Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Kenya Political News: Kibaki Names 17 Cabinet Members; Uhuru Appointed Envoy; AU Chair Arrival Imminent, etc.

Kibaki names part of Cabinet

Story by NATION Reporter
Publication Date: 1/8/2008

President Kibaki has begun shaping up his new Government by naming the first half of his Cabinet.

The President also moved to bring the ODM-Kenya to his side by naming the party’s Kalonzo Musyoka to be his Vice-President.

In a televised address to the nation, the President appointed 17 ministers and said the rest will be appointed after further consultations.

In addition to Vice-President Musyoka, here is the full list of Ministers appointed:

1. Internal Security – Prof George Saitoti
2. Defence – Yusuf Hajji
3. Special Programmes – Naomi Shaban
4. Public Service - Asman Kamama
5. Finance – Amos Kimunya
6. Education – Prof Sam Ongeri
7. Foreign Affairs – Moses Wetangula
8. Local Government – Uhuru Kenyatta
9. Information and Communications – Samuel Poghisio
10. Water and Irrigation – John Munyes
11. Energy – Kiraitu Murungi
12. Roads and Public Works – John Michuki
13. Science and Technology – Noah Wekesa
14. Justice and Constitutional Affairs – Martha Karua
15. East Africa Cooperation – Dr Wilfred Machage
16. Transport – Chirau Ali Mwakwere

Kenya leader names new ministers

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki has named new ministers, just before Ghana's leader arrived as part of mediation efforts following disputed elections.

Mr Kibaki named Kalonzo Musyoka, who came third in last month's election, as vice-president but no-one from the main opposition party was appointed.

A BBC correspondent says the move could derail the efforts of Ghana's John Kufuor, who heads the African Union.

Violence broke out in opposition strongholds following the announcement.

Some 600 people have died in a wave of clashes across the country, after the opposition said the election had been rigged.

Raila Odinga, who claims that fraud robbed him of victory, has meanwhile said that he will not attend talks with Mr Kibaki on Friday, unless they are led by Mr Kufuor.

He says Mr Kibaki should step down and new polls be conducted.

In that context, the BBC's Adam Mynott in Nairobi says Mr Kibaki's move, in naming some members of his new cabinet, could be seen as a provocative act.


Residents of the western town of Kisumu say that three people have died in the latest clashes but local police chief Grace Kahindi denied this.

Kalonzo Musyoka: Vice-president, ODM- Kenya
Uhuru Kenyatta: Local government, Kanu
Moses Wetangula: Foreign affairs, PNU
Kiraitu Murungi, Energy, PNU
Martha Karua , Justice, PNU
George Saitoti: Internal Security, PNU
John Michuki : Road transport, PNU
Kisumu on Lake Victoria is Mr Odinga's home town and was the scene of serious fighting and violence last week, which left 100 people dead.

"The youth are unhappy with the announcement of the new cabinet, which they term as provocation," Joe Ojuang a local reporter told the BBC News website.

There are reports that fires have been started and property looted, while police have been firing over the heads of crowds of people on the streets.

Key posts

Mr Kibaki made the cabinet announcement in an address to the nation, which he recorded before going to the airport to welcome Mr Kufuor.

"In naming the cabinet, I have considered the importance of keeping the country united, peaceful and prosperous and a strong broad-based leadership," he said.

For this reason he was naming the first half of the cabinet.
Correspondents say the implication is that other cabinet posts are being left open for the outcome of negotiations.

However, they say it is the key ministries that have been filled, leaving 15 remaining posts.

The 17 cabinet members named include at least one other member of Mr Musyoka's party, as well as Uhuru Kenyatta, from the former ruling Kanu party.

Mr Musyoka's Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya split from Mr Odinga's party last year in a row over who should represent the party.

While many former cabinet members lost their seats in the parliamentary elections, Mr Kibaki has retained several close allies from his Party of National Unity (PNU).

They include Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi, who has previously been sacked as a minister over a huge corruption scandal.

'Gentle giant'

Mr Kufuor's trip was seen as a sign that there has been some progress on the meditation front as his visit last week had been blocked.

