Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kenya our motherland, full of milk and honey!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Kenya I cannot Stand

If you were following the news last week, no doubt you saw a woman on TV being harassed for protesting against the maize scandal outside parliament. She narrates her experiences below. Her courage is inspirational, and reminds us not to bury our head in the sand but to wake up and see the rot that is all around us. If we remain silent, it will bury us, and we shall be no better than our leaders who have turned out to be a millstone around our necks; leaders who have turned against their people...

By Philo Ikonya

I am up at 0330 because after the news of our arrest at 1230 was flashed last night, for some reason, I was released on a bond signed by Jaoko of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission after activist Ann Njogu, Wangui Mbatia and others told her to take action because I needed medical attention.

Thanks so much for all your actions. Shailja and Dipesh and Bunge and CKW and all... and all.... even to the most powerful in the land. It is dark in Kenya... very dark... our freedoms are not ours anymore and all Kenyans are suffering. I do not want a seat in a bunge like that, never. But in the darkness the voice of a man in the cells.. "Madam, they are trying to break your voice.. but it is powerful and unbreakable.. is your spirit. I saw it here in the cells... you have made me.. we were wondering who will speak since we lost voices to politics.... I will never be the same again ... just watching how you deal with things here..." Sorry it was about me.. but I have to be honest.

For some other reason, even when they told them about Fwamba and Kamotho; their case was not heard. I refused to leave them in the cells but once a bond is signed one cannot stay in as it is illegal.

Needless to say, I feel much compassion for Fwamba and Kamotho who were also beaten up especially Fwamba. Tears flood my eyes... when I remember how a merciless cop would hit him in the ribs every time he spoke up after I was boxed under the chin. He spoke gently but the cop yelled at us... he ( the cop) had said he knew me and that I should have kept quiet not to be arrested... I had told him I did not know him and could not abandon Fwamba,,.. he was alone... ( thank God Dipesh had mobilized Press) but now here we were in the car being told there was no camera there.... And so we would see... Here at home, I could not sleep and certainly not with the lights off as they had insisted on confining me in a dark cell alone...once we were hurriedly and as usual dangerously again transferred shoeless to Gigiri as they sneaked us out through the back since Central Police was too close for other activists to sustain pressure...

But in those hours at Central Police- we were transported at about 650pm and I managed to alert Mwalimu Mati whom I saw through the grills of the back of a van but police hit the car on all sides so that he could not hear- every few minutes they called us (over 50 men (5 women) out of their cells for a roll call. The Officer In-charge asks them what is their problem and they come forward fearfully and mutter something.

"I need to see a doctor, my chest hurts."
"Rudi ndani..... utamwona."
Another: "I need to go home, I am now here in the cells for three days, my eight-month old baby is in hospital admitted and I have nobody to help me take care of him."

I need... I need and I need.....But really all the officer is doing is intimidating fear. Here comes a young man with a big swollen cheek and he later asks me.

"Madam, I am sorry that they boxed see this huge swelling on my cheek, I was not like this before.... They hit me."

For Mukono, who pleads a case of mistaken identity and for many others, including the woman with the sick baby, the 24 hours in which they are supposed to be held in police custody before they are produced in court, (only those held for murderer can take 14 days) long, long expired. But they are still here. And there is crawling lice, the toilet for women is a little hole as the so called ‘proper toilet' is inside the gate of the men's cells. Yes, there are gates inside here and they have lock and key. Now since they learnt that the two of us who are human rights activists are in here, they tell me it had not been so strict for the women until I came. We are now thrown into an innermost cell and locked up more securely, it seems. The place stinks.

But every time we meet in the little antechamber of the halls, I remind the police officer that I have no clothes on my back, since his boss, the Deputy OCPD tore them up on the street. I complain bitterly about having a bare back and being in the same room for the roll call with men arrested for different purposes... one of them told me he was definitely going to be hanged for robbery with violence and he said this after suddenly taking charge and yelling at Fwamba whom he told he was worse than the policemen whom we seemed according to him to cow. But the office in charge...every time he says, You will get them Madam," and each time he finishes his roll call and throws us back in there as if we had not said anything. I can see from a little grill Kingwa Kamenchu showing them a paper bag with clothes in there for me.. I can see a disturbed Khainga... I can see Keli, Abel, I can see Kingwa being pushed out of the way with my clothes, I see many faces I know, I see Cyprian and Jane and Mwalimu Mati.. and the Tshirts they try to pass us.. the ones... are roughly confiscated... Fwamba being made to undress and I still left with my uncovered back.. ( the others are on their laurels but the cop has realized not even their blows keep me quiet... they were laughing as the cop who guarded us in the car was telling them "vile tumewekwa... how it was given to us... and by the way on arrival in Central I was made to sit on the floor and the brute of a policeman took Fwamba upstairs and confining him in a room tried to even pull his private parts.. beat him even more and told him not tell anyone...)

