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Monday, November 30, 2009

Mutula develops cold feet

Mutula Kilonzo has described a planned vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister as ‘petty politics.’

He says if successful, the motion against Raila Odinga by a section of Rift Valley MPs over his stand on Mau evictions will frustrate reforms in the country.

Addressing the media after opening a journalist training workshop, the minister said: “Any petty dispute like arguments over (the settlement of squatters from Mau) that translates to a vote of no-confidence in the PM could disrupt the grand coalition.

“How am I going to produce a new Constitution for you? I need the PM together with his supporters... I need the PM together with his political skills therefore it is not a matter that is engaging me.”

He said he had not been approached by those who support or oppose the Motion saying that he was focusing on keeping the coalition united in order to deliver on constitutional and institutional reforms.

Mr Kilonzo is one of the members of the National Dialogue team that drafted the National Accord which set up a grand coalition government under the leadership of Prime Minister Raila Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki.

Bett Develops cold feet

Franklin Bett has accused some Rift Valley MPs of using the plight of Mau evictees for political mileage.

His new stand appears to distance him from some leaders who have accused Prime Minister Raila Odinga of mishandling the ongoing evictions.

Mr Bett said: "I detest any individual or group of leaders trying to use the Mau issue as a political tool at the expense of the suffering women and children."

He added: "Those suffering newborn babies neither know about ODM wrangles nor political battles between individuals and must be helped."

Some MPs have warned they will mobilise a vote of no confidence against the PM.

The Bureti MP challenged leaders to address the issue with sobriety and channel efforts towards helping the evictees instead of mudslinging.

He also clarified he did not own any piece of land in the Mau and challenged those claiming he owns a sawmill to provide evidence.

He said: "It is sad Rift Valley leaders have been stereotyped to an extent that when (Agriculture Minister) William Ruto and Joshua Kuttuny (Cherangany MP) speak, it is imagined they carry all of our opinion."

He said he was an independently elected leader and asked the media not to make conclusions about him.

"People are quick to make conclusions when they see me with Raila or Ruto, and I do not want to be used as a political pamper," he said.

He added: "I am not a Raila, Ruto or a Uhuru Kenyatta man. Those claiming I subscribe to their thinking are misplaced. Do not imagine things about me and do not lump me with the so-called Rift Valley MPs."

Uhuru develops cold feet

Rift Valley MPs trooped to Western and declared interest in forming an alliance with the province ahead of the 2012 General Election. Although expected to attend, Uhuru kenyatta failed to show up and did not send any representative.

They said it was evident their friendship with Nyanza Province was "in the red" following a fallout between them and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Assistant Minister for Energy Charles Keter, Joshua Kuttuny (Cherangany), Boaz Kaino (Marakwet West) and Elijah Lagat (Emgwen) were in Lugari at the weekend where they wooed Kaddu party leader Cyrus Jirongo.

Kuttuny told Jirongo they had forgiven him for supporting a censure Motion in Parliament against Agriculture Minister William Ruto.

"We have come to show you we are ready to put the past behind," Kuttuny said.

The MPs were speaking at Lumakanda during a fundraiser in aid of IDPs in Lugari, where Ruto sent a donation of Sh100,000 through Keter.

No regrets

About 30 MPs were expected at the fundraiser, but only the Rift Valley MPs and Saboti legislator Eugene Wamalwa showed up. Kuttuny said they had no regrets falling out with Raila.

"I remember telling him he risked shouldering blame of the Grand Coalition if he blindly supervised certain Government decisions like the Mau evictions," he said.

The MPs hit out at Deputy Prime Minister and Sabatia MP Musalia Mudavadi, saying he had continued to work against the Luhya community’s quest for the top seat.

The MPs told the Western region that since none of their leaders had declared interest in the presidency, they were considering offering them either the vice-presidency or the prime minister’s post if they supported Ruto. But Jirongo said Western Province would settle for nothing less than the presidency in 2012.

"You (Rift Valley) abandoned your friends and went to look for enemies in Nyanza," Jirongo said.

The harambee raised more than Sh2 million.

Raila to sell Mandazis

Prime minister Raila Odinga sustained his counter-attack on Agriculture minister William Ruto and Rift Valley Province MPs as signs of a furious gathering storm became clearer on Kenya’s political skyline.

The storm revolves around a plot by Rift MPs to enter into a pact with MPs from President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka’s ODM-Kenya and Deputy Prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta’s Kanu to humiliate Raila in Parliament through a censure motion.

Answering the political group instrumental in his sterling performance in 2007 elections, and with whom he is falling out with over Mau Forest evictions, the PM said there was no going back on the Mau issue.

He also staked out his claim for the Rift Valley’s populous vote, which has stolen the eye of many top politicians seeking an alliance with Ruto in 2012, saying he had a stronger bond with its electorate.

He also indirectly admonished Rift leaders, including Ruto, who have been saying once in the PM office, Raila forsook their people.

"Those people making noise that Raila has abandoned the people who voted for him in the last elections in Rift Valley are least qualified to say so. They are thinking those people are more of theirs than they are Raila Odinga’s. They voted for me but not for those people talking the loudest. I value them so much but we must first protect the forest," he said.

Raila took on the latest in the string of political wars he has fought in his turbulent career that has always made him the talking point of the nation, as claims a censure motion against him in Parliament turned out it may not be idle threat or hot air.

Last week Uhuru and several PNU and ODM-Kenya ministers and their assistants at a fund-raiser to help those evicted from Mau. The object of criticism at this forum was Raila, something that seemed to gloss over the humanitarian concerns in Mau.

But it appears this was just the beginning because on Sunday Konoin MP Dr Julius Kones revealed MPs opposed to Raila’s leadership style and his handling of Mau issue will give notice of a vote of no-confidence against him to the Speaker of the National assembly in a fortnight.

The PM, in his traditional style when political brickbats are being hurled his way, convened a public rally in his Kibera Constituency to defend himself against their claims he is ‘inhuman’, ‘insensitive’, ‘forgetful’, ‘betrayer’ and ‘dictator’ dancing for international gallery.

He said he neither was scared nor felt threatened by the latest storm around and was prepared to go all the way with Mau conservation even if it would burn up his political career.

"I am ready to go and bake mandazi with my people in Kibera if conserving Mau will kill my political career," he said.

He dared his critics saying he would not live in fear even of no-confidence motion against his position as premier.

"ODM is a very strong party. I am still in charge and those who try to go astray, I will make sure they toe the line according to party policies," he warned hours after asking ministers dissatisfied with how the government was working to resign.

The PM defended himself against accusations his actions in Mau depicted him as dictator.

"Some are accusing Raila of being a dictator, a dictator against whom and on what?" he asked.

He added: "What Raila is doing is merely carrying out a Government exercise. The government is not Raila’s."

He denied claims the government was being too brutal in carrying out the exercise.

"We are fair and we have not harassed anybody as claimed by some disgruntled leaders. The government is made up of human beings and we are carrying out the exercise in humane manner?" he assured.

The PM said the Kanu government annexed about 150,000 acres of the forest and allocated influential personalities before ordinary Kenyans flooded the place.

He however assured Kenyans the government will respect those with title deeds and promised to have them compensated to enable them construct new homes elsewhere.

Confessions the Rift Valley MP on the plot against Raila came as Ruto’s key backers in the province — Charles Keter (Bureti) Mr Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany), Mr Boaz Kaino (Marakwet West) and Elijah Lagat (Emgwen) — toured Western Kenya to openly seek an alliance they said would help plug the hole most likely to be left following falling-out with Raila, and by extension the people of Nyanza. They were hosted by Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo who, though he did not name Raila, left no doubt he was the target of his vitriolic attack. Keter brought to the fund-raiser Sh100,000 from Ruto.

The Rift Valley MPs further hit out at Deputy Prime Minister and Sabatia MP Musalia Mudavadi claiming he has continued working against the Luhya community’s quest for the top seat.

"In 2002, you almost ascended to the Presidency but you were let down by someone who still believes today Raila has to be President first then he can follow suit," said Kuttuny.

Kones confessed consultations were in top gear between ODM MPs and those from President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity to topple Raila.

An MP privy to the motion and who did not want to be named because of its sensitivity conceded the mover of the motion will be an MP from outside Rift Valley so as to deflect speculation Ruto was the architect.

Kones said that MPs from across the political divide were not happy with Raila’s recent pronouncement that Parliament was interfering with the predicting this could work against him when the motion comes up in the House.

Separately, Roads minister Franklin Bett appeared to change tack when he said the basis of his strong statements on Mau and solidarity with other Rift MPs was out of humanitarian not political reasons.

As he seemingly appeared to be easing away from Ruto’s vice-like grip of Kalenjin MPs, Bett criticised a section of community’s MPs he claimed were using the humanitarian crisis Mau evictees are facing to gain political mileage.

"It is sad the leaders of Rift Valley have been stereotyped to an extent that when (Agriculture minister) William Ruto and Joshua Kuttuny speak it is imagined they carry opinion of all which is a lie," said the minister.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Vote of no confidence on Raila

The war between Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his critics is set to move to Parliament as MPs plan a motion of censure against him.

Consultations are at an advanced stage among MPs from the three leading political parties to pass a vote of confidence in the PM, Konoin MP Julius Kones claimed on Sunday.

Dr Kones said MPs dissatisfied with the premier’s leadership would present to the National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende a notice of vote of no confidence against Mr Odinga in the next 14 days.

The MPs are mainly drawn from ODM, PNU and ODM-K.

Dr Kones pointed out MPs (including himself) opposed to the premier’s alleged dictatorial leadership will have tabled the censure motion before parliament breaks off for recess to facilitate the debate early next year when Parliament resumes.

