Friday, February 29, 2008

Kibaki makes a logical choice (and avoids military action)

But he had precious little options, didn't he? Ok, the "historic" power-sharing deal is now in the bag. So?

Forgive me if I sound a bit sceptical but honestly, we all know Kibaki—his record speaks for itself; he who once compared the clamour for multi-party to "cutting the Mugumo tree with a razor blade". The same Kibaki who trashed the MoU with LDP as soon as he was comfortably seated in State House, all the trappings of power at his beck and call. The same Kibaki who blatantly stole the 2007 Presidential Election, disenfranchising millions of Kenyans and effectively setting the country back a whole 17 years, not to mention the misery he has visited on the hundreds killed and thousands displaced as a direct consequence of this thoughtless act. The same Kibaki who now sits as a pretender to the throne. I'm sorry; I trust Kibaki only as far as I can throw him. I will start my celebrations only when a Constitutional amendment is in place to secure the gains made so far. It is good to note at this point the cautious congratulatory message from the US after the signing, with it's allusion to the "implementation" being "crucial", sentiments carefully repeated by Kikwete. It was tantamount to saying "We are still watching y'all... just try and make one false move!" But more about that later.

“We have a deal,” mediator Kofi Annan said. “Compromise was necessary for the survival of this country. They kept the future of Kenya always in their sights and reached a common position for the good of the nation.” The truth is that, not unlike the General Election and the disastrous Referendum, Kibaki has lost again. The truth has come to conquer, and never again will the country be at the mercy of selfish individuals. Apparently, the deal stipulates the office of an Executive Prime Minister and the sharing of cabinet posts based on each party's strength in parliament, as well as two deputy prime ministers; one for each side of the coalition. Did I hear someone say "Bomas Draft"? Also on the cards is a comprehensive review of the constitution, a 45-year-old relic Kenyans have been pushing to change since the 1990s because it gives the president nearly unchecked authority over the affairs of state. Oh, the joys of stealing an election!

Speaking after the signing of the document, the People's-President-turned-the-People's-Prime Minister was eloquent: "We have opened a new chapter in our history, from the era of confrontation to the beginning of cooperation," he said. "We should begin to ensure that Kenyans begin to celebrate and love each other, that we destroy the monster that is called ethnicity." So please step up, ODM, and take up your rightful place in the grand scheme of things.

All that said and done, what "magic key" did Kikwete carry with him to the mediation, after several prominent Africans failed so miserably, and Annan was on the verge of throwing in the towel and going home? Remember that in one of my earlier posts I alluded to a solution being found, come what may, and that the onus of an agreement has passed over our leaders? My sources reveal that Kikwete came armed with a special message from the Americans. You will remember that after dabbling momentarily in Kenya, Condoleeza Rice jetted straight to Dar es Salaam, where Bush and Kikwete were on high gear, prescribing a solution to the Kenyan crisis. This prescription is what Kikwete came to deliver to the recalcitrant Kibaki. So, are we a "sovereign nation"? You tell me. Another straw that broke Kibaki's back was Condoleeza Rice. Yes, the big woman from America, whose equal is not Martha Karua; or even Kibaki for that matter. We have reliably learnt that before jetting out to Dar es Salaam to meet with Jakaya Kikwete and Dubya, she laid it squarely on Kibaki, leaving absolutely no doubt in his mind that he would be held personally responsible if the Annan-led talks came a cropper. So what message did Kikwete bring? Plain and simple: "the planned military action is now ready to roll, Mr. 'President'. This is your last chance to save yourself." There are whispers that it was to be carried out under the auspices of the AU (whose new chairman is none other than Kikwete himself) and that Tanzania had a pivotal role to play in it. Now we all know why Kibaki and his hard-liners suddenly and uncharacteristically thawed out. Can somebody tell me where John "Rattlesnake" Michuki has been? Haven't heard from him for a while...

Which brings us to the story everyone is missing: what does the success of the mediation now bode for Traitor-in-Chief Kalonzo Musyoka? For him, recent developments could not have come at a worse time; what with him having been to Uganda just this week, for a mission only he and Kibaki (and now M7) know about. With all the dissent and party wrangles going on in his backyard, he has his hands full. And with the prospect of losing a job and being rendered irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, his self-destruction could not have come at a better time. At least he got a chance to taste the vice presidency, even if he's set to break the not-covetable record of "shortest-lived vice presidency"... he got more than his 600,000 odd Presidential votes entitled him to.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Uganda performs Africa's first ear implant

A team of American and Ugandan doctors have carried out the first surgery in Africa to implant a device and restore the hearing of a patient at Mulago Hospital, Kampala.

David Nuwagaba, 23, from Kiruhura district, suffered a chronic infection that left him deaf almost two years ago. But thanks to Cochlear, a US-based company that manufactures implantable hearing devices, his dream of going to university might come true. On Tuesday, a team of American specialists and nurses, assisted by Ugandans, carried out an operation to restore his hearing free of charge.

The surgical procedure took two hours. An incision was made in the skin behind the ear where a special ‘cochlear’ device was implanted. The device enables somebody to decipher sounds ranging from speech, telephone calls, running water and the chirping of birds, explained Thomas Roeland, an Associate Professor at the New York University School of Medicine, who headed the team. The cochlear forms the inner ear, which transmits sound waves through cells that pick the vibrations which are transmitted to the brains.

The implanted cochlear device replaces the part of the damaged inner ear. It receives sound signals and sends them to the nerves, skipping the non-working parts in the ear. The American experts were assisted by Dr. Michael Awubwa, the acting head of the Ear, Nose and Throat department at Mulago Hospital.

Meanwhile, at least 9 million Ugandans, out of a population of 29 million, suffer from some form of mental disorder, and are not fully productive, it has been revealed. The disorders include; post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, epilepsy and schizophrenia.

The ailments disrupt peoples' thinking and emotions, relations with people, daily functioning -and this often results in an inability to cope with the ordinary demands of life. This was revealed yesterday by Dr Fred Kigozi, the director of Butabika Mental Hospital. He was speaking at a symposium to mark the World Mental Health Day in Kampala. "The number of citizens in Uganda who are moving from normal to abnormal status is increasing. Several studies have shown that 20-30 per cent of the Ugandan population suffer from common mental disorders," he said. He added that mental illnesses are mainly caused by stress due to poverty, lack of employment, alcohol and other pressures on people's lives.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Obama parries Clinton offensive at crunch debate

Democrat Hillary Clinton threw some sharp jabs at White House rival Barack Obama in their final debate before crucial primaries, but Obama parried the blows to score some hits of his own.

The former first lady came out fighting at the debate late Tuesday, which was billed as her last chance to derail Obama's stunning momentum heading into the nominating clashes in Ohio and Texas on March 4. Clinton accused the Illinois senator of copying the scare tactics of health insurers and Republicans in attacking her healthcare plan, and once again portrayed him as a political neophyte unprepared for foreign policy crises.

But Obama, 46, counter-punched with the argument that Clinton had betrayed a critical lack of judgment on the Iraq war, and insisted that he was best placed to take on Republican heir apparent John McCain. "I still intend to do everything I can to win, but it has been an honor, because it has been a campaign that is history-making," Clinton, 60, said at the end, pointing to the prospect of the first female or black president. Obama said Clinton would be "worthy as a nominee" and would be a "much better president than John McCain," but that he himself would be better at healing America's political wounds.

The emollient tone at the debate's close was in sharp contrast to much of the 90-minute encounter in Cleveland, with the New York senator berating the "false, misleading and discredited information" in Obama's campaign literature. His leaflet on her plan for universal healthcare read "almost as if the health insurance companies and the Republicans wrote it," she said as the freshman senator, seated close by, shook his head.

Clinton pressed Obama to go further in condemning the anti-Israel leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan. "I would reject and denounce," he said, drawing laughs. Jabbing back, the man bidding to be the first African-American president took aim at Clinton's campaign theme that because of her long experience in Washington, only she was ready to be commander-in-chief on "day one." Clinton was part of the Washington crowd that "had driven the bus into the ditch" by voting for the war in Iraq, said Obama, who opposed the invasion from the start. "And the fact is that Senator Clinton often says that she is ready on day one, but in fact she was ready to give in to (President) George Bush on day one on this critical issue."

The candidates also sparred over trade and how best to pursue Al-Qaeda in Pakistan, while Clinton denied her campaign was the source of a photograph published on the Drudge Report website Monday showing Obama in Somali garb. They did find agreement in commenting that Russia's first deputy prime minister Dmitry Medvedev would essentially do the bidding of outgoing leader Vladimir Putin if elected president on Sunday.

The stakes were high for Clinton heading into the 20th and possibly last Democratic debate of this extraordinary primary season, with a clutch of polls suggesting that her support from Democrats nationwide is collapsing. But she failed to land a knock-out punch, drawing boos at one point for a sarcastic criticism of the MSNBC moderators that implied the media was giving Obama a free ride.

