Friday, February 22, 2008

Kenya's crisis and the churches' response - World Council of Churches 2/22/2008

Adopted Document n° GEN/PUB 05 (extract)
Statement on the crisis in Kenya and the churches' response
World Council of Churches - Geneva

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40)

Kenya and its many communities are going through an extremely painful experience following heavily contested elections. Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands more have been wounded or maimed. Hundreds of thousands of citizens have been forced to flee from their homes. In the shadows of chaos, unknown numbers of women and girls have been subjected to sexual violence. People living with HIV and AIDS have been cut off from medical care. Uncounted homes and businesses have been looted and burned and many livelihoods destroyed.

Kenya’s presidential elections of 27 December 2007 were followed by accusations and counter-accusations between the main opposition party and the ruling party about whether the ballot had been manipulated or sabotaged. The violence that followed shook a country that only weeks earlier was admired for a robust electoral contest and, five years ago, became a model for peaceful democratic change in Africa when its people insisted on the implementation of a multi-party political system.

Churches around the world have followed these events with concern and sorrow, with soul searching and prayer, with gifts of assistance and actions of solidarity, including the mediation efforts of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCC Kenya), Kenya’s Inter-Religious Forum, the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) and the “Living Letters” delegation of the World Council of Churches in January 2008.

Signs of a turning-back from confrontation and violence now give cause for cautious hope. Standing as Kenya’s neighbours in a global village, we thank God for the many peace-making efforts by churches and join with the sentiments expressed by the AACC: Speaking in the darkest hour of crisis, the Nairobi-based council called Kenya “the steward of Africa's collective hope” and said their host nation’s “joys have become our joys and therefore its pains, our pains…The theology of the body of Christ urges us to be available for one another, not only for those who share at the common sacramental table, but for the world for which Christ died”.

The disastrous aftermath of the elections should be understood within the broader social and historical context of Kenya. The root causes of the kind of violence that has raged for weeks can be traced to pre-independence and post-colonial political dispensations. The constitution crafted at the dawn of independence in 1963 should have been understood as a transitional instrument. It did not deal sufficiently with critical issues such as land ownership and a bill of rights. Subsequent constitutional changes gave mixed signals or were inadequate: making Kenya a de jure single party state in 1982, reverting to multi-party democracy in 1991 and making a spirited but inconclusive attempt to write a new constitution prior to the recent elections. Another much-needed measure - electoral reform, including a truly independent electoral commission - is still pending, now at great cost.

The current constitution and certain government institutions appear to have been misused to meet partisan political interests rather than the interests and aspirations of ordinary Kenyans. A presidency that is predicated upon the politics of patronage, without institutionalized power-sharing, hardly inspires people’s confidence that the public interest will be met. The perceived pattern is that gaining public office benefits the winner’s community more than others in the constituency. The difficulty of gaining a seat or a tendency to hold onto power year after year only strengthens the popular conviction that this form of democracy is defective and must be repaired. Unless it is repaired, future presidential elections may be just as intractable as this one and potentially as dangerous to the nation. This need to build public trust in government is not unique to Kenya.

While the current conflict is a consequence of disputed presidential elections, the communities in conflict have long-standing and often unvoiced concerns dating back to independence, when many Kenyans felt that their communal expectations were not met. The independent government inherited colonial structures and then failed to address certain injustices and inequalities that divided the nation. Issues that affected many communities and various ethnic groups went unresolved. A negative colonial legacy grew into a post-colonial political problem. External factors also continued in new ways and old, influencing the political culture, shaping expectations of a growing population and driving key sectors of the national economy.

Churches of the WCC gave early notice of such trends in Africa in a statement on Unity and Human Rights in Africa Today by the WCC central committee in 1971, “The interference of rich and powerful foreign nations offers the most serious threat to the stability and development of African nations, and makes the solution of the existing problems of tribalism and internal dissidence more difficult”. These political, social and economic forces, the committee said, “menace the aspirations of the African peoples for unity and for a human existence in full dignity and independence”.

Sobered by the reality of inter-communal violence, seized of the need for churches to discern their role in times of deep crisis, and convinced of the capacity for societies to allocate power with accountability, the central committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, 13–20 February 2008:
  1. Recognizes that churches were among those implicated in the crisis and, as the NCC Kenya has stated, were “unable to effectively confront these issues” because of partisanship;
  2. Affirms church leaders and members who became advocates for peace and unity during Kenya’s electoral crisis, and commends the same role to churches in comparable crises elsewhere;
  3. Urges that churches in countries facing related crises learn with the churches of Kenya about the need, for example, to issue joint calls to end violence, to do so as promptly as possible, to speak out consistently for the protection of human life, and to demonstrate the Christian commitment to peace by taking an active part in on-going processes of mediation, reconciliation and healing between the parties in conflict;
  4. Recommends that, when societies become deeply divided and where it is possible, member churches and councils of churches support platforms for dialogue among government, opposition and civil society leaders where they may hear alternative views, debate differences, agree to negotiate, and take steps to prevent, reduce and stop violence;
  5. Encourages churches to initiate and participate in efforts to build up interfaith collaboration and advocacy for peace and reconciliation, noting the work of the Inter-Religious Forum in Kenya;
  6. Affirms the need for church members and leaders to promote a culture of dialogue - in church, between churches and in society - where diverse groups are made welcome, where differences are addressed and where, as far as conscience permits, partisan political alignments are avoided and the common good prevails; further affirming the hope that relationships between churches may be bridges across divided communities and a safety net in times of crisis;
  7. Encourages churches to be actively involved in programmes of civic education and education for democracy, human rights and the dignity and equality of women and men, and to take part in programmes to monitor and follow-up electoral processes;
  8. Applauds the wider African and international community engagement in mediation and conflict resolution efforts, such as the work of the African Union and the counsel offered by distinguished African leaders; and encourages the provision of humanitarian assistance to people who are displaced or returning home, especially through Action by Churches Together.

Click here to access this document on the WCC website.

Today’s headlines – Fri 2/22/2008


The international news reports are conflicting today--some expressing optimism others pessimism about the peace talks.

Negotiations have concluded for the week, with no definitive agreement. Talks began at midday, after delays due to the late arrival of the PNU team--the government or Kibaki side were four hours late Friday! The much-hoped for compromise has not been reached, though some still express hope that it will be reached next week, amid continued threats by ODM (the opposition side) that they will resume street protests this week if an agreement is not reached.

Some violence in Samburu area, seems related to land issues and cattle rustling, not the political conflict.

Major fire in Nakuru National Park--very sad, will compound setbacks to tourism in that area.

An interesting point to note as you raise fund for relief and reconciliation efforts--the report issued by the International Crisis Group holds that the Kibaki government used the humanitarian crisis (displaced people) to distract international attention from the political conflict. Many commentators and the ODM side feel that the longer the government can delay and stall the negotiations, the stronger their position (ie, the longer they remain in power without needing to concede anything to the opposition).

Some food for thought as we encourage action from our communities in North America: advocacy for Kenyans must be multifaceted and cover all parts of this complex conflict--economic, social, political, ethnic, humanitarian, etc. Please read the summary and recommendations (first few pages) of the ICG report. Click here to view the PDF file with the ICG's report "Kenya in Crisis."

