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Archive for March 2nd, 2011

Kenya MP Gidion Mbuvi to fight for right to wear bling

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2011

A Kenyan lawmaker thrown out of parliament for wearing ear studs and sunglasses says he will fight to change the dress regulations.

“I represent the youths who elected me to parliament,” Gidion Mbuvi, 35, told the BBC.

“This is our generation. It is our time,” said the MP who drives a Hummer car, like many US rap stars.

He says MPs should be allowed to wear “extras” such as sunglasses and earrings, as long as they wear suits.

‘Rich and flamboyant’

He said that Kenya had been governed by old men for too long.

“I’m trying to prove to the world that it is the right time for the youth to be in charge of our nation,” he said.

He was thrown out of parliament on Tuesday after other MPs decided that the way he dressed offended the dignity of the assembly.

Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim said the house had never before been entered by a male lawmaker wearing earrings.

But one Kenyan reminded people on the internet that the speaker wears a white wig made of horsehair – and questioned who looked more ridiculous.

Mr Mbuvi is popularly known as Sonko – a Swahili term describing a rich and flamboyant person.

He was elected to parliament last year to represent a constituency in the capital, Nairobi.

BBC East Africa correspondent Will Ross says Mr Mbuvi is a colourful character with an even more colourful past.

He has been questioned by police over allegations of involvement in the drug trade, which he vehemently denies.

He has also been sent out of parliament for accusing government ministers of links to the drugs trade and has pending court cases over fraud.

Mr Mbuvi says he has done nothing wrong.

Our correspondent says debate will continue as to whether Mr Mbuvi aka Sonko is suitable material to be an MP.

In Kenya, though, the bar is pretty low, he says, and many feel the title “honourable” is hugely inappropriate.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12625748


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Rights groups accuse Kenya of patient abuse

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2011

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) — Kenya is breaking an international convention on the treatment of disabled people, according to human rights groups.

In an open letter to Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki, the Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry demanded action after a CNN documentary highlighted problems in the country’s decaying mental health system.

Tina Minkowitz, president of the group, wrote that the documentary “”Locked Up and Forgotten” revealed that people with mental (psychosocial) and intellectual disabilities are being forced to live in conditions that violate their human rights.”

Other international and domestic groups are also demanding action in Kenya and the Kenyan government says it is setting up an inquiry to investigate some of the allegations made in the documentary.

In the open letter to Kibaki, Minkowitz claims the Kenyan government has contravened the U.N.’s Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Minkowitz wrote that, in particular, families forced to lock up their disabled loved ones is a failure of the government.

“Under the CRPD, the state is responsible for ensuring that confinement and restraint by private actors based on disability does not occur and must take appropriate action including positive measures to safeguard against such violations.”

The CRPD was adopted in 2006 and has already been ratified by 98 countries, an unusually quick uptake for a U.N. convention. Kenya ratified the convention in 2008.

The World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP), a global rights network based in Denmark, paid special attention to conditions at Mathari hospital, where a CNN crew was locked up by administrators.

“(The documentary) shows human rights abuses taking place in the Mathari psychiatric hospital, where the CNN crew found a dead person lying beside another live person with a psychosocial disability in a seclusion cell,” their separate letter to the president stated.

Seclusion of patients, in itself, is often cited as a violation of patients.

Read how Kennedy’s mother struggles to cope

A report of the Special Rapporteur on torture, submitted to the U.N. general assembly in 2008, says solitary confinement cannot be justified as a form of treatment or therapy.

“Prolonged solitary confinement and seclusion of persons may constitute torture or ill-treatment,” the report states.

The responses to “Locked up and Forgotten” were not confined to international groups.

The Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights, which is mandated to investigate human rights allegations, plans a “rapid response” to investigate the hospital and its staff.

“It is very troubling, it showed a clear violation of their rights,” said Commissioner Anne Ngugi. “They are there and they can’t always articulate their rights. It is so painful. These are human beings.”

The human rights groups say that several possible breaches of the U.N. convention should be investigated right away.

But Simon Walker, an advisor to the U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights, said that while the convention is helping raise awareness for persons with disability, enforcement and real change in all countries that ratified the convention can be slow.