But now we are with the juniour officer in charge of us...He is very rough if one continues talking but I have taken this opportunity of the men sitting on their laurels to keep standing up and telling them that we must change our country. That the law does not allow for police brutality. That the police are not judge and jury. They are shocked that I address the policeman by the number he wears on his lapel. The policeman who beat us up this afternoon, in town and in the car almost turning us into pulp and hitting us where no obvious bruise can come up like under the chin, I remember asking him if he was going to break my jaw had no number on him. But we know him. He is the Deputy OCPD at Nairobi Central Police and when Fwamba and I get to the police station and activists flock in, they tell me that is the same man who last year molested Ann Njogu on the streets as he arrested her.

I am horrified for indeed each time he hit me I told him to look into my eyes and see God and his eyes looked opaque and distant... he hit me again saying he would take us where we could never talk again- I suppose he meant the grave. But I continued to tell him, ‘ My father had never hit me, nor any man on the streets nor any male in my life... no one... and that therefore, since he was oppressing me in the car - At the Inter Continental Roundabout I had yelled to motorists saying, " they are killing us..." and he had only hit us more turning the front seat of his vehicle low and leaning back and shouting at the cop on our back seat for letting us talk...and hitting Fwamba in the ribs and menacingly staring at us and swearing...but no one heard us in this torture chamber. The journey between Parliament and Nairobi Police Station down City Hall Way, past Kimathi's statue and through Moi Avenue was just blows.. and our voices since we are convinced that being threatened with being silenced is the last thing that will cow us. what I tell them happened to us in the police mobile torture chamber; a huge cop sitting in front, the one who had told me not to talk all the time, leans back and boxes me in the neck all the time. Well, what to do, with each blow we tell him to stop it. He beats us again and with each blow I tell him I was never beaten except by the state and sincerely ask God to bless him and since he has taken the law into his hands and is all ‘powerful' as we are confined in the car, and is pretending to be a god, I tell him he is not one but God would bless him.

At the station, Fwamba is thrown out roughly and I escape the brutes side and walk with the cop guarding us... I think I noticed that he could not stand this at some stage but his boss was showing him the way, we first sit, as I said before Fwamba is taken up to be beaten and to be asked who I am. They have perfected every stroke of intimidation... he thinks Fwamba will start spinning yarns but he only lets him beat him more... at this stage once in their hands Kenya Police - Dhuluma Kwa Wote - can kill you as they smile and move their shoulders to show that the job is satisfactory and that the orders from above have been fulfilled... I ask myself many things... " Just why is my country so dark...."

I told you they can kill you and you perhaps thought this is a story... listen to Bilha and her mother who shortly join us women in the cells. Bilha is preganant... her mother arrested in tow with her looks horrified when they come back to the cells. Bilha is 30... and Bilha's story kills me.

No wonder she looked stupefied when she came down till I massaged her head in the smelly cells... her story is something about having been duped to hold a child in town as someone went into a cyber... and immediately being blacked out and having all her property stolen and being left with a child she did not know... ( Feel sorry for the child, and for the child in her womb but another friend in here - is saying that babies can just be dumped in bags because women have to move on... she wants her puff badly.. yes, she is the woman who has a baby in hospital.. but she says... she had tried to abandon hers because she has no food for herself...) But Bilha... ten women cops upstairs in the station beat her up even with a wooden stick. They beat her and told her they would insert hot pepper in her vagina for an hour.. they beat her mother too on her back.. and then brought them in the cell. You can imagine my fear of a miscarriage and when they whisk me out for fingerprinting and I find Ann Njogu I shout out the story.. since the cops will not allow me a minute of sanity.. here they are asking me my tribe again...And in comes another clean woman later in the cells where all agree this is where the clean ones are.

She was arrested at 10 am for not having a coverall at her little eatery. She and four others. They were driven from Kasarani to Kiambu and all over town the same day while they tried to raise 4000 Ksh which the police wanted in order to release them... a bribe.

And I remember why we are here. Corruption = Death two of us chanted outside Parliament. My hands were in paper bag gloves; empty packets of maize flour. People are dying of famine, 10 million Kenyans and MPS sit in there not paying their taxes... a lot happened outside Parliament as women supporting the Minister who has mismanaged the maize harassed and tried to beat me first before the police...hurling all sorts of abuses.. and they were not arrested... I tell the women in the cells never to give bribes.. the mother of the 8 month old tells us she was accused of stealing a phone by a man who would not pay her after a night ( does anyone remember that poem...I once wrote.. and it won a prize..? the man came over to the police and apparently bribed all of them... he is rich, he is from the DRC. The girl... has been in for four days today.

And suddenly we women have a chorus - I had sang a few on my own to keep from reflecting too directly- and it goes like this:

"Did you say you have an eight month old alone at home, I was worried for my six year old!"And I for my 8 year old son... And I for my 13 year old who is a candidate this year... "

And Bilha does not talk. She carries a baby she might lose in her womb....

So, when am with the cops alone and on the journey to Gigiri- part of the reason we must be transferred before our 24 hours are over is the influence we are bearing inside... and also the many questions we ask...- I tell them, especially the woman not to touch me with hands that have hit Bilha... but the men look on and later they tell me after some verbal sexual harassment that I should not care so much for Bilha for the seed is by a man... she is pregnant from a man.