The Konoin MP maintained that Kenyans were not happy in the manner in which the premier had handled the evictions of the Mau squatters and the only remedy to “clip his wings” was the vote of no confidence to serve as a lesson to other would be “heartless leaders” in future.

“It is absurd that Mr Odinga is happy to see squatters being removed from their farms without compensation or being resettled yet it had been agreed in the Cabinet and parliament that either of the options had to be fulfilled before the evictions were carried out,” Dr Kones insisted.

The MP made the remarks during a fundraiser for the construction of classrooms at Embomos secondary school in his constituency.

Dr Kones stated that they would mandate an MP from outside Rift valley province to be the mover of the motion so that Kenyans are not made to belief that the agriculture minister William Ruto who has broken ranks with the premier was behind it.

And in a telephone interview, Cherengany MP Joseph Kutuny also said MPs unhappy with the government’s handling of the Mau Forest evictions plan to censure Mr Odinga in Parliament if the evictees are not compensated.

He said: “If our people are not going to resettled and provided with food and shelter, we might decide to ask him (Mr Odinga) in Parliament to quit.”

He added: “If he fails to ensure the plight of those evicted from Mau is properly addressed, he will have no business to continue as PM.”

Mr Kutuny said his colleagues were waiting to see if the government will fulfil its promise of providing humanitarian assistance to the people removed from Mau and resettling them elsewhere before deciding on motion.

“Unlike the impeachment of President we will only require a simple majority to remove the PM,” Mr Kutuny said.

The removal of squatters from Mau is however being handled by various line ministries and coordinated by Interim Coordinating Secretariat.

But speaking in Mombasa, Mr Marende dismissed reports in a section of the press that MPs have tabled a motion of no confidence in Mr Odinga.

“I have not received any document from MPs of no confidence in the PM and I will take required procedures once I receive it since it is their right if they feel to do so,” said Mr Marende adding that he is neutral and if he receives the document he will treat the motion in a sober mind.

MPs Kambi Kazungu and Dhado Godana said they will not support the motion of no confidence in the PM if submitted in Parliament.

“I have already received calls from certain MPs asking me if I will support but I told them they are doing so because of their personal interests,” said Mr Godana.

“I will not vote if such motion is brought in Parliament,” said Mr Kambi.

Mungiki leader's salary- 1 000 000 PM

Mungiki founder Maina Njenga revealed on Sunday that he has been receiving Sh1 million monthly from proceeds of his sect’s activities.

It was the first time he has confessed to the benefits he has been receiving from the criminal sect whose disbandment he announced a month ago.

He said: “it took me a lot of time to make the decision of turning my members into Christianity. Looking at the Sh1 million I have been receiving as a monthly salary.”

“Therefore, when I say the sect no longer exists, I mean it. It is not a joke because already most of my former members have equally confessed and quit criminal activities. We are now Christians,” he said when he attended the Sunday Service at the Jesus Is Alive Ministries (JIAM) church on Haille Sellasie Avenue in Nairobi.

Mr Njenga did not however, state the total amount of money the sect has been generating on a monthly or annual basis.

He did not also state the source of the revenues collected by his five million-plus members.

Mr Njenga declined to admit that his members were involved in running extortion rings in the public transport industry, at households in informal settlements in urban areas as well as the rural areas, mainly in Central Kenya.

He claimed police were still harassing his former members despite the fact that they “have transformed into Christianity and ditched crime.”

“Recently I said my life was in danger, and I have said I will not make a report with the police because there is no need,” he added.

Mr Njenga had earlier told journalists that he had been receiving threatening text messages, which warned him against his decision to transform the sect into Christianity.

It was the first time he came out in public after three weeks of hiding following the death threats he had received.

Mungiki Spokesman Njuguna Gitau who had equally expressed fears for his life was executed on Luthuli Avenue on November 5.

Police said no suspect has been arrested over the killing.

No Provincial Administration? -No way!

Francis Muthaura has said that the government will strongly defend the existence of the Provincial Administration, which the harmonized Draft Constitution has proposed to scrap.

Amb Muthaura said on Saturday that the Provincial Administration “plays a pivotal role in the running government affairs especially at the grass root levels, hence the need to continue having it in place.”

The harmonized Draft Constitution has called for the dissolution of the Provincial Administration whose public officers will be re-deployed by the Public Service Commission (PSC).

In effect, it means all Provincial Commissioners, District Commissioners, District Officers and other officers including the Administration Police as a whole, will serve under other proposed systems of government.

The draft states in part: “Upon the holding of elections, the system of administration commonly known as the Provincial Administration shall stand dissolved and the national government shall restructure its administrative arrangements to accord with and respect the system of devolved government established under this Constitution.

Public officers formerly serving under the system known as the Provincial Administration shall report to the Public Service Commission for re-deployment.”

At the same time, Amb Muthaura announced that the government would continue carrying out double recruitments for the police to help achieve the numbers required to maintain security in the country.

He did not however, state if the government intended to contravene proposals in the Ransley report, which has called for the suspension of all police and Administration Police recruitments until October next year to accumulate funds for desired reforms.

Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi, who joined Amb Muthaura in addressing professionals at the Chuka University College, said he too “supports the existence of the Provincial Administration.”

The Imenti South Member of Parliament said he was “opposed to it when he was in the Opposition but has since realised its importance.”

Last week, Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia announced that the ministry was “preparing a strong defense to be argued before the Committee of Experts to ensure the Provincial Administration is not scrapped”.

“The Provincial Administration has been tested through history and proved to be viable, we can not afford to do without it,” Mr Kimemia said at a passing out parade for senior Administration Police officers at their Embakasi College in Nairobi.

He said the ministry would defend the existence of the Provincial Administration under which the AP officers fall.

The PS said they are opposed to this particular clause and revealed that even Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti was involved in consultations with other authorities over the matter.

“Even our Minister has been arguing the case in the highest levels,” the PS said.

Prof Saitoti, who was present at the pass out parade last week appeared to choose his words carefully only saying, “Indeed the Executive Committee on the constitution at the time of unveiling of that draft did make it clear that that document is not written on a stone, and that Kenyans are now at liberty to deliberate on that document and there is a period of 30 days. We are looking into that document and we will be coming out with a position as a government indeed as all Kenyans ought to do.”

Mr Kimemia, who spoke passionately about the Provincial Administration said that adopting the proposal to scrap the system of government would amount to destroying “institutions which have proved to be efficient over the years.”

“Lets not just imitate what other countries are doing, lets borrow what is good from them without destroying what we have,” he warned.

Orengo hosts Saitoti

As the debate on the Mau evictions continues to cause ripples, a section of leaders are warning against alliances that could divide the country.
Internal Security Minister George Saitoti and Lands Minister James Orengo are now urging fellow politicians to be cautious on utterances that may evoke tribalism.

Orengo who was hosting Saitoti in his Ugenya constituency also hit out at section of leaders.

The political undertones may not cease anytime soon with the third phase of the Mau evictions now targeting bigger names who are said to own chunks of land at the Mau forest.

The ongoing Mau evictions have seen formation of political alliances that has brought together political heavyweights from regions ahead of 2012.

Professor Saitoti said the government is committed to police reforms to enable it meet security challenges in the 21st century.

Professor Saitoti said the police and other security enforcement agencies will be equipped to meet the changing crime trends in the country.

The minister at the same time said the government will deal ruthlessly with owners of illegal fire arms who fail to surrender them within the 30 days ultimatum issued recently.

He was speaking in Ugenya district after laying a foundation stone for the upgrading of Ugunja police station.

Climate change

Mwai Kibaki joined other Commonwealth Heads of Government for a special session on climate change; affirming Kenya's commitment to confronting the challenges of climate change.
Meeting in Port of Spain at the twin Caribbean Islands of Trinidad and Tobago, the Commonwealth Heads of Government backed plans for a quick start of climate change Fund starting next year.

In a communiqué issued after a special session on climate change on Friday, the summit noted that an initiative to establish a Copenhagen Launch Fund, starting in 2010 and building to $10 billion annually by 2012, will help poor and vulnerable states fight the effects of global warming.

"We pledge our continued support to the leaders-driven process ... to deliver a comprehensive, substantial and operationally binding agreement in Copenhagen leading towards a full legally binding outcome no later than 2010," the declaration said.

In issuing a communiqué the Commonwealth leaders have shown their support to push the world to reach a comprehensive deal on targeting green house gas emissions at the Copenhagen conference next month.

Also in attendance during the special session on climate change were non Commonwealth leaders such as United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Prime Minister of Denmark Lars Lokke Rasmussen and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The Commonwealth leaders agreed to support the fund which is aimed at helping countries most at risk to adapt to climate change.

The fund is expected to set aside at least 10 per cent towards smaller islands and low lying countries.

The Commonwealth Climate Change declaration pledged the group's support backing for Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen in his efforts to secure wide attendance and commitment from world leaders at the Copenhagen climate talks.

Addressing the special session the Prime Minister of Denmark said leaders need to meet the challenge of climate change by agreeing on an ambitious and binding agreement that builds on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

He noted that while fighting climate change, developed nations need to take into account and respect developing countries rights to economic and social development.

He,therefore, said Copenhagen summit needs to provide for an immediate and comprehensive global effort to curb the negative impacts of climate change

On Saturday night, Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II hosted a dinner for Heads of State and Government of the Commonwealth.

President Mwai Kibaki who is in Trinidad and Tobago for the CHOGM Summit was among leaders who attended the dinner.

Earlier while opening the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Her Majesty the queen called on the world leaders to reach consensus on the issue of climate change.

The Queen said while the environmental threat is not new, it's now a global challenge which will affect security and stability in the years ahead.

She pointed to the fact that most of the countries under threat are the most vulnerable and are least able to withstand the adverse effects of climate change.

Her Majesty expressed hope that the Commonwealth member states will also chart the way forward for the 60 year old institution to remain relevant and responsive to the needs of the current generation.

Kanu Regrouping

The old Kanu blue-eyed boys are back.

This appeared to be the case during last Wednesday’s fundraiser for the Mau evictees that turned out to be a re-union of Kanu old boys.

The stars of the night that has set the country’s political scene abuzz were Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka (who only sent emissaries), Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Agriculture Minister William Ruto.

Observers now view Kanu as the biggest winner in the apparent fallout in ODM over Mau, seizing the opportunity to sink their greatest rival — through the emerging KKK (Kamba, Kikuyu, Kalenjin) alliance first mooted by Kalonzo.

The fundraiser at Panafric Hotel, Nairobi, turned out to be the launch of a new political alliance bringing together PNU, Kanu and ODM rebels, and ODM-Kenya.

Significantly, President Kibaki’s son, Jimmy of Simama Kenya, sent Sh100,000 donation.

Jimmy was on Friday accorded a hero’s welcome in Keiyo, where he was a guest at another harambee hosted by local ODM chairman Micah Kigen.

Simama Kenya

The VP sent Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo on his behalf. Mr Mutula said Kalonzo could not make it as he was representing the President at a function in Mombasa.

Asked the significance of Jimmy’s participation, Simama Kenya spokesperson Tony Gachoka told The Standard on Sunday: "Simama Kenya has been attending harambees and supporting peace and reconciliation efforts in the Rift Valley. We have been meeting Ruto over these issues and it is in public domain. We could not ignore his invitation to support distressed people being evicted from Mau."

What was unmistakable was the re-emergence of old Kanu names, led by Kanu Chairman Uhuru Kenyatta, Mutula, Kanu lawyer for many years when the VP was Kanu National Organising Secretary.

Ruto was secretary general before he joined ODM in 2007, while Defence Minister Yusuf Haji was treasurer.

Special Programmes Minister Naomi Shabaan, who also featured prominently at the harambee, is a Kanu MP.

Young Turks’

So is Agriculture Assistant Minister and Nithi MP Kareke Mbiuki, who declared the team launched at Panafric would be in Government in 2013.

Igembe South MP and Kanu party whip Linturi Mithika also attended the fundraising.

Together with Deputy PM Musalia Mudavadi and Nambale MP Chris Okemo, Kalonzo, Uhuru and Katana Ngala were the ‘Young Turks’ former President Moi had lined up to succeed him in 2002.

Uhuru was the Kanu presidential candidate before Narc wave swept the party out of power.

The Finance Minister and Ruto’s most enduring image is one captured on the afternoon of December 29, 2002, when the two stood at a press conference at Serena Hotel to concede defeat to President Kibaki.


Represent that change

"I accept the choice of the people and concede that Mr Kibaki will be the third President of the Republic of Kenya... It was clear that the mood for change was strong. But the perception put across by the opposition was that we did not represent that change," Uhuru said then.

By a strange twist of fate, one man who must be watching the events with interest is former President Moi.

For once, his 2002 succession team seems to have finally bounced back.

Two, the former President never made secret his opposition to Rift Valley’s support for ODM in 2007.

If Wednesday’s events are anything to go by, the former President must feel vindicated that ‘his people’ seem to have finally seen the light.

It is not lost on observers that in recent weeks and ahead of the ‘Raila-bashing’ meeting at Panafric Hotel, Ruto dismissed the Kalenjin Council of Elders for being pro-Raila and replaced it with another lot that features prominent former senior civil servants in the Kanu regime.

Kanu strongholds

The two most recognisable faces are retired Chief of General Staff, Gen Daudi Tonje, and retired Commander of Kenya Army, Lt Gen Lazarus Sumbeiywo.

Ruto has also been touring former Kanu strongholds of North Rift, Upper Eastern and Coast, in which he has been endorsed as fit to run for president.

Kanu Regrouping

The battle for political supremacy between Raila Odinga and William Ruto has all but started. Amid bitter exchanges between the pair, and an apparent planned vote of no confidence in the PM, lies the political conundrum: Who will win the battle?

Talk of a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Raila Odinga has recently been mooted as pro-Ruto MPs seek to fell the PM in a contest billed to be one of the most challenging bouts.

After apparently accusing Raila of poor leadership, Ruto insists there must be change.

"There is no going back … we have to bring change to this country," said Ruto, in a meeting in Kaloleni on Saturday. Ruto vowed to mobilise the youth to ensure old politicians were locked out of leadership come 2012.


Even though the movers of the no-confidence vote scheme are confessed critics of the PM mainly from Rift Valley Province, they have received backing from other provinces, notably Central and Eastern.

Indeed, two developments clearly point to this fact – a claim by a Cabinet minister that some MPs have received large sums of money from unnamed sources to bribe their colleagues to pass the Motion, and a press briefing early this week by legislators Zakayo Cheruiyot (Kuresoi) and Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany) at Parliament Buildings, where they confirmed they would censure the PM over the Mau resettlement saga.

The MPs were angered by the Government’s decision to remove illegal settlers from the forest without compensation. On Saturday, Ruto insisted again that the Government was mishandling the eviction.

Conceding that the censure Motion has indeed been hatched, one MP, however, dismissed the claims that they had received money to execute the plot.

"Our agenda is driven by a moral obligation to assist Kenyans being punished and treated as if they are not human beings," said the MP from the South Rift.

On Wednesday evening, 56 MPs met at Panafric Hotel in Nairobi and collected over Sh5 million for the evicted Mau settlers. During the meeting convened by Ruto, and attended by the MPs and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi, Franklin Bett (Roads), Najib Balala (Tourism), Mutula Kilonzo (Justice), Naomi Shaban (Special Programmes), Mohamed Elmi (Development of Northern Kenya), and Mohamed Kuti (Livestock), many hit out at Raila for apparently lacking leadership qualities and for being despotic and dishonest.

On his part, Raila on Friday said the claims would not shake his political resolve to clean the Mau of illegal human settlements.

He also said his critics will soon be swept away into political oblivion for their obsession with personal interests.

At the Wednesday fundraiser, MPs poured scorn on Raila, accusing him of being inhuman and insensitive to human suffering.

But Raila supporters believe there is a hidden hand behind the relentless onslaught directed at the PM. ODM Secretary General Anyang’ Nyong’o asked MPs planning to sponsor a censure Motion on the Prime Minister to "bring it on".

Prof Nyong’o, who is the Medical Service Minister, termed the recalcitrant politicians privileged individuals without credentials for struggle and democracy.

"To them the PM is their symbol of anger and would do anything to vilify him. They are doomed to fail," said Nyong’o in a telephone interview.

Another Raila supporter who did not want to be named acknowledged hearing of the planned sanction on the PM, but vowed it would not succeed.

According to The National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008, 112 votes are required to remove the PM from office through a vote of no confidence.

Analysts have, however, argued that it would be difficult to remove the PM because he was a signatory to the accord. They say Raila’s departure would end the Accord and by extension that of the Grand Coalition Government, necessitating another General Election.

"The execution of the Accord is solely pegged on two individuals (Kibaki and Raila) who signed it on behalf of two parties [PNU and ODM]. I fear that if anything were to happen to the two principals, poor health or otherwise, the life of the Tenth Parliament could end," observes Justin Muturi, Kanu Organising Secretary, a PNU affiliate.

Muturi, a lawyer, regrets that the Accord was negotiated and imported into the Constitution hurriedly despite the many loopholes.

Unlike most legislation including the Harmonised Draft Constitution under discussion, for instance, the Accord makes no provision for the replacement of holders of the offices of President and Prime Minister.

"Talk on vote of no confidence in PM is a very dicey matter that MPs must tread carefully because it could mean declaring themselves jobless," warns the former Siakago MP.

Miguna Miguna, a joint secretary of the Coalition Management Team, said only two people signed the Accord. The moment one gets out of the picture, the Tenth Parliament will come to an end. "If what they [PM’s opponents] want is fresh elections then we are ready for it," said Mr Miguna, who doubles up as the PM’s advisor on coalition matters. He argued that even if Parliament succeeds to pass a vote of no confidence in the PM, it would be difficult to replace him.

The Accord specifies that a PM will be leader of party with parliamentary majority, and Miguna argues that even if MPs expresses displeasure with Raila, they cannot impose another party leader on ODM. And even if one wants to stage an internal coup, Miguna says, it will be done within parameters of the ODM constitution.

"The party’s NEC will not sit to reverse Raila’s position as party leader because his term has not ended. Whether they like it, they will be stuck with this reality," charges Miguna.

But ODM MPs opposed to Raila argue that Raila signed the Accord on behalf of the party, and they can therefore pick another leader to occupy the office.

Raila’s allies in Rift Valley led by Kipkelion MP Magerer Langat have criticised those behind the censure Motion threats.

"The Mau tragedy is not an accident but it has been turned into a battlefield and anticipated mine for votes by the forces eyeing 2012 and those promoting tribal alliances," said Langat.

He said the censure threats against Raila by his critics had no objective and would be defeated if it ever makes its way to the House.

Questions have also been asked if it was a coincidence that almost all 56 MPs and 10 ministers who attended a funds drive convened by Agriculture Minister William Ruto were from Eastern, North Eastern, Rift Valley, and Central provinces. No single MP from the larger Nyanza Province attended the harambee. Neither were they invited.

It was clearly evident from the body language of the MPs present that they have formed a new political alliance and some speakers indeed said as much.

"Today I want Rift Valley Province to look at the people who are here and know that these are your true friends," said Mutomo MP Kiema Kilonzo.

Looked at differently, it can be argued that the group has brought together a fairly large team of leaders from four of the country’s eight provinces.

Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka’s supporters either made an inference or directly welcomed the new political alliance.

"We value your friendship and I have seen that you stand with us," said Ruto, as he welcomed Murungi to speak at the function. The Energy Minister walked into the meeting hall last, when Ruto was just about to invite Uhuru Kenyatta who was the chief guest to speak. Sources indicate the large number of pro-Kalonzo MPs at the meeting could have influenced Uhuru’s appearance at the meeting.

The large gathering enjoyed every moment as speaker after speaker tore into the Prime Minister for alleged mishandling of the resettlement of people from Mau Forest.

But Langat said forces eyeing 2012 presidential election and those promoting tribal alliances have hijacked the plight of the landless in Mau Forest.

The MP challenged those who showed up at the funds drive to show more concern to the squatters already thrown out of their farms within the forest by donating land to them.

"Some of the leaders who showed up at the funds drive should be more human by offering the squatters a portion of the huge chunks they own elsewhere than wanting Kenyans to see them as more concerned than other Kenyans and the Government," said Langat.

He called for investigations into how rich Kenyans acquired section of the forest because they grabbed from squatters, pushing them deeper into the forest.

—Report by Oscar Obonyo, Biketi Kikechi, Beautah Omanga and Willis Oketch

Evictions Inhumane - ACK

The Anglican Church has faulted the government’s Mau Forest Eviction programme saying so far it has been inhumane.

ACK Archbishop Eliud Wabukala said the government had a duty to ensure that the evictees’ basic rights were not abused in the process of restoring the water tower.

“We recognize that the government has duty to protect the environment. To this end the intention to reverse the destruction of Mau complex is noble. However it is grossly inhuman that people removed from the water tower are left to live on road sides. Such people should be given alternative settlements as soon as possible to reduce their suffering,” he observed.

The Anglican Archbishop also said Parliamentarians should stop politicising the evictions saying that their misplaced remarks over the water tower were only worsening an already sensitive issue.

“We strongly call upon all politicians to stop playing politics with this issue. Protection of the people of Kenya and the environment are not just matters of politics but of life and death. Politics should not be played either in going to preserve the forest or in making harambees (fundraisers). Let that be done with a motive of helping people,” he observed.

The church added that time had come for the Kenyan government to depict the true meaning of law and order by trying all the perpetrators of the post election violence. The Archbishop said the Kenyan government had to de-link itself from perpetrators of the chaos so as to provide justice to all the victims.

“A man tormented by the guilt of murder will be a fugitive till death. Let no one support him. We as a nation must come to a point where every crime is punished regardless of who the victim or perpetrator is. We (ACK church) support the steps so far taken by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. This will go a long way in eradicating impunity from our land,” he said.

He also said that the government had grossly breached its mandate to provide justice for the victims of the post election violence.

“Two years after the post election violence, thousands of Kenyans remain in IDP camps while hundreds of others live as squatters with their friends and relatives. The government therefore has to reverse this injustice. When will these people resume their normal lives?” he posed.

He further asked the government to establish an independent local tribunal to try other offenders of the 2007/08 violence who will not be tried at The Hague.

“We are requesting the government and particularly parliament to set up a special tribunal to try all other perpetrators of the violence,” he urged.

Archbishop Wabukala who was in the company of about 20 other Anglican church leaders also said insecurity was rife countrywide.

“Kenya is greatly oppressed by an ever thickening shadow of insecurity. There are very few people who are certain that they will live to see the morning or the evening. Savings and investments are lost to criminals that the government seems incapable of dealing with,” he said. “The show of might displayed by the Police and the Military during national day celebrations should be directed towards assuring the security of Kenyans.”

The Archbishop was addressing journalists in Limuru where he expressed the Church’s governance views on behalf of all Anglican Church Bishops in Kenya.

Elect PM

Majority of Kenyans want to elect the Prime Minister as opposed to having the party with the majority in Parliament do so, according to the latest poll by Synovate.

The poll carried out this week indicates that 62% of Kenyans were against parliament electing an executive Prime Minister as suggested in the harmonized draft constitution.

The poll however shows that eighty seven percent of Kenyans are yet to access a copy of the draft even as the window of debate set by the committee of experts nears its close.

The survey released on Saturday shows that nine in every ten Kenyans are yet to receive the draft with Western Province having the least access to the draft constitution at 92%.

Nairobi is a close second, with 91% of its residents yet to receive a copy of the draft.

Coast and Central Province recorded greater access to the draft document, with only 82% of the population reporting not to have received the harmonized draft at the Coast, while 85% of residents from Central Province are yet to read the draft constitution.

The survey states that many Kenyans who might not get an opportunity to read a copy of the drafts will rely on politician's views and the media to help them provide feedback on the document.

62% of those polled said they would prefer a Premier popularly elected by the people, rather than one appointed from the party with a majority in parliament.

5% of respondents feel that the position of a prime minister should be eliminated, 39% of those without formal education are in favor of a Prime Minister elected by his/her party.

Over two thirds (60%) of all other education levels, including university graduates choose a popularly elected Prime Minister.

The nationwide survey was conducted on a base sample of 1007 adults.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Raila Afraid

Raila Odinga has accused Parliamentary Committees of frustrating the operations of the government.

Mr Odinga complained that many senior civil servants were now wary of being summoned to explain or justify their decisions.

The PM who spoke at a meeting of Parliamentary Committee chairmen on ‘Improved Partnership between the Legislature and the Executive,’ complained that the scrutiny was too extreme.

“We are not trying to deny Parliament its oversight function, but what is happening if not checked can paralyse government Mr speaker and that the moment Mr Speaker it has done just that,” he said.

He added: “Business people are put off from doing business with the government both because of scrutiny and the fear that public procurement contracts will be challenged and their operations delayed” he told the MPs.

He said top civil servants were working slower “because of House teams breathing down their necks.”

The Speaker of National Assembly Kenneth Marende however defended the public watchdogs, saying Parliament was expected to hold the Executive accountable as it seeks to ensure that all resources were utilised according to the needs of Kenyans and were properly accounted for.

Mr Marende was categorical that civil servants must be ready to work within the new Standing Orders and respond to any audit queries the House will require them to.
Watchdog committees have begun keeping a closer eye on public spending and are now challenging certain payments before they are made.

“I want to demystify this myth or theory that the legislature is threatening to override or is overriding the Executive because there is no substance in it,” he said.

Mr Marende said that with the new Standing Orders, the system of auditing and querying expenditure of public funds had now taken a new dimension.

He singled out the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale for directly querying and auditing public funds before and in the payment stages.

This is a departure from previous practice, where committees merely carried out "post-mortem reports" of public spending.
In the former system, the team would be looking at past cases of possible fraud, suspicious variation of costs, single-sourcing and outright theft.

The PAC summoned Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and other officials and questioned them for over three hours on the procurement of 130 VW Passat vehicles for government officials. The move, according as outlined in Mr Kenyatta’s June Budget Speech was aimed at cutting government spending on transport.

But Mr Odinga said some of the committees had misunderstood the mandates.

“I did not understand how therefore the PAC summoned the Minister for Finance to go and answer question regarding the procurement of the Passat vehicles. I don’t see how that falls within the domain of the PAC. I think it is the responsibility of the Speaker to draw the attention of the members of those committees to the standing orders so that the relationship between the legislature and executive becomes harmonious.”

Committees usually presented reports to the House two or three years after questionable transactions. But now, government officials can expect to have to provide explanations as some transactions are executed.

Shaban explains her flip flopping

Barely hours after Special Programmes Minister Naomi Shaban joined 10 Cabinet colleagues and 47 MPs for a harambee in aid of Mau evictees, she now says the meeting was normal and not a show of defiance against Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Dr Shabaan attended a meeting with the PM on Thursday morning to discuss the eviction progress where she told journalists that Wednesday’s fundraiser was purely meant for the aid of the displaced families.

“You are aware that every time the country is faced by a crisis we as government hold Harambees that bring together ministers and parliamentarians including the Prime Minister and the President. Yesterday (Wednesday) was not the first time and it was necessary so that we ensure that the Kenyans who have been faced by the evictions are able to pick up their lives again,” she said.

The Minister also defended the leaders who attended the harambee saying they were not opposed to rehabilitation of the water tower but were only coming in good faith to rescue the situation.

“When we start brewing politics in this situation, we risk dividing our people for nothing. Therefore as the government we have resolved to work together with Rift Valley leaders because we do not have a choice. If we exclude them from the Mau eviction plans we will create room for speculation and tension.”

She also said that the government would embark on phase two of its Mau rehabilitation programme which would be targeting settlers who hold legal Mau land ownership documents.

“The second stage of the Mau rehabilitation plan will start directly but since we do not want to worsen the situation we must first get enough funds that will compensate those who will be targeted in the second phase (Those who have title deeds to the Mau land),” she explained.

Dr Shaban further added that the government through the office of the Prime Minister was in talks with donors to help Kenya raise funds that would go towards compensating the legal Mau settlers.

“We are negotiating with our development partners to help get finances to offset the land that the legal settlers will lose. We must as government ensure that we have the resources that will smoothly facilitate our second phase of the Mau evictions,” she noted adding that phase one of the evictions (on going) had had hitches because the evictees were too many.

“The first stage has been marred by some challenges. The evictees have become mixed up and their number is also huge. For these reasons we have been forced to ensure the people who we are catering for (with the humanitarian assistance) were actually evicted from the Mau and are not fake,” she observed.

She also defended the government against allegations that the evictions were inhumane further revealing that the government had so far spent Sh12.2 million in humanitarian efforts of the Mau and that no one had been forcefully evicted from the water tower.

“The meeting that we just had underscores the government’s commitment to a humane relocation of families from the forest. The government has spent Sh5, 174,670 on relief food to those leaving the forest and Sh7, 026,430 on non food items,” she explained.

Dr Shaban re-affirmed the government’s previous statement that it would rely on data sources to help verify the evictees’ original homes however revealing that the tallying exercise which according to chairman of the Mau Complex Secretariat Hassan Noor Hassan had already started was yet to kick off.

“We agreed to depend on three data sources to verify the origins and identity of those currently in the camps. The data will be able to give us a clear picture in order to give assistance for resettlement and this tallying exercise should take at most a week and begins immediately,” she said.

Others who attended the meeting were Internal security minister Prof George Saitoti, Lands minister James Orengo, Forestry and Wildlife minister Dr Noah Wekesa.

NEMA Robbery

Gangsters broke into the headquarters of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) in Nairobi on Friday and stole computers.

Guards on duty at the offices in the city’s South C suburb told police that an unknown number of thugs stormed the offices at about 1 am and tied them with ropes before they broke in and the computers among other items.

“That is the version the guards are giving us, but I think there is something else they are not telling us,” said Embakasi divisional Police chief David Bunei who led a team of officers to the scene near Bellevue, off Mombasa road.

Mr Bunei said five guards who were duty at the time had been picked for questioning because they took too long to report the incident.

While the burglary took place at 1am, Mr Bunei said, it took the guards up to 4am to inform officers at Akila Police Post which is about 500 meters away.

“They (guards) claim that they were all tied and could not be able to move for four hours. This is not sufficient reason because they have not explained how they eventually managed to untie themselves when they went to report the matter to the police,” he said.

Mr Bunei said that the guards had been arrested for questioning as investigations into the robbery got underway.

He said when police arrived at the scene at 4am, they found various offices broken into and various items, including computers, stolen.

None of the guards sustained injuries during the robbery.

Mr Bunei said cases of burglaries have been on the increase, with up to three incidences reported weekly in his region. On Monday night, two guards were killed when gangsters broke into a furniture bazaar on Mombasa road.

Police believe the guards were bludgeoned to death when they tried to block more than 15 gangsters from gaining access to the premises, where several items were also stolen.

8 000 000 draft copies

Mutula Kilonzo says the government will distribute eight million copies of the harmonised draft constitution.

In a ministerial statement made to Parliament on Thursday, Mr Kilonzo said marginalised areas will begin receiving copies on Friday through the use of police and military helicopters that will airlift the document to far flung areas.

Moyale, Lungulungu, Lokichogio, Kakuma, Tana River Isebani, are among the areas to be touched by the operation.

“The committee is in the process of facilitating this through nationwide courier service and other distribution points,” he said and urged Kenyans to make their views known to the Committee of Experts (CoE) on Constitutional Review.

“But it is not enough to write to newspapers, to speak on radio; take a piece of paper and write,” said the Minister.

The Minister further ruled out the possibility of two drafts being presented for a referendum as has been suggested in some quarters.

“There is no merit for a Yes-Yes vote. This debate would justify the view that Kenyans should be balkanised and then harden their positions on contentious issues; Kenyans should vote for the draft on its own merit.”

“It is a Harmonised Draft, which means the committee looked at the Kilifi draft, the Wako draft, the Naivasha Accord, the current constitution and above all they looked at all the written memoranda that Kenyans sent forth,” he said, although stressing that he still had reservations with regards to the draft constitution.

Mr Kilonzo said the 30 days set for Kenyans to go through the draft would also not be extended, as the country could not afford to buy more time in order to get a new constitution.

“These 30 days were for those people or groups who were so keen on particular positions that they cared to write memoranda to the experts’ team. It is those people who have 30 days to be able to look into what they were suggesting whether it has been included.”

Wanjiru in trouble

An election petition filed by former Starehe MP Maina Kamanda has been postponed.

This follows an application by Bishop Margaret Wanjiru's lawyer Chacha Odera to adjourn the case to allow him study evidence produced in court by Kamanda's lawyer, Kioko Kilukumi.

Kilukumi early this week produced a video tape that was played in court allegedly showing Bishop Margaret Wanjiru dismissing 2007 parliamentary results for Starehe constituency.

Kilukumi told the court that he intends to produce more evidence against Wanjiru who is also the Housing Assistant Minister.

Wanjiru has maintained she never called for a repeat of elections in Starehe and never doubted the outcome adding that the clip may have been edited.

During cross-examination, she told the court that she could not recall when the video clips were captured.

The cross examination continues on the 30th of this month.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mau latest

The government will verify within a week the origin and identity of Mau evictees residing in makeshift camps on the edge of the water tower to relocate them before Christmas.

A joint review meeting hosted today by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, attended by the Mau Secretariat and Ministers George Saitoti Naomi Shaban, James Orengo and Noah Wekesa was happy with the progress of the eviction process.

Addressing the press at Treasury after the meeting, Special Programmes Minister Naomi Shabaan, said over 50 thousand acres of the forest has been reclaimed and a reforestation programme is on course.

Shabaan called on the political class to stop politicizing the exercise adding that a tree nursery with over 300,000 seedlings has been established for replanting of reclaimed land.

She said the government has so far spent 12.2 million shillings on food and non food items distributed to the evictees.

She added that plans are underway to start the second phase targeting those with title deeds.

The minister said the joint meeting underscored the government's commitment to a humane relocation of families from the forest.

Fundraiser

On Wednesday, MPs from Rift Valley held a fund raising event where 5 million shillings was contributed to assist the evictees.

The event was however criticized by a section of MPs who termed it as an act of hypocrisy.

10 Cabinet Ministers and 47 legislators including Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Tourism Minister Najib Balala attended the controversial fund raising, at KICC, Nairobi .

Sharp divisions have emerged within ODM party over the Mau saga that has taken a political dimension.

Mau-Raila fights back

Eight MPs among them Minister William Ole Ntimama, Assistant Ministers Mwangi Kiunjuri and Cecile Mbarire accused Uhuru of playing politics into the Mau issue and challenged him to look for money from Treasury to have the squatters resettled. Their sentiments echoed those of Charity Ngilu (Water and Irrigation Minister and Kitui Central MP), Wavinya Ndeti (Youth Affairs and Kangundo MP) and Emilio Kathuri (Manyatta) who all told Ruto and allies stop using the Mau issue for political gains.

Speaking in her Kitui Central constituency, Mrs Ngilu told off politicians blaming the Prime Minister over the restoration of the forest, insisting that it was a government decision.

The Water Minister told Raila to remain steadfast over the issue since the entire country was solidly behind him.“The whole issue was discussed at length during our Cabinet meeting. What was never discussed was forceful evictions which the government must not engage in,” said Mrs Ngilu.

The Ntimama group while addressing a press conference at Parliament buildings, described as ‘hypocritical and guilty of opportunism and blatantly exploiting ethnic politics’ ministers purporting to oppose the government on conservation of the Mau Forest. If there ever was a governance dilemma, they said the Mau issue is, but hastened to add that to conserve the water tower is urgent and important, but cannot and should not be politicized’.

Inside Parliament, Wildlife Minister Dr Noah Wekesa clashed with MPs Joshua Kutuny (Cherengani, ODM), and Isaac Ruto (Chepalungu, ODM) when he delivered a statement on the progress of the evictions.

Kutuny claimed that Dr Wekesa’s land in Trans Nzoia was sliced off Mt. Elgon and wondered when he would surrender it back to the government. But a furious Wekesa clarified that the land was not annexed from Mt. Elgon, stating that he bought it in 1972 from a White Settler; Hue Balla who had occupied it since the 2nd World War. Wekesa said the evictees will not be compensated, but promised that the government will give them money for a month’s upkeep. Those who will benefit are those profiled and registered. He supported the government’s plan to restore water catchment towers noting that the destruction within Mau will cost the government Sh38 billion. The Minister hit out at a section of politicians he did not name for allegedly visiting camps where the evictees are settled and telling them not to leave.

He clarified that it unfortunate that as early as 2005 there were no squatters in South West Mau and wondered why politicians were claiming that the evictees had no homes to go back to.

Ntimama and his group said the million dollar question is where these champions were when government evicted people from Mt Elgon, Mt Kenya, Aberdares and even most recently Embolot forest in Marakwet. “Were those who were evicted not Kenyans? Were they not equally entitled to the privileges the government has offered to the evictees of Mau such as transport, food, medicine and blanket?,” said a statement that was read by Kiunjuri. In what appeared like hitting out at Ministers Ruto, Franklin Bett, Henry Kosgey for opposing the evictions, the group wondered whether they have forgotten that those evicted 20 years and as early as last year have not been resettled.

Even those who have been lucky to be settled like in Solio Ranch are living in torn tents and inhuman conditions, they added. “Why have they never visited those evictees across the country? Why have some of them never voiced their concern about IDPs and contributed towards them?” they posed. They declared their unwavering support for the government and in particular the Prime Minister Raila Odinga, warning political opportunists ‘that this country is greater than all of them’. They however confirmed that the said leaders have a bone to pick with the Prime Minister noting that it was unfortunate that they are using Mau to settle political scores, an issue that is going to affect the lives of children and great grand children. “We wonder whom they will rule if Kenyans water catchment area like Mau is destroyed and the country is plunged into drought and hunger”,

New KACC

We wish to share with the Kenya public the progress in the recruitment exercise we embarked on in October 2009 to fill positions of a Director and two (2) Assistant Directors.

As you are all aware, we placed the adverts in the media on 2nd October 2009 for all the three positions, and a total of 197 applicants responded to the adverts.

The Board shortlisted 8 candidates for each of the three positions and the interviews were conducted between 23rd and 25th November 2009.

The following persons were selected for the three positions:-

DIRECTOR - DR PLO-LUMUMBA

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR – LEGAL SERVICES - MR PRAVIN BOWRY

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, EDUCATION,
RESEARCH & PREVENTION - PROF. JANE KERUBO ONSONGO

Throughout the recruitment process, the Board was guided by law and its commitment to be impartial and independent. We were also alive to the palpable fact that Kenyans expect the process to be fair, and free from influence from any quarters. Above all, we were driven by the pressing need to recruit Kenyans of high integrity and competency who have the experience, courage and determination to fight the war against corruption and restore confidence of the nation on our quest to fight corruption.

We shall recommend the three persons to Parliament as required by law, immediately for their approval and subsequent appointment by His Excellency the President.

It is our conviction that Parliament will endorse the three.

A brief on the CVs of the three candidates:

DR PLO-LUMUMBA
A prominent lawyer and an advocate of the High Courts of Kenya and Tanzania, Dr Lumumba is a holder of Bachelors’ and Masters Degrees of Law from university of Nairobi, and a Doctor of Law from University of Gent, Belgium. He has taught law at University of Nairobi for 17 years and practiced for the last 23 years. Between 2001-2005, he was the Secretary/CEO of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission. He is a member of LSK,ICJ, IBA and the Institute of Commonwealth associations among others.

He has published widely and is a prolific speaker on anti-corruption issues in the country.

The Board is convinced that Dr Lumumba can ably lead KACC in its mandate, and has the dynamism and interpersonal skills to rally the country behind him and build a wide consensus and partnership necessary to win the war against corruption.

MR PRAVIN BOWRY
Also a prominent lawyer and advocate of 38 years standing, Mr Bowry is an accomplished expert in criminal and civil law with unrivalled experience in court procedures and rules of evidence, both of which are critical in getting convictions in the many corruption cases in our courts.

A graduate of the Kenya School of Law in 1971, Mr Bowry has been in practice since then. He is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya, and the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda, Arusha. He is a fearless advocate, an innovative thinker and has a penchant for detailed preparation of cases in courts.

The Board is settling for MR PRAVIN BOWRY was persuaded by the urgent need of having a senior and experienced lawyer to lead our civil litigation team of lawyers in pursuing through civil suits the recovery of corruptly acquired assets and also defend the Commission in constitutional reference cases filed against the Commission and render professional advice on the prosecutions department on economic crimes and corruption related cases.

PROF JANE ONSONGO
She is an Associate Professor of Education and Deputy Director of Research at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.

Prof Onsongo has a PhD in Higher and Further Education from University College London. She obtained her M.A in Women and Higher Education from the same university, an M.Ed in Education Communication and Technology from Kenyatta University and a BeD in History and Religious Education from the same University.

Prof. Onsongo will bring on a vast experience in education and research which is critical in designing policies and actions to change public perception about the vice of corruption.

(Mr Omogeni is the CHAIRMAN, KACC ADVISORY BOARD

Ocampo Latest

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Thursday he had asked judges to allow a formal probe of Kenya's 2007-08 post-election violence with a view to putting those responsible on trial.

"I have asked the judges of the International Criminal Court authorisation to investigate the violence that followed the elections in 2007," Luis Moreno-Ocampo told journalists in The Hague.

He had been conducting a preliminary investigation since February last year of the violence that followed presidential polls held on December 27, 2007 after opposition chief Raila Odinga accused President Mwai Kibaki of voter fraud.

Some 1,500 people were killed and 300,000 displaced in a matter of weeks.

Moreno-Ocampo said there had been a "widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population," that constituted crimes against humanity such as rape, murder, deportation and forced displacement.

He intended presenting a limited number of cases to court against "those who bear the greatest responsibility, those who organised, planned and supported the attacks."

This is the first time that the prosecutor seeks to open an investigation on his own initiative -- one of three ways in which a case can come before the ICC.

He needs the judges' permission to do so.

Other cases before the court had either been referred by countries that have signed up to the court's founding Rome Statute or by the United Nations Security Council, as in the case of the conflict in Darfur, Sudan.

The ICC has already assigned three judges to consider the prosecutor's request in the Kenyan matter.

The Kenyan government has yet to act on the recommendation of its own year-old inquiry that a special tribunal be set up to probe the violence.

Earlier this month, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said that Nairobi will help the ICC to investigate, but that it was committed to a "local solution."

The ICC, the world's only permanent independent tribunal to try war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, began work in The Hague in 2002.

It can only try cases when countries are either unwilling or unable to do so.

Moreno-Ocampo already announced in September his wish to pursue those "most responsible" for the violence.

In June, former UN chief Kofi Annan called on Kenya to set up a special court to try suspects, or have them face justice before the ICC.

Annan, the chief broker in Kenya's power-sharing talks which saw Odinga become prime minister and Kibaki remain president, sent the court a list of names of key suspects in July that is believed to include top government officials.

Kalonzo develops cold feet as Uhuru disobeys Kibaki

William Ruto rallied 10 Cabinet colleagues and 47 legislators on Wednesday to a fundraising for the evicted Mau Forest squatters, in an event that was laced with heavy political undertones.

The meeting at a Nairobi hotel came as a rift widened between Mr Ruto and Prime Minister Raila Odinga who are both using the Mau conservation as a political battle front. In attendance was Tourism Minister Najib Balala who openly accused Mr Odinga of using dictatorial tendencies while dealing with fellow leaders.

The Tourism minister said the PM had turned into a ‘political tourist’ and said the attendance at the fundraiser was “a reflection of the country’s future political direction.”

“You see this high table? This is the future, if you are not here you are not the future,” he bragged.

The Rift Valley MPs in attendance said they should not be vilified for demanding the compensation and resettlement of the evictees.

“We have not asked anyone to move back into the forest. We are saying that the spirit of the taskforce report must be respected,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said the government would not reverse its decision on the matter but assured the MPs that compensation will be paid. He said that the government was aware of the threat that climate change posed to the country.

Special Programmes Minister Naomi Shaban was also at the event, and she said that the spirit of the Mau Taskforce Report would be obeyed.

“Seeing that the Minister for Finance (Mr Kenyatta) is here I can say without fear of contradiction that we will relocate and resettle the people from Mau,” she said.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo and his Energy colleague Kiraitu Murungi said that international conventions must be respected while moving the squatters.

“We cannot come from one set of IDPs to another set of IDPs, ” said Mr Murungi, in reference to the internally displaced persons of last year’s post election violence.

Mr Ruto criticised some high placed government officials of intimidating some MPs and Cabinet Ministers into skipping the event. Some senior cabinet ministers including the VP and Deputy PMs were directed by State House to give the event a wide berth as “it would harm government efforts towards restoring the country’s main water tower.”

“I really wonder how come other harambees we held for the other victims did not affect the running of the government?” the Agriculture Minister retorted.

“There are some who have tried to pressure me against this saying that I should not come to fundraise for Mau people yet we still have IDPs living in camps; but I told them that I was aware of that but am opposed to is for another group to come and are join that lot,” said Mr Kenyatta.

Other Cabinet Ministers in attendance were Yusuf Haji (Defence), Mohammed Kuti (Livestock), and Mohammed Elmi (Northern Kenya).

Lumumba for KACC

Prominent city lawyer Dr PLO Lumumba has been nominated for the post of Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) Director which fell vacant following the resignation of Justice Aaron Ringera in September.

The KACC Advisory Board also announced that it had proposed lawyer Pravin Bowry and educationist Prof Jane Kerubo Onsongo as directors in charge of Legal Affairs and Prevention Services respectively.

The three will however have to wait for Parliament’s approval since the law provides for legislators to vet the names before they are presented to the President for appointment.

“Throughout the recruitment process, the board was guided by law and its commitment to be impartial and independent,” Okong’o Omogeni who heads the Advisory Board told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.

“We were also driven by the pressing need to recruit Kenyans of high integrity and competency who have the experience, courage and determination to fight the war against corruption and restore confidence of the nation in our quest to fight corruption,” he added.

Mr Omogeni who was accompanied by other board members told reporters that they received 197 applications for the three vacancies, but considered only eight for each post.

This followed an advertisement placed in the local media on October 2 this year, two days after Justice Ringera and his deputy Fatuma Sichale bowed to public pressure and quit the plum positions.

Another Assistant Director who was in charge of Preventive Services Dr Smokin Wanjala had resigned two weeks earlier.

The resignations followed an outcry from Parliament and the civil society who faulted President Kibaki’s move to re-appoint the three when their terms expired, without due regard to the law.

Some civil society organisations even moved to court over the re-appointments which they termed “unconstitutional”.

When the board announced the nominees on Thursday, it defended their professional backgrounds and personal integrity, saying they were qualified to hold office.

On Dr Lumumba’s nomination, the board said it settled on him because he has the “dynamism and interpersonal skills to rally the country behind him and build wide consensus and partnership necessary to win the war against corruption.”

Dr Lumumba commonly known as PLO is an candid advocate of the High Court of Kenya and Tanzania.

He is a holder of Bachelors’ and Master’s Degrees in Law from the University of Nairobi, and a Doctorate of Law from the University of Gent in Belgium.

He has taught law at the University of Nairobi for 17 years and practiced as an advocate for the last 23 years.

Dr Lumumba was the Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (CKRC) between 2001 and 2005.

The distinguished lawyer who contested and lost the Kamukunji Parliamentary seat in 2007, has widely published and is a prolific speaker on anti-corruption issues in the country.

Pravin Bowry

The man proposed to take over the position of Assistant Director, Legal Services is a prominent lawyer and advocate for 38 years.

He is an accomplished expert in criminal and civil law with experience in court procedures and rules of evidence, both of which are critical in getting convictions in the many corruption cases filed in court over time.

He is a graduate of the Kenya School of Law and an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda.

Mr Omogeni said the board settled on him because they were “persuaded by the urgent need of having a senior and experienced lawyer to lead our civil litigation team of lawyers in pursuing though civil suits the recovery of corruptly acquired assets and also defend the commission in constitutional reference cases filed against the commission.”