Please continue praying for peace and unity to prevail in Kenya,

Lift in the light all those who are already working to assist the displaced people and to begin the painful work of trauma healing and reconciliation,


Mary Kay

2 Cor 5-6

1 - Hopes fade of Kenya crisis solution – Press Association
2 - Kenya crisis talks break with no deal – Reuters
3 - Deal to Share Power in Kenya Appears in Reach – NY Times
4 - Warnings of further violence in Kenya – Guardian
5 - Kenya: Kibaki's Meeting With PNU Team Delays Talks - Nation
6 - AU head urges Kenya peace deal – BBC
7- Kenya's opposition threatens mass protests – CNN
8 - Kenya peace talks in disarray – CNN
9 - Kenya Reconciliation Talks Continue; Focus on Power-Sharing Issues- VOA
10 - Hope Over PM Deal - The Nation (Nairobi)
11 - Armed And Dangerous – IRIN
12 - Insecurity - ODM Wants Parliament Reopened - The Nation (Nairobi)
13 - Cotu Calls for Review of Constitution - The Nation (Nairobi)
14 - Churches Call for Fresh Poll - The Nation (Nairobi)
15 - Githongo - Review Law to Allow Shared Rule - The Nation (Nairobi)
16 - Third Arrest Made in MP Were's Killing - The Nation (Nairobi)
17 - Kenya tribes clash over cattle, 14 dead - Reuters
18 - Bush fire engulfs Kenyan wildlife park – Reuters


1 - Hopes fade of Kenya crisis solution – Press Association

1 hour ago

Talks to end Kenya's post-election crisis have reached a crucial stage amid fears of renewed violence if the two sides cannot agree soon to share power, a leading diplomat said.

Despite weeks of international pressure, President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga have not yet agreed on how to resolve a crisis stemming from the December presidential election, which local and foreign observers say was rigged.

Negotiations got off to a rocky start as Mr Odinga left the country for Nigeria, an unexpected trip that came just as the two sides edged toward a power-sharing deal. It was not clear why Mr Odinga left at such a sensitive point in talks, although an aide said he would return at the weekend.

Jean Ping, chairman of the African Union Commission, the AU's executive body, said the talks remained promising.

"We are satisfied with the progress made on the Kenya national dialogue and reconciliation. I have an impression that we are moving, and the weekend will be crucial, he said."

Many fear a swift resurgence in violence if the two sides cannot agree soon to share power.

The election returned President Kibaki to power for a second five-year term after Mr Odinga's lead in early vote counting evaporated overnight.

The ensuing violence has stirred up ethnic grievances over land and poverty that have bedevilled Kenya since independence in 1963. More than 1,000 people have been killed.

Much of the bloodshed has pitted other ethnic groups against Mr Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe, long resented for dominating politics and the economy.

On Thursday a deal seemed imminent as the government tentatively agreed to create a prime minister's post to be filled by the opposition.

2 - Kenya crisis talks break with no deal - Reuters

Fri 22 Feb 2008, 17:45 GMT
By Duncan Miriri and Daniel Wallis

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Negotiators for Kenya's political rivals broke off talks on the post-election crisis for the weekend on Friday despite growing local and international calls for a quick deal.

With negotiations now hinging on the details of a new prime minister's post to be offered to opposition leader Raila Odinga in a power-sharing agreement with President Mwai Kibaki, the two sides said they would resume on Monday.

"While we made some progress today ... the parties felt there were still some issues on which they needed to consult their principals," said disappointed mediator Kofi Annan.

The former U.N. boss urged Kibaki and Odinga to make decisions and communicate them to negotiators so that a settlement can be urgently reached when talks re-start.

"Many thought the white smoke would emerge from our discussions today," said Annan, who has become a celebrity in Kenya for his efforts to end the post-election crisis that has killed 1,000 people and made more than 300,000 homeless.

"We must give the Kenyan people what they are hoping and praying for. They have suffered greatly."

Adding to the diplomatic pressure, Africa's top diplomat Jean Ping spent Friday in Kenya to back the mediation.

The government agreed in principle this week to create the premier's post, but the sticking point is how much power that position will command. Local media, civil groups, business leaders and clerics have all been pleading for a settlement.

"We hope that next week we'll have something which can be agreed," Ping, the newly elected African Union Commission chairman, told reporters.

The opposition wants a powerful role as executive premier for Odinga, who accuses Kibaki of rigging the Dec. 27 poll.
Kibaki's team says he won fairly and accuses the opposition of instigating riots and ethnic violence that wrecked Kenya's image as a stable business, tourism and transport hub.

Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has withdrawn an earlier call for Kibaki to resign, but is threatening to resume street protests if its demands are not met.

"If by Wednesday ... no tangible outcome is achieved from the mediation process, party members are hereby called upon to prepare for immediate mass civil disobedience," ODM member of parliament Ababu Namwamba told a news conference.

The government has predicted a settlement in days.

Pressure has grown on both sides of the political divide to reach a lasting deal to end turmoil that has horrified locals, neighbouring states and world powers alike.

"The most effective way to get these issues solved is for the leaders to feel pressure from their own people," U.S. President George W. Bush said on his way home from an Africa tour where the crisis was on high on the agenda.
"We'll help. We send people over and we'll stay engaged."

Odinga left Kenya on Friday on a private trip to Nigeria, but that was not expected to have a bearing on the talks. He told local radio there he was just visiting friends.

Although the east African nation has been relatively calm for two weeks, the ODM protests ultimatum has stoked fears of a resumption of the post-election bloodshed.

Earlier demonstrations often descended into looting and tribal attacks, and were met with a tough police response.

The crisis has laid bare issues of land, ethnicity, wealth and power that have plagued Kenya since British colonial rule, and have often been exploited by politicians since then.

© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.

3 - Deal to Share Power in Kenya Appears in Reach – NY Times

Published: February 22, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s rival political parties have nearly completed a deal to end the crisis that has kept this country on edge for almost two months, with the government agreeing to create a prime minister position, one of the opposition’s chief demands, a high-ranking government official said Thursday.

Not all the details have been worked out, the official said, but lawyers were drafting language on Thursday evening that would outline the job of the prime minister and how the position would be incorporated into Kenya’s political framework.

An opposition official confirmed that a deal was close, but was a bit more cautious, saying that the amount of power given to the prime minister had not been pinned down.

“It’s a major achievement,” said the opposition official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because both sides had been asked by international mediators not to speak to the news media. “The next challenge will be to put meat on the bone.”

Many Kenyans were glued to their televisions and radios on Thursday for the latest developments, and they seemed to be keeping their fingers crossed. The consensus here is that a political compromise between the government and the opposition is the only way to end the fighting between each side’s supporters.

The trouble started in December after the national election commission declared Mwai Kibaki, the incumbent, the winner of a presidential election over Raila Odinga, the top opposition leader, despite widespread evidence of vote rigging. The unrest has killed more than 1,000 people and damaged Kenya’s reputation for stability in a turbulent region.

Mr. Odinga claims he won the election and has demanded that his party be given a meaningful role in the government. He has said the minimum he would accept was a role as prime minister.

Over the past few days, the two sides have argued intensely over exactly what that position would look like. On Thursday, they agreed that the prime minister would “coordinate and supervise government functions,” the government official said.

“It’s quite a substantial and reasonable role,” the official said. “I didn’t see anyone unhappy.”

The president would remain head of state and head of government, with the prime minister reporting to him, according to the current proposal. It was not clear on Thursday evening if the president would be empowered to fire the prime minister, something that the opposition has adamantly opposed, or if Parliament would have that authority.

