Friday, May 16, 2008

Week's highlights - Fri 5/16/2008

Two stories from BBC, followed by links from Google News:

Charges urged for Kenya 'torture' - BBC

Kenya's defence minister and army chiefs should face prosecution over the alleged torture of civilians, the state-funded human rights body says.

The Kenya National Commission for Human Rights (KNCHR) says medical reports back up complaints of torture.

The military was deployed to the Mt Elgon area in March, in a crackdown on the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF).

The government denied the allegations, in turn accusing the militia of committing atrocities.

The SLDF says it is fighting for ancestral land belonging to the Sabaot community but has been accused of killing members of rival ethnic groups.

The KNCHR said the minister, Mohammed Yusuf Haji, and army commanders should be held accountable for human rights violations.

"It is important that the government is held accountable where acts of gross violations including torture, murder etc are conducted, that people at the top are accountable in a certain way," KNCHR commissioner Omar Hassan Omar told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

He said they had spoken to residents of Mt Elgon who claimed to have been taken to military camps and subjected to degrading and inhumane forms of torture.

"We tied it up with medical reports which confirmed that patterns of torture did take place," Mr Omar said.

KNCHR also called for the prosecution of the Sabaot militia, whose members have been accused of murder and other human rights violations.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the SLDF was guilty of human rights violations.

"This criminal group had been carrying out brutal crimes against humanity and endangering lives," he said.

The statement said the militia were guilty of mutilation, torture, sexual crimes and recruitment of child soldiers.

But Mr Omar said the brutality of the militia could not excuse the actions of the Kenyan army.

"The government is not a militia, it has different standards. It is a conventional army, and a conventional army is held to higher standards of accountability," he said.

The rights body also urged the UN to withdraw Kenyan troops from its peacekeeping missions.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/05/16 08:53:42 GMT© BBC MMVIII

Kenya cabinet holds first session - BBC

Kenya's president has urged members of the cabinet to focus on implementing crucial government programmes, during the government's first formal session.

President Mwai Kibaki chaired the meeting of the power-sharing body in Nairobi, amid tensions that threaten to weaken the coalition.

The coalition government was key to solving Kenya's post-election violence.

Clashes after last December's elections left some 1,500 people dead and 600,000 homeless around the country.

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga agreed to share power in February after negotiations led by former UN head Kofi Annan.

"We must have the drive to succeed in serving our country and Kenyans at large, there is much expectation from the Kenyan people and we must deliver on the promises we made," President Kibaki said, urging the ministers not to be distracted by other issues.

The cabinet resolved to make the country's food security its top priority, by increasing the country's food reserves and increasing food production, according to a statement from President Kibaki's office.

The ongoing programme to resettle thousands of internally displaced persons was another item on the meeting's agenda.

The government will continue to assist those who return to their homes as they rebuild their lives, the ministers resolved.

The cabinet also agreed on the formation of five cabinet committees:

  • national security
  • finance administration and planning
  • infrastructure
  • services
  • production.

The president will head the national security committee, while Prime Minister Odinga will chair the others.

The BBC's Josphat Makori in Nairobi says that since their appointment in April, ministers from the coalition partners, the president's Party of National Unity (PNU) and Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), have been divided on key issues.

The coalition also faces a growing challenge from a group of lawmakers who want to form an opposition in parliament.
The MPs - from both the ODM and PNU - say they want to scrutinise the government's performance.

Mr Odinga has criticised the idea, saying it would undermine the principle of the coalition government.

But some ODM leaders have voiced their disagreement with the prime minister on the issue, leading to speculation that this could lead to a split within the party.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/05/15 15:19:34 GMT© BBC MMVIII

Google News links:

Grief spans BC and Kenya after crash, Canada - 11 hours ago
Lehmann had been with the company for a little more than six years and had previously worked in Courtenay on Vancouver Island and Surrey, BC He left behind ...

