ODM MPs: 5
Pro-PNU MPs: 61
Vacant seats: 6

He said a 10-member team of politicians from both main parties would work together to try to agree a compromise manifesto for government.

Once the necessary bills affirming the power-sharing deal had been passed, "the first task will be to form the government which we expect to do within the next two to three weeks".

He said dealing with those displaced and wounded in the violence that followed the 27 December poll would be a priority for the new government, along with reconstruction.

Constitutional, legal and institutional reforms would follow, he said.

Obstacles ahead

On Thursday, Mr Kibaki told lawmakers that the power-sharing deal would lay "the foundations for peace and stability in our country".

The BBC's Adam Mynott in Nairobi said that from the atmosphere in the parliament, it did seem that the two parties were united, despite their previous animosity.

The outwards signs suggest that Kenya is moving steadily down the path to a unified government, but there will be obstacles along the way, he says.

Under the deal, brokered by UN-backed negotiators, Mr Odinga is to be appointed prime minister - a post that does not currently exist under the Kenyan constitution.

However, it is not yet clear what Mr Odinga's powers and responsibilities will be - with differences of opinion over whether he will wield equal power with the president, or serve under the president.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/03/07 04:41:08 GMT


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