Monday, January 28, 2008

Kenya Update: More Killed as Toll Rises; Rival Given Roadmap; Role of Media, etc.

10 burnt alive as toll rises

Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 1/28/2008

At least 10 people were burnt alive and three others stoned to death as violence sparked by the outcome of the December General Election spread to Naivasha Town.

And in Nakuru, one more person was shot dead by attackers in Ponda Mali in the violence which has taken an ethnic angle. More than 10 people are admitted to the Provincial General Hospital with arrows lodged in their bodies.

This brings to 82 the number of those killed in Nakuru and its environs in the past two days. Other sources put the toll in Nakuru at 100.

Fourteen 14 bodies were Sunday collected from the town and its suburbs. The Nation counted 68 bodies at the local government mortuary from the weekend violence.

The 10 arson victims, mostly women and children, were burnt inside a house at Kabati estate in Naivasha Town. They had locked themselves in the house to escape the violence. Since dawn, marauding youths had taken over the town, barricading roads and terrorising motorists on the main Nairobi-Nakuru highway.

A man was pulled out of an Akamba bus headed for Kisumu and hacked to death in Naivasha. The youths, who demanded that motorists identify themselves, said they were avenging killings of their kinsmen in other parts of Rift Valley.

Uneasy calm

In Uasin Gishu, more houses including a chief’s camp were torched.

An uneasy calm returned to Nakuru Town where 53 people were killed on Friday and Saturday.

The latest killings come as the Kenya Red Cross warned that the humanitarian crisis facing the country was running out of control.

Secretary-general Abbas Gullet said the organisation was facing logistical difficulties in reaching hundreds of needy victims because they could not access some areas where roads have been blocked by marauding gangs.

In Nairobi, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan met ODM leader Raila Odinga and his team and put in place modalities for negotiations. Mr Annan handed President Kibaki and Mr Odinga the agenda of the peace mission in the country, the terms of reference and asked each of them to quickly name three leaders to the negotiators’ table.

And four Central Kenya MPs accused the Government of failing to deal firmly with those instigating the violence that has since claimed up to 1,000 people with thousands displaced while property worth billions has been destroyed.

Rivals given roadmap to peaceful end

Kenya Daily Nation

Mediation efforts to end the political crisis in which hundreds of people have been killed entered a crucial stage Sunday when President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga were handed proposals of a roadmap to a peaceful solution.

On Sunday evening, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan sent the feuding sides documents specifying the terms of reference, the agenda and options of reaching a solution that is agreeable to both sides.

Mr Annan met Mr Odinga and his team at Serena Hotel to inform them of the new stage in the dialogue, having passed on the same message to President Kibaki at State House on Saturday afternoon.

Briefing the Press, ODM Pentagon member Musalia Mudavadi said: “We have met Mr Annan and he has told us that at the end of the day, he would be availing (sic) to us the documents on the principles of engagement, the agenda and the line we will pursue in seeking a solution to the crisis.”

Mr Annan, he said, had also asked each side in the political dispute to name a team of three negotiators and a liaison officer for the key stage of agreeing on the peace deal.

It marked the second score by the mediation team that includes former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and Mrs Graca Machel — former South African First Lady — in their quest to broker a peaceful deal between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga.

“We believe that the measure of progress seems imminent and we, in ODM, want to ensure that Kenya gets a peaceful solution,” said Mr Mudavadi.

Just three days after flying into the country last Tuesday, Mr Annan succeeded in bringing together President Kibaki and Mr Odinga for talks at Harambee House where they shook hands and appealed for calm and peace in Kenya.

Make hard choices

The terms of reference and the agenda of the negotiations are normally drawn after the facilitators have considered the proposals placed on the table by the sides in the dispute. Input from religious leaders, civil society, opinion leaders and foreign envoys is also considered.

The Annan-led team has kept up with those demands and has met all the parties concerned.

The former UN boss took some time off his busy schedule on Saturday and toured Molo and Cherang’any. He came back and described the situation on the ground as heart-wrenching.