Falling helicopter killed student from Kenya Toronto Star

Death shatters family of Kenyan student studying in Cranbrook Globe and Mail

Kenyan pedestrian killed by crashing helicopter in Canada might ... International Herald Tribune

Vancouver Sun - The Gazette (Montreal)

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Daily Nation
Kenya: Claims of Torture By Army And Militia, As Food Shortages ..., Washington - 3 hours ago
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has called for an investigation into allegations of torture committed by security forces deployed in ...

Charges urged for Kenya 'torture' BBC News

Charge top security men over torture, demands rights team Daily Nation

KNCHR: Army killed 600 in Mt Elgon Standard (Pressemitteilung) - AFP

all 12 news articles »

Kenya intimidating refugees out of camp-aid group
Reuters South Africa, South Africa - 5 hours ago...
intimidation to force displaced people to leave a refugee camp in western Kenya, the medical aid agency Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Friday. ...
ABC News

'Profit Culture' Mars Kenya Adoptions
ABC News - 4 hours ago
By DANA HUGHES Two years ago, Ron and Mary Nelson and their four children traveled from Indiana to Nairobi, Kenya, to volunteer at an orphanage for three ...

Kenya Airways to resume flights to Paris
International Herald Tribune, France - 5 hours ago
AP NAIROBI, Kenya: Kenya Airways says it will resume flights to Paris next month after a break of more than three months caused by postelection violence. ...

Kenya steps up tourism marketing abroad
Daily Nation, Kenya - 8 hours ago
Mr Balala, who spoke at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after a 10-day tour of Europe, said that the challenge lay in re-branding Kenya as a tourist ...

Kenya: Government Under Siege as They Forcefully Resettle IDPs, Washington - 7 hours ago
When the Government of Kenya began resettling more than 10000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) on Monday, thousands of them who have been camping at the ...

Government Under Siege as They Forcefully Eesettle IDPs
Fahamu (Oxford)
15 May 2008 Posted to the web 16 May 2008
By Joachim Omolo Ouko

When the Government of Kenya began resettling more than 10,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) on Monday, thousands of them who have been camping at the Nakuru Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) show ground, some displaced persons said the Government should have reconciled them with the neighbouring communities first instead of rushing to resettle them.

Mzee Ibrahim Githatwa, 76, was among the IDPs who vowed never to go back to Keringet in Kuresoi where he had lived since the 1942 but was forcefully told to leave the premises. This is where he left when their houses were burnt in January with all the properties destroyed.

Mzee Githatwa is not only a widower, but also a father of 13 children some of whom are still depending on him. This is the man who has suffered a great deal under Moi regime and now Kibaki. During Moi he lost seven houses in the 1992 ethnic violence. Even after he could manage, together with some of his children to built five houses, they again got burnt down in January during the pos-election violence.

Even 13 farms where some of them are going to be resettled which include Sirikwa, Kiambogo, Githirika, Muthenji, Nyota, Kangawa and Lagwenda, Sasumua, Willa, Muchorwe, Karirikania, Kadonye and Nyaruai have history of violence every five years when they have general elections.

These are some of the areas that have been the scene of periodic violence since 1992. Since then fighting has not only intensified during general election years - held in 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2007 - and in 2005, when the national referendum on the country's constitution was held, but also leading to loss of properties worth million of shillings, deaths and turmoils.

The lad dispute around these areas, especially in Molo and Kuresoi is between the Kalenjin, Kikuyu and Kisii - against one another. Not forgetting that last year's violence, in the run up to the 27 December elections intensified in affecting the Kuresoi divisions Keringet, Kuresoi, Kamara and Olenguruone as opposed to other years.

The government is forcing them back when high-ranking politicians who have been consistently implicated in organizing political violence since the 1990s have never been brought to book and continue to operate with impunity.

According to the annexes to the Ndung'u land dispute report released in 2004 the families of former presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi feature prominently in the list of prominent high ranking politicians and people who matter in Kenya government as those who have grabbed public land that was recommended for repossession.

