Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Raila now seeks answers on Grand Regency deal

The Grand Regency saga took a new turn on Sunday with Prime Minister Raila Odinga asking Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission to explain how Kamlesh Pattni surrendered the hotel to Central Bank. Raila wrote to the Aaron Ringera-led team following a story in the press last week ago raising questions on the deal. Sources indicated that the PM wants the information because he may be required to explain the matter in Parliament or to donors. This will be in line with his constitutional role as coordinator and supervisor of government ministries.

The five-star hotel in the heart of upmarket Nairobi has sparked controversy following reports that it had been sold to Libyan investors. However, Central Bank governor Njuguna Ndung’u and Justice Ringera have denied the reports. Finance minister Amos Kimunya has said the hotel, which has been at the centre of legal battles between the bank and Pattni for 15 years, will be sold within a month through auction. Attorney-general Amos Wako has said he was not consulted in the surrender deal raising questions on why the chief legal adviser to the Government was kept in the dark.

The bank and KACC have also denied claims that Pattni gave up the hotel in exchange for amnesty on all pending court cases relating to the Goldenberg scandal. Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara has taken the matter to Parliament and Kimunya was expected to issue a statement on Tuesday. Imanyara wants the minister to give the status of the hotel and shed light on the Libyan company said to be interested in it.

The minister is expected to give details on how the surrender deal was struck and the Government officials involved. Kimunya will also identify the Libyan firm’s local partners following speculation that a Kenyan company linked to powerful politicians is behind the transaction.

Current value
In addition, Kimunya has been asked to state the hotel’s current value and give assurance that this will be the bidding price. The hotel’s value is estimated to be more than Sh7 billion. On sunday, Imanyara asked why the Government was in a hurry to sell the hotel. He said the Government announced that it had found a suitable buyer for the prime property after President Kibaki’s visit to Libya in May last year. According to the MP, the purchase of the hotel was among six projects that the Libyans had expressed interest in when the President visited the oil-rich North African country. “If the Government has not already sold it, why is the sale being hurried just because the public has raised issue over the matter,” said Imanyara.

He asked Kimunya to explain what he meant when he declared that the property would be sold to the highest bidder yet he had tagged Sh2.5 billion price to the hotel. The MP argued that the hotel was worth more than Sh7 billion since the price quoted by Kimunya had been set by Central Bank 15 years ago. “Mr Kimunya should tell Kenyans why they are underselling it. The price at which the hotel should be sold should also include any interest accrued over the years,” Imanyara said.

The MP also raised issue with the minister’s statements that a lot of people had expressed interest in the hotel. He asked him to explain how, when and by whom the interest had been expressed since the sale had not been advertised. Imanyara also questioned how Pattni could hand over the hotel to the Ringera commission yet it was under receivership.

He described the move as a “stage-managed choreography to camouflage the fact that the property has already been sold. “The Government must also explain if the shareholders of the Libyan company that expressed interest in the hotel are not the same with those of a local group with high connections,” said Imanyara. He stressed that MPs were demanding that the planned sale be stopped and that hotel be handed over to Utalii College. “The college has the capacity to run the Grand Regency as it has successfully done with the Utalii Hotel. The institution can form a public company to run the hotel that will then issue an IPO to Kenyans,” he said.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The South African miniskirt march (not to be confused with the South African boot dance...)

JOHANNESBURG - You have heard of Mungiki stripping women in Naivasha. Well, in South Africa, taxi drivers are doing the same. Ati wearing a miniskirt is wrong!

Nwabisa Ngcukana, 25, had to parade but naked at the Noord Taxi Rank after a mob of taxi drivers stripped and tore her clothes. Her crime was wearing a short skirt. They savagely tore her skirt and panties as you can see from this picture...

"I have never been so traumatised in my life. I thought these taxi drivers were going to rape me," Ngcukana said. "As they stripped me they kept shouting that this is what I wanted. Some were sticking their fingers in my vagina while others poured alcohol over my head and called me all sorts of names."

Well, what did the South African women do? A female radio DJ asked people to call in and they talked: I would feel disappointed if this is not debated in the next Parliament sitting. But more importantly, they did not just talk. Of course, they took action. They organized a mini skirt march and went over to the taxi rank!

In the end, I think everybody has a right to wear whatever they want!

Flowers in the cellar

Upon first reading the horrific story of 73-year-old Austrian Josef Fritzl, who locked his daughter, Elisabeth, in the family cellar in 1984 and proceeded to allegedly father as many as seven of her children, my reaction was damn, that can only happen in Europe. But then I read more and realised that Fritzl is really a sick man in need of very close attention.

Keeping your daughter and half of her children locked for over two decades in what authorities describe as a damp, narrow "series of underground rooms equipped for sleeping and cooking," according to the BBC, is nothing short of evil. CNN reports that on August 8, 1984 Fritzl's daughter, the now 42-year-old Elisabeth, was enticed by her father "into the basement, where he drugged her, put her in handcuffs and locked her in a room." Elisabeth, who had been sexually abused by Josef since she was 11, was reported missing two weeks later.

This crime, perpetrated in the town of Amstetten, 93 miles outside of Vienna, was only discovered because Elisabeth's 19-year-old daughter, Kerstin, became so seriously ill that she had to go to the hospital. A DNA test done on Kersten showed that Josef was her biological father, and that set off an investigation that uncovered Josef's "house of horrors," as many papers are calling it. One of the more bizarre aspects of the gruesome tale is that Josef's wife, Elisabeth's mother Rosemarie, reportedly didn't know about what was going on in her cellar, and thought the three children that she and Josef were raising above ground were left on their doorstep by the still-"missing" Elisabeth.

