Friday, April 30, 2010

HABARI ZA KUVUNJIKA: Dick Wathika loses Makadara seat

Dick Wathika has become the latest Member of Parliament to lose his seat after a court nullified his election as the representative for Makadara constituency.

Delivering judgment earlier today, Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal said the electoral process was marred by irregularities. She said the election was not free and fair and that the returning officer abdicated her responsibility.

Lady Justice Rawal told a packed court that Mr Wathika was not validly elected, but said that she will issue a ruling in the afternoon on whether to stay the judgement before giving the parliamentary Speaker a certificate nullifying the MP's election. The stay, if given, will give Mr Wathika a 30-day window in which to appeal the case. Mr Wathika’s election was challenged by former MP Reuben Ndolo who cited numerous irregularities during the 2007 polls.

Immediately after the ruling, hundreds of Mr Ndolo's supporters took to the streets to celebrate. They spilled into the busy City Hall Way chanting pro-Ndolo slogans as they snaked their way into Taifa Road and Mama Ngina Street.

Lady Justice Rawal told a packed court that Mr Wathika was not validly elected.

Police in anti-riot gear had a hard time controlling the crowds and were forced to form a human shield between the two groups of supporters, on Wabera street, to avoid confrontation. Blowing horns and waving placards, Mr Ndolo's supporters made their way to Nation Centre. They carried the former MP shoulder high, dancing and ululating his praises.

Through his lawyer Mr Otiende Amolo, the petitioner had asked the judge to nullify the election, alleging officials of the now defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) colluded to rig the polls by orchestrating his arrest on December 28, 2007. He said a returning officer, Ms Jerusha Chepsat, signed and issued a winner certificate to Mr Wathika before declaring the results. Ms Chepsat issued the certificate on December 28, 2007 and announced the results on the night of December 29-30, 2007.

On his part, Mr Wathika, through Mr Kioko Kilukumi, maintained that the allegations had not been proved.

Mr Wathika becomes the fifth Parliamentarian to lose his seat in an election petition since the last General Election in 2007. The same fate befell Joel Onyancha (Bomachoge PNU), Omingo Magara (South Mugirango, ODM), Chirau Mwakwere (Matuga, PNU) and most recently Juja MP George Thuo (PNU).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

RIP, Odongo Omamo ka liech

Veteran politician and former long serving Cabinet minister Dr William Odongo Omamo has died, aged 82.

He made his mark in politics when he ousted Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, who is considered the father of opposition politics, as Bondo MP in 1969 on a Kanu ticket. In his condolence message, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said his death came "as a shock and a surprise to me and the whole country".

Renown for his oratory skills, Dr Omamo, fondly referred to as Ka liech (like an elephant), had been ailing for some time. He died this morning, and his body has been removed to the Lee Funeral Home, Nairobi.

He was the first African Principal of the then Egerton Agricultural College, the modern day Egerton University and according to the PM "set the institution on the firm foundation that has made it what it is today".

"His death is particularly a loss to the people of Bondo where he began his political career and Nyanza where he was part and parcel of the political landscape from the time country held the second general election in 1969. As Cabinet Minister in various ministries in independent Kenya, Omamo contributed to the making of the Kenyan nation. It is sad that the nation will not benefit from his wisdom as we embark on the final leg of our long search for a new constitution," said Mr Odinga in his message.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Finally, the Judiciary is standing up to be counted

An important judgment was delivered last week in civil case no 2351 of 2008. The plaintiff was John Kinoti Sammy, a trader who would be described as a “small man” in the context of the Kenyan social strata.

For eight years, he operated a shop on the ground floor of Union Towers in Nairobi from where he sold soda, scratch cards and assorted goods. He had sub-let the space from a multinational (Innscore - think Nandos etc) that runs a popular eatery at that spot. Mr Kinoti had a dispute with the management of the corporation after some unknown people broke into his stall and stole his property. He wrote to the firm, arguing that his rent of Sh13,500 included payment for guarding his goods. The firm reacted badly. Their lawyer fired off a letter to Mr Kinoti branding him a trespasser and a squatter and ordering him to vacate the premises.

At this point, many Kenyans would have cut their losses and run, given the reputation of the Judiciary as corrupt and considering the perception that a poor man would stand little chance against a wealthier or more powerful opponent. But Mr Kinoti took a different path. He retained lawyers who wrote to the multinational stating that any attempts to illegally evict their client would be strenuously resisted. The corporation then dispatched auctioneers to kick him out.

Mr Kinoti’s lawyers went to court, and on April 23, 2008, a magistrate ordered that he be reinstated to the premises. The agents of the local branch of the multinational would still not let him return, and after a protracted series of hearings, Lady Justice Martha Koome ruled that the corporation had “wilfully and callously disregarded the orders of the court for almost one year” and that they were in contempt. A warrant of arrest was issued for the managing director and finance director of the corporation. They were duly locked up two weeks ago and ordered to pay Mr Kinoti damages amounting to Sh500,000. They were additionally fined Sh100,000.

On paper, this was a minor dispute between a tenant and his sub-tenant. But the case arguably provides a glimpse into a judiciary that is changing despite still being steeped in considerable institutional problems. In recent times, an unprecedented number of political heavyweights have lost their seats due to what judges ruled were irregularities in parliamentary elections.

The case of Mr Kinoti is another that offers a glimmer of good news from the courts. As a small-time kiosk operator, Mr Kinoti demonstrated that you can take on a giant and win. His case provides a lesson that when a Kenyan is confronted with what he views as an injustice, it is possible with a bit of determination and effort to assert his rights in the courts. In his dissent in the famous electoral battle between George W. Bush and Al Gore, about-to-retire US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that there is no greater guarantor of social stability than “confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law”.

This is something the Kenyan Judiciary ought to aspire to. If the courts enjoyed any level of trust following the last General Election, a lot of lives would have been saved because ODM would have challenged the results in court. That is why judicial reforms are so urgent. And that’s why the judicial officers in the Kinoti case--acting principal resident magistrate W. Mokaya, resident magistrate A. Ireri, Justice Koome and Mr Kinoti’s lawyer Wambui Njogu deserve praise.

Is it a coincidence they are all women?


Historic judgment heralds hope for a new dawn


This judgment is audacious, visionary, potent, earth-shaking, ground-breaking and even rebellious. The Kenyan Judiciary can occasionally surprise even its fieriest critics. I, for once, am pleasantly surprised by this judgment.

Even though Kenyans have generally written off the Judiciary, the courts occasionally surprise us and still send strong signals of either the untapped potential of members of the Judiciary or the undiscovered reservoirs of human vitality and independence that lie dormant.

Like a dormant volcano, it erupts unexpectedly, ferociously and viciously, consuming all within range. This judgment just did that. On Tuesday, Justices Muga Apondi, George Dulu and Mohamed Warsame of the High Court delivered a stunning 146-page judgment that, if constantly replicated in similar cases, will limit forever the unbridled power of the Executive and expand massively the rights of Kenyans to new frontiers.

This momentous case involves Mr Justice Moijo ole Keiwua of the Court of Appeal. Justice ole Keiwua was among the judges that were sent home in the so-called radical surgery of the Judiciary in 2003. Unlike many of his fellow judges that scrambled for the exit in haste and ignominy, Ole Keiwua resisted the allegations levelled against him and spent considerable time testing the independence and efficiency of the judicial system. It took him nine years to get justice.

The judge raised a number of fundamental legal complaints in the case. These were that the Chief Justice neither informed him of the allegations facing him nor requested him to answer the same. He contended that due process and rules of natural justice were breached. The tribunal investigating him also went on a wild goose chase looking for anything that would stick on him when there was no credible evidence. The President gave a blank cheque to the tribunal when in law his powers are constitutionally limited.

The case raises and then resolves a number of stormy legal issues with far-reaching legal implications. The judgment of the court addressed three pertinent constitutional law issues. First, it was contended that since Justice ole Keiwua sued a tribunal appointed by the President, that was tantamount to suing the President.

This argument by the State is a classic “kanuesque” argument that the President is above the law. The court in its judgment analysed the immunity the President enjoys under the Constitution. It holds rightly, in my view, that the immunity from civil and criminal cases enjoyed by the President is not absolute but qualified.

The court ruled that the President, like any other citizen, is subject to its laws in cases when he acts illegally or breaches the law. The splendour of the judgment is that it lays to bed the historic fallacy that the President is not subject to the laws of the land. Equally important is the court’s judgment that the President has usurped powers he doesn’t have in the Constitution.

Wide powers

By giving the tribunal investigating Justice Ole Keiwua wide powers, the court delivered a crippling indictment to the President in the reckless manner he tried exercising powers he simply doesn’t have. Its forceful rebuke of the President is both awe-inspiring and refreshing. This surprising judicial rebellion and reassertion of judicial independence must be celebrated.

The second issue addressed substantively is whether the Chief Justice in his administrative capacity can be subjected to court litigation process. Justice ole Keiwua contended before the court that when the Chief Justice advised the President to appoint a tribunal to investigate the judge, he should have observed due process.

The courts have previously addressed this issue and held that the Chief Justice cannot be susceptible to a judicial review process. The three judges’ decision that the Chief Justice’s administrative decisions are within the range of the High Court is welcome. The failures on the part of the Chief Justice in regard to the complaints by Justice Ole Keiwua were far-reaching.

That three judges of the High Court have to disregard recent decisions of the court and find that the Chief Justice’s powers when exercised wrongly or in disregard of the law can be challenged in the High Court is a refreshing breeze of judicial independence.

The judgment by Justices Apondi, Dulu and Warsame is historic. It gives notices to Kenyans, including the President and the Chief Justice, that all are within their judicial reach. Of course, Justice ole Keiwua must feel vindicated. But the big winner is the High Court. Let us hope this was not a one-off judgment, but the beginning of a new dawn.

Ahmednasir Abdullahi is an advocate of the High Court and a former chairman of the Law Society of Kenya:

Friday, April 23, 2010

HIV+ priest arrested for defilement

KAMPALA - A senior Catholic priest based in Pakwach town in Nebbi district has been arrested by the Police on allegations of defiling a 14-year-old girl
who served in the church.

The district criminal investigations officer, Henry Mulindwa, said the Rev. Fr. Santos Constatino Wapokura was first arrested last week in Pakwach when the girl’s parents registered a complaint. Mulindwa said another 14-year-old girl had also reported to the Police, saying the priest also forced her into sex early last year.

Wapokura, 45, the parish priest for Pakwach, is also HIV-positive, Mulindwa said.

Therefore, the Police upgraded his case from simple to aggravated defilement. He was, however, shortly released on bond under unclear circumstances, which the district Police headquarters in Nebbi are investigating. “This is a capital offence. When I heard about it, I called for the file and ordered the priest’s re-arrest on Monday,” Mulindwa said. Mulindwa explained that the victim was a class Five pupil. The girl told the Police that Wapokura would often ask her to go to his house, where he would follow her and force her into sex. On another occasion, the girl narrated, she was at the priest’s home with other visitors. Father Wapokura reportedly sent away the other people and forced the girl into sex.

Wapokura, who is detained at Nebbi Central Police Station, denies the allegations, which he described as a ploy by his enemies to tarnish his name. He was at the helm of the celebrations to mark the Centenary of the Catholic faith in northern Uganda held in Pakwach on March 20. Police said his file had been forwarded to the resident state attorney for sanctioning, after which he will appear before court. Another Catholic priest was arrested and charged with defilement in Gulu recently.

The cases add to the long list of accusations of sexual misconduct by Catholic priests, which have rocked the Church lately. In America, the Church has paid millions of dollars to victims. Pope Benedict has also been accused of trying to cover up the crimes in an attempt to preserve the image of the church, which forbids its priests from marrying. Activists in Britain are considering arresting the Pope when he travels to London later this year.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dr Michael Elmore Meegan: Author, Researcher, Sculptor, Pervert, Sexual abuser of men

The director of a well-intentioned charity scheme is at the centre of sexual harassment allegations by some Kenyans who accuse the Irishman of abusing them over a 20-year period.

In the case filed in Ireland, Dr Michael Elmore Meegan, the director of International Community for Relief of Starvation and Suffering (Icross) Kenya on Tuesday lost a court battle to block an investigation into a series of devastating claims about his activities in Ngong, Kenya. He appeared before the High Court in Ireland in a futile attempt to gag the Irish Mail on Sunday, which had run stories on his alleged activities.

Dr Meegan, the case documents claim, paid his workers for letting him cane them for his sexual pleasure.

Affidavits shown to the High Court further alleged that Meegan skimmed donor accounts to support his lifestyle and flew gay partners from around the world to visit him using the money given to Icross. He denied all the claims and said he was the victim of a conspiracy by “rival” Kenyan aid workers.

He alleged his accusers were making up false stories in the hope of suing for compensation or had been bribed to make their statements. Dr Meegan’s lawyers admitted that three weeks ago, Icross Kenya had tried to get Kenyan police to arrest his accusers. They said they wanted the investigation by The Irish Mail on Sunday stopped until those concerned had been put on trial.

Calls to the police spokesman Eric Kiraithe for a comment went unanswered.

The High Court in Ireland also heard claims that affidavits from Kenya, lodged on Dr Meegan’s behalf and purporting to cast doubt on the integrity of one of the alleged victims, were forgeries. Evidence shown to the court said claims against Dr Meegan had first been made to the police in Kenya in 1986. Similar allegations had been made since then by a variety of Kenyan men. The court was presented with statements by five Kenyan men who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Mr Meegan.

One of the men said the abuse began in 1986 and his parents made him report Mr Meegan to the police.

A sworn affidavit from charity guru Dr Vincent Kenny, then a member of the Icross board, said the claims were investigated by Kenyan CID but a deal was done in which Mr Meegan escaped prosecution if he went to Ireland and did not return to Kenya. But Dr Kenny said in his affidavit that a few months later Mr Meegan returned to Nairobi. When the board of Icross did nothing about it and refused to order him home, he quit. Independent evidence from luminaries of the charity world including a leading Irish professor, a British peer and a charity worker now in Chad with Concern, detailed Mr Meegan’s overtly sexual behaviour towards the young men in public.

On Tuesday, the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, threw out Mr Meegan’s application to gag The Irish Mail on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Slap for daft soccer player

A dopey football player got slapped — after celebrating his goal with the wrong fans. Excited Tomislav Bosec let his emotions go in true style, not realising his team's supporters were at the other end of the pitch.

In a video that has become a YouTube hit, the striker leaps over advertising hoardings to mark his goal for Croatian league side Inter Zapresic. One helpful fan of rival team NK Zadar is then seen providing a firm reminder not to make the same mistake again. An onlooker said: "It's unfortunate for Bosec, he will be become better known for this stupid celebration than the goal itself."

Ruto has taken a path to political oblivion

By Makau Mutua

It’s clear to me why the Christian clergy is against the draft constitution. The men of the cloth – emphasis “men” – are driven by religious bigotry and misogyny. That’s right – misogyny or the hatred of women.

The pillars of the Church hate the female gender so much that they would prefer a woman whose life is in danger dies rather than permit an abortion so that she could live. They don’t care about their Muslim brothers and sisters either. They would rather burn the draft constitution than allow Kadhi courts – which have existed for more than a thousand years – to serve Muslims.

Is that Christian love, or outright religious bigotry? I must confess that while I get where the Christian clerics are coming from, I am trumped by William Samoei arap Ruto. Mr Ruto is a young pup by political standards because he was only born in 1966. But thanks to former President Daniel arap Moi, he has been playing in the big leagues since he was in his 20s.

He reminds me of Julius Malema, that ill-mannered chap in South Africa who thinks he controls President Jacob Zuma. Is Mr Ruto simply too big for his breeches, or is there something to his braggadocio? When he speaks, you get the sense that he wants to be Alexander the Great. Both Mr Moi and Prime Minister Raila Odinga didn’t realise how cunning Mr Ruto was.

He is like a deadly parasite – he befriends and then infests you. He then watches you die a slow political death. He did that to Mr Moi, and wants to visit the same fate on Mr Odinga. This brings me to Mr Ruto’s bravado over the draft constitution. I mean, what’s his beef? He was in Naivasha and supported the PSC consensus.

I didn’t hear him raise all that ruckus about majimbo, abortion and Kadhi courts. Has he just woken up from some deep slumber and found these issues “contentious”? Or is he just manufacturing hot air to be noticed? Is he a rebel without a cause, some kind of a political brigand? Or is he a desperado, someone who has nothing to lose?

It is clear that Mr Ruto is Mr Moi’s political child. But I doubt this is the script Mr Moi would have preferred for his protégé. Mr Ruto does not want a patron. Rather, he wants to be the patron himself. The question is whether Mr Ruto has the wherewithal to be a patron. Can he be a political heavyweight in the true sense of that word? My answer is positively, affirmatively no! He is too hungry and it is obvious.

Rather than become the hunter, he is going to become the hunted. That’s what premature greed does. His devil-may-care attitude seems to be fake and his bravado false. He believes that if you act and talk brave people will think that you are brave.

That’s psychology 101, and it should only work on amateurs or the first time round. But by now most savvy people have figured him out. That’s why I think he should be smoked out. We should call his bluff. One way to deal with his type is to ignore him. He prospers when he is provoked and shrinks when ignored.

Let’s dissect Mr Ruto’s “leadership” of the NO campaign to unmask the pretensions that drive the man. Although he is a David, Mr Ruto fancies himself a Goliath. He has calculated that the NO campaign will be his ticket to national supremacy over Mr Odinga. He is like a small fish that swims alongside a ferry and “drafts” the currents to go further than it would normally.

Mr Ruto believes that the Church will be his “ferry”. He has aligned himself with the Church against the YES. He paints the YES people as abortionists, anti-devolutionists and pro-Sharia. Does he have great foresight, or will the referendum become his Waterloo?

I shouldn’t fault Mr Ruto for being ambitious. Ambition is good and should be rewarded. But megalomania and ego-tripping are different from ambition, and must be pitilessly punished. My sense is that Mr Ruto’s opposition to the draft constitution is hypocritical. He knows full well that this document is one of the most progressive constitutions ever written anywhere in the world.

Sure – there are some provisions I would like deleted, and there others I would like added. But if I was to insist – as Mr Ruto and the Church do – that the draft must bend to my will in every respect then we would never have a constitution. I have a final word for Mr Ruto. Please take a deep breath and step back from the brink before it is too late. Kenyans want the draft constitution and they will pass. Your purported leadership of the NO vote will most likely send you into political oblivion.

Prof. Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School and Chair of the KHRC.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ladbrokes refuses to pay out on odds given before Spurs' match against Chelsea

Fans were left fuming as Ladbrokes refused to pay out odds of 175/1 that Tottenham would beat Chelsea 2-1 with a Jermaine Defore goal - because of a mistake in store.

Locals lapped the offer up but were left upset when the shop in Northumberland Road, Tottenham, only paid out on the correct odds of 35/1, but the bookies insisted they were in the right. “I’m gutted,” Mark Gooding, 51, told The Sun after he put £5 on the outcome. He was only paid £180 and not the £880 he thought he had won. Ladbrokes said sorry for the error but insisted they would not pay out on wrong odds that arose from a “clerical mistake”.

HABARI ZA KUVUNJIKA: Rapper Guru dies at 43

Influential rapper Guru has died aged 43, after a battle with cancer.

The New York born MC suffered cardiac arrest on March 2 and was in a coma for some time.  A statement said: “Guru has passed away yesterday morning (April 19) after a long battle with cancer. According to (producer) Solar, Guru suffered from the malicious illness for over a year and after numerous special treatments under the supervision of medical specialists failed, the legendary MC succumbed to the disease. Guru always tried to keep this harrowing diagnosis in private but in early 2010 he had to admit himself to hospital due to serious effects caused by the disease.”

Guru became famous after teaming up with DJ Premier in group Gang Starr. The duo released six studio albums between 1989 and 2003 and became famous for making “conscious rap” before splitting under acrimonious circumstances. Since then Guru had released a series of ‘Jazzmataz’ albums where he teamed up with classic jazz, soul and hip hop artists. He also continued to tour the world with a band and producer Solar.

Where did the 2 trillion shillings go?

Kampala - Over the last two financial years, the Works and Transport ministry has received Shs2 trillion for maintenance and tarmacking of new roads in the country. But critics say that there is little impact on ground to reflect the money advanced to the ministry.

Meanwhile, Works and Transport Minister, Eng. John Nasasira last week during a meeting with the Parliamentary Committee on Physical Infrastructure said his ministry has so far performed well and needed the same amount, or perhaps an increment, in the next financial year to build a better road network across the country.

Ugandans are wondering what exactly the Shs2 trillion has done, and why some quarters of the country are yet to benefit from this money as far as the tarmacking of roads in these areas are concerned. Contrary to the public perception, Eng. Nasasira says there are achievements and indicators that show that the Shs2 trillion has been utilised to improved the country’s road network which has helped the steady and fast movement of goods and services and thus led to economic growth.

"It’s not true for people to claim that there is no work done. I challenge those who say that there is no difference in the improvement in the road network. For example all our major highways have been worked on,” Eng. Nasasira said. “There are a number of challenges which the public doesn’t know, especially those in towns and cities where people still think that it’s the ministry's responsibility but in reality, it is the local governments responsible for such roads.”

Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) Director for Planning, Mr David Luyimbazi agrees with Eng. Nasasira, saying UNRA’s master plan is to complete major highways before they can shift attention to other internal routes. “UNRA has almost completed major highways and soon we shall be dealing with other internal roads but there is need for cooporation between UNRA and the public as far as maintaining these roads are concerned. Look at the Northern Bypass; the community there is busy dumping along the road which is dangerous” Mr Luyimbazi said. UNRA became operational in July 2008, and its mandate is to efficiently and effectively manage and maintain the national road network currently totalling 20,000 kilometres.

UNRA is also responsible for ferries which link national roads and controlling axle load. But experts say limited capacity of the private sector on the market with a limited number of contractors and consultants capable of implementing big projects and weak capacity in local governments is easily seen in areas like Kampala with potholes. Eng. Nasasira says his ministry is aware of the problem and is soon launching a standard manual for all contractors in the country to follow. “That problem has been rampant but soon we will address it because even the few who are available are over stretched and unable to deliver projects on time, while the local contractors lack skilled personnel, equipment and financial capacity to efficiently execute projects,” he said. It is anticipated that the approved policy on the development of the National Construction Industry will go a long way in addressing the capacity of the industry.

Nevertheless, the ministry has been in the spotlight over poor roads network that had deteriorated. And with latest being accusation from opposition members of Parliament who have accused the government of only maintaining and building good roads in the western region. But the minister said roads are identified according to their importance. “That talk is idle, just look at our next plan of roads to benefit from the next phase, we have roads in Bugisu, and we are tarmacking stretches like the Soroti-Dokolo Road so are all these examples in western Uganda,” Eng. Nasasira said. However, Mr Nasasira acknowledged the delay in implementing their programme reasoning that like any other sector, his ministry faces challenges and constraints in overall sector performance and delayed procurement. Procurement is a big challenge affecting implementation and absorption, he said.

Eng. Nasasira faults the long procurement process caused by the need to comply with PPDA and development partners’ procurement benchmarks as some of the tiresome processes that have tended to prolong the process that sometimes takes two years to complete. “Some delays are caused by applications for administrative review from unsuccessful bidders and as a result much of the first half of the Financial Year was spent procuring,” he said.

And to reduce on this delay, UNRA plans to start the procurement process before the commencement of the new financial year. The minister also says Shs1 trillion is going to help in completing the construction of more ferries.


First Lady, Janet Museveni, and Works and Transport minister, Eng. John Nasasira, have clashed over the bad state of roads in the country.

Janet’s fury reportedly came to light last Wednesday during a cabinet meeting chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister, Eriya Kategaya. During the meeting, according to sources, Nasasira laboured to explain the state of roads. Apparently, Nasasira was marketing a fresh loan with which to improve the road sector, garbage collection and fire fighting across the country. However, sources said, much as cabinet fully granted his request, the tough-talking First Lady grilled Nasasira as to why his sector is performing poorly to the extent that everywhere one turns, there are potholes, piles of garbage and choking dust. “Every time you ask for money, we give it to you, yet there is no change,” the visibly irate First Lady, who also doubles as the state minister for Karamoja, reportedly told the engineer. “There is dust, potholes, mud, flies and garbage everywhere. Potholes, potholes! What is the problem? When shall we have the country you present on paper vis-à-vis the one we are seeing? What is the problem? There is no change!”

It is reported that Nasasira promised that once he gets the money, he would do wonders. This money, he explained, would be used to provide equipment to various districts for garbage collection, road construction and fire fighting. Citing the March 16 Kasubi tombs fire, Nasasira reasoned that it would not have destroyed the tombs to the extent it did if there were sufficient water supply centres. With his new project, he reportedly told cabinet, he intends to establish water supply centres positiones strategically to ensure an assured supply of water in case of fire outbreaks.

Janet’s grilling comes at a time when the Public Accounts Committee is investigating Nasasira’s ministry over CHOGM funds that were meant to fix City roads in 2007, but have consequently turned into fish ponds.

Scientific breakthrough: Extramarital sex 'causes more earthquakes', Iranian cleric claims

Attractive women who snub traditional Islamic clothing to instead wear fashionable clothes and apply heavy make-up, caused youths in the country to “go astray” and have affairs, Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi said.

The hard-line cleric said as a result the country, bounded by several fault lines, experienced more “calamities” such as earthquakes, the reformist Aftab-e Yazd newspaper reported him saying. Iran is prone to frequent quakes, many of which have been devastating for the country. "Many women who dress inappropriately ... cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes," he told worshippers at a Tehran prayer service late last week. "Calamities are the result of people's deeds. We have no way but conform to Islam to ward off dangers."

The Islamic dress code is mandatory in Iran, which has been under clerical rule for more than three decades.
Every post-pubescent woman regardless of her religion or nationality must cover her hair and bodily contours in public. But this has not stopped urban women from appearing in the streets wearing tight coats and flimsy headscarves and layers of skilfully applied make-up.

Experts have warned that a strong quake in Tehran, the Iranian capital, could kill hundreds of thousands of people. Tehran province has nearly 14 million inhabitants, eight million of whom live in the city, which sits on several fault lines.

Earlier this month, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country’s president, warned at least five million Tehran residents that they should flee Iran's capital because it is threatened by earthquakes. Mr Ahmadinejad said that more than two thirds of Iran's 74-million-strong population lived in urban areas. "We cannot predict when an earthquake will happen. But if anything happens to Tehran province's 13.8 million residents, how can we manage that?" he asked.

The worst in recent times hit the southern city of Bam in December 2003, killing more than 31,000 people – about a quarter of the population – and destroying its ancient mud-built citadel. Earlier this year the hardline cleric led rallies from Iranian government supporters who denounced opposition students who burned photos of the country's supreme leader during protests in December. "The issue has reached a point where the picture of Imam Khomeini is insulted," he said. "They questioned things that are sacred."

He mocked opposition activists who "thought the revolution had been defeated".

Monday, April 19, 2010

HABARI ZA KUVUNJIKA: Betty Murungi quits TJRC (and this time she's gone for good!)

It seems public pressure is beginning to bear on the star-crossed, johnny-come-lately, keeping-up-with-the South-Africans Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission.
After more than a week of never-ending embarrassment and humiliation, vice chairperson Betty Murungi has finally left the commission. Ms Murungi handed in her resignation letter today to President Kibaki and also informed Commission chairman Bethuel Kiplagat of her decision. “I am doing so because my position had become untenable,” she said. Ms Murungi, who said she was resigning pursuant to Section 16(b) of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission Act, 2008 thanked President Kibaki for the opportunity to serve Kenya in the Truth body.

She had previously resigned as vice chair of the commission after saying she could not stay on following her public utterances asking Mr Kiplagat to step down. Her move will further isolate Mr Kiplagat after the commissioners petitioned the Chief Justice on Friday to form a tribunal to investigate allegations linking him to past injustices.

In their petition, the commissioners said they wanted the tribunal to clear Mr Kiplagat of any wrongdoing and urged the law and due process to take its course. They said that the chairman should be investigated for allegations into the illegal or irregular acquisition of land; the death of former Foreign minister Dr Robert Ouko and the Wagalla Massacre.

The commissioners said that "we hope that the creation of a Tribunal will allow the Chairperson to vindicate his rights, to finally clear his name, and in the meantime allow the Commission to move forward with the real work of the Commission, the work that the people of Kenya have entrusted us to perform."

Mr Kiplagat has remained brave in the pressure for him to resign with civil society groups adding their voice to the clamour. The International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) last week demanded that Mr Kiplagat immediately steps aside to enable the commission fulfill its mandate. “Despite being a key mechanism to addressing Kenya’s 2008 post-election violence, the TJRC is being held hostage by Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat’s continued refusals to step down following credible allegations of bias and misconduct made against him,” said director of ICTJ’s Africa Program, Suliman Baldo.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) also said that Mr Kiplagat's tenure as TJRC's head had become untenable in face of the allegations facing him that had affected the credibility of the commission. When pressed on whether he would resign, Mr Kiplagat said that he would only do so if a tribunal is formed and if the law requires him to step aside.

A report of the Commission of Inquiry into Illegal and Irregular Allocation of Public Land released in 2004 made references to Mr Kiplagat's acquisition of public land illegally. In another allegation, a Parliamentary Select Committee of Inquiry into the murder of former Foreign Affairs minister Robert Ouko chaired by former Kisumu Town East MP Gor Sungu concluded that he was untruthful.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Radio station apologises to M7 for hosting opponent

KAMPALA - A radio station owned by former state minister for youth Felix Okot Ogong has publicly apologised to President Museveni for hosting UPC presidential candidate Olara Otunnu, it has emerged.

It is understood that President Museveni on Tuesday asked Mr Ogong, the proprietor of Voice of Lango FM and an NRM legislator representing Dokolo County, to make a public apology for having allowed his employees to host the former UN diplomat who allegedly defamed him. Mr Otunnu was summoned to appear before the police yesterday in relation to those remarks.

Mr Ogong on Thursday confirmed having received several phone calls from the President who demanded that the radio station apologise over the matter and retract Mr Otunnu’s remarks. “Otunnu paid for the show and he said President Museveni was behind the war in northern Uganda,” Ogong said. “The President was angered by these remarks. He (the President) rang to tell me he was not happy with people spreading lies and asked me to correct the information,” Mr Ogong, told Daily Monitor by telephone.

Mr Otunnu while speaking on Voice of Lango FM radio on Monday evening during a talk show hosted by the station manager, Mr Rolex Akena Ogwal, accused President Museveni of financing the war in northern Uganda. The talk show also featured Gulu Resident District Commissioner Walter Ochora, who counteracted Mr Otunnu’s remarks, calling them lies. The station has since run the apology, which aired on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The apology read: “Following the radio talk show which took place on Voice of Lango FM on Monday 12 April, 2010, featuring Mr Olara Otunnu – UPC party president and his cabinet, the directors and management of Voice of Lango FM have learnt that some of the utterances in the talk show angered the head of state H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The directors and management of Voice of Lango FM do sincerely apologise to the President and any other person whose feelings were injured by such utterance.”

Meanwhile Mr Ogong, who is nursing ambitions of challenging President Museveni for the NRM candidacy for the 2011 elections, on Thursday said he was getting threats from anonymous people claiming that his radio station  faces closure.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Besigye 84%, Muntu 16%

KAMPALA - Forum for Democratic Change president Kizza Besigye yesterday trounced former army commander Mugisha Muntu in the race to determine the FDC presidential flag bearer for the 2011 general elections.

Dr Besigye polled 728 (84.2 per cent) votes against Maj. Gen. Muntu’s 115 (15.8 per cent) at the poll held at Namboole Stadium in Wakiso.

The party’s electoral commission chairman, Mr Dan Mugarura, announced Dr Besigye winner at about 5:35pm, sending delegates into a frenzy of excitement. Gen. Muntu conceded defeat and promised to rally behind Dr Besigye.  “The delegates have voted the way they want and I will respect their decision,” Gen. Muntu said. “We have planted seeds of democracy in this party and I am sure that the generation that will follow us will reap from these seeds we have planted.”

He said the party was ready to take power come 2011 but had to steer clear of the temptations of abusing authority akin to that of the current government. “I would like to appeal to Dr Besigye; you were there (in the bush). You saw what happened. You shouldn’t lose touch,” Gen. Muntu said as the delegates clapped.

The poll followed a passionate last minute address by both candidates, each trying to sway the vote in his favour. Delivering his acceptance speech, Dr Besigye thanked the delegates for entrusting him with the mandate to represent the party in the 2011 elections and promised to work for the party’s victory against the ruling NRM party. “I am happy that you have given me that resounding victory,” Dr Besigye said. “It humbles me that after those years, and the fact that I might be having some weaknesses, you still trust me. I am indeed indebted for your hard work and support.”

The FDC president also thanked Gen. Mugisha Muntu for running a civilised campaign. “Even as we competed together, I have deepest respect for him,” Dr Besigye said. “I know him more than any of you here. I was telling you that political capital accumulates and that is why he has more votes than what he had 12 months back. I urge all of you to come up and vie for positions in this party.” The two gentlemen last faced-off in February last year for the post of party president.

Dr Besigye’s latest victory creates the possibility of a third showdown between President Museveni and the FDC leader—should the Inter Party Cooperation, a loose grouping of opposition parties, choose him as their joint candidate. Dr Besigye was beaten to the presidency by Mr Museveni in 2001 and 2006—although he contested both results in the Supreme Court.

Yesterday, Dr Besigye also promised to embark on building functioning party structures and raise the funds for the 2011 elections. “We must go back to ensure that our structures are on ground. I know that we have many branches, some week, some strong, some no- existing but we shall go back and strengthen all of them.”

HABARI ZA KUVUNJIKA: PNU Chief Whip George Thuo loses Parliamentary seat

The government chief whip and Juja MP George Thuo has lost his Parliamentary seat after a court nullified his election over poll irregularities. Delivering judgement, Judge Luka Kimaru said that the "credibility of the results were cast in doubt due to the glaring mistakes committed by the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya."

Abortion debate shows we are a nation of hypocrites

I have often wondered why the dead are more revered than the living in Kenya and why the unborn are valued more than those that are alive.

Why should a funeral be the biggest event in a person’s life and not his birth? What hypocrisy allows us to hold feasts at funerals, even knowing that the deceased left a wife and children in abject poverty? We worship the unborn foetus but not the woman who bears it for nine months. And when the child is born, we worry less about her future than about whether she was baptised or circumcised according to religious or ethnic edicts.

We go to church on Sunday and then steal from innocent Kenyans the rest of the week. We loudly profess our love and loyalty to Jesus, Allah, Ram, Krishna, Ngai, the Virgin Mary, Buddha ,or Guru Nanak and then treat our fellow citizens with disdain. We pray before meetings and then pass decisions that are not in the interest of all of humanity but only in the interest of those gathered at the meeting.

We are, in essence, a nation of hypocrites.

And no other group takes the cake for hypocrisy than our religious leaders. That is why at a time when the country has one opportunity to unite to heal the wounds of the past, church leaders are gathering their flock to break this unity and create doubt in a constitution that cost several hundred lives and millions of shillings to draft.


Because they believe that if a constitution allows it, every pregnant woman in Kenya will run to a clinic and demand an abortion.

Well, this may be news to the clergy, but abortion is more widespread than they would like to believe — with or without a constitution that sanctions it. Many studies have shown that girls, particularly those in city slums, resort to abortion when faced with an unwanted pregnancy. Girls all over the country are procuring illegal, unsafe, and unhygienic abortions in back-street clinics through untrained abortionists who use the most crude methods to get rid of foetuses. Those who don’t die from these procedures end up in the emergency wards of public hospitals, where doctors clean the uterus and try to save the girls’ lives. In other words, abortion will occur in this country whether we like it or not, or whether or not it is legalised.

These women and girls are not evil. In many cases, they are victims of rape or incest. Ignorance about the use of contraception or about their own bodies makes them particularly susceptible to unwanted pregnancy. The issue at stake here, the way I see it, is not whether the Kenyan constitution allows abortion in certain circumstances or not. The battle for or against abortion has never been about the unborn child or the sanctity of life, but about who controls women’s bodies. Because if every human life in Kenya were sacred, were a gift from God and had intrinsic value by virtue of being human, then we would not be treating each other with such contempt and suspicion. We would not allow half our country’s population to wallow in poverty and allow a handful to loot state coffers. We would not exploit our labour or mistreat our women and children. No, the battle the clergy is waging is the battle for women’s bodies. This is a battle that has been waged since time immemorial. And the simple reason for this is that men — who control most religious institutions in the world — have never been able to get over the fact that it is women, not men, who are biologically built to perform a function that has been attributed to a male God — creation.

That is why the loudest voices against contraception and abortion have always been male. No male will ever know or experience menstruation, pregnancy, or the hormonal changes associated with menopause. They can never really understand the joy — or pain — of giving birth.

In many cases, they are not even sure if the child they believe they sired is actually theirs or belongs to another man — that is something only a woman can know. So they have for centuries subjugated, veiled, confined, and oppressed women so as to have control over their bodies. Yet, and this is the irony, women and girls have been obtaining abortions for centuries, even in countries where they are extremely difficult to obtain.

The draft constitution Kenyans have before them does not even mention abortion-on-demand as a right, yet one would think, going by the clergy’s proclamations, that having an abortion will become as easy as removing a tooth once the new constitution is passed.

Shell ordered to deposit Shs35b before quitting

Kampala - The High Court has ordered Shell Uganda Ltd to deposit at least Shs35 billion ($17.5 million) with it before the company, or its shareholders and executives, can sell its operations in the country.

The order was announced by Mr A.G Opifeni, the assistant registrar, Land Division, last week over a land dispute between the oil vendor and a shipping company, Mercator Enterprises Limited. The dispute over Plot 49 on Ben Kiwanuka Street, which has come back to haunt Shell, dates as far back as 1972. The court order came less than a month after Royal Dutch Shell, the parent company of Shell Uganda, announced that it would dispose of 21 of its African subsidiaries including Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, and Namibia among others. Last month, Shell global’s CEO said the multinational plans to exit 35 per cent of the company’s current retail markets as part of an international strategy to focus on the upstream exploration and development of oil resources.

In an interview, Shell Uganda’s country manager Ivan Kyayonka said he was unaware of the court order, although he is aware of the dispute. He did not comment on the possibility of Shell depositing the Shs35 billion because the case is still before court. “It is prejudicial for me to discuss anything in court. I have nothing to tell you,” Mr Kayonka said in a phone interview.

The court order comes in a long-standing property dispute that was launched in the Uganda courts in 1993. The lawsuit demanded transfer from Shell of a commercial property in central Kampala, which the claimant, Mercator Enterprises Limited, says Shell should have transferred in 1972. The lawsuit also claims for all accumulated back rents, interest, and costs since 1972. But in 2001, Shell agreed to transfer the property, and subsequently did so. At the same time, Shell also consented to a court order stating that the rent for the property would be agreed between the parties, or, failing agreement, determined by the court.

Mercator’s property experts have advised their client that if the court does award their full claim, then the total amount will be about Shs35 billion. But the final decision on the amount to be paid rests with the court.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Terreblanche suspect 'acted in self-defence'

A South African farm worker on trial for the murder of white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche acted in self-defence, his lawyer claims.

Puna Moroko, lawyer for one of two suspects, told reporters that his client had been throttled and threatened before the murder. He also withdrew an earlier claim that at least one of the men was sexually assaulted by the far-right leader. The case, which has attracted worldwide attention, will resume next month.

Large crowds gathered at the court in Ventersdorp, including supporters of Mr Terreblanche's Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) as well as a group of black workers who were dancing and singing. Police formed a barricade outside the building but proceedings passed without incident.

Speaking to reporters outside court, the lawyer for 28-year old Chris Mahlangu said his client had been assaulted by Mr Terreblanche. Mr Terreblanche "throttled him and said 'I'll kill you because my cattle are missing'," he said. "Then he said he stopped working and started sleeping at a nearby farm until he [Terreblanche] sent one black guy... to plead with him to come back."

Mr Terreblanche's body was found on 3 April after he was beaten to death. The murder was initially claimed to be linked to a wage dispute, but police have now said they are investigating other causes amid reports that those accused acted in self-defence. Despite previous assertions, Mr Moroko meanwhile dropped the claim that Mr Terreblanche tried to have sex with his client. But he said he could only comment on his own client and could not speak for the other 15-year-old defendant, who is represented by a different lawyer.

Mr Terreblanche was leader of the AWB, a white supremacist group, and believed that whites and blacks should be kept apart. AWB secretary general Andre Visagie has dismissed the claims. "It is clearly that they hunt for a motive for the murder which they can't find and they are trying out everything now, including an effort to make Mr Terreblanche to look bad in any possible way," he said. The 15-year old has declined bail and is staying in a police safe-house. A bail application for Mr Mahlangu has been postponed until 10 May.

What the hell is wrong with Kiplagat?

The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commissioners have unanimously resolved that chairman Bethuel Kiplagat steps aside to facilitate the formation of a tribunal to investigate allegations against him.

The nine commissioners said on Tuesday that their decision was reached so as to insulate the TJRC against a credibility crisis. They added that they had requested the Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo, in writing, to ask the Chief Justice to form a tribunal to investigate allegations levelled against Mr Kiplagat. The truth team said " the allegations touch upon the following three areas of concern that are within our mandate: Illegal or irregular acquisition of land; The assassination of the Honourable Robert Ouko; and the Wagalla Massacre." The commissioners, who were addressing a news conference at Delta House, Nairobi, said that Tecla Namachanja will serve as the commission's chairperson in an acting capacity.

However, Mr Kiplagat, who was present at the media briefing, maintained that he will only step aside if a tribunal is put in place and if the law requires him to do so. “If the tribunal is agreed upon and established, I will follow the rule of law, if the law says I step aside, I will step aside,” he said.

The commissioners are: Tom Ojienda, Ahmed Sheikh Farah, Ms Namachanja and Berhanu Dinka. Others are: Ms Betty Murungi, Ms Margaret Wambui Shava, Prof Ronald Slye of the US and Zambia’s Gertrude Chawatama.

The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Act sets out the procedures for the removal of the TJRC chairman or commissioner. Under the Act, it is only the President who can remove the chair or a commissioner. Reads section 17 (2) of the Act: “Where the question of the removal from office of the chairperson or a commissioner arises under subsection, the Chief Justice shall, by notice in the Gazette, appoint a Tribunal which shall consist of a chairperson and two other members selected by the Chief Justice from among persons who hold or have held office as judges of the High Court.”

The tribunal will then investigate the matter and report its findings to the CJ stating whether the commissioner under investigation ought to leave office or not. The CJ will, in turn, forward the recommendations to the president for necessary action. The law further provides that the President may suspend the chairperson or the commissioner from the Commission while he or she is under investigation by the tribunal.

Mr Kiplagat has consistently fended off accusations that he was involved in past injustices.

In February, ten former heads and members of previous truth and justice commissions across the world demanded his immediate resignation, citing reports linking him to past injustices. Led by Nobel Peace Prize winner and former chairman of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the ten cited two local commissions of inquiry they said had raised serious questions on Mr Kiplagat's involvement in the injustices.

They referred to a report of the Commission of Inquiry into Illegal and Irregular Allocation of Public Land released in 2004 and that of the Parliamentary Select Committee of Inquiry into the murder of former Foreign Affairs minister Robert Ouko. Further, they noted that the Ndung'u report had made references to Mr Kiplagat's acquisition of public land illegally while the parliamentary committee chaired by former Kisumu Town East MP Gor Sungu had concluded that he was untruthful.

Mr Kiplagat has also faced charges of complicity in the February 1984 Wagalla massacre. He has been accused of attending a security meeting that authorised a disarmament operation that led to the massacre of some Degodia people at Wagalla airstrip. Hundreds of people were herded onto the airstrip where they were tortured, starved to death, or shot dead by the security forces. A visitors' book at the Wajir DC's office where the meeting took place listed Mr Kiplagat as one of those in attendance.

But, Mr Kiplagat vigorously denied the claims, insisting that he never attended the meeting.

The TJRC boss has also been accused of failing to disclose the truth regarding the murder of Dr Robert Ouko when he appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into the death chaired by Justice Evan Gicheru. The TJRC chair was Dr Ouko's Permanent Secretary when the minister met his death in February 1990.

He also denies claims by human rights activists and former political detainees that he was a strong defender of the Kanu regime that committed some of the injustices.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Papa don't preach; let your priests marry instead

In his remarkable apology to the Catholics of Ireland (most of that country’s population), Pope Benedict XVI explained why he thought sinful priests were tempted to commit sexual acts with children. It was because of “new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularisation of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values.”

As we know, the abuse of children by Catholic priests did not just occur in Ireland, but in many other countries too, something the Pope preferred not to dwell upon. And Ireland is not the only place where social transformation and secularisation have challenged religious values. When the Pope blamed the sexual transgressions on these challenges, he may have been at least partly right, but not for the reasons he believes.

In more traditional days, not so very long ago, when God reigned supreme and most people still turned to their priests (or ministers, rabbis, etc.) for moral guidance, sexual behaviour was often dictated by power. Christians may have believed in sin. The values espoused by the Church were paid their due deference. But hypocrisy gave privileged people, including priests, a certain leeway. Wealthy men had mistresses, professors had affairs with students, and even the lowly village priest, a man of social and spiritual power, if not of great wealth, often enjoyed the sexual favours of a woman conveniently at hand to take care of his domestic needs.

Such practices were accepted as facts of life, as they still are in many poor and southern countries, which might explain why the exposure of priestly abuse has taken place mostly in the north, where social change has been rapid. This made the notion of celibacy, a perhaps noble, but for most people impossible ideal, bearable. After all, in Renaissance Italy, even the Popes had children.

The life of women under such traditional arrangements tended to be tightly circumscribed. Except in small, libertine aristocratic circles, the woman’s role was to be a mother and domestic caretaker. And the rights of children in most traditional societies, before the changes the Pope deplores came about, barely existed. Adults ruled supreme.

To Pope Benedict, as well as other conservatives, the social and sexual revolutions of the mid-20th century may look like an orgy of libertinism. And to some, sometimes, it was: the hedonism of gay life in Amsterdam or San Francisco, the sexual habits in some hippie communes and the almost feudal erotic privileges of rock stars. But this was hardly for everyone. The real changes, in such countries as Ireland, Germany, or the US, concerned the status of women and children. It was no longer all right for men to have mistresses, teachers to have affairs with students, or priests to enjoy the favours of their chambermaids. People became less tolerant of hypocrisy. In a way, the social transformations of the 1960s and 1970s brought about a new form of puritanism. Especially in the US, a man can lose his job for making an “inappropriate” sexual remark, marriages collapse because of a one-night stand, and any form of sex with children is an absolute taboo.

Perhaps because so many other taboos have fallen, the taboo on sex with children is guarded with almost fanatical zeal. Even fantasising about it, in the form of pornographic cartoons, is illegal in certain countries. To be sure, the exploitation of children, whether sexual or otherwise, is deplorable, if only because children rarely have the power to resist. Even the Pope would agree that the emancipation of women, and the protection of children, are good things. During his time as Cardinal it was part of his job to stop priests from abusing minors. He does not appear to have been very successful. This may be because protecting the Church from scandal was held to be more important task.

Catholics have tended to be more tolerant of hypocrisy than Protestants. The rise of Protestantism was in part a protest against this. Strict Protestants make a virtue out of brutal frankness, because they believe they have a direct pipeline to God. Catholics confess to their priests, not to God himself. Sins can be dealt with, as long as proper ceremony is observed. This explains why the Vatican chooses to describe the paedophiliac transgression of its clergy as sins rather than crimes. That this will no longer do in a more emancipated world is not because secularisation has destroyed people’s sense of morality. After all, secularism never implies that abusing children is good. No, the problem for sinning priests is that power in democratic societies is no longer as privileged as it once was, and people are less willing to tolerate hypocrisy. As a result, the vow of celibacy has become an unworkable anachronism.

There is a solution to this problem. Or if not a solution, an amelioration: the Church could allow priests to marry, or form homosexual relationships with consenting adults. Pope Benedict XVI, a strict conservative in doctrinal matters, is highly unlikely to countenance such an idea. He will continue, instead, to preach against the evils of secular society and the dangerous temptations of liberalism. But this will not be of much help, because the flesh is weak, and will find a way to satisfy its needs. If this cannot be done legally, crimes will continue to be committed against people who are least able to defend themselves.

Law binds Kibaki to hand over suspects to ICC

President Kibaki will have no alternative but to hand over key allies in his Cabinet suspected of having committed war crimes if Luis Moreno-Ocampo succeeds in securing indictments.

The decision of the pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court at The Hague to allow Mr Moreno-Ocampo to take up the Kenya case has triggered debate over whether the President and Prime Minister Raila Odinga will agree to order the arrest of any suspects against whom warrants are issued. But according to the International Crimes Act which Parliament passed into law in December 2008, the government has no discretion over whether to cooperate with the ICC . Section 4 (1) of the Act demands that authorities cooperate with the ICC in keeping with the Rome Statute to which Kenya is a signatory.

The law says: “The provisions of the Rome Statute . . . shall have the force of law in Kenya in relation to the following matters — the making of requests by the ICC to Kenya for assistance and the method of dealing with those requests; the conduct of an investigation by the Prosecutor or the ICC; the bringing and determination of proceedings before the ICC; the enforcement in Kenya of sentences of imprisonment or other measures imposed by the ICC, and any related matters; (and) the making of requests by Kenya to the ICC for assistance and the method of dealing with those requests.”

This means one of the last remaining hurdles to securing justice for the victims of the blood-letting that followed the last General Election – the failure by the government to arrest suspects – has been removed.

Albert Kamunde, the chairman of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) Kenya chapter, said authorities must comply with international law. “Since Kenya ratified the Rome Statute and has domesticated the statute, it has an obligation to cooperate. This is what the minister (for Justice Mutula Kilonzo) has been saying, and we believe that is the government’s position,” he said. ICC officials arrived in the country last week to formally begin investigations that could see senior politicians behind the campaign of violence waged after the disputed election face trial. At least 1,300 are estimated to have died in the violence. Mr Moreno-Ocampo contends that politicians, prominent business people and community leaders instigated and financed the violence.

A 2-1 majority ruling at the ICC pre-trial chamber allowed the chief prosecutor to investigate war crimes committed in Kenya. The judges relied on reports of the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence headed by Justice Philip Waki and other reports like the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) investigation into the violence.

Cabinet ministers Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto have gone to court seeking to have their names expunged from the KNCHR report.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Draft Constitution: How devolution works

The draft constitution will easily sail through the referendum.

To project the results of a Kenyan election, you do not need an opinion poll; all it takes, unfortunately, is some simple ethnic arithmetic.

Because the large mass of the Luo, Luhya, Kamba and Mt Kenya communities have not come out to oppose the draft – and they comfortably make up more than 50 per cent of the voting public – the proposed constitution is as good as the law, whatever your pastor may have told you in church last Sunday.

With that settled, it is perhaps a good thing to examine what Kenya will look like the day after the 'Yes' campaign triumphs.

One of the most fundamental shifts in the new constitutional order will be the introduction of a structured form of devolution. There will be 47 counties that will receive a substantial amount of funding from the central government. The new units will get a minimum of 15% of the national revenue, meaning each county will benefit from anything from Sh1.5 billion to about Sh3 billion per year.

This will doubtless improve the way Kenyans are governed. Citizens will no longer be required to make journeys of up to 700 kilometres to access simple government services, as one now has to do in vast provinces like Rift Valley. In addition to bringing services closer to the people, devolution will be a major step forward in the effort to deal with the sense of ethnic exclusion that fans conflict at every election.

Voters will elect a county governor who will appoint a county executive committee. The committee will essentially be the executive arm of the county and will be in charge of implementing policies passed by the elected county assembly.

Despite all these benefits, there is another side to devolution. It can make people more inward looking, more provincial and less open to embracing the idea of multiculturalism. Appointments to key county posts are almost certainly likely to go to members of the ethnic community dominant in the particular county. This has been the experience in Uganda, which has an advanced form of devolution. In one case, a district in Northern Uganda needed to employ a district medical superintendent. It turned out that there was no qualified medical doctor from the district. But district officials found a veterinary doctor, whom they promptly appointed. Another district, Mbarara, in Western Uganda, needed to appoint a disabled person to a district service commission. They could not immediately find one so they appointed a guy who wears spectacles, arguing that he was sufficiently disabled.

Neither Kibaki nor Odinga are above ICC


There is an unspoken assumption that the International Criminal Court will not investigate – or indict – Prime Minister Raila Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki. I do not have any inside information, but I would advise that such an assumption could be both legally and factually wrong.

Those who know anything about criminal investigations know enough to know that no one knows where the evidence will lead you.

Fair and thorough investigations could lead a prosecutor to any target, no matter how high or mighty. The indictment of President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan is enough evidence to dispel the notion that anyone is above ICC law. Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC Prosecutor, had to proceed proprio motu – of his own volition – because Mr Odinga and Mr Kibaki failed to refer Kenya to him for investigations. Mr Moreno-Ocampo visited Kenya hoping to bag a referral, but returned empty-handed because the two “principals” were politically queasy about sanctioning investigations against key coalition partners.

Perhaps they hoped that Mr Moreno-Ocampo would be discouraged and not act on his own. They were wrong, and now the chickens have come home to roost. The only question is how wide Mr Moreno-Ocampo will cast the net, and whether the two “principals” will be spared.

The ICC statute explicitly provides in Article 27 that no one shall be exempted from criminal responsibility from crimes against humanity and other egregious offences on account of their official capacity even as Head of State or Government. This means that President Kibaki could be a target. Article 28 provides that military commanders and other superiors are criminally liable for acts of commission or omission. Thus a commander or superior shall be liable for crimes committed by forces or persons under his effective control, or as a result of the failure to exercise effective and proper control.

This is the case where the commander or superior knew, or should have known, that such crimes could be committed and failed to take steps to prevent them.

The ICC is uncharted territory and anybody could be caught in its dragnet.

Let’s think about President Kibaki, and whether he could be culpable. What did President Kibaki know, and when did he know it? Is it true, as some media have reported, that the NSIS warned the government – and perhaps Mr Kibaki – that some elements within and outside government were planning violence and retaliatory attacks if the election results came out a certain way?

If so, what did President Kibaki and the government do to prevent, or disrupt such attacks? Were, in fact, some of those attacks planned by security forces?

If so, was President Kibaki aware of such plans? Did he take steps to thwart them? As the attacks unfolded, did President Kibaki use his authority and control of the military and security apparatus to stop them?

I raise these questions not because I know what President Kibaki knew or did, but to debunk the notion that the ICC would automatically look past him in its investigations. There have been media reports that some of the attacks by non-state actors – such as Mungiki – against PNU opponents may have been planned with the knowledge of the government.

Was President Kibaki aware of such plans? If so, what did he do? These are not trivial questions. It is likely that a high ranking official indicted by Mr Moreno-Ocampo could implicate higher-ups in government.

That’s why, if I was Mr Kibaki, I would instruct my lawyers to look into any probability – or possibility – that I could be a target of investigation by the ICC.

Mr Odinga should not think that he is out of the woods either. Several reports, including the one by Mr Justice Philip Waki, have found that ODM supporters in the Rift Valley organised and carried out heinous attacks against PNU supporters. Many observers seem to believe that there is strong evidence linking senior ODM officials to the attacks. The question for Mr Odinga is what he knew, when he knew it, and what he did. Was he briefed on the planning of the attacks? If so, what role did he play?

If not, did he order that the attacks be stopped once he knew of them? Would senior ODM officials from the Rift Valley implicate Mr Odinga in the attacks should the ICC indict them?

Some senior politicians on both sides – ODM and PNU – have argued that the attacks were carried out on behalf of Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga. It’s not clear whether such statements are an admission that the “principals” knew of the attacks, or somehow helped plan them. Suffice it to note that under ICC law both the planners and the “principals” would be culpable for crimes against humanity. It is not a defence to say that one carried out the attacks on behalf of a superior, or under superior orders.

Under ICC law, orders to commit crimes against humanity are “manifestly unlawful”. Like Mr Kibaki, Mr Odinga should talk to his lawyers and prepare for any eventuality. The ICC is uncharted territory – anybody could be caught in its dragnet.

Makau Mutua is Dean and Suny Distinguished Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School and Chair of the Kenya Human Rights Commission.

Did Terre’blanche sodomise his killer?

South African police are investigating whether there was a link between homosexual sex and the murder of white supremacist Eugene Terre’blanche, police said on Sunday.

The lawyer for one of the two black farm workers charged with the killing that heightened racial tensions was quoted as saying that Terre’blanche was killed after trying to have sex with at least one of the defendants. A police spokesman confirmed that was among possibilities being investigated. Police had earlier said a pay dispute had led to the killing of Terre’blanche. “We are not going to focus on one thing,” said Musa Zondi of the Hawks investigative unit, adding that a sexual link was among the many accusations being made over the case. “We will investigate all pertinent facts that have a bearing on the matter,” he said. General Jan Mabula, head of the Hawks in the North West Province, told City Press newspaper the suspects’ clothes were to be examined as part of checks into whether there was a sexual link. Zondi did not comment on that. Terre’blanche was hacked and battered to death on April 3 and found with his trousers pulled down after a murder that has showed up the racial strains in the “Rainbow Nation”.

Lawyer claims Terre’blanche was trying to sodomise his farm worker...

“My instructions from my client are that there was some sodomy going on and it sparked the murder of Mr Terre’blanche,” Puna Moroko, attorney for 28-year-old Chris Mahlangu, told the Sunday Times newspaper. The other accused is 15.

Terre’blanche’s Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) has rejected any suggestion of a homosexual link to the murder of its leader, who was one of the most vocal proponents of keeping South Africa’s races apart. Terre’blanche was a prominent figure during the dying years of white minority rule with his khaki-clad paramilitary followers wearing armbands with the party symbol that resembles the Nazi swastika. But he had since lived in relative obscurity, particularly since his release in 2004 after serving a prison sentence for beating a black man nearly to death.

Monday, April 12, 2010

UK group plans Pope's arrest for 'crimes against humanity'

Plans to have the Pope arrested when he visits the UK will succeed because he is not a head of state, a solicitor has said.

Atheist authors Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens proposed the action against the Pontiff for his handling of child abuse scandals in the Catholic church. The writers' solicitor, Mark Stephens, said applications will be made to courts in the UK and the International Criminal Court for a warrant for Pope Benedict XVI's arrest.

Pope 'has no UK arrest immunity'

His likely defence would be be that he is immune from prosecution during his visit to Britain in September, according to the lawyer. But Mr Stephens said: "The courts will examine the claim of immunity. I believe that an English court would reject it. If the Pope was here on a state visit, ordinarily a head of state would have sovereign immunity. What I believe is that because he's not a sovereign, not a head of state, he's not entitled to the defence." He said that the Vatican was declared to be a state by Benito Mussolini, but this had no standing in international law.

The Pope faced criticism after it emerged that he signed a letter which delayed the punishment of a paedophile priest in the US for the "good of the universal church". Writing in 1985, the future Pontiff said that he needed more time to consider the case.

Mr Stephens, who has represented abuse victims in the past said: "This will require the Pope to deal with the way in which he appears to have prioritised the reputation of the Catholic church over the welfare of children."

Potential charges against the Pope would be crimes against humanity.

Friday, April 9, 2010

ICC to investigate 20 suspects (aka thug masterminds of post election violence)

Investigators from The Hague have arrived in Kenya. The advance team from the International Criminal Court will begin gathering evidence into the post-election chaos.

The Hague investigators arrived on Thursday morning ahead of Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo who is expected early next month. Ms Beatrice Le Fraper Du Hellen, the ICC’s director for Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division said in an interview from The Hague, "The Office of the Prosecutor will not comment on investigations because of the principle of integrity. We will not investigate through the media, but we will keep informing the public on the stage of investigations." Ms Hellen said that the move marks a new phase in nailing the perpetrators of the violence that followed the disputed 2007 presidential election.

The team that arrived on Thursday is expected to link up with the ministries of Internal Security, Justice and Constitutional Affairs and the Attorney-General’s Chambers. They will also meet agencies that played a key role in investigating the chaos to establish contacts with potential witnesses. Ms Hellen said The Hague had many ways to bring in investigators. "We have a lot of ways of deploying investigators. People will be coming in and going. We don’t necessarily open offices anywhere," she said.

The ICC move comes after the Pre-Trial Chamber gave Mr Moreno-Ocampo the green light to open investigations on Kenya. Mr Moreno-Ocampo had sought permission from the chamber after the government’s attempts to have the suspects tried on Kenyan soil by a local tribunal were frustrated by Parliament. The prosecutor has presented 20 names, among them ministers and businesspeople, to the judges. However, he expected to file only two cases involving six suspects. Mr Moreno-Ocampo has said the investigations, which he hopes to conclude by the end of the year, will be quick, robust, independent and impartial.

We want our 'Guantanamo terrorist' back home, says Kenyan Foreign ministry

A Kenyan held at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba should be returned home, the Foreign ministry has said.

Mr Mohammed Abdulmalik is accused by the US of involvement in a 2002 attack on an Israel-owned Kenyan beach hotel and an unsuccessful attempt to bring down an Israel-bound jetliner in Mombasa. He has been in Guantanamo since 2007.

In a March 2 letter obtained by Reuters on Wednesday, the ministry told lawyers representing Mr Abdulmalik’s family that it was trying to secure his transfer. "The ministry wishes to inform you that the minister... Moses Wetang’ula, has initiated the process of addressing the case of Abdulmalik’s repatriation back home," the ministry said in its letter to Mbugua Mureithi and Company Advocates. But the letter does not specify what the government is doing to secure Mr Abdulmalik’s repatriation.

At the State Law Office in Nairobi, the government was keeping under wraps whether or not it has plans to try Mr Abdulmalik in the local law courts once he is brought back. Director of public prosecutions Keriako Tobiko said on Thursday that the matter was under "serious consideration", and that a decision would be made only after evaluating the case the terror suspect filed against the government in 2009. "I cannot give the exact details of the request at this time, but we shall consider the matter in totality in the light of the proceedings filed at the High Court," he said.

The request contains details of the offence a suspect is accused of and which he will be charged with if it is granted. In December, Mr Abdulmalik’s family sued the government for wrongful detention and torture as well as handing him over to US anti-terror agents, all for which he is seeking Sh2.25 billion compensation. The case is pending in court.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tiger Woods' dad "speaks" in New Nike ad

Tiger Woods is making his long-awaited comeback later - as Nike broadcast a new TV commercial that could cause more controversy for the world's top golfer.

The sports giant's stark black and white ad was aired on prime-time TV across the US on the eve of the Masters. It uses the voice of Woods' late father, Earl, and suggests that the golfer feels he has let him down with alleged marital indiscretions.

A recording of Earl, who died in 2006, asks his son: "Tiger I am more prone to be inquisitive. I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are, and did you learn anything." Nike was one of a handful of Woods' major sponsors not to distance themselves from him when the scandal about his private life broke at the end of last year.

It comes as Woods is due to tee-off at the Masters in Augusta - his first tournament for five months. The star was treated to a warm reception from fans and fellow players during three days of practice on the prestigious Georgia course. He appeared relaxed and more open with the public, even signing autographs for a group of children on Wednesday, in contrast to his image as cold and aloof before the scandal broke.

But his smooth return to competitive action was threatened by an unusual broadside from the chairman of the famously discreet Augusta club. Billy Payne told reporters: "It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here, it is the fact that he disappointed all of us and, more importantly, our kids and grandkids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we sought for our children."

Organisers of the Masters are wary of potential stunts by some of the women who claim they have had affairs with Woods. One of them, Joslyn James, is planning to appear at a strip club in Atlanta this week. The National Enquirer has also reported on another alleged fling involving the daughter of one of Woods' neighbours, Raychel Coudriet, 22.

The golfer has confirmed his wife Elin will not be attending the four-day tournament.

But former pros have been more forgiving. Ex-Open champion John Daly - himself no stranger to headlines of the wrong sort - told Sky News: "Once he wins again, which I think could be this week, and gets to playing as he used to, he will be fine."

Meanwhile, ticket touts, known as scalpers in the US, say prices have rocketed. The sellers are barred by local law from making a profit on tickets and have to stay a designated distance from gates. But one said he expects a four-day pass with a face value of a few hundred dollars will sell for around £9,000.

Qatari diplomat in false terror alert

A suspected shoebomber wrestled into submission by air marshalls as fighter jets were scrambled has turned out to be a Qatari diplomat reportedly trying to secretly smoke in the plane's toilet.

The man, who has not been named, was on board United Airlines flight 663 from Washington DC to Denver, Colorado. Security officials have said he spent a suspicious amount of time in the toilet and other passengers could smell smoke when he emerged. When the man told US air marshalls he had been trying to set fire to his shoes, jets were scrambled.

The Boeing 757 eventually landed safely at its destination and the suspect has been taken into custody.

It is understood that passengers from the flight were also detained at the airport for questioning. Sky News' US correspondent Robert Nisbet said: "Just before 9pm (2am BST) as the plane was nearing Denver, a passenger was observed spending a long time in the bathroom. When he emerged there were reports that smoke could be smelled. A US air marshal approached the passenger, who apparently said he was trying to set his shoes on fire. Two F-16 fighters were scrambled and intercepted the plane and escorted it on to the ground in Denver. This was taken very seriously. However later reports said that no explosives were involved."

Qatar's ambassador to Washington, Ali bin Fahad al Hajri, told a state news agency: "We respect the need for special security measures for air-related travel... but the diplomat was traveling to Denver on official duty related to the embassy." He added: "He certainly wasn't involved in any activities involving a threat. This was a mistake and we request that all parties concerned refrain from making any assumptions or judgements."