At that point there is a huge jam and not even the cops can manouevre- I start singing my Ave Marias in different languages if only to derail them from talk I cannot stand. They were warming up after threatening us with how they are going to deal with us on Forest Road where there is a cemetery. Later I tell them, the four with us- that the system they work in has eaten their souls and that they need to reflect. They tell us strange things.... They confess they need help, they soften and toughen and begin to call me other names that are not mine. We are at Gigiri and am raving at the dark cell. Then, when I think they are going to transport me again... and separate me from Fwamba because they put me in a place with light but the bulb has expired, I am called outside... the cops had told me they watched the news...I hear Pius Gachoka speak and he says they have come for me. I see Wangui, Florence Jaoko (KNHRC Chair) and Ann Njogu. I am shoeless but I am in a car going home at midnight to go to court at 8am......I must now get ready...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Our enemy is not famine, it’s our leaders


The inability of Parliament last week to pass a law to enable the trial of post-election warlords at home is a sign of the gradual but sustained decay of the Kenyan state. We can argue the whole day about whether justice is better served by a tribunal on Kenyan soil or whether it is a good thing for a country to be unable to punish its own criminals and has to palm them off to foreigners.

Some of the warlords regard The Hague as a joke. They look at the scale of atrocities on this continent and around the world; they look at Congo where more than three million people have been brutally massacred; they look at Rwanda where almost a million were put to the machete and they look at the Sudan where the cries of African women being violated still haunt the nights. Then they look upon their handiwork, a mere thousand dead and nearly a million refugees, then they conclude that the world has bigger crocodiles to slay.

In their calculations, they don’t think they will be indicted before the next election and after that they intend to be so powerful that they can use all the diplomatic resources of the government to either delay or kill prosecution. In their thinking, they will plunder this country so fundamentally that by the time they stand trial, if at all, they will have money to buy militia, the best lawyers in the business and the best instruments of propaganda. They are also counting on the rigorous application of the law by the international legal system. Using their vantage positions in politics, they will no doubt go to every length to contaminate evidence, possibly including having the most effective witnesses promoted to glory. If the trials take place in Europe, organising former warriors and survivors to go and testify would not only be prohibitively expensive, but it would be a logistical challenge as well. So they have called Mr Kofi Annan’s bluff.

Then there are the instrumentalists who have smelt blood and moved in to bite off the heads of their potential 2012 rivals. These ones are counting on the stigma of being investigated by a world court for crimes against humanity to destroy the careers of their rivals. I don’t know of any one who is genuinely crying for the children who were burnt in Eldoret and Naivasha. And if there is one such person, they should do their best to forgive me.

The Kenyan state is so depleted and so morally bankrupt that it does not have the political capacity to try the most vile and repellent human beings, those who have incited and facilitated the massacre of Kenyans. There is no Kenyan institution which is venerated, trusted and obeyed. Yet, the state is merely an assembly of institutions, functioning a rule-governed interaction. I think the condition of the Kenyan state today is a reflection of two things: one the success of the Left in destroying the neo-colonial state, one institution after the other, and, secondly, the failure of the same group to replace those institutions with functioning instruments of government.

The post-colonial state had been subverted by corrupt tribalists into an instrument of plunder and oppression. It was right that it was replaced by something more democratic and more useful to the masses. If judges were being used to fix dissidents, wasn’t it fair and right for us to get judges who would dispense justice and serve the people? If the political parties of that time existed to perpetuate one-man rule, wasn’t it fair and right to replace them with mass movements which would, in the way of Mao Tse Tung, harness the creative energies of the people? If the police were corrupt and killing innocent people on the orders of politicians, wasn’t it the right thing to replace them with a group to protect and serve all?

My own theory is that the Left burrowed into the flesh of the state and slowly ate it dead. But rather than fresh, supple and strong muscle growing in the place of the old one, nothing but the rotting corruption of the neo-colonial state remains. The reforms we sing about are an attempt to grow back some of the neo-colonial flesh. The Kenyan state is neither renewed nor stronger.

Take the political party as an example. Kanu was a monolith of decay and dictatorship. After the repeal of Section 2A, we formed many parties which, we thought, would be everything that Kanu wasn’t. The new parties would be places of debate and freedom, of principle and patriotism. They would belong to the people, vehicles by which the ideas of the people about government and development would be carried forward.

What did we get instead? We got words, rivers of words, corruption and the worst levels of tribalism and greed ever seen in this land.

The clincher is that even if one genuinely wanted to lead this country back to the road of reform and restoration, they would get nowhere. Kenya is a captive nation, hijacked by a wealthy, powerful, corrupt and destructive elite. Sadly, the majority of Kenyans are not wise. Only an unwise person trusts a politician. And only a fool believes that tribe is the most important frame of reference.

We probably should be praying for two things now: an enlightened dictator who will come, ignore our tribalism and reform us by force. Or we can pray for an old thief whose house is so full of money that he can steal no more who will come and, for sport, reform us.