Mr Moi and five of his children, Mzee Kenyatta's widow Mama Ngina and scores of MPs, top civil servants, military officers, High Court judges and former Cabinet ministers featured in the report now and then.

Then Lands and Housing minister Amos Kimunya who releasing the report on grabbed land compiled by the Paul Ndung'u Committee without the names, can tell a lot why the issue of lad in Kenya will always remain a big problem even after forcing the displaced to go back to their disputed lands.

The report contained in the two massive volumes is measuring 10 centimetres, of which at 2,017 pages are thicker than two telephone directories. The reports were released by the Government Printer and since then no action has been taken by the government to repossess the lands.

If the government were to take action it would mean that names of all those who have been irregularly allocated public land in urban areas, settlement schemes, forests and reserves, with Moi alone owning 937 hectare farm in Narok hived off Trans Mara Forest be repossessed, then this would at least solve some of the land problems in the country.

According to the report, among President Moi's children who were illegally allocated land includes former Baringo Central MP Mr Gideon Moi and his wife Zahra, Raymond Kiprotich, Doris Choge and Jonathan Toroitich.

The problem would even be more resolved if the government were to go by the Ndungu recommendation that allocation of various parcels to Mama Ngina Kenyatta be revoked. It includes 38 hectares hived off the Kikuyu Escarpment Forest in Kiambu District in 1965, including another 36 hectares in Thika District from the same Kikuyu Escarpment forest allocated to her in 1980 for farming, which Ndungu also recommended to be reclaimed, as well as another 24 hectare parcel allocated in 1993.

Among the cabinet ministers, judges and top soldiers listed to be among beneficiaries of settlement schemes carved out of Agricultural Development Corporation farms include then minister of State William ole Ntimama (now ODM minister of Heritage), assistant minister Kipkalya Kones (now ODM minister for Roads), Court of Appeal Judge Emmanuel O'Kubasu and deputy chief of general staff, Lt Gen Nick Leshan.

Mr Ntimama who claims to be the spokesman of the Maasai communities, also human right activists, was allocated 34 acres of Moi Ndabi Farm where Mr Leshan got 233 acres. Mr Kones got 145 acres in the Agricultural Development Corporation Sirikwa scheme where the average allocations were five acres, according to the report. While Mr Justice O'Kubasu got 40 acres of ADC Jabali also in Nakuru, his land in the ADC Sirikwa scheme in Nakuru District, a public figure that got more than the average that is, Mr Justice William Tuiyot who has since died got 85 acres in the ADC Sirikwa scheme.

Other according to the report include retired Judge Mbito who was also allocated 50 acres of the ADC Zea, while a former commissioner of prisons, Mr Edward Lokopoyit got 90 acres of the land.

According to Daily Nation, December 17, 2004, story by David Okwemba ad Mburu Mwangi, former MPs Joseph Kimkung (Mt Elgon) and Jesse Maizs got 30 and 15 acres respectively in the ADC ZEA area. Former Principal Immigration Officer Henry ole Ndiema got 50 acres and a house in the same area.

A former permanent secretary, Mr William Kimalat got 80 acres of ADC Jabali, while a former top policeman Stanley Manyinya got 130 acres in the same area. Former PC Ishmael Chelang'a (since dead) got 90 acres.

Former MPs G. G. Mokku, Japheth Ekidor, Immanuel Imana, Mr David Sudi, Boaz Kaino and Francis Mutwol also benefited. Mr Kaino got 50 acres, Mr Imana 25, Mr Ekidor 20, Mr Mutwol 10 and Mr Sudi 20 from the ADC Milimani land.

The report also implicates many top soldiers and also clerics as among those listed as having been allocated the land. Most of the Moi Ndabi land was allocated by the director of lands.

Another prominent figure in the list is Kerio Central MP Nicholas Biwott who if could lose the 161 hectares in Kaptagat forest allocated to him in 1994 for the Maria Soti Education Trust was going to benefit thousands of landless people.

