The Orange Democratic Party on Saturday distanced itself from the unexpected invitation of President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan during Friday’s promulgation of the new Constitution.
Even as ODM secretary-general Anyang’ Nyong’o said the blame rested squarely at the Foreign Affairs ministry, MPs have vowed to demand an explanation on Tuesday in Parliament over the surprise visit.
“We would like to assure Kenyans that ODM will do its best, as a partner in the coalition government, to obtain proper explanation from the ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said Prof Nyong’o at a Press conference in Nairobi.
“We will seek to know how President Bashir came here and why the government as a whole was neither consulted nor informed before such an unfortunate invitation was issued.”
Prof Nyong’o, who was accompanied by ministers Amason Kingi (Fisheries) and James Orengo (Lands), said the issue of good neighbourliness did not stand in the way of the international law.
Co-operation with ICC
Only last year, Kenya domesticated the International Criminal Act that demands, among other things, that there has to be co-operation with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“This is definitely not a good beginning to compound a new Constitution with an act of impunity,” Mr Orengo said adding that besides the explanation, Kenya had to take full responsibility.
“We first have to give an explanation to ourselves because we broke our law that is supreme, besides violating an international agreement that we are a signatory.”
Further, a group of MPs who are members of an international lobby of Parliamentarians for Peace, led by assistant minister for Defence David Musila, said their chairman Nominated MP Musa Sirma also demanded the statement.
Mr Musila, Mr Sirma, Mr Abdul Bahari and Mr David Were said the Kibaki Administration did not include the name of President Bashir in the list of invited guests that was sent out to other dignitaries to avoid a possible backlash from the international community.
“We were shocked beyond words when we heard the master of ceremonies announce the arrival of President Bashir at Uhuru Park,” said Mr Musila.
“His name was not in the list of invited guests that we had and some of us had been assured by a government official that Sudan would be represented at the function by President of the South Mr Salva Kiir.”
The National Coordinator of the Bunge La Mwananchi George Nyongesa on Saturday protested the arrest of two people for holding a demonstration on the streets of Nairobi on Friday afternoon to demand the arrest of President Bashir.
“It is ridiculous that innocent Kenyans are gracing police cells while the real criminal is wining and dining with our President on taxpayer’s money,” he said, while demanding their release from Central Police Station where they were being held.
Addressing a news conference at Parliament Buildings yesterday under the auspices of Parliamentarians for Global Action, a lobby that campaigns for adherence to international laws, Mr Musila described the presence of Mr Bashir as a blot to the otherwise successful day for Kenya.
The MPs said their headquarters in New York had earlier sent them an alert informing them of a possible visit by President Bashir and when they sought to confirm with the Government, they were reportedly assured the Sudanese leader would not be visiting.
The MPs called for an immediate explanation from the government. The MPs were concerned that the presence of Bashir in Nairobi would send a message to The Hague that Kenya would not cooperate with the ICC to arrest key suspects of the post-election violence.
Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara said the Bashir issue would make the country face unnecessary international scrutiny.
He also said the visit was not made public and the government had questions to answer.
“This brings into question our commitment into bringing to justice perpetrators of the 2007 post-election violence and the government’s commitment to Agenda 4 reforms,” said Imanyara.
Mr Wetang’ula confirmed that President Bashir had been invited by the Kenya Government which he said had already made its position known that it would abide by the African Union decision to defy any indictment facing a sitting President (Daily Nation).
Kenya has adopted a new constitution, but the landmark was overshadowed by an international furore at the presence of Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, whom an international court has indicted for genocide and war crimes.
Watched by tens of thousands of his countrymen, Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki signed the constitution into law at a colourful ceremony in Nairobi's main park on Friday, just over three weeks since it was overwhelmingly endorsed in a national referendum.
"Today is a great day for Kenya," said Kibaki, who took a new oath of office after signing the new charter into law. "This is the most important day in the history of our nation since independence.
