Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Kenya News Bulletin: Ban Lifted on Live Broadcasts; PNU Rejects Ramaphosa; Solution Not About Kibaki or Raila


Kenya lifts ban on live broadcasts

Tue, 05 Feb 2008

The Kenyan government lifted on Monday a ban on live broadcasts imposed over a month ago as violence erupted over the outcome of a hotly-contested presidential election, the information ministry said.

The government said the ban was in the "interest of public safety and tranquillity" when it was announced on 30 December following the re-election of President Mwai Kibaki which the opposition says was fraudulent.

The government saw footage of the violence as potentially inciting revenge attacks.

"The minister for national security... has revoked the directive and consequently the suspension is lifted with immediate effect," Bitange Ndemo, the information ministry permanent secretary said in a statement.

Kenya has been mired in violence following the disputed 27 December elections, which has claimed more than 1000 lives and displaced between 250 000 and 300 000 others.

Despite mediation talks headed by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan, the violence has shown no signs of ending with more than 70 people killed over the weekend in western Kenya.

Media watchdogs have called on the government to lift the ban, while a local editors guild has sued the government.


PNU rejects Ramaphosa as negotiator

Kenya Daily Nation
Publication Date: 2/5/2008

The Government has rejected South African businessman Cyril Ramaphosa as a mediator in talks to end the month-long political crisis.

But the talks continued under former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

The Government, represented by ministers Martha Karua (Justice and Constitutional Affairs) and Sam Ongeri (Education), and Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo, argued that Mr Ramaphosa was a close ally and business associate of ODM leader Raila Odinga. PNU also said Mr Ramaphosa helped fund Mr Odinga’s presidential bid in last year’s General Election, a claim he denied.

Soon after, Mr Ramaphosa, who arrived in the country on Friday, announced he had withdrawn from consideration as a mediator and that he would return to South Africa.

Mr Odinga had on Friday denied any business links with Mr Ramaphosa and challenged any one with evidence to produce it.

“Those are wild and unfounded allegations. I have no business or personal relationship with Cyril Ramaphosa, whatsoever,” he said.

Mr Ramaphosa had been proposed as the chief mediator, to stand in whenever Mr Annan is unavailable.

The morning session of the negotiations was temporarily stopped as Mr Annan and Mr Ramaphosa held talks before the announcement of the latter’s withdrawal.

Several key diplomats were also at Serena Hotel, Nairobi, where the talks between PNU and ODM are going on and sources said they were keen to ensure the dialogue continued smoothly.

The negotiations had picked up momentum, giving Kenyans hope of an end to post-election violence that has left nearly 1,000 people dead, and 300,000 displaced.

Last Friday, PNU and ODM negotiators, known as Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation team agreed on key issues that could help ensure return of peace and stability in the country. They include an end to violence and restoration of human rights, addressing humanitarian problem, healing and reconciliation.

Leaders from various political groups, it was agreed, should hold rallies to promote peace. Police were also directed not to use live bullets on unarmed civilians in unjustifiable circumstances.

The issues referred to as short-term were to be addressed within 15 days since the talks were launched while long-term ones including legal, land and constitutional reforms, would take about a year.

PNU representative

ODM is represented at the talks by former Vice-President Musalia Mudavadi, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Aldai’s Sally Kosgei and Ugenya’s James Orengo.

Sources said Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula had also joined the talks as the fourth PNU representative.

The negotiations were to enter a crucial stage yesterday by discussing how to overcome current political problems and disputed outcome of last year’s presidential elections.

Mr Ramaphosa had earlier been accepted by both ODM and PNU and some of the documents the representatives signed contained his name.

Mr Annan said he hoped the withdrawal of the South African lawyer, businessman, politician and trade unionist, would not set back the ongoing dialogue.

“Kofi Annan this morning accepted with regret the withdrawal of Cyril Rampahosa, the South African businessman who was unanimously chosen by the Panel of Eminent Personalities to serve as the chief mediator in the Kenyan National Dialogue,” a statement from Mr Annan’s office said.

It added: “Ramaphosa told Annan that he was withdrawing his name for consideration for the post in the face of reservations by the Government/Party of National Unity.’’

Mr Ramaphosa denied doing any business with Mr Odinga.

“I do not do business with Raila Odinga. I don’t have any connections with him nor financed his campaigns. In Kenya I do business with people from all political parties,” Mr Ramaphosa later told journalists.

Complete confidence

Mr Ramaphosa said he could not function as chief mediator without the complete confidence of both PNU and ODM and he was thus to return to South Africa yesterday.

“My experience in Northern Ireland and South Africa convinced me that a mediator can be effective only when he has the full confidence and support of all parties... Unfortunately this is not the case.”

Widely respected as a skilful and formidable negotiator and strategist, Mr Ramaphosa is best known for building up the biggest and most powerful trade union in South Africa — The National Union of Mine Workers.

Between 1995 and 1997, he mediated the peace process in strife torn-Northern Ireland.

Annan: Kenya solution not about Kibaki or Raila

Kenya Daily Nation
Publication Date: 2/5/2008

Mediator Kofi Annan has warned that a resolution of Kenya’s disputed presidential poll will not be about individuals as the parties begun discussing crucial political issues today.

Speaking when he met company chief executives before today’s session of the talks started, Mr Annan said the mediation process between the Government/Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement will focus on building of strong institutions and not on individuals.

The Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation team which he is facilitating will be working on possibilities of coming up with a whole package whose key pillars will be land and constitutional reforms as well as ways and means to fight poverty.

“Resolving of the current crisis is not about individuals. It is not about Honourable Raila Odinga or President (Mwai) Kibaki but about strong institutions that will ensure the country will not have to return back to this kind of crisis every couple of years,” Mr Annan said.

Mr Annan said both PNU and ODM party leaders will be expected to mobilise their MPs to push the necessary legislation through Parliament.

He is optimistic that once this is achieved, the country will be able to move out of the current crisis.

Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph warned political leaders that there might be no country to govern or any businesses to tax if they do not work to ensure peace and stability in the country.

Mr Joseph called on Kenyans to exert pressure on their leaders to guarantee peace in the country.

The CEOs Forum organised by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and sponsored by both Safaricom and General Motors worked on a draft document that was expected to be presented to the major political parties and their leaders as well as the Dialogue and Reconciliation team as the way forward.

Kenya was thrown into a political crisis that has lasted over a month now when the December 27 presidential election was disputed with many observers describing the tallying of the votes as flawed. Though the Electoral Commission declared President Kibaki the winner, his opponent Raila Odinga of ODM accused the incumbent of rigging.

At the same time, both the PNU and the ODM have now formally added a negotiator each to the mediation process.

Foreign Affairs minister Mr Moses Wetangula joins the Government side with ODM has brought in Ugenya MP James Orengo.

Mr Annan welcomed the two to the talks at the start of today’s session in the morning, according to a statement by the spokesman for the process, Mr Nasser Ega-Musa.

Mr Ega-Musa also said the two other members of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities leading the National Dialogue, Graca Machel, the wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, and Benjamin Mkapa, the former President of Tanzania, are scheduled to arrive back in Nairobi today to rejoin the talks.

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