Opposition leaders are also pushing for guarantees that Parliament has real muscle, arguing that there is not an adequate separation of powers between the president and Parliament.

Still, Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, who has been in Kenya for a month trying to broker a political truce, seemed optimistic that all this could be sorted out. In a short statement on Thursday, he said he could finally see “the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Other officials close to the talks said that many of the thorniest issues had been resolved and that the government had agreed to give the opposition at least a dozen cabinet posts. But a deal had seemed close several other times recently, only to evaporate.

Both sides described the prime minister proposal as a temporary solution, and they have vowed to change laws to address long-festering problems. The disputed election stirred up decades of grievances about land, power and economic opportunity, and set off battles between ethnic groups supporting the president and those backing the opposition. Many Kenyans vote along ethnic lines.

Lawmakers have also promised to work together to rewrite the Kenyan Constitution, which vests enormous powers in the presidency and is seen as one of the root causes of this crisis.

But the biggest hurdle was a power-sharing agreement. Mr. Odinga and his team said the only fair solution was to make him the prime minister, but Mr. Kibaki seemed intent on shutting him out, saying this week that any deal had to be consistent with the Constitution, which does not specifically authorize a prime minister position.

But Mr. Kibaki has come under international pressure to compromise. On Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Kenya and said that “real power sharing” was needed, a clear signal to Mr. Kibaki that Washington wanted him to give the opposition a significant role.

The high-ranking government official cautioned that serious issues had to be overcome before completion of the deal, which some people close to the talks said could be as early as Friday.

Tough issues include how the prime minister job would be created — whether by Parliament, as the government wants, or by a constitutional amendment, as opposition leaders had sought, though on Thursday they seemed to back down. Also unsettled is who would have more power, the prime minister or the vice president, currently a former opposition member who switched sides.

Other questions include how long the position would last and whether there would be another election before Mr. Kibaki’s term expires in five years.

“No deal is done until it is done,” the government official said.

Kennedy Abwao contributed reporting.

4 - Warnings of further violence in Kenya - Guardian

Mark Tran and agencies,
Friday February 22 2008

[Photo] Gabon's Jean Ping is meeting Kenyan officials in an attempt to broker an agreement. Photograph: Reuters
Mediators today kept up the pressure on Kenya's rival factions to share power amid warnings of a fresh outbreak of violence in the absence of an agreement.

The unexpected departure for Nigeria by opposition leader, Raila Odinga, was not expected to have any bearing on today's scheduled talks.

George Nyamweya, a spokesman for president Mwai Kibaki's party, called Odinga's departure unexpected, but not necessarily a sign that negotiations had taken a sour turn.

"He's free to go and come as he pleases," Nyamweya said.

The new chairman of the African Union commission, Gabon's Jean Ping, has met officials from Odinga's party earlier today and is due to meet Kibaki later. Ping, elected at an AU summit in Ethiopia earlier this month, is the latest in a succession of senior officials to attempt to help resolve a dispute that has cost 1,000 lives, displaced 300,000 people and badly damaged Kenya's reputation for stability.

"The weekend will be crucial. We hope that next week we'll have something which can be agreed," Ping told a news conference in Nairobi.

"Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan yesterday said he was beginning to "see light at the end of the tunnel".

The two sides yesterday agreed to create a prime minister's post to be filled by the opposition. But they have yet to thrash out the contentious issue of how much power the prime minister would have. Local media, however, were guardedly optimistic.

"The consensus so far is no small matter," the opposition-leaning Standard newspaper said in an editorial.

A think-tank yesterday warned that armed groups are mobilising for new attacks, and serious violence could erupt again if peace talks fail.

"Calm has partly returned but the situation remains highly volatile," the Belgium-based International Crisis Group said in a report. "Armed groups are still mobilising on both sides."

Last year's December election returned Kibaki to power for a second five-year term, but Odinga has accused Kibaki's Party of National Unity of rigging the vote. The ensuing violence has stirred up ethnic grievances over land and poverty that have bedevilled Kenya since independence in 1963.

5 - Kenya: Kibaki's Meeting With PNU Team Delays Talks

The Nation (Nairobi)
22 February 2008Posted to the web 22 February 2008
Muchemi Wachira


President Kibaki's meeting with PNU negotiators has resulted in a delay of today's peace talks.

The ODM side and Annan's team were kept waiting for their government counterparts for close to four hours.

The opposition negotiators then left Serena Hotel, the venue of the meeting, and only came back after the PNU side arrived at the hotel.

The talks resumed after midday.

The President also met Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and a team he had appointed to spearhead peace and reconciliation efforts in the country.

The team includes: Attorney General Amos Wako, Finance minister Amos Kimunya, Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Martha Karua, Transport's Chirau Ali Mwakwere, Moses Wetangula (Foreign Affairs), Uhuru Kenyatta (Local Government) and George Saitoti (Internal Security).

Mr Ludeki Chweya and Geoffrey Kibaara had been appointed joint secretaries of the team which is yet to start work.

The meeting, sources said, centred on the progress of the Annan talks especially on proposals for the creation of a prime minister's position, its functions and powers.

ODM and PNU negotiators have since agreed on principle to create a prime minister's position, two deputy prime ministers and inclusion of ODM members in Cabinet.

And at Thursday's meeting, sources said, the ministers insisted that the prime minister's position should be non-executive and that no powers should be transferred from the presidency.

The leaders maintained that having been sworn in, the President should enjoy the powers bestowed on him by constitution for five years.

They urged PNU negotiators, Ms Karua, Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo, Education minister Sam Ongeri and Mr Wetangula to be firm at the talks and ensure PNU interests carried the day.

The negotiating team suspended Thursday's session at 11 am allow time to consult on the draft joint proposal.

The Legal Working Group -a sub-committee established on Tuesday to transform the political deals struck during earlier sessions in legal terms acceptable to both sides- was to meet from 8.30 am to conclude their work before reporting to the full negotiating team from 10 am. The sessions were however delayed as the working group started meeting at 12 pm.

Members of the group are: Ms Karua and Kilonzo on behalf of PNU and ODM's William Ruto and James Orengo.
The group's facilitator is M Hans Corell, who is a Swedish legal expert.

6 - AU head urges Kenya peace deal – BBC

The African Union Commission chairman has urged Kenya's government and opposition to reach an agreement to end weeks of post-election violence.

Jean Ping said he hoped for a deal next week. Earlier, there was hope that the rivals would end their talks on Friday.
A draft plan would involve creating a prime minister's post to be held by the oppositions, but disagreement remains over what powers this post would have.

The East African Community says the crisis is hurting the regional economy.

"The weekend will be crucial. We hope that next week we'll have something which can be agreed," Mr Ping said in Nairobi.

'New things'
Mediator and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Thursday's agreement on the creation of a prime ministerial post showed progress towards ending violence.

But earlier hopes that a final deal would be announced on Friday proved unfounded as disagreements remained between the two sides on the exact role of the proposed prime minister.

The post is likely to be held by opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga, whose party demands that the post include executive powers.

The government favours "a non-executive prime minister but with some substantial meaningful responsibilities," government negotiator Mutula Kilonzo said, according to the AP news agency.

Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula told the BBC the delays were because "new things keep coming up."

"It's never over till it's over," he said.

Friday's round of talks started late after the government delegation failed to arrive on time.

Also on Friday, Mr Odinga flew out of Kenya to an unconfirmed destination. He is however keeping in close contact with his negotiating team at the talks, his aides say.