The president sparked wild applause as he reverently held aloft a bound copy of the new constitution and executed a slow pirouette to show it off to the crowd and assembled African dignitaries.
The document, overwhelmingly approved in a national referendum earlier this month, is a pillar of reforms aimed at averting a repeat of the violence that killed more than 1000 people following the disputed 2007 election.
But reaction abroad was one of consternation over the attendance of Bashir, one of a handful of heads of state to attend, including Rwanda's Paul Kagame and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni.
The European Union and the International Criminal Court said Kenya had a "clear obligation" to arrest Bashir as a signatory to the court's founding treaty, and the ICC said it was reporting the breach to the UN Security Council.
Kenya's foreign minister, Moses Wetangula, brushed aside the criticism. "He was here today because we invited all neighbours and he is a neighbour."
"There are no apologies to make about anybody we invited to this function because I am sure we are enhancing peace and security and stability of this region more than anything else," he said.
However, deputy defence minister David Musila said Kenya had "brought shame to itself" adding Bashir should be "arrested immediately and handed to the ICC". Bashir, however, was back home in Khartoum within hours.
Hordes of flag-waving Kenyans thronged Nairobi's Uhuru Park (freedom park), where a military parade, a helicopter overflight and a 21-gun salute marked the elaborate ceremony.
"As Kenyans, we should be proud of making history as one of the few nations in the world that have successfully replaced their constitution in peace time," said Kibaki after acknowledging the presence of Bashir by mentioning him by name at the start of his speech.
Bashir was indicted in March 2009 for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, and in July 2010 on charges of genocide, relating to atrocities committed by Khartoum's forces in Sudan's western province of Darfur.
The veteran leader, whose name was not on the list of heads of state expected to attend issued by the Kenyan foreign ministry, appeared relaxed and smiling as he shook hands with other African leaders attending the ceremony.
The new law, passed in a referendum earlier this month, replaces Kenya's 1963 independence constitution and maintains a presidential system, but with substantial checks, introduces a devolved system of government and consolidates democracy and basic rights.
New York-based Human Rights Watch called earlier on the Kenyan authorities to either "arrest him or bar him entry" if he were to attend.
"Kenya will forever tarnish the celebration of its long-awaited constitution if it welcomes an international fugitive to the festivities," it said.
The ICC's first-ever warrant against a sitting head of state was issued for Bashir in March 2009 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The second was issued in July 2010 on charges of genocide.
Bashir in July visited neighbouring Chad, which was at the time strongly criticised by the EU and human rights groups for its refusal to arrest Bashir.
That visit was his first to an ICC member state, although both Chad and Kenya are members of the African Union, which has said the arrest warrants against Bashir are counterproductive for the quest for peace in Darfur.
The ICC has no police and relies on states that support it to carry out arrests.
The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died since conflict broke out in Darfur in 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Bashir's Arab-dominated regime for a greater share of resources and power.
Sudan's government says 10,000 have been killed.
A steering committee on cattle rustling in the eastern Africa region wants member states to ratify the protocol on combating the vice.
The committee said ratification of the protocol on prevention, combating and eradication of cattle rustling in eastern Africa will add muscle to the fight against the vice.
The call was made on Monday as delegates from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and South Sudan began a two-day meeting of the Mifugo project, a partnership between the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs’ Cooperation and the Institute of Security Studies.
Established in 2008, Mifugo, a Swahili word for livestock, is tasked to implement the fight against cattle rustling.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Augusta Muchai, the Mifugo programme head, said the five member states had not ratified the protocol.
She said by not ratifying the protocol signed in 2008, the member states were slowing down the fight aginst the vice. “I request that members of the steering committee put pressure on the relevant authorities in their countries to make sure that they ratify the law,” Muchai said.
Representing Uganda’s Inspector General of Police as the guest of honour, Okoth Ochola, the assistant Inspector General of Police, said efforts were underway to have Uganda ratify the protocol.
