Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Today's headlines - Wed 4/16/2008

Kenya cabinet risks ineptitude

By Otto Bakano, AFP
Published:Apr 16, 2008

NAIROBI - Kenya’s massive 42-member power-sharing cabinet, named to help restore stability after a bloody post-poll dispute, risks becoming crippled by inefficiency, analysts said.

President Mwai Kibaki on Sunday appointed political rival Raila Odinga as his prime minister under a February 28 power-sharing deal that ended months of political violence sparked by disputed December elections.

In the new cabinet - the biggest since its 1963 independence from Britain - Kibaki turned departments into ministries in order to create room for allies and reward loyalties.

"The size is too big and the chain of command is not clear. It is going to bring about some confusion," said Jeremiah Owiti of the Nairobi-based Centre for Independent Research.

But Kenyan politicians offered an upbeat assessment of the new government.

"The process of reconciliation has begun and the cabinet must speak in one voice," Odinga told reporters Monday, while a Kibaki ally, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula, vowed that if members work as a team "we will deliver."

The naming of the cabinet had been delayed when Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) jousted for key ministries, leading to a collapse of negotiations on the government’s make-up.

"I see the next two years as partly peaceful and partly chaotic and this will not augur well for economic growth," Owiti told AFP.

More than 1,500 people were killed in violence that erupted after Odinga accused Kibaki of stealing his way to victory in the elections.

International monitors said the polls fell below international standards.

Painstaking talks by former United Nations (UN) chief Kofi Annan resulted in a power-sharing agreement that was enshrined in the constitution.

The deal created the posts of two deputy prime ministers who were picked from the feuding parties.

Kenyan civil society groups lament that several ministries overlap, chiefly citing the ministry of public health and sanitation with that of medical services.

Others include lifestock, fisheries and agriculture which had been under the same docket, but are now separate.

Roads was separated from public works, and industrialisation created from trade. Environment and mineral resources was separated from forestry and wildlife.

Gender and children’s affairs was split from youth and sports while Nairobi metropolitan was under local government, according to lists compiled by civil groups.

"I am very sceptical about the efficiency of the cabinet. I am not holding my breath to see huge development," said Maina Kiai, who heads the state-run Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

"This is a continuation of political patronage. The size of the cabinet shows that it is business as usual," Kiai added.

Western powers lauded Kibaki for naming a new cabinet, with Washington terming it an "important first step" toward a solving the country’s political crisis.

But domestic reaction was more skeptical. "Is this the cabinet that will fight corruption and drive meaningful reform? I doubt it," wrote Maina Gaitho, a columnist with the top selling Daily Nation newspaper.

He accused Kibaki of retaining several close allies "who absolutely add no value to the cabinet" and Odinga of bringing on board "some of the most disreputable faces" of former president Daniel arap Moi’s regime.

"On both the PNU and ODM halves of the cabinet are well known thieves, plunderers and ethnic warlords," Gaitho said.

The new outfit replaces a 17-member cabinet Kibaki hastily assembled after taking office under a cloud of post-election controversy, but whose members nonetheless have been retained.

"It is very disappointing that we ended up with a top-heavy cabinet.

There can’t be any justification for that kind of cabinet," said Omweri Angima of the Centre for Multiparty Democracy.

In total, the new coalition government has 94 members, including the president. With almost half of the 222 lawmakers in government, parliament will thus become inefficient, said Mwalimu Mati of the Mars Group, a local civil rights organisation.

"The government is overly advantaged over parliament. This undermines parliament," he told AFP. "This makes it easier for unpopular bills to be pushed through."

Kenya: Annan Returns to Celebrate Deal

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

Edith Fortunate

The former international civil servant who negotiated the peace deal returns, today, to celebrate its implementation.
The former United Nations Secretary-General, rose through the ranks at the United Nations to become its seventh Secretary-General in 1997.

Dr Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian, took over from Egypt's Boutros-Boutros Ghali and served at the helm of the global organisation between 1997 and 2006.

One of Annan's key priorities as secretary-general was to reform the UN. He faced formidable challenges, including the organisation's near bankruptcy.

He had to convince America to pay the UN the huge debts it owed.

Annan undertook a major initiative to reduce bureaucracy at the UN. At the headquarters in New York, he reduced the staff from 6,000 to 5,000.