“Of course human rights treaties are bridged. It can take a long time for change to happen,” he said.

When reached by CNN, the Kenyan government would not directly comment to the letters to the president.

“We are not responding to the letters publicly, but working on it internally,” said Kenya’s government spokesman, Alfred Mutua.

Mutua revealed that the Medical Services Ministry is setting up an administrative inquiry into conditions at Mathari Hospital. He said that allegations by patients of rape by other patients and forced medication required independent investigation.

“The government is instituting a procedure to find out what is really happening at Mathari,” said Mutua. “Of particular concern is the corpse and locking up of CNN journalists.”

He would not specify exactly how the enquiry will work, but that they expect findings in “one to two weeks.”

Mutua said that the problem doesn’t lie with Mathari alone and that “massive reform” is needed to change Kenya’s mental health system.

“I think we have got a lot of structural problems that have to be tackled,” he said.

Kenya’s director of Mental Health, who is ultimately in charge of Mathari hospital, did not respond to CNN’s repeated calls and text messages to his cell phone or calls and messages to his office.

Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/03/02/kenya.health/

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Rising tide of human trafficking in Kenya

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2011

Mary and Chiko always hoped to see the world. They were teenage girls, who came from poor families. Their parents struggled to send them to school. The boys went on for higher education but Mary and Chiko had to farm. One afternoon on their way home from the garden, a lorry stopped beside them, asking for directions. The driver was going to Nairobi and offered them a lift, so they could direct him in the maze of local roads.

He told them about Nairobi, city of skyscrapers, fast cars and smart people. The driver listened to their story. “You are bright. You should go to town with me now,” he said. “I will find you good jobs with lots of money.” Mary and Chiko agreed without hesitation. They travelled straight to Nairobi with the nice stranger.

Once they arrived at his house in Nairobi, there was a sudden change in driver’s behaviour. He demanded unprotected sex from Chiko and when she refused, he raped her. The next morning he told Mary to go and stay with his cousin. When she arrived there, she was made to work as a house girl. Mary was beaten up and abused on a daily basis but she continued working for the cousin without resistance. The city, noise, crowds of people, cars and matatus (public transport) scared Mary. She hardly understood the language being spoken in Nairobi. The Kiswahili she heard was different from the one they spoke at home and this made it a hurdle for her to seek help.

Chiko’s fate was different. The driver molested her sexually for a while but when he found a job in Uganda, he told her to move in with his colleague, a matatu driver who also raped Chiko, often bringing home his friends, who demanded that Chiko have sex with them as well. Soon she had contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Chased away, without any means to survive, Chiko was sheltered by a local sex worker. Pitying her, the new found friend introduced Chiko to the sex trade.

This is just one of hundreds similar scenarios. Stories about human trafficking in Kenya abound. They not only fail to describe human trafficking adequately, but they make it even more difficult to understand. We tend to believe that human trafficking happens somewhere “far far away,” with white men playing the role of traffickers, predators. But, the reality is just the opposite. There are many stories of people being trafficked in the towns and villages of Kenya, and worse, many are trafficked by friends, acquaintances, or even family members.

They are trafficked abroad or within the country, travelling by plane, or by matatu. They are promised lucrative employment and easy life, but end up being exploited as prostitutes or forced labour workers.

The media carries terrifying stories of men, women and children abused locally and sexual exploitation abroad, forced labour or organ donation. What can we do to stop the crime of human trafficking? It is not like any other crime, but is a serious threat to the future of Kenya and the entire African continent. Human trafficking damages people and, thus, destroys human resources which cannot be simply rebuilt by financial aid from western institutions.

A group of concerned persons decided to get together and form an organization called Awareness against Human Trafficking (HAART). The founding members of HAART include Catholic missionaries, human rights activists, non-Christian and Christian faiths together with good governance campaigners.

The aim of HAART is to eradicate, or at least, significantly, diminish the cases of human trafficking in Kenya. This may seem unachievable, and within range. Yet, how can they go about it? UN and other agencies believe the easiest way to eradicate human trafficking is to create awareness at every level that has been infiltrated by traffickers. In other words, make people at the grassroots aware of what human trafficking is, what it is not; what common tricks traffickers use; how to avoid being sold into slavery and what to do if they do fall into the hands of traffickers. All of these may sound like an enormous task, but since it can save people’s lives, it is worth taking the challenge.