Economic slowdown
The East African Community has warned of an economic slowdown throughout the region as a result of the Kenyan political crisis.

"Trade flows have been negatively affected and so have exchequer and business revenues," EAC Secretary General Juma Mwapachu said in a statement on Thursday.

"We can only promote and attract investments sustainably, as well as assure effective intra-regional trade, if we have enduring peace and stability."

The landlocked economies of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, South Sudan and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, largely rely on trade through the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

The opposition alleges widespread rigging in the December election, and international observers said the poll was flawed.

The Kenyan opposition said on Wednesday it would resume mass protests if a deal was not reached within a week.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/02/22 17:43:30 GMT


updated 9:09 a.m. EST, Fri February 22, 2008

7- Kenya's opposition threatens mass protests - CNN

Story Highlights
Kenya's opposition threatens a "mass civil disobedience campaign next week"
They are calling for the prime minister's job and proportional sharing of powers
Government negotiators and their rivals had promised to sign a power-sharing deal
The political deal was intended to break the Kenya deadlock and end violence

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Kenya's opposition party says it will embark on a "mass civil disobedience campaign next week" if its demands aren't met in the intensive negotiations aimed at defusing the political crisis in the tense East African nation.

The lawmakers are calling for the prime minister's job and proportional sharing of powers in any new government. If the demands aren't met, the movement pledges to start its civil disobedience by Wednesday and will employ such tactics as work slowdowns to apply pressure in the talks.

Ababu Namwamba issued the statement Friday on behalf of lawmakers who believe talks between negotiators for President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who was in Nigeria on Friday, are being stalled by the government representatives.

Violence erupted in Kenya after the December 27 presidential elections, when incumbent Kibaki of the Party of National Unity (PNU) was declared victor. Odinga's backers said the election was rigged, and he and his supporters declined to recognize the election as valid.

The fighting that followed the election has broken down along tribal lines. Members of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe and the Luos, the tribe of Odinga, have been in the middle of the ethnic clashes.
Don't Miss
Negotiators near deal to stop Kenya violence
Kenya peace talks in disarray
Red Cross official: Violence is spreading
Lagat: Olympic glory can ease Kenya violence

Both sides have agreed to talks and eventually gave the go-ahead for the creation of an independent committee to investigate irregularities in the poll and suggest reforms.

But the opposition parliamentary group has been accusing the PNU of "procrastination and obvious time buying games" at the talks, which have been overseen by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The statement was drafted Friday when government negotiators failed to show up for negotiations, which the opposition said were being boycotted. Government negotiators arrived late, however, and talks were being held.

The lawmakers from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) also raised the issue of "self-determination" but didn't elaborate. Many of the ODM supporters live in the western region of Kenya.

"If there is any community in Kenya unwilling to co-exist with other Kenyans in a manner that reflects the popular will of Kenyans; then that community is at liberty to exercise the principle of self-determination as is well-enunciated in the U.N. Charter and other international legal instruments," the statement said.

February 22, 2008 -- Updated 1030 GMT (1830 HKT)

8 - Kenya peace talks in disarray - CNN

Story Highlights
Kenya's opposition leader has unexpectedly left the country Friday
Government negotiators and their rivals had promised to sign a power-sharing deal
Government negotiators failed to turn up as well
The political deal was intended to break the Kenya deadlock following elections

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Kenya's opposition leader unexpectedly left the country Friday, the day government negotiators and their rivals had promised to sign a power-sharing deal to end the postelection crisis that has sparked weeks of deadly violence.

Raila Odinga left Kenya on a charter flight to Nigeria, according to an airport employee and two officials from Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement. Odinga was expected back Saturday and was still available for consultations on the negotiations while out of the country, said opposition official Musalia Mudavadi.

Mudavadi added that the government had not shown up on time at a luxury hotel where the two sides were trying to negotiate a deal to end the political standoff following President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election, local and foreign observers say was rigged.

"There has been a delay from the other side," Mudavadi said. "So we are waiting to hear their communication." Earlier, he had said the negotiations had made "good progress so far."

On Thursday, the two sides appeared to be edging toward a deal as the government tentatively agreed to create a prime minister's post to be filled by the opposition. Government negotiator Mutula Kilonzo said a political deal was expected Friday after weeks of international pressure on both sides to share power.

Don't Miss
Negotiators near deal to stop Kenya violence
Red Cross official: Violence is spreading
Lagat: Olympic glory can ease Kenya violence
Kenya opposition threatens mass protests

"I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel," former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, who has been mediating in the political negotiations, said in a statement Thursday.

Odinga was scheduled to meet Friday with Jean Ping, chairman of the African Union Commission, the AU executive body. It was not immediately clear if the two met before Odinga left the country.

The December 27 election returned Kibaki to power for a second five-year term after Odinga's lead in early vote-counting evaporated overnight. The ensuing violence has stirred up ethnic grievances over land and poverty that have bedeviled Kenya since independence in 1963. More than 1,000 people have been killed.

Much of the bloodshed has pitted other ethnic groups against Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe, long resented for dominating politics and the economy.

On Thursday, a man was hacked to death in a Nairobi slum, police said. Witnesses said the fight started when a group of young Luos -- the same ethnic group as Odinga -- began taunting Kikuyus.

"They started hurling insults then throwing stone at the Kikuyus, who are their neighbors," said a woman selling vegetables in the slum.

The Kikuyus then attacked, killing a Luo man, said the woman, who asked that her name not be used for fear of retribution.

A think tank said Thursday that armed groups on opposing sides of the political and ethnic strife are mobilizing for new attacks and serious violence could erupt again if peace talks fail.

"Calm has partly returned but the situation remains highly volatile," the Brussels, Belgium-based International Crisis Group said in a report. "Armed groups are still mobilizing on both sides."

Talks between Kibaki and Odinga have focused on how to create a broader-based government to end the crisis. In particular, Odinga and his backers have demanded that the president share power.

The country remains caught between a desire to move on from waves of ethnic attacks and a fear that any compromise could spark new fighting.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

9 - Kenya Reconciliation Talks Continue; Focus on Power-Sharing Issues- VOA

By Scott Bobb Nairobi

22 February 2008

Bobb report - Download (MP3)

Bobb report - Listen (MP3)

Parties to the Kenya reconciliation talks held a series of meetings Friday aimed at bringing the two sides closer on the issue of power-sharing which has been the biggest obstacle to date. The opposition repeated its threat to resume mass demonstrations if greater progress was not achieved. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Nairobi.

Negotiators for the Kenyan government and opposition remained tight-lipped as they tried to hammer out an agreement on how much power to invest in the proposed post of prime minister.

The opposition wanted the prime minister to be head-of-government and wield considerable powers over the executive branch. But government negotiators said they saw the post as non-executive with what were termed some responsibilities. A technical team was working on what constitutional and legal changes would be needed to create the post.

The recently chosen chairman of the African Union, Jean Ping, flew to Nairobi to show support for the talks which he said were moving in a good direction.

"The weekend will be crucial and we hope that next week we will have something which could be agreed [upon]," he said.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the chief mediator at the talks, has expressed satisfaction with the progress made, saying Thursday that he was beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

But opposition Parliament member Ababu Namwamba said his Orange Democratic Movement party would hold anti-government protests if the talks continued at their current pace.

"If by Wednesday, the 27th day of February, 2008, no tangible outcome is achieved from the mediation process then the [ODM] party members are called upon to prepare for immediate civil mass disobedience," he said.