If we are in an optimistic mood, we can pray for the veil of foolishness to be lifted so that we can see that our greatest enemy is not famine, disease, poverty or even ignorance. It is the men and women we have chosen to lead us.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Exit stage left: Joseph Kabila

Congolese President Joseph Kabila is slowly moving towards a crisis whose climax could be his removal from power, says a journalist who just fled the east of the country.

Claude Gilbert Kamba says that there is a political crisis in the Congo, caused by Kabila’s decision to sign a peace agreement with Rwanda without the consent of Parliament and other organisations such as the UN, that were involved in this process before.

National army
Under the deal, the Rwanda army was allowed to send troops into Congo and the National Congress for People’s Defence (CNDP) group, formerly led by General Laurent Nkunda, declared that it will no longer fight the Congo government and that it will train the national army and the police in the east of the country.

The signing of the deal mid last month saw major spade-work by Rwanda, a process that led to Kigali’s breaking off from its traditional ally Nkunda and backing his rival, Jean Bosco Ntaganda. The initial plan was to sign the agreement in Nairobi where talks were being held under the chairmanship of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. Gen Nkunda was later arrested by the Rwanda Government, but Kigali has refused to hand him over to Kinshasa.

Says Kamba: “Nkunda is under arrest because he was not listening to Rwandan advice, especially after he refused to allow Rwandan troops to enter Congo, saying that if they had to come in, they had to be under his command.’’ Kamba adds that Ntaganda is just carrying out Rwanda’s interest, not Congolese, and Kigali will finally hand him over to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, where he is accused of war crimes. He says that President Kabila is in the centre of a major power struggle with key players being the head of the police, General John Numbi, the head of army, General Didier Ntumba and Leon Kengo wa Dondo, who heads the country’s Senate.

Against each other
Kabila keeps power by playing the three officers against each other, but Kamba said President Kabila is incapable of running Congo as he seemed to be hell-bent on pleasing his European allies, led by EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel. Kamba, who fled a government attempt to arrest him in east Congo where he worked for Nkunda’s Radio Sauti ya Umoja, said a coup d’etat cannot be ruled out in Congo, most likely caused by a clash of the three powerful officers. Another likelihood is the Senate Chief, wa Dondo, taking over after parliament passes a no-confidence vote on Kabila.

The most powerful
Of three, the most powerful is Gen Numbi, the police chief, who is aligned to Rwanda, the main power-broker in Congo. Kamba adds that Rwanda is protecting and serving the interests of the US in the Great Lakes region. On Ugandan troops operating in eastern Congo, he says this is necessary “so that peace dawns in eastern Congo." The LRA, he says, made Congolese citizens hostage in the Garamba area where children have been taken by force to join the rebels as porters and girls made wives and sex slaves.

The main dispute in the east is over the operations of foreign armies, among them former Rwandan soldiers, the FDLR (the Defence Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) and which is the main enemy the Tutsi-led CNDP force was trying to fight. He said: ‘‘In east Congo, Rwanda and Congo fight the FDLR, while Uganda fights the LRA, so east Congo gets peace and the entire region gains.” Currently, eastern Congo is run by three main players: The Congo government, rebel groups such as the CNDP and Rwandan forces.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Babies having babies? Only in the UK!

The girlfriend of Alfie Patten yesterday rubbished claims the 13-year-old did not father her baby, insisting: “There has been no one else.”

Tearful schoolgirl Chantelle Steadman hit out as TWO other youngsters bragged THEY could be the dads of newborn Maisie. Chantelle, 15, said as she was comforted by the pint-size schoolboy: “I love Alfie. I lost my virginity to him. “We decided to start a physical relationship because we love each other. There has been no one else. He gets very jealous when I talk to other boys and I don’t like him talking to other girls.” Alfie, who looks only eight and was just 12 when Chantelle told him she was pregnant, insisted about the claims: “Other stupid boys are lying.”

The teeny parents — whose story shocked Britain when it was exclusively revealed in The Sun — spoke out after Richard Goodsell, 16, and Tyler Barker, 14, each claimed they bedded Chantelle. Both the lads live on the Old Town estate in Eastbourne, East Sussex, where Maisie was conceived. Chantelle, who still wears school uniform, said: “Cruel things have been said but I am just trying to look after my baby and ignore them.”

She told how she was besotted with 4ft Alfie, declaring: “We share looking after Maisie and do everything together like husband and wife. He has looked after me so well. He has held my hand and rubbed my back. We can’t stand being away from each other. He gets upset when he is away from Maisie and me.”

Her mum Penny, 38, blasted the claims her daughter slept around as “horrible”. She said: “I have never seen her so upset. To know that people are saying things like that about her is destroying her.”

She told how Chantelle’s room was tiny with a “very small bed that you wouldn’t really call a single”. Penny said: “No one stayed over in it.” She claimed the family had no idea Chantelle was even having sex with Alfie. The mum said: “I spoke to them both one night and asked, ‘Are you sleeping together?’ Their reply was, ‘No’. We had no reason not to believe them. I didn’t even know Chantelle was on the Pill! When I found out I was furious with our family doctor that he had not told me.”

