Sunday, January 06, 2008

Kenya Political Reports: Darkest Week; Economic Forecast; Country Profile, etc.

Kenya's darkest week

Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 1/7/2008

Seven people were killed in a shoot-out between police and raiders as Kenya marked the end of the darkest week since the country won independence in 1963.

Since Sunday, December 30, the country has been rocked by violence in the wake of a disputed presidential election after the Electoral Commission declared the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki the winner. ODM leader Raila Odinga rejected the results, saying the poll had been rigged.

The stand-off sparked protests in various towns that have claimed the lives of at least 300 people in the last one week and displaced thousands.

On Sunday, hundreds of families continued to leave their homes in volatile areas, especially in Rift Valley Province, for fear of fresh attacks even as religious leaders held peace prayers.

Displaced families

Nakuru Town, which has been hosting thousands of people fleeing from hot spots in Rift Valley, continued to receive hundreds of displaced families amid reports that some workers in Nyeri had sought refuge in police stations.

Some 3,300 people — the largest group so far — arrived at Nakuru showground from Burnt Forest and Nandi Hills in lorries.

The seven people were killed in Trans Nzoia when raiders attacked a police station where 3,000 displaced people were seeking refuge. The over 100 raiders killed two people at Kachibora Police Station in Cherangany at 5am, but police overpowered them and shot five dead.

In Kuresoi, another band of raiders burnt down a Presbyterian church and attempted to damage a Catholic church in Matunda farm. However, local elders prevailed upon the youths not to destroy the church.

And in Nairobi, ODM leader Raila Odinga rejected President Kibaki’s proposals for a coalition government. Mr Odinga said ODM wanted international mediation to defuse the crisis facing the country, even as the Government announced it had sent assistant minister Moses Wetang’ula to Ghana to brief President John Kufuor.

Mr Odinga and the international community want Mr Kufuor, the chairman of the African Union, to mediate between Mr Odinga and President Kibaki to find a political solution to the violence.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the President was for a government of national unity. He repeated the Government’s opposition to international mediation saying the crisis would be dealt with internally.

And the International Monetary Fund has warned that if the post-election crisis was not addressed, Kenya faced an economic catastrophe.

Supply disruptions

Managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said IMF was concerned that supply disruptions due to the violence had affected neighbouring countries.

As part of efforts to stop further attacks, police announced an additional 100 mobile telephone hot-lines to be commissioned this week.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme started sending relief food to displaced people all over the country and to slum dwellers in Kibera and Mathare. The groups in the slums are multi-ethnic and cut across the political divide.

The agency’s trucks left Mombasa port Sunday under heavy police guard.

President Kibaki and Mr Odinga have been urged to start dialogue to get the country out of the current impasse but the two are yet to meet.

Don't rush to name Cabinet, Kibaki told

Publication Date: 1/7/2008

ODM Kenya leader Kalonzo Musyoka Sunday told President Kibaki not to hurry in naming his Cabinet and, at the same time, discouraged international mediation as an immediate solution to the crisis in the country.

“The President should not name a Cabinet until people talk and agree on how to heal the wounds. International mediation comes in cases of armed conflict, but now we can talk to each other as Kenyans.

“I don’t want to be drawn into partisan interests before dialogue is given a chance. It is a fact that I talked to Raila and Kibaki and the message I sent out cannot make me irrelevant,” he said.

Mr Musyoka said ODM leader Raila Odinga and President Kibaki should talk and help resolve the stalemate which, he admitted, was caused by election malpractices.

“PNU and ODM strongholds witnessed massive rigging and nothing short of dialogue by Kenyans themselves will build the all-important path to peace,” he said.

The Mwingi North MP-elect said a presidential re-run would technically knock out President Kibaki because after being sworn in, it is obvious that he has served a second term.

Heightened anxiety

Speaking after a Sunday service at the Nairobi Baptist Church, Mr Musyoka insisted that his party only asked ECK chairman Samuel Kivuitu to release the poll results because of heightened anxiety.

He said nobody was a winner or a loser in the just ended elections since Kenyans voted overwhelmingly for all parties.

He urged youths to refrain from acts of violence or mass action and, instead, redirect their efforts to peace making.

Meanwhile, two parties supporting President Kibaki’s victory in the recent elections Sunday urged him to form a Government of National Unity.

The move, they said, would heal the wounds that have been brought about by the violence that followed the announcement of the controversial presidential results.

