Monday, October 26, 2009


Is Kenya opening the door too wide to foreign intervention (meddling) that may in the years to come return to haunt the nation’s right to self determination? Since January 2008 the country has been the subject of concerted international attention: initially in the form of urgent intervention to salvage a fast spiralling situation and in subsequent months in the form of pressure to keep the grand coalition government together and push for essential reforms: these variously administered through blunt threats and coercion many a times celebrated by a public clearly hungry for change.

The latest is the US governments’ announcement of a Visa ban slapped on a ‘high ranking’ government official over his alleged continued frustration of reforms in the country. This announcement was delivered by the US top diplomat on African affairs, assistant secretary of state Jonnie Carson in Nairobi, and widely praised by sections of the local media, as America’s first big step to fighting impunity in Kenya. The Kenyan media barely a month ago was in similar fashion all over itself in its reportage of former UN secretary General Kofi Annan’s trip to Nairobi and his ‘harsh verdict’ on Kenya’s reform record and subsequent ‘reprimand’ on the grand coalition principals: President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Any body familiar with Kenya’s media, will not be surprised to witness a similar spectacle next week, when the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo is expected in Nairobi for a meeting with the coalition government’s top leadership. Is there merit to this foreign frenzy on Kenyan issues and the ultimate prominence it is accorded by the Kenyan media? This is a question that scholars and pundits could debate endlessly and write myriad books while at it.

What is clear however right now is that the patriotism of Kenya’s leaders and indeed the Kenyan people has been called to question. Watching this drama from a distance one is left to wonder are Kenya’s leaders totally lacking in patriotism, that they must be pushed by foreigners to do what is right for their country? Are they so out of touch with the reality on the ground and aspirations of the people they lead that Johnnie Carson has to leave Washington DC to come and spell it out for them?

This foreign frenzy also raises serious questions about the Kenyan public. Are Kenyans so helpless that if foreigners do not come to their aid their aspiration for change will never be achieved? Are the sons and daughters of the Mau Mau and the gallant freedom fighters who kicked out the colonialist forty five years ago a weaker breed, incapable of pushing their leaders to bring the change they desire? In spite of the high levels of literacy and heightened civic awareness could it be that Kenyans today completely lack ideas and the know how to bring their elected leaders to account? Or is it simply that unlike their fore fathers, this generation of Kenyans acutely lack the patriotism requisite to free their country.

One must concede that if convenience is the criteria, it is much easier to listen to Kofi Annan, Jonnie Carson and other increasingly vocal foreign envoys at press conferences tell Kenya’s leaders what Kenyans want rather, than to mobilise Kenyans to voice their demands to their elected leaders. However in this embrace of convenience the Kenyan people may just be giving away their right to self determination and respect as a sovereign people. The foreign voices may sound like music in the ears of the Kenyan today, since their demands resonate with the public interest, but encouraging them on is embracing the derogatory position of the ‘less evolved being’ ‘big brother’ would not mind Kenya settling for.

By allowing, even cheering on, as foreign powers and their representatives bully and push your elected leaders around, the country sets a precedent that could in the future expose it to blatant plunder and abuse. What will stop ‘big brother’ from using the same condescending tone, threats and tactics when seeking to dictate how and who benefits from the exploitation of oil in Kenya, should the ongoing hunt for oil bear fruit. History is replete with lessons that where the fervent advocates of democracy put in their all in marketing this philosophy, it is soon followed by a bill that has everything to do with the economic bottom line. Is it not common knowledge that western democracy and cut throat capitalism are twins rarely sighted far apart?

Kenyans and their leaders must rise to the occasion and cease abrogating their national duties to foreigners who though acting in brotherly good will, wield under the veil vested interests. It is good that one brother help another in his time of need, I would however be twice as cautious if I know that the helping hand is from ‘big brother’ who secretly eyes my wife.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Here is the complete text of Uhuru Kenyatta's budget day speech :


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Kenya Govt Presentation On Prof Alston Report

Heres the full text of the Kenya Government delegation response



Statement by Professor Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

Heres the full text of Prof. Alston's presentation

Statement by Professor Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, 3 June 2009

Mr President, distinguished delegates,

Today I am presenting the following reports: an annual report, a 400 page communications report, follow-up reports on Guatemala and the Philippines, and final reports on missions to Afghanistan, Brazil, the Central African Republic, Kenya, and the United States of America.

In 15 minutes I cannot hope to do justice to the complexity of these reports. I will thus confine my remarks to a few brief observations on some specific issues and situations.

A. Annual report (A/HRC/8/3)
I wish to draw attention to three issues addressed in my annual report.

(i) Reprisals against persons cooperating with Special Procedures
Intimidation of, or retaliation against, those cooperating with Special Procedures mandate-holders is a major problem. The Council should urge Governments, UN field presences and Special Procedures to give particular attention to the protection of those who have cooperated with a mandate-holder. The Council itself should define appropriate mechanisms to make representations to the Government concerned in a timely and effective manner and to monitor situations.

(ii) The execution of juvenile offenders
The prohibition on executing juvenile offenders is a clear and very important violation of international human rights standards. In view of the very significant number of such executions taking place in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Council should designate one of its Bureau members to seek to visit Iran to engage in consultations with all stakeholders with a view to identifying appropriate measures which can be taken in order to bring an immediate halt to the sentencing and execution of juvenile offenders.