New York Times political analyst Adam Nagourney noted that Clinton grabbed every opportunity to try to undermine Obama's readiness for the Oval Office. "Yet by the end of the night, there was little evidence that Mrs Clinton had produced the kind of ground-moving moment she needed that might shift the course of a campaign that polls suggest has been moving inexorably in Mr Obama's direction for weeks," he wrote, echoing other pundits.

In a debate last week in Texas, Clinton had been expected to go on the offensive, but only unleashed a few poorly received attacks before ending on a valedictory note. This time, she was far more aggressive with her White House dream on the line heading into next Tuesday's battles in Ohio and Texas, following 11 straight victories for Obama.

Obama rode a head of steam into the Cleveland debate, as national polls suggested Clinton's support was dwindling fast and as newspapers reported infighting among her campaign staff. A CBS News/New York Times survey gave Obama a 54 percent to 38 percent lead among Democrats nationwide. A USA Today poll had him up 51 percent to 39 percent nationally among Democratic voters.

People's President calls off Thursday's mass protests

The Orange Democratic Movement has called off rallies slated for Thursday which aimed at pressurising the government for a speedy resolution of the political impasse.

The ODM postponed the countrywide rallies, which called for the re-opening of Parliament, so that it can pass laws in support of the resolutions of the Kofi Annan led mediation talks. ODM leader and People's President Raila Odinga announced the rescheduling of the rallies following a request by former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan so that not to jeopardise the talks. "I would like to announce now on behalf of the movement the postponement until further notice any kind of action intended for tomorrow," Raila said at Pentagon House in Nairobi. Speaking after a meeting with Annan and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, Raila who was flanked by Pentagon members Musalia Mudavadi, Najib Balala and Charity Ngilu said ODM was committed to the negotiations and will ensure it succeeds. Annan appealed to Raila and ODM not to proceed with the mass action.

The chief mediator said the National Dialogue and Reconciliation was at a critical stage of negotiations and that solutions to the crisis must be reached at the negotiation table. The rallies had raised fears countrywide that they could result in fresh violence and lead to deaths and destruction of property. The party, which enjoys a majority in Parliament, and whose pollsters have rated as most popular in the country, had given President Kibaki seven days from last Wednesday to convene Parliament to discuss and pass laws to back recommendations of the Annan talks for smooth implementation. The rallies were also meant to protest what party secretary general Anyang Nyong'o termed as slow pace of the month old talks and the party added it had notified police as required that it will be holding them.

The party has accused rival PNU of undermining the talks, often changing goal posts, lack of seriousness and buying time as it consolidated its leadership. PNU which has since denied being a stumbling block in the negotiations condemned the planned demonstrations. Previous mass protests by ODM supporters over the disputed last year's presidential election results were outlawed by police, who lobbed tear-gas canisters at the defiant demonstrators, shot at, injured and killed some of them. Mkapa called for patience as PNU and ODM negotiators looked for a solution to the crisis that has left more than 1,000 people killed and 300,000 displaced.

Annan had set a deadline of 15 days since January 29 for ODM and PNU negotiators to agree on short term solutions to crisis. Disagreements between the negotiators and hardline positions have however hampered the talks success as at a time when the teams were discussing how to resolve the disputed last year's presidential election results. The teams are divided on the creation of a Prime Minister position, the holder's functions and powers.

Nyong'o responds to an alleged ODM strategy document circulating on the web

The Democratic Party (DP) Secretary-General, George Nyamweya swore an affidavit on 11th January 2008 submitting a document called ‘Executive brief on the positioning and marketing of the ODM presidential candidate’ as evidence of ODM having prepared the post-election mayhem in advance. I am supposed to have been at the center of this diabolical arrangement. IT IS A LIE, PURE AND SIMPLE. Conceived in September last year by PNU, ignored by us then as a worthless endeavor, it continues to be spread via the internet to tarnish my name. I am now compelled to dismiss it following Nyamweya’s attempt to lend it credibility.

The unfortunate current state of our nation requires that every bit of effort should be directed only at the single most important course – finding lasting peace that will return this nation to the path of prosperity for all. Peace, as we in ODM have said many times since the beginning of this current crisis, and indeed in earlier days, will only be realized when the full truth is told and justice is done. No justice can be done if we allow our political culture to be driven by baseless propaganda.

But there are people like Nyamweya given to distractive and dangerous gossip and rumour mongering which know no bounds of times and conjectures in the history of our country. Such are the people responsible for producing this document. It bears the word ‘confidential’ and the date of 8th September 2007. The intention of this desperate propaganda material is cheap and clear. It is crafted to hoodwink Kenyans that the ODM campaign strategy in the last elections entailed the use of violence and whipping up ethnic tensions alongside other aberrations in decent politics.

This is neither the first nor the only output from the ‘dirt unit’ of the forces pushing against the people’s popular drive for change under the leadership of the ODM. Yet it is the mention of the names of individuals in the party leadership as well as other known personalities in various sections of the Kenyan and international society that compels us to set the record straight. Never mind that the authors of this fabrication had no capacity to even establish the correct full names and titles of some of the public figures named in this disgusting failure of political intrigue.

The contents of this fabrication are at variance with the facts of the ODM campaign strategy as well as the events and entities involved in our campaigns. For instance, as Secretary-General of the party, I did not attend any meeting of a party organ on 8th September 2007. On that date, as the records in my office will show, there was no party organ that met as alleged in the document. Moreover, any inspection of all ODM campaign material will reveal nothing close to this dirty language.

This weak arsenal from the enemy’s armoury must be dismissed as a futile attempt to defend the indefensible. It is the work of persons who live under the illusion that truth and fiction are indistinguishable in politics. These are people who continue to live in an island of self denial. They are unable to rise above their prejudices and help us build democracy in our nation.

Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Annan mediation dies in the water, it's back to the streets on Thursday

NAIROBI - The search for a political settlement out of the post election crisis stalled after the Government side walked back several steps, changed positions on issues already agreed and threw the talks into a spin. To illustrate its point, the Government side roundly disowned an earlier document that reflected common ground with ODM on a number of divisive issues in a power sharing arrangement. It had suggested a closing of ranks between the feuding groups and offered a ray of hope to millions of Kenyans desperate for a solution out of the crippling crisis.

When the talks resumed after an eventful weekend break, PNU made it clear it was no longer interested in sharing power. Last night, the task of making the hard choices appeared to lie with bandit president Kibaki and people's president Raila Odinga. "I believe that the Panel of Eminent African Personalities working with the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation has done its work. I’m now asking the party leaders, Hon Raila Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki to do theirs," a statement issued by Dr Kofi Annan, the lead mediator at the talks after meeting both leaders, read.

Worded in a manner that left no doubt as to the depth of his disappointment, the statement intoned: "After four hours of intense negotiations this morning, the negotiating team made almost no progress toward reaching an agreement on governance, despite the fact that they had the entire weekend to consult on their positions". Before suspending the talks on Monday, the UN-backed mediator said he had concluded the teams were incapable of resolving the outstanding issues. It was also unclear what time, if at all, the talks will resume today after scattering at lunch time Monday.

Meanwhile, the threat of mass action looms large after ODM Secretary-General Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o formally notified the Commissioner of Police Maj-Gen Hussein that the party shall hold nationwide peace meetings on Thursday.

Kenya's Traitor-in-chief on a recognition-begging visit to Uganda

KAMPALA - President Yoweri Museveni yesterday held a meeting with Kenyan "vice-president" Kalonzo Musyoka at State House Entebbe, during which they discussed the progress of the talks between Kenya’s government and the opposition. “He came in on Sunday to meet President Museveni. They have met today (Monday) at Entebbe State House for a briefing on what is happening in Kenya and how far the peace talks have gone,” said state minister for foreign affairs Isaac Musumba.

The Media Centre director, Fred Opolot, explained that Musyoka was sent by President Mwai Kibaki to deliver a message. The meeting was in the context of consultations among the East African Community member states on the political situation in Kenya, he added. Museveni, the chairman of the East African Community, travelled to Kenya last month in a bid to mediate between Kibaki and his rival, Raila Odinga, who claims that victory in the December elections was stolen from him.

Museveni proposed a power-sharing deal between Kibaki and Odinga, a proposal which was later adopted during talks mediated by former UN boss Kofi Annan. Both sides also agreed on the creation of a prime minister – Odinga – and two deputies. Issues still being discussed are the sharing of cabinet positions on a 50/50 basis, the proposal to give the prime minister more powers, the holding of general elections if the coalition collapses and entrenching the political deal in the constitution.

Musyoka was in Kigali, Rwanda and Tanzania last Friday on “solution-finding visits”. Earlier, he visited the UK and the US to explain his government’s efforts to resolve the political crisis, that has left at least 1,000 people dead and 300,000 displaced.

Sarkozy in hot water after vulgar insult

PARIS - Political allies of French President Nicolas Sarkozy rushed to his defence on Monday after he came under fierce attack for insulting a critical bystander at the annual Paris agriculture fair.

Sarkozy, who is in freefall in the opinion polls, triggered the umpteenth uproar of his nine-month presidency at the weekend when he snapped at a man in the crowd who had refused to shake his hand. "You soil me when you touch me," the anonymous man says on a video of the clash that spread quickly on the internet. "Then get lost, pauvre con," Sarkozy replied, using a strong insult which roughly translates as "pathetic arsehole" and literally refers to female genitalia - the sort of language that could spark a bar room brawl in certain neighbourhoods.

Opposition politicians and the French media joined forces yesterday to denounce Sarkozy, saying that as head of state he should be setting a better example to the nation. But ministers said the insult should not be blown out of proportion. "He spoke man to man, that's all. You shouldn't be surprised about this," Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier told Europe 1 radio. "The president is a spontaneous man, direct and quite modern in his behaviour." Higher Education Minister Valerie Pecresse said it was a fleeting moment that should not be taken out of context. "It was an act of irritation in a crush of people and should not fuel any controversy," she said.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ban Taylor for life

Wenger wants taylor kicked out for horror tackle

Furious Arsene Wenger called for Birmingham's Martin Taylor to be kicked out of football for this horror tackle which broke Arsenal star Eduardo's leg. The striker's career hangs in the balance after Taylor made a sickening third-minute lunge which earned him a straight red card in the 2-2 draw at St Andrew's. And Wenger stormed: "Taylor should never play again. People will say he is not the type of guy who does that. But it is like a guy who kills only once in his life. There is still a dead person."

Arsene Wenger went to war with Alex McLeish over the horror tackle that broke Eduardo's leg. Wenger accused Birmingham defender Martin Taylor of deliberately trying to injury the striker and said his third-minute tackle was "unforgivable". But Brum boss McLeish hit back, claiming it was an unfortunate accident and insisted Taylor is "not a dirty player".

Worried Gunners chiefs fear Brazil-born Croatian Eduardo, 25 tomorrow, sustained a sickening compound fracture of his fibula and tibia in Taylor's horrendous lunge. The 12-goal hitman underwent surgery in Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital and was detained overnight. Furious Wenger stormed: "The injury is the result of a very bad tackle. It is not forgivable. The first impression is that it is very, very bad. We are talking about the end of the season at least but it could be more serious. This guy (Taylor) should never play again. People will say he is not the type of guy who does that. It is like a guy who kills one time in his life. There is still a dead person. It is absolutely horrendous. You watch the tackle and say the guy has played the ball. It is not acceptable. If we accept that, it has to stop."

"It goes along with the idea that to stop Arsenal you have to kick Arsenal. We knew that kind of thing would happen one day. We have experienced a few horrendous tackles since the start of the season. I knew that would happen one day. We have to fight against all that. I am not qualified to go into detail but the news is that it is very bad. When you see that tackle again, the first worry is not to play the ball. The first worry is to play the man first and go down on the shin to play the ball after. We were affected 100 per cent by the injury. It had a big effect on us."

Wenger later withdrew these comments saying: "It was a highly emotional afternoon and we were all shocked by the injury to Eduardo," said Wenger. "On reflection, I feel that my comments about Martin Taylor were excessive. I said what I did immediately after the game in the heat of the moment." As soon as Eduardo went crashing to the ground, his Arsenal colleagues realised the horrific nature of his injury and called for immediate help as ref Mike Dean waved a red card at Taylor. Midfielder Cesc Fabregas was visibly sickened and striker Emmanuel Adebayor clasped his hands together in prayer. Other players turned their heads away in horror. Eduardo received treatment on the pitch for seven minutes and was given oxygen as paramedics and Arsenal physio Gary Lewin attended to him.

McLeish said he did not want to engage in a slanging match with Wenger but jumped to Taylor's defence. The Scot said: "I don't want to comment on what Arsene Wenger has said. Over the years Martin Taylor has never been a dirty player. Eduardo was just too quick for him. "After the game a microphone has been thrust into Arsene's face and managers react like that sometimes. That's up to Arsene what he says.

"I have just seen the tackle on television and it is on his ankle. It is not high. It is not on his shin or his knee. "Martin Taylor is distraught — not with the sending-off but with the player's injury. "I thought he had mistimed his tackle. You see millions of tackles like that in the Premier League. If you slow them right down they can look horrendous. I thought the referee reacted to the injury rather than the tackle. "I said before the game we don't have the type of play in us to be physical. "Look at the size of Arsenal's players compared with ours. We have lamented the fact that we are quite a small team who have conceded a few set-piece goals. We are not physical in any shape or form. We had to get close to Arsenal and not let them play their fantastic passing game."

Birmingham officials later issued a statement expressing their sympathy for the Eduardo injury. It said: "The club are saddened that a fantastic game of football has been marred by a serious injury to the Arsenal player Eduardo. "Martin Taylor is adamant there was no malicious intent in the tackle and is deeply upset by the extent of Eduardo's injury. The club and Martin Taylor would like to send best wishes to Eduardo for a speedy recovery." Birmingham's 10 men nicked a point through James McFadden's penalty in stoppage time. The Scot had opened the scoring with a free-kick before Theo Walcott's double put Arsenal ahead.

Fresh dispute over PM deal

The illegitimate Government and ODM on Sunday differed over the number of concessions made so far in the talks aimed at ending the post-election political crisis.

Leaders from both sides accused each other of failing to cede the necessary ground to pave the way for a coalition between PNU and ODM. The deal is expected to heal the wounds caused by the crisis sparked by the disputed presidential elections. On Sunday, the Government team denied press reports that only one issue was standing in the way of a political settlement. "We have noted with grave concern a growing trend of misleading reports on the progress of the mediation talks. We want to make it clear that there are issues which we have agreed upon and there are others that are still on the negotiations table at Serena (Hotel)," said Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Martha Karua, the leader of the Government team at the talks.

Earlier, Eldoret North MP William Ruto had said only one or two issues were yet to be agreed on.

But Karua, who was accompanied by Cabinet ministers Moses Wetang'ula, Sam Ongeri and Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo at a press conference at Harambee House, said the PNU and ODM negotiators had agreed on the creation of the post of prime minister and his two deputies. She also said the responsibilities of the prime minister had been agreed on. "The prime minister will coordinate performance of Government ministries and perform any other roles assigned by the President."

The third issue that had been agreed on was how to dissolve the coalition.

Karua said the mediation team agreed that the coalition will stand dissolved either at the end of the life of the 10th Parliament; or if the coalition parties agree in writing or when the top organ (the national executive council) of one of the parties decides to pull out of the arrangement. "All others issues are still under negotiation," she said. "We have been holding our consultations and we will get to the negotiations table tomorrow (Monday) with clear instructions," she said.

She was referring to the sharing of Cabinet slots between PNU and ODM; the proposal to give the PM more powers; holding of a General Election if the coalition collapses and entrenching the political deal in the Constitution. "We wish to clarify that there is as yet no agreement on these issues," Karua said.

However, ODM said the mediation talks had cleared the majority of the issues and the remaining items touched on enhancing the PM's position and entrenching the agreement in the Constitution. "There are only one or two issues that are yet to be agreed upon and one has to do with how the deal will achieve its legality," said Mr Ruto.

Ruto and fellow MPs Musalia Mudavadi, Sally Kosgei and James Orengo form the ODM team at the talks chaired by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan. The teams spent the weekend consulting the principals - President Kibaki on the Government side and Lang'ata MP Raila Odinga on the ODM side.

The mediation talks began on January 29 and they have scaled a number of obstacles.

When the talks adjourned on Friday, Mr Annan appealed to President Kibaki and Mr Odinga to give clear instructions to their negotiators to enable the talks to move forward. "I urge the principals to now take definitive decisions and to give their negotiators clear instructions so that we can move swiftly to a conclusion. We must give the Kenyan people what they are hoping and praying for," he said. On Saturday, the President issued a statement saying he was committed to the talks and expressing optimism that a lasting solution would be found. Mr Odinga has also said his party was committed to the talks.

On Sunday, the Government team said it had been given clear instructions for Monday's talks but accused ODM negotiators of maintaining hard-line positions at the talks. "We have taken clear instructions and we hope our colleagues have taken the same. They are the ones who are stuck in one position while we have been giving in to some of the things they want," they said before they headed for State House for further consultations with the President.

Musharraf dismisses US Senators

ISLAMABAD - President Pervez Musharraf's spokesman has dismissed suggestions from three U.S. senators that the embattled Pakistani leader make a "graceful" retreat from power after his opponents' recent election victory.

Musharraf was elected to a new five-year presidential term last year by Pakistani lawmakers, "not by any senator from the United States," his spokesman Rashid Qureshi told Dawn News television. "So I don't think he needs to respond to anything that is said by these people."

Several senators met Musharraf after last week's parliamentary vote in which his political allies were routed. Some Pakistani leaders and many media commentators have called for him to resign.

The Bush administration appears to want Musharraf, a key U.S. ally in the war on terror whose own country faces rising Islamic militancy, to continue in office.

However, Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday that he would advise Musharraf to seek a dignified way to leave office.

"I firmly believe if they (political parties) do not focus on old grudges — and there's plenty in Pakistan — and give him a graceful way to move," then it could happen, Biden, a Democrat, said on ABC television.

Republican Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Chuck Hagel also endorsed a negotiated retreat. They stopped short of saying he should be pushed from power.

The parties of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and another former premier, Nawaz Sharif, won a majority of the seats in the new parliament and are expected to form a coalition government.

However, they fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to impeach Musharraf, whose popularity plummeted last year after he declared a state of emergency and clamped down on the opposition, the judiciary and the media.

Sharif, whose second government fell when Musharraf seized power in a 1999 military coup, on Monday urged the former army chief to convene the new Parliament.

"The transfer of power should happen immediately," Sharif told reporters in Islamabad. "The sooner Mr. Musharraf understands the situation, accepts people's verdict and resigns, the better it is for him."

However, Bhutto's party, which will be the strongest in the new legislature, has been more guarded on Musharraf's future, saying it will be up to lawmakers.

Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's widower and political successor, said in remarks published Monday that his priority was for the transition to remain smooth.

"We want to unify the country, which is facing some very serious challenges," Zardari was quoted as saying in The Wall Street Journal. "We have to establish democracy and for that we need unity and not confrontation."

Qureshi insisted Sharif's voice will find little echo among the legislators.

"The president will function with them (lawmakers). There is no issue with that. The president is an easy man to get along with and I don't think we should feel that there'll be any friction there," Qureshi said.

Western officials are concerned that an attempt to force Musharraf from power would spark a constitutional crisis and hobble Pakistan's effort to fight growing Islamic extremism.

Taliban-style militants battling government forces near the Afghan border said Sunday say they want dialogue with the winners of the elections and urged the new leadership to abandon the war on terror.

Africa's Fraudulent Elections: A Non-Violent Alternative


Contact: Matt J. Lauer

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ - Nigeria will soon confront one of the most difficult challenges that any emerging Democracy must face, whether the rule of law as set by the courts will prevail. The Nigerian Supreme Court will soon decide if it will nullify last year's presidential elections on fraud charges. How the government reacts could well determine the future of the country. Nigeria is a sovereign nation, but the United States must urge the current leaders to abide by the Supreme Court's ruling. If not, the unfolding tragedy in Kenya and the violence in that neighboring country could well repeat itself.

On December 27th, Kenyans went to the polls to elect a president. The election was close, pitting an incumbent President Mwai Kibaki against opposition leader, Raila Odinga. Faced with the prospect of losing, President Kibaki apparently chose to steal the election, and in doing so, he precipitated an ethnic civil war. Thus far, about 1,000 Kenyans have died, and another 300,000 have fled their homes.

The election fraud last April in Nigeria was much worse than Kenya's. Incumbent President Obasanjo manipulated every stage of the process. Although I was elected as his Vice President, by the end of his second term, he used every instrument at his command to try to soil my reputation and prevent me from running so as to leave a clear path for him to change the constitution and allow himself a third term. I opposed his effort and was joined by a courageous majority in Parliament that prevented the constitutional change. The Supreme Court also stood up to him and rejected the charges of corruption that he trumped up against me. On the eve of the election, the Supreme Court ordered the Election Commission to put my name on the ballot.

By then, it was too late for my party to organize to win the election, but Obasanjo took no chances. He instructed the Chair of the Election Commission, Maurice Iwu, a pharmacist, to concoct the election results like a drug prescription.

Virtually every international and domestic observer denounced the fraud. General Buhari and I were the two principal opposition candidates, but instead of inflaming our supporters as the Kenyan leaders did, we encouraged our people to stay calm, and we took our case to court. The courts moved swiftly to nullify state elections, and they are now considering validity of the presidential election.

It is imperative that all of us have confidence that the Court will make the right decision, and I certainly have decided to place my trust there. If the Justices declare the election valid, I will accept the result. If they annul the election, the Court and our country will become a model for all of Africa, but we will need solidarity within Nigeria and help from the world to turn the promise of such a decision into a real democracy. The problem is that if a new election is held under Iwu and the same election law, it will be fraudulent, and the people will lose their patience.

If the Appeals Court declares the Presidential election invalid, I will urge my supporters to remain calm, and I will ask the other presidential candidates to join me to invite a group of world leaders to help us fashion a new Election Commission and a new Election Law that would permit us to adhere to the Constitution and prepare for Nigeria's first genuinely free and fair election.

Kenya has disillusioned many democrats in Africa. Our hope is that Nigeria's Supreme Court will send a message to all Africans that democracy is not only possible, it is essential to peace and ethnic coexistence. Incumbents will no longer be permitted to manipulate the electoral process. Election Commissions must be genuinely autonomous, impartial, and professional.

I pledge to do all that I can to assure that democracy and rule of law return to Nigeria peacefully. We hope that the world will stand with us and give Africans a reason again for hope."

Atiku Abubakar was Vice President of Nigeria from 1999-2007. He was the Presidential candidate of the Action Congress in the fraudulent election of April 2007.

Note to editors: This information is distributed by Qorvis Communications LLC on behalf of Atiku Abubakar. Further information is available at the U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.

SOURCE Atiku Abubakar

Fiddling while Kenya burns

As aid agencies vacillate, the crisis in Kenya is getting worse. Disaster looms over Kenya. For two months, Kenyans have been hoping for a peaceful resolution to the violence that followed December’s stolen election. Weekend reports of a possible agreement between the warring factions led by bandit President Mwai Kibaki and people’s President Raila Odinga (whom many believe won the election) have amounted to nothing. Kenyans now fear being assaulted for their ethnicity. Kenya’s flower-exporting and tourism industries are both collapsing. The tourists are going to southern Africa or other continents. Fuel and other imported goods for Kenya and its neighbors (especially Uganda and Rwanda) are piling up in Mombassa.

It must be said that this is a problem of Kenya’s own making. Corruption is appallingly rampant, and hopes that Kibaki, elected in 2002, would root out corruption were dashed within two years. Kenya’s anti-corruption czar, John Githongo, exposed hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of corrupt practices, but he was seen as a traitor by his own Kikuyu tribe, was left dangerously exposed by President Kibaki, and wound up fleeing to England in fear of his life.

But the international community also deserves a good share of the blame. It is well known that over the past few decades the World Bank loaned money on four separate occasions to different Kenyan governments for the same agricultural reform program. Each time, World Bank insiders knew the government weren’t serious about reforms, but still the loans continued, further entrenching the corrupt rule of the Kenyatta and Moi regimes.

Despite the apparent efforts of James Wolfensohn and Paul Wolfowitz, two former World Bank presidents, and Robert Zoellick, the current Bank chief, business as usual continues. The Bank’s local director, Colin Bruce, lives in a house owned by Kibaki, and the house is in Kibaki’s own personally secured compound in the beautiful Nairobi suburb of Mathaiga. This relationship seems way too cozy, given the Kibaki government’s endemic corruption.

Since the violence began in December, only one major donor has pulled out of Kenya or urged the imposition of serious sanctions. Donors continue to insist that health and humanitarian aid remain untouched. But worse has followed. The Financial Times reported that a confidential memo from Bruce’s office supported the Kibaki’s claim of victory in the December elections:

“The memo claims that ‘the considered view of the UN is that the Electoral Commission of Kenya announcement of a Kibaki win is correct.’ However, Michele Montas, a spokeswoman for the UN secretary-general, denied that the UN had adopted that position. [UN Development Program] officials said they had neither monitored the elections nor provided any assessment suggesting a Kibaki victory. Given the widespread irregularities reported in last month’s elections, the leaked briefing note has triggered accusations that the institution, which lends heavily to Kenya, has lost its political objectivity.”

While the World Bank has been embarrassed publicly in rather alarming fashion, its approach is far from unique among international agencies. So far, the donor community has suggested only a mild reduction in aid, qualified by the insistence that health and humanitarian aid—which constitutes the largest part of all outside aid to Kenya—must remain untouched.