The case is somewhat of a national embarrassment for Austria, as in 2006, it was discovered that a woman named Natascha Kampusch had been held in a cellar for 8 years by an abductor, Wolfgang Priklopil, who had kidnapped her when she was 10 years old. Austrian newspaper Der Standard said in an op-ed about the crimes, "The entire nation must ask itself just what is fundamentally going wrong."

All six of the children — three boys and three girls — who were raised in the Fritzl's household are now in the care of authorities. There was a seventh child, who was the twin of another one of the children, but it died shortly after birth and was thrown into an incinerator by Josef. Police spokesman Franz Polzer told the BBC, "[The children] are being cared for individually - those between 12 and 16 years of age who grew up with their grandparents, and two boys who, when they came out yesterday with their mother, saw the daylight for the first time in their lives."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Austrian locked up daughter in the cellar for 24 years and fathered 7 children with her

VIENNA - Austrian police on Sunday arrested a 73-year-old man accused accused of locking up his daughter in a basement for 24 years and fathering seven children with her.

A prosecution spokesman said that Elisabeth Fritzl, 42, had accused her father of "massive crimes". It is the third stunning case to be revealed in Austria in recent years of children being locked away by their parents. Investigators said the woman gave birth to seven children in the sealed cellar of her father's house near Amstetten in Lower Austria state, in the east of the country.

Gerhard Sedlacek, spokesman for the Sankt-Polkten prosecutor's office, told a press conference that Fritzl's accusations of kidnapping and incest are "credible". Police said they are still trying to get the man, silent since his arrest, to talk, although the head of Lower Austria's criminal detective division, Franz Polzer, added that they are hopeful of a breakthrough.

Police said DNA samples would be taken as part of their investigation.

They said the woman had three boys and three girls aged from five to 20 and that a seventh child died three days after its birth. According to ORF national television, the mother and her children are now in the hands of a team of psychologists. The six surviving children were never registered with the authorities. And the extraordinary case only came to light after one of the girls, a 19-year-old named Kerstin, was admitted to hospital in Amstetten in a serious condition in mid-April.

Doctors trying to establish the nature of her infection sought to contact the mother for background medical information and Fritzl's incarceration came to light. Fritzl had been reported missing for several years and Interpol had opened a file on her disappearance.

Local Austrian authorities, who had no social security information on her, believed she had fallen into the grip of a religious sect. Several spectacular cases of captivity have emerged in Austria in recent years, notably that of Natascha Kampusch, who was locked up by a man in the basement of a house in a Vienna suburb for eight years before she escaped.

Kampusch was 10 when Wolfgang Priklopil abducted her on her way to school in 1998. The 44-year-old kidnapper killed himself just hours after she fled by throwing himself under a train. In another case, three young girls were locked up for seven years by their mentally ill mother near the city of Linz.

Ngata issues

Is it just me, or does it seem that nowadays I need to sell the car just to get money for ngata?

Face-off looming between police and prison warders

The crisis in Kenya’s correctional institutions was set to deepen Sunday after striking prison warders rejected a team set up to look into their grievances.

The warders also asked colleagues to remove their families from prison quarters in readiness for possible violent confrontation with the authorities. Police also announced that they were ready for a face-off with the warders who could be armed.

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka appointed his predecessor, Moody Awori, to head the eight-member team which includes former prisons commissioner Abraham Kamakil.

Living conditions
But on Sunday, warders in 93 prisons across the country claimed that Awori did nothing to uplift their living conditions when he was in charge. Labour minister John Munyes and Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli also rejected the Awori team, saying it was not representative.

Munyes regretted that his ministry had been left out of the team, yet it had the mandate to handle all labour issues between employers and workers. He called for reforms in the prisons department that would focus on the warders.

Said Atwoli: “How can Mr Musyoka appoint Mr Awori to head the committee to look into the warders’ grievances while he was part of the problem? He was more interested in reforming the prisoners at the expense of warders.” The Cotu boss asked Musyoka to reconstitute the committee and include representatives from the trade unions, the Federation of Kenya Employers and the Ministry of Labour. The warders also accused Awori and Kamakil of being more interested in improving the welfare of prisoners at their expense.

Leaders of the go-slow, which started on Thursday, told their colleagues via short text messages (SMS): “To our loyal colleagues living with their families in these rags, you are advised to arrange and transport your families home before Wednesday as the war is just about to start. No retreat, no surrender.

On Sunday, Musyoka came face-to-face with warders’ squalid living conditions when he visited Thika prison. “The conditions of living of both prisoners and warders are deplorable but we are committed to improve them.” He appealed to warders to resume their duties today as the Government awaits a report by the Awori team.

The warders grievances include risk allowance which is being enjoyed by the regular and administration police, non-payment of stipend for their participation in quelling post-election violence, and failure to supply them with uniforms. They also questioning the whereabouts of Sh25 million deducted from their pay for the construction of Magereza Academy in Naivasha since the project is yet to start.

Justice minister Martha Karua said the grievances were genuine and were “part of the things that have been neglected for years by former regimes”. She said Kibaki had been in power for ‘‘short time compared to the decades of fornmer regimes.’’ Speaking in Nyeri, the minister asked the officers to give the Government time to address the issue.

The strike has adversely affected the justice system as remand prisoners have not been taken to court for the hearing of their cases. Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said they had put in place contingency measures to deal with possible public protests by warders. It emerged Sunday that the Government failed to respond to warnings from the prison authorities over a crisis fuelled by the Sh10,000 stipend.