(iii) The killing of witches
In many countries around the world there is a strong belief in the power of witches. There are also a great many reports of individuals being killed after being accused of practicing witchcraft. The Council should acknowledge that it is entirely unacceptable for individuals accused of witchcraft to be killed including through extrajudicial processes. It should call upon Governments to ensure that all such killings are treated as murder and investigated, prosecuted and punished accordingly.

B. Final reports
Since my reports on Brazil and the Central African Republic were made public long ago I will not introduce them now but will be happy to answer any questions.

1. The United States of America
I am grateful to the United States Government for its invitation to visit and for the cooperation it showed me during my visit. The range of issues to which my attention might have been directed was very large. My report and my comments today focus only on a small number of these.

In relation to the death penalty, the challenge is to ensure that its imposition complies with fundamental due process requirements. It is widely acknowledged that innocent people have likely been sentenced to death and executed. Yet, in Alabama and Texas, I found a shocking lack of urgency about the need to reform glaring criminal justice system flaws. These include a lack of adequate counsel for indigent defendants and racial disparities in sentencing. Given the inadequacies of state criminal justice systems, Congress should enact legislation permitting federal court habeas review of state and federal death penalty cases on the merits.

In relation to civilian casualties in the context of the US’s international military and intelligence operations, there is a need for greater transparency and accountability. The Government should track and make public the number of civilian casualties. The military justice system should provide the public with basic information on the status of investigations into civilian casualties or prosecutions resulting therefrom.

Targeted killings carried out by drone attacks on the territory of other States are increasingly common and remain deeply troubling. The US Government should disclose the legal basis for such killings and identify any safeguards designed to reduce collateral civilian casualties and ensure that the Government has targeted the correct person.

Despite its sophistication and the good intentions of many of its personnel, the US military justice system suffers from serious shortcomings in terms of accountability for killings which violate the applicable law. The Government has failed to effectively investigate and punish lower-ranking soldiers for such deaths, and has not held senior officers responsible under the doctrine of command responsibility. Worse, it has effectively created a zone of impunity for private contractors and civilian intelligence agents by only rarely investigating and prosecuting them.

Finally, my report recommends that the US Government should honour its stated commitment to transparency and accountability by establishing a national commission of inquiry to conduct an independent, systematic and sustained investigation of policies and practices that lead to deaths and other abuses. An independent special prosecutor should also be appointed to pursue any criminal activities undertaken by Government officials.

2. Kenya

Mr President, I want to begin by acknowledging that the Kenyan Government deserves full credit for having invited me to visit. It is also a credit to Kenya that the Waki Commission was established to investigate post-election violence. That Commission did a superb job and its report remains an indispensable guide to the reforms needed to prevent a repetition of that violence when the next elections are held. In addition, a police reform Taskforce has recently been established and, last Friday, a new judicial reform initiative was announced. I am also encouraged by the presence today of a large delegation representing Kenya which attests to the vigorous debate on these issues within the Government and the society as a whole.

In relation to my report on Kenya, the Council needs to ignore much of the background noise that has been generated, and to focus its attention on four issues which I hope all parties agree need to be resolved:

(i) Post-election violence. Well over 1,000 persons were killed following the December 2007 general elections. Those responsible, including police officers and politicians, remain immune from prosecution 18 months later.

(ii) Police shootings. These occur in large numbers on a regular basis, and are not publicly recorded or accounted for. In one five month period in 2007, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) documented approximately 500 people who were killed or disappeared. The report of a police whistleblower, Bernard Kiriinya, subsequently assassinated in October 2008, documents in great detail 24 separate occasions on which one particular police death squad extrajudicially executed some 58 suspects, mostly in cold blood. The testimony clearly implicates senior officials, including the Police Commissioner. No action has been taken.

(iii) Mt Elgon. There is compelling evidence that in 2008 at least 200 persons were killed or disappeared by the security forces in the Mt Elgon area. The military has produced no serious response to these allegations and a report by the police was a whitewash.

(iv) Human rights defenders. Before, during and after my mission, human rights groups and individuals were systematically harassed and intimidated. Many defenders have gone into hiding, others have gone into exile, and two were assassinated shortly after the mission.

Mr President, my report on the situation in Kenya was very critical. The reason is that, for all its strengths, Kenya has a major problem of extrajudicial executions and it is one which has not yet been adequately acknowledged and addressed. This is no secret to anyone in Kenya and in most respects I am simply retelling the story that I heard from the great majority of my interlocutors. I am also greatly encouraged by the goodwill that I have witnessed here in Geneva on the part of the politically heterogeneous Kenyan delegation.

This does not yet mean, however, that the crisis has been resolved. The police in particular remain a major stumbling block. Their attitude is reflected in the views expressed earlier this week by a member of the Government delegation to the Council, the Police Spokesman, Mr Eric Kiraithe. Earlier this week, he publicly called me a “bigoted activist”, and claimed that my report is a “baseless fabrication devoid of even an iota of fact”. In his view, and that of the Police Commissioner for whom he speaks, it “provides little beyond wild allegations”, is based on work plagiarized from local activists, includes “inexcusable falsehoods”, and manifests “an astonishing disregard for due process”. He accused me of having taken all of my recommendations from “activists keen to attract donor funding” and who were, “therefore, neither interested in truth nor accuracy”. Unsurprisingly, the response fails to address substantively any of the key concerns I raised.