More must be done in order to eradicate trafficking from Kenya. Scientific research is also a necessity. Ongoing formation about the nature of human trafficking needs to be constantly updated. Traffickers are fast learners, and always adopt new tricks, new routes and new ways of exploiting others. So, to keep up the pace, anti-human trafficking campaigners need to do the same.

Finally, helping the victims is crucial. HAART will start an assistance programme for victims of human trafficking in Kenya. It is the primary responsibility of every person to offer help to those whose dignity and human rights have been violated. Sadly, the victims’ health, often has been severely damaged, psychologically and physically. Solwodi (Solidarity with Women in Distress) in Mombasa, Kenya are already involved in these activities.

Recently, HAART organized its first, “Training of Trainers.” A group of 20 Kenyans representing all corners of Kenya were trained on how to organize awareness campaigns and on simple trafficking case collection. The volunteers were recruited from the grassroots together with the people who are in the corridors of powers.

They are already working in teams of three, making known the dangers of human trafficking in their local environments. They also collect anecdotal stories about incidences where people have been trafficked. Soon, they will be joined by other volunteers from other places in Kenya to work against human trafficking which is modern day slavery. The needs are great and the work difficult, yet, even if only the life of one person can be saved, it is worth it! 

Radek Malinowski, Director Awareness against Human Trafficking (HAART), Kenya & East Africa.

Source: http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?idCategory=33&idsub=121&id=49533&t=Rising+tide+of+human+trafficking+in+Kenya

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WikiLeaks: ‘Kibaki unwilling to act on graft’

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2011

President Kibaki gives US Ambassador William Bellamy $100,000 at State House Nairobi, to help victims of the Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The same year, President Kibaki was told by the ambassador that one of his ministers had been banned from the US because of his involvement in corruption.. Photo/FILE

President Kibaki gives US Ambassador William Bellamy $100,000 at State House Nairobi, to help victims of the Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The same year, President Kibaki was told by the ambassador that one of his ministers had been banned from the US because of his involvement in corruption.. Photo/FILE

One of President Kibaki’s most trusted aides told the US ambassador that the President had lots of information about Cabinet-level corruption but was reluctant to act.

In a cable that illustrates the level of engagement between the US embassy and State House and its envoys’ access to information at the highest levels, then US ambassador to Kenya William Bellamy outlined a conversation he had with one of Mr Kibaki’s top aides, Mr Stanley Murage.

Mr Murage seemed to imply that President Kibaki had been less than candid in stating that he had no evidence implicating a senior minister and former DP stalwart in graft.

Mr Bellamy informed his superiors in Washington that after the briefing, and out of earshot of another top official, Mr Francis Muthaura, Mr Murage said “the President has plenty of evidence, he’s just not acting.”

The ambassador had visited President Kibaki to inform him that the US had issued a visa ban against one of his most senior ministers, who was suspected of corruption involving security-related contracts.

He reported that after the October 19, 2005 meeting that Mr Kibaki “appeared glum” after receiving the news and demanded evidence to support the Americans’ assertions that the minister was corrupt.

“After an initial chat about the rigours of campaigning during the referendum (on the constitution), I explained to Kibaki the decision.

“I noted that we had no plans for a public announcement or statement but would respond briefly and factually if asked whether (the minister) has been excluded from the US.”

Mr Bellamy said Mr Kibaki’s top aides maintained a keen interest in the one-on-one meeting between the ambassador and the president.

“Mr Muthaura and presidential senior adviser Stanley Murage lingered outside the President’s office during the meeting. When I debriefed them, they appeared disappointed at the President’s indecisiveness (on the possibility of sacking the minister).”

The ambassador issued an analysis of the possible cause of Mr Kibaki’s inaction, while noting that sacking the minister would provide a boost to the president’s flagging popularity ratings.

“Action against (the minister), who is widely perceived as the most obviously corrupt and corrupting of ministers, would be a politically savvy move by Kibaki. It would win accolades at home across the political spectrum.