Sent letters
It emerges that the Commissioner of Prisons, Gilbert Omondi, sent letters to Office of the President and the VP’s office over the matter. “There is rising discontent among members of our staff because of consideration for payment of risk allowance to the police officers only although the Ministry of State for Public Service had information from my office about the matter," Omondi says in one of his letters to OP.

Kuwa okanised!

Natumeko salamu za asupuhi kwa: Fincent Makhokha Wephukhulu, Chohn Wafula Lichoti na msee wa kasi Ponifass el Franjis Makariangi akiwa safarini huko Kwisero kalipu na Khumsalaba. Uchumbe ni kwampa nimetuma chitanda alichotaka na Wepuye Espress manake Elitolet Espress ilikuwa imechaa na aingochee pale Khayega kalipu na Sikalakala. Nataka wimpo wa Sukuma pin Ongalo unaosema “Hinjira motokaa mwana mdamanu wefyee!”

CNN sued for $1.3 billion - $1 per person in China

HONG KONG - A Chinese primary school teacher and a beautician have filed a suit against CNN in New York over remarks they say insulted the Chinese people and are seeking $1.3 billion in compensation -- $1 per person in China, a Hong Kong newspaper reported.

The case against the Atlanta-based cable channel, its parent company Turner Broadcasting and Jack Cafferty, the offending commentator, comes after 14 lawyers launched a similar suit in Beijing alleging that Cafferty's remarks earlier this month violated the dignity and reputation of the Chinese people.

Cafferty said the United States imported Chinese-made "junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food" and added: "They're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years". CNN said Cafferty was expressing an opinion about the Chinese government, but the Foreign Ministry demanded an apology and accused the network of trying to drive a wedge between the Chinese people and leadership. The lawsuits come amid a wave of criticism in China against Western news outlets in the wake of recent unrest in Tibet and disruptions to the Beijing Olympic torch relay abroad.

In New York, Liang Shubing, the beautician, and Li Lilan, a Beijing-based elementary school instructor, claimed Cafferty's words insulted all Chinese people and "intentionally caused mental harm" to the plaintiffs, the Ta Kung Pao newspaper reported on Thursday. Six lawyers were handling the case for Liang and Li, it said. "The $1.3 billion averages out to $1 per Chinese person, so it isn't much," the newspaper quoted a lawyer as saying.

Asked if China supported the action against CNN, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu characterized it as "spontaneous activity by Chinese civilians. We will wait and see CNN's response," Jiang told a news conference, referring to the Foreign Ministry's request for a full apology. "We hope CNN will take this seriously, because what CNN said and did has not only hurt China's feelings, but also CNN's own image."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Reflections of a clairvoyant

Back in June 2007, our resident clairvoyant made some predictions. Did they come to pass? You be the judge...

1. Kibaki will run again for presidency. Despite all his efforts and the wishes of his kitchen cabinet, he will lose the December election by a wide margin.

2. KANU will reemerge as a formidable force, as Kalonzo Musyoka runs as her torch bearer.

3. Prior to this, Kalonzo Musyoka will leave ODM-K with the excuse that the primaries were not democratic.

4. Prior to this Raila Odinga will win the ODM-K primaries and run as her presidential candidate.

5. Prior to this, Uhuru Kenyatta and Nicholas Biwott will be reconcilled by Daniel T. Moi, who will also prevail on them to woo Kalonzo back as the torch bearer. In real time, predictions 3 and 4 have already happened.
(Remember that the only reason Kalonzo left KANU was due to the failed 'Uhuru Project.' Moi always believed that his tribe should not rule soon after his reign. For his own comfort, he tried Uhur and there was disaster. Mudavadi is now a principled man, and will not go back to KANU. Indeed Kalonzo believed he could be president even before KANU swallowed 'Tractor.' Moi is still a master planner and has learned from his blunder. He has said "Kalonzo Tosha!" Uhuru has agreed. In calling the KANU delegates conference to converge in a few hours, UHURU is about to save his face, lest people conclude he never matured. It was assumed that he had become his own man when he disregarded Moi's advice and led KANU into ODM-K.

6. Ruto, Mudavadi, Balala will stay in ODM-K. Others more will stay.

7. Charity Ngilu and Paul Muite and others will join ODM-K and will not run for the presidency.

8. Raphael Tuju, Joseph Kamotho, Uhuru Kenyatta, Charity Ngilu and Musikari Kombo will not win elections in their constituencies. Muite will be the only one to win as an MP who is not pro Narc-K in Central province.

9. The sun will set on Kenya's 2nd president. He will not live to see how KANU fared in the next elections.

10. There will not be a clear winner in the December elections between Raila Odinga of ODM-K, and Kalonzo Musyoka of KANU. NARC-K will be a distant 3rd. Unfortunately the decision will be made by the High Court of Kenya.

11. On the brighter side, Kenya will have her first Prime Minister next year. It will be a woman. (Her name was revealed to me but it is this part that is not clear)

12. Generally between June and August, the wildebeest congregate and prepare to cross the famous Grumeti River to enter Kenya's Masai Mara. Some do not make it. Likewise, the politicians are in a similar situation. The first defection has already taken place and benefited NARC-K, the second DP. Most defections will not make an impact except one.

One day in the Zanzibari Parliament...

From the archives...

Just in case you thought our MPs are the worst in world for snoozing through the budget, have a closer look at the police commisioner and the army guy. What on earth do they have for lunch? And what if there was trouble in the chambers, who would save the rest?