This personal attack on the Special Rapporteur is unfortunately typical of the response by the Kenya Police in such contexts. Their approach has been to attack the messenger rather than address the issues raised. This is consistent with a longstanding practice of responding to alleged human rights violations by attacking the source of the allegations.[1]

Mr President, attacks on those who document abuses do not absolve a government of its obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for extrajudicial executions. This will not, however, be achieved while the current Police Commissioner is in charge of investigations and prosecutions. Instead, impunity for official killings will continue while the deck chairs are reshuffled and more character assassinations are launched.

I am happy to be able to report that there are others in government who have fully recognized the scale of the challenges that Kenya faces in this area. The Prime Minister, and several other Cabinet members have acknowledged the central message of my report. Martha Karua, the then Justice Minister with whom I dealt, has urged the Government to accept the recommendations, observing that “Alston is saying what Kenyans on the ground are saying”. Indeed, most of the relevant civil society groups have been strongly supportive of the report. Public opinion, predictably, has been mixed. A great many comments have lamented the extent of unrestrained police killings. Most importantly, there is considerable public insecurity as a result of the threat posed by criminal gangs, along with some questioning of the role of an outsider (the UN Special Rapporteur). A good example is “sam7” who noted in a post to the Daily Nation website on May 28:

“Why are we even listening to this yellow teeth pale skin guy. What report does he have about the victims of Mungiki . . . or was he only concerned by the killings of these thugs who have no respect for human life?”

Sam raises two issues, leaving aside my need for dental renewal. The first concerns the issue of why a UN Special Rapporteur needs to be the one to raise these issues. This concern was echoed in the Government’s official response which claims that my report questions the “very basis of the Kenyan state” and thus “impinges on sovereignty”. But it bears repetition that my report revolves around two concerns: killings by Government officials and subsequent impunity. Much of the information that I have brought to public attention was already available within Kenya but had, at least until recently, been ignored by the Government.

My decision to call for the dismissal of the Police Commissioner and to suggest that the Attorney-General might wish to resign after many years in office reflects my conclusion that these two officials are the key individuals with direct responsibility for the current state of affairs. Ultimately, of course, it is the Government as a whole which bears responsibility. I would note that the Prime Minister has roundly condemned extrajudicial executions, while the President has yet to do so. On May 15 this year, President Kibaki announced that he had “appointed a national Taskforce to fast-track Reforms in the police department …”. My sincere hope is that this Taskforce will produce a blueprint for the sort of comprehensive reform that is needed.

The second issue raised by Sam is the one that is uppermost in the minds of many members of the public. It relates to the climate of fear and insecurity generated by the activities of criminal gangs, including the Mungiki. Since my visit, a further 44 people have been killed, either by the Mungiki or in vigilante-style responses to that gang’s extortion activities. In my report, I roundly condemned the Mungiki.[2] The challenge is simple. The Kenyan Police need an effective strategy for responding to this threat. Hyper-active death squads have brought no relief. They have only succeeded in undermining the rule of law, distracting the police from their protection and investigative roles, fuelling the cycle of violence, and tarnishing Kenya’s reputation. It is urgent that a detailed and convincing strategy for combating violence, extortion and other crime by gangs, including the Mungiki, be given the utmost priority. Statements that they will be ‘crushed’ or ‘smashed’ provide no meaningful reassurance that such efforts are underway.

Finally, Mr President, I want to end my observations on Kenya with three succinct comments. The first is to hope that the herculean and admirable efforts of the coalition partners to craft a joint statement today presage a new era in Kenya’s approach to extrajudicial killings. The second is to express the hope that the international community will be fully supportive of any comprehensive and good faith plan prepared by the Government’s Taskforce, provided it wins the support of civil society. And the third is to call upon the Government to reign in the campaign of violence against human rights defenders and to permit the safe return of the many who have fled into exile and to guarantee that they shall not be killed as a result of their efforts to remind all Kenyans that their future lies in a society which transcends the scars of the past and respects the human rights of all individuals and groups within society.

3. Afghanistan
In relation to Afghanistan, my report’s principal recommendations have already been considered by this Council last year. I thus wish only to reiterate my strong concern at the continuing problem of preventable civilian casualties, especially in the context of aerial bombing. An incident, less than one month ago (on 4 May 2009) in Gerani visit, Farah Province, provides an important if distressing example. A Taliban attack on ANP checkpoints led to a call for ANA reinforcements and then for air support from the IMF. There has been much debate about the number of civilians killed, whether Government figures are inflated, and whether the dead included significant numbers of Taliban fighters. Various human rights and other groups have spoken of dozens of civilians killed including women and children. There is compelling evidence that the bombardments occurred after an apparent lull in the fighting. It also appears that insufficient precautionary measures were taken to limit civilian casualties.

The incident highlights two lessons. The first is the need for real accountability based on credible independent investigations. It must become routine for independent monitors to be introduced at a certain stage in response to such incidents. The second is the need to use extreme caution when bombing inhabited villages, in view of the high likelihood of significant civilian casualties. It is clear that the Taliban will endeavour to draw coalition forces into such situations by using civilian households for military purposes, but this makes prudence all the more important. Mr President, I am encouraged in this regard by official statements reported this morning which acknowledge that serious errors were made in this incident and that more robust efforts will be made in the future.

C. Follow-up reports
1. Guatemala
There has been a significant rise in the rate of killing since my visit in August 2006. Particularly concerning are the continued attacks on human rights defenders, increases in the killings of women, and the emergence of new targets of unlawful killings, such as public transit operators. The State has not adequately investigated or otherwise responded to these killings. Much needed improvements to the criminal justice institutions, witness protection, budget allocation, and fiscal policy have not been implemented. The most encouraging development has been the establishment of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). The CICIG has the potential to improve criminal investigation and prosecution procedures, witness protection, and to assist the State in implementing necessary national security legislation. I am concerned, however, that the CICIG appears to be devoting itself almost exclusively to the prosecution of corruption cases, and has not placed an emphasis on extrajudicial executions which constitute a central part of its mandate.