Other prominent politicians whom Ngungu recommended that their illegally acquired lad could be repossessed included former minister, a former head of the civil service and a former permanent secretary who stood to lose about 1,170 hectares of land hived off South Nandi Forest in 1999.

The three, Mr Henry Kosgey (the ODM chairman and minister), Dr Sally Kosgei (also ODM minister of Higher Education) and Mr Zakayo Cheruiyot were to exchange the land with farmers on a hilly terrain, even though according to the report there was conflict in the exchange as the Ngerek community, which was supposed to benefit, was left out.

The family of former Lands and Settlement minister Jackson Angaine, was expected to lose more than 900 hectares of land hived off from Mount Kenya forest in 1975 and 1977 if the recommendations were to be taken seriously by the government.

Former Limuru MP Mr Kuria Kanyingi was also named as the beneficiary of a 24 hectare farm carved out of Kiambu Forest in 1984. The report also noted that a title deed was issued for only 15 hectares to Kama Agencies in 1995. It recommends that the allocation to the MP should be revoked.

Those allocated parts of the Ngong forest and Karura Forest in the 1990s that Ndung'u Committee recommended that should all be revoked included former Mathioya MP Joseph Kamotho, former Cooperative Bank of Kenya chairman, Hosea Kiplagat, former Commissioner of Police Shedrack Kiruki and Maj-Gen Humphrey Njoroge.

Also named in the report was former Comptroller of State House John Lokorio who appeared as a beneficiary in settlement schemes in Nakuru District including the Nakuru/Olenguruone/Kiptagich extension.

Also in the same scheme is Mr Kiplagat, Mr Samson Cheramboss who once headed President Moi's security detail, former nominated MP Mr Mark Too, former Moi aide Joshua Kulei and former head of Presidential Press Service Lee Njiru.

Others named include former CID boss Mr Francis Sang,
former managing director of Telkom Kenya Mr Augustine Cheserem,
former minister William Morogo and Eldama Ravine MP Mr Musa Sirma and his wife.

Former MD of the National Cereals and Produce Board Major (Rtd) Wilson Koitaba, former land commissioner Mr Sammy Mwaita received 10 plots and the deputy governor of the Central bank Dr Edward Sambili was allocated 7 hectares. Mr Gideon Moi and his wife got the biggest chunk of 44 hectares.

Other beneficiaries are former PS Dr Nehemiah Ng'eno, Dr Julius Rotich who had been named as one of the anti-corruption authority assistant directors, another former PS Mr Mark Bor, Cooperatives PS Mr Solomon Boit, Deputy police commissioner Mr David Kimaiyo and the chaplain of Kabarak high school Rev Jones Kaleli.

Baringo North MP William Boit, director of Motor Licensing Simon Kirgotty, director of survey Mr H. H. Nyapola, security intelligence deputy director Mr Shukri Baramade and Administration Police commandant Kinuthia Mbugua also got land illegally.

Even after former Kitale Catholic Justice and Peace Commission Director, Father Gabriel Dolan, a year later told the Government to implement the recommendations of the Ndung'u Land Report, nothing has ever happened since.
Dolan was quoted by the Standard Newspaper (March 5, 2005) as saying the Government had promised to effect the proposals by the end of February, but this did not happen.

His suggestion that the Government should restore the faith of its citizens by immediately acting on the findings of the land report landed on the deaf ears. He wanted all grabbed and illegally allocated land should be repossessed and re-distributed to the landless instead of a few people managing all the land resources in the country when the larger population is landless.

* Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ, People for Peace in Africa (PPA),
Copyright © 2008 Fahamu. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

Kenya shilling holds steady vs dlr
Reuters South Africa, South Africa - 5 hours ago
NAIROBI (Reuters) - The Kenya shilling was stable against the dollar due to sustained demand for the greenback by importers, dealers said. ...

Kenya: National Bank's Profit Rises to Sh403m, Washington - 6 hours ago
The National Bank of Kenya has announced a 77 per cent increase in its first quarter pre-tax profit. The earnings, as at the end of March 2008, ...