Ghana's Minister of Information Oboshie Sai Cofie said Mr Kufuor's role would be more as a facilitator than a mediator - someone to bring the two sides together in a more congenial atmosphere.

Mr Kibaki's aides say they is no need for official mediation - a key demand of Mr Odinga and his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

The BBC's West Africa correspondent Will Ross says Mr Kufuor is not someone to bash heads together - he is known as the "gentle giant" - and has helped negotiate during the conflicts in Ivory Coast and Liberia.

Meanwhile top ODM official William Ruto has said they will not recognise the new cabinet.

"The cabinet is null and void because President Kibaki did not win the election and we shall not recognise it," he told the BBC Swahili Service.

The ODM won a majority in parliament but does not have the two-thirds needed for a vote of no-confidence in the president.

Both sides have accused the other of ethnic-cleansing during a week of violence after Mr Kibaki was declared the winner.

Some 250,000 people have fled their homes in clashes between rival political supporters, ethnic groups and the police.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/01/08 17:03:50 GMT

End of turmoil in sight as AU boss jets in

Publication Date: 1/8/2008

A breakthrough in the country’s political turmoil has emerged with ODM calling off countrywide rallies and today’s expected arrival of African Union mediator John Kufuor.

An upbeat ODM leader Raila Odinga emerged from a meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer saying he had talked to Mr Kufuor, who chairs the African Union, and that he had assured him he was on his way to Nairobi.

And since ODM wants negotiations with President Kibaki to be held in a peaceful atmosphere, Mr Odinga said all rallies planned for today had been cancelled until further notice.

“After consultations, all the rallies called for tomorrow have been put off until further notice. We want the negotiations to kick off in a peaceful environment,” Mr Odinga said.

Protest rallies called by the party last week were stopped by police and today’s had also been outlawed.

Mr Odinga, who was accompanied by Eldoret North MP-elect William Ruto and Aldai’s Sally Kosgei said Mr Kufuor, who is also Ghana’s president, will facilitate efforts to bring him and President Kibaki together.

The negotiations, he said, were likely to start tomorrow.

Role in the talks

Mr Kufuor, the Lang’ata MP-elect said, was officially invited for the talks by President Kibaki, something ODM had been waiting for.

Mr Odinga said that Mr Kufuor would be accompanied by an AU team.

Asked what Mr Kufuor’s role in the talks would be, Mr Odinga said: “We are in dispute here and we want a facilitator who will sit and bring us together.”

Once Mr Kufuor is in the country, Mr Odinga said, ODM would spell out issues it wants addressed and they expect the Government to do the same.

“Through negotiations we expect to arrive at an acceptable position that will bring us together,” said Mr Odinga, who addressed a news conference at a house next to the US ambassador’s residence.

Mr Odinga’s two-hour closed door meeting with Ms Frazer was held at US ambassador Michael Ranneberger’s residence.

Mr Odinga said Mr Kufuor was expected to be involved in the crucial negotiations until an agreement to ensure sustainable peace in the country is signed.

The Lang’ata MP-elect denied rejecting the formation of a coalition government with President Kibaki, saying he was only against a government of national unity.

He, however, said it was he who should invite President Kibaki to the coalition, having won the December 27 presidential polls.

Mr Odinga welcomed the involvement of more people including South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Ms Frazer in the search for peace, saying “the more the merrier.”

Ms Frazer, he said, was an experienced negotiator having been involved in similar initiatives in countries like Ethiopia and Nigeria.

One of the options

The ODM leader proposed a presidential election re-run as one legal way of addressing the crisis facing Kenya.

“This is one of the options available for consideration. There are many ways of killing a rat,” he said.

Calling on Kenyans to avoid violence, Mr Odinga vowed to continue pursuing legal and peaceful means to ensure the “true” election results were respected.

“The issue here is not my future or Mr Kibaki’s future, but the future of Kenya’s and indeed Africa’s hard won democracy for which so many sacrificed so much,” he said.

Mr Odinga said there was no excuse for violence witnessed in parts of the country even if it was out of anger.