2. The Philippines
The fact that this Council has the capacity to enhance respect for human rights on the ground is well demonstrated by the case of the Philippines. In my follow-up report I call upon the Government to take more energetic steps to implement the needed structural reforms and especially to make a more concerted effort to prosecute those responsible for the killings. By the same token, it is essential to point out that the number of killings has fallen dramatically in each of the two years since my visit. In addition, the Philippines Human Rights Commission has been reinvigorated, a major and highly credible investigation of the death squads in Davao has been opened, and the Government continues to announce new initiatives designed to reduce the number of killings and identify those responsible.

C. Conclusion
Mr President, the mandate on extrajudicial executions was never intended by the Council to be an easy one. It is called upon to address issues that lie at the heart of human rights and go to the core of governmental interests. The challenge before us all is to be able to confront those issues systematically and objectively and to be able to engage in the sort of constructive dialogue that will help to put an end to unlawful killings.
[1] I offer some examples:
The Police Commissioner, who refused to provide me with any of the information that I sought when I was in Kenya, says my report’s “building blocks are rumours and utter lies. Its narrative was predetermined. And the substance is obviously false.” The meticulous and detailed reports of killings are simply not addressed.
The response to a detailed and balanced Parliamentary report on the killings at Mt Elgon is dismissed on the grounds that the Committee Chairman (MP Fred Kapondi) was under investigation.
Another report on Mt. Elgon, coming from the International Committee of the Red Cross, is rejected because the ICRC “lack investigation ability, mandate, expertise and capacity.”
When two human rights defenders with whom I met are assassinated in broad daylight and the evidence points to the police, the only substantive response to date is reject international assistance with the investigation and for the police to announce that one of those killed was under investigation and that the car he was driving was probably stolen.
When the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights produces reports detailing police killings, they are dismissed on the grounds that Commission members have been bribed.
When the Western Kenya Human Rights Watch’s meticulous accounts of killings are dismissed, and virtually all of their staff intimidated and harassed by government officials, the response is that the organization is alleged to have bribed witnesses to criticize the Government.
And when a former member of a police death squad describes in compelling detail the killings he and his colleagues were directed to undertake, the Police response (Annex IV to its report to the Human Rights Council) is first to hint darkly at the “known antecedents of the Whistleblower” and then to say that his testimony is “not only false but also irrational”. His “narrations … are imagined” and they are thus “not witness accounts that can be properly investigated.” Therefore, no investigation of any sort is undertaken.

Not one of these allegations has been substantiated, let alone prosecuted successfully, but they have been used as a pretext to avoid all investigations of a wide range of well documented allegations of police and military killings.
[2] I noted that those who resist them are “threatened, beaten or killed, often in an especially brutal manner, and residents are increasingly terrified of the progressively more violent criminal control of their neighborhoods.”

Kenyan Governmnet Beats Hasty retreat on Alston report

Kenya's government has clearly beat a hasty retreat in their rejection of the Alston report which indictes the government of presiding over a wave of extra judicial executions and systematic violation of human rights. In thier presentation before the UN Council on Human rights in Geneva, the Kenyan government delegation acknolwedged the existence of numerous cases of extra judicial executions and enormous challeges in the countries criminal justice system occasioning the numerous human rights violations. Proffessor Phillip Alston who made his presentation beofre the Kenyan government delagation did accused the government of lacking the will to resolve the issues raised and that a majority of the government's top officials were keen to sustain the status quo.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Parliament Likely to Squander Kenya’s Second Chance