“Even though Uganda is committed to ratifying the protocol, this has not yet happened due to various challenges.”
Ochola added that the First Lady, Janet Museveni, who is also the Karamoja affairs state minister, was paying personal attention to the ratification process and “with her push, we are optimistic that any remaining hurdles will be overcome.”
Earlier, Dr. Nicholas Kauta, the director of animal resources at the agriculture ministry, had said cattle rustling was responsible for the proliferation of livestock diseases (New Vision).
LARGE quantities of drugs stolen from public health units are sneaked into Southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Yoweri Museveni has disclosed.
The President said new research showed that Government drugs are sold in private shops, while big consignments are sent to the turbulent neighbouring countries for fat sums of money.
He said the racket of thieves, that involves unscrupulous health workers and businessmen, had been taking advantage of the instability in neighbouring countries to do business in medicines meant for Ugandans.
Addressing residents of Kirerema trading centre, Namutumba district in Busoga, Museveni, implored the wanainchi to arrest and take to the Police, or report to the nearest authorities, any person found selling Government drugs. The President is currently touring Busoga region to promote the Prosperity-for-All programme.
“Since you know them, I am giving you authority to arrest and report those involved, so that we deal with them,” he said
Museveni also made an impromptu visit to Nsinze health centre IV in Nsinze sub-county to assess its drug stocks.
Patients at the centre complained that they were not getting adequate treatment due to shortage of medicines.
He cautioned persons who have been stealing drugs to desist from the practice or the long arm of the law would get them.
“A bull that wants to die licks an axe,” he quoted an old-time precautionary adage.
Later, the President visited Sulaiman Muyinda, a commercial farmer in Kirerema III village in Bulange sub-county.
Muyinda grows three acres of pineapples, mangoes, groundnuts and oranges.
The President commended Muyinda for his efforts and promised to get him a pick-up truck to ease his transport.
He also donated sh10m to the 30-member Bukadde Magezi farmers’ group to be used as a revolving fund (New Vision).
Besieged Somali President Sheikh Sheriff Ahmed Sheriff, is one of the 10 or so heads of state invited to attend the promulgation of Kenya's new constitution Friday, Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, Francis Muthaura, announced here Wednesday.
Kenya's new constitution has elicited international attention as a result of the post-election violence two years ago that added Kenya to the league of unstable African nations.
Outlining the programme for the promulgation of the new constitution, Muthaura said 'Also on the guest list is South Sudan's President Slava Kiir, who is involved in a fierce campaign for autonomy from the north in a referendum set for January.'
However, Sudanese President Hassan Omar el-Bashir, who has Kiir as his deputy in the national government, will not be making the trip as a result of the International Criminal Court's warrants of arrest hanging over his head.
In a media briefing, Muthaura said President Sheriff, who on Tuesday lost 20 members of parliament in a suicide attack in Somali capital, Mogadishu, had confirmed his attendance, the turmoil back in his country notwithstanding.
'The presidents in the East African Community bloc and four other countries have confirmed their attendance. We also received confirmations from the Panel of African Personalities who were involved in resolving the 2008 post-election violence ,' said Muthaura.
Members of the panel, chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, were former Tanzania president Benjamin Mkapa, former South African first lady Graca Marcel-Mandela and former Nigerian Foreign Minister, Prof Oluyemi Adeniji Security in and around Nairobi moved up to red alert level following the arrest of three Tanzanian nationals in Kenya at the weekend with hand grenades and assortment of other explosives and ammunitions.
Following the security threats, Police Commissioner Matthew Iteere said security agencies had been deployed to the city.
Over the past two weeks, Kenyan police have arrested over 100 Somali, Ethiopian and Eritrean nationals who were allegedly being trafficked to South Africa by a syndicate linked to Somali businessmen.