The situation, he said, was worse if the violence was perpetrated by organised groups like the Administration Police, and the outlawed Mungiki sect.

He said the change ODM wanted first included a united and peaceful Kenya where all can work and live without fear.

Uhuru appointed special envoy

Story by NATION Reporter
Publication Date: 1/8/2008

President Kibaki has appointed Kanu chairman Uhuru Kenyatta as special envoy to brief world leaders on the political crisis in the country caused by his election as president in a disputed win over ODM’s Mr Raila Odinga.

Mr Kenyatta, the Gatundu South MP-elect, was among four others Mr Kibaki appointed last week. The others are Foreign affairs minister Raphael Tuju, Education minister George Saitoti and Foreign affairs assistant minister Moses Wetang’ula.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said yesterday the envoys would visit several African states and brief their heads of state about “the genuine situation in the country,” instead of relying on the international media.

But asked to identify the specific leaders and countries included in the shuttle diplomacy, Dr Mutua told a media conference that there were several. He did not elaborate.

On Mr Wetang’ula’s weekend visit to Ghana to brief President John Kufuor about the developments in the country, the spokesman said he had not received the latest report.

President Kufuor doubles as the chairman of the African Union. His name has featured prominently as the most acceptable international mediator to chair talks between President Kibaki and ODM’s Mr Odinga, over the disputed presidential results.

The announcement and rigging claims have led to violent riots, almost 500 deaths and loss of property. Over 250,000 people have also been displaced.

“Mr Wetang’ula went and is now back. Ghana is not the only country where we have sent a special envoy. Uhuru, Tuju and Saitoti have also been sent to world leaders with special messages.”

Earlier, Dr Mutua addressed another media conference flanked by Police spokesman, Mr Eric Kiraithe and thanked ODM for calling off today’s banned rallies.

Police disperse Mombasa demo

Story by NATION Correspondent
Publication Date: 1/8/2008

A mid-morning lull in the streets of Mombasa was on Monday shattered when police clashed with about 60 peaceful demonstrators, most of them women.

The group led by Kisauni MP-elect Hassan Ali Joho, sang songs in praise of ODM leader Raila Odinga. They started their peace march at Kwa Shibu Mosque and had walked for about one kilometre when riot police led by Mombasa OCPD Wilfred Mbithi blocked them.

The police lobbed two tear gas canisters at the demonstrators, sending them scampering in different directions.

Mr Mbithi told Mr Joho to call off the demonstration because it was illegal, but Mr Joho did not budge. The OCPD said no demonstrations are allowed until the situation in the country returns to normal.

However as the police boss and Mr Joho exchanged words, the crowd continued chanting pro-ODM slogans.

Business on the busy Digo Road was briefly disrupted but after a short while shops re-opened and business resumed as usual.

Time to address issues honestly

Editorial From the Kenya Daily Nation
Publication Date: 1/8/2008

That the ODM has called off the rally scheduled for Nairobi and protests in other major towns today, might be a welcome indicator that the key protagonists in the post-election stand-off are about to begin talking.

Mr Raila Odinga specifically stated that the protests were cancelled so that negotiations can be held in a calm and peaceful atmosphere.

President Kibaki had, in earlier statements, said that he was ready for dialogue, but only if the violence first ceased.

It is indeed welcome if both sides are abandoning intransigent positions and edging towards the negotiation table.

It is quite clear that there has been intense diplomatic pressure on both President Kibaki and Mr Odinga, who must both realise that the problem facing Kenya goes far beyond the issue of which of them deserves to be the legal tenant at State House.

Kenyans, with their cries for reason, and the international community, with its clout, must continue to pressure the two and their respective sides to engage in genuine dialogue.

Any negotiated settlement must take into account that this is now not simply the question of determining who rightfully won the presidential elections, or creating the conditions for another speedy election.

While securing the peace must be paramount, that will only be achieved in the long term with a comprehensive settlement that seeks to resolve many social, economic and political issues, some going back to history.

Any short-term solution, that deals only with the elections or an immediate political settlement, will probably address the symptoms rather than the underlying causes.