Kenya’s 10th parliament resumes house business after the state opening ceremony on April 21st 2009 in the wake of a national opinion poll that is a clear reflection of disillusionment, disappointment and overwhelming lack of confidence in three arms of government. According to the poll by the Steadman 53% Kenyans are strongly opposed to the grand coalition government while only 31% support the government. A steep decline from the 77% that supported the government in September last year and 61% in December last year. If the poll is anything to go by over 70% of Kenya’s doubt the coalition government’s ability to survive the full five year term expiring in 2012. 53% of Kenyans would actually prefer that country goes to fresh elections at the earliest opportunity.
As the body that brings together the peoples representatives and is in practice the mother of all the other arms of government; through its law making role mps make the laws that establish the judiciary, its also from among its members that individuals constituting the executive are appointed, Parliament bears the greatest responsibility of restoring not only public support but also international good will and support that the grand coalition government has so ably squandered over the last one year. The actions and omissions of the tenth parliament through this session will either make or break the grand coalition government and consequently determine the way forward for the Kenyan people.
To turn this situation around MPs must take several drastic actions. First MPs must win back the confidence of the public, by loosing the tag and image of selfishness and obsession with self interest at the expense of the Kenyan country: they must accept to have their perks subjected to the tax man’s axe. They must also take the bold step of enacting legislation barring them selves and future parliaments from awarding themselves pay rises in the absence of a clear procedure outside parliament. This is however very unlikely, considering the stiff opposition this proposal has previously met from this very same parliament. The Akimumi tribunal country collecting views from the public across the country is also a good excuse to postpone the decision on MPs salaries. They can now hide behind the tribunal arguing that it would be imprudent to take any action before the have a comprehensive report and recommendations from the tribunal.
Parliament also has a second chance to win back both local and international trust by establishing a water tight, credible local tribunal to try those who bear the greatest responsibility in organizing, financing and perpetuating the 2008 post election chaos that left over 1000 Kenyans dead in ethnic based conflict and over 300, 000 others internally displaced. The governments last attempt to have parliament pass two bills critical to the establishment of the tribunal were defeated on the floor of the house, in a vote that humiliated both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga who sat and watched MPs from their parties vote against the bill in spite of days of lobbying. After the defeat of these bills MPs from across the political divide went around the country gloating over their victory in the matter. Agriculture minister William Ruto is on record saying at a public rally that with the defeat of the bill “the matter is now left to the International Criminal Court at the Hague, and knowing how the ICC works it is very unlikely that ‘our’ case will come before the ICC before 2090! How many of us will still be alive then?” While the government maintains its intention to re-introduce the matter before the house during this session, with this kind of talk from among its top leaders it’s unlikely that these bills will see the light of day. The formation of the tribunal is a crucial indicator of the countries leaders’ commitment to dealing with impunity and steering Kenya away from the destructive path leading to the abyss Kenya almost descended to in 2008.
Parliament’s handling of corruption through this session will also determine public perceptions and trust in the institution. During the last session at least two censure motions were brought against two ministers over allegations of graft. While the censure motion against current Trade Minister Amos Kimunya over the controversial sale of the Grand Regency (now Grand Laico) hotel was overwhelmingly endorsed, the same house later rejected a report by a parliamentary committee probing the matter. In the same spirit of political compromises and collaboration, the censure motion against Agriculture Minister William Ruto was defeated on the floor of the house. The issues raised in the motion over a scandal in the handling of maize in countries strategic grain reserve remain unresolved. Will parliament demand that results of an audit commissioned by the office of the prime minister on the scandal be made public. Will the house prone allegations of the fresh probe in the maize scandal that saw imported grain ruled unfit for human consumption by the Kenya Bureau of Standards disappear in mysterious circumstances?
The constitution review process will also be an acid test for the 10th parliament. While the committee of experts is currently working quietly identifying the areas of agreement and the contentious issues, MPs will play a critical role in the resolution of the contentious issues and setting a conducive political environment for a referendum on the proposed law. However MPs this time around need to learn from the mistakes of the 2005 referendum where political interests from the antagonizing sides not only interfered with the writing of the law, but also poisoned the atmosphere ahead of the referendum. Have the politicians learnt? Can they keep the review process safe from the issues informing the prevailing wrangling in government? Will the considerations and posturing for the next elections take precedence over national good?
Ultimately Parliament is also very critical to the overall reforms process, as all laws bringing change to the various arms of government will need to come through the house. The house has however in many instances failed to live up to its role and frustrated laws important for the country at the alter of political compromises or in a bid to settle political scores. With Kenyans having expressed their lack of confidence in the government’s ability to steer the reform process, the honors may just be on individual members to utilize provisions that allow private members bills and motions to bring before the house, bills that the government lacks political will or courage to push in Kenya’s interest. Will parliament meet the demands of the moment? Will this institution rise to the occasion and save Kenya or twill MPs once again squander Kenya’s second chance?

Monday, April 13, 2009


Kenya’s grand coalition government this week marks exactly one year since its members were sworn in and took office. On the 13th of April 13, 2009, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga announced the list of 40 minister and 52 assistants than would form Africa’s first ever grand coalition government. A year down the line that government remains on the rocks in spite of the apparent cessation of hostilities between the coalition partners. Recent events increasingly raising doubts on the coalition’s ability to hold through the next 3 years to the 2012 elections.
After a week of heavy fire from across the political divide, following the collapse of the coalition talks in Kilaguni last weekend, a deceptive calm has seemingly set in, in spite of the fact that the outstanding issues that led to last weeks crisis remain unresolved. The calm is largely attributed to the intervention by former un secretary general Kofi Annan who reportedly called both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, with an appeal to them to remember their responsibility to the Kenyan public.
Rail and Kibaki are expected to hold their first face to face, since the collapsed Kilaguni talks later this week. Questions linger however on how effective that meeting will be in resolving the issues dogging the coalition government. Raila had in an outpouring of outrage over the week accused his colleague at the coalition’s helm of not only being disrespectful but also running the government in a primitive and less than professional manner. Will he face Kibaki with these allegations? If he does what will be Kibaki’s response? Any Kenyan would be shocked if he heard that Kibaki apologized and promised to be better behaved next time? President Kibaki on the other hand, went on business as usual, as far as he is concerned there is no crisis, he actually went out the country in the wake of stalemate? What will it take to awake him to the fact that he is running a government that is at least 50% extremely disgruntled.
Indeed from where I stand, I do not see an end to the wrangling within the grand coalition government soon regardless of the current lull. For starters, it is unlikely that Kibaki and his backers would cave to Raila and ODM’s demand for greater inclusion in the running of the grand coalition, and even if he did that would not be the end of ODM's discontent. What difference would it make if for example by the end of the week, Raila’s salary is matched to that of the President and government protocol is officially revised to recognize him as second in command, the head of public service and its holder are moved to the Prime minister Office, and ODM is allowed to appoint half of the countries permanent secretaries, ambassadors and parastal chiefs? I doubt that they would go round the country rejoicing over their inclusion eventually. If they did so they would be giving up their tactical advantage and fully sharing with their PNU side, the full baggage of the unpopularity that comes with being the face of government. Indeed in that one week of protests against Kibaki and PNU, Raila has managed to win some public sympathy as the victim in this setting and in the same blow, distracted the masses from the pressing issues of poverty , hunger, inflation ….etc that the country is looking up to the government to fix. My guess is for as long as the coalition government exists, one side will always play victim and paint the other villain for political advantage. That is however not to say that ODM’s protests are completely without merit.
However thanks to international pressure and the lack of operational transitional institutions like the electoral commission, the two sides will remain in the coalition albeit as unhappy partners in a failed marriage. I am however not convinced that the endurance will spread through to 2012, the prevalent political re-alignments are in my view indications of preparations for an early election, most likely before the end of next year. Soon the electoral commission issue will be dispensed off as soon as parliament is recalled. The constitution review process is already underway, although the committee of experts appointed to spear head the process has been almost invisible, the experts have been working quietly in the background and are reportedly making progress in spite of numerous challenges like the governments failure to provide them with offices. It is my belief that this process will soon gain more visibility and political contributions that will clearly expose the underlying mechanizations in preparation for elections. Should this group deliver a new law; the stage will be set for the polls. Should they fail, this will only give fresh momentum to calls for an election. The argument being that only a democratically elected government can deliver a new constitution.
Gichugu MP Martha Karua’s dramatic resignation from the cabinet further gives credence to the view that early polls may be in the offing. Skeptics have argues that she lacks both the financial resources and political networks to sustain a campaign over the next 3 years. She probably knows that she does not need to survive the three years. She will be one to watch and my bet is that she will throw in her all over the next one year as it may just be a make or break for her.
Religious leaders both Christian and Muslim are also on record advocating for a fresh election as a solution to the failed grand coalition experiment. While their arguments may hold some water, questions linger on if the country is really ready for the polls. Ethnic suspicions still run deep and the people are still vulnerable to political manipulation that would lead the country to yet another crisis. Kenyans are also disillusioned with the current crop of leaders. An early election may just mean choosing between two evil sides. Waiting until 2012 may provide an opportunity for new options. What is better for the country, enduring a poorly performing disjointed government for the next 3 years with the hope that circumstances will have changed by 2012 or bite the bullet and risk all at an early election. Whatever the options, Kenya is in a dilemma and the way forward looks increasingly hazy. Kenya has just come to the fork of the cross – which way Kenya?

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Former UN Secretary General Dr. Kofi Annan has put Kenya's grand coalition leaders on the spot, accusing them of deflating the momentum in kenya's reform process. In his message to Kenyans on the first annivasary of the signing of the accord, that saw President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga bury the hatchet and unite to form a coalition government, the man who brokered the deal accused the two leaders of disappointing Kenyan's in their quest at conclusively resolving the issues that led to the 2007 post election violence. Here is the audio recording of Kofi Annans message

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


The Kenyan government has rejected a report by UN investigator into extra judicial killings Professor Phillip Alston even before the report is officially presented to relevant government officials. Government spokesman Dr. Alfred Mutua, on the government’s official website, has dismissed the report accusing the UN envoy of overstepping his mandate, making the report in bad faith and almost impinging on matters of Kenya’s sovereignty.
After a ten day probe that took him across the country, Professor Alston returned a damning verdict not only indicting the Attorney General and Police commissioner of presiding over the illegal executions but also putting President Mwai KIbaki on the spot over failing to act on the matter. Alston recommended the immediate sacking of both Attorney General Amos Wako and Police Commissioner Major General Hussein Ali.
According to Alston “Kenyan police are a law unto themselves, and they kill with impunity…there exists in Kenya a systematic, widespread and planned policy to execute people on a regular basis.” He argues that any serious commitment at reforming the law enforcement body should begin with the immediate dismissal of the Police Commissioner.
His verdict on the Attorney general is even harsher, arguing that Mr Wako is the embodiment of the culture of impunity in Kenya. He has presided over a system that is bankrupt in relation to police killings.”
The UN envoy must have touched a raw nerve with his assertion that President Mwai Kibaki is ultimately to be held accountable for the executions. Alston says “the president should come out and admit that there exists a serious problem of extra judicial killings.”
In his response to the report Mr Mutua accuses Alston of breeching the laws of natural justice by not seeking a government response before he published his report. Alston had in the course of his probe met top government officials including Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti. The government had expressed its support for his investigation pledging full cooperation. The government’s sincerity in making these pledges is now put to question following the sharp reaction. Only last week the Kenyan parliament adjourned its regular sessions to discuss reports that over 3000 Kenyans have been killed in extra judicial executions carried out by the police force.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kofi Annan's Warning to Kenya's Coalition Government Leaders

Statement from the Chair of the
Panel of Eminent African Personalities,
H.E. Kofi Annan

Nairobi, 24 February 2009 - for immediate release

The Chair of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, H.E. Kofi Annan, today warned that further delays in establishing a tribunal to try those accused of post-election violence committed in Kenya in 2008 could have grave consequences for the country’s reform agenda, upon which Kenya’s stability and prosperity depend.

In letters to President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga delivered on Tuesday 24 February, Mr. Annan said that failure by the Kenyan Government and Parliament to create a Special Tribunal would “constitute a major setback in the fight against impunity and may threaten the whole reform agenda in Kenya”.

“The Panel of Eminent African Personalities remains of the firm conviction that a Kenyan-owned and Kenyan-led process would be the most beneficial to the Kenyan people”, said Mr. Annan and added “We believe that this is a sentiment shared by a great many of your compatriots.”