He immediately urged leaders from both sides to be prepared to take hard decisions in order to restore order and stability in the country.

Mr Annan also said the ongoing violence had gone beyond the disputed presidential elections.

A top officer in Annan’s team told the Nation that a number of issues had been presented for consideration, among them the issue of leadership in the country.

President Kibaki and the reconciliation team led by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka are understood to have, among others, stated that ODM ought to recognise that the Head of State was the duly elected President and that a legitimately constituted Government was in place. They also want ODM leaders, who they accuse of being behind the violence, to publicly condemn the killings and urge their supporters to end the chaos.

The Kibaki team further questioned the failure by their rivals to move to court to challenge the President’s re-election and has proposed to the mediators that only the courts of law can declare that the President was in office illegitimately.

In addition, they have ruled out a power-sharing deal and a rerun of the Presidential elections. On the other hand, ODM have demanded that President Kibaki accept that he lost to Mr Odinga in the elections.

Once that has been achieved, they have proposed that President Kibaki resigns to pave way for a rerun of the presidential elections.

Their last option involves an interim government where they would share power in line with a formula to be determined by each party’s strength in Parliament as they await for fresh elections.

However, Mr Mudavadi said that ODM was ready to make hard decisions that would end the violence that has now assumed new dimensions. “We have stated that we are committed to finding a peaceful solution, which means that we are prepared to make hard decisions,” he said.

However, those hard decisions could be hampered by ODM’s demand that ODM Kenya, whose leader is the VP Musyoka, be excluded from the talks.

ODM secretary-general Anyang’ Nyong’o stated that the negotiations are between PNU and ODM only. “We are negotiating with PNU whose leader is Mwai Kibaki. Kalonzo Musyoka is the head of ODM-K and whatever arrangements he has with PNU, are his own. The election crisis is between ODM and PNU,” he said.

He wants Mr Kibaki to ensure that Mr Musyoka does not get close to the negotiations table with ODM because he has no stake in the dispute.

“Anybody naming a coalition team must confine it to the two parties. We want to negotiate with the principals and not surrogates. Kalonzo must realise that,” he cautioned.

The VP heads the reconciliation team that includes Cabinet ministers Martha Karua, George Saitoti, Moses Wetangula, Samuel Poghisio, Ali Chirau Mwakwere, Attorney General Amos Wako and Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo.

By Sunday evening, both sides were sizing each other up as they waited to study the proposed roadmap before appointing their teams to the negotiations table.

Groups urged to end media drives

Kenya Daily Nation

Rival political camps should stop media campaigns trying to justify their positions regarding the December 27 elections, business executives said Sunday
The executives drawn from various institutions and companies said the campaigns were only exacerbating the crisis.

“In fact all campaign materials should be pulled down as part of the healing process. The Electoral Commission of Kenya should equally stop its media campaigns trying to justify its position. This is not adding value to the negotiations,” said Mike Macharia, the Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC).

The business community has now moved away from counting losses to active participation on how to end the crisis, having met the Kofi Annan-led mediators on Sunday to state their position on the way forward.

The business group called for a power sharing arrangement, maintaining that it was the only option President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga have to sort out the crisis.

“This power sharing arrangement must be a path to lasting peace, emerge from agreements between PNU and ODM, their respective parties and coalitions. It has to be an agreement that should provide for immediate resettlement of displaced persons,” said the chairman of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Steve Smith.

The community also called for a new constitution, truth and reconciliation as well as justice and amnesty processes.

Others at Sunday’s press briefing included Kanja Waruru from the Media Owners Association, Lucy Karume chairperson of KAHC and Samuel Mwaura the CEO of Kenya Private Sector Alliance.

Expressed concern

The others were Vimal Shah the KAM Vice Chairman, Wangui Muchiri CEO of the Nairobi Central Business District Association and Keli Kiilu representing the Informal Sector East African Forum and an advocate of the High Court, Philip Murgor, who was giving them legal advice.

Annan, however, did not share with the group what the two protagonists stand for in the process, and only expressed concern about the violence which continued to claim human lives.

The business leaders condemned the ongoing killings which they say have evolved from the disputed election into criminal acts.

End ban on live news, says group

Story by KENYA DAILY NATION Correspondent

A human rights group Sunday demanded the lifting of the ban on live broadcasting of political events.

Release Political Prisoners said the ban is against the principles and values of human rights, democracy, open governance and the rule of law.

RPP said in a statement that since the ban, Kenyans have suffered as they cannot access timely and accurate information on what is happening around them.

Fuel tension

“As a human rights organisation, we have witnessed a lot of tensions, fears, intimidations and anxiety mixed with state of hopelessness engulfing many parts of the country as media keeps on being banned from having live coverage of the events as they unfurl,” read the statement signed by the group’s executive coordinator Stephen Musau.

The statement added that Kenyans were yearning for the truth, something that cannot be realised with prohibition of live coverage of events.

It further warned that the continued ban would only confirm that the Government is against Kenyans knowing what is going on and has no measures to reunite Kenyans, adding that it would only serve to fuel tension in the country.

EAC market in limbo as Kenya still burns

Kenya Daily Nation

As a post-election crisis continues to grip Kenya, the East African Community may be encumbered from establishing a common market by its target date next year.

Dr Ibrahim Msabaha, the minister for East Africa Cooperation, said on Thursday that Kenya must stabilise before the EAC can continue to make progress in integrating economies.

“No meetings can be planned for now to push the agenda,” Msabaha said. “Instead the region is concentrated on making sure the crisis ends soon.”

The EAC has set June 2009 as the target date for ratifying the Common Market Protocol, with the expectation of launching the common market officially in January 2010.

At a one-day council meeting in Arush on Monday, Mr Msabaha said ministers from member countries demanded regional cooperation in beginning negotiations on the Common Market Protocol on July 1, as scheduled, with the intention of concluding and drafting the protocol by December.

“As we know, the negotiations will cover free movement of people, goods and services,” he said, adding that every member state must address some issues highlighted in its country, not just Kenya.

But analysts say due to the election aftermath in Kenya, the establishment of the common market may be delayed or even fail to form altogether.

When fully formed, the EAC Common Market will be a regional integration bloc that will boast a combined population of 90 million people and a total gross domestic product of more than US$30 billion.


Kibaki and Raila must act to save Kenya

Story by NATION Correspondent

The fresh tidal wave of deaths and violence, mainly witnessed in Nakuru and Naivasha, is clearly pointing to an ominous dimension the political turmoil is taking. At the close of Sunday, at least 72 people had added to the grim statistics of Kenya’s bloodbath.

What we are witnessing is not just raw anger triggered by irregularities in the presidential poll tallying. Even if it was, the crisis has taken a life of its own and there is no knowing how bad it will get. For when armed gangs descend into an estate and hack people to death and get away with it, or when youths surround a monastery hosting displaced people, burn hostels and hold priest and other occupants hostage for hours, then we cannot talk about the rule of law. And not when armed gangs can block the Nairobi-Nakuru highway and cause mayhem in broad daylight as they did Sunday.

Reports from the Rift Valley illustrate one eerie fact, that the Government has lost control of some of this country. The police is overwhelmed and the provincial administration, as we know it, cannot even fathom the depth of the crisis. That the Government had to bring the military to help restore sanity in Nakuru and combine that a dusk to dawn to curfew underlined that things have got out of hand.

The humanitarian tragedy attending to this is not within the scope of Kenyans’ comprehension. Never in our history did we ever imagine that this country would disintegrate and rapidly go to the dogs right under our watch. Such stories were best left to the TV episodes from other parts of the continent.

But all is not lost. We still have time and chance to redeem this country and stem the losses and further bloodshed and misery. This is why we reinforce the strong message mediator Kofi Annan delivered to President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga; the two must make hard and tough choices. They must quickly agree to resolve the political stalemate by eschewing their hardline positions. What more must happen to convince the two principals at the heart of the poll dispute that the country is collapsing and that they stand to lose everything they are haggling over so fiercely.


Elections alone wont save our institutional problems

Publication Date: 1/28/2008

If you were to ask one of the many women and children living in refugee camps or across the border in Uganda whether the solution to their problem is another election, I will bet anything that their answer will be a resounding “NO”.

Some of them have been quoted saying that no election is worth the rape, pillage, killing and displacement of human beings.

Economists and businesspeople have been quick to estimate the economic losses emanating from the disruption of economic activities after the elections. We are told that the economy has lost more than Sh60 billion in revenue in the last month and that nearly half a million people are now unemployed because of layoffs and losses in various sectors, including tourism, the tea industry and the retail business.

But who is counting the emotional and social cost of loss of life, rape and displacement? While our male leaders are fighting it out for the top position in the country, our women and children are shedding tears of blood.

WOMEN AND CHILDREN COMPRISE the majority of refugees and internally displaced people because while men fight it out with pangas, bows and arrows and guns, women run for safety to protect their children.

Kenyan women and children are bearing psychological scars that will take years, if not generations, to heal. Rape and defilement are becoming rampant both inside and outside the camps.

Many women and children are too tired, too weak and too scared to report these cases, which means that an upsurge in deadly diseases, such as HIV/Aids is a real possibility. Trauma experienced by these women and their children is likely to affect their emotional state for years to come.

Children in some parts of the country are no longer going to school, which means we are creating another generation of disgruntled unemployed youth.

Meanwhile, our male leaders are treating the whole affair like a football match, in which they are the main strikers who will make their team win. The international mediators are seen as referees who, in the case of a draw, will issue them with extra time or a penalty shootout.

But what we are witnessing is not a football match. Extra time gained through prolonged mediation could mean more loss of life and rape of innocent victims.

Like the displaced woman in Rift Valley, who told a reporter she would not bother voting again because she was sick of moving every time there was an election, I am sick of voting in people who don’t care if I live or die once they acquire the coveted presidency, and who don’t say a word to reassure me that they are doing everything in their power to restore peace in the country.

Kenyans don’t need another election – not under the current political dispensation anyway.

As John Githongo (former Ethics permanent secretary) rightly pointed out in a recent interview with the BBC, whoever is declared president will not have a comfortable job because he will have to accept that his presidency was acquired at the expense of hundreds of lives.

Who would want to rule over a country that is in mourning? How can a president declare himself victorious when he knows that his victory was gained through the blood and tears of innocent people?

More importantly, what is the point of such a victory if the presidency is acquired in an environment where there are no constitutional provisions in place to ensure that the victor will not abuse his powers, and will not perpetuate past injustices?

If you ask me, our priority as a nation is not to elect a new president, but to change the constitution so that when elections are next held, whoever wins will not be able to abuse the powers bestowed on him, and will have to act in the interests of all Kenyans, not just the interests of a small elite belonging to his ethnic group.

THE REFERENDUM IN 2005 CLEARLY showed that Kenyans want a significant – not a cosmetic – change in the constitution.

They want land reforms, they want equitable distribution of resources, they want a say in the way the country is governed. Why do we not use the next few months to pass the constitution through Parliament and to make significant changes in our archaic laws and institutions?

As Father Gabriel Dolan, a priest based in Mombasa, so aptly pointed out in Nation, the only viable and realistic option right now is to “endorse a power-sharing transitional government, whose chief mandate would be to complete the constitutional review within 18 months and pave the way for elections”.

We cannot have elections in a situation where injustice and inequity are entrenched in our laws, in our institutions and in our constitution.

Only when the laws, the institutions and the constitution provide for fairness and justice can another election have any meaning.

Ms Warah is an editor with the UN. The views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.

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