Prof Jane Kerubo Onsongo

She has been nominated to fill the vacant position of Assistant Director, Education, Research and Prevention Services.

Prof Onsongo is an Associate Professor of Education and Deputy Director Research at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA).

She holds a PhD in Higher and Further Education from University College London. She also holds an MA in Women and Higher Education from the same university.

She also has a MEd in Education Communication and Technology from Kenyatta University and a BEd in History and Religious Education from the same university.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No Compensation

The government shall not compensate illegal squatters in the Mau and reserves the right to prosecute such settlers for degradation of the environment, Forestry Minister Noah Wekesa has said.

In his ministerial statement presented to parliament Wednesday, Wekesa reiterated that the government has no obligation to compensate illegal settlers in forest land.

At another forum, a section of MPs led by Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri came in to defend the Prime Minister's stand on the Mau evictions.

They termed critics of the Prime Minister on Mau reclamation as individuals only after their selfish interests and not the good of the country.

These MPs wonder why there were no protests in previous evictions of settlers from other forests around the country.

Narok North MP William Ole Ntimama says some leaders are even offering bribes to the Mau evictees to convince them not to return to their land.

Threat on mps probed

Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere has expressed concern over alleged death threats against a section of legislators and vowed to investigate the matter conclusively.

Mr Iteere said the matter was “not being taken lightly” and assured those who had already raised concerns over their personal safety to cooperate with the police.

He singled out the Imenti Central lawmaker Gitobu Imanyara who read out a text message to fellow MPs in Parliament on Tuesday, where he alleged that he had been threatened through a note sent to his personal assistant.

“I am aware of the allegations made by Mr Imanyara and he had even reported to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) that one of his PAs had received a threatening message and we are investigating that report,” Mr Iteere told reporters when he toured Kasarani police station in Nairobi.

He said detectives were tracking the mobile phone number used to send the threat and hoped to make arrests soon.

“We are taking the matter very very seriously, and our officers are on the case,” he said and added that police were also investigating the reported kidnapping of the MP’s personal assistant on Tuesday night.

The PA told police that he was accosted by two people while coming out of a supermarket near Kasarani police station.

“It so happened that the PA was accosted while coming out of a supermarket within this (Kasarani) area but he was released immediately, so we are investigating the incident,” the police boss said.

Other legislators who have reported getting death threats include former Justice Minister Martha Karua (Gichugu), MP’s Bonny Khalwale (Ikolomani), Simuyu Eseli (Kimilili), Mithika Linturi (Igembe South) and Housing Assistant Minister Bishop Margret Wanjiru (Kamukunji).

Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti assured of his Ministry’s commitment to provide adequate security to all Members of Parliament, including those alleging to have been threatened.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Raila in trouble

Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s pursuit of clearance of human settlements from Mau Forest and subsequent exchange with Rift Valley leaders Is reshaping the political landscape ahead of 2012 General Election.

Already there are signs his shadow wars with some Rift Valley leaders led by Agriculture Minister William Ruto, a battle fought without mention of names, could have opened a door for the entry into the battle for the vote-rich province by his deputy Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka.

The momentum of speculation the province, which is as rich in political rifts as it is with geographical features, which give it its rugged topography, is lent credence by Uhuru and Ruto’s earlier litmus test for a Kalenjin-Kikuyu Alliance.

Kalonzo, on the other hand, is associated with the proposal for a Kikuyu-Kalenjin-Kamba Alliance, and his trouble-free public meeting in Ruto’s home turf last week betrayed his renewed interest in what the province has to offer in a presidential race.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga


To cap it all, Uhuru, who was the first to side with Ruto when the Mau evictions were mooted, will on Wednesday lead a fund-raiser for the Mau evictees together with Kalonzo.

The reunion brings together two bitter rivals of Raila who walked out on him in the heat of 2007 cruising campaigns, and Ruto, his latest political rival who has declared his name like the PM’s will be on the 2012 presidential ballot paper.

The sensitivity of the upcoming possible realignment was discernible from the fact that President Kibaki and the PM met with select top Government officials to be briefed on security intelligence report that the fundraiser could precipitate a crisis and excite emotions.

It is reported the two leaders were told the fund-raiser would cast the Cabinet as divided and undermine the Government position that there was no humanitarian crisis in the Mau, and food, shelter and transport for the affected families were guaranteed.

After the meeting at Harambee House, however, it was not clear what was decided but one thing was obvious: the harambee would go on as planned for the organisers were still publicising it on Tuesday night. There was also one other certainty, Raila was not invited to the fundraiser.

The political scenario unravelling in the Rift Valley, where Raila was last week in Bomet, seems to still enjoy grassroots support but could be losing grip of the elected leaders, took an interesting turn on Monday when ODM Chairman Henry Kosgey, also said he disagreed with the PM’s approach on the Mau issue.

Kosgey has hitherto been Raila’s dependable ally in the province, having even directly warned Ruto’s bid for the Presidency if not well thought-out could alienate the community from other Kenyans.

The renewed clamour for a grip of the Rift Valley is triggering questions whether the PM will be a victim of Mau conservation, for which he has said for nationalistic and environmental reasons he is ready to pay the price. It is bound to raise the question how would he plug the hole left in his battleship by the exit of Rift leaders, if it happens. He has already showed signs he would be working with the non-Kalenjin communities in the province such as the Masai and Turkana, as well as directly engaging Kalenjins by bypassing their leaders. The warm reception in Bomet and Pokot last week must have buoyed him as it appeared to show he is still popular at the grassroots among the wider Kalenjin community.

Two local MPs, the Reverend Julius Murgor (Kapenguria) and Wilson Litole (Sigor) attended the Raila meeting last week in West Pokot, that was skipped by Information Minister Samuel Poghisio.

The minister appeared the following day at a meeting with Ruto in Trans Nzoia, the same day his party leader Kalonzo was hosted by Eldoret East MP Margaret Kamar in her constituency in Uasin Gishu, under which Ruto’s falls.

Kalonzo flew to the region in a Kenya Airforce helicopter last week and spent the whole weekend meeting with allies and courting new political friends.

Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny says Kalonzo first reached out to the Rift Valley electorate when he sided with leaders in reconciling communities after the post-elections violence.

"We all wanted people reconciled after post-election violence while some of the leaders we supported during the last elections demanded that our leaders be tried in courts of law when they knew very well that post- election violence was not planned," said Kutuny.

Kutuny said the Mau issue has further isolated Raila because Ruto, Uhuru and Kalonzo have demanded that alternative land be provided before people are evicted," said Kutuny.

Kalonzo and Uhuru also helped defeat the vote of no-confidence Motion tabled by Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale against Ruto in Parliament.

Kalonzo recently added an extra ‘K’ on the earlier mooted ‘KK’ alliance, indicating he was ready and willing to lead his Kamba community into forging an alliance with Ruto in the Rift Valley and Uhuru in Central Province.

Ruto was expected to meet Kalonzo at Segero AIC Church on Sunday, when Raila moved his tour to Chepalungu in the South Rift. Ruto’s allies Eldoret Mayor William Rono and Wareng County Council chairman Paul Kiprop were with Kalonzo throughout the tour.

Both Rono and Kiprop made veiled attacks on Raila for allegedly pushing "our People out of the forest like wild animals".

Kalonzo took the opportunity to support the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission led by Betwell Kiplagat instead of threatening to handle post-election violence cases through courts.

During the tour, Raila insisted that the squatters had to be moved out of the forest to pave way for rehabilitation, while Kalonzo complained those being evicted were being "treated like chicken".

Kalonzo has stepped up efforts to shore up his political standing in Rift Valley against the backdrop of the falling out in ODM over Mau saga.

"He (Kalonzo) has been very consistent in dealing with issues that directly affect people in the North Rift region and other parts of the province," said Cherangany MP Kutuny.

But the latest storm on Mau, for which Ruto claims Cabinet never agreed on evictions, is seen as a political smoke screen. On Tuesday Ruto said on phone it was not fair for anyone to introduce politics on such a monumental issue like Mau.

"Those who are trying to introduce politics want to subvert the serious humanitarian issues in Mau," he added. In July Uhuru stepped in the row over compensation of those evicted from the forest, saying he was looking for funds in what was seen as tacit support for the Ruto camp.

Dissenting Rift Mps have also said they would not mind a vote of no confidence against the PM.

Ocampo announcement

The International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo will Thursday make an "announcement" on the situation regarding Kenya’s post election violence.

The move comes just two days after Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo admitted that the violence witnesses had received threats.

A statement from the ICC Tuesday evening said Ocampo's statement will be made at the ICCs' headquarters in The Hague.

But Mr Moreno Ocampo could not, however, hint at the contents of his statement though he is expected to give the progress made to prosecute those behind the violence that left 1,133 people dead and left 350,000 others homeless.

“The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced today (Tuesday) that ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo will hold a press conference on Thursday, 26 November at the seat of the ICC in The Hague to make an announcement related to the situation in Kenya," read the statement.

Last week, Mr Moreno-Ocampo asked the violence victims and witnesses to give their accounts to his office before Friday this week.

He said he intends to use the evidence to build his case before the Pre-Trial Chamber, which is to determine whether crimes committed after the 2007 General Election met the ICC threshold.

This is an effort to secure the permission of the three judges picked to assess Kenya’s case to open investigations into the matter. The judges have the choice to accept or reject Mr Moreno-Ocampo’s request.

Once the investigation is open, the prosecutor will dispatch investigators to Kenya to collect evidence and take witness statements.

During his visit to Kenya early this month, Mr Moreno-Ocampo promised that Kenya would provide an “example” for the world on how to prevent crimes.

President Kibaki and Mr Odinga have said Kenya would cooperate with the ICC, but declined to refer the case to it, saying this would project the country as a failed state.