A human rights, rule of law and the Millennium Development Goals' advocate in Africa, Annan sought to bring the UN closer to the public by forging ties with civil society, the private sector and other partners.

Peacekeeping was strengthened and this made it possible for the UN to cope with increasing conflicts, especially in Africa and other parts of the Third World.

It was, therefore, not a surprise when the former UN chief was appointed to broker a peace deal in Kenya after the disputed presidential election.

After two months of unprecedented violence, which led to the killing of more than 1,000 people, Kenyans praised Annan for negotiating the National Reconciliation Accord.

He arrived in the country on January 22, after regional leaders under the African Union (AU) failed to find a solution. He hit the ground running and brought together a mediation team comprising members from the two opposing sides - PNU and ODM.

President Kibaki's PNU insisted that the Head of State had won the elections fairly, while Raila's ODM maintained that its victory had been stolen.

In his first address to the nation, Annan said: "We are dealing with an extraordinary situation, so we need extra ordinary measures."

Initially, the talks were marred by chest thumping and the career diplomat had to take a walk in Uhuru Park, ostensibly to refresh his mind.

But Annan remained composed, insisting that he was optimistic of a solution.

"I will not leave until I find a solution. I will stay here as long as it takes," he said when asked whether the pace of the mediated talks had frustrated him.

Annan marshalled the international community to put pressure on the political divide, saying failure to agree was not an option.

On February 28, Kenyans sighed with relief when President Kibaki and Raila signed the accord. Emerging from Harambee House, Annan told anxious journalists: "We have a deal."

This sent wild celebrations across the country and they were sealed with a firm handshake between the two leaders. The deal ended the post-election crisis that had threatened to take the country to the brink, ushering in renewed optimism.

Relevant Links
East Africa Conflict, Peace and Security Kenya

Former US Ambassador to the UN, Mr Richard Holbrooke, once described Annan as "the best Secretary-General in the history of the UN".

In 2001, Annan and the UN received the Nobel Peace Prize. Awarding the global honour, the judges said: "The only negotiable road to global peace and co-operation goes by way of the United Nations. Annan has been pre-eminent in bringing new life to the organisation."

For most Kenyans, this could not have been more apt after the man saved the country from a possible meltdown.

Kenya cabinet risks ineptitude
The Times, South Africa - 10 hours agoBy Otto Bakano, AFP NAIROBI - Kenya’s massive 42-member power-sharing cabinet, named to help restore stability after a bloody post-poll dispute, ...

Can Kenya's Power-Sharing Plan Work? TIMEFACTBOX-What next for Kenya's power-sharing deal? -
all 360 news articles »

Calgary Herald
Four killed in fresh Kenya gang violence
AFP - 19 hours agoNAIROBI (AFP) — Four more people died during a second day of nationwide rioting in Kenya Tuesday, bringing the overall toll to 19, in a crisis that ...

Kenya: Fears of violence snarl transport The Associated Press

Kenya peace rocked as gang kills 13 The Australian

Two killed as Kenya gang protests for second day Reuters

Pretoria News (subscription) - International Herald Tribune
all 400 news articles »

Monsters and
Kenya: Mungiki Outwitted Us, Govt Admits, Washington - 18 hours agoFirefighters put out a fire after youths believed to be members of the outlawed Mungiki sect petrol bombed a Kenya Bus vehicle at Kenyatta Market, Nairobi, ...

Kenya: New Tension As Banned Sect Unleashes Terror

Fresh deaths in Kenya sect riots BBC News

Kenya: Mungiki Leader's Kin Want Police to Get Out of His House AllAfrica.comDaily Nation - Monsters and
all 66 news articles »

Kenya: Wild Animals Compete With Humans for Scarce Water Resources, Washington - 1 hour agoA month after the rains were expected to start, northern Kenya is still gripped by drought conditions. Water pans, boreholes and wells have all dried up, ...

Kenya planning over-the-counter market - regulatorReuters South Africa, South Africa - 33 minutes agoNAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya will introduce an alternative over-the-counter market to give small firms access to capital and provide a wider choice to ...

Kenya gang clears roads with threatsUSA Today - 5 hours agoNAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Minibus drivers in eastern Nairobi appear to be heeding a gang threat to behead anyone who defies orders to stay off the roads. ...

No comments: