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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

OCAMPO DETAILS

THE HAGUE, Mar 31 - The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday gave the green light for a full-scale probe by its prosecutor of the deadly violence that followed Kenya's 2007 presidential election.

"The chamber, by majority, hereby authorises the commencement of an investigation into the situation in the Republic of Kenya in relation to crimes against humanity," the court said in a written decision which was posted on ICC’s website.

"The information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed on Kenyan territory," the written ruling said.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the judges last November to allow him to probe the violence that claimed about 1,500 lives, injured thousands and left about 300,000 internally displaced following elections on December 27, 2007.

The ruling said the prosecutor had contended the crimes committed in Kenya at the time had amounted to crimes against humanity.

Earlier this month, Mr Ocampo gave judges 20 names of "senior political and business leaders”, whom he said organised, enticed and/or financed attacks against the civilian population on account of their perceived ethnic and/or political affiliation.

In the decision, the court said: “The majority finds that upon examination of the available information, bearing in mind the nature of the proceedings under Article 15 of the Statute, the low threshold applicable at this stage, as well as the object and purpose of this decision, the information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed on Kenyan territory.”

“The majority moreover found that all criteria for the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction were satisfied, to the standard of proof applicable at this stage,” the ruling said.

It went on to state: “The majority therefore granted the Prosecutor’s request, and allowed him to commence an investigation covering alleged crimes against humanity committed during the events that took place between June 1, 2005 (i.e the date of the Statute’s entry into force for the Republic of Kenya) and November 26, 2009 (i.e the date of the filing of the Prosecutor’s Request).”

The judge with a dissenting opinion Hans-Peter Kaul held that the crimes committed in Kenya did not qualify as crimes against humanity under the jurisdictional ambit of the Statute.

In particular, Judge Kaul disagreed with the majority on the requirements of a “State or organisational policy” as set out in Article 7(2)(a) of the Statute. Given the fact that the fundamental rationale of crimes against humanity as codified in Article 7 of the Statute was to protect the international community against the extremely grave threat emanating from such policies, Judge Kaul concluded that it had to be adopted either by a State or at the policy-making level of a State-like organisation.

Back in Kenya, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo was quick to laud the ruling, saying that he “welcomed the decision.”

The ruling was equally received with excitement by the State-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) and other non-governmental organisations.

“The ruling by ICC is a very important step towards justice for the victims of post election in Kenya,” Hassan Omar Hassan, vice chairman of the KNCHR said.

“It is a sign of good hope for us and we have been anticipating for it, it will go a long way in ending impunity in Kenya; what this means is that perpetrators of impunity will be published which is a very good sign from the ICC,” he said.

The Executive Director of the International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) Ndung’u Wainaina said “the decision of the International Criminal Court on the Kenya situation is landmark in many respects. It proves that the Court remains a crucial credible, impartial and efficient judicial institution based on justice and law.”

ORANGE FEAR

BILL RUTO: THE MODERN DAY KENYAN JOSEPH GOEBBELS

By Gitobu Imanyara & Miguna Miguna, MARCH 29, 2010


Whenever we think of the suspended or reinstated (depending on where you stand on the coalition government’s unsteady plunk) minister for agriculture Bill Ruto’s slowly dimming political fortunes, we inevitably remember the work, adventures and oratorical skills of the energetic Nazi Germany’s chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbels.

However, unlike Goebbels who had a Ph.D. in romantic drama, and therefore a firm foundation for his devious anti-Semitic political acrobatic performances, Bill’s background is in elementary zoology, botany and expertise in Kanu youth-wing matters. It partly explains why Goebbels excelled, to a point, while Bill’s propaganda machine has been imperiled from inception.

From all available evidence, Bill appears to have adopted Goebbels’ most popular strategy in propping up despotism; the “Big Lie” technique of propaganda, which is based on the principle that a lie, if audacious enough and repeated enough times, will be believed by the masses.

He is naturally attracted to Machiavelli’s dictum to unpopular leaders: “the end justifies the means.” At its most simplistic, it means that “it does not matter how immoral, unjust, unfair, brutal or illogical a leader is, as long as he gets what he wants; everything else is secondary.” This seems to cohere with Bill Ruto’s cardinal rule in politics. It might even be his philosophy in life.

Bill’s antics suggest that he subscribes to the notion that “politics have no relation to morals.” Fortunately, for all his recent efforts and creativity at political reincarnation, Bill’s mastery of Goebbels’ strategies still ranks at the toddler level; promising but uncertain. His knowledge of Machiavelli is certainly indeterminate.

According to media reports, Bill is on a roll, stomping and waxing lyrical about everything, particularly his love-hate relationship with the Prime Minister. A few months ago, Bill accused the PM of neglecting the Kalenjin youth who had either been arrested or killed during the post election violence.

The PM took up Bill’s challenge and directed the Attorney-General and the police to investigate the allegations about the missing youth. However, when asked to produce a list of those missing so that proper investigations could be conducted, Bill refused to cooperate; instead, he jumped onto another pet topic: the fate of those named in the Waki report. To date, Bill has failed to produce a list of those he claims are missing; neither has he himself taken up this matter with his “powerful friends” on the other side of the coalition. We are not even mentioning his legendary waffling about the roles of the Special Tribunal and the ICC.

The question is why? Is Bill misusing the fate of the “missing” youth for parochial political gains? Is he invoking the names of innocent victims of state brutality to win sympathy and undeserved attention?

Now, for those who don’t know or can’t remember, Bill was the self-ordained Captain of the ODM mediation team at Serena; the team that was instrumental in establishing the Waki Commission. Apart from setting up the Commission, the team also committed both Principals and their respective parties to full implementation of its recommendations, as part of Agenda 4 reforms. The PM was neither a member of the Serena Team nor of the Waki Commission. Is Bill trying to run away from his baby and the responsibilities flowing therefrom?

Although the Mau restoration exercise was conceived and given leadership by the PM, it was approved by both the cabinet and parliament. Bill boasts of being a prominent member of both institutions of government. Can he tell Kenyans when or how he raised objections to the exercise (within government), on what grounds and with what results before he continues railing against the PM? Or is Bill desperate to blame the PM for his failures?

Bill says he supports the Mau restoration but is only concerned about the manner of “evictions.” What he doesn’t say is that he is mainly opposed to the eviction of large land owners; the oligarchs of Mau. When the poor peasants left Mau a few months ago – they were not evicted - Bill promised them land and shelter. He even presided over a “huge” fund raiser at the Panafric Hotel in Nairobi. We all saw it on TV with Bill & Co breathing fire and promising a revolution. Predictably, like Bill’s many threats and promises, both never materialized.

What many are asking is: what happened to the millions of shillings that Bill claimed he collected for the “evictees”? How about the land and shelter he promised? Why hasn’t Bill asked his rich friends to donate even 1000 acres to settle those who were deceived to settle inside the forest while their ancestral land was being taken over by the same royalties, oligarchs and aristocrats? Or is Bill using the poor peasants as political fodder in his imaginary war with the PM? Between Bill and his political tour guides, 500 acres would not be too much of a burden; would it? Why hasn’t Bill donated even 100 acres to people he claimed he cares about?

According to media reports, Bill also claims that he disagreed with the PM over the formation of the ODM cabinet. He cunningly omits to say what the disagreement was about. Could it be that Bill wanted to be the Deputy Prime Minister? Or was he interested in controlling more than the formidable agriculture ministry? What exactly is Bill’s beef?

Bill knows that during the ODM presidential nominations, he was a distant third after Musalia Mudavadi, and that on the basis of Mudavadi’s performance, the latter was chosen to be the PM’s running mate for the 2007 elections. Consequently, when the coalition government was established, Mudavadi naturally was the choice for DPM. Why is Bill trying to reap where he did not sow?

Bill says, correctly, that the PM got lots of votes from the Kalenjin in 2007, as he did from all over the country. A careful examination of the 2007 presidential election results disclose that the PM received millions of votes from virtually all communities of Kenya, except from Central and Eastern provinces. Millions of voters from Western, Nairobi, Coast, Nyanza, Rift Valley and North Eastern Provinces voted for Raila Odinga. Indeed, unconfirmed reports suggest that Raila received considerably higher votes than was officially acknowledged from both Central and Eastern provinces and will most probably do so again. Out of 20 ODM ministries, the PM gave 5 slots to the Kalenjin; most of them plum dockets like roads, industrialization and agriculture. Many assistant ministers and senior government officials were also appointed from the area.

Why is Ruto trying to turn the PM into a sectarian leader? If Ruto were to become President, is he telling Kenyans that he will favour only those who support him and those who come from his area?

Bill knows that the PM, although an ODM leader, is responsible for all Kenyans, including those that didn’t vote for him. The PM took an oath to serve all Kenyans without discrimination. Needless to say, Bill’s charge is unproven and false.

In his essay “Advice to a Dictator and for Those Who Want to Become One” – which Bill might not have read or understood - Goebbels stated that: “A dictatorship requires three things: a man, an idea, and a following ready to live for the man and the idea, and if necessary to die for them. If the man is lacking it is hopeless; if the idea is lacking, it is impossible; if the following is missing, the dictatorship is only a bad joke.”

Bill is a quintessential performer, but he is certainly lacking in all Goebbels’ three prerequisites. Subconsciously, Bill subscribes to Machiavelli’s teaching that “a prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise.” That’s why he is waffling over the constitution. Before and after the Naivasha retreat, ODM, except Bill, stood firmly on a parliamentary system of government, with well structured three-tier devolution of power and resources. Yet Bill broke ranks with his party and fervently pushed for the creation of an imperial presidency without devolution, checks or balances. He called the imperial presidency the “Naivasha Accord;” an unholy alliance between Bill and Uhuru Kenyatta elements within the coalition.

When most Kenyans and constitutional scholars cried foul over the Naivasha Accord, Bill and his PNU collaborators accused them of being hard-liners that were not willing to “give and take.” When Bill was reminded that ODM’s position was that a pure presidential system was only acceptable if it was integrated within a well-structured and functioning three-tier devolution, with proper checks and balances; Bill threw up a tantrum and threatened to leave ODM for the KKK alliance. Bill claimed that he wasn’t convinced of the role and functions of the regional level of government and could not therefore support a three-tier devolution system of governance.

It is only after Bill’s Rift Valley constituency revolted against his betrayal that he has now reincarnated as a devolution salesman. But does Bill understand what he purports to be selling? Is he committed to devolution? Why didn’t he root for devolution in Naivasha where ODM had a chance? Or is he like Machiavelli’s prince; looking for another promise to break?

One thing we freely give Bill is that he is a promising pupil of Joseph Goebbels. Being a late entrant in the murky and complicated area of modern political propaganda, Bill has done extremely well. His earlier occupation as a Kanu youth winger and member of the orange choir, notwithstanding, Bill’s political acrobatic achievements are marvelous when one considers that he joined politics after graduating with a double major in botany and zoology; two fields not known to nurture prolific political acrobats.

But as pettiness and parochialism goes, Bill is in a league of his own: pugnacious and agile, especially when he is down and dirty with the PM. Not surprisingly, Bill is teary-eyed around State House or anything that resembles the trappings of power. It explains why he supported Baba-na-Mama party, the Uhuru Project and now is circling what seems to him like a Project-Sequel. Indeed, it was the same reason why Bill supported the Raila juggernaut in 2007. Bill saw an opportunity he could not ignore. As long as Bill is guaranteed space within the precincts of the Big House, he will croon, dance and jump. As long as power or its illusion is perceived to beckon, Bill will play the trumpet.

We understand that Bill is planning to hold several rallies in the Rift Valley to “regain total control of the province” and warn the people against Raila. The question Rift Valley residents should ask him are these: why is he engaged in premature campaigns instead of development? Why should Raila be his pet topic rather than Ruto’s vision and programs for the people? Is he running for president or he is a campaign manager of Project-Sequel? And lastly, are Rift Valley residents a bag of potatoes for Bill’s total control?

It is a tough learning curve for Bill. At least Machiavelli taught his pupils that for their strategies to be effective, the leaders had to be completely believable and trusted by the people. How many Kenyans out there believe and trust Bill?

Bill knows his fate when Kenyans are asked to choose between him and the PM. Perhaps that explains his suicidal political odyssey. Because Bill is determined to hasten his appointment with fate, Kenyans are eagerly waiting to teach him one Machiavellian lesson he might be unaware of: “When you disarm the people, you commence to offend them and show that you distrust them either through cowardice or lack of confidence, and both these opinions generate hatred.” And when the people hate you, there will be nowhere to hide.
___________________________________________________________________________
Hon. Gitobu Imanyara is the MP for Imenti Central;Mr. Miguna is the PM’s Adviser, Coalition Affairs and Joint Secretary to the Permanent Committee on the Management of Grand Coalition Affairs. The views expressed here are their own.

DEBATE

3:52: David Eseli supports motion. Says security issues of the country put in the back burner, asks house to rise for the occasion.

3:49 - Isaac Ruto - uniformed services may mean cooks, nurses. MP Anyang' Nyong'o says uniformed service is a technical term that cannot be reduced to such

15:47 - Nkaissery says other the draft constitution clause left other uniformed services

3:45: Chair rules that Nkaissery goes ahead to move the amendment.

3:43 PM Raila- says uniformed forces may also refer to other groups as Group 4 etc since they are also uniformed

3:42: Anyang' Nyongo; Says Nkaissery proposed amendment is broader than that of David Musila's

3:40 - Ababu Namwamba contests the Speakers' position over Nkaissery proposed amendment

3:38: Speaker says the first part taken by Musila's amendment.

3:37: Joseph Nkaissery argues the amendments are the not the same

3:35 - Back to debate on amendments. Chair rules that amendment by Joseph Nkaissery has been overtaken by events - by the vote on Musila's amendments

3:27: Speaker asks question on the motion on the special session. Asks for the second time. Motion is approved by acclamation. The Ayes have it.

3:24: PM Raila Odinga - We are engaged in a process not an event. MPs who have made proposals should be given a chance to present their amendments. Others should be able to withdraw. He supports motion.

3:22: AG Wako supports motion. Says debate on motion must be concluded in 30 days, ending tomorrow (Thursday). Asks MPs to re-examine themselves with the view of withdrawing some of the amendments.

3:21: Martin Ogindo: Supports motion, says MPs are lost in emotion.

3:18 - Moses Wetang'ula: It is difficult to support the motion given the mood of Parliament. We should stick to the time in the standing orders.

3:15 - MP Charles Keter opposes the motion.

3;13 Mukurwe-ini MP Kabando wa Kabando rises to oppose motion says based on what has happened this morning, and in the MPs retreats, the debate is not likely to give a result that will give any additional value.

3:10: MPShakeer Shabir asks why House is wasting a lot of time on the question, but ruled out of order.

3:09: Deputy Musalia Mudavadi seconds motion.

3:07 Procedural motion. Proposal for a special session for Thursday from 9am to 12.30pm

3:05 Deputy Speakers asks the question on the motion to extend the time for discussion. Motion is defeated.

3:03: MP Nkaiserry opposes the motion, says the 'important' motion on National security was opposed

3:01: Danson Mungatana (Garsen) stands to oppose the motion to extend the House sitting, says it 'makes no sense' and it is not likely to achieve the intended objective.

3:00 Chief Whip George Thuo proposes that House extends discussion from 6:30pm to 11:50pm. Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim asks question to the House.

2:33: It's Question time. MPs are debating the various questions on the order paper lined up for discussion for the afternoon session

2:30 - Afternoon House proceedings begin.

1:17pm- House adjourns until 2:30pm

1:14pm -The proposed amendment by MP David Musila is defeated after 122 MPs vote for, 4 against, and 21 abstain. Speaker announces the motion negatived.

12:38pm- Voting begins on the amendment proposal by MP David Musila

12:32pm - Speaker announces 150 members present - This allows the vote on amendment proposal by Mwingi South MP David Musila to delete a clause in Section 24 of the Constitution that touches on National Security. The amendment is to bar members of the Security Forces from participating in demonstrations.

2:06pm Counting of MPs by calling their names begin after Speaker gets conflicting numbers of lawmakers present in the House

11:20am - Musyimi's motion seeking to expunge a provision in section on equality that shielded Muslims on matters of personal status, marriage, divorce and inheritance fails after only 60 show up to vote.

11:05am - Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey (ODM) absent in House so his amendment motion on dual citizenship fails.

11:03am - Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya withdraws all his 30 amendment motions.

10:55am - Robinson Githae (Ndia, Narc Kenya) withdraws his motion.


PREVIOUSLY - Kenyan MPs are on Wednesday debating and voting on alterations they seek to make on the draft constitution. By 11am, four motions - on unitary state, devolution and religion/state - had failed.

The Rev Mutava Musyimi's (Gachoka, PNU) motion to amend the draft to provide for a unitary state failed after he failed to marshal the quorum of 145 MPs needed for the vote to be called. The same fate befell James Orengo (Ugenya, ODM) move to provide for three-tier devolution and the Rev Musyimi's second motion seeking separation of church and state.

The three motions only managed to attract the interest of 62, 107 and 57 MPs respectively, failing far below the requisite 145 needed for the vote to be called. Most MPs walked out of the chambers to help defeat the motions they were against.

OCAMPO OK'ED

Judges at the International Criminal Court at The Hague have authorized prosecutor Luis-Moreno Ocampo's request to investigate Kenya's post election violence.

PARLIAMENT

A packed Kenyan Parliament embarked on voting on amendments to the Proposed Constitution. We cover live proceedings of the crucial vote:

4.19 MPs proceed to division to vote on Mr Nkaissery’s amendment on exempting security forces from the bill of rights.

3.29 MPs approve a procedural Motion requiring them to hold extra ordinary sittings on Thursday morning to give them more time to debate and vote on the amendments to the Proposed Constitution. Prime Minister Raila Odinga urges MPs to think patriotism and not partisan politics.


3.10 Government Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo moves another procedural Motion to allow the House to hold an extra-ordinary sitting on Thursday morning. The Motion is seconded by Deputy PM Musalia Mudavadi and supported by ODM Ministers Mohammed Elmi, Anyang Nyongo as well as some ODM MPs.

However, the mood of the House seems to go against the Motion as many oppose.

3.08 MPs shoot down a procedural Motion that would have extended House sittings from 6.30pm to 11.50 to allow members debate and vote on the intended amendments to the Proposed Constitution.

Backbenchers led by Garsen MP Danson Mungatana said there was no need to extend the sittings since the mood in the House was that members were opposed to any amendments.

3.01 Government chief whip George Thuo moves a procedural Motion requiring the House to extend its sittings from the usual 6.30pm to 11.50pm. However, some MPs oppose the proposal, among them Danson Mungatana.

2.30 Parliament resumes but MPs first deal with Question Time before resuming debate on the Constitution.

1.30 Mr Musila convenes a press conference outside the chambers and registers his disappointment with fellow MPs who failed to support an amendment that would have ensured state security and guard against insubordination in the armed forces.

1.20 House adjourns until 2:30

1.17 An amendment by Defense Assistant Minister David Musila to bar members of the Disciplined forces (Army, Police, Prison warders) from demonstrating or representation by an advocate flops after only garnering the support of 122 MPs.

Four voted against the amendment while 21 absconded.

12.35 Speaker announces that there are 150 MPs in the chambers and orders a vote on Mr Musila’s proposed amendment.

12.08 Speaker Kenneth Marende announces a hitch in the tally of MPs present in the House. He said the clerks had recorded varying totals of 140, 143 and 146. He orders that the Clerk stands up and calls out the names one by one.

11.50 Speaker orders that the number of MPs in The Chambers be established as Mr Musila’s amendment gets overwhelming support. Unlike the other amendments where members walk out, the MPs remain seated awaiting the outcome of the count.

11.30 – 11.50 An amendment by Defense Assistant Minister David Musila to bar members of the Discipline forces (Army, Police, Prison warders) from demonstrating or representation by an advocate gets an applause and almost full House support.

11.26 An amendment by Mr Musyimi to delete a section that excuses the application of the Bill of Right for Muslims at the Kadhis court fails as only 60 MP are present when the Speaker calls for division.

11.08 Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya stands and says he has withdrawn 30 of his amendments citing that “the mood of the House was against the amendments.

11.08 An amendment by Tinderet MP fails as he was not in the Chambers.

11.06 An amendment by Gachoka MP Mutava Musyimi to separate State and Religion flops as only 57 MPs are present

10.59 - Tens of MPs walk out of the chamber in protest of the amendment to separate State and religion after the Speaker declared that the numbers be ascertained to decide whether a division will be carried out.

10.46 Gachoka MP Mutava Musyimi moves amendments that State and Religion shall be separate.

10.42 Dozens of MPs troop back to the House after Speaker Kenneth Marende announces that Mr Orengo’s amendment had failed.

10.40 Mr Orengo’s amendment to introduce provinces as the second level of devolution fails as only 107 MPs are present in the House.

10.10 –10.15: In his opposition to devolution Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri accuses the desire for Majimbo among the ODM as being behind the 2008 post election violence. Chepalungu MP Isack Ruto stands on a point of order to dispute the allegation accusing PNU of “stealing the election” thereby causing the violence.

10.20: An infuriated Gichugu MP Martha Karua stands to accuse Mr Ruto of itiminditing people by killing people in search for power.
Speaker Marende is forced to intervene and orders the three to withdraw their statements which he ruled were unparliamentarily.

10.10 Ugenya MP James Orengo moves an amendment to introduce the provinces as the second level of devolution. Heated debate ensues with equal support and opposition. Orange Democratic Movement MPs voice support while the Party of National Unity legislators insist to oppose the “introduction of Majimbo.”

10.07 – An amendment by Gachoka MP Mutava Musyimi on Article 4 to ensure a universally applicable Bill of Rights fails to garner the 145 support and is dismissed.

9.55 – Speaker Kenneth Marende rules that every member with an amendment will be given an opportunity to convince fellow colleagues.

9.05 – 9.50 Members argue whether they should debate an amendment when the House at that time does not have the requisite 145 MPs required to pass any amendment.

9.00 – Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim enters the chambers and leads the House into prayer.

CHAOS

Heckling, walkouts, shouting marches and repeated calls for Order! Order! marked the crucial voting stage on proposed amendments to the Proposed Constitution in Parliament.

People watching the live coverage were treated to comical spectacles as the honourable MPs walked out four times to frustrate the suggested amendments.

Parliamentary staff were kept busy opening and closing the doors to the chamber for the MPs who walked out saying “hii tunauwa na hata hiyo ingine inakuja tutaiangusha,” (We will ‘kill’ this one and even vote against the next one) they were heard shouting.

The honourable chamber of Parliament looked like a market place with shouting, laughing and heckling forcing Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende to intervene minute after minute.

“Order! Order! Order! turned into a chorus and children who are now on holiday must have learnt it by midday.

The ‘consultations’ were too loud. For once, Parliamentary proceedings looked like a political meeting if not a campaign rally or circus for that matter.

The battle pitted MPs from Orange Democratic Movement who supported their own while the Party of National Unity stood by amendments made by its members.

It was notable that all MPs remained fully awake and one may have been excused to imagine that they were discussing a raise in their perks and allowances.

In that session some MPs could also read the minds of others. Lands Minister James Orengo sparked off the mind row when he said that Gachoka MP Mutava Musyimi was introducing the Kadhi courts debate when he proposed an amendment to the State and Religion. Mr Musyimi retorted: “Is the honourable member in order to read my mind? He is doing a poor job of it.”

Mr Marende put the matter to rest when he ruled: “The Member for Ugenya... you cannot think for the Gachoka MP! You can only think for yourself as far as I know!”

But in Mr Orengo’s defence: “In my training as a lawyer it is good to know what is in somebody’s mind.”

Gichugu MP Martha Karua raised tempers in Parliament after she lashed out at Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto and accused ODM of being responsible for internally displacing Kenyans.

“Is honourable Isaac Ruto in order now to claim the reverse in Parliament when ODM knows very well it bullied its way to power through killings?” she asked.

Matters threatened to boil over prompting the Speaker to ask the MPs to ‘relax’ and asked Ms Karua to withdraw the word ‘killing’.

Only one amendment at the end of the morning session mustered the requisite 145 MPs for a vote but even then, that is as far as it went.

Surrender

With the way things were turning out, it was time for some to call it a day.

Ndia MP Robinson Githae was the first to throw in the towel when he withdrew his amendment.

Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya withdrew 30 of his proposed amendments while others like Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey went missing from the chamber when he was supposed to move an amendment.

At some point MPs started shouting ‘withdraw… withdraw’ when members were called by the Speaker to bring their amendments on the floor of the House.

The morning session ended at 1.20pm, with all the amendments that were presented all rejected.

UNITY

Prime Minister Raila Odinga wants youths in the country to promote ethnic cohesion through sports to facilitate the realisation of the Kenyan dream.

He cautioned the young generation to avoid being swayed into ethnic cocoons but foster unity and peaceful coexistence of all the tribes within the borders.

The Premier told an award ceremony for the Super 8 Soccer Tournament that the youth stood a better chance to exploit the fanatical sporting spirit to overcome ethnic barriers and push the Kenyan dream to the next level.

“We should emerge from our ethnic compartments and rediscover our national spirit which saw our founding fathers unite to overcome the colonial rule as a people,” he said.

Odinga who has lately traversed the country to propagate unity of Kenyans declared his resolve to bridge the retrogressive ethnic divisions which he said dogged the country’s progress since independence.

He attributed the loss of focus on national aspirations to poor leadership in the post independence regimes where ethnic undertones and rhetoric took the centre stage at the expense of integration.

Mr Odinga assured the sporting fraternity in the country of the government’s determination to promote the games as a tool to cement the ethnic divide in the nation.

He urged the youth to take sports seriously as it could offer job opportunities for hundreds of unemployment lot.

During the ceremony held at the Kenyatta International conference Centre Vapour Football club emerged top in the league which attracted teams from the eight constituencies within the Nairobi Province.

The tournament which was sponsored by Extreme Sports limited also saw the top four teams in every constituency awarded trophies while Dan Odhiambo scooped the golden boots in the performance category.

DRAFT LATEST

All the proposed amendments to the draft constitution debated during the Wednesday session were defeated after failing to raise the requisite 145 MPs.

Trade minister and MP for Kipipiri Amos Kimunya withdrew all his 30 amendment motions.

The session was characterized by heated arguments between Orange Democratic Movement ODM and Party of National Unity PNU legislators as the events of post election violence were revisited.

An attempt by Lands Minister James Orengo to introduce provinces as the second level of devolution failed since only 107 MPs were present in the house at the time.

ODM members put up a spirited fight to support the amendment but their PNU counterparts fought hard to oppose it.

Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri claimed that the push for Majimbo by ODM during campaigns of the 2007 polls resulted to Post election chaos.

Chepalungu MP Isaack Ruto stood on a point of order to dispute the allegation by Kiunjuri accusing PNU of stealing the election thereby causing the violence.

Gichugu MP Martha Karua accused Ruto of double standards by claiming that the elections were stolen.

Speaker Kenneth Marende was forced to intervene ordering the three to withdraw their statements.

Voting on the proposed amendments continues.

There are a total of 179 proposals.

And as parliament votes on the proposals, civil society groups are calling on the legislators to vote wisely. Maendeleo ya Wananake Organization has said those divisions on what to amend was guided by tribalism and political interests.

Addressing the press in Nairobi, the organization's chairperson Rukia Subow appealed to MPs to support a new constitution for posterity

14 dead

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 31 - Fourteen people have been killed after a matatu they were traveling in collided head-on with a truck in Kibwezi along the Nairobi Mombasa highway.

Police say the chartered matatu was carrying 15 passengers who were traveling from Bungoma in Western Kenya to attend a church function at the Miracle Pentecostal Church in Mariakani when the accident occurred at 5.30 am.
Only one woman in the matatu survived.

“It is so unfortunate to lose such a large number of people at ago, we have lost 14 passengers who were traveling in the matatu,” Sarah Duncan, police chief for Makindu division said.

“We only had one survivor, the only woman who came out alive from the matatu; all the other passengers have died,” she said when reached on telephone.

She said that the driver and turn boy of the truck had also survived the 5.30 am crash and were admitted to the Makindu district hospital together with the woman who survived in the matatu.

“Those killed were eight women and six men and they all died on impact,” she added.

She said some families of the deaced and those injured had been contacted and informed about the accident.

On Thursday last week, eight people were killed and 37 others seriously wounded in another accident that occurred in Kathini along the Nairobi-Machakos highway when two minibuses collided.

MARENDE LEADS

Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the Orange Democratic Movement still top popularity ratings, a new opinion poll shows.

At 36 per cent, Raila leads potential presidential contenders, followed at 12 per cent by Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, who launched his harshest attack on the PM on Monday, reviving their rivalry.

Kalonzo accused Raila of hitting the campaign trail early under the guise of inspecting development projects and vowed to also roll out immediately his 2012 presidential campaign.

Speaking in Machakos, barely two weeks after Raila toured the area, Kalonzo said his enemies had mistaken his ‘cool’ nature for cowardice.

"Raila comes to Ukambani and they call him Ngumbau (hero); he goes to Central Province and Meru and they call him Njamba (champion); people attending his rallies are given T-shirts bearing his portraits ... is this not early 2012 campaigns?" the VP asked.

Charm offensive

And the rivalry between the two is set to intensify as their support soars, according to the survey by Synovate (formerly Steadman), whose findings were released on Tuesday at a Nairobi hotel

But the PM’s charm offensive into ‘enemy territory’ appears not to have yielded much since his popularity rating in Central has shrunk. His fortunes in the Rift Valley also continue to dwindle.

Raila has toured Kigumo in Central, Machakos and Meru in Eastern. He is also scheduled to visit the Rift Valley where his approval rating has fallen to 18 per cent in the face of rebellion spearheaded by his ally-turned-critic Agriculture Minister William Ruto.

The PM’s lead was wiped out when possible groupings by his opponents, particularly the so-called ‘KKK’ alliance, come into picture.

Following Raila and Kalonzo are Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta (eight per cent), President Kibaki (seven), Ruto (seven) and Gichugu MP Martha Karua (six).

A surprise entrant is Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa, whose four per cent performance the pollster largely attributes to the enthusiasm in Western Province.

The public give the PM thumbs up for his general performance and sincerity in fighting corruption, perhaps explaining their endorsement of him for the top seat.

Food prices

Raila’s showing is consistent with his high approval ratings (61 per cent) placing him third after National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende (70 per cent) and the media, which tops the chart with 84 per cent.

Nearly half (46 per cent) approve of the President’s performance, Vice-President (43) while Parliament and the Coalition Government score lowest at 34 per cent.

Many Kenyans (70 per cent) believe the PM is sincere in the fight against corruption compared to 50 per cent each, for the President and Vice-President.

ODM’s popularity has increased to 43 per cent, up from 36 per cent in December. PNU’s has risen by one point to 21 per cent.

The soaring food prices top Kenyans’ concerns with 68 per cent of the respondents lamenting over the problem followed by corruption (59 per cent), poverty (54 per cent) and unemployment (53 per cent).

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ORANGE SCARE

PRESS STATEMENT

The ODM takes exception to the tribal and divisive politics that renegade Party MPs led by Hon. William Ruto are constantly engaged in so as to salvage their dwindling political fortunes among Kenyans in general and sections of the Rift Valley in particular.

It is well known that these renegades have joined hands with amorphous groups like Simama Kenya; a reincarnation of the defunct YK92 which fleeced this country of billions of shillings in the early nineties. We are worried that the increased number of informal night caucuses over the draft constitution that is being debated in Parliament, along with threats and blackmail pronouncements in public rallies are meant to derail the process of Constitutional making. We are against this double speak whose intention is to retain the current constitution as it is.

We wish to affirm to the public that devolution has been in the ODM manifesto and policy all along and it is not any one individual’s recent invention. Devolution is for all Kenyans and not only for any single region. The ODM has always championed devolution as the cornerstone of governance and dispersing power and resources to the people. Opportunists in the Party who have decided to take a rebellious stand should not use this for political mileage.

It is unfortunate some of those who claim to continue to be loyal senior members of ODM do not even attend Party Parliamentary Group meetings at Orange House that the Party Leader chairs to discuss Party strategy in Parliament. We advice that their arrogance and lone ranger politics are not helping them nor the Party, let alone the gallant people of the Rift Valley whose intelligence they are consistently undermining.

In all progressive Parties the world over, senior Party leaders do not criticize their Party in public and still maintain their leadership roles. Over the last year, it has become clear that these renegades do not share Party vision any more. In those circumstances, the honest and most honorable action to take is for them to offer their resignations from the Party. If they decline to make this choice, then the Party will be compelled to set in motion its disciplinary process in accordance with Article 8.4 of the Party Constitution whose “penalty includes but is not limited to, reprimand, censure, sanction, suspension for a period definite or expulsion”.




Declared at Orange House this 29th day of March 2010

PWANI HERE WE COME

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has Tuesday assured leaders from the Coast that the government is paying required attention to the development needs of the region.

The PM, who chaired a consultative meeting with all the MPs from the region at his Treasury office said the government recognises that the Coast has some unique development problems that date back to the pre-colonial times.

The meeting, attended by Cabinet Ministers and permanent secretaries from a number of ministries was convened to discuss the issues the leaders want the Prime Minister to address during his tour of the region next month.

Ministers Charity Ngilu (Water), James Orengo (Lands), Amason Kingi (East Africa Community), Mohammed Elmi (Northern Kenya, Arid and Semi Arid Lands), Fred Gumo (Regional Development), Otieno Kajwang (Immigration), Naomi Shabaan (Special Programs) and assistant Minister Harun Mwau (Transport) attended the meeting.

Also present were permanent secretaries from the Ministries of Energy and Forestry and Wildlife.

During the meeting, each of the MPs presented the issues affecting their constituencies, with water, infrastructure, human-wildlife conflict and land emerging as the key issues.

The leaders complained of acute shortage of teachers, growing problem of squatters and land grabbing and acute water shortage across the region.

They lamented about the poor state of roads and over focus on Tourism at the expense of other sectors of the economy.

East African Community Minister Mr Kingi said that while Tourism is confined to a small section of the Coast, the government has taken it as the development issue for the region and ignored other sectors like agriculture.

Addressing the leaders, the PM said his visit to different parts of the country are not for fun but are meant to ensure the government programmes are being implemented on the ground and to help the government listen to the people.

He said the visits also help him ensure that the ministries are working in complementary fashion without duplications.

At the meeting, Ministers took turns to explain what their ministries are doing on the issues raised.

Water Minister Charity Ngilu acknowledged that water is a problem at the Coast but said she is addressing the problem.

The Minister a high capacity water pump arrived from abroad and will be installed to distribute water to large sections of the Coast adding that it will ensure residents do not experience water problems over Easter.

She said investment in water storage has been wanting, with the region relying largely on a water pipe installed in 1952 when Mombasa had a quarter of the population it has today.

She said a new Baricho line is being developed, together with a number of dams to address the water shortage.

There was a light moment when the Minister said she is keen to desilt Tanganyika Dam but worried that it is infested with crocodiles while the PM demanded to know whether the crocodiles fall under the Ministry of Fisheries or Forestry and Wildlife.

Lands Minister James Orengo said the land problem at the Coast requires "special intervention" adding that every constituency at the Coast has a land problem.

"There is a terrible historical injustice to the people of the Coast when it comes to land and it must be addressed," Orengo said.

Mr Kajwang reported that his ministry is opening immigration offices right at the border points unlike the past when the offices were located inland.

He said new offices have been opened in Lunga Lunga, Taveta, Vanga and Kilifi that are frequented by travelers.

The Energy PS said that to address energy problems in the region, the Ministry is installing a new 220 KV power line running from Rabai through Malindi, Garsen and Lamu.

DIGITAL

President Mwai Kibaki Tuesday launched the country's digital education TV and radio channel at the Kenya Institute of Education in Nairobi.

Speaking at the launch, the President said that the educational channel will enable the Government to provide expanded high quality transmission through the schools broadcasting programmes.

Said the President: "This development underscores the Government's commitment to ensuring that the use of ICT in education is accessible to all Kenyans. This will enable learners to access audio, video and multimedia content throughout the country."

President Kibaki pointed out that all these initiatives are being undertaken as part of the overall strategy to integrate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education and provide quality primary and secondary education to Kenyans.

The President also officially opened the 1st E-learning Regional Conference where he disclosed the Ministry of Education is in the process of establishing a National ICT Innovation and Integration Center which is geared towards enhancing the country's ICT uptake.

The President pointed out that the Government's priority has been to lay a foundation for economic and technological growth, which entails moving rapidly from an agriculture-based economy to an industrial and service-driven economy.

Key driver of economy

He said the Government has developed a national ICT policy which recognizes the major role ICT plays in poverty eradication through effective use of technologies.

"The policy aims at stimulating investment in the ICT sector while at the same time encouraging the spirit of innovation through research and development," President Kibaki said.

The Head of State expressed satisfaction that education is taking a lead in ensuring ICT becomes an enabler for efficient and effective service delivery.

He noted that the use of ICT in education and training will overcome the challenges of time and location leading to flexible and lifelong learning.

In this regard, President Kibaki said his Government has played its part in terms of creating an enabling environment for the ICT sector to thrive as a key driver of the economy.

Reaffirming the Government's commitment to the achievement of Education for All goals and the aspirations of Vision 2030, the President said the integration of ICT in education will go a long way in making this a reality by enhancing quality, equity and access to educational and training opportunities.

"The initiatives in technology-based education and training will increase access to learning opportunities for our people," the Head of State emphasized.

ICT platform

The President, however, observed that for ICT in education to succeed, all related sectors must collaborate and work towards providing the required infrastructure and manpower necessary for its development.

In Kenya, President Kibaki said the Ministry of Energy has given priority to the provision of electricity to all learning institutions through the rural electrification program.

On its part, the President said, the Ministry of Information and Communications is leading the Government initiative of laying fibre optic cables around the country for improved data and information sharing while the Ministry of Education is driving the initiative to increase access to quality education.

Said the President: "The Government has embraced the idea of alternative teaching through use of technology. We appreciate that technology has the potential to catalyze greater enthusiasm for learning amongst students via interactive electronic-books and content."

In this connection, the Head of State said one of the initiatives the Government has undertaken in collaboration with the Government of Belgium is the implementation of an interactive ICT platform that will enhance teaching.

He said 240 education institutions throughout the country have been identified for this programme which will provide computer based online teaching in schools.

President Kibaki, therefore, expressed confidence that the E-learning initiatives the Government is undertaking will place the country in a strong position with high potential to provide a regional platform that will empower educational institutions to adopt and utilize technology in knowledge acquisition and sharing.

Saying the meeting should come up with strategies for improving curriculum development and delivery in all countries represented at the conference, the President noted that technology also offers the best opportunity to fulfill the Kigali Call for Action and ensure provision of uninterrupted basic education for a minimum of ten years.

KIE alleviation

Education Minister Prof. Sam Ongeri said E-learning would accord education managers opportunities for a paradigm shift in implementation strategy through provision of internet connectivity in schools to support teaching and collaborate learning.

The Minister stressed that E-learning would provide teachers with the necessary skills to integrate and mainstream ICT into the entire teaching process.

Saying that education played a crucial role in achievement of the millennium development goals, Prof.Ongeri expressed the need for education managers in the East African region to move as a block in adopting ICT to develop skilled human resource power to handle the challenges of the fast growing global Information Communication technology

The Minister petitioned the government to consider alleviation of KIE to enable the institute to effectively deliver on its mandate, assuring teachers that E-learning was only meant to supplement and not to replace them.

24/7 audio and visual TV channel programmes

KIE Director Mrs. Lydia Nzomo in her remarks said the institute has finalized arrangements to run a 24/7 audio and visual TV channel programmes aimed at enriching and supplementing classroom teaching and covering languages, sciences, Arts, Agriculture and applied sciences.

The Director said provision of distant and open learning through TV Channel would ensure uniform knowledge access and better learning environment for learners in Kenya .

With regard to quality e-learning education, the Director said the Institute had developed a capacity building curriculum for both private and public sectors to support social, economic and political pillars of the country's Vision 2030 development blueprint.

Among the curriculums KIE has developed, include, on training of sea fearers, personnel in corrective institutions and protection of animals with emphasis on life skills to enable citizens live harmoniously with themselves and others.

Among the participants were Uganda Minister for Education and Sports Gevaldine Bitamazive Namirembe and a representative of the Rwanda Minister for Primary and Secondary education Charles Gahima.

The two day conference brings together education practitioners, policy makers, Industry leaders and development experts as well as ICT research and development partners from Kenya and other East African region

The forum will provide education managers the opportunity to engage in discourse, share ideas and experiences on ICT and e-learning to supplement tradition methods of curriculum delivery.

In attendance were Engineer James Rege, the Chairman of Parliamentary committee on Energy and Information and Head of Public Service and Secretary to Cabinet Amb. Francis Muthaura among others

1 700 000 REGISTERED

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) on Tuesday said it had registered about 1.7 million people in the first week of the ongoing voter registration.

According to a statement from the IIEC, the South Rift region had recorded the highest number of voters with 416,010 followed by Nyanza Central region which got about 269,568 new voters.

Central Thika region came in third with 143,508.

Garissa, Ijara, Upper Eastern, Wajir, Mandera and North Coast have the lowest registration which each have less than 20,000 people registered.

In Nairobi, only 32,907 people have so far registered. The tabulated figures are as shown below:

REGION Total Week 1

Wajir/Mandera 17,810

Garissa and Ijara 10,172

Upper Eastern 13,524

Lower Eastern 135,726

Central Eastern 54,264

South Rift Region 416,010

Central Rift Region 120,284

North Rift 126,600

Central Region Thika 143,508

Nyeri Region 36,725

Nyanza Central Region 269,568

Nyanza South Region 53,775

Kakamega 130,505

Bungoma 118,267

South West Coast 79,625

North Coast (Malindi) 17,419

Nairobi Region 32,907

TOTAL 1,776,689


The commission estimates that the country has 18 million eligible voters but say it can only register 10 million by the end of 45 day registration period.

It is targeting at registering 1.5 million people electronically in 18 constituencies.

The IIEC has been appealing to eligible Kenyans to register themselves on time to avoid a last minute rush as well as to enable them to participate in the referendum and national elections.

Despite weather challenges in some areas of the country, IIEC has promised to ensure the exercise proceeds smoothly to reach as many people as possible.

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 30 - Most Kenyans believe the draft Constitution should be amended before they are asked to vote on it.

The findings of a new poll released on Tuesday by Synovate Research indicated that 52 percent of Kenyans wanted the draft law revised by Parliament before it is passed.

“Twenty five percent know nothing about the Constitution, 19 percent want it passed as it is, and four percent don’t know,” the research said.

While the poll did not ask what issues required amending, it found that as far as boundaries were concerned, most Kenyans were against the number of constituencies being increased.

In fact, 68 percent were against any boundary change while 54 percent wanted the number of constituencies reduced in the first place.

Only 12 percent of Kenyans support the inclusion of Kadhi courts in the Constitution with the bulk saying they were either not aware of the Muslim courts or felt their inclusion was a non-issue.

Kadhi courts, abortion, devolution and governance have been the major issues in contention that have caused huge rifts among the political class, religious groups and medical practitioners.

Due to the differences, MPs have introduced over 150 amendments to the draft and it is unclear if they will sail through since each one of them requires the support of 145 MPs to pass.

The poll results came as MPs prepare to vote on the proposed amendments on Wednesday.

The research further revealed that most Kenyans would like the grand coalition government to continue until the next election even if a new Constitution came into effect.

“Sixty percent of Kenyans want the government to last until 2012, and 35 percent do not want it to last. Others had no comment or were not sure,” the survey said.

The poll was conducted between March 21 and 26 among 2003 respondents.

PRINCIPALS FOR PARLIAMENT

Principals of the grand coalition government President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga head to Parliament on Tuesday as debate on the draft constitution enters the penultimate stage.

Members of Parliament have the draft constitution until Thursday, when it must move to the next stage of the review process.

House Speaker Kenneth Marende has set aside Wednesday as the day MPs will vote to amend the document. Any amendments would then be referred to the Committee of Experts for refining ahead of a referendum on the document.

Even though he is also the MP for Othaya, President Kibaki rarely attends parliamentary debate. He usually only goes to parliament to perform his duty as Head of State during ceremonial occasions.

MPs have until end of Tuesday to suggest amendments ahead of voting on them on Wednesday. So far, there has been no agreement between the Grand Coalition parties - the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and the Party of National Unity (PNU) - over the amendments.

By Monday, about 50 proposed amendments had been lodged with the Speaker’s office. They include the contentious issues of abortion, devolution, kadhis courts, among others.

To make any amendment to the draft, 145 MPs (a two thirds majority of the House) most vote for it.

DRAFT DEBATE RESUMES

Debate on the proposed constitution resumes Tuesday ahead of an expected showdown on Wednesday as Members line up 130 amendments.

Members have rushed to beat Tuesday deadline issued by House Speaker Kenneth Marende for them to submit their proposed amendments.

The speaker set the debate on the amendments for Wednesday but ruled that the debate on each of the amendments can only take off if the house has more than 145 members at the time each is called.

Any amendments would then be referred to the Committee of Experts for refining ahead of a referendum on the document

Chapters lined up for amendments include Representation, Judiciary and the Bill of Rights in which abortion and Kadhis courts have raised a lot of storm from various quarters.

Last week the House Business Committee extended on Wednesday and Thursday sittings up to 8PM to dispense with the constitution debate before Thursday when parlimanet is expected to hand over the draft constitution to the CoE and the Attoney General for incorporation and publication.

So far, there has been no agreement between the Grand Coalition parties - the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and the Party of National Unity (PNU) - over the amendments.

Elsewhere, Former Justice Minister Martha Karua says the proposed constitution should be passed without amendments.

Karua says the country has come so close to getting a new law and is urging members of parliament not allow the chance to slip away.

Karua says any amendments to the document can be carried out after it is passed and adopted.

Speaking to the press in Nairobi, Karua said the proposed constitution is representative and called on Kenyans to vote for it during the referendum.

The former minister called on religious leaders not to allow the debate on abortion and Kadhis court to derail the process saying there is still room for consensus building on the issue.

Meanwhile, Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi has downplayed the current standoff among legislators over the draft constitution and exuded confidence that Kenyans will this time round get a new document.

He said although many Kenyans were pessimistic over the impasse, MPs were serious about giving this country a new constitutional dispensation and that they are now concentrating on effecting key amendments to ensure that the country goes to the referendum united.

The Minister, who was addressing Departmental Heads during a South Imenti District Development Committee meeting at Nkubu asked Kenyans to remain optimistic that a new constitution will be enacted this year.

INDIAN AND ZAIN

NEW DELHI, Mar 30 - Indian telecom tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal is on the cusp of achieving his dream of building a presence in Africa with a planned 10.7 billion dollar buy-out of assets from Kuwait-based Zain.

But analysts say Mittal, a self-confessed business "junkie" always hungering for the next deal, will need all his entrepreneurial chutzpah to turn around Zain's loss-making phone operations.

Mittal, who heads India's largest mobile company Bharti Airtel, will be entering "not just one market but 15 markets," said Romal Shetty, telecommunications head at global consultancy KPMG’s India unit.

"You can't play a single strategy for all of them," he said. "He has a lot of work ahead."

Bharti, hoping to make it third-time lucky in Africa after two failed bids for South African giant MTN, said Friday it expected to seal a deal in the coming days by which the firm would buy most of Zain's African networks.

