Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You thought Muliro Gardens was bad? Click here to see how it's going down in Nyeri.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

End of days for 'End of Days' billboard

Dubai, 11th April - A billboard advertisement claiming that May 21, 2011 will be the "judgment day" according to the Bible, and which shocked many and dismayed others, will be removed, a senior official said on Sunday.

The large billboards put up on various busy roads of Dubai such as Al Garhoud and Al Jaffiliya, carries the sentence "the great and terrible day, who shall be able to stand". Marie Sheahan, Media Representative of Family Radio, who is campaigning to put up this advertisement about judgment day, told Gulf News that she and her husband are in town from the United States to advertise and "warn people about it, regardless of nationality, religion or anything else because this will affect everybody". Sheahan said the message has been softened for Muslim countries due to sensitivity.

"We contacted many billboard companies here regarding this advertisement, but they said they did not want to deal with it because it was sensitive. Then, we found one company, Emirates Neon Group (ENG) who agreed and helped us put up the advertisement after getting the permission. We felt it was good to advertise on billboards," she claimed. According to the web address mentioned on the advertisement, "This message is from the Bible speaking of Judgment Day where the believers are called up into heaven, a worldwide earthquake occurs and Judgment of the unsaved begins."

About how they [Family Radio] came to know that May 21 is the ‘judgement day', Sheahan said: "Well, it is hidden in the Bible, and not many people can realise it. Lots of research have gone into it. Therefore, we know it is 40 days away. We are doing this because in the Bible, we are commanded to warn people."

Mona Khamis Ebrahim, head of the Advertising Section of Dubai Municipality Planning Department, acknowledged the presence of the advertisement but said: "The municipality will remove these advertisements as soon as possible. This was an unintentional mistake, especially [in view of the fact] that the section receives and licenses thousands of advertisements daily. Anything in contradiction with the Islamic religion is not permitted to be advertised."

Commenting on the claims made by the organisation, a pastor from a church in Dubai, who did not wish to be named, said: "We cannot pinpoint the final day. Only God knows it". Kasheef Abu bakr, a Dubai resident, said: "Announcements like this should not be allowed by the Municipality, and companies flouting the law should be heavily fined. The advert is absurd, outrageous and ridiculous."

Family Radio's official name is Family Stations, Inc. It is a non-profit corporation headquartered in Oakland, California. It began in 1958 with the express purpose of sending the Christian Gospel into the world. It broadcasts in more than 30 of the major languages of the world so that as many people as possible can hear the true Gospel in their own language. Family Radio has an intense desire to be altogether faithful to the teachings of the Bible, both in the conduct of its employees and in the Biblical messages it sends into the world.

Monday, April 11, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Gbagbo arrested by French special forces

Troops loyal to Ivory Coast's legit leader Alassane Ouattara have captured his besieged rival Laurent Gbagbo after breaching his residence earlier today.

Talking to the AFP, France's ambassador Jean-Marc Simon said, "Laurent Gbagbo was arrested by the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast, and taken to the Golf Hotel," he said, referring to the internationally-recognised president's fortified base camp in the city. However, conflicting reports reaching Siasa Duni indicate that he was captured by French special forces, who have handed him over to the rebels. Toussaint Alain, a Paris-based adviser to Gbagbo, told Reuters, “Gbagbo has been arrested by French special forces in his residence and has been handed over to the rebel leaders.” Earlier, witnesses had reported seeing pro-Ouattara forces entering Gbagbo's besieged residential compound, while French and UN armoured vehicles deployed on a road leading to the complex.

How easily we forget!

My heart stopped when I heard William Ruto say, "This is like a movie!” It wouldn't have hurt if he added, "Sit down and shut up! How dare you!"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How Kenya turned up at the ICC in The Emperor's New Clothes

The first formal appearance of Kenyans before International Criminal Court was bound to trigger different emotions. There are those struck by shame that Kenya is now in the company of disgraced nations that have, thanks to failed judicial systems and atrocious records of crimes against humanity, served as pick-up stations for ICC trans-world buses.

ICC knocked on our door after getting an invitation letter from the President and the Prime Minister. They invited them because many Kenyans had no faith in their judicial system and distrusted the weak-kneed police, which was also part of the mess. We also were buoyed that the judges would neither be Kalenjin, Luo, Kikuyus nor Luhya. But today, albeit too late, special tribunal is gaining currency

The fact that three years later we wanted to pull out, delay its process or derail it altogether, is immaterial. Whether the country healed or not, we had shown we were comfortable with a legal process over which we could pick the policeman, lawyer and judge. That is what Kibaki told the world when he handpicked a nominee for Chief Justice, Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions while en-route to the African Union Summit in Addis Abba to claim ICC should leave Kenya alone because it now had an honourable court system, hallowed home-grown investigators and a saintly man at State House, whose first and second names are ‘Beyond Reproach’ and ‘Integrity’. His choice for Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka — for obvious reasons — was stomping African capitals lobbying for deferral. Raila Odinga, understandably, was left out because they did not trust him. It turns out the world community may have given Kibaki a hearing if they were reading from the same script.

You see, Kibaki and his team stumble often because they believe now that we are in peacetime; they have devalued power sharing so much that the rest of the world should go by their terms – not the commitment they signed before Kofi Annan. Also, most regretably, a lot seemed to have depended more on our individual political inclinations and personal leadership preferences than the principles of law. There are also those who felt the appearances may lead to possible recast of the image we have enjoyed as Africa’s island of peace and cornerstone of political stability. In the six, we literally stood naked before the international community to be audited for what took place in 2008.

If we had fixed our institutions of governance before the sham elections in 2007, which were muddied by President Kibaki’s executive hand, we probably would not today be clients of ICC, upon whom foreign lawyers have struck a gold mine. Their siphoning pipe goes right into our Treasury.

Because of playing money-business with governance, we are like a bunch of monkeys one of which has a bell tied to the neck. The more the one with ringing bell runs towards his colleagues for ‘help’, the noise scares the others and they run further away. But others run towards him, not to help, but to try and decipher what it is that they have.
We are after all monkeys, the difference being only a few have bells on the necks. I suspect some of those at The Hague were driven by curiosity, not will to look sympathetic to the suspects, over what will happen to them, and also the prospect of political capital by seeming to have stood with them. There are of course those whose reaction was to ask what became of the victims of post-election killings, dispossession and displacements. They may be few because many look like they have accepted the victims were the unfortunate pawns or sacrificial lambs in the game and altar of politics. But for others, the day may just have raised hope the victims may finally get justice and the suspects fair process in court.

Now let us digress to the suspects as called by the Lady Judge. Whether they are innocent or guilty is a matter for the court to decide. Until then they are presumed innocent. The court has three distinct sides: prosecution, defense and the Bench. Whether the suspects genuinely believe the allegations were influenced by Raila or were part of a 2012 conspiracy against them, is a matter for chest thumping in political rallies in Nairobi, not ICC courtroom. The prosecution defends its allegations using evidence; the suspects and their lawyers disparage the claims on account of law; while the judges arbitrate in the tussle and deliver the ruling. Like in any other court, impressions matter and how one carries himself before the judge, matters even more.

Now it is suicidal to turn your wrath on the ‘referee’ or to show disrespect for the court. It is also foolhardy to be accused of being a warlord and to seemingly look like one out to prove this is true by arriving complete with a ‘delegation’ of fire-splitters.

Whether the Ocampo Six are innocent or guilty, they must remember ICC has a bad impression of them. They can just make it worse or better for themselves by appreciating the new phase of battle will be won or lost in the court-room – not political rallies and prayers. And in the courtroom, you do not need a cheering squad; they will only make your case worse.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What is eating Uhuru Kenyatta?

Desperation and fear are dangerous things. They have turned Uhuru Kenyatta into a political rabid dog with infected fangs biting everything, particularly his short, curled tail. I don’t blame Uhuru. For a man who was born at and grew up in State House, one can understand how it feels when faced with the most serious criminal charges in the entire world.

To be accused by the ICC, following credible investigations, of having committed mass murder, mass rape, mass displacement and some of the worst inhumane and degrading acts against innocent civilians isn’t a laughing matter. If convicted, even only of one charge, Uhuru faces life in jail. So, it is understandable that he is scared, confused and desperate.

However, Uhuru isn’t Jomo Kenyatta. Those comparing his current tribulations with those of the Kapenguria Six aren’t just being unfair to history and Kenyans; they aren’t being fair to Uhuru and his late father. Uhuru grew up in extreme privilege and opulence. He has never lacked anything in life. I have done some research on this son of Jomo and discovered nothing compelling. There isn’t anything remarkable about Uhuru; no achievement worth mentioning. From nursery school to college, the son of Jomo performed below average. As far as I can gather, he was neither good in sports nor academics; he wasn’t a gifted speaker or a debater. Nor is he now. In other words, it is fully understandable that, faced with the most serious criminal charges in the history of the world, Uhuru is fumbling, flailing and crumbling.

But to try and cast Uhuru as some kind of liberator or freedom fighter who is being persecuted by his political enemies is taking the joke too far. Kenyans aren’t complete idiots. The other day, Uhuru’s cousin Beth Mugo and other PNU/KKK acolytes compared him to the Kapenguria six. Let’s get one thing right: Jomo Kenyatta, Achieng’ Oneko, Kungu Karumba, Bildad Kaggia, Paul Ngei and Fred Kubia were not sent to Kapenguria because they had butchered innocent Kenyan civilians; they were jailed by the British colonialists because they allegedly belonged to the Mau Mau movement, which was fighting for the liberation of Kenya. But Uhuru and his friend William Ruto aren’t in that league. Uhuru and Ruto belong to the league of alleged robber barons and murderers. At least that’s what Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s evidence shows.

 Make no mistake: there was no freedom or liberation Uhuru was fighting for in 2007/8. The Mungiki vigilante group that the ICC Prosecutor has accused him of having used to brutalise and butcher innocent civilians isn’t a liberation movement. Uhuru and his gang of supporters know that the 2007 presidential election was massively rigged. He also knows that there was a dispute over who won the presidential elections. Unless he wants to rewrite history – and we will not allow him – there is no reasonable Kenyan who believes that Mwai Kibaki won and Raila Odinga lost. But more fundamentally, Uhuru knows that Raila Odinga and the ODM do not work for the ICC in any capacity. Raila Odinga isn’t responsible for investigating any crimes committed in Kenya. Raila isn’t in charge of the Kenya Police, the CID, the ministry of internal security or the State Law Office. Everyone knows that it was PNU and the state security agencies it controls like the NSIS that submitted evidence implicating Ruto and Henry Kosgey in post-election violence. Moreover, Uhuru must be aware that he is facing charges of crimes against humanity as an individual. The Kikuyu community hasn’t been charged. Nor has the PNU or the KKK.

Beth Mugo claims that as a mother, she holds the view that no Kenyan child should be tried on foreign soil. This is interesting. The last time I checked, Beth Mugo hadn’t stated the same thing with respect to the Kenyans who were abducted and smuggled to Uganda and the United States of America by their own government without due process. There were no charges, no bail hearings, and no extradition proceedings; no habeas corpus. Why hasn’t Beth Mugo demanded the release and return of Al Amin Kimathi who is facing trumped-up charges in Uganda?

On 16 December 2008, both the President and the PM signed an agreement for the implementation on the recommendations of the Waki Commission. The Government committed itself to the establishment of the Special Tribunal by 1 February 2009 to try the PEV perpetrators. The Waki Commission report was unanimously adopted by Parliament on 29 January 2009. However, on 29 February 2009, Uhuru and Ruto ganged up and had the Special Tribunal Bill rejected by Parliament. They demanded the ICC. Well, they got the ICC.

Why are they now crying wolf? If they are as brave as they claim, why are they panicking? If Uhuru and Ruto have credible evidence concerning the crimes against humanity committed in Kenya, why can’t they just submit it to the ICC? To Uhuru and Ruto: go ahead and implicate anybody you want. But please, save us the childish rants and threats.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Irony: Kiplagat summoned by TJRC

Grinning Kiplagat denies participation in the Wagalla Masaacre.
Bethuel Kiplagat, the immediate former Chairman of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) is among 42 potential witnesses summoned to appear at the commission’s first public hearings in Garissa, beginning next Tuesday. 

Others include former Cabinet Ministers David Mwiraria and G.G Kariuki, former Chief of General Staff General Joseph Kibwana, North Eastern Provincial Commissioner James Ole Serian and former PC Francis Sigei.

Kiplagat who resigned from the TJRC in November last year after public pressure and all those summoned served in various capacities in the government during the infamous 1984 massacre of civilians at the Wagalla airstrip. “You are hereby notified that you have been identified by the Commission as a potential witness who may have information that is useful to the commission. You have a right to secure legal representation if necessary,” said TJRC Secretary Patricia Nyaudi in a statement.

Residents remember the massacre of more than 5,000 men from the Degodia clan who were reportedly killed by security forces during the Degodia/Ajuran clashes of the 70s and 80s. At the Wagalla airstrip where many are said to have been shot and tortured, victims lamented that the state had not acknowledged the massacre in 27 years.

The hearings to be launched at the Garissa Primary School grounds on Monday would be rolled out nonstop across the country, until September, winding up in Western and Mt Elgon regions. After the hearings in Northern and upper Eastern regions, TJRC will move to Nairobi and Nyanza, Central and Rift Valley, lower Eastern and Coast, and then conclude in Western and Mt Elgon. The commission has so far collected 20,000 statements and 303 memoranda across the country. Thirty percent of all the statements came from women; among their concerns were sexual violations and economic marginalisation.

The Nyayo torture chambers victims, northern and upper eastern Kenya victims, Mau forest evictees, the Nubian and Ogiek communities have in recent times issued the commission with their memoranda. These communities are seeking redress as well as compensation where applicable.

BREAKING NEWS: Gbagbo 'negotiating surrender'

Gbagbo has refused to step down despite losing an election in 
November last year.
Ally Coulibaly, appointed by Gbagbo's rival, Alssane Ouattara, told French radio: "I believe Laurent Gbagbo is alive. I have learned that he negotiating his surrender. Abidjan has become a rumour mill and I do not want to add to the disinformation. What I have learned is that since yesterday he (Gbagbo) has been seeking to negotiate. It is not too late."

Forces loyal to Ouattara, Ivory Coast's internationally recognised president, earlier said they had captured Mr Gbagbo's Abidjan residence. Heavy weapons fire rocked the economic capital early on Tuesday, after UN and French helicopters last night attacked targets near the presidential residence. Mr Gbagbo's presidential palace and two military camps under his control, were struck, the UN confirmed, in retaliation for "reckless and mindless" attacks on civilians and UN personnel. 

Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, said forces were engaged in a joint "military operation to prevent the use of heavy weapons which threaten the civilian population". Gbagbo loyalists also wounded 11 UN peacekeepers in sniper, mortar and rocket-propelled grenade attacks on the headquarters of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) and on patrols dispatched to protect civilians, Mr Ban said. The strikes were carried out by helicopters from the French force Licorne, acting under a UN Security Council resolution from last year, and by Ukrainian MiG-24 helicopters controlled by UNOCI, acting under last week's resolution 1975.

Hamadou Toure, the UN's chief spokesman in Ivory Coast, told The Daily Telegraph care was being taken to ensure civilians were not being harmed. "Our mandate is to protect innocent lives and that is what we are doing," he said. Choi Young-jin, the UN's special representative in Ivory Coast, said UN forces were now living "under siege, in a bunker" because of deliberate targeting by Mr Gbagbo's supporters. It emerged on Monday night that about five people, including two French nationals, had also been kidnapped by armed men at the Novotel hotel in Abidjan.

Mr Gbagbo, Ivory Coast's president since 2000, has refused to step down despite losing an election in November last year. Alassane Ouattara, the internationally-recognised victor, on Monday launched what he promised would be a final "rapid assault" on Mr Gbagbo's positions in Abidjan. Guillaume Soro, Mr Ouattara's prime minister and commander of the "forces nouvelles", said Mr Gbagbo's men had begun to "panic" and he was confident the battle could be won quickly. Groups of soldiers were yesterday moving towards Mr Gbagbo's residence and presidential palace. Apollinaire Yapi, a spokesman for Mr Soro, said 9,000 soldiers were taking part. "With the support we have from UN forces, it could be over by morning," he said. Mr Gbagbo has the backing of 2,000 well-armed republican guards, and supporters who have formed a human shield around his residence.

Mr Ouattara is still determined to capture Mr Gbagbo alive. "The weapons are not directed against Mr Gbagbo as such, they are against the soldiers who are defending him," the spokesman said. "If the soldiers are defeated, we don't have to kill the man and he can be tried." Last week's UN resolution suggested Mr Gbagbo may have committed crimes against humanity and raised the prospect of his facing trial at the international criminal court.

Mr Ban on Monday night stressed the UN was not itself seeking to topple Mr Gbagbo. "UNOCI is not a party to the conflict," he insisted, adding that the helicopter strikes were merely "in self defence and to protect civilians". France, which has extensive interests in Ivory Coast and 12,000 nationals in the country, on Monday bolstered its troops by another 150 to 1,650, having already added 300 to its deployment at the weekend. 1,900 foreigners are under French military protection in Abidjan and 447 have already left Ivory Coast, a French military spokesman said.

The French contingent, which is part of a 9,000-strong UN force, has set up two more bases to safeguard civilians. On Monday it began evacuating the first groups out of the city's airport, which it now controls. The UN High Commission for Refugees warned that as many as a quarter of a million refugees could flee across the border to Liberia to escape the violence. Aid agencies said 100,000 refugees had already made the crossing.

ICC to freeze Ocampo 6 assets

International Criminal Court agents have been tracing and profiling the assets owned by the Ocampo 6 ahead of their appearance in court this week.