Kenya: Odinga's Path is Littered With Landmines, Washington - 9 hours ago
The murderous sect remains a banned movement in Kenya whose activities are supposed to be either clandestine or non-existent. In the last one year, ...

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Quaker peace program in Kenya national paper - 5/12/2008

You know it's good when for over 2 weeks there is nothing tragic to report, and all the headlines in the news feeds are about sports!

But in reality, the problems are far from over for Kenya, and in particular for the IDPs (internally displaced people) still living with daily precarity & uncertainty in makeshift camps. The elements in Kenya can be harsh, with extremes of cold and heat, with downpours of rain, and with crowded conditions producing a public health nightmare of communicable diseases like cholera, typhoid and other diarrheal diseases. These have the worst impact on the youngest and oldest in the camps.

Meanwhile, ordinary Kenyans who managed to escape the worst of the violence are struggling against skyrocketing prices for essentials like food, fuel and transport--and trying to support a host of relatives who may have had homes burned, lost jobs due to the drop in tourism in past months, or young people thrown out of school for non-payment of fees... So all is not well in East Africa.

However, AGLI (African Great Lakes Initiative) has received great coverage in the Daily Nation, a newspaper read faithfully by virtually every literate soul in Kenya, and by the diaspora beyond. David Zarembka has passed on the text of the article and said it was mostly accurate, except that they are offering up to 20 (not 2) workshops in each location mentioned.

Kudos and hats off to AGLI and the team of facilitators providing the training in AVP (peace-building) and the HROC (trauma-healing) workshops. See below the section of the article in orange for more on AGLI in Kenya's Daily Nation!

More news & analysis appears below the Nation article.

Mary Kay

Leaders accuse state of hurrying settlement drive to please the US

Publication Date: 5/11/2008

The home-bound internal refugees have had mixed fortunes.

While many had a warm reception in places such as Molo, the same cannot be said of other areas in the Rift Valley.

The icy relations that sparked the flight from their homes in the aftermath of the election dispute last year are stillmanifest in some areas.

Many say they fear returning home to live with their “enemies”. Indeed, some have told the government to resettle them elsewhere.

Largely unplanned
Special Programmes minister Naomi Shaaban, who is playing a key role in the settlement drive, has assured the displaced families that no one will be forced to return home.

But some MPs from Rift Valley Province, which was mostly affected by the violence, argue that the programme is being implemented in a hurry, and is largely unplanned.

They say that although they embrace the return of the IDPs, there is need for reconciliation first before settlement.

The MPs, Franklin Bett (Buret), Julius Kones (Konoin) and Isaac Ruto (Chepalungu) want the government and other groups to be involved in a reconciliation programme that will help people live in peace.

The leaders argue that the most important thing now is to reconcile the people instead of using the provincial administration to force the IDPs’ neighbours to welcome them back home.

They say armed police escorts and more police stations in the violence-hit areas will not help reconcile the people.

Mr Bett says he is for planned and not “false” resettlement of IDPs.

“Resettlement,” he says, “must be in a manner that will give us a permanent solution. That solution is first through reconciliation, development of forgiveness between communities and reawakening of the spirit of love among the people. That will make resettlement meaningful.”

“I will not be party to false resettlement,” he told the Sunday Nation on telephone.

Mr Ruto accuses the government of hurrying the programme to please the international community, especially the United States.

“The government is in a hurry to remove an eyesore so the international community can give it accolades. It is what we call in Parliament playing to the gallery.“

"The government wants to be in good books with the international community,” he says.

The MP says the government should involve local political, religious and civic leaders in the province. It should also respect the wishes of the IDPs.

“We MPs from the region are ready and willing to provide leadership for reconciliation,” he told the Sunday Nation at Parliament Buildings. “The IDPs,” he says, “are in anguish. They are scared to go back home. It takes two to tango. They should feel happy and safe. There is need for reconciliation." [NB: Interestingly, Mr Ruto has been accused by many of fomenting and perpetuating the post-election violence & ethnic cleansing with "hate speech" and funding the militias that attacked minority communities.]