Wesley Snipes sentenced to three years in jail

LOS ANGELES - Actor Wesley Snipes was sentenced Thursday to three years in jail for tax fraud, CNN reported. The Florida judge supported demands by the prosecution for three years - the highest possible sentence under the law. Snipes was charged with failing to file taxes for six years, but the jury only found evidence for a three-year period.

The total sum earned in that period was $13 million.

Snipes, of “Blade”, “Demolition Man” and “White Men Can’t Jump” fame, kept a poker face as the sentence in the Florida courtroom was announced, eyewitnesses reported. Snipes’ non-payment of taxes was a protest against taxes, based on his belief that the Internal Revenue Service was not a properly established government agency, ABC news reported. He has insisted he was not subject to paying taxes because he was a “stateless person” and a “non-taxpayer”.

Earlier this month, US Attorney Robert O’Neill of Florida admitted that he wanted to make an example of Snipes after his years of “brazen defiance” of tax laws aimed at cheating the government out of $41 million. “This case cries out for the statutory maximum term of imprisonment, as well as a substantial fine, because of the seriousness of defendant Snipes’ crimes and because of the singular opportunity this case presents to deter tax crime nationwide,” O’Neill wrote.

Snipes was convicted in February on three misdemeanor counts of wilfully failing to file federal tax returns for 1999-2001. Each count carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison. He was acquitted on two felony charges of filing false claims and fraud in seeking millions of dollars of refunds in other tax years.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What is Kibaki playing at?

In what is apparently a continuation of his "sleep-on-the-job-and-f*@k-about-as-much-as-possible" policy, bandit President Kibaki has finally furnished us with a list of new Permanent Secretaries. It seems Kibaki, in his high tower, just cannot seem to catch glimpse of any young (read non-gray haired) Kenyans. What we see is a blatant show of tokenism as he (once again) recycles dinosaurs that are well past their use-by date. Perhaps the biggest tragedy of all is that he retained his parrot, Dr Alfred Ng'ang'a Mutua, and Traitor-in-Chief Kalonzo's perennial enemy, Maanzo, springs back as the Secretary of Sports. Wonders never cease. And if you thought Muthaura was going anywhere...

Cabinet Office
Permanent Sec., Sec. to Cabinet & Head Public Service: Ambassador Francis Muthaura
Private Secretary/Comptroller: Hyslop Ipu
Public Communications Secretary & Government Spokesperson: Dr. Alfred N. Mutua
Secretary, National Economic & Social Council: Dr. Julius Monzi Muia
Principal Administrative Secretary: Sam Mwale
Secretary, Presidential Press Service: Isaiah Kabira

Ministry of State for Internal Security & Provincial Administration Permanent Secretary: Francis Kimemia
Secretary, Provincial Administration: Kenneth M. Lusaka

Ministry of State for Defence
Permanent Secretary: Amb. Nancy Kirui

Ministry of State for Home Affairs
Permanent Secretary: Dr. Ludeki Chweya

Ministry of State for Immigration and Registration of Persons
Permanent Secretary: Emannuel Kisombe

Ministry of State for National Heritage & Culture
Permanent Secretary: Seno Nyakenyanya
Secretary, Culture: Said Athman

Permanent Secretary:
Dr. Mohammed Isahakia
Secretary, Administration: Caroli Omondi

Ministry of Planning, National Development and Vision 2030
Permanent Secretary: Dr. Edward Sambili

Ministry of State for Public Service
Permanent Secretary: Titus Ndambuki
Permanent Secretary, Public Sector Reforms & Performance Contracting: Richard Ndubai

Permanent Secretary: Dr (Eng) Silas Njiru
Secretary, External Trade: Simon Chacha Nyang

Permanent Secretary: Samuel Kirui

Ministry of East African Community
Permanent Secretary: David Nalo

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Permanent Secretary: Thuita Mwangi

Ministry of Finance
Permanent Secretary: Joseph Kinyua
Finance Secretary: Mutua Kilaka
Investment Secretary: Esther Koimett
Economic Secretary: Dr. Kamau Thuge

Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs
Permanent Secretary: Amb. Amina Mohammed
Secretary, National Cohesion: Dr. Kithure Kindiki

Ministry of Nairobi Metropolitan Development
Permanent Secretary: Philip Onyango Sika
Secretary, Physical Planning: Eng. John Ndirangu Maina

Ministry of Roads
Permanent Secretary: Michael Kamau

Ministry of Public Works
Permanent Secretary: Mark Bor
Secretary for Works: Gideon Mulyungi

Ministry of Transport
Permanent Secretary: Eng. Abdulrazak Aden Ali

Ministry of Water and Irrigation
Permanent Secretary: Eng. David Stower

Information & Communication
Permanent Secretary: Dr. Bitange Ndemo

Ministry of Energy
Permanent Secretary: Patrick Nyoike

Ministry of Lands
Permanent Secretary: Dorothy Angote

Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources
Permanent Secretary: Prof. James Ole Kiyiapi

Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife
Permanent Secretary: Kombo Mwero

Ministry of Tourism
Permanent Secretary: Rebecca Mwikali Nabutola

Ministry of Agriculture
Permanent Secretary: Dr. Romano M. Kiome

Ministry of Livestock Development
Permanent Secretary: Dr. Jacob Ole Miaron

Ministry of Fisheries Development
Permanent Secretary: Prof. Micheni Ntiba

Ministry of Regional Development Authorities
Permanent Secretary: Eng. Carey Orege