“At a time when the Kibaki government is being battered by donors, international organisations and NGOs for its poor governance performance, sacking (the minister) would add a little lustre to Kenya’s tarnished credentials. Yet, clearly, Kibaki is reluctant to act.”

The information on the State House visit is contained in one of thousands of cables leaked by whistleblower website, Wikileaks.

The dispatches from missions across the world have illuminated the relationship between the US and other countries.

The note from Mr Bellamy was written at a time when the Kibaki administration was under severe pressure from international allies and local campaigners who complained the president had gone back on a promise that his government would fight corruption.

The picture emerges from Mr Bellamy’s cable of a president who was aware of the scale of corruption in government but was reluctant to act.

President Kibaki gave away little during the meeting and demanded that the Americans supply evidence of corruption.

“The (visa ban) decision was ‘most serious’ (Mr Kibaki) conceded,” the dispatch reads in part. “What specifically, (Mr Kibaki) asked, were those reasons?

“Beyond the (visa ban’s) general assertions on corrupt activity, what were the charges against (the minister)?

“Mr Kibaki said that were he to make a decision ‘on this man’ he would need something more specific on which to base it. Could the US ‘help him a little’ on this, he asked.”

Mr Bellamy reports he told the president he could not divulge his sources, due to the sensitivity of the matter. But he told the President a little digging “in his back garden” would reveal evidence of corruption.

The cable offered an analysis of possible reasons why Mr Kibaki was reluctant to act on Cabinet-level graft. “It may be, as some suggest, that Kibaki simply can’t bring himself to act against an old ally and fellow Kikuyu insider.

Or it may be that Kibaki, who abhors unpleasantness, just can’t stomach the idea of a one-on-one showdown with (the) tough guy.

“The worst-case scenario, and unfortunately not an implausible one, is that (the minister’s) deep pockets are needed to win the current referendum campaign and, beyond that, to provide clandestine financing for the political realignments Kibaki’s inner circle hopes to engineer in the run up to the 2007 elections.”

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/WikiLeaks+Kibaki+unwilling+to+act+on+graft/-/1148/1117964/-/gjxlq1/-/index.html

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US to help Kenya probe drug trafficking: envoy

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2011

MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) – A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration team has been dispatched to Kenya to help investigate four lawmakers accused of narcotics trafficking, the U.S. ambassador in Nairobi said on Wednesday.

Four senior Kenyan government officials and a businessman were permanently banned late last year from travelling to the United States over allegations of drug running.

The Kenyan government later said it was investigating four legislators over accusations of narcotics trafficking.

“At the request of the government of Kenya, we have sent in a team of experts from the Drug Enforcement Administration to help in investigations,” Ambassador Michael Ranneberger said.

A senior Kenyan official said Ranneberger, who has in the past angered Nairobi for championing reforms and criticising political leaders, should stop commenting on the matter.

Orwa Ojode, assistant minister for security, told Reuters when contacted that the issue, which has caused angry debate in several sessions of parliament in recent weeks, was sensitive.

“The way he is going publicly and mentioning people’s names is character assassination because investigations are yet to be concluded,” Ojode said.

“It should not be the business of Ranneberger to remove and include names of perceived drug barons at will. He should respect the security arms of government in such sensitive matters.”

SOURCE: http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE7210JA20110302

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House halts business to discuss Sonko’s dressing

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2011

Parliament halted substantive business for 20 minutes to discuss an MPs’ mode of dress Tuesday.

The subject of discussion was Makadara legislator Gidion Mbuvi, who was wearing white stud earrings and sunglasses in the debating chamber.

Assistant minister George Khaniri notified the Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim that Mr Mbuvi was inappropriately dressed in the House and that his attire besmirched the dignity of the august House.

Mr Khaniri recalled that in the 9th Parliament, he was thrown out for wearing sunglasses, yet he was nursing eye-injuries suffered in an accident.
“There’s a precedent and therefore he’s improperly dressed,” he told the Deputy Speaker.

Mr Khaniri was supported by assistant minister Bifwoli Wakoli (Bumula, Ford Kenya) who said that it was wrong for “a man to copy the dressing of women”.

“In the history of this world, since God created this earth, men have never imitated women,” charged Mr Wakoli.

But Mr Mbuvi said he was a youth and that his dressing represented the youth of the country.

That didn’t go down well with Fred Outa (Nyando, ODM) shot up and asked: “I have young people in my constituency and I’ve never seen them wearing earrings!”

At this point, Charles Kilonzo (Yatta, ODM-K) asked his colleagues to differentiate between “stud earrings” and “earrings”, saying that “men wear studs” and that by wearing them in the House, Mr Mbuvi was “representing the youth of Makadara who wear studs”.

Youth Affairs assistant minister Kabando wa Kabando weighed in saying there was need for MPs to ensure that both ‘rural and urban youth’ are taken into account when discussing youth matters in the House.

“We don’t wish to stifle his freedoms, but at the same time, we don’t want to lower the dignity of the House… (if he insists that he is appropriately dressed, then) earrings and a skirt will then be in order for him (Mr Mbuvi),” Mr Kabando said.

Sheikh Mohammed Dor (nominated, ODM) said that earrings were out of step with regard to conventional male dressing.

Irked by the debate, the chairman of Parliament’s Committee on Education David Koech (Mosop) urged the Deputy Speaker to throw out Mr Mbuvi because allowing him “would make students go to class tomorrow wearing those things”.

But Mr Mbuvi had supporters in Ms Martha Karua (Gichugu, Narc Kenya), Mr Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany, ODM), Mr Gitobu Imanyara (Imenti Central, CCU) and assistant minister Peter Munya.

Mr Kutuny said that Mr Mbuvi was living to his ‘Sonko’ nickname, which means “rich man” in sheng. “He’s proving that he’s a sonko, and this is how they dress.”

Mr Munya added: “Long ago, Africans used to dress like that; but that has changed. But, I think, that’s a new trend that’s yet to make it to the floor of the House.”

Ms Karua pleaded with her colleagues to be ‘tolerant” saying “dressing is matter of taste”. She too recalled that when women entered the House in long trousers, questions were raised but the matter was sorted out and the trend was accepted.

“On a personal level, one may not admire (the dressing style); but we’ve got to let people to get on with their business, unless it is offensive. I urge you to stand for liberty,” she told the Deputy Speaker.

Mr Imanyara cited the traditional dressing of the Maasai elder who prays in Parliament at every State Opening and wondered how the House can allow the elder with earrings and reject one of their own.

But acting Government whip Johnstone Muthama said Mr Mbuvi’s dressing carried negative connotations.

“I can’t come here in a skirt, but a woman can. For a man to wear earrings, it means something is not good, it points to bad manners,” Mr Muthama said.

Mr Olago Aluoch (Kisumu Town West, ODM) reckoned that the dressing was “not acceptable” on the floor of the House.

After that, the Deputy Speaker cited the Speaker’s rules on the dressing of MPs and ruled the MP as being inappropriately dressed. The MP then cheekily removed the stud earrings and the sunglasses.

After that the House went on with its sittings. The attire for male MPs, according to the Speaker’s rules is: Long trouser, jacket (coat), tie, long-sleeved shirt, socks, closed shoes.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/-/1064/1116892/-/7p1mjr/-/index.html

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Wikileaks: Raila is Impossible, Said Kibaki

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2011

THERE was definitely rigging in the December 27, 2007 general election but the American embassy could not decide who actually won the poll, according to the latest Wikileaks cables released last night.

Other cables reveal that President Kibaki was extremely reluctant to accept Raila Odinga into his government saying, “It is impossible to work with him”.

WikiLeaks has over 2,500 cables sent by the American embassy in Nairobi to Washington DC but has so far has released less than 50.

On January 17, 2008, three weeks after the disputed presidential election, Ambassador Michael Ranneberger dispatched an unclassified cable looking at the results of the election.

“We found evidence of rigging on both sides and confirmation that some of the rigging took place inside ECK headquarters itself. By analysing various datasets, we developed scenarios that could point to either a Kibaki or a Raila victory.

“We do not think it will ever be possible to tell definitively who won the election. This is due in part to the compromise of the election officials and election-related ballots and forms, but also because our estimated number of ‘ghost votes’ (i.e. stuffed ballots) from both sides easily exceeded Kibaki’s margin of victory,” states the cable.

The cable adds, “the cheating” in vote tallying at the Electoral Commission of Kenya between December 28 and 30 “was done exclusively by PNU partisans in Kibaki’s favour”.

However the cable makes clear, “there was cheating at constituency level by the ODM and PNU”.

The cable then sets out an analysis trying to determine who won or lost the election.

It starts by pointing out that in six out of eight provinces there was a substantial difference between the number of presidential and parliamentary votes yet normally voters will vote for both an MP and a President.

“Those discrepancies total 459,100 votes, or 4.6 per cent of all votes cast, dwarfing Kibaki’s margin of victory (230,478 or 2.3 per cent of all votes cast). It is impossible to conclude definitely how many of these ‘ghost votes’ went to each candidate,” states the cable.

The official result was that Kibaki received 4,583,358 votes compared to Raila’s 4,352,880. The first dataset analysed by the US embassy comprised returns collected by the Standard newspaper for 198 out of 210 constituencies. In 117 constituencies, the results match the ECK but in 35 constituencies Kibaki gained 191,894 votes through discrepancies.

Elsewhere there were “141,579 votes inexplicably gained by Raila, indicating there was vote rigging by ECK returning officers on both sides”. Under this scenario, the embassy concluded that Kibaki was still a narrow winner.

In a second dataset, the embassy subtracted from the ECK figures “discrepancies reported from the constituency level by a number of observers, monitors and other sources including two ECK contacts who provided documentary evidence to us of vote padding in favour of Kibaki in six constituencies by Nairobi-based ECK officials”.

When these adjustments were made, Raila had a narrow margin of victory of 26,538.The embassy then combined the two datasets from the Standard and the observers and found that either Raila or Kibaki could have been the winner, depending on who was given “the benefit of the doubt”.

“All of these scenarios assume extensive cheating on both sides. In all cases, the margin of victory for either side is slim and ultimately unknowable”.

“Whoever won likely did so by a very slim margin. This flies in the face of the position adopted by the ODM and others as mantra: that the election was brazenly stolen by Kibaki’s ECK insiders at the last moment and that Raila should have won by a large margin. It also contradicts any perception or conviction within the Kibaki camp that the latter clearly won the race,” concludes the cable.

In an interesting postscript, a cable on February 8, 2008 stated that three ECK officials had received visa bans as they were “suspected of accepting bribes to fix election results tally at ECK headquarters”.

Other cables detail international attempts to resolve the crisis caused by the disputed election. Ranneberger became a go-between, according to a cable on January 22.

Raila told the ambassador that he was ready to meet Kibaki “without preconditions” and Kibaki reluctantly agreed.

“However the President made it clear that he has certain bottom lines and that he is deeply sceptical that Odinga will ever agree to anything ‘reasonable’. Kibaki said ‘I cannot have Odinga in the government. It is impossible to work with him. Some of his Penelope could come into government, but not him, and not Ruto’.”

Kibaki blamed Eldoret North MP William Ruto for the continuing violence in the Rift Valley and said, “Odinga must help restore normalcy” – although Kibaki said he did not blame Raila personally for the violence.

Ranneberger also met Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka who supported the idea of a meeting between Raila and Kibaki although he believed that “Odinga should remain outside of government as leader of opposition in Parliament”.

Ranneberger therefore concluded that a meeting between Kibaki, Raila and Kofi Annan was viable when the former UN Secretary General arrived on January 22.

A cable on January 22 said that Uganda President “Museveni’s preferred outcome was a power-sharing arrangement” as he was “apparently in agreement with our argument that the actual vote in Kenya was a virtual draw”.

A final cable of February 27, 2008 raised concerns that “hardline elements from both sides are organising for more violence should the peace talks fail”.

It states that Kenya “has generally enjoyed an interlude of relative calm” although “ethnically motivated evictions continue to occur around the country, including in parts of Nairobi”.

The cable referred to reports of militias being formed in the Rift Valley, Central Province (Mungiki and the ‘Forest Guard’) and at the Coast.

The embassy was also concerned that the police boss in Nyanza had reportedly just “issued a stunning directive to his station commanders telling them that during any future political protests in the region, deadly force is immediately authorised”. “Whether the genie of ethnic based violence can be put back in the bottle or not clearly hinges on the outcome of the Kofi Annan talks,” the cable concludes.

Source: www.nairobistar.com

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Cable reveals how 2008 violence was organised

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2011

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 2 – Latest US secret cables released by whistle blowing website Wiki Leaks document how the Party of National Unity (PNU) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) were racing against time in organising deadly violence even as former UN chief Kofi Annan mediated a peace deal in the country.

Detail of how ODM and PNU leaders were planning retaliation attacks are laid bare in confidential correspondences sent to Washington by US ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger at the height of the chaos that rocked the country soon after President Mwai Kibaki was declared winner of the hotly contested polls of 2007.

The cables name some of the country’s security forces of involvement in planning violence in support of the Party of National Unity at the time.

The cables reveal how some unnamed elements affiliated to PNU backed what the US Embassy refers to as “Forest Guards” militia which includes members of the Mungiki.

Some of the Mungiki gangs, the cables reveal, were being organised by some senior military officials (names withheld) who even unsuccessfully tried to persuade the Kenya Army to provide the gangs with the G3 rifles and helicopter support to the “Forest Guards” – the Mungiki.

The US diplomatic cables have also revealed how some 200 police officers who were based in Nyanza at the time were transferred when authorities feared they could leak vital security information in an apparent effort to conceal state planning and organisation of the violence.

“Kenya Police publicly stated that the transfers were routine, but police sources have since reported that the Provincial Police Officer (PPO) for Nyanza is on record as claiming that those being transferred were responsible for leaking police operational details to the opposition based on their Luo affiliation,” the confidential cables state.

And adds that “The PPO also reportedly ordered his officers in charge to ensure the transfers took place no later than 22 February.”

Mr Ranneberger also reported to his superiors in Washington that some Provincial Police chiefs had even directed their station commanders to use force against protestors.

“On top of this came news last week from police sources that the PPO issued a stunning directive to his Station Commanders telling them that during any future political protests in the region, deadly force is immediately authorized,” he wrote in the cables and added that the PPO had “assured the officers that any query as to the nature of the death or injury resulting from this order should be directed to him personally and that he would support the “victimized” officers.”

The cables were authored at the time Mr Annan and other peace mediators were trying to convince both President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga who had contested the official presidential election results that favoured his rival.

At the time, Mr Ranneberger reported to Washington that “Kenya has been tense but remarkably calm since the end of January, thanks in large part to the progress being made in the Kofi Annan-mediated peace talks and the visit of the Secretary (Condoleezza Rice).”

But despite the high level peace talks that were being intensified at the time, Mr Ranneberger warned of more deadly attacks in case the mediation efforts failed.

“Tensions remain very high, however, and behind this calm facade lurks the potential for more ferocious, ethnically-motivated violence.  One sign is that ethnically-based forced evictions continue around Nairobi,” the envoy warned.

“The pivot will thus be the outcome of the peace talks.”

However he noted: “If a compromise is reached on power sharing that is seen as fair by all sides, support for organised violence is likely to ebb away.”

If not, the cable warned: “Then Kenya could see a wave of violence far worse than the unrest seen in January following the disputed election.”

Mr Ranneberger further warned that at the time, the embassy was aware of ethnic-based militiamen who were being regrouped to cause violence and civil unrest throughout the country.

This, Mr Ranneberger observed, was being organised by politicians and sympathisers from both the political divide – Mr Odinga’s ODM and Mr Kibaki’s PNU.

“It remains very difficult to confirm rumours that militias are being organised, but where there is so much smoke, there is likely to be fire, and the logic behind this phenomenon is compelling,” he said in the leaked cable.

“Should the Kofi Annan-mediated peace talks fail, all sides want to be ready for the violent aftermath.”

“Most difficult puzzles to solve is the extent to which such militias are truly militias, characterised by a discernable chain of command and requisite weaponry and training, versus mere youth gangs organised and bussed to a site on an ad hoc basis to engage in violence when it is in the interest of hardline leaders to have them do so,” he observed at the time. “In either event, however, the results are violent and difficult to control.”

Mr Ranneberger said some of the criminal gangs that were being organised by political, business and security agents were the notorious Mungiki and other quasi criminal elements mainly comprising former police officers and army personnel in the Rift Valley Province.