The agents have profiled investments valued at Sh20 billion reportedly owned by one of the suspects even as they draw up detailed lists and verify information provided by other suspects. The assets probe, which started months ago, officially started on March 8 after the pre-trial chamber judges issued summons.“We have a deadline to trace these assets and investments both in Kenya and abroad. So far the bulk of the assets we have traced belong to one suspect and his family. All this information will be handed over to the relevant arm of the court so that if the court wants these assets and bank accounts frozen, then they know where they are,” said an agents who cannot be identified because he is not authorised to speak to reporters. The ICC is believed to have hired different asset-tracing firms to keep track of the money that two of the six suspects have been moving around in their attempt to conceal the cash. Families and relatives of some of the suspects are said to have become increasingly agitated as fears grow of the possibility of ICC ordering a freeze on their assets or accounts.

Wanted by ICC are deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey, Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura, former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali and radio journalist Joshua Sang'. One of the suspects has in the past few months transferred millions in cash and assets to his lawyer who is supposed to hold them in trust. An offshore firm registered in the Cayman Islands is also reported to have taken up his shares in a well known insurance business. A second suspect has sold assets valued at Sh10 billion, including hundreds of hectares of land and a food processing business.“In one of the companies known to belong to the suspect’s family, the shareholding was transferred last week on Wednesday to one of the partners who is very close to the family,” the agent said. A number of top law firms in the city are reportedly involved in the transfers.

"WOW! I wonder if Uhuru's mum can also bless me..."
Under the Rome Statute, once a suspect has been summoned or a warrant of arrest issued, the ICC judges have powers to issue orders freezing the assets and accounts of any suspect at the request of the chief prosecutor. Article 57 (e) provides that ICC seizure of a suspect’s assets or accounts is done as a “protective” measure in case a suspect is convicted and fined and if cash is needed to compensate victims. Once the suspect is tried and convicted, the judges can issue an order for transfer of such assets into the Victims’ Trust Fund for disbursement to victims as reparations. But if the suspect is found innocent, the court must lift the freeze order. Articles 57 (e) and 58 sets out how the court can issue a warrant while Article 93 compels the government to assist the court in “the identification, tracing and freezing or seizure of proceeds, property and assets and instrumentalities of crimes for the purpose of eventual forfeiture, without prejudice to the rights of bona fide third parties.

It is not immediately clear if the government has helped the ICC, but ICC representatives have met senior officers at the Attorney General's office to discuss asset tracing. In January, the ICC wrote to the Cabinet sub-committee on ICC chaired by Internal Security minister George Saitoti, requesting for support in tracing, freezing or seizure of property of the Ocampo Six when the Pre-Trial Chamber judges issue summons. In the letter, the ICC stated the procedure of tracing and freezing or seizure of proceeds, property and assets for the purpose of eventual forfeiture and compensation to the victims of the violence.
Under the International Crimes Act (2008), the government is bound to cooperate with the ICC regarding tracing and seizure of assets owned by ICC suspects. Article 106 (a) and (b) of the Act states that where the ICC requests assistance in identifying, tracing and freezing, or seizing, any property for the purpose of eventual forfeiture, the Attorney General shall only give authority for the request to proceed only if he is satisfied the request relates to an international crime and the property is or may be located in Kenya. Article 130 (1) of the provides that “any money or property, including the proceeds of sale of property, recovered as a result of the enforcement under this Part of an order of the ICC shall be transferred to the ICC”. MPs supported the passage of International Crimes Bill when it was brought to the House by Amos Wako at the end of 2008 with President Kibaki signing it into law immediately it was approved by MPs. By that time, majority of MPs were pushing for Hague trials as opposed to a local tribunal. It is this Act that effectively domesticated the Rome Statute.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gaddafi's sons want him removed from power

Seif (L) and Saadi are proposing their father's removal.
At least two sons of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are proposing a transition to a constitutional democracy that would include their father's removal from power, The New York Times reported late Sunday.

Citing an unnamed diplomat and a Libyan official briefed on the plan, the newspaper said the transition would be spearheaded by one of Gaddafi's sons, Seif al-Islam el-Kadhafi. It is not clear whether Colonel Gaddafi, 68, has signed on to the reported proposal backed by his sons, Seif and Saadi el-Kadhafi, the report said. But one person close to these sons said the father appeared willing to go along, the paper noted.

The two sons "want to move toward change for the country" without their father, The Times quoted one person close to the Seif and Saadi camp as saying. "They have hit so many brick walls with the old guard, and if they have the go-ahead, they will bring the country up quickly." According to The Times, the idea may reflect longstanding differences among Gaddafi's sons. While Seif and Saadi have leaned toward Western-style economic and political openings, Colonel Gaddafi's sons Khamis and Mutuassim are considered hard-liners, the paper said. Khamis leads a pro-government militia, the report noted. And Mutuassim, a national security adviser, has been considered a rival to Seif in the competition to succeed their father.