Anti-government demonstrations following the election sparked a wave of violence in which 1,000 people were killed and several hundred thousand were displaced. The violence has subsided since the reconciliation talks began but many Kenyans fear it could revive if a political solution to the crisis is not found.

Political analyst Ken Ouko of Nairobi University said Kenyans are angry over the elections which many feel were rigged. And he said the proposed post of prime minister would not erase this memory.

"If you're looking at it [premiership] as a long-term solution I think it falls short," he said. "What's going to happen is probably [to] use the premiership to dissect and improve our institutions so that people feel that there is some change, but I guess we'll still have to walk the election route some time [day] to be able to put this to rest."

Nevertheless he said an agreement to bring the opposition into government would help ease some tensions in the country.

10 - Hope Over PM Deal - The Nation (Nairobi)


22 February 2008

Posted to the web 22 February 2008

By Bernard Namunane And Lucas BarasaNairobi

Government and ODM negotiators Thursday closed ranks and agreed on the creation of the position of a Prime Minister.

It was a major step in a process that may be inching closer to a break-through in the search for a settlement to end the post-election political crisis.

Details of the powers and functions of the new position in Government hierarchy were yet to be fine-tuned by the mediation team chaired by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

The step could brighten the faces of thousands of Kenyans who have borne the brunt of the post-election violence and members of the international community that has consistently exerted pressure on President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga to end the political dispute.

End the crisis
Buoyed by the stage of the talks that are aimed at ending the crisis, chief mediator, Mr Annan said: " I'm beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel."

The news also came as President Kibaki talked in Kirinyaga where he told mourners at a funeral that the country will overcome the political crisis and return to the economic agenda.

"Let us put everything before God and we will overcome all the challenges the country is currently facing," he said.

He was speaking at the burial ceremony of former security intelligence boss James Kanyotu.

And the US State Department expressed optimism on the status of the talks between the Kenyan government and opposition.

"We have seen progress made through (former UN secretary-general) Kofi Annan's efforts, working with the parties," State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters in Washington. "They do have an overall framework agreement."

Mr Casey suggested patience was needed as the two sides try to finalise an accord.

"Sometimes the most difficult part of the process is having the details of some kind of a broader government and the organisation of it, who gets what ministries and all that, sometimes takes a while to work out," he said.

However, religious leaders came together under the Inter-Religious Forum to call for a fresh General Election and the disbandment of the Electoral Commission.

The faiths bringing together Christians, Muslims and Hindu argued that any of the outcome from Annan's efforts may not be universally agreed by Kenyans. The resignation of ECK members would pave way for reconstitution by all political parties.

But Thursday, the former UN boss expressed optimism when he was informed last night that the PNU and ODM negotiators were inching closer to striking a peace deal following their agreement on the powers and functions of the PM.

Two members of the mediation team spoke similar words and expressed confidence that a peace deal was on the way to end the political dispute that has plunged the country into violence since the Presidential election results were announced on December 30th.

Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo described what they had struck as a balanced agreement that may not please everybody while his Eldoret North counterpart William Ruto stated that they were making concessions fully aware that the "weight of the responsibilities on our shoulders is high."

Signs that the mediation team was nearly reaching a political settlement began on Wednesday when it emerged that they had agreed, in principle, to the creation of the premier's position.

Been seconded
They assigned the duties of drawing up the powers and functions of the PM to a working group of the mediation team that comprises Cabinet minister Martha Karua and Mr Kilonzo from the Government/PNU side, and Mr Ruto and Ugenya lawmaker James Orengo on the ODM side.

Former UN legal counsel Hans Corell from Sweden has been seconded to the working group as a facilitator.

The team met on Wednesday evening until 8.30pm and came up with a draft of powers and functions that were presented to the entire mediation team Thursday morning and were endorsed before they adjourned earlier until Friday.

Sources close to the mediation team, however, revealed that the proposed premier could hold non-executive powers and will be accountable to the President in the performance of his work.

Sources said that it was being proposed that the PM cannot be sacked by the President and he or she comes from the party with majority in Parliament. The issue will be discussed exhaustively Friday.

The premier's role in Parliament will also be specified by the sub-committee.

This state of affairs will prevail until the time a comprehensive review of the Constitution is carried out to allow Kenyans to define the kind of the institution of the Presidency and the powers that will either be delegated or shared with the PM and the cabinet. The premier's position, it also emerged, will be created through an Act of Parliament on the strengths of the provisions in Sections 16 and 23 of the Constitution. The first allows the President to appoint ministers from among MPs while the second gives Parliament the powers to "confer functions on persons or authorities other than the President."

Accordingly, the PM will be accountable to the President in the exercise of his authority, and responsible to the Cabinet and Parliament in the coordination and supervision of the functions that will be vested in him.

In terms of the duties that were agreed upon, the PM will coordinate and supervise the functions and affairs of Government ministries and departments.

The premier will also allocate government responsibilities to two deputy Prime Ministers whose positions will be created in line with the deal that was struck by the mediators. The powers of the two deputy prime ministers will also be spelt out Friday by the working group.

It was also agreed that the PM will keep the President fully informed on government business and will be obliged to provide any official information to the Head of state any time it is requested.

The premier, still, will be under duty to perform any other functions that he will be assigned by the President or as the written law will require of him.

The step, which was a major break through in the search for political settlement, signalled the readiness of the two sides in the conflict to cede ground in their demands in order for peace to be achieved.

Hitherto, President Kibaki had stated his willingness to work with and share government responsibilities with ODM, but within the existing Constitution while a new one is being written.

His negotiators on the mediation team were also holding the PM's position should be created after 12 months when the comprehensive review of the Constitution will have been completed.

On their part, ODM negotiators were pushing for an executive Prime Minister, who will serve as the Head of Government. The position, they held, was to be created immediately through a constitutional amendment to give the holder security of tenure.

Political deal
However, urgency to strike a political deal came home three days ago when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited the country and held a series of meetings with President Kibaki, Mr Odinga and Mr Annan. Dr Rice urged the two sides to speedily agree on a power-sharing political settlement to end the crisis.

Public anxiety has also been growing with Kenyans waiting to hear word from the Annan team about the kind of political compromise and deal that they have struck to end the violence in which more than 1,000 people have been killed and at least 350,000 displaced.

The top US diplomat met all key players and urged them to quickly agree on a coalition government to save thousands of Kenyans who have been affected by the violence that followed the disputed Presidential elections.

"The time for a political settlement was supposed to be yesterday and it (agreeing on a coalition) has to be urgent. The leaders (President Kibaki and Mr Odinga) have to come together and there is need to have a power-sharing arrangement for the country to move forward," she said.

Dr Rice said that during her separate meetings with President Kibaki and Mr Odinga, the leaders at the centre of the storm tabled different forms of coalitions, which she had passed on to the chief mediator for consideration in the mediation talks which resume Friday at the Serena.

On Thursday, it emerged that the intervention of Dr Rice worked towards the softening of stands by both sides and could be the key player in the deal to create the non-executive premier's position.

On the mediation team, Government team comprises Cabinet ministers Karua, Sam Ongeri, Moses Wetang'ula and Mr Kilonzo while the ODM delegation is made up of MPs Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto, Sally Kosgei and Orengo.

The team will now have to agree on the sharing of Cabinet positions and other key government posts.