A back room of the three-bed council house has now been converted into a bedroom for Chantelle and Maisie — who was yesterday surrounded by pink balloons and cuddly toys including a pink teddy. A total of six children plus the baby live in the house — also home to two dogs, a cat and budgerigars.

Alfie lives with his family in nearby Hailsham — where his estranged dad Dennis, 45, yesterday turned up hiding his face behind a devil mask. Alfie insisted: “I am the only boyfriend Chantelle’s had — and we’ve been together for two years. “I must be the dad.” Vowing to take a DNA test to prove it, he declared: “When she found out she was having a baby, I asked her, ‘Am I the dad?’ She went, ‘Yeah’. So I believe her. I didn’t know about DNA tests before — but mum explained it’s when they do a swab in your mouth and it tells you if you’re the dad. So, if I have that, they can all shut up. But I don’t really care what people say.”

Tyler Barker — the 14-year-old who claims Maisie is his — said: “It was routine for boys to stay over with Chantelle in her bed. But I only slept with her the once.” Locals heard his gleeful brother Jake, 17, running up and down the street outside their council house after Maisie was born. He was yelling: “My brother’s sh***** Chantelle. He could be the dad.”

Meanwhile trainee chef Richard Goodsell, 16, said he and Chantelle had sex at least three times. The teenager, whose 35-year-old mother Barbie Jayne claims to have twice bared her soul on TV’s Trisha, insisted: “My friends tell me the baby has my eyes — even my mum thinks so.”

The boys said other teenagers on the estate could also be the father. Eastbourne District Council, whose social workers are monitoring the under-age family, said: “Any birth to parents this young is a cause of great concern to us.”

But Chantelle’s mum scoffed: “No one has been to see Chantelle or Maisie since the birth.”

Close family friend Rob Burns, 27 — whose wife Olivia was Chantelle’s birthing partner — accused officials of not doing enough for the couple. He said: “There is a baby stuck in the middle of all of this. The family are pulling together for Chantelle. But social services have offered no support.”

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Hague is becming inceasingly inescpable reports...

Kenya Government's efforts to have election violence suspects tried at home collapsed on Thursday after MPs voted down the Tribunal Bill in Parliament. President Kibaki can prorogue, then recall the House and table the tribunal Bill again, but even that is a folorn hope.

The Bill seeking to establish a special tribunal in the Constitution could get the support of only 101 MPs, well short of the 145 required to amend the constitution.

Ninety three MPs voted to sink the Bill, even though President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga attended parliament to vote and rally support.

There were 195 MPs in Parliament during voting, with 93, nearly half of the House, voting against the Bill and Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim declining to vote. In total there are 222 MPs.

As far as the current session of Parliament is concerned, the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2009 is history. And according to the timetable established by the Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence chaired by appellate judge Philip Waki, the chairman of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities Kofi Annan, can hand over the list of the masterminds of the election bloodshed to an international court for investigation and trial.

The Waki commission had given the government up to March 1 to have the special tribunal up and running. After the defeat, the Bill cannot be re-introduced in this session of Parliament.

Since MPs did not take the long recess at year end and were recalled to deal with the tribunal and other urgent laws, the President may prorogue Parliament, recall it almost immediately and re-introduce the Bill in the hope that it will be passed.

Some 1,333 were killed and more than 600,000 displaced after the presidential election in 2007 degenerated into an orgy of ethnic cleansing and revenge massacres. Mobs looted and torched businesses in many parts of the country, while others blocked main roads and burnt trucks to paralyse the country.

As part of a deal mediated by Mr Annan, Kenya agreed to investigate the conduct of the election, investigate the violence and its causes and carry out wide ranging reforms. The investigation of the conduct of the election was inconclusive with regard to establishing the true outcome of the poll, but it did propose wide-ranging changes to the electoral system which are being implemented.

The establishment of a special court to try locally those suspected of having instigated the chaos has been thrown into disarray by the defeat in the House.

National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende declared to a silent House that the Bill moved by Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua had been lost at 5.40 pm attracting applause from members opposed to it. He cited parliamentary rules before declaring the Bill “negative and therefore lost.”

The vote comes after weeks of debate and lobbying by those supporting the Bill on one hand and those against it on the other. MPs opposed to the Bill, led by Imenti Central’s Gitobu Imanyara (CCU), said they did not have faith in Kenya’s justice system and that those involved in the violence should be tried at The Hague.

President Kibaki, Mr Odinga and Ms Karua, led those backing the Bill saying a local tribunal was the best for Kenya. The international community and civil society have also been pushing for a local tribunal saying it was the only way to ensure quick justice.

Last Thursday, a vote on the amendments was re-scheduled due to a lack of quorum. A vote cannot be held on a constitutional Bill unless 145 MPs are present. On Tuesday, the Bill was removed from the list of issues to be debated to give the government time to marshal support.