Ford Kenya and its off-shoot, New Ford Kenya, were unanimous in their call that all political leaders come together to end the fighting going on in the country.

Ford-K chairman Musikari Kombo, in a statement, said: “The Government of National Unity should be broad-based and represent the face of Kenya in order to satisfy the aspirations and wishes of all Kenyans.”

Mr Kombo said that it was only dialogue that could lead to the formation of such a government and urged leaders across the political divide to ask their supporters to end the violence.

New Ford-K’s Bonny Khalwale said there was no justification in the fighting because electoral irregularities were identified on both sides following the scrutiny of the votes scored by President Kibaki and Mr Odinga.

While international mediation was welcome, he said, it was up to the two leaders to begin talks which will lead to an atmosphere of peace in the country.

“One of the steps is to form a Government of National Unity,” he said.

President Kibaki has agreed to form a GNU which, he says, will represent the diversity of the Kenyan people.

However, Mr Odinga has said the GNU is not the answer to the electoral flaws and has demanded an international mediator to end the crisis.

IMF warns of economic doom

Publication Date: 1/7/2008

The International Monetary Fund Sunday warned that Kenya was facing an economic catastrophe if the current post-general election standoff is not addressed.

IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn also said the institution was concerned that supply disruptions due to violence in the country was affecting other countries in the region.

Some of the countries that are already feeling the pinch of the post-election violence are Uganda and Rwanda which heavily depend on the port of Mombasa for imports like petroleum, machinery and other products.

As a growing regional economic hub, Kenya is the transit point for one quarter of the GDP of Uganda and Rwanda, and one third that of Burundi.

“I very much hope that the political leaders in Kenya will quickly and peacefully resolve the current dispute over the election results.

This would open the way to further progress toward economic prosperity which could benefit all Kenyans,’’ said Mr Strauss-Kahn.

Economic reform

The fund was ready to support Kenya in its economic reform efforts.

The concerns were supported by economic analyst, Dr David Ndii, who said the political violence experienced in Kenya will be felt for a long time.

“It is important that there be political stability and confidence in the government of the day for the eroded investor confidence to be restored,” said Dr Ndii.

He said the notion that calm would restore investor confidence as argued by some politicians was misplaced.

Dr Ndii added that transit trade was a leading foreign exchange earner, apart from tourism and agriculture.

“With the chaos that has been witnessed in the country it will not be surprising if the landlocked countries look for alternatives other than wholly relying on Kenya for their essential commodities,” he added.

He said influential people who took part in the election fraud had done harm not only to the country but also to their businesses.

“Investor confidence will be fully restored once Kenya holds another election that is deemed to be free and fair, whether it is next month or after five years,” Mr Ndii added.

He said the cost of insuring buildings and infrastructure from political risks will skyrocket following the violence witnessed.

Mr Strauss-Kahn said the Bretton Woods institution had noted with sadness the violence that has caused the deaths of many innocent Kenyans in the aftermath of the December 27 elections.

“I offer my condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones to the violence and pay tribute to the people of Kenya who exercised their democratic and constitutional rights to vote. I note with concern that supply disruptions emanating from the developments in Kenya are affecting other countries in the region,’’ he said.

The IMF and local economists concerns come a few days after a statement issued by the donor community which said the country was losing Sh2 billion daily.

The joint statement, issued last week by the World Bank, Canada, Denmark, the European Commission, France, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, warned that the gains made in the past few years could dissipate due to the ongoing destruction.

Business confidence

“At stake is the pre-election Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of seven per cent, rising business confidence, increasing tourism, measurable progress in firm level productivity, significant gains in democratic development and the lifting of over two million Kenyans out of poverty,” said the statement.

The donor community said Sh40 billion–about five per cent of market capitalisation– was wiped off the value of shares when business resumed at the Nairobi Stock Exchange after the elections.

Raila demands negotiated deal out of deadlock

Publication Date: 1/7/2008

ODM leader Raila Odinga Sunday rejected proposals for a coalition government by President Kibaki.

Mr Odinga said the party wanted a properly negotiated settlement that will give a lasting solution to the political crisis facing the country.

The Langa’ta MP-elect said he would not agree to the terms laid down by the Head of State who, he claimed, did not win the elections.

“Kibaki should not offer us anything because he knows very well that he did not win the elections,” said Mr Odinga at the party’s headquarters.