Mr. Annan said the Panel welcomed promised efforts by the leaders to re-engage Parliament to ensure the enactment of the necessary legislation for the establishment of the Special Tribunal. “It is the Panel’s view that such an effort should be encouraged and carried out within the shortest possible timeframe.”

Mr. Annan made it clear, however, that recourse to the International Criminal Court will be taken if the Special Tribunal is not established within a reasonable period of time.

Mr. Annan also stressed the need to ensure that legislation for the Special Tribunal meets international legal standards and that it be broadly debated with all sectors of society in order to bring credibility to the process.

Mr. Annan reaffirmed the Panel’s commitment to remain engaged and assist Kenya as it works towards the important objectives of addressing impunity, and fostering reconciliation and long-term reform.


Saturday, February 21, 2009


The Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution review process meets on Monday a divided team. With deep rooted divisions that now make it clear that the team entrusted with the task of delivering the country a new constitution may just be caught in the same trap that frustrated Kenya’s clamor for a new law in 2005: raw ethno- regional politics!
While the committee had seemingly unanimously agreed on the list that had Cecil Miller nominated as the Interim Independent Electoral commission chairman alongside 8 other commissioners representing each of the countries 8 provinces, a section of the PSC members turned on the list in parliament and vehemently pushed for its rejection by the house.
What changed between the PSC’s last meeting on Wednesday evening and the reports presentation before the house on Thursday. If arguments from the debate on the floor of the hosue are anything to go by, the members were now privy of fresh information, previously not available to them: namely: that Cecil Miller Junior had acted as Garsen MP Danson Mungatana’s advocate in an election petition lodged against him early last year and was also acting on behalf yet another politician in an ongoing petition. Secondly The man picked to represent Coast Province, one Suleiman Buko had served as deputy presiding officer in Garsen during the 2007 elections. The third argument sensationally pelted out in the heat of acrimonious debate was that Cecil Miller is apparently a wife batterer.
Its has however since been established that beyond this arguments were high stakes political interests that were the actual basis of the tussle. If Garsen MP Danson Mungatana is to be believed, ODM MPs , especially from Nyanza Province led the way in rejecting the report for one reason alone: they did not have one of their own on the all important commission. The man picked to represent the Province a Mr. Ken Nyaudi is from the Kisii region of the province- a position apparently not acceptable to the MPs from Luo Nyanza and according to Mungatana – not acceptable to Prime Minister Raila Odinga who wields immense influence over the regions politics.
While the merits of the arguments and allegations made both inside and outside parliament are subject to confirmation, the full effect of these allegations is to throw the constitutional review and electoral reforms process off the steady road of public confidence right into the murky waters of tribal suspicions and parochial divisive politics. It is my considered opinion(I would hope to be proved wrong) that regardless of who the PSC selects to serve on the IIECK, any such nominee will from now hence forth be viewed through both a tribal and political perspective. I would not be shocked if the section of the PSC that backed Miller for the top job, dig up a litany of scandals- both real and perceived- to disparage the character of whoever is picked to replace him. It will be difficult to make any progress should the seed of politics planted into this process is allowed to grow and influence the process.
While nominated MP Milly Odhiambo may have had good intentions in her allegations against Miller this move was not only an abuse of parliamentary privilege but also an ill advised precedence setting error. While it is important that anyone aspiring for high office be subjected to intense scrutiny, it is wrong to make such allegations on a platform where the subject is not allowed an equal chance to respond or defend themselves. Thanks to parliamentary Privilege Cecil Miller cannot even go to court in pursuit of legal redress over the allegations he may consider defamatory. It also sets a bad precedent, I will not be shocked if during the next debate on nominees an Mp opposed to the nominee in question shouts allegations that are much worse than wife battering and believe you me there is no limit to how far they can go!
Parliament must consider a clear system that enables members not only play their watch dog role, but also protects crucial processes from the trap of negative ethnicity and dirty divisive politics.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Parliament is this afternoon due for a test- whose result will determine its future engagement with the Kenyan people. The censure motion against Agriculture minister William Ruto will not only test parliaments anti corruption resolve but also the legislators loyalties: are they committed more to their political and personal interests or to the interests of the millions of Kenyan’s threatened with starvation and grappling with the constantly rising cost of the countries staple food all of which is attributed to questionable transactions and implementation of government policy. Reading from the mood in the house and listening to conversations in the corridors of parliament I am convinced the former will triumph! The public interest will be sacrificed at the alter of political interests and mechanizations.
The motion to censure Ruto is bound to flop: It may not even take off! If reports from within parliament’s circles are anything to go by, even the man who was slated to second the motion moved by Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale has been intimidated to withdrawing. Independent minded Imenti Central legislator Gitobu Imanyara may be the only other legislator behind Khalwale as the motion comes up for debate. The debate may just be the graduation ceremony where the unholy union forged to defeat a parliamentary committee indicting Trade Minister Amos Kimunya over the irregular sale of the Grand Regency hotel (now the Grand Laico), formally transforms into an axis of evil, that will drive Kenya’s 10th parliament to voting in favour of Graft. Indeed apart from last night’s late night meeting bringing together MPs from Rift Valley, Eastern and North Eastern Provinces at the Bible society premises in Nairobi. MPs from the Mt Kenya region are set to keep their part of the deal: returning the favour extended to during the motion on Kimunya. It would appear that they have whole heartedly embraced the Mantra ‘scratch my back- I will scratch yours.
The maize scandal also implicates several MPs across the political divide. So far at least 6 have owned up to having written notes seeking that certain companies either associated with them or claiming to be their constituents. For these MPs self preservation will be their greatest motivation as they decide on whether or not to attend or keep away from today’s session. I doubt that any of them would be first to cast a stone at Ruto. That may just be equivalent to stoning their images in a mirror!