Conflict resolution
“The provincial administration should not be involved in reconciliation. They are very poor in conflict resolution. To them, reconciliation is force.”

He suggests that sociologists be involved in any programme to help heal the wounds among the affected people.

“University of Nairobi should provide experts to address the issue. This should be done after a proper census to identify genuine IDPs. We may be dealing with professional IDPs.” [ !!! ]

He also wants a solution to unemployment among the youth “to avoid a new cycle of violence.”

Mr Kones says settlement needs proper planning.

“People need to be resettled, but there is no proper planning. Let there be a process. Let people get to know why they are going to live together,” he says.

“The reconciliation process should have started first, where we bring together elders from different communities. This looks like a forced resettlement. I feel most (IDPs) were caught off-guard,” he says.

The MP says the underlying emotive issues, including land, should be addressed to find a lasting solution to ethnic conflicts. The land problem, he says, was compounded by the high rate of unemployment among the youth.

The government and the other organisations involved in the programme may need to borrow a leaf from the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) of the Friends Peace Teams, a non-governmental organisation which organises reconciliation workshops in Rwanda to help heal the wounds among the perpetrators and survivors of the genocide in the country in 1994.

The workshops, dubbed “Healing and Rebuilding our Communities (HROC)” have helped reconcile Rwanda’s main ethnic groups, Hutu and Tutsi, following the genocide that left nearly one million people dead.

AGLI was founded by David Zarembka, an American. Its main office is in St Louis, Missouri. However, Mr Zarembka operates from Lumakanda in Lugari District where he lives with his wife Gladys Kimunya. Mr Zarembka is also AGLI’s coordinator and the organisation has started reconciliation programmes in Western and Rift Valley provinces.

AGLI says on its website that it plans to conduct more than 100 basic and advanced workshops in various communities, many of which will involve young people who were involved in much of the violence.

They will cover Bondo in Nyanza Province; Takatifu Gardens in Shinyalu, Lumakanda, Kakamega, Lugari District,and Vihiga District in Western Province; and Ndalu in Rift Valley Province.

“Each site will have up to two [correction: 20] workshops so that each area can be adequately impacted.”

AGLI is reportedly supporting reconciliation efforts on the border between the Kipsigis (Rift Valley Province) and the Kisii (Nyanza Province) where more than 30 people were killed and where hundreds of homes, a school, and numerous businesses were burnt down.

Mr Zarembaka seems to be doing what Bett, Kones and Ruto are agreed on: making efforts to reconcile communities.

“I have been at a meeting since Thursday with the Friends Church Peace Team determining how we are going to meet with the IDPs—Luhya and the Nandi in Turbo, Mwamba and Kipkappen River near where I live in Lumakanda. These were all hard hit. There are still 4,000 unhappy IDPs at the Turbo Police Station,” he told the Sunday Nation via email on Saturday.

Kenya: What Country Should Learn From Brown's Blunders

Business Daily (Nairobi)
OPINION11 May 2008

Posted to the web 12 May 2008
George Ogola


In a country as administratively centralised as the UK, local council elections are usually a political sideshow. Not so for this year's May Day elections which effectively became the mock primaries for the 2010 national elections for the two main party leaders, Labour's Gordon Brown and the Conservative's David Cameron.

The May Day elections have been fiercely fought around the country with Labour suffering humiliating defeats. Overall, the Tories built a 20-point lead over Labour. The London mayoralty, iconic in many ways was also won by the Conservatives with Boris Johnson's victory over Ken Livingstone sealing Labour's annihilation.

The May Day local elections and the manner in which they have defined the national agenda over the last couple of days in England point to their added import in shaping national politics. Indeed, it appears that at a time when voters feel increasingly alienated from the decision making processes at the national level, they can easily send clear warning signs to national politicians through the local vote.