Mr Justice Waki handed a sealed list of suspects to Mr Annan, which was to be forwarded to the International Criminal Court if the Government failed to implement the probe team’s recommendations.

On Thursday, MPs opposed to the formation of a Special Tribunal made several attempts to stop voting. First, Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale (New Ford Kenya) argued that the presence of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga would interfere with the independence of the House.

Dr Khalwale also tabled a letter written by Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura to Cabinet ministers and their assistants directing them to be in the House at 2.30 and vote in favour of the Bill.

Dr Khalwale said it was wrong for Mr Muthaura to write to the ministers since he was not a member of the House, its whip, Leader of Government Business or coordinator and supervisor of government functions.

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, who is Leader of Government Business, defended Mr Muthaura’s move, saying he acted on behalf of the Office of the President. The Mwingi North MP said President Kibaki and Mr Odinga had also directed the ministers to support the Bills during a meeting on Tuesday.

Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua also came to the defence of Mr Muthaura saying it is the government that decides how to whip its members. The Gichugu MP was supported by Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro who said the government lobbied its own side.

Attorney General Amos Wako took issue with MPs who were delaying the vote through numerous points of order saying they were the same ones who complained when ministers failed to attend Parliament.

In his ruling, Mr Marende said Mr Muthaura’s letter to ministers had nothing to do with Parliament’s independence. “It was not addressed to MPs or copied to the Speaker nor the Clerk of National Assembly,” Mr Marende said. He said it was up to the Executive to lobby its members the way it wanted.

Block the voting
Mr Imanyara also tried to block the voting arguing it had earlier been set for next Tuesday. Mr Musyoka and Mr Marende, however, disagreed with him saying the House Business Committee decides matters that appear on the order paper. Voting started at 4.53 and it took the MPs less than 30 minutes to kill the Bill.

If the President does not prorogue Parliament, the Bill cannot be re-introduced until after six months have passed, long after the expiry of the March 1 Waki deadline.

During the vote, MPs, some who are close allies of key Cabinet ministers who are believed to have been named in the Waki, voted against the Bill, which was pronounced lost to shouts of The Hague! The Hague! from the opposition benches as President Kibaki, Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka watched quietly.

Assistant ministers Danson Mungatana, Calist Mwatela and Wilfred Machage defied the government and voted with the opposition. Speaking later, Ms Karua said the Government would go back to the drawing board to ensure that justice is done. She said the fate of six Cabinet ministers and five MPs suspected to be in the Waki list would be decided by Mr Annan on the basis of the recommendations of the Waki report.

“The fate of the planners and financiers of the violence is now in the hands of Mr Annan and the recommendations of the Waki report. We as a government have to come out and tell our people that The Hague is a last resort, not an option.”

The justice minister also appeared to question the political will of President Kibaki and Mr Odinga to implement the radical reforms in the National Accord, including trial of the suspects by a local tribunal. Ms Karua said the Government has to find ways of trying the rapists and murderers given that the key architects may go to The Hague.

Mr Annan will now consult the President and the PM to agree on the way forward on the fate of the suspects. The former UN secretary general may make preparations to hand over the case to the International Criminal Court. Alternatively, Mr Annan can borrow from he example of Sierra Leone and engage the UN headquarters in negotiations to establish a Special Court in Kenya to try the suspects.

After President Kibaki and Mr Odinga signed the agreement to establish a local tribunal on December 17, Parliament was required to enact the law for the Special Tribunal and entrench it in the Constitution by January 30. The tribunal was supposed to start operating by March 1.

Thursday’s vote was preceded by lobbying which intensified on Wednesday night. The triumphant MPs strategised in groups in Parliament Buildings and their offices.

Some MPs said they were alarmed that an amendment was already listed to delete Article 14, effectively granting immunity to some office holders. Led by MPs Gitobu Imanyara and Bonny Khalwale, they caucused on Wednesday night and sent text messages to their colleagues urging them to block the Bill.

Monday, February 9, 2009

What say you?

Here's an observation from one of our faithful readers from New Zealand. Do you agree?

I am waiting for Siasa Duni to make a comment about the very public spat between President Kibaki and Lucy. That woman needs muzzling and put quietly back in her corner and quietly close the door and throw away the key.

In my opinion she has NO place to comment on the work of paid Ministers. I don't see her with her hand in her pocket supporting her starving constituents (maybe I don't read enough), but to me she still looks far too well fed while "her people" starve.

I await to read Siasa Duni.


A picture you might not have seen, a prayer you need to say for your country

I got an e-mail appeal from one of our readers, and he asked me to post it here, seeing how many Kenyans get to read Siasa Duni on a daily basis...

Kindly forward this to message to ALL Kenyans you can possibly access.