On Thursday, both the PNU and ODM representatives appeared to be in jovial mood inside the negotiation room and while leaving.

They chatted freely , cracked jokes and smiled in public for the first time since the negotiations started on January 29.

Ms Karua who left the meeting early, was escorted outside by ODM representative Dr Sally Kosgei as a journalist joked that they were "two powerful PNU and ODM women."

The Justice minister had a brief discussion with Dr Kosgei who is the Aldai MP and a former Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet before the Gichugu MP boarded her vehicle.

And during the media photo session inside the negotiation room, Ms Karua was overheard joking that it was the first time the Press had shown the negotiators in serious prayers with their eyes closed.

A front page picture in Thursday's Nation showed the negotiators praying. The prayers were led by Mr Ruto.

Mr Annan embarked on the mission to broker a deal between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga on January 29 with the mandate of the African Union.

He took over the mantle from the then AU chairman, Ghanaian President, Mr John Kufuor, under the auspices of the Panel of Eminent African Persons that include former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa and former South Africa First Lady Graca Machel.

Top Nigerian diplomat Oluyemi Adeniji is expected to join the Panel at the talks.

Additional reporting by Kevin Kelley

11 - Armed And Dangerous - IRIN

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
NEWS22 February 2008 Posted to the web 22 February 2008 Nairobi

Kenya is at risk of plunging into a new wave of violence, despite progress in negotiations to end a political crisis, because several armed groups are mobilising on all sides of the country's ethno-political divisions, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank.

Firearms are much less widely available in Kenya than in neighbouring countries. In the context of this article, "armed groups" include those using machetes, spears, poison arrows and clubs.

Almost two months into the crisis, low-level insecurity persists in some areas and the threat of further unrest is hampering the delivery of essential assistance to displaced people and others affected by the crisis. UN personnel, for example, must observe stringent precautions, including the use of armed police escorts, when travelling in the Rift Valley Province.

Informal gangs and militia are responsible for most of the estimated 1,000 dead in post-election violence, while attacks and threats have been used to deliberately drive away minority groups from their homes and workplaces.

The protection of civilians from harm and abuse is a key humanitarian concern, and as protection expert Liam Mahoney writes in Proactive Presence (2006), "A good protection analysis also needs information on abusers."

"Extremists and militia are preparing for new confrontation on both camps and ODM [the opposition] believes that if international mediation fails, its only protection against repression and hope for a settlement will be its capacity to raise the stakes through violence," ICG stated in a report, Kenya in Crisis, released on 21 February.

The government quickly dismissed ICG's conclusions. Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula told KTN television that the government "had put in place very clear machinery to combatting any eruption in breaches of peace".

While it is common for young men from many ethnic groups in Kenya to undergo initiation rituals and induction into legitimate peer groups armed with a variety of weapons (but rarely firearms), the politicisation of these groups has increased dramatically since the 27 December election deepened ethnic divisions, observers note.

What follows is a brief overview of available information on some of the armed groups active in Kenya, based in part on the ICG report. Much is difficult to confirm, but our summary is also based on local media reports, interviews with slum residents, political observers, academics, village elders and religious leaders.

A secretive, outlawed and quasi-religious group dating back to the 1980s, whose exclusively Kikuyu male membership is drawn mainly from Central Province. Mungiki ("multitude" in Kikuyu) claims ideological links with the anti-colonial Mau-Mau movement. While rooted in the Central Province, Mungiki has a strong presence in the slums of Nairobi, where it controls and charges for access to basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation. It is alleged to have close links to senior Kikuyu politicians.

Before the current crisis, tenants moving in or out of some slums had to pay Mungiki Ksh150 (just over US$2), which soared to Ksh2,000 ($28.50) once violence broke out. The group also operates protection rackets, including in the public transport sector, confiscating the property of small businesses that refuse to pay a daily "fee".

Mungiki also holds "trials" for people who violate its strict rules of dress or behaviour, detaining, maiming and even killing those it finds guilty.

Security forces conducted a major crackdown on Mungiki in mid-2007, arresting and killing many of its members. But immediately after the 30 December 2007 announcement that the incumbent Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, had won the presidential election, the group made it plain it was far from extinct, killing and mutilating members of pro-opposition ethnic groups.

And when a second wave of violence broke out in late January, Mungiki organised "the systematic, brutal killings of women and children so as to expel Luo and Kalenjin from Kikuyu-dominated areas" in the Rift Valley towns of Naivasha and Nakuru, according to ICG.

Mungiki also holds 'trials' for people who violate its strict rules of dress or behaviour

"Mungiki now casts itself as the defender of the beleaguered Kikuyu in the Rift Valley," ICG stated in its report.
"Its handlers and supporters, who are said to include some senior members of the Kikuyu elite, want to make it an effective counterweight to the Kalenjin warriors [see below], and there are reports it is accumulating weapons, including guns. The sect is also bringing young men from Central Province for oathing and then transferring them to the Rift Valley for operations," the ICG report stated.

Weapons used by Mungiki include machetes, knives and clubs.

Kalenjin warriors
Well-organised community defence training forms an integral part of the graduated progress from childhood to adulthood in the seven ethnic groups collectively known as Kalenjin. A specific name is used for each stage of this progress. Young men in these ethnic groups, where tradition demands a strict respect of hierarchy and obedience to elders, also undergo circumcision as a rite of passage. As a result, young Kalenjin men develop a certain esprit de corps with their age mates, a trait that facilitates mobilisation.

"We have heard of at least two [Kalenjin] groups, one calling itself the People's Liberation Army and the other one calling itself the Group of 41," Wafula Okumu, of the South African-based Institute of Security Studies (ISS), told IRIN.
Such groups were particularly active in Uasin Gishu district, which includes the town of Eldoret, where they have been accused of fomenting much of the violence.

He said the Group of 41 was reported to be well-organised and commanded, "probably by people with a military background", added Okumu, who is analysing state violence and radicalisation of armed groups after the elections.

He explained that this group's name refers to the 41 non-Kikuyu communities in Kenya - a sort of "us versus them".

Okumu said the People's Liberation Army's agenda was reported to be "liberating" land owned by Kikuyus in the region.

According to ICG, the young men behind the violence in Eldoret "usually took orders from the elders of their settlements, who still wield considerable influence over some sectors of rural communities".

The weapons of choice for the Kalenjin warriors are spears, bows and poisoned arrows, machetes and clubs.

Sabaot Land Defence Force
The Sabaot Land Defence Force has been blamed for most of the violence that has rocked the western district of Mt Elgon in the past two years. It was formed after claims of injustice over land allocation in a settlement scheme in the district.

The Mt Elgon conflict involves two main clans of the dominant Sabaot community - the majority Soy clan and the minority Ndorobo clan - and revolves around disputed government allocation of land to squatters in a settlement scheme known as Chebyuk. The district has an estimated population of 150,000; government officials estimate 45,000 people have been displaced and 132 killed since 2006.

"The SLDF is now the most powerful and best-armed militia group operating in the west," ICG said. "Its hit-and-run attacks from the Mt Elgon forest are a major challenge for the authorities, who appear incapable of quelling the rebellion.

"The group is officially headed by a man called Wycliffe Matakwei Kirui Komon, but there is speculation the real leader is a newly elected ODM parliamentarian from the region, though he has denied any links," ICG reported.