Ministry of Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands
Permanent Secretary: Dr. Hukka Wario

Ministry of Education
Permanent Secretary: Prof. Karega Mutahi
Secretary, Education: Prof. George Godia

Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology
Permanent Secretary: Prof. Crispus Kiamba
Secretary, National Council For Science and Technology: Prof. Abdirazak Shaukat

Ministry of Cooperatives Development
Permanent Secretary: Patrick Khaemba

Ministry of Industrialization
Permanent Secretary: Prof. John Krop Lonyangapuo
Secretary for Industrialization: Dr. John Musonic

Ministry of Housing
Permanent Secretary: Tirop Kosgey

Ministry of Special Programmes
Permanent Secretary: Ali Dawood

Ministry of Gender & Children Development
Permanent Secretary: Leah Adda Gwiyo
Secretary for Children Affairs: Prof. Jacqueline Oduol

Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation
Permanent Secretary: Dr. James Nyikal

Ministry of Medical Services
Permanent Secretary: Dr. Hezron Nyangito
Director of Medical Services: Dr. Francis Kimani

Ministry of Labour
Permanent Secretary: Beatrice Naliaka Wasike

Ministry of Youth and Sports
Permanent Secretary: Murugu Kinuthia
Secretary, Sports: Daniel K. Maanzo

Office of the Attorney General
Solicitor General: Mr. Wanjuki Muchemi

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

SIASA DUNI EXCLUSIVE: 30-year secrets of Israeli-UK role in Amin's coup revealed

Britain and Israel were the real force behind the 1971 Idi Amin coup against Milton Obote's government, recently declassified British Foreign Office documents show.

According to the documents declassified after the mandatory 30-year period, while Britain came on board on the day of the coup, Israel, through its military attaché in Uganda, Col. Bar Lev, was in the thick of the plot.

The documents quote then British High Commissioner to Uganda, Richard Slater, as informing the Foreign Office that according to Col. Bar Lev, Amin's plan on Jan. 25, 1971 was to shoot Obote dead at the airport upon his return from Singapore. Amin however changed tactics because of the difficulties in simultaneously taking out Obote and sorting out anticipated pockets of resistance in the barracks. Obote was in Singapore to attend the Commonwealth heads of government summit and was due to return Jan. 25.

The first public signs of animosity between Obote and Britain started about a month earlier when one minister (the documents do not name him) alleged in a speech that the British colonialists had tortured Obote's grandfather by hanging him by the hair for several hours. In the weeks that followed, the British High Commissioner frantically tried to confirm the alleged torture from the Foreign Office.

For many months, the documents say, Britain had begun to worry about Obote. He bitterly criticised British arms sales to South Africa and he had nationalised British companies in Uganda worth millions of pounds. He was expected to give Edward Heath, the then British prime minister, a hard time at the Commonwealth meeting. London was therefore excited by the telegram from its envoy that Obote had been overthrown. "There is a good deal of interest here and we are receiving a number of enquiries,” writes Sir Alex Douglas-Home, the Foreign Secretary. By the end of the first day the Foreign office was already considering recognising Amin's rule. But in Tanzania, President Julius Nyerere was already accusing Britain of organising the coup and the British were afraid of being too close to Amin too soon. They decided not to lead the way in recognition but to be close behind others that do. After a few days they persuaded Kenya to lead the way in recognising the new regime.

In London, the Foreign Office's assessment concluded: "General Amin has certainly removed from the African scene one of our most implacable enemies in matters affecting Southern Africa. Our prospects in Uganda have no doubt been considerably enhanced providing we take the opportunities open to us. We now have a thoroughly pro-Western set up in Uganda of which we should take prompt advantage. Amin needs our help."

So when British intelligence picked information that Obote had arrived in Khartoum on Jan. 29 and may try to re-enter Uganda from the northern border, the foreign secretary ordered that a warning message be sent to Amin through the Kenyans. Britain later sent out a Foreign Office minister, Lord Boyd, who met Amin on April 3. Amin, he reported, wanted a signed portrait of Queen Elizabeth and a royal visit as soon as possible. Amin also told him he had written to her Majesty "a very nice letter".

The British High Commissioner cautioned his government to proceed cautiously, but the Foreign Secretary Sir Douglas-Home swept aside the advice and Britain proceeded to send military advisors and supply weapons. The honeymoon was however short-lived as both Britain and Israel lost favour with Amin in 1972.

Monday, April 21, 2008

MDC seeks Kenya's intervention to end Zimbabwe stalemate

HARARE - Zimbabwe main opposition, Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) has appealed to the Kenyan government to intervene in solving the election stalemate in Zimbabwe.

Following the latest election standoff in Zimbabwe, MDC top officials led by its Secretary General Tendai Biti, intimated that they came to seek Kenya’s intervention over their country’s electoral stand-off as Kenya had gone through a similar conflict. MDC officials held private talks with Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga who promised to table the Zimbabwe issue for debate by the Kenyan Cabinet. Odinga said that the Kenyan government was saddened by the situation in Zimbabwe and warned that if African countries failed to treat the Zimbabwe fiasco “as a matter urgency”, the situation would degenerate into chaos. Asked why they chose Kenya to unlock their election debacle, Biti said: “We have come to Kenya because of its uniqueness and its basic resemblance with our crisis. Kenyan people feel the pains their counterparts in Zimbabwe were experiencing," he said. The Zimbabwe debacle was instigated by delay in announcing the Presidential results. Incumbent President Robert Mugabe has been accused of withholding the results and calling for a run off.