The Almighty God is calling us to end this hand of Satanism in our beloved country. He is calling upon you and I to say a short prayer this evening before retiring. The power to do this is within. Kindly join other Kenyans in stopping this satanic menace. Please, please, please say this prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I put my country Kenya in your Hands.
I repent as a Kenyan for the wrongs I have done against You and your people.
May you, in your mercy forgive me of my sins.
May you, in your Holiness deliver this country from the hands of the devil.
May you send your Holy Spirit to guide every Kenyan to live according to your will.
May you remind every Kenyan to stand before you worshiping you in spirit and truth.
May you spare this country from the pangs of hunger, corruption and diseases.
Glory be to you Father.
In Jesus' name,

Monday, February 2, 2009

10 Take Aways From the Bush Years

By Bob Woodward

There's actually a lot that President-elect Barack Obama can learn from the troubled presidency of George W. Bush. Over the past eight years, I have interviewed President Bush for nearly 11 hours, spent hundreds of hours with his administration's key players and reviewed thousands of pages of documents and notes. That produced four books, totaling 1,727 pages, that amount to a very long case study in presidential decision-making, and there are plenty of morals to the story. Presidents live in the unfinished business of their predecessors, and Bush casts a giant shadow on the Obama presidency with two incomplete wars and a monumental financial and economic crisis. Here are 10 lessons that Obama and his team should take away from the Bush experience.

1. Presidents set the tone. Don't be passive or tolerate virulent divisions.
In the fall of 2002, Bush witnessed a startling face-off between National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in the White House Situation Room after Rumsfeld had briefed the National Security Council on the Iraq war plan. Rice wanted to hold on to a copy of the Pentagon briefing slides, code-named Polo Step. "You won't be needing that," Rumsfeld said, reaching across the table and snatching the Top Secret packet away from Rice -- in front of the president. "I'll let you two work it out," Bush said, then turned and walked out. Rice had to send an aide to the Pentagon to get a bootlegged copy from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Bush should never have put up with Rumsfeld's power play. Instead of a team of rivals, Bush wound up with a team of back-stabbers with long-running, poisonous disagreements about foreign policy fundamentals.

2. The president must insist that everyone speak out loud in front of the others, even -- or especially -- when there are vehement disagreements.
During the same critical period, Vice President Cheney was urging Secretary of State Colin Powell to consider seriously the possibility that Iraq might be connected to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Powell found the case worse than ridiculous and scornfully concluded that Cheney had what Powell termed a "fever." (In private, Powell used to call the Pentagon policy shop run by Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith, who shared Cheney's burning interest in supposed ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq, a "Gestapo office.")

Powell was right to conclude that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden did not work together. But Cheney and Powell did not have this crucial debate in front of the president -- even though such a discussion might have undermined one key reason for war. Cheney provided private advice to the president, but he was rarely asked to argue with others and test his case. After the invasion, Cheney had a celebratory dinner with some aides and friends. "Colin always had major reservations about what we were trying to do," Cheney told the group as they toasted Bush and laughed at Powell. This sort of derision undermined the administration's unity of purpose -- and suggests the nasty tone that can emerge when open debate is stifled by long-running feuds and personal hostility.

3. A president must do the homework to master the fundamental ideas and concepts behind his policies.
The president should not micromanage, but understanding the ramifications of his positions cannot be outsourced to anyone.

For example, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq in 2004-07, concluded that President Bush lacked a basic grasp of what the Iraq war was about. Casey believed that Bush, who kept asking for enemy body counts, saw the war as a conventional battle, rather than the counterinsurgency campaign to win over the Iraqi population that it was. "We cannot kill our way to victory in Iraq," Gen. David Petraeus said later. In May 2008, Bush insisted to me that he, of all people, knew all too well what the war was about.

4. Presidents need to draw people out and make sure that bad news makes it to the Oval Office.
On June 18, 2003, before real trouble had developed in Iraq, retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, the first official to head the Iraqi reconstruction effort, warned Rumsfeld that disbanding the Iraqi army and purging too many former Baath Party loyalists had been "tragic" mistakes. But in an Oval Office meeting with Bush later that day, none of this came up, and Garner reported to a pleased president that, in 70 meetings with Iraqis, they had always said, "God bless Mr. George Bush." Bush should have asked Garner whether he had any worries -- perhaps even kicking Rumsfeld out of the Oval Office and saying something like, "Jay, you were there. I insist on the ground truth. Don't hold anything back."

Bush sometimes assumed that he knew his aides' private views without asking them one-on-one. He made probably the most important decision of his presidency -- whether to invade Iraq -- without directly asking either Powell, Rumsfeld or Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet for their bottom-line recommendations. (Instead of consulting his own father, former president George H.W. Bush, who had gone to war in 1991 to kick the Iraqi army out of Kuwait, the younger Bush told me that he had appealed to a "higher father" for strength.)

5. Presidents need to foster a culture of skepticism and doubt.
During a December 2003 interview with Bush, I read him a quote from his closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, about the experience of receiving letters from family members of slain soldiers who had written that they hated him. "And don't believe anyone who tells you when they receive letters like that, they don't suffer any doubt," Blair had said.

"Yeah," Bush replied. "I haven't suffered doubt."

"Is that right?" I asked. "Not at all?"

"No," he said.