Mittal, 52, is looking to expand foreign revenues amid a savage price war at home.

He has already warned shareholders the purchase will hit Bharti's earnings but the trim and dapper CEO says the company needs a "growth story" in sub-Saharan Africa, one of the world's least developed phone markets.

In any event, Mittal -- who keeps fit with yoga, turns vegetarian before any big new venture and credits his successes to "divine intervention" -- knows about dealing with challenges.

After starting out manufacturing bicycle crankshafts with a 1,500-dollar loan, he spied a chance making push-button telephone handsets, a novelty at a time when Indians still used rotary dials.

But his fortunes really turned when the government announced plans to throw open mobile telephony to the private sector in 1992, paving the way for a telecoms revolution in a country where only the elite had telephones.

"I knew it was my moment to seize," said Mittal, who is one of India's biggest corporate names and a business ambassador, drumming up investment for the country on trips abroad.

His New Delhi-based firm won a licence to provide mobile coverage in the national capital in the mid-1990s. It then broadened its network around the country, snapping up stakes and licences.

At first it was tough, Mittal recalled while collecting a business achievement award recently.

"We were a rocking boat then. It was a question of when we would collapse," said the tycoon, who ranks eighth on Forbes' list of Indian billionaires, with 8.2 billion dollars.

Now Bharti Airtel has more than 125 million subscribers in India.

In building Bharti, Mittal is credited with helping transform India from a country where people paid bribes for phones and faced huge bills into a place where even rickshaw drivers have mobiles and call costs are the world's lowest.

During Bharti's ascent, he said he learnt "one can't afford to be small in this sector. One either aggressively expanded and gathered size or was acquired."

The takeover, the first big foreign venture by Bharti, will create a corporate entity nobody would call small, with operations straddling two of the world’s fastest-growing markets: Africa and South Asia.

The combined group will have more than 165 million subscribers.

The second of three sons of an Indian politician, Mittal hails from Ludhiana in the northern wheat-bowl state of Punjab and prides himself on being a "transformational" thinker as well as hands-on businessman.

Mittal, a father of a daughter and twin sons, is famed for at one time scaling telephone towers to examine the lines.

While he sees big opportunities abroad, he also sees them at home.

"India is a continent of consumers, with 1.15 billion people needing goods and services," he says.

In 2006 his corporate empire, in which his two brothers also hold senior jobs, struck a 50:50 joint venture deal with Wal-Mart to bring the US retail giant to India and create a modern wholesale distribution system.

Last year, the partnership opened its first "big box" outlet in Amritsar, in northern India.

"We entrepreneurs are like junkies -- looking for the next big fix," he said recently.

KALONZO IS SCARED OF NGUMBAU

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka on Monday launched one of his most scathing attacks against Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Mr Musyoka said the PM’s brand of politics had no place in present-day Kenya.

The VP told the PM to be prepared for more shocks because once the new constitution was passed his office would be “null and void”.

Speaking in Machakos, barely two weeks after Mr Odinga toured the area, Mr Musyoka announced that he had started his 2012 presidential campaign and his first mission would be to liberate the people of Nyanza Province, the home region of Mr Odinga.

His enemies, Mr Musyoka said, had mistaken his “cool” nature for cowardice.

“Raila comes to Ukambani and they call him Ngumbau (hero); he goes to Central Province and Meru and they call him Njamba (champion); people attending his rallies are given T-shirts bearing his portraits ... is this not early 2012 campaigns?” the VP asked amid cheers.

“When Kalonzo goes round, he is quickly accused of early campaigns. I’m not a coward and I am declaring now that I have started the race, I’m prepared for it.”

“I am going to Nyanza. It will be my first stop. The people there need to be liberated from political and socio-economic bondage that has bedevilled them for so long. I will be their saviour,” Mr Musyoka said.

He told Kenyans not to trust Raila with the presidency.

Revisiting the PM’s Machakos rally, the VP took issue with Mr Odinga for using his forum to throw scorn at him.

“We were told it was a development meeting but the forum used leaders from Ukambani to try to humiliate me in front of my people.”

During the Mulu Mutisya Gardens rally, former Kibwezi MP and The Independent Party of Kenya (Tip) leader Kalembe Ndile and ODM-K vice-chair Peris Tobiko criticised Mr Musyoka.

Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo suggested that Water and Irrigation minister Charity Ngilu was qualified to be a Kamba spokesman.

But on Monday Mr Musyoka said he was not interested in becoming a tribal chief.

“I’m aiming high and the presidency is my next stop”.

CABINET

Cabinet meetings will not be held until Parliament has voted on the draft constitution, it emerged on Monday.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the meetings, crucial in giving legality to government decisions and actions, had been put on hold to ensure that ministers focus on the review process.

The decision, he said, had been reached by President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

“Right now, the President and the Prime Minister have made it clear that the priority is the constitution. The President wants all ministers to concentrate on the constitution and that is one of the reasons he suspended all foreign trips by ministers,” he said.

However, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) laid the blame at President Kibaki’s door, claiming that he had failed to call the meetings.

They down played the party’s threat in February to boycott the meetings and said none had been called so far.

Deputy party leader Musalia Mudavadi said they should not be blamed for the failure to hold meetings which had not be convened.

“No notice for Cabinet meetings has been issued yet. If no meeting is called, the issue of a boycott does not arise,” said Mr Mudavadi, who is also the deputy PM.

Party secretary general Anyang’ Nyong’o said ODM reached the decision to boycott the meetings because they were being side-lined by their coalition partners.

However, he said it was the responsibility of the President to call meetings.

The Cabinet has not met for two months in what could be attributed to heightened tensions between the two coalition partners.

Budget policy

Sources said the Orange party would have preferred the meetings to be held so that Cabinet positions on matters such as the draft constitution, budget policy statements, and floods can be taken.

The draft is now before the House and MPs are expected to vote on it this week.

Dr Mutua said the positions of the President and the Prime Minister on the review process were “well known” and that it was now in the hands of Parliament to decide its fate.

“The President and the Prime Minister have already declared that the new constitution was a priority and given ministers time to work on it.

“The draft is now a Parliament affair and not a Cabinet one,” he said.

Monday, March 29, 2010

WEDNESDAY

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Pre-Trial Chambers is expected to give a ruling on the Kenyan situation on Wednesday.

A source said that the judges will either accept or reject ICC Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo’s application to commence investigations into the 2008 post-election violence.

If he gets the go ahead, Mr Ocampo will launch investigations to establish the main suspects out of the list of 20 he handed over to the chamber when he was asked for more evidence last month.

Kenyans have been expectantly awaiting the judges’ answer amid complains that the court was taking too long raising people’s anxiety. Mr Ocampo has been determined to file a case against the Kenyan perpetrators while the government remains non committal in the formation of a local tribunal.

The judges’ ruling will take the Kenyan situation to the second stage, according to the ICC procedures.

Should there be a case, Kenya will enter the second phase which will be investigations followed by issuance of the arrest warrants or summons, then enforcement of arrest warrants and surrender of suspects to the ICC.

Owing to the fact that the ICC has no police, it entirely hopes suspects will surrender themselves or the affected countries will cooperate and arrest suspects. This has been the worst dilemma for the ICC since governments - most of who are signatories of the Rome Statute - have failed to help in the arrests.

Once the suspects are apprehended, the initial appearance at the court is next followed by the confirmation of charges then a trial.

After the trial, sentencing is issued and it is at that point that suspects can appeal.

Looking at the process, Kenya still has a long way to go (probably several years) should Mr Ocampo get the go-ahead to act.

On Saturday, International Centre for Transitional Justice head Njonjo Mue urged Kenyans to manage their expectations after the ruling since ICC processes are not immediate due to the kind of crimes committed.

DRAFT

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday continued to drum up support for the Proposed constitution expressing confidence it will sail through Parliament.

Speaking in Machakos Mr Musyoka urged parliamentarians to shelf their self-interests and ensure that the Draft constitution is passed even if they are unable to strike a consensus on all issues.

Mr Musyoka said Kenyans will not take anything short of new constitution and added that parliamentarians could later amend any clauses.

“There is no clause that the house cannot later amend and therefore we should pass this Constitution and give Kenyans what they have been yearning for all this time,” Mr Musyoka told the public when he made a stop-over at Machakos town.

On his part, Mr Odinga allayed fears that Members Parliament could derail the review process due to vested interests and divergence of opinion over some clauses in the document.

He assured Kenyans that parliamentarians will no longer solely influence and manipulate the outcome of the review process as such rights were bestowed on the vote of majority Kenyans during the coming constitutional referendum.

“Parliament doesn’t have the final say on the Constitution because even if the floated amendment sailed through the House, the Committee of Experts is obligated to verify the proposed changes,“ he said.

He added that the August House was not the final organ in the exercise but could only propose amendments whose possible placement in the draft document was subject to determination by the Committee of Experts.

Mr Odinga allayed the concerns at Treasury offices during a press conference after receiving Prof Rajmohan Gandhi a visiting grandson of the legendary Indian spiritual Leader Mahatma Gandhi.

He said conflicting views over some section of the draft was not unique but healthy for true democratic society and expressed optimism that a constitutional dispensation was inevitable.

On the raging quest for trial of the perpetrators of the 2007 Post Election violence, the Premier said consultations were underway to revive and possibly paraphrase a related bill for establishment of a local tribunal.

“We may bring back the bill which the house rejected to establish the tribunal to try those found culpable of election related offenses,” he said.

ODM WARS CONTINUE

The ODM infighting deepened on Monday with party members allied to the Prime Minister Raila Odinga daring Agriculture Minister William Ruto faction to quit.