MDC on the other hand claims victory in the March 29 elections. Its leader Morgan Tsvangirai vowed to leave no stone unturned until justice prevailed. He is currently traversing the Southern African region, soliciting support from leaders to intervene in the deadlock.

In a related development, the MDC leader has criticized South Africa President Thabo Mbeki for turning his back on Zimbabwe. In a recent BBC program, Tsvangirai said he preferred Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa over Mbeki, in trying to solve the Zimbabwe electoral crisis. And the MDC officials in Kenya were optimistic that the Kenyan government would help solve the current problem facing Zimbabwe. They termed the recent grand coalition government in Kenya as a ‘beacon of hope’ for many African countries struggling with shuttled democracies.

Meanwhile Raila Odinga has said that he will seek the African Union guidance to try and solve the crisis in Zimbabwe. “I will liaise with the current chair of AU, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and other African diplomats to try and bring an end to the Zimbabwe debacle.

Coalition cabinet: Raila outwits Kibaki. Again.

ODM supporters across the country did not rush to the streets in celebration after Raila Odinga and a host of men and women from his party were named to the cabinet.

The Orange party had demanded the Transport, Foreign Affairs, Local Government and Energy ministries after abandoning claim to the Finance and security-related dockets, most of which are in the Office of the President. Allocation of the key ministries was at the heart of the stalemate on naming the grand coalition cabinet.

But after a retreat by the bandit President and the people’s Prime Minister at Sagana, the ODM boss yielded ground on Foreign Affairs, Energy and Transport, and secured Local Government, which was given to deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi.

A number of ODM supporters felt that they were given a raw deal and that “real” power still remained with PNU. But Raila disputes claims that ODM lost out to its coalition partner. “Look through the new Cabinet with a microscope and you’ll realise that nobody got the better of the other. That is the best it could get,” he said when he reported to his new office at The Treasury. And in a TV interview on Thursday evening after being sworn in as the second Prime Minister of independent Kenya, Raila said it was the other way round, that PNU had, in fact, ceded more ground.

He noted that whereas PNU retained the security dockets, ODM captured key ministries that handled matters touching directly on the common man, citing Roads, Water, Medical Services, Agriculture, Immigration, Tourism and National Planning.

Serve Kenyans
He stressed that there was no winner or loser in the new dispensation, noting that all ministries were expected to serve Kenyans. But there is speculation that the international community pressured him into taking the ministries that Kibaki offered him because, in any case, he will supervise them all. A closer look at the allocation of ministries, however, reveals that vintage Raila may have outwitted Kibaki once more.

Whereas the bandit President seemed more focused on the security dockets, Raila was keen on the “common man” ministries that will endear his party to the grassroots. With Water, Public Service, Youth Affairs and Sports, Roads and Agriculture, ODM can easily steal the thunder from PNU. Secondly, there are two executive ministries in government: Finance and Local Government. Having seized Finance, PNU had to yield Local Government to ODM. This gives the Orange party control of local authorities, which are dominated by its councillors and puts it in a position to influence critical decision-making at every nook. Further, Public Service, headed by one of Raila’s key advisors, Dalmas Otieno, and Planning, to be run by another ODM man, Wycliffe Oparanya, were placed under Office of the Prime Minister.

And in areas such as security where PNU dominated, Raila made sure that Kibaki’s men and women don’t run the show; he dispatched his key lieutenants to key ministries run by PNU. For instance, Otieno Kajwang’ was sent to Office of the President to be in charge of Immigration and Registration of Persons, while Orwa Ojodeh and Simeon Lesirma will work with Prof. George Saitoti at Internal Security. Even more curious, Raila seems to have sent his brother, Dr Oburu Odinga, to be his “eye” at The Treasury. Other assistant ministers Raila sent to key PNU dockets include retired soldier Joseph Nkaissery (Defence), Richard Onyonka (Foreign Affairs), Lorna Laboso (Home Affairs), Omingo Magara (Trade) and Cheptumo Korir, a lawyer, to work with Martha Karua in Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

Though some ODM leaders have expressed disquiet after missing out on the positions, Raila carefully used the portfolios to appease the Luo, Luhyia, Kalenjin, Maasai, women, youth and Muslims constituencies, as well as to tame his oppenents’ influence. The Kalenjins, who voted for him overwhelmingly, scooped Agriculture (William Ruto), Roads (Kipkalya Kones), Higher Education, Science & Technology (Sally Kosgei), Industrialisation (Henry Kosgey) and Youth Affairs & Sports (Hellen Sambili) and several assistant ministers. In fact former assistant Public Service minister Asman Kamama was demoted because of the five, while Dr Wilfred Machage lost his East African Community Affairs docket to ODM’s Amason Kingi, whose appointment must have been a bitter pill to swallow for his neighbour, assistant minister Danson Mungatana who had hoped to be named minister.

Nyanza got Immigration, Public Service, Lands and Medical Services. Mohammed Elmi’s appointment to push development in northern Kenya was meant to reward Muslims and marginalised communities, which identified with Raila in the election. This, together with William ole Ntimama’s appointment to National Heritage could also have been informed by impending Kilgoris and Wajir North by-elections.

By handing Pentagon member Charity Ngilu a flag to fly in Ukambani, Raila was possibly intending to tame Kalonzo’s influence in the region. He was also giving them back a ministry they had lost to John Munyes after bandit President named the half-Cabinet; Water & Irrigation was previously held by Mutua Katuku, who hails from that region. It is said that Ngilu could not be taken back to Health because it had been “diluted” by being split into two. To make matters even more exciting, we have it on high authority that PICK’s John Harun Mwau was named Transport assistant minister with Raila’s blessings—perhaps to further clip Kalonzo’s wings. In the last election, Kalonzo campaigned for ODM-K’s Mutinda Mutiso for the Kilome seat, but he was defeated by the “Boss”.