Presidents and generals don't have to live on doubt. But they should learn to love it. "You should not be the parrot on the secretary's shoulder," said Marine Gen. James Jones, Obama's incoming national security adviser, to his old friend Gen. Peter Pace, who was then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- a group Jones thought had been "systematically emasculated by Rumsfeld." Doubt is not the enemy of good policy; it can help leaders evaluate alternatives, handle big decisions and later make course corrections if necessary.

6. Presidents get contradictory data, and they need a rigorous way to sort it out.
In 2004-06, the CIA was reporting that Iraq was getting more violent and less stable. By mid-2006, Bush's own NSC deputy for Iraq, Meghan O'Sullivan, had a blunt assessment of conditions in Baghdad: "It's hell, Mr. President." But the Pentagon remained optimistic and reported that a strategy of drawing down U.S. troops and turning security over to the Iraqis would end in "self-reliance" in 2009. As best I could discover, the president never insisted that the contradiction between "hell" and "self-reliance" be resolved.

7. Presidents must tell the public the hard truth, even if that means delivering very bad news.
For years after the Iraq invasion, Bush consistently offered upbeat public assessments. That went well beyond the infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner that he admitted last Monday had been a mistake. "Absolutely, we're winning," the president said during an October 2006 news conference. "We're winning." His confident remarks came during one of the lowest points of the war, at a time when anyone with a TV screen knew that the war was going badly. On Feb. 5, 2005, as he was moving up from his first-term role as Rice's deputy to become national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley had offered a private, confidential assessment of the problems of Bush's Iraq-dominated first term. "I give us a B-minus for policy development," he said, "and a D-minus for policy execution." The president later told me that he knew that the Iraq "strategy wasn't working." So how could the United States be winning a war with a failing strategy?

After 9/11, Bush spoke forthrightly about a war on terror that might last a generation and include other attacks on the U.S. homeland. That straight talk marked the period of Bush's greatest leadership and highest popularity. A president is strong when he is the voice of realism.

"I believe we have a duty to free people," Bush told me in late 2003. I believe that he truly wanted to bring democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq. In preparing his second inaugural address in 2005, for example, Bush told his chief speechwriter, Michael Gerson, "The future of America and the security of America depends on the spread of liberty." That got the idealistic Gerson so pumped that he set out to produce the foreign policy equivalent of Albert Einstein's unified field theory of the universe -- a 17-minute inaugural address in which the president said that his goal was nothing less than "the ending of tyranny in our world."

But this high purpose often blinded Bush and his aides to the consequences of this mad dash to democracy. In 2005, for example, Bush and his war cabinet spent much of their time promoting free elections in Iraq -- which wound up highlighting the isolation of the minority Sunnis and setting the stage for the raging sectarian violence of 2006.

9. Presidents must insist on strategic thinking.
Only the president (and perhaps the national security adviser) can prod a reactive bureaucracy to think about where the administration should be in one, two or four years. Then detailed, step-by-step tactical plans must be devised to try to get there. It's easy for an administration to become consumed with putting out brush fires, which often requires presidential involvement. (Ask Obama how much time he's been spending on the Gaza war.) But a president will probably be judged by the success of his long-range plans, not his daily crisis management.

For example, in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the quality of the planning for combat operations ranged from adequate to strong, but far too little attention was devoted to what might come after the fall of the Taliban and the Baath Party. Some critical strategic decisions -- to disband the Iraqi army, force Baathists out of government and abolish an initial Iraqi government council -- were made on the ground in Iraq, without the involvement of the NSC and the president.

Obama would do well to remember the example of a young Democratic president who was willing to make long-range plans. Bill Clinton began his presidency in 1993 after having promised to cut the federal deficit in half in four years. The initial plan looked shaky, and Clinton took a lot of heat for more than a year. But he and his team stuck to their basic strategy of cutting federal spending and raising taxes, which laid a major part of the foundation of the economic boom of the Clinton era. It was classic strategic planning, showing a willingness to pay a short-term price for the sort of long-term gains that go down in the history books.

10. The president should embrace transparency. Some version of the behind-the-scenes story of what happened in his White House will always make it out to the public -- and everyone will be better off if that version is as accurate as possible.
On March 8, 2008, Hadley made an extraordinary remark about how difficult it has proven to understand the real way Bush made decisions. "He will talk with great authority and assertiveness," Hadley said. " 'This is what we're going to do.' And he won't mean it. Because he will not have gone through the considered process where he finally is prepared to say, 'I've decided.' And if you write all those things down and historians get them, [they] say, 'Well, he decided on this day to do such and such.' It's not true. It's not history. It's a fact, but it's a misleading fact."

Presidents should beware of such "misleading facts." They should run an internal, candid process of debate and discussion with key advisers that will make sense when it surfaces later. This sort of inside account will be told, at least in part, during the presidency. But the best obtainable version will emerge more slowly, over time, and become history.

Bob Woodward is an associate editor of The Washington Post and the author of four books on President Bush: "Bush at War," "Plan of Attack," "State of Denial" and "The War Within." Evelyn Duffy contributed to this article.