For all its failings, the Bush administration has often done well in promoting democracy and combating corruption. The U.S. State Department has placed travel bans on cronies of the Kibaki regime, which (I’m told) has caused serious embarrassment to Kenya’s middle class. However, the names of those Kenyan officials refused visas are not yet available, so it is not possible to verify that the bans are actually in place.

Even still, Foggy Bottom’s initial declaration of support for the pro-Kibaki election result emboldened the Kenyan president. He is not going to step aside, or re-run the election, or form a government of national unity with the opposition. The violence will likely continue until enough of his cronies’ business interests are put at risk—which may take weeks, or even months.

But it won’t be the body count that drives change. The government is too full of hardliners, cynically willing to allow their countrymen in the rural areas to die in their hundreds. The likes of Martha Karua, John Michuki, and President Kibaki himself will only concede—and a coalition government in their eyes does represent a massive concession to the opposition—when they stare total devastation in the face. I fear the situation simply hasn't got bad enough yet for them to see the need for compromise.

Hopefully, other foreign governments will emulate the travel and financial sanctions probably being imposed on Kibaki and his cronies by the U.S. State Department. But it is probably time for aid agencies to pull out of the country altogether, since they have done untold harm.

30,000 bid adieu to UB40

KAMPALA - How do you end 30 years of great reggae music? With a bang, and that is what the English band UB40 did at Lugogo sports ground, Kampala, on Saturday night.

As the curtain finally came down on the group three decades after eight childhood friends decided to try their hand at playing music, tens of thousands of Ugandans turned up to celebrate a magical musical odyssey. “We estimate the crowd to have been over 30,000 since all our tickets sold out,” said Philip Besiimire, the manager consumer marketing of MTN, which sponsored the event. According to Besiimire, there were 25,000 tickets for silver class, 4,000 for gold and 300 platinum but he reckons some people also got in with forged tickets.

The high turnout seemed to have taken the organisers by surprise, with long lines queuing for hours, fans nearly crushed against the fences trying to get in, and helpless policemen looking in vain for the keys to open more gates. “It was a beautiful concert with a few hitches, especially in regarding crowd control. It was overwhelming,” said Besiimire.

The Lugogo cricket field, the gallery and the Oasis restaurant – which had been turned into a VIP lounge – were all full as the audience indulged into a two-hour show rarely seen in Uganda. “I’ve been around and seen quite a few things but I think this is one of the best shows ever put up in this country or region,” said Tshaka Mayanja, one of the organisers and a reggae musician in his own right. The only hiccup was when the stage lights failed for about five minutes. But the band could not be bothered and continued playing in the dark. UB40 did a repertoire of their songs from "Sing Our Own Song" to "Cherry Oh Baby" to "Can’t Stop Falling in Love". "Red Red Wine", as expected, got the biggest reaction, while some people complained that the band’s 2007 hit, Reasons, a Kampala favourite, was not played.

Among the VIPs who swung to the reggae tunes were co-ordinator of the intelligence services Gen. David Tinyefuza, deputy chief of defence forces Lt. Gen. Ivan Koreta, investment minister Semakula Kiwanuka and former health minister Jim Muhwezi. Others wining and dining in the VIP tent were Kampala mayor Nasser Sebaggala, Toro queen mother Best Kemigisha, clad in a black mini-dress, and the queen of Buganda, Sylvia Nagginda.

UB40 brought back memories of 10 years ago, when another great reggae group had their final show in Kampala. The Third World Band played at the Nile Gardens on New Year’s Day 1997, their last show as a band after 20 years of great success. It is difficult to imagine UB40 without Ali Campbell, their lead vocalist, who announced on January 24 that he would be pursuing a solo career after Saturday’s show. But he later said he was also leaving due to “management difficulties”. He did not mention his departure to the public at Lugogo. The remaining seven members of the group will continue to perform. No decision on who will replace Campbell has been made. Nevertheless, UB40 will still release their next studio album, titled 24/7 next month.

UB40 is one of the most successful reggae acts of all time in terms of record sales (over 70 million), chart positions and touring schedule. During their three-decade career, they have been performing sell-out shows worldwide and headlining the Reggae Sunsplash music festival in Jamaica, as well as spreading reggae to Russia and South America. The group’s early music often tackled social issues such as racism and unemployment. The band was named after Unemployment Benefit Form 40, a form issued by the UK government at the time of the band’s formation in 1978 for claiming unemployment benefits. The band is made up of musicians of English, Scottish, Irish, Yemeni and Jamaican parentage.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Most shocking photos on the web...

From the archives...

A president's illegitimate daughter gets intimate with a foreigner. This photo has widely been distributed via email in Africa and shows Winnie Mwai Kibaki daughter of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki (from a second "wife") getting intimate with an Armenian man who claims he's a businessman. The man is actually a wanted international criminal cum mercenary. There's no mistaking that look in the eyes (or the whisky infront of her - like father, like daughter, you might say). It is believed that the photo was taken in a hotel in Nairobi...

For how long must Kibaki hide his head in the sand?


I supported the ODM during the December polls because I believed in it. I still do and will continue to support the party for its documented policies.

Other Kenyans supported other parties of their choice for the same reasons because that is what democracy is all about—making choices. Nobody is going to bully me into changing my position until such time that I will have good reason to change my opinion on my party. However, since December 30 to date, all Kenyans from both sides of the political divide must stop and rethink the destiny of Kenya.

For four weeks, the country has been going up in smoke as I had predicted many times in this column. The reasons I did predict chaos were obvious to those who cared to listen to me but chose not to. As Kofi Annan stated the other day; the mayhem visited upon Kenyans is no longer related to the messed up elections. The violence that erupted soon after election results provided perfect fodder for organised gangs and militias that were waiting in the wings. It was like they emerged from their hideouts to reclaim lost territory after realising that law and order had crumbled.

As I wrote this article, Nakuru, Naivasha, Nairobi, Kisumu, Kericho, Molo and other parts of the country were under siege. Two visits to violence-torn areas by Annan and his team have not deterred militias from hacking more people to death. Some victims have been dragged from public transport or their houses and violently murdered on account of their ethnic identities. It is happening everywhere. It is now evident that Kofi Annan will not end the killings. It is now obvious that General Ali is an incompetent fast-talking policeman who has no idea what the problem is all about. If he does, he has no clue how to deal with it.

Time is now to stop the killings by brute force because goons and criminals only understand the language of force. It is now obvious that while Ali is busy beefing Uhuru Park with idle soldiers, our highways are taken over by militias. Because the police force and internal security ministry have miserably failed while protected politicians are watching deaths from the comfort of their homes, it is time the Executive invoked its decree powers provided for in emergency situations!

Kenyans are crying loud for responsible and decisive leadership. We cannot sit back and allow this country to go up in smoke for temporary political expediency! 

How many children must wail at the murder of their parents before Amos Kimunya realises that the Safaricom IPO is no longer a priority?

How many Luos, Kikuyus, Luhyas and Kalenjins must die before Raila, Kibaki, Ruto and other leaders come to their senses and arrest the situation? 

Must we slaughter our own people to score political points? Who will we lead when all our followers are dead? In the last five years, President Mwai Kibaki has twice sworn to protect the constitution and lives of every Kenyan. Now is the time to walk the talk. Time for rhetoric is long gone. Fire and brimstone are here with us. They have already claimed the life of one member of the tenth parliament in a senseless premeditated murder. And as sure as darkness follows sunset, Embakasi and other parts of the country exploded in revenge killings!

Jomo Kenyatta declared Emergency in North Eastern Province when the place became ungovernable. Daniel arap Moi declared a State of Emergency in Nairobi in August 1982 when lawlessness ruled the city. Quality leadership is decisive leadership. In times of crisis, real leaders stand out to give direction to their followers. We cannot have leaders that bury their heads in the sand in times of crisis. 

As things stand, the Annan team is becoming irrelevant by the day. It is getting sucked into the orgy of violence at the expense of its original mission. The people we need to come out now and address joint rallies for the sake of Kenya are Kibaki and Raila in Central Province, Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza. They must sort out the mess and spare Kenyans senseless deaths.

Meanwhile, right now we don’t need belligerent leaders in government.This country cannot be ruled by sheer arrogance and misplaced righteousness. Now is the time to wake up and save Kenya.

Friday, February 22, 2008

People's President abruptly jets out of Kenya

NAIROBI - Kenya's opposition leader unexpectedly left the country Friday, the day government negotiators and their rivals had promised to sign a power-sharing deal to end the postelection crisis that has sparked weeks of deadly violence
Raila Odinga left Kenya on a charter flight to Nigeria, according to an airport employee and two officials from Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement. Odinga was expected back Saturday and was still available for consultations on the negotiations while out of the country, said opposition official Musalia Mudavadi.

Mudavadi added that the government had not shown up on time at a luxury hotel where the two sides were trying to negotiate a deal to end the political standoff following President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election, local and foreign observers say was rigged. "There has been a delay from the other side," Mudavadi said. "So we are waiting to hear their communication." Earlier, he had said the negotiations had made "good progress so far." On Thursday, the two sides appeared to be edging toward a deal as the government tentatively agreed to create a prime minister's post to be filled by the opposition. Government negotiator Mutula Kilonzo said a political deal was expected Friday after weeks of international pressure on both sides to share power. "I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel," former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, who has been mediating in the political negotiations, said in a statement Thursday.

Odinga was scheduled to meet Friday with Jean Ping, chairman of the African Union Commission, the AU executive body. It was not immediately clear if the two met before Odinga left the country. The December 27 election returned Kibaki to power for a second five-year term after Odinga's lead in early vote-counting evaporated overnight. The ensuing violence has stirred up ethnic grievances over land and poverty that have bedeviled Kenya since independence in 1963. More than 1,000 people have been killed. Much of the bloodshed has pitted other ethnic groups against Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe, long resented for dominating politics and the economy.

On Thursday, a man was hacked to death in a Nairobi slum, police said. Witnesses said the fight started when a group of young Luos — the same ethnic group as Odinga — began taunting Kikuyus. "They started hurling insults then throwing stone at the Kikuyus, who are their neighbors," said a woman selling vegetables in the slum. The Kikuyus then attacked, killing a Luo man, said the woman, who asked that her name not be used for fear of retribution. A think tank said Thursday that armed groups on opposing sides of the political and ethnic strife are mobilizing for new attacks and serious violence could erupt again if peace talks fail. "Calm has partly returned but the situation remains highly volatile," the Brussels, Belgium-based International Crisis Group said in a report. "Armed groups are still mobilizing on both sides."

Talks between Kibaki and Odinga have focused on how to create a broader-based government to end the crisis. In particular, Odinga and his backers have demanded that the president share power. The country remains caught between a desire to move on from waves of ethnic attacks and a fear that any compromise could spark new fighting.

"Beti Kamya was wrong": M7 speaks

HONOURABLE Beti Kamya of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and Member of Parliament for Rubaga North, daughter of the late Lt. Col. Kamya, former Paymaster-General of Uganda Army during Amin’s time, wrote an article in the Daily Monitor newspaper of Monday, January 28, 2008.

In that article, she made the following false statements:

1. “Like the Kenyans, whom the British told to close their eyes to pray and were given the Bible while the latter took their land, Museveni, has duped Ugandans with “peace” and “sleep”, while Museveni took away factories, banks, buses, airplanes, railways, co-operative unions, food silos, fuel reservoirs, hotels, schools, Kampala city and land”.

Took them where, Beti? The daughter of Amin’s former officer seems to be referring to the liberalisation policy of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), where the inefficient, corrupt parastatals, which were only feeding the army officers of Amin, while the rest of Ugandans were living with acute shortages of essential goods, apart from being murdered.

It is true that NRM liberalised the economy and privatised those parastatals. They were not taken by Museveni, but by private operators more capable of running business. Many of those businesses are better run, more profitable and providing a better service to Ugandans.

Uganda Transport Company (UTC) was replaced by many private bus companies: (Jaguar to Kabale and Kigali; Horizon to Kabale; Kibungo to Kisoro; Gaso to Masaka; Travellers to Rukungiri; Kalita to Fort Portal and Nairobi; Nile Coaches to the north and east; Swift to Mbarara; Gaagaa to Gulu and Arua; Safari Link to Kasese; and many others), numerous kamunyes and thousands of boda bodas. Many Ugandan families are benefiting from these transport businesses, while the Ugandan travellers cannot stand at any point in many parts of Uganda for more than 30 minutes without getting any means of transport.

The small Government Nile Hotel, that had been turned into a murder chamber, is now the world-famous Serena Hotel, where the recent CHOGM was held. On account of such fine management techniques by the NRM, the economy of Uganda has expanded six times to sh19 trillion from sh3 trillion, this is about US$12b or US$52.9b if you use the PPP method.

2. “When we woke up, we were holding peace, while he held all our assets,” writes the Honourable FDC MP. Which assets is Museveni holding other than the property earned from his sweat and heritage (Rwakitura, Kisozi, etc)? She goes further to say that Ugandans should emulate Kenyans to kill each other; that is the “waking up” Kamya is talking about. “It is not going to be easy, because no thief, robber, looter, colonialist ever let go of their loot easily… and Museveni has been more cunning than most, saving the gun, for the final onslaught of Uganda,” writes the illustrious FDC MP. In other words, Kamya is advocating for war among Ugandans. She is violating the Constitution of Uganda. If Museveni and NRM are so terrible, why does she not call for Ugandans to vote them out of office in 2011? Why war? The MP is calling me a looter. Whose property have I looted? It is NRM that stopped the “looting” of Ugandans’ property.
Then she lambasts Article 269 of the 1995 Constitution, which provides for unity politics. That is how Uganda healed, which, apparently, does not please Kamya.

3. “Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura has stopped more than 20 people from meeting”. This is false. What the Police will not allow are political rallies in the centre of town because they interfere with people’s businesses. If you want a political rally, go to Kololo. There is free space there. You cannot hold a political rally in somebody’s garden. The shops are the “gardens” of the traders. When the Police made a mistake to allow the FDC hooligans to hold a demonstration through the streets of Kampala, three persons died and property was destroyed.

4. Beti refers to NRM as “a vicious dictatorship”. Really! This is a good dictatorship where Beti can continuously write seditious articles and engage in incitement over the radios and sleep in her bed as well as enjoy the privileges of an MP.

5. “Museveni is not Ugandan by birth”. Madam Beti is here saying that I am President of Uganda unconstitutionally because Article 102(a) says: “A person is not qualified for election as a President unless that person is a citizen of Uganda by birth.”

This is something I will sort out with Beti in the Courts of Law. However, for the information of Ugandans, I am of the Basiita sub-clan of the Bagahe clan (equivalent of Ente in Buganda), one of the most ancient in Uganda. That is why my clansmen must be involved in the coronation of the kings of Toro and Bunyoro. Kamya will have the opportunity to prove in court that I am not Ugandan by birth. This is not to say that those who are not Ugandan by birth are any less useful. It is just a question of fact.

6. “Museveni has destroyed civil service, health, Parliament, transport, etc …” Dishonesty can lead somebody to state absurdities. There was no Parliament before 1986. The Okello Junta had overthrown the entire Constitution. It was army rule. There was no Parliament between 1971 and 1979 when Beti was growing up. It is the NRM that restored the Parliament. How can you say we destroyed Parliament when we are the ones that restored it?

She goes ahead to say: “Can’t he see that this sectarian thing he is nurturing is not only dangerous but unsustainable? This situation will lead to a terrible genocide with one community eligible for State House scholarships for 20 years, lucrative jobs, land allocation, control of security organisations for 20 years.” Assuming all those misdeeds are happening, why should it lead to fighting or genocide? Kamya is an MP. She belongs to a party called FDC. Why don’t she and her party convince Ugandans to vote out the NRM so that, using the law as well as better policies, they govern Uganda better? Why talk of “war” or “genocide”?

7. Anybody who tries to initiate war in Uganda, especially now, will perish. I guarantee Beti and her like that anybody who tries to promote or execute genocide will also perish. The State pillars of Uganda: the Parliament, the Defence Forces, the Police, the Judiciary and the Security Services will not tolerate that. We defeated the genocidaires when we were much less organised than now. Ugandans should be assured that ranting of the Beti-type will not interrupt our progress. Moreover, it is not acceptable that anybody should threaten war even by words. The responsible state agencies should deal with the individuals and media houses that are in this habit.

Coming to the “lucrative jobs, State House scholarships, land allocation, etc monopolised by one community”, suffice it to point out that only the other day, Mzee Ibrahim Kabanda, Chairman, Uganda Revenue Authority Board of Directors, formerly Uganda Government Chief Statistician, told a committee of Parliament about the composition of the URA staff. The facts did not reveal that the community of Museveni, that would face genocide, if the “Beti Kamyas” were in power, were the biggest number employed in that department. In fact, the facts revealed that quite a large number of those young people working in those departments are from some of our other communities. All this, however, is ideologically and strategically bankrupt.

8. The labour force in Uganda is now 12 million people. Even if all the people employed in URA were mathematically calculated to coincide with the percentages of the tribes, how would it solve the problem of jobs in Uganda?
URA has 1,713 jobs. The total number of Public Service jobs is 240,000 (excluding the armed forces, political offices, statutory bodies, government agencies/programmes). The NRM has, more than anybody, distributed the limited jobs most fairly in the following ways:

(i) Decentralisation: A total of 79 districts form the local government system of Uganda. The recruitment is done at the district by the District Service Committees. The recruits for these jobs are mainly from the local areas. This is one of NRM’s job distribution mechanisms. It accounts for 581,229 jobs. The jobs that remain in the centre are competed for. Professional bodies do the selection — the Public Service Commission (regionally balanced mathematically) for the mainstream Public Service through competitive examinations, the Health Service Commission, the Education Service Commission; Teaching Service Commission and Board of Directors (centrally appointed by the Cabinet) for State bodies outside the mainstream Public Service.