A section of the party members hit out at Ruto and his allies for publicly criticizing the Prime Minitser who is the party leader and their different stance on the constitution.

Legislators Josphat Nanok, Rachael Shebesh and Olago Alouch said ODM was not party to tribal and divisive remarks made by the errant party members over the weekend.

Addressing the press at Orange house, the three MPs called on the party to take immediate disciplinary action against the rebel MPs saying they did not share the party vision any more.

They further challenged the rebel Mps to quit the party or stop their double speak on the proposed constitution contradicting the party position.

In a statement read by Nanok, the MPS termed the threats and blackmail pronouncements in public rallies by the errant members unfortunate and meant to derail the constitution making process.

"Opportunists in the party who have decided to take a rebellious stand should not use this for political mileage" said the Mps

They added" The renegade party Mps led by Ruto are constantly engaged in night meetings so as to salvage their dwindling political fortunes," said Nanok

He said it was time for the Orange party to set in motion its disciplinary process in accordance with the party constitution.

They further maintained the ODM stand on the draft law adding that the party had listed several amendments to the devolution chapter to include a three- tier system.

They however said they would support the proposed draft law as it is if they fail to marshall the requisite number to pass an amendment.

A section of Rift Valley MPS over the weekend vowed to shield the Agriculture Minister from political enemies out to sabotage his presidential bid.

WUOD ALEGO WORKING

KABUL (Reuters) – Any trip by a U.S. president requires careful planning, but sneaking him into Afghanistan -- a country in the midst of an eight-year war with Islamic militants -- is a special case.

Under the cover of darkness, President Barack Obama made his first visit to Kabul on Sunday since taking office nearly 15 months ago, finally putting his foot in a nation that, at least in the foreign policy arena, has the potential to define his presidency.

For security reasons, the trip was cloaked in secrecy. He arrived at night and left while it was still dark.

Reporters were barred from telling anyone where they were going on Saturday evening as they made their way to Andrews Air Force Base, where the presidential aircraft is housed.

Upon arrival, staff and members of the media were bussed to the hangar where a gleaming Air Force One awaited.

Normally the aircraft is positioned outside for the president's arrival. But that night it stayed under cover, taxiing out in darkness once Obama was on board to avoid alerting uninvolved military members at the base of its departure.

Obama himself snuck into Andrews.

After leaving the White House on Friday afternoon with the "cover" of spending the weekend at Camp David, the presidential retreat, he flew from there by helicopter to the base on Saturday night to make the secret trip.

The president, a Democrat, had been expected to come to Kabul for some time since his inauguration in January 2009. White House officials said weather and logistical reasons thwarted previous attempts to make the trip.

Then, just over a week ago, they found a window.

Obama canceled his visit to Indonesia and Australia so he could stay in Washington while the House of Representatives voted on, and ultimately approved, his signature domestic policy priority, healthcare reform.

That created time -- not to mention political space -- to visit the country that will, by the end of this year, host nearly 100,000 U.S. troops, a majority of whom will have come to Afghanistan under Obama's watch.

NIGHT FLIGHT

The more than 12-hour flight to Afghanistan passed quickly. Most people slept for the first part of the trip. Imagine wearing sweatshirts and jeans in what would be considered business class roominess on one of the most famous planes in the world to snooze in your seat. White House national security staff briefed reporters in a conference room. Window shades remained closed throughout the flight.

Around 7:30 p.m. local time, Air Force One landed at Bagram airfield, smoothly and without incident, in darkness.

Obama exited the aircraft, shook hands with the waiting greeters, and proceeded to a helicopter to fly to President Hamid Karzai's palace in the city.

The 14 reporters accompanying the president and some staff flew on a separate military helicopter, sweeping over Kabul with wind blowing through the open back end. A gunner stood at the window, scanning the dark landscape during flight.

After landing, the reporters waited for word from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that they could announce to the world that Obama was in Afghanistan. The journalists got their cell phones and Blackberrys back on the president's plane after surrendering them beforehand at Andrews.

The secret had been kept.

Once word was out, Obama met Karzai in the palace's outdoor grounds and stood under a pavilion for a brief welcoming ceremony.

The leaders then went inside and reporters proceeded to a lush, open hall-like room with pillars and a low, enclosed pool of water with floating flower petals.

The front of the hall appeared to be set up for a news conference, and local reporters, who had not been told initially who was coming, were summoned to the palace for the event.

But the presidents apparently did not want to address a full media throng. White House reporters were ushered out of the grand hall, leaving Afghan journalists behind, and proceeded to another room where Obama and Karzai sat. The two leaders then made brief statements there.

After meeting with Karzai's cabinet, Obama and his entourage boarded helicopters and returned to Bagram. The lights of Kabul dotted the landscape. Obama had told Karzai the prevalence of electricity in the city was a sign of its progress.

At the airfield Obama addressed a respectful and at times enthusiastic crowd of U.S. troops and civilians, drawing cheers upon entering the stage but seeming to lose some by the end of his roughly 20-minute remarks. He did not use a TelePrompTer.

Later the president shook hands with troops at the mess hall, looking energetic and comfortable in a bomber jacket. Shortly thereafter he boarded Air Force One, which, under less secrecy but still in darkness, departed for Britain to refuel before heading back to Washington.

The president had spent roughly six hours in the country.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

TJRC IN CRISIS

The confidence crisis at the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) took a dramatic turn on Monday after its Vice Chairperson Betty Murungi resigned from her post.

TJRC’s Communications Consultant Kathleen Openda-Mvati confirmed the resignation but said Ms Murungi will remain as a commissioner.

In her communication addressed to the Chairman Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat and fellow Commissioners on Sunday, Ms Murungi regretted that “she was unable to continue given the public position I have expressed with regards to matters facing the Commission’s Chair.”

A statement from TJCR said Ms Murungi is out of the country but had written to the chairman Amb Bethuel Kiplagat to notify him of the resignation.

Mrs Openda-Mvati said in a statement that Ms Murungi who is out of the country, had asked the Commission to elect another Commissioner to serve as Vice Chair but stated she would continue to serve “in my role as Commissioner until we have resolved or concluded our internal processes regarding these matters.”

TJRC’s CEO and Secretary Patricia Nyaundi said the Commission will await Ms Murungi’s return to discuss these issues in her presence and elect her replacement later in the week, adding that no other Commissioners were contemplating resignation.

The resignation comes just a day after Ms Murungi and a foreign TJRC Commissioner Ronald Slye published an opinion in a local newspaper where they called for the resignation of their Chairperson Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat.

Amb Kiplagat has been under intense pressure to resign, with members of the civil society and a section of politicians terming him as being ‘unfit to hold such an office due to his past record as a senior government official.”

Amb Kiplagat has however, maintained he will not resign and even moved to court over the same.

Ms Murungi who had earlier on threatened to resign if the TJRC chairman failed to quit made good her threats on Monday.

In the opinion published in a local daily on Sunday, Ms Murungi and commissioner Slye stated: “we are seriously and profoundly concerned about the allegations that have been raised against our chairman.”

“Our most important concern must be our ability to fulfill our mandate to the people of Kenya including the thousands of victims of human rights abuses who have waited so long for such process.”

The two commissioners said in the opinion article that they were particularly concerned that their chairperson was listed as one of the recipients of land and government houses in what is characterised as an “illegal or irregular” manner in the Ndung’u report.

“This is one of the 35 reports we are required to examine and opine upon,” they said.

“Our chairman has admitted to these transactions, but challenges their characterisation as illegal or irregular. The circumstances surrounding illegal and irregular land transactions are a proper, indeed crucial, part of our mandate. There is no question that we will be faced with other situations like Mr Kiplagat’s: individuals for whom there is evidence of illegal or irregular land transactions but who challenge the characterisation of the transactions in question,” they stated.

“The fact that our chairman is in a similar position raises reasonable concerns about his impartiality.”

Their opinion also singled out Dr Robert Ouko’s assassination as another hurdle they will be faced with because “there is no question that Mr Kiplagat will be a crucial witness in our inquiry into the assassination of Dr Ouko.”

“He was a witness before all three commissions of inquiry into that assassination. Unfortunately, none of the reports of those commissions has been made public. What is not in doubt is that he is an important witness with respect to some unanswered questions.

“His appearance before us places us in an awkward and at worst untenable position of sitting in judgment on our chairman.”

The two commissioners said their demand to have Mr Kiplagat resign had been occasioned by concerns raised over the Wagalla massacre, which the commission is investigating.

TJRC Commissioners are Amb. Bethuel Kiplagat (Chairperson Kenya ), Kaari Betty Murungi ( Kenya), Gertrude Chawatama (Commissioner Zambia), Amb Berhanu Dinka (Commissioner Ethiopia), Ahmed Sheikh Farah (Commissioner Kenya), Tom Ojienda (Commissioner Kenya), Margaret Shava (Commissioner Kenya), Prof. Ronald Slye (Commissioner USA), Tecla Namachanja Wanjala ( Commissioner Kenya).

MARAKWET ELDER

Five MPs have vowed to shield Agriculture Minister William Ruto from political enemies out to sabotage his presidential bid.

The legislators further pledged to consolidate the Kalenjin community votes for better political bargaining power ahead of the 2012 General Election.

Led by Mr Joshua Kuttuny, the MPs backed the minister’s candidature and warned they would deal with those targeting him.

They included Sammy Mwaita (Baringo Central), Jebii Kilimo (Marakwet East), Moses Lekuton (Laisamis) and Charles Keter (Belgut).
As if to boost his presidential bid, Agriculture Minister William Ruto was at the weekend installed a Marakwet elder during a funds drive in aid of Kerio Valley Secondary School in Marakwet East District. Photo: Edwin Cheserek/Standard


"We are aware that some people are unhappy with Ruto after he declared to run for the presidency. But let them be warned that we are behind him," said Kuttuny.