The high security alert was also necessitated by the twin bomb attacks in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, in May that killed 76 people and similar explosions in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, where six people died. While Somali militant groups claimed responsibility for the attacks in Uganda, the one Rwanda is still unresolved.
Kenya hosts more than a million Somali refugees in camps in the north. The capital is also home to Somali businessmen with links to the Al Shaabab militiamen who claimed responsibility for the suicide attacks on Tuesday that killed the Somali MPs and the Kampala bombings.
During constitutional referendum, three grenades were hurled at a campaign rally in central Nairobi killing six people. The constitutional promulgation ceremony will be held at the same venue, hence the high security alert.
The police commissioner announced that given the significance of the occasion all roads leading into and out of Nairobi, especially from the city two main airports, would be closed until Friday evening.
Nairobi - Pana 25/08/2010
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THE Rift Valley Railways (RVR) and the Ugandan and Kenyan governments have signed a revised concession pact to pave way for the release of about $250m (sh2.2 trillion) to boost operations along the Kenya-Uganda railway line.
Jim Mugunga, the Privatisation Unit spokesperson, said the agreement will fast track the introduction of a professional operator to manage the network and attract development partners to invest in the sector.
Finance minister Syda Bbumba and Kenya’s trade minister Amos Kimunya officiated at the function that took place at the finance ministry offices in Kampala on Wednesday.
However, yesterday Bbumba referred all inquiries regarding the date of commencement of works to transport minister John Nasasira, whose phones were all switched off.
“All the terms and conditions are determined by the transport ministry, mine is divestiture,” Bbumba said.
The two governments have been at loggerheads with RVR’s principal shareholder, Citadel Capital, over the inclusion of two crucial railway lines in a concession.
The company was contracted to manage the Mombasa-Kampala railway line for more than two decades.
The signing ends the row between the Egyptian equity firm and a section of Ugandan and Kenyan businessmen, who did not want the Tororo-Pakwach and Kampala-Kasese railway lines included in the concession, against Citadel Capital’s demands.
The two lines, leading to two regions endowed with minerals, oil, and agricultural potential as well as the sprawling Southern Sudan market, are now in the concession.
The development also confirms Citadel Capital as the principal shareholder in RVR (51%) with Kenya’s investment powerhouse TransCentury taking up 34% of the shares. Ugandan investors bag 15%.
However, in a bizarre twist, RVR officials, who did not want to be named, said there had been no signing following a cancellation letter from the finance ministry on Monday.
“The letter suspended the signing till further notice,” said an RVR official, who declined to disclose the details of the letter to New Vision.
RVR Uganda managing director Christina Wadulo said she was on leave and unable to comment on the matter.
The revamping of activities along the Kenya-Uganda railway have dragged on since 2005, when the Kenyan and Ugandan governments handed over the railway management to RVR, which was then under the shadowy South African investment firm, Sheltam Rail.
Controversy crippled in after the firm’s chief executive officer, Roy Puffet, secretly sold off 49% of RVR shares to wealthy Egyptians, who demanded to chair the RVR board.
This sparked off a bitter row with other shareholders, who included Kenya’s TransCentury (20%), Centum Ltd (10%), Tanzania’s Mirambo Holdings (15%), Prime Fuels of Kenya (15%) and Babcock Investments Holdings of Australia (10%).
The shareholder’s stakes, apart from TransCentury’s, were later liquidated after the World Bank intervened to settle the boardroom wars (New Vision).
The government is to appeal against the Wednesday Constitutional Court ruling on the law of sedition. Information and National Guidance Minister Kabakumba Masiko said yesterday that the Attorney General was not satisfied with the ruling “because the ruling seems to focus on the acceptability of criticising the person of the president as a politician, and doesn’t address other areas.”
Five judges of the Constitutional Court led by Deputy Chief Justice Letitia Kikonyogo unanimously agreed that the existence of sedition in the Penal Code is unconstitutional as it infringes on the freedom of speech and expression of Ugandans.
The judgment followed a petition by the East African Media Institute and Mr Andrew Mwenda in 2005 when he was arrested over statements he made while political editor at Daily Monitor and host of Andrew Mwenda Live programme on KFM Radio.
Mr Mwenda was accused of inciting public hatred towards the person of the President when he said, during the programme, that the government of Uganda was partly responsible for the death of former President of South Sudan John Garang.
She also said because the issues presented to court were those of law and not of fact, the Attorney General thinks court erred in their judgment. Ms Masiko said the same law is found in leading democracies like the US (Daily Monitor).
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and presidents
from Rwanda, Somalia, south Sudan and Comoros are
among those expected at the event
SPECIAL REPORT BY XINHUA CORRESPONDENTS
Daniel Ooko and Ben Ochieng
ISLAMABAD: Fearing a backlash from the media and public, Senate Chairman Farooq H Naek has cancelled a visit of senators, which could have promoted the Pakistani cause of raising funds for the flood affectees, Daily Times learnt on Thursday.
In continuation of stringent measures for an austerity cut in expenditures, the Senate chairman disapproved all foreign visits, including the one to attend the 56th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Conference, scheduled to be held from September 10 to 19 at Nairobi, Kenya, sources told this scribe on Thursday. Expenditures on delegates, spouses, attendants and observers varied from $3,500 to $1,000 per head in addition to travel and TA/DA expenses. Millions of rupees from the national exchequer have been saved by Naek’s orders. Although, this good gesture of the Senate chairman to spare money for humanity in need was beyond any doubt, yet the significance of the mega event of the CPA in Nairobi, Kenya could not be denied as well.
This time, the CPA had envisaged an impressive agenda, which mostly related to the challenges the South Asian countries in general and Pakistan in particular had to encounter with. The CPA General Assembly would hold an extensive workshop in Nairobi on the global water and food crisis, sustainable development of energy and environment and preparation of the Commonwealth for the Emerging New World Economic Order. The participants of the 56th CPA Conference would thoroughly debate on the parliamentary procedural mechanism of accountability, scrutiny of governance through the Internet for strengthening oversight, the role of MPs in the gross roots projects, in protection of migrant workers and in natural disaster management.
All these crucial issues presently dominated our political culture. The authors of the CPA agenda, had been well conversant of the political controversies in its member countries such as Pakistan, enable the MPs from the South Asian countries to contribute their experiences and get benefit out of decades-old experiences of stable parliaments of the developed countries.
Naek while cancelling the trip to Nairobi directed the Senate administration that concrete steps be taken for evolving the IT mechanism through which member countries, unable of virtual participation, could get benefit from or contribute their shares in all mega events of the CPA. Instantly, it would not be materialised because any change in the procedural mechanism for the sessions of the CPA required a 60-days prior notice from the mover under the constitution and the rules of procedure of the CPA.
A reliable source in the Senate claimed that it was not the issue of millions of rupees being spent on lucrative foreign trips. The main dilemma was the way Pakistan spent the money from the national exchequer and what it gets of this hard-earned liquidity. Islamabad’s archrival, India, always surpassed Pakistan at all the global forums because India’s participation in the global debates on every issue had been marvellous. It was the reason that the Indian politicians and citizens occupied significant positions in global bodies such as the IPU and the CPA.
An official in the Senate said that the cancellation of the foreign trip to Nairobi was an ultimate outcome of the media’s ongoing hostile campaign against the elected government’s bid to liaise with the global forums and communities. Although, Pakistan’s absence from the Nairobi conference pacified the political rivals but it would also enable our global rivals to get maximum benefit from this situation.
On the other hand, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Interior Minister Senator Rehman Malik continued to enjoy foreign trips in the name of sensitising the world community for assistance for the flood affectees. Separately, Minister of State and Board of Investment Chairman Saleem H Mandviwalla had been paying a two-day visit to the