It might also only provide for a temporary calm before an even more devastating storm. It is important that all sides agree there are very serious problems that need to be addressed.


Pan-African News Wire said...

ELDORET, Kenya 8 January 2008 Sapa-AP


The Catholic bishop of one of the towns worst hit by the ethnic clashes sparked by Kenya's political crisis charged Tuesday that the attacks against President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu people appeared well planned and organized.

Bishop Cornelius Korir spoke in western Eldoret, scene of a fiery massacre of Kikuyu that was part of violence that erupted when Kibaki was announced the winner of Dec. 27 elections.

Eldoret and surrounding areas have seen an exodus of Kikuyus since. The violence across the country has killed some 500 people.

"The way the attacks were managed seems to me ery organized," Korir said as U.S. envoy Jendayi Frazer toured the region Tuesday. "No, it did not seem spontaneous to me ... It seems it was well planned."

He did not elaborate.

Kibaki's government also has charged the attacks were orchestrated, and both sides have traded accusations that the violence amounted to genocide or ethnic cleansing.

On Monday, Frazer rejected that, saying "We would not agree that what has happened - even the worst of what has happened - has been a genocide."

Earlier this week, Frazer had won an offer from Kibaki to form a unity government, and his rival Raila Odinga then said he was willing to drop demands that Kibaki resign and was willing to discuss sharing power.

On Monday, Kibaki invited Odinga to his official residence for a meeting Friday.

Diplomatic attempts to keep the momentum going intensified Tuesday, with the chairman of the African Union due to arrive and U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama - who is of Kenyan descent - called Odinga late Monday or early Tuesday, said Odinga's spokesman, Salim Lone.

"He called to express grave concern over the election outcome," Lone told The Associated Press. "He also said he was going to call Mr. Kibaki."

Three former African heads of state arrived Tuesday, saying they would tour troubled slum areas.

"It's like seeing a neighbor's house on fire," says Mozambique's Joachim Chissano, leader of the presidential delegation. "We are shocked by the events."

Frazer, the top American envoy to Africa, says the vote count at the heart of the dispute was tampered with and both sides could have been involved.

"Yes, there was rigging," Frazer told The Associated Press in an interview Monday in Nairobi.

"I mean there were problems with the vote counting process." She added: "Both the parties could have rigged."

She said she did not want to blame either Kibaki or Odinga.

Kenya's electoral commission chairman Samuel Kivuiti has himself said he is not sure Kibaki won, though the chairman officially declared Kibaki the winner in the closest presidential election in Kenya's history.

The U.S. intervention appears to be having an effect on the crisis. Kenya is crucial to the United States' war on terrorism.

Kenya has turned over dozens of people to the U.S. and Ethiopia as suspected terrorists, allows American forces to operate from Kenyan bases and conducts joint exercises with U.S. troops in the region.

The U.S. also is a major donor to Kenya, long seen as a stable democracy in a region that includes war-ravaged Somalia and Sudan. Aid amounts to roughly US$1 billion a year, said embassy spokesman T.J. Dowling.

Frazer said the violence "hasn't shaken our confidence in Kenya as a regional hub."

The violence has marked some of the darkest times since Kenya's independence from Britain in 1963, with much of the fighting degenerating into riots pitting other tribes against Kibaki's Kikuyu, long dominant in politics and the economy.

An official in neighboring Uganda said 30 fleeing Kenyans were thrown into the border river by Kenyan attackers, and were presumed drowned.

Two Ugandan truck drivers carrying the group said they were stopped Saturday at a roadblock mounted by vigilantes who identified the refugees as Kikuyus and threw them into the deep, swift-flowing Kipkaren River, said Himbaza Hashaka, a Ugandan border official. The drivers said none survived, Hashaka said.

A statement Monday from the Ministry of Special Programs put the death toll at 486 with some 255,000 people displaced from their homes.

The toll, which did not include the drownings at the border, was compiled by a special committee of humanitarian services set up by the government which extensively toured areas most affected by riots.

Pan-African News Wire said...