The Cherangany MP expressed confidence that Rift Valley was solely behind Ruto as he had demonstrated exemplary leadership qualities in his ministerial duties that qualify him for the presidency.

"We want every vote from our community counted in the ballot box and we are willing to enter into a political agreement with any community able to articulate issues affecting our people," he said.

Mr Keter asked ODM leaders to respect the views of others and stop undermining Ruto, whom he praised as a hard worker.

Ms Kilimo described Ruto as a visionary leader and a committed public servant and urged Kenyans to support his presidential bid.

Change of guard

The Co-operatives Assistant minister said Kenyans of goodwill want a change of guard in national leadership to address numerous problems affecting Kenyans, adding Ruto fitted the description of leadership Kenyans want.

"I am even asking our neighbours (Trans Nzoia) to support our son because he has already declared interest to serve you as President," said Kilimo.

Kuttuny further said since the North Rift had already produced two presidential candidates, a win for either of them would be a win for the region.

"Ruto is our cockerel in Rift Valley and we have another one in Trans Nzoia in Eugene Wamalwa. Whoever will be the President, residents in the region will have won," he said.

Ruto on his part described the leadership of the country as wanting and urged Kenyans to support the move by the young generation to take over power.

"The presidency is not about age. US President Obama took over power at the age of 45 and the youth are determined to bring a generational change able to propel the country to prosperity," Ruto said.

He accused unnamed leaders of preaching hatred and dividing Kenyans along tribal lines instead of advocating unity.

The Eldoret North MP reiterated his earlier desire to work with Eugene in bringing in leadership that would unite Kenyans.

OCAMPO

An announcement expected this week could change Kenya’s political landscape dramatically.

The country now is in the ‘long’ week in which the International Criminal Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber delivers a ruling on the ‘Kenya 20’.

This is a list of prominent politicians, businessmen and influence peddlers who Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo wants to investigate and prosecute over Kenya’s vilest post-election crimes. It is believed a ruling on his request could come as early as Wednesday.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo


If ICC rules Mr Moreno-Ocampo, who presented evidence he has to the three-judge Pre-Trial Chamber bench, can go ahead, then it will not be long before their names are public knowledge. The list is believed to include Cabinet ministers.

Last week Moreno-Ocampo was optimistic the ruling would be in his favour. "We shall respect rights of the accused and will let them talk to us,’’ he said.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo on Sunday said he was also waiting to hear ICC’s decision.

"As you know, my work is done. I did everything that I was supposed to do and the rest now lies with Ocampo and the court," he added.

In a telephone interview with The Standard, Mutula said Kenyans have waited for too long to know the verdict. "I can assure you that the Government will cooperate with the ICC in whatever decision it makes. If it is a ‘Yes’, then we shall cooperate with the investigations," he added.

The minister said the country needed to move forward, whether the verdict to investigate the key perpetrators of the violence is granted or not. "If ICC allows investigations and prosecutions to be carried out, then the Attorney General’s office and that of Internal Security will be instrumental in guaranteeing witness protection, which falls under their dockets," he added.

Both parties

The closest Moreno-Ocampo came to hinting at who the suspects are was when he said they "were guided by political objectives to retain or gain power".

He revealed they were from both President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity and Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement.

"They utilised their personal, Government, business and tribal networks to commit the crimes. They implemented their policy with the involvement of a number of State officers and public and private institutions, such as Members of Parliament, senior Government officers, the police force and youth gangs," he is on record saying. The post-election violence claimed about 1,500 lives and led to displacement of hundreds of thousands.

Last month, ICC judges of Pre-Trial Chamber II requested Moreno-Ocampo to provide clarification and additional information on the Kenyan process not later than Wednesday this week for them to decide whether or not to authorise him to begin an investigation.

Mutula also argued unless the country decides there was need for local tribunal to try minor offenders, his work on justice for post-election victims was over.

Last week, just before flying out from the country, Chief Mediator of the Grand Coalition power sharing deal Dr Kofi Annan indicated the ICC judges may make their ruling on the Kenya case before Wednesday.

Moreno-Ocampo decided to act on the Kenyan situation following failure by the Government to persuade Parliament to establish a special tribunal that would have heard cases against the suspected masterminds.

Top businessmen considered to be politically connected as well as top security officials might be indicted if evidence is adduced against them.

Procedural manoeuvre

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights is currently hosting about three witnesses who are expected to testify if ICC judges give Moreno-Ocampo the go-ahead.

The prosecutor, however, insists ICC has no witnesses in Kenya but that is believed to be a procedural manoeuver because the Pre-Trial Chamber judges are yet to authorise investigations and any direct moves to gather evidence by the ICC would be unprocedural.

According to the Rome Statute, the Court may exercise its jurisdiction in situations where the alleged perpetrator is a national of a State Party or where the crime was committed in the territory of a State Party. Kenya ratified the Rome Statute on March 15, 2005 becoming a State Party on June 1, 2005.

Last November ICC presidency assigned Kenya’s case to three Pre-Trial Chamber II judges: Ekaterina Trendafilova, Hans-Peter Kaul and Cuno Tarfusser.

For the prosecutor to commence investigation proprio motu (on his own impulse) he must first obtain authorisation from the judges.

That is what the Prosecutor sought for on November 26 last year when he filed his request together with 40 appended annexes in approximately 1,500 pages.

HIJACK REFERENDUM

Lobby groups are alleging a plot by some MPs to amend the law to ensure the draft constitution is not subjected to a referendum.

The claims were made as officials from the National Civil Society Congress announced they would present a petition to MPs not to make any amendments to the draft.

Mr Paddy Onyango, a member of the lobby group claimed MPs were planning to do away with section 47 (a) of the Constitution of Kenya Review Act, 2008, thereby denying Kenyans the right to vote in the referendum.

The section states that the sovereign right to replace the current law with a new one vests collectively in the people of Kenya and shall be exercised through a referendum.

Mr Onyango said the main aim of the MPs, whom he described as “anti-reformers”, was so that Parliament had the last say on the document before it was signed into law by the President.

“We have information that a few anti-reformist MPs had hatched the plot to scrap this,” he told journalists in Nairobi.

The claims were, however, dismissed by former Constitutional of Kenya Review Commission chair Yash Pal Ghai, who said it was bound to fail. The constitutional lawyer said a referendum was enshrined in the Constitution.

Changing this, he added, would require the support of at least 65 per cent of all the members of Parliament. “By even trying to amend this section, these MPs will have betrayed people’s trust,” added Prof Ghai.

Just before the 2005 referendum, there was a similar attempt by MPs to take over the constitutional making process but the High Court ruled that it had no power to replace the constitution with a new one.

Prof Ghai said the Committee of Experts had already made enough concessions on the draft and that making others would further weaken it.

MPs have already lined up 50 clauses which they intend to amend in the draft law before the document moves out of the House on Thursday.

Mr Maurice Odhiambo, the leader of the campaign said MPs had demonstrated inability to have any rational discussions on the draft.

TO AMEND OR NOT

Agriculture minister William Ruto and five other ODM MPs on Sunday vowed to oppose the draft constitution if some amendments are not effected. Roads minister Franklin Bett also said that Kenyans would vote against the draft constitution if regional governments are not included in it.

Kanu leaders also added their voice the debate by threatening to mobilise party supporters to reject the draft during referendum unless contentious issues are ironed out. Party Secretary General Nick Salat said clauses such as abortion, land and creation of new regions were among those that should be amended to reflect the wishes of majority.

The leaders spoke as MPs prepare to take their differences on the draft constitution to Parliament this week when they vote on the document. Parliamentary Select Committee on the law review vice-chairman Ababu Namwamba on Sunday said MPs would on Wednesday debate and vote on proposed amendments.

And on Thursday, the House will conclude debate and take the critical vote to either approve or reject the draft. Mr Namwamba said the House requires 65 per cent or 145 MPs to amend the draft and a simple majority to approve or reject it. By last week, more than 19 amendments on devolution, kadhis courts, abortion, land and the tenures of Chief Justice, Attorney General and Controller and Auditor General had been presented to the National Assembly Clerk.

On Sunday, reports said there were more than 50 proposed amendments. In Nyeri, 14 PNU legislators differed over the suggested changes.

Amend it

Led by assistant ministers Peter Kenneth and Kabando wa Kabando, the leaders failed to agree on whether Parliament should approve the draft as presented by the Committee of Experts or amend it. Mr Kenneth, the Planning and Vision 2030 assistant minister, urged his colleagues to pass the new constitution the way it is, saying there was room for amendments later.

Mr Kabando, the Youths and Sports assistant minister, said a new constitution would compel the government to settle the internally displaced. But Molo MP Joseph Kiuna said Parliament had mutilated the draft drawn by the CoE. The MPs were speaking at a funds drive at Gathinja Secondary School in Kiharu, Murang’a East District.

Energy minister Kiratu Murungi said PNU’s stand was that if MPs could not agree on the changes, the House should approve the document as it is. “We want to avoid the 2005 referendum scenario and speak with one voice,” he said. “It is not the time for oranges and bananas.”

And the Orthodox Church said it would reject the draft if the clause on abortion was not amended. Addressing a Palm Sunday service in Nairobi, Archbishop Makarios Tillyrides said ‘in the eyes of the Orthodox Church, abortion is outrageous’.

And in Kisii, Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula, assistant minister Richard Onyonka and Kitutu Masaba MP Walter Nyambati opposed the creation of regional governments, saying it would divide Kenyans on tribal lines.
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