The SLDF is one of the few non-state groups in Kenya that possesses firearms. Unconfirmed reports suggest the group's arsenal includes automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Chinkororo, outlawed in the 1990s, is the Kisii equivalent of Kalenjin warriors, and represents the armed wing of the Abagusii community, which is found in several districts in the western ethnic Luo-dominated Nyanza Province.

Traditionally, Chinkororo was a community defence force, guarding territory against cattle rustlers and other perceived "enemies". The Chinkororo also undertook retaliatory attacks whenever there were raids in Kisii areas. Since the post-election violence, elements of the Chinkororo have engaged in clashes with Kalenjin youths from the neighbouring Sotik district in the Rift Valley Province.

Weapons used by the Chinkororo include machetes, spears, clubs, bows and arrows.

Mulungunipa Forest Group
This little-known group is said to be based in the coastal district of Kwale. In June 2007, police launched a manhunt in the region for suspected members of an illegal group calling itself the Mombasa Republican Council. Days later, the police ambushed and arrested several suspects in the Mulungunipa Forest as they trained with the alleged intent of causing "chaos" at the coast. However, charges against the group were dropped after they had been held in remand prison for several months.

The youths arrested were armed with machetes and knives. The police later said they were looking for the brother of a then cabinet minister, who was the alleged ringleader of the youth in Mulungunipa forest. The suspect was described as a former soldier who had been sacked from the armed forces on disciplinary grounds.

After Mungiki, the best-known urban armed group is the Taliban, mainly Luo and active in Mathare, Huruma, Baba Dogo, Kariobangi North and Kariobangi South quarters of Nairobi's Eastlands district.

Members communicate and identify themselves via a system of secret hand signals. Like Mungiki, the group runs extortion rackets, notably on public transport operators.

"Taliban has no membership oath or cells throughout the country, but it does have squads in various slum locations," ICG stated. "Its leader was jailed in 2002, after skirmishes with Mungiki over control of these illegal activities, especially levies on matatus [minibus taxis] using Juja Road."

The weapons of the Taliban include slingshots and machetes.

Baghdad Boys
Vigilantes active in Kibera, Kenya's largest slum, whose members are drawn mostly from the Luo community, and use slingshots and knives.

Another vigilante group based in Kibera, including members from the Luo and Luhya communities, using slingshots and knives

Jeshi la Mzee aka Kamjesh
Another slum-based gang specialising in extortion and protection rackets, targeting operators of public minibuses.

Membership is mixed, comprising Kikuyu, Luo, Maasai, Kisii and the Luhya.

The Kenyan government banned 18 groups in 1992, including Mungiki and Taliban. The others were: Jeshi la Mzee, Jeshi la Embakasi [Nairobi area], Jeshi la King'ole, Baghdad Boys, Chinkororo, Amachuma, Banyamulenge, Dallas Muslim Youth, Runyenjes Footblall Club, Kaya Bombo Youth, Sakina Youth, Charo Shutu, Kuzacha, Kamjeshi, Jeshi la Nazir and Kosovo Boys. IRIN report:

Other groups that have been referenced in recent years but details are scant include Kebago (Kisii) and Sungu Sungu (Nyanza Province).

See also: East African Standard - Kenya: Beholden to Proscribed Societies 26 May 2007

Copyright © 2008 UN Integrated Regional Information Networks. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

12 - Insecurity - ODM Wants Parliament Reopened - The Nation (Nairobi)


22 February 2008 Posted to the web 22 February 2008

By Odhiambo OrlaleNairobi

ODM Thursday asked President Kibaki to re-open Parliament next week so that MPs can address the key issue of growing insecurity in the country.

Party secretary-general Anyang' Nyong'o said the House was the best placed institution to deal with the issue, which was sparked by the disputed presidential elections.

"Parliament is the only body that could speak on behalf of all Kenyans on the rising cases of insecurity," Prof Nyong'o said.

The ODM official said President Kibaki should summon Parliament urgently because the situation on the ground is grave.

But in case the President ignores their plea, Prof Nyong'o, who is the Kisumu Rural MP said, it would show that the Government was not concerned about the safety and lives of all Kenyans.

Public transport vehicles mainly on highways from Nairobi to Western Kenya and those returning to the city are escorted by police since post-election violence broke up.

Asked about their threats to revive mass action next week in the event that the on-going mediation talks chaired by former United Nations secretary-general, Mr Kofi Annan, collapse, the ODM official said it was on course.

"Our call is for a peaceful mass action, but it might be violent if the police try to disrupt it using live bullets and tear gas canisters," Prof Nyong'o said.

But Thursday, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka asked the party to call off the threat to give the talks being spearheaded by Mr Kofi Annan to succeed.

Prof Nyong'o was referring to police raids in Nairobi's Kasarani constituency in the past 48 hours where armed officers were accused of raiding Mathare North and evicting illegal tenants.

He accused Police Commissioner Hussein Ali of failing to address the security situation in the country, claiming that some parts of Nairobi and the country were being controlled by armed militias.

The official, who was addressing a press conference at ODM headquarters in Nairobi, claimed that four people, including an infant, had died in the raids.

The ODM official reminded the Police Commissioner that under Kenyan laws, the police have no right to interfere in a dispute between a landlord and his tenants.

But the Police Commissioner said on Wednesday that the people being evicted had occupied the houses illegally.

Mr Ali was emphatic that the row between the landlords and those occupying the houses was not about rent, but illegal occupation of the houses.

Mr Ali said the landlords would have reported the matter to the rent tribunal if the dispute was about rent.

The Nation found out that house owners have been unable to collect monthly rent from new occupants who moved into the premises without their consent to replace those who fled at the onset of post-election violence.

Prof Nyong'o's views were echoed by the Kasarani MP, Ms Elizabeth Ongoro, who also asked why armed police were being used to raid the area in the night to evict the tenants and their families.

Expressed fears
The MP expressed fears that the police operation was being taken advantage of by some members of the militia to promote violence and insecurity in the area.

Said Ms Ongoro: "I believe that the issue is beyond rent distress and it is being used by some other people for a political agenda."

Asked whether she had approached the Police Commissioner about the issue, the MP said she had not done so.

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

13 - Cotu Calls for Review of Constitution - The Nation (Nairobi)

NEWS22 February 2008 Posted to the web 22 February 2008 Nairobi

The workers umbrella body Thursday joined calls for a minimum review of the Constitution to break the political impasse in the country.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) secretary-general Francis Atwoli warned that taking hardline positions would only plunge the country deeper into chaos. "Let them (negotiators from both sides) be told that if Kofi Annan is to leave the country without a solution, they will not be an exception this time round. No one will be safe," he said.

Stop mass action
Mr Atwoli urged ODM leaders to stop calling for mass action, saying Kenyans wanted to rebuild their lives. "Workers are tired, the business community is also tired. No one is interested in going to the streets."

He urged the National Dialogue and Reconciliation team to visit displaced persons and see the suffering for themselves.

"After visiting these camps that they might come to terms with reality. It is then they can negotiate soberly," he said.

Mr Atwoli said 500,000 people had lost their jobs as a result of the post-election violence and warned that investors might consider moving to neighbouring countries if an agreement was not reached soon.

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

14 - Churches Call for Fresh Poll - The Nation (Nairobi)


22 February 2008 Posted to the web 22 February 2008

By Juma Namlola


Kenyan religious leaders have called for a fresh general election as the only way out of the current political crisis.

The leaders who comprised Christians, Muslims and Hindus also proposed the resignation of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) to pave way for its reconstitution.