From the January 09, 2008 edition -http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0109/p06s05-woaf.html

Kenyans forced to flee violence find ways to cope

Plans for key talks toward a political solution to Kenya's post-election crisis fell through Tuesday. Meanwhile, 250,000 have been displaced by ethnic violence

By Rob Crilly
Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
Kericho, Kenya

Geoffery Karanja knew the column of smoke was coming from his house as he looked back over his shoulder on his way to the market.

He raced back to his simple timber home to find an angry mob armed with machetes and bows and arrows shouting and dancing outside.

"My wife was still inside," he says. "She had been cooking and was caught unawares. No one could get in to rescue her because these people kept us from getting close."

Mr. Karanja's wife was one of more than 500 people to die in ethnic clashes that spread across Kenya in the wake of the disputed Dec. 27elections.

The spasms of violence have stopped, but longstanding ethnic animosities in East Africa's most stable and prosperous country have been piqued like never before.

Now – as diplomats step up efforts to get populist opposition leader Raila Odinga and incumbent President Mwai Kibaki to agree on a political way out of the crisis– members of Kenya's economically and politically dominant Kikuyu ethnic group are on the run.

A steady stream of buses and trucks packed with Kikuyu families has been snaking out of towns in the western Rift Valley, where the violence has been most severe, taking them home to their ancestral homeland farther east.

The United Nations estimates that more than 250,000 people have been displaced so far.

Efforts for a political solution took a hit Tuesday when Mr. Odinga, who claims that Mr. Kibaki stole the tightly contested election, rejected bilateral talks.

Odinga said he would attend negotiations only if they were mediated by African Union chairman John Kufuor, who arrived on Tuesday. But Kibaki did not invite Mr. Kufuor to the talks, which had been hailed by a range of foreign diplomats as a breakthrough.

Odinga called off nationwide protests to allow time for mediation to work, but says they will resume if it fails.

As the standoff deepens, people like Karanja are left to fend for themselves.

For now, he is camped in a bedraggled field next to the police station in the Rift Valley town of Kericho with hundreds of other Kikuyus who have lost their homes or businesses.

"I am ready to leave," he says, sitting with his daughter next to the dusty pile of possessions that he managed to salvage, "but we have no way to get out."

Kericho's tiny morgue is crammed with 32 bodies from a week of killing.

One corner of town is nothing but a blackened ruin where Kikuyu-owned stalls used to stand.

Samwel Sangolo, who also lost his home, says many Kikuyus had been expecting trouble.

"It was overdue. It was coming," he says. "The election is an excuse. They want us to go home and not make any money from our businesses."

The Kikuyus have long been prominent in the Kenyan economy.

Many other ethnic groups are suspicious of a business acumen that has seen them spread across the country from their central Kenyan homelands, opening shops, restaurants, and factories as they go.

"You can't trust the Kikuyus. Good riddance," spits one local in Swahili as he walks past the field where hundreds of families are camping in the open.

Threats and rumors of fresh attacks continue to swirl around the town set amid the rolling hills of Kenya's tea plantations.

The Red Cross estimates that about 10,000 Kikuyus have been forced from the town so far.

Richard Barchok, chairman of the local branch, says thousands have already left for family villages farther east but thousands were still camped in the center of town, close to the security of the police station.

"We have people who have lost everything," he said. "These people need total help – food, shelter, water, sanitation, everything."

Much of Kenya has been returning to normal this week. The roads are filling with traffic and shops and offices have reopened.

Many ordinary Kenyans seem to have little energy for more protests and clashes. After a Christmas break extended by a week of violence they are eager to get back to work and start earning money.

But that is not an option for the steady flow of people leaving Kericho.

Margaret Bosiri has been sleeping under the stars waiting for a ride home since last week.

She had to watch as hundreds of attackers armed with bows and arrows swept through the farm where she lived.

"They followed me into my house with [machetes]. They took all our valuables – radio, chairs, even the mattress," she says.

The gang piled up her cushions in the center of the house, doused it with fuel, and set her little house ablaze.

She fled with her children to a church in the center of town, where they now sleep on a tiny patch of grass.

"I will return when things are normal," she says, "but I don't know when that will be."

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