After his three day visit , Mr Ocampo left Kenyans with one clear message; that The Hague process had officially begun.

The ICC prosecutor made his intentions clear, indicating that he was determined “to present two or three cases against those persons considered the most responsible” to the ICC.

Kibaki out again

Mwai Kibaki will Tuesday night, leave the country for Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago to attend this year's Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting (CHOGM).

The Commonwealth is an association of 53 independent states consulting and cooperating in the common interests of their people in the promotion of international understanding.

This year's meeting is of special significance to member countries as it comes at a time when the association is marking 60 years of existence as a common entity.

It is also important to East Africa because the meeting is expected to deliberate on Rwanda's application to join the Commonwealth as the 54th member state.

Nearly two billion people now live in the Commonwealth. Half of that population is under 25. It is with this in mind that the theme of this year's meeting is "The Commonwealth at 60 -serving a new generation".

The role of sports in youth development is expected to feature prominently during talks among the Heads of State and government.

This year's meeting will also focus on equity, sustainability and partnership in the development of Commonwealth nations.

The official opening and cultural ceremony will take place on Friday November 27th. Heads of State and government will then hold a series of formal and informal sessions during the period of the meeting.

The plane carrying the President and his entourage is expected to depart Jomo Kenyatta International airport shortly before midnight.

President Kibaki is expected back in the country later next week.

Electronic voting

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) hopes to implement an electronic voter registration system for the 2012 general elections to curb cases of double registration, vote rigging, ballot box exchange and delays.

IIEC Commissioner Douglas Mwashigadi says the Commission is currently sampling different electronic voter systems to find the most suitable one for the country.

The Kenyan company VENTIX is offering a magic pen which saves a persons data as they put it on paper, which is then transferred to the IIEC headquarters from the polling stations.

Meanwhile, Canadian Company CODE has introduced biometrics in its system, which requires one to give fingerprints and an image to detect double registrations.

At the same time, Electronic Corporation of India has offered an electronic voter registration plus a voting machine.

After registering and acquiring an electronic card, voting will be as simple as swiping the card and choosing desired candidates by the touch of a button.

Kaparo against system

Debate surrounding the executive makeup proposed in the harmonized draft continues to dominate, with divergent views either bashing or agreeing with the proposed hybrid system of governance.

Former House Speaker Francis Ole Kaparo has joined the bandwagon in rejecting the proposed system of governance, saying executive powers should only be enjoyed by a President elected directly by the people and not a Prime Minister chosen by virtue of only being leader of the largest political party in parliament.

He also faulted the creation of counties, saying they will stall the development agenda at the grassroot level.

Kaparo was speaking in Dol Dol Town in Laikipia District when Cooperative Development Minister Joseph Nyaga officially launched a financial institution.

Parents to be prosecuted for neglect

Kalonzo Musyoka has cautioned parents against neglecting their children particularly by denying them education.

Mr. Musyoka warned that those parents who will not take their children to school risk being prosecuted as provided for in the children's Act 2003.

Speaking during the official launch and Re-Branding of Child Fund Kenya, formerly Christian Children's Fund (CCF), at Nduma Primary School in Kikuyu district on Monday, the VP urged parents to invest in education of their children irrespective of gender as a sure way of guaranteeing bright future.

He said the government is seriously addressing the challenges facing children in the country.

Mr. Musyoka cited abuse and neglect, poor health and nutrition, access to education, HIV/AIDS, and poverty as some of the challenges hindering children development.

The Vice President said Child fund Kenya in collaboration with local Community -Based Organizations (CBO) and government agencies have provided supplementary feeding, bursaries, and stipends for Early Childhood Development (ECD) caregivers and teachers.

He added that they have also constructed and rehabilitated classrooms, equipped learning centers, and facilitated access to health services, among other efforts.

Mr. Musyoka said with an estimated population of 38million, one fifth of whom are six years and younger and nearly half are below 15years of age, the challenge is a daunting one.

The Vice President applauded the Child Fund's focus on integrated community management of Childhood illness and nutrition and safe and neonatal health in order to reduce childhood mortality.

On the Harmonized Draft Constitution, Mr. Musyoka appealed to Kenyans to avoid over relying on views of political leaders but to instead take time to read and understand the document to enable them give informed opinions.

Vice President of the Child Fund International, African Region, Mr. Isam Ghanim, said the organization operations exists in six of the 8 provinces of the country catering for about 51,000 children at a cost of 16 million.

Mr. Isam thanked the Government of Kenya for supporting the fund to undertake its operations and re-stated that the organization was committed to supporting government services.

He said since the inception of the fund in 1938, the organization has spent over 5.2 billion dollars in support of children.

Mr. Ghanim said the re-branding of the organization's name will not change its mission but will only lay new strategies in delivery of services as well as collaboration with other partners.

Kikuyu MP Lewis Ngurai who is also an assistant minister for Nairobi Metropolitan thanked the funds outreach for supporting needy children by providing livelihoods for orphans and disadvantages children in the society.

He challenged leaders in the area to collaborate with such private organizations by finding other means of interventions to assist needy cases in the society.

On constitution, the MP rooted for the presidential system where people will have a chance to elect the head of state directly instead of relying on parliament to decide for them leadership.

Hands-off president for hands-on skills

Mwai Kibaki has advised scholars in universities to bequeath students with education that imparts hands-on skills in order to overcome critical challenges facing nations.

President Kibaki noted that there was felt need for institutions of higher learning to narrow the gap between academic theory and practice in efforts to conquer various threats facing developing countries.

The Head of State asserted that despite numerous research works in Africa many citizens live in abject poverty aggravated by hunger and decreased wealth creation opportunities because research findings never reach them as the end users.

"I challenge universities and other research institutions to find ways of translating research findings into innovations applicable to the end users so that they can make a difference in their day to day economic and social activities," said the President.

The President made the remarks Monday at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) during the official opening of the Sixth Conference of the Global Consortium of Higher Education and Research for Agriculture

President Kibaki said, "The leading researchers should get more home-grown solutions to our basic problems so that our people are not only free from the threat of hunger, but are also empowered enough to embark on real wealth creation ventures."

He challenged leading researchers to avail home-grown solutions to familiar problems that confront ordinary wananchi and asserted that problems such as food insecurity lie within the area of expertise of researchers.

The President affirmed, "Food insecurity remains a fundamental challenge to developing countries. Among key causes of food insecurity are population increase; adverse impact of climate change and environmental degradation, and changes in consumption patterns. To adequately address these challenges, a variety of interventions including improved governance, technological advancement and cultural adaptations are required."

The Head of State advocated that agricultural biotechnology be prioritized in order to arrest ravaging effects of famine in the country and the African continent at large.

The President noted that the Government was vigorously encouraging farmers to adopt modern faming practices through use of high quality planting materials, improved and drought resistant seed varieties to not only boost food security but also enable farmers create wealth.

President Kibaki further reaffirmed that Climate Change had triggered serious challenges to agricultural productivity due to erratic weather patterns and causing a three-year drought in the country.

"It had led to massive losses to both crop and livestock farmers leading to massive food shortages and very poor performance of agricultural-related industries. There is now a sigh of relief as we are hopeful of receiving adequate rains during the current short-rain season," said the Head of State.

He confirmed that as a commitment to explore and implement long-lasting solutions against various problems facing the country and the continent in general, the Government has increased resource allocation for science, technology and innovation.

President Kibaki said, "Particular areas of interest here include enhanced funding for universities and other research institutions, and the promotion of Private-Public Partnerships. It is our hope that with all these measures in place, Kenya and the rest of Africa will achieve a reasonable level of food sustainability."

Noting that the Conference had been organized at a time when the entire globe was experiencing serious challenges such as the current economic meltdown, food insecurity, increased energy costs and health challenges, the President urged participants to create practical steps to tackle the threats.

The Head of State noted that the Government was implementing an economic stimulus package intended to create an impetus to the country's economy in order cushion vulnerable Kenyans against the effects of the global economic decline especially loss of livelihoods.

He observed, "The global economic instability, for example, has particularly affected the developing world, Kenya included. Some of the direct effects include reduced remittances from the Diaspora and a severe drop in earnings from tourism and agricultural exports. As a consequence, there has been marked drop in employment and productivity levels, thus adversely affecting the vulnerable members of society."

With regard to the energy sector, President Kibaki said that over reliance on fossil fuels and hydroelectric power elicit huge financial pressure due to high oil costs thus eroding resources earmarked to fund vital sectors in many developing countries.

He remarked, "Fossil fuels remain costly, while hydro-electric power is dependent on rainfall, which is now erratic. This has impacted negatively especially on small scale farmers and food processors who are responsible for most of Africa's food production."

The Head of State appealed to scientists to develop bio-fuels from plants products in order to meet energy requirements among nations despite the challenges posed by the Climate Change.

He told the participants the Government was currently exploring alternative energy sources with focus shifting to geothermal, solar and wind energy particularly to improve rural electricity supply from the current four per cent to 12 per cent .

The President noted, "I hope this Conference will come up with practical proposals on how to make bio-energy widely available to humankind. Meanwhile, various Governments continue the search for alternative sources of energy."

The Head of State commended Kenya's premier technology training institution, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology for hosting the international conference and expressed the continued Government's commitment to expand higher education.

He asserted, "The Kenya Government appreciates the crucial role that university education, training and research plays in the production of high-level human resource needed for national development. For this reason, we have continued to increase investments in tertiary education."

Other speakers included Higher Education, Science and Technology Assistant Minister Kilemi Mwiria, the President of the Global Consortium of Higher Education and Research for Agriculture (GCHERA) Prof Nick Wanjohi, GCHERA founder member Dr. Dymetro Melnychuk and Higher Education Permanent Secretary Prof. Cripus Kiamba among others.
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