Such manoeuvres and Raila’s energy inform the fear among PNU partisans that the President might be “reduced to a shadow” when the Premier starts rolling. It is almost certain that given Raila’s new position, political mind, skilled PR team and focus on the next election, he will outshine his partners, portfolio balance or not.

Is a "cold war" brewing between Raila & M7?

When Prime Minister Raila Odinga spoke after the swearing in of the grand coalition Cabinet at State House on Thursday, he referred to the chief guest, Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni, as ‘‘President of the Republic of Tanzania’’.

He quickly corrected himself and continued.

But 20 minutes later, when it was President Museveni’s turn to speak, he ‘‘forgot’’ the name of Raila’s party — ODM.

Were these cases of a slip of the tongue and momentary forgetfulness or were the two leaders passing some subtle messages to each other? The ODM leader is not a man given to slip-ups during such important occasions. In fact, Raila had a written speech from which he made the salutations to the high level guests. Was he reliving the moment when President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania charmed his Kenyan counterpart into signing the national accord?

Could it also be an indication of his relations with the Ugandan president?

Power sharing
Whereas Kikwete, as African Union chairman, was instrumental in the power-sharing deal, Museveni’s efforts as chairman of the East African Community did not have much impact. Museveni was viewed with suspicion by the ODM during the crisis. This was, in some way, brought about by Museveni’s reaction when the election results were announced. He was among the few world leaders who congratulated bandit President Kibaki for his re-election as ODM disputed the results.

Rumours of Ugandan soldiers having been deployed in Kenya to help crush protests called by ODM did not help matters. At the height of the rumours, dismissed by Uganda, Mr Odinga said he had talked to Mr Museveni, who had assured him that he had not sent any soldiers to Kenya.

Eyebrows were raised when President Museveni asked those in attendance at State House to remind him the name of Raila’s party. However, the Ugandan Head of state remembered PNU very well. “When you have PNU and ... What is the name of Odinga’s party? (He is reminded by those close). You change parties a lot and I can only remember Kanu and Kadu because I followed it closely. Now that PNU and ODM are together, you are back in 1965, when Kadu joined Kanu,” he said.

A few questions can be posed here. Why was it possible for President Museveni, a man who is abreast with the political developments in Kenya since he is a neighbour, fail to remember ODM but had the name of President Kibaki’s party - PNU - well engraved in his mind?

It is significant to remember that President Museveni was one of the region’s Heads of State who came to the country to attempt to broker a ceasefire between President Kibaki and Raila. The two parties involved in the conflict were PNU and ODM.

Was he indirectly referring to the frosty relations between him and ODM?

Those with some level of inference remembered when President Museveni complained that Uganda was unable to transport its export products to Mombasa because the railway line had been destroyed by people claiming to be ODM supporters. The railway line was uprooted in Kibera, Raila’s constituency and in Kisumu, another ODM stronghold. In addition, Ugandans lost property worth millions of shillings when their trucks to and from Mombasa were attacked by ODM rioters who blockaded roads.

Caution ministers
Museveni, probably aware that most of the ministers who were sworn in were ODM members, went ahead to caution them against breaking the oath. “The oath has tied you. I have been keenly listening as you swear your allegiance to the Constitution, the President and the Republic of Kenya. In Uganda, we call it indahiro and kiapo in Kiswahili - when you take it, do not break it,” he said.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mungiki Calls for Ceasefire

Beyond bizzare: childless Rituta housewife "entertains" man who said he could "open the way"

NAIROBI - The Mungiki leadership has called off the four-day violence, moments after Prime Minister Raila Odinga pleaded with the sect to stop the killings and destruction.

Jailed Mungiki leader, Maina Njenga, speaking from Naivasha Maximum Prison through an aide, said he had been touched by Raila's remarks that Mungiki members could be productively engaged in nation building. "Let all the youths involved in the countrywide strike stop and help Raila build this nation. We believe the Prime Minister will create jobs for us," Njenga said. The Mungiki leader said he had spoken to all the coordinators of the protests and requested them to call off the violence.

And Njenga's ceasefire directive carried a chilling message to any Mungiki follower who would go against the orders: "You will be punished accordingly. You must honour the ceasefire and stop rioting," Njenga said. The effect of Njenga's directive was immediate: Businesses reopened in all parts of Central Province, including Murang'a, Kenol, Maragua, Saba Saba, Mukurwe-ini, Othaya and Karatina which had been closed for the past four days. The transport crisis in many parts of the city and in Central Province eased as matatus returned to the roads. For the first time in four days, commuters sighed with relief as matatu operations returned to normal.

Plea to Raila
The ceasefire came only hours after a special anti-Mungiki police squad, Nyoka, was set up at Vigilance House in Nairobi. The unit is similar to the Kwekwe Squad that tamed Mungiki mayhem in Nairobi and the environs a couple of months ago. Meanwhile, Mungiki coordinator Njuguna Gitau Njuguna, who had earlier in the day insisted that the violence would go on, however, agreed with his chairman for a ceasefire. "We are impressed by the Prime Minister's remarks and we know he will bring reforms. The strike has been called off for now to allow development," said Njuguna on the telephone. Njuguna, who was preparing to address the Press and later issue Raila with a list of grievances, said they would from today ensure that businesses were re-opened in all affected areas. He also urged matatus to resume operations.