Criminal elements within youth groups in the Coast and Nyanza Provinces were also regrouping.

“There is a tradition of youth organising “in defence” of their communities,” he added.

As a result of intelligence the US Embassy in Nairobi collected in relation to the planning and organization of violence, Mr Ranneberger opted to write to the then Police Commissioner Maj Gen (rtd) Mohammed Hussein Ali protesting the alleged intention to use excessive force against any form of demonstrations.

“We have recently become aware that certain officers-in-charge have directed personnel under their command that “the immediate use of deadly force is authorised to quell any and all new political protests,” the letter also attached in the leaked US cable states in part. 

It is not known if the Embassy did receive an acknowledgement of receipt of the letter or a reply from the then police commissioner.

Read more: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/Kenyanews/Cable-reveals-how-2008-violence-was-organised-11898.html#ixzz1FRpV2ogs

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Guard joins gang, make off with Sh9.8m

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2011

NYAHURURU, Kenya, Mar 2 – Armed gangsters on Monday evening raided a Nyahururu bank and made away with over Sh9.8 million.

The four gangsters posing as G4S personnel stormed Family Bank on Kenyatta Avenue at around 6.38pm where they stole the cash. It was reported that the gangsters colluded with a night guard who had just reported for duty who opened the door for them.

They later stormed the banking hall upstairs and ordered the remaining staff to lie down at gun point.

Nyandarua police chief Jasper Ombati said that the bank’s night guard was the first to brandish an AK 47 rifle and ordered the staff present to maintain silence and obey the orders directed by one of the gangsters.

“The staff first hesitated to lie down since the guard was well known to them but only realised that he was serious when he brandished a gun and they all fell flat on the ground,” he explained.

Coincidentally, Mr Ombati pointed out, this was the time that the bank’s personnel were stuffing in the day’s cash into the strong room.

He said that the gangsters confiscated all the mobile phones belonging to the staff and dumped them in a room. They later entered the strong room where they staffed the millions into bags.

“We could not exactly establish how much the cash was but we believe it might have been more than that,” he said.

However, a source at the bank confirmed to Capital News that the amount is estimated at Sh19 million since it was a very busy day.

The OCPD said that before making away with the cash, they locked all the 13 members of staff in one of the rooms.

“It was after 8.00pm that one of the staff members from Nairobi reported to us that there were bank robbers at the branch only for us to find that they had long gone,” he said.

He said that police have picked up three managers at the branch who are assisting in investigations.

“We are holding the three who are helping us with information to verify the circumstances under which the money was stolen,’ he noted.

He said that police were also on the lookout for the night guard who is still at large. Mr Ombati has now called on members of the public to assist police with information that could lead to the arrest of the suspect.

Read more: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/Kenyanews/Guard-joins-gang,-make-off-with-Sh9.8m-11899.html#ixzz1FRovFq7T

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Mau Mau Ask Queen to Help Find Kimathi’s Remains

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2011

MAU Mau freedom fighters have asked the Kenyan Government to approach the British Government to help locate the remains of former freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi.

Over 2,000 former freedom fighters who met yesterday under Mau Mau War Veterans Association said England’s Queen Elizabeth II could help them to locate Kimathi’s grave.

Speaking during the meeting held at Ruring’u stadium in Nyeri County, the freedom fighters urged the British Government to tell the world whether Kimathi is still alive or whether was buried at Kamiti or King’ong’o Prison.

The association led by national chairman Elijah Kinyua Ng’ang’a alias General Bahati said it was time to know the truth. “We want Queen Elizabeth to help us trace the remains of Kimathi since it is still not clear where he was buried after all these years,” Ng’ang’a said.

The chairman who was accompanied by secretary general Mwai wa Muthigi also said the Ocampo Six should be tried here and not taken to the The Hague.

They called on the government to immediately resettle all IDPs as thousands continue to suffer. He said it will not be good if the long rains come while they are still at the camps in April.

The former freedom fighters urged fellow fighters to remain united as they wait for compensation from the Kenyan and British Governments.

Source: www.nairobistar.com

Posted in Kenya | Comments Off on Mau Mau Ask Queen to Help Find Kimathi’s Remains

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