Labour supporters have over the years felt their party was moving away from its traditional working class constituencies. Its defeat in the local elections could be explained as much on this disconnect and thus as a protest vote against the party, but also as a sign that the Tories are making in-roads with the working classes.

Like Major, Brown seems to have forgotten that a party stands on quicksand if it fails to retain the loyalty of its traditional support base. For Cameron, the Conservative white-wash is likely to install him as a frontrunner come the next elections. However, the party's failure to make in-roads in the North of the country will undoubtedly raise doubts over Cameron's preparedness to lead the country.

Some are already beginning to explain the party's performance more on Labour fatigue rather than a shift of support to the Conservatives. Cameron has come out to emphasise that this was not merely a protest vote, indeed an indication that it may very well be the case.

The two leaders are different. Brown, the consummate economist has found the political train a terribly rough ride since succeeding Tony Blair. He has consistently failed to show neither mettle nor charm during his short reign, playing into Cameron's strengths. A performing economy has always been the PM's only political weapon.

But as the world goes through an economic downturn, Brown's weapon has effectively been negated. Food and fuel prices are shooting through the roof in England.

Meanwhile, the housing market is tumbling with house prices falling while mortgages are increasingly becoming unaffordable to first time buyers. The collapse of the bank Northern Rock and the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the US have all worsened the housing market in the UK.

Even though fate has played its part, Brown has also been his own worst enemy. Obstinate but oblivious of the fact, he has made several political miscalculations forcing U-turns on a number of policies which have exposed his brittle authority.

His recent admission which was effectively a U-turn on the effects of the abolition of the 10p tax ignited a backbench rebellion against him and most likely a voter backlash during the local elections.

He is now facing another monumental vote as he attempts to push to the House of Commons, a proposal to increase the detention of terror suspects to 42 days. Under Brown, Labour has moved away from its traditional political roots.

While under Blair the party still seemed capable of charming the working classes, Brown has been bullied by a powerful tabloid media and a cunning Cameron to move right.

For this reason, the country now has a voting block cut loose from the party and effectively forced to protest against that alienation. When the influx of Eastern Europeans into England became a political hot potato, Brown swallowed the bait, talked about creating British jobs for British people perhaps imagining that not many people were aware that this was against EU regulations.

Recently on the popular Today programme, he manufactured numbers about the number of children he had taken out of poverty.

When the withdrawal of troops from Iraq became a headline agenda, Brown talked about troop withdrawals quoting numbers that were later exposed to have been deliberately fudged.

To save his career and party, Brown has to find out where the rain began to beat him. To do so, there's need to publicly acknowledge past mistakes and to reconnect with the masses, a skill that former Etonian Cameron seems to do with enviable ease.

But there are lessons here for Kenya's political class. Against the background of the controversial presidential elections and the subsequent cabinet fiasco, there are indications that the disconnect between our political class and the masses, never ruptured during the elections, will no doubt come to boil.

Indeed, the warning signs are slowly emerging. During the recent Labour Day celebrations, President Mwai Kibaki faced the ignominy of a crowd walking out on him when he claimed that economic conditions could not allow for the pay rise that the workers were asking for.

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He might be right. But then again, when Kenyans see a Cabinet Bill that runs into hundreds of millions of shillings all in the name of political expediency, to expect them to add up the sums at a time when such a Cabinet seems to make a mockery of the global economic slowdown, would be to expect too much.

Yet, this may well be a pre-cursor to more turbulent times. Like Brown, fate may very well conspire against the current government. A number of by-elections are on the cards. They may very well be the harbinger for what may await the principals in the coming months. In politics, such warnings must be taken seriously.

Dr. Ogola teaches at the University of Central Lancashire.

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Kenya: Orengo Must Tackle Land Hoarding, Washington - 3 hours ago...
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But there are lessons here for Kenya's political class. Against the background of the controversial presidential elections and the subsequent cabinet fiasco ...

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