Speaking under the auspices of the Inter-Religious Forum at the Ufungamano House in Nairobi, the leaders reiterated their proposal to President Kibaki that wide consultations be made within the political parties regarding appointment of ECK commissioners to ensure the new body is credible.

Great wisdom
"We recommend that the 2007 general election be annulled, and new elections held within the shortest time possible," they said in a statement, adding: "We recognise that this proposal has immense implications but see great wisdom in taking it as the best option."

In what they termed as Kenya's tough choices, the leaders raised several concerns regarding the ongoing Kofi Annan mediation talks.

The statement was read in turns by four different representatives, including the general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) Rev Canon Peter Karanja.

Others were Bishop Bonifes Adoyo of the Evangelical Church, Fr John Young Lenssen for the Catholic Church and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) director general, Mr Abdulatif Shaban.

In their proposal for fresh elections, the religious leaders also want the dismissal of all returning officers and the vetting of new ones who would be recruited for their integrity.

They said thousands of people were uprooted from their homes countrywide and lost their identity cards and voters' cards.

"We want the government to revisit the voters' register to enable the IDPs to vote from where they are. Some of them lost their voting documents, which must be re-issued before that exercise kicks off."

Canon Karanja said although religious leaders have faith in the mediation talks, they sensed lack of goodwill by both parties, which they accused of fighting for personal interests.

They raised their concern that with the current situation where each side is fighting for its interests, the underlying issues that caused the current crisis may fail to be addressed.

Some of those issues include a comprehensive review of the constitution, resolution of land ownership and use, and national healing and reconciliation.

"In considering the future of this nation, and what would emerge from the mediation process, we foresee three possible scenarios," said the statement.

The first scenario would see both parties combine support in Parliament to pass laws that facilitate their own political interests.

Should the talks take too long to reach an agreement, the leaders warn that ODM could try to use Parliament to frustrate government efforts.

And should the talks fail, a new cycle of violence would erupt, the international community would impose sanctions on Kenya and businesses would be forced to relocate to safer countries.

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

15 - Githongo - Review Law to Allow Shared Rule - The Nation (Nairobi)


22 February 2008 Posted to the web 22 February 2008

By David Mugonyi


Former anti-corruption chief John Githongo has called for quick constitutional changes that will see a power-sharing deal between PNU and ODM to end the current crisis facing the country.

Mr Githongo called on hard-liners and "anti-reformers" from both sides of the political divide to give the team of eminent persons led by former UN boss Kofi Annan room to "manoeuvre" for a compromise for the sake of the country.

"It is not difficult to reduce presidential powers... Parliament can introduce amendments (to the Constitution) very quickly... it is possible to address that now," he told a gathering at the Commonwealth Club in London.

He said those saying constitutional review should take some time were underestimating the crisis.

The former Governance and Ethics permanent secretary said: "If the leadership of the country agrees that we have a crisis, then the issue (constitutional changes) can be handled even now."

"I think anything that limits the space for Mr Annan to manoeuvre is very unfortunate and dangerous brinkmanship," he said, commenting on whether the agreement should strictly be tailored around the current Constitution.

Solved politically
Mr Githongo said the election dispute could not be taken to the courts as it had the potential to destroy the Judiciary as it had done to the country.

He said since the matter was political, it must be solved politically.

The former PS said the Judiciary must be cushioned from the "monster" (presidential election dispute) or it would be completely undermined by either side.

Mr Githongo said executive accountability could only be realised if presidential powers were distributed to other institutions.

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

16 - Third Arrest Made in MP Were's Killing - The Nation (Nairobi)


22 February 2008 Posted to the web 22 February 2008

By Fred Mukinda


A third suspect has been arrested and agreed to confess before a magistrate to having killed Embakasi MP Mugabe Were last month.

The man, who was arrested in Eldoret on Wednesday, was due to make the testimony at Makadara law courts Thursday.

The law dictates that a confession incriminating one's self be made in the presence of a magistrate.

But the confession was rescheduled due a technicality. Detectives investigating the January 21 shooting claimed a breakthrough in the murder after they found the suspect in possession of a cell phone that belonged to the MP.

They also recovered a Ceska pistol they believe was used to shoot Mr Were outside his gate at Nairobi's Woodley Estate.

Three in custody
An accomplice who had been arrested a day earlier was also taken to the magistrate and confirm the testimony.

Presently there are three suspects in custody.

The prime suspect is said to have confessed to having fired the killer shots using the gun seized by the police.

His story was reinforced after an analysis of spent cartridges collected at the scene of crime as they were 9mm calibre, similar to those used in a Ceska pistol.

According to the confessions, a five-man gang took part in the mission and detectives are now trying to establish if the killing was influenced by others.

Detectives were scheduled to return to the crime scene with the suspects and a magistrate. On Thursday, police were upbeat that they had enough evidence to present a water-tight case in court.

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

17 - Kenya tribes clash over cattle, 14 dead - Reuters

Fri 22 Feb 2008, 16:44 GMT

ISIOLO, Kenya, Feb 22 (Reuters) - At least 14 people were killed during clashes this week between rival pastoralist groups in central Kenya, authorities and locals said.

A group of Samburu raiders attacked Pokot herders in the Laikipia area on Wednesday, District Commissioner Julius Mutual told Reuters. "They stole 50 herds of cattle. The two groups fought, and 10 people were killed in total," he said.

Four more bodies were found near the scene of the raid on Friday, local residents said.

Fights over water, cattle and pasture have long been common in Kenya's remoter areas, especially at times of drought. Kenya has recently suffered much more widespread ethnic and political clashes after disputed Dec. 27 elections.

Officials said hundreds of pastoralists in the arid north were migrating over the border to Ethiopia in search of water.

(Reporting by Noor Ali; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)

© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.

18 - Bush fire engulfs Kenyan wildlife park – Reuters

Fri 22 Feb 2008, 18:41 GMT
By Andrew Cawthorne

NAIROBI, Feb 22 (Reuters) - A bush fire engulfed Kenya's Lake Nakuru park on Friday, destroying vegetation and terrifying wildlife at one of the east African nation's top tourist destinations, local authorities said.

"It is a huge fire, it's awful," senior warden Charles Muthui told Reuters from the scene, saying the blaze had spread over a third of the park's 188 square km area.

Although the exact cause of the fire was unknown, it seemed to come from a nearby village outside the park, but spread quickly because foliage was dry from lack of rain, Muthui said.

"It was windy and dry, so the fire moved quickly. All the animals are running to safety," he said.
Most famous for its hundreds of thousands of flamin

gos, the park in central Kenya is home to 450 species including white rhinos, leopards, giraffes and baboons.

The fire is a further blow to Kenya's tourism sector, which has seen visitors to wildlife parks -- and other attractions -- dry up because of the country's post-election crisis that saw an explosion of violence that killed more than 1,000 people.

Visitor numbers to Lake Nakuru National Park dropped by more than 70 percent in January. A Reuters reporter who went last week found the park's restaurant empty and two students from Dubai enjoying the whole reserve to themselves.

"It's just one disaster after another for us at the moment," said a waiter at a hotel inside the park. "What have we done to deserve all this? I feel so sorry for the birds and the animals, it will take years for the park to recover."

Several hundred park workers, soldiers and policemen were tackling the fire, but had not contained the flames by mid-evening. "The trees and grass are so dry, it's just consuming everything," Muthui said.

(Editing by Jon Boyle)

© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.