In very few cases, some talent-hunting can be done directly for a few departments like security organisations, other than the army. As far as the army is concerned, the positions are distributed district by district through district quotas. When Beti’s father was one of those running the army, that was not the practice.

(ii) On the question of “State House scholarships”, let everybody be informed that the NRM has put in place the biggest scholarship scheme ever in the history of Uganda for all the children of Uganda in the form of Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE). As far as UPE is concerned, we spend sh440b every year. On USE, we spend sh60b every year. The so called “State House scholarships” — a distortion started by Besigye in 2001 — refers to orphans of the war victims of Luweero, mainly, as well as other deprived people who assault me whenever I go up-country, especially Rwakitura and Kisozi. I do not invite these children. PGB tries to stop them, but they hide in bushes, only to emerge on the road in front of my car when I am doing my own business. Before we introduced UPE and USE, I used to take on some of them after listening to their petitions, sometimes up to 4:00am in the night (morning, European time).

In my office, I have a small donations fund, which the President uses to cope with demands from the public that accost him directly. This fund does not exceed sh1.5b a year. It is from this fund that I donate maize mills to women groups; heifers, rice-hurlers; etc, to different groups. It also caters for scholarships to the children who accost me or even apply in writing. In fact, I need more money to cope with this pressure. The alternative is to be like Mobutu and stay in France or Europe whenever I go for holiday so that I do not get this pressure from the needy children who manage to beat security and get to me. Are these children only Bahima as Kamya claims? This is all nonsense. Fortunately, so many children have now qualified from universities through this scheme. They are from all regions of Uganda. If Kamya does not believe it, God is the judge.

What is important is that this is not the main effort of the Government in the education sector. The main effort is in UPE and USE. It is a small, insignificant programme, in national terms, but useful in helping orphans of, mainly, dead comrades that manage to appeal directly to the President. As far as the children of former fighters are concerned, there are mainstream programmes in the form of the Kadogo school in Mbarara, army schools in Jinja, Masindi, Nakasongola, Kanyaryeru Resettlement Scheme, etc. Still you get those who have problems beyond what the mainstream programmes can offer and who feel desperate enough to appeal directly to the President. Once the President comes face to face with such cases, it is not appropriate that he protests, “having no money, etc.”

He/she should have the discretion to see who can be helped and who cannot be helped in this minor effort. In fact many times, these days, I am able to send away many of these children by telling them that there is now UPE and USE, which they should take advantage of. Even then, somebody will say: “My parents cannot afford to buy me a uniform or exercise books,” which are the residual obligations of parents after UPE and USE. The children also reveal that the school authorities are illegally charging them for lunch, etc. This is why we are going to criminalise the paying of these charges.

I must point out to the country that I am grateful to these children who have been putting pressure on me in this way. It is them who helped me to see the early need of UPE. In fact, I first experimented with UPE at Lake Mburo School, Kanyaryeru, as well as Bulera, at Kisozi. Using the President’s Donation Fund, I built primary schools providing free education to the children of the area in order to see how the scheme works. Once I was sure it could work, I proposed it for the whole country. That is the story of the State House Scholarships, so distorted by Besigye since 2001. The discretion of the President must be trusted in such a minor effort. It can do a lot of supplementary good. One example that comes to my mind is a young girl called Rose Najjemba.

Once I was watering my cattle at Kisozi and a young girl managed to go through the soldiers who try to restrain the wananchi trying to beat the security to present their petitions to the President. She told me that she had finished Makerere University, but she had no job and also told me some of her other personal problems. Gomba, when I first went there in 1990 — as well as when we used to go through the area to attack Kabamba during the struggle — was a backward area, especially in terms of education.

Although it is the duty of the Public Service Commission to recruit people in the public service, I was very pleased to discover this young lady that had managed to struggle up to university and I wanted to find a way of helping her in order to encourage others from such a backward area. I decided to create a job for her in my office of a community mobiliser so that she could help me wake up the people in Gomba in terms of development. She ended up being elected the chairperson of the National Council of Women and, recently, the MP for Gomba.

Another example is Lt. Charles Koryang from Kotido, who wrote to me after his A’Level and I supported him throughout university. He is now a UPDF officer. I can quote hundreds of such cases. Are these discretionary interventions, by a President who is in the countryside for most of the time, wrong? I do not think so. They do not interfere with the mainstream efforts of the Government; they, instead, supplement it; sometimes very significantly. I have no apologies for this.

Going back to the question of distributing jobs according to tribes, Mike Mukula raised this issue the other day in the NRM Parliamentary Caucus. We decided that the Prime Minister will analyse this issue and produce a report. Let us wait for that report. Since those who wear tribal lenses kept talking about this, I decided to take a quick glance in my office — the Office of the President.

What did I find? I found that four out of my five Permanent Secretaries were Baganda, appointed by myself on the basis of their service records, but also following promotional examinations. They are: John Mitala, Head of Civil Service/Secretary to Cabinet, Thecla Kinalwa, Secretary, Amelia Kyambadde, Principal Private Secretary and Hilda Musubira, Deputy Head of Civil Service. It is only Richard Muhinda who is from what the Beti Kamyas call my area. In my mind, “my area” is Uganda, East Africa and indeed, Africa because “my area” — meaning Ankole — by itself would be useless because I could not sell my milk because those Banyankore produce the same products; milk, bananas, etc. I could not get my exports of coffee or tea to the ports because those ports are in Tanzania and Kenya. The prosperity of the Banyankore, Baganda etc is because of Uganda, East Africa, Africa and the world. Was I wrong to appoint four out of five officers from the same area? Not at all. If they are competent, they will deliver the same service or even better to an area than even the indigenous people of that area.

When I went to the north recently, I found there was a lot of disgruntlement with the way NUSAF money was being handled, yet most of the officers were from that area. Remember the story of the Good Samaritan. It is not somebody from “your” small area that may help you, but one with a good attitude — ideologically and philosophically. It is, therefore, wrong for leaders to keep talking about this misinformation. It is wrong for radio and television stations to keep confusing the public on this issue.

The legitimate question is how the competition for these jobs is being organised. The answer: By competition through the Public Service Commission. The few discretionary appointments I have made, using my powers under Article 172 of the 1995 Constitution, are also legitimate and useful because of different considerations like in the case of Najjemba.

More fundamentally, however, the question is: How will the 12 million labour force of Uganda be employed? The Public Service jobs are not enough. The answer is private sector jobs. Since 1991, the NRM has created 393,352 private sector jobs by attracting 4,121 enterprises. We should encourage the enterprises that are here to expand and attract new ones. This is how we are going to solve the problem of jobs. The NRM has worked out a master plan for industrialisation. In addition to Namanve, Bweyogerere, Mbarara and Luzira, we are going to build 22 more industrial estates in Uganda. The rest is lies. All modern countries are organised in this way:

Woe unto those that tell lies.
Beti Kamya concludes: “Museveni’s misdeeds will be undone at a great cost to his favoured community”. I would like to inform the Beti Kamyas that the NRM has empowered the people of Uganda. The only way misdeeds, if there are any, can be undone, is through legal and constitutional means. If anything is done legally and constitutionally to correct misdeeds, how, then, will it be at the “great cost” to the “favoured community” even assuming there was such a community?

Combining this talk of Beti with her talk of genocide, I would like to inform her that the only acceptable way of doing business in Uganda after the NRM revolution is through legal and constitutional means. Any other way will lead to grievous consequences for those that are criminal enough to think or plan along that path. FDC tried to use illegal riots in 2006, following their defeat in the elections. Those riots were tamed by the pillars of the State. Those pillars are there for all the time. It is better if all political actors were to stick to purified means, methods and language; if they were to stick to constitutional and legal means. The constitutional and legal paths will be upheld whatever Beti’s plans are.

As everyone knows, some Ugandan leaders from northern Uganda (Idi Amin, Obote, Okello) committed a lot of mistakes involving massive killings.

However, when NRM defeated the dictatorship, our first task was to stop the aggrieved civilians from taking the law in their hands. Some gangs in Kampala were beginning to cry: “mubokye abadokolo (derogatory name for northern Ugandans), burn the northerners alive”.