Here is the motion Khalwale will move before the house as listed on today’s order paper :

7*. MOTION – ((Dr. Boni Khalwale)
(Leader of Government Business)
THAT, being deeply concerned with the conduct of the Minister for
Agriculture in the manner he has mishandled the purchase, storage, sale and distribution of maize from the National Cereals and Produce Board, leading to the current unprecedented high cost of maize meal coupled with the scarcity of the commodity that has resulted in a National Disaster where some Kenyans have succumbed to death and left a further 10 million starving ; Considering his disregard of the provisions of the Public Officer Ethics Act in particular, Section 12(4)(c),(d); Section 17 and Section 19 and related regulations in the discharge of his duties; this House censures the Minister and resolves that it has no confidence in him and demands that he resigns with immediate effect.

Analyze the issues as raised herein and be the judge – if at all parliament votes on the issues as raised. I am not advocating for a mob-lynch but I would hope that rather than seek to bury this scandal, Parliament would live up to its watch dog role and seek answers on behalf of the people of Kenya. Honestly I’m not expecting much but I certainly hope to be pleasantly surprised!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Parliament’s rejection of a report by the Chris Okemo led Finance, planning and Trade committee, on the Controversial sale of the Grand Regency hotel may have come as a surprise to many Kenyans but not to anyone closely following the latest events in the house. The vote, widely considered a round one victory for Trade minister Amos Kimunya is widely attributed to a budding alliance between Rift valley MPs and their Mt Kenya colleagues in the wake of raging corruption allegations. After acrimonious debate on the floor of the house, which saw Agriculture Minister William Ruto on the spot over the Maize scandal, a day before the vote on the report, Rift Valley MPs reportedly warmed up to the alliance, with the agreement that their Mt Kenya colleagues would return the favor, should their man find himself in Kimunya’s shoes. A move that clearly confirms one thing: the Maize scandal is real! And yes it does implicate some of the very members of Parliament, who very passionately fought off Ikolomani MP Dr Boni Khalwale’s bid to name suspicious companies that bought maize from the NCPB.

What is even more perturbing are reports that money may have been used to lobby MPs into rejecting the report. Kenyan’s may find it difficult deciding which is worse between the two: The unholy alliance in a bid to protect corruption suspects or their MPs actually receiving bribes to either vote against the report or absent themselves from the house when the matter is brought before the house. What is Certain however is the fact that these reports, which have basis in truth are clear evidence of a parliament that has sold its soul and sacrificed the hopes of Kenyans on the alter of self preservation and out right corruption.

The emerging coalition of corrupt forces is apparently to blame for either slowing down or deliberately keeping away from the public, information crucial to unveiling the truth about the corruption scandals. The window dressing moves are a clear acknowledgement that leaders in government have been busy in corrupt deeds as the seek to blind Kenyans with high rhetoric. Why dismiss the NCPB board and several line managers and leave out the organizations top management? What are their errors and why hasn’t anybody taken Political responsibility over this scandal? Why is it that when parliament sought answers on this scandal all the minister they got from the minister was a long list of millers and other companies who bought maize from the NCPB? If the minister was above board in this matter, couldn’t he have taken the opportunity to expose the culprits, who have looted Kenya’s grain reserves, or is this an admission that he is unaware of the going-ons at the cereals board?

While consistently denying any involvement in both the grain bulk handling facility controversy and the maize diversion scandal, the prime minister has suspended one of his aides in relation to the scandal. What he did not tell the country was exactly why he took this action. What did the suspended officer do? Did he work alone or was he involved in a wider network? Is there any fact to the claims that members of the Premiers family were involved? The answers are still out there, and while nobody may be offering them, his actions are evidence that the scandal did not unfold too far away from him.

The Triton scandal may just be the most vexing of the scandals. Who is behind the withdrawal of the arrest warrant against one Yagnesh Devani? How did the whole scandal unfold without the knowledge of the government? Why hasn’t anybody taken Political responsibility for the scandal? How did Triton a company with an almost negligible market share and shaky financial history get awarded crucial contracts to import crude for Kenya? Is it curious that the company’s proprietor was reportedly a major contributor to the campaigns of the main presidential candidates in the 2007 elections, now together in government?

The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission is also to blame for the acute lack of answers to these crucial questions. Apart from failing in its crucial mandate to investigate and expose for prosecution the big fish in the countries major corruption scandals it is now being used as a scape goat by the politicians. When any of these politicians is put on the spot, the almost spontaneous defense is that they have called in KACC to investigate the scandal, which in the ears of any Kenyan, means that the big fish are once again set to get off the hook.
Kenyans should however not give up, if for nothing else, the knowledge that for every thief, there is a 40th day! For those siphoning the public coffers they have been appointed to safeguard, I believe their 40th day is coming too!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Newton Ndebu's reports on KTN: Constitutional Review Time Table


The parliamentary select committee on the constitution review process has now laid out an ambitious time-table that could see a committee of experts to spear head the review process set up in two weeks time. The committee also hopes to have commissioners to the newly established interim independent electoral commission, boundaries commissions appointed within the next one month. Newton Ndebu reports