Police officers beat up a suspected Mungiki member in Dandora after gangs struck the area early this week. At State House, Raila made a passionate plea to members of the banned sect to stop fighting and to talk to the Government about their grievances. Njenga said he hoped to be released from jail soon to meet Raila and discuss jobs for the unemployed Mungiki youth. "I am coming out so that we can team up with Raila and other like-minded people in creating jobs to end the oppression Kenyans are witnessing. Let the youths stop fighting now," he said.

Njuguna introduced a political dimension to the Mungiki debate when he said leaders of the sect had on many occasions engaged in talks with many politicians in Central Province over varied issues.

Beyond bizzare: Landlord evicts woman for “too much noise from the bedroom”

But as the two leaders called off the strike, some of their followers were wreaking havoc in some parts of Nairobi and Central Province. They threatened oil tanker drivers in Nairobi as they loaded oil products from depots in Industrial Area. Mungiki members confronted the drivers in the morning and told them to join in the strike or face the consequences. The threats temporarily affected the deliveries until police were called in to disperse the gangs.

Another group hijacked four matatus plying the Kikuyu-Nairobi route and attempted to burn them. The gangs had bought petrol before police were called in. One Mungiki adherent was shot dead as others dashed into the thickets. Ten suspects were arrested and four vehicles impounded for allegedly aiding the gangs. Another suspect was beaten up at Waithaka in Nairobi on Thursday.

Another gang had earlier in the night attempted to petrol bomb a chief's office in Kayole estate, Nairobi. Witnesses and police said five men drove to the officers and threw three petrol bombs, which did not, however, explode. Police also arrested another suspect found with 20 litres of petrol in the city centre. Central OCPD Tito Kilonzi said the man said he had been requested by a friend to help him buy the fuel.

US attacks Africa over Zimbabwe

WASHINGTON - US authorities on Thursday criticised Africa for its lack of action on Zimbabwe where the results of the March 29 presidential election have not yet been released. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice expressed this criticism in a news conference in Washington. "It is time for Africa to step up," Rice said, asking: “Where is the concern from the African Union and from Zimbabwe's neighbours about what is going on in Zimbabwe?"

African reaction has been subdued to events in the southern African country, where a 19-day delay in issuing results of a presidential poll has fuelled fears of violence, although regional leaders called last weekend for the outcome to be announced quickly. The continent has largely taken its cue from South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki, who has insisted on a softly diplomatic approach to President Robert Mugabe, despite the catastrophic collapse of Zimbabwe's economy.

However for the first time the powerful neighbour on Thursday called for the rapid release of delayed results from Zimbabwe's presidential election. "The Zimbabweans need to be informed about those reasons for holding the results. But the most important thing is that the results need to be verified and released as soon as possible," SA’s spokesman Themba Maseko said. The government of Mbeki has previously hesitated to join international expressions of concern about the delay in issuing the result of the March 29 vote, in which the opposition says President Mugabe was defeated.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Thursday that Mbeki was no longer fit to mediate in the Zimbabwe crisis and he had asked for a completely new regional initiative by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). "President Mbeki needs to be relieved from his duty," he told a news conference in Johannesburg, adding that Mugabe had "unleashed an orgy of violence against the people" after the election. Mbeki led failed SADC mediation last year and has played down the gravity of the post-election deadlock.

Tsvangirai also suggested that there may need to be a special United Nations tribunal to judge crimes committed in Zimbabwe. "I think the current wave of violence against the people must stop and the only way to stop is that those who are committing those crimes must know that they must be answerable one day," he said. Although Mugabe's ZANU-PF party lost control of parliament for the first time in the vote, no results have been released from a presidential poll. But ruling party African National Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma, who toppled Mbeki from the head of the party last December, has made several statements calling for release of the results.

Mbeki is under criticism at home for his insistence on quiet diplomacy in dealing with the crisis in Zimbabwe, where the economy has collapsed, bringing hyper-inflation, shortages of food and fuel and 80 percent unemployment. Millions of people have fled to South Africa. The election outcome has now become embroiled in several legal cases that are further delaying a result. A court in Harare adjourned until Friday its hearing on an MDC challenge to a recount ordered in 23 parliamentary and presidential election constituencies.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Kenyans arrested for siphoning ngata in the US

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/16/08

With gas prices approaching $4 a gallon, this may become popular — siphoning.

On Tuesday, Marietta police arrested three men who allegedly used a gas can and a garden hose to siphon gasoline from a Mercury Marquis, a Jeep Liberty, a Ford Explorer and a GMC Sonoma. They also used the tools to suck gas from a Pontiac and Buick, according a police incident report.

"This is probably a trend you will see in the near future, as gas prices go up," said Officer Mark Bishop, a police spokesman. "They were stealing from several cars in the same complex, probably for their own use or possibly to sell."

Police arrested Ted K. Mbaya of Dallas, and Kevin M. Gitonga and George Mwangi, both of Marietta. Mbaya and Gitonga, both 20, told police they were students.

All three ran when officers approached them in the parking lot of the Silvercreek apartments at 1776 Roswell Road. Two of the suspects, Mwangi, 19, and Gitonga were shot with Tasers. Mwangi was hit with Taser prongs twice. The first time only one prong stuck to Mwangi, who kept running. The second time, the two prongs hit their target. Mwangi "was apprehended with no injuries," according to the incident report.

The men were each charged with felony obstruction and misdemeanor theft by taking.