We won elections

“In fact, it is us who should be inviting him for a coalition government because we know very well that we won these elections.”

Accompanied by a host of ODM MPs-elect, Mr Odinga claimed Mr Kibaki was simply continuing with the presidential mandate Kenyans gave him in 2002, which he added would soon come to an end. And, he added that he would only participate in talks with the President under the mediation of the head of African Union and Ghanaian President John Kufuor who was scheduled to jet into the country last night.

“If Kibaki is a true Catholic Christian, he should own up and accept in public that he did not truly win these elections, which were openly rigged in his favour,” he said at a press conference in Nairobi.

The ODM leader dismissed the notion that he was ‘power-hungry’, saying he was in no hurry to get to government.

“Appointing us to Cabinet positions will not solve the current situation. We are therefore in no hurry to get to a government that is illegitimate,” said Mr Odinga.

Peaceful protests

He declared that they would continue with their countrywide peaceful protests Tuesday until the President resigns.

In Nairobi, the party will yet again attempt to hold another rally at Uhuru Park grounds as other parallel rallies will continue at the Babadogo grounds, Kayole, Kawangware, and Kamukunji grounds.

ODM supporters, he added, are advised to put on white arm-bands to signify peace.

Mr Odinga at the same time appealed to the country’s security forces to desist from killing innocent Kenyans exercising their democratic right.

The ODM leader said that his party was not responsible for the paralysis of many sectors in the country. “Kenyans will not surrender until justice prevails,” he declared.

The ODM leader said the country now needed a truth justice and reconciliation body, which will help in the healing process after this crisis.

“There can be no justice without truth and no peace without justice. Kenyans must not be judged by such low standards as the President wants.

“In fact, we should be equated with other western democracies like Italy and France,” he said.

The ODM team, led by Eldoret North MP William Ruto later attended a church service at the All Gospel Church Light house in Kayole before attending an inter -denominational prayer meeting at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi.

Country profile: Kenya

Situated on the equator on Africa's east coast, Kenya has been described as "the cradle of humanity".

In the Great Rift Valley palaeontologists have discovered some of the earliest evidence of man's ancestors.

In the present day, Kenya's ethnic diversity has produced a vibrant culture but is also a source of conflict.

After independence from Britain in 1963, politics was dominated by the charismatic Jomo Kenyatta. He was succeeded in 1978 by Daniel arap Moi, who remained in power for 24 years. The ruling Kenya African National Union, Kanu, was the only legal political party for much of the 1980s.


Politics: President Kibaki claimed victory after controversial elections in December 2007 and was sworn in for a second term in office

Economy: The economy has been recovering over recent years
International: Kenya has mediated in conflicts in Somalia and Sudan

Violent unrest - and international pressure - led to the restoration of multi-party politics in the early 1990s. But it was to be another decade before opposition candidate Mwai Kibaki ended nearly 40 years of Kanu rule with his landslide victory in 2002's general election.

Despite President Kibaki's pledge to tackle corruption, some donors estimated that up to $1bn had been lost to graft between 2002 and 2005.

Other pressing challenges include high unemployment, crime and poverty; most Kenyans live below the poverty level of $1 a day. Droughts frequently put millions of people at risk.

One of Africa's more politically-stable countries, Kenya has been a leading light in the Somali and Sudanese peace processes.

With its scenic beauty and abundant wildlife, Kenya is one of Africa's major safari destinations.

The lucrative tourist industry has bounced back following the slump that followed bomb attacks in Nairobi in 1998 and Mombasa in 2002. And in 2006 tourism was the country's best hard currency earner, ahead of horticulture and tea.

Full name: The Republic of Kenya
Population: 34.3 million (UN, 2005)
Capital: Nairobi
Area: 582,646 sq km (224,961 sq miles)
Major languages: Swahili, English
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 48 years (men), 46 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Kenya shilling = 100 cents
Main exports: Tea, coffee, horticultural products, petroleum products
GNI per capita: US $540 (World Bank, 2005)
Internet domain: .ke
International dialling code: +254

President: Mwai Kibaki

Political veteran Mwai Kibaki claimed victory in controversial presidential elections in December 2007. His swearing-in for a second term in office prompted a wave of unrest across the country.

His rival for the post of president, opposition candidate Raila Odinga, rejected Kibaki's victory and accused the government of rigging the result. International observers also expressed doubts about the poll, and called for an independent enquiry.

Kibaki subsequently said he was ready to form a government of national unity, a proposal which has received a lukewarm response from Raila Odinga. In the meantime, the UN says 250,000 people have been displaced by the unrest, which is also affecting the economies of neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda.

Mr Kibaki first came to power when he won a landslide election victory in December 2002, promising to fight endemic corruption and to address Kenya's economic woes.

His election victory marked the end of almost 40 years of Kanu party rule, and it was third time lucky for Mr Kibaki, who lost two elections in the 1990s. The constitution barred his predecessor, Daniel arap Moi, from standing. Mr Kibaki's National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) won a parliamentary majority.

Economic recovery has accompanied Mr Kibaki's leadership. Economic growth in 2006 was 6.1%, compared with 0.6% when he took over.

But despite the tough talk about graft, his government has become mired in a major corruption scandal. Former and current ministers have been implicated in an alleged scam involving shadowy deals and large sums of public money.

The president was thwarted over another key policy when voters rejected a proposed new constitution in 2005. Mr Kibaki had portrayed it as modernising measure; critics said the charter left too much power in his hands.

A respected economist, Mwai Kibaki served as finance minister and vice president in the 1970s and 1980s. He left Kanu in 1991 and founded the Democratic Party.

Mwai Kibaki was born in 1931 and hails from Kenya's largest tribe, the Kikuyu. He studied in Uganda and Britain before joining the push for Kenya's independence in the 1960s. He became an MP in 1963.

Kenya enjoys a more diverse media scene than many other African countries, with a large middle class providing a base for substantial advertising revenue. The Kibaki government came to power promising further media liberalisation, but some incidents since then have alarmed observers.

In 2003 there was a crackdown on unregistered newspapers. Months later, a court criticised the information minister for harassing the popular private radio station Kiss FM. Then in March 2006 armed police, acting on government orders, stormed the offices and presses of the Standard media group.

The raid shocked many Kenyans and alarmed Western donors. The government said the action was aimed at protecting state security.

There is a tradition of a relatively independent press, although newspapers often had to practise self-censorship during the era of Presidents Kenyatta and Moi. The print media is dominated by two major publishing houses, the Nation and Standard, both of which also have substantial broadcasting operations.

Most Kenyans rely on the broadcast media, particularly radio, for news. Until recently the liberalisation of broadcasting had a limited impact outside Nairobi but some private radio and TV networks now have wide coverage of much of the country. TV viewing is substantial, but few Kenyans are regular internet users, owing to cost and access problems.

Full-time FM relays of the BBC World Service are on the air in Nairobi (93.9), Mombasa (93.9) and Kisumu (88.1), and some BBC programmes are also rebroadcast by private Kameme FM. The Voice of America has an FM relay in Nairobi and Radio France Internationale is relayed on FM in Mombasa.

The press

Daily Nation - published by the Nation Media Group, the paper claims to have three quarters of the Kenyan newspaper market. It is widely regarded as being independent and balanced
The Standard - privately-owned daily, and Kenya's oldest newspaper
East African - English-language weekly published by the Nation Media Group

Taifa Leo - Kenya's only Swahili-language daily, published by the Nation Media Group

Kenya Times - Kanu party paper, daily

The People Daily - owned by veteran politician Kenneth Matiba

Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) - state-owned, channels in English and Swahili

Metro TV - KBC-operated Nairobi station targeting younger viewers

Kenya Television Network (KTN) - first TV station to break state broadcasting monopoly; available in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu
Nation TV - Nairobi-based, operated by Nation Media Group
Citizen TV - privately-owned
Stella TV (STV) - privately-owned
Family TV - Christian


Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) - state-owned, services in English, Swahili and 15 other indigenous languages
Metro FM - national music-based station operated by KBC

Coro FM - KBC-operated Kikuyu-language station in Nairobi

Capital FM - private, music-based
East FM - private, targets Nairobi's Asian listeners

Easy FM - operated by Nation Media Group, relays in Nairobi, Eldoret, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Nyeri
Kiss FM - private, music-based

Kameme FM - private, targets Kikuyu speakers in Nairobi and central highlands

Radio Citizen - private, also operates Kikuyu-language Inooro FM and Luo-language Radio Ramogi
Rehema Radio - private, Eldoret, programmes in Kalenjin
News agency

Kenya News Agency - state-owned, English-language

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/01/05 12:52:48 GMT

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