Infact, I got reports that two of our brothers from the north had been “necklaced” (putting tyres around somebody’s neck and setting them on fire — very cruel and criminal) near the bus park. What was the NRM’s response? We put out very clear statements on the radio and orders were given that anybody attacking our citizens from northern Uganda or any citizen for reasons of victimisation will be “shot on sight”. That is what we call leadership, Nyabo Beti Kamya. As a consequence, northerners in Kampala did not have to run away back to their home area; nor were they victimised, except in covert ways in offices by people jostling for jobs.

However, there was nothing massive or open in the form of victimisation of our northern citizens. Even the children of former Amin soldiers, like Beti, were not victimised, that is why they are MPs now; did never faced genocide.

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda

Awori Arrests ex-MP with flawed document

KAMPALA - The latest political sleaze from Busia district (Uganda) is that former Samia Bugwe North MP Mugeni Steven Wasike has spent the second day in Maluku Prison, having been found in possession of a fake document.

Mugeni’s political rival and former area MP and presidential candidate Aggrey Awori and his lawyers successfully arrested and presented him before Mbale resident judge John Bosco Katutsi who booked for Mugeni a ‘room’ at Maluku for failure to pay UShs. 94m (Kshs. 4m) court costs to Awori and his lawyers. Awori is the younger brother to former Kenyan Vice President Arthur Moody Awori. They now find themselves in the periphery of their respective countries' politics after being rejected by their voters. Mugeni's wife Sarah Mwebaza Wasike, the new Samia Bugwe North MP confirmed the arrest of her husband and said that they were requesting Government and NRM party to come in and rescue her husband. "It was a bad Valentine day for me,” said Sarah, amidst sobs.

A source told Siasa Duni that Mugeni was arrested by a group of plain-clothed police officers and court bailiffs headed by Moses Kirunda in Kyaliwajala, Kampala, as he disembarked from his car. He was in possession of a fake document ostensibly issued by Local Government Minister, Kahinda Otafiire, claiming that he had no case to answer and his costs would be paid by the government. "We had a new court order to arrest him but since he had the fake document from Kahinda Otafiire, he was threatening us and bragging that we couldn’t arrest him," said Kirunda.

Kirunda said that Mugeni had rang him saying he would pay the fine when he felt like and not on condition, even by a court of law. This seemed to annoy everyone involved, and a man-hunt was born. Hassan Kamba, Awori's lawyer, said that Mbale Court refused to honour the Kahinda Otafiire’s document because it was written and signed without quotation of the law, and was not headed as a document from a minister. “It was just a piece of paper that the court couldn't honour,” added Kamba.

Obama shows Billary a clean pair of heels with 10th straight win

Barack Obama added Wisconsin and Hawaii to a primary season winning streak that now totals 10, and has put Hillary Rodham Clinton into a virtual must-win scenario in Democratic contests coming early next month in Texas and Ohio.

The former first lady now looks to a debate Thursday in Austin, Texas, to stall Obama's momentum and reinvigorate her campaign. "The change we seek is still months and miles away," Obama told a boisterous crowd in Houston in a speech Tuesday night in which he also pledged to end the war in Iraq in his first year in office. "I opposed this war in 2002. I will bring this war to an end in 2009. It is time to bring our troops home," he declared.

Sen. John McCain, the Republican front-runner, won a pair of primaries, in Wisconsin and Washington, to continue his march toward certain nomination. In a race growing increasingly negative, Obama cut deeply into Clinton's political bedrock in Wisconsin, splitting the support of white women almost evenly with her. According to polling place interviews, he also ran well among working class voters in the blue collar battleground that was prelude to primaries in the larger industrial states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Clinton made no mention of her defeat, and showed no sign of surrender in an appearance in Youngstown, Ohio. "Both Senator Obama and I would make history," the New York senator said. "But only one of us is ready on day one to be commander in chief, ready to manage our economy, and ready to defeat the Republicans. Only one of us has spent 35 years being a doer, a fighter and a champion for those who need a voice."In a clear sign of their relative standing in the race, most cable television networks abruptly cut away from coverage of Clinton's rally when Obama began to speak in Texas.

McCain easily won the Republican primary in Wisconsin with 55 percent of the vote, dispatching former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and edging closer to the 1,191 delegates he needs to clinch the GOP nomination at the party convention in St. Paul, Minn. next summer. The Arizona senator also won the primary in Washington, where 19 delegates were at stake, with 49 percent of the vote in incomplete results.

In scarcely veiled criticism of Obama, the Republican nominee-in-waiting said, "I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure that Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change." McCain stepped up his criticism of Obama on Wednesday, suggesting the Democrat doesn't have the experience or judgment on foreign policy and defense matters needed in a president.

EXCLUSIVE: ODM dossier - Death of Democracy in Kenya through the theft of the 2007 Presidential Elections, part 1

Bush’s exit will better US foreign policy towards Africa

US President George Bush has just made his last hooray lap in Africa, swinging through five countries — Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia — promoting economic development and fighting HIV/AIDS.

This likely being the last visit to Africa as leader of the most powerful nation on earth, Bush is keen to be remembered as the president who cared about Africa, who stood with the African people in the hour of need. On balance, he did more than his predecessor Bill Clinton in highlighting the fight against HIV/AIDS, by giving billions of dollars towards treatment and advancing the research on the illness in sub-Sahara Africa. The US has spent $15b fighting HIV/AIDS since 2003, and President Bush has pushed US Congress to increase the allocation of dollars. Today, thanks to Bush’s unwavering focus on fighting HIV/AIDS, more than one million people in sub-Saharan Africa have life-saving anti-retroviral drugs.

However, elsewhere on the continent, especially on the issue of democracy, security and stability, President Bush slept at the helm, slumbering on while Africa burned. It should be noted that his tour of Africa did not include those countries currently experiencing the most turmoil. Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Chad, and recently, Kenya, did not feature on the President’s itinerary. It was pathetic, almost comic, to hear Bush stumble on his words trying to explain why, after naming the genocide in Darfur, America then stood idly by while more people died. The excuse that it was not advisable to send American troops to “another Muslim country” was at best a slap in the face to the people of Darfur, at a time when others are asked to join America’s war on terror; a naked hypocrisy that blatantly says: “your life is not worth the life of an American.”

The reality is simply that the Bush government could not afford to move into Sudan because it was simply too afraid to upset the government of Sudan, which was busy courting China to carry out oil exploration in the country. Already drawing fully one-fifth of its oil from Nigeria, America is scrambling to find other stable sources of oil, and Sudan happens to have a large untapped reserve. By tip-toeing around President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government, George Bush hoped to wrest control from China of the lucrative oil deals. That has not exactly happened, but with enough diplomacy, America is still salivating at the possibility of being rewarded some of Sudan’s oil concessions.

America’s quid pro quo attitude towards Africa was crystallised in its reaction to the post-election violence in Kenya. Although Jendayi Fraser was dispatched at the start of the bloodletting that saw over 1,000 dead and more than 250,000 Kenyans displaced, the lingering view is that had America spoken much more forcefully about the need for a compromise, the chaos could have been largely averted.

On Monday, further exposing his disengaged attitude toward Africa, Bush dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Kenya—something he should have done from the beginning. More importantly, having alighted on Sunday for a visit in Tanzania, how much would it have taken for Bush to personally drop in on neighbouring Kenya for a one-hour chat with Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki, and deliver America’s insistence that Kenyan leaders must straighten out the post-election mess, and that America would not have it any other way? Such a visit would have underscored the important role that America can still play in engendering peace and democracy in Africa. Sadly, Bush chose instead to go to Rwanda to pay respect to the genocide memorial (nothing wrong with that) while ignoring the potential of genocide among the living.

During his visit, Bush pushed hard for the establishment of Africom, the US military’s new command for Africa, which he argues will help fight war against terror and drug traffickers. Really? What about pursuing errant African leaders who recklessly play fast and loose with the lives of millions for the pursuit of personal fortunes? How about using such a military muscle to clean up some of the worst offenders of human rights in the neighbourhood?

Bush’s general lack of interest in world affairs (other than Iraq) and specifically toward Africa is the reason many are keenly following the current US presidential campaign in which two of the three remaining contenders—Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton—are speaking of a different kind of world, a world where America will attempt to reassert its moral authority on world affairs.

Bouyed by the possibility of a new America in world politics, the youth of America who have in the past been relegated to bystanders, and ignored by mainstream politics, is saying loudly that it wants change now. And so with cell-phones and computer savvy, American youth have almost single-handed lifted Barack Obama, a relatively unknown junior senator from Illinois, into a political movement during the primaries. Whether or not he wins or loses the Democratic Party nomination in the summer, Obama has already injected a new conversation into American foreign policy: never fear to speak to your enemies. Such a new attitude, regardless of who wins the November presidential election, can only mean better outcome in America’s foreign policy towards the African Continent.

Anything will be better than Bush’s shut-eye approach that has seen African largely ignored for the last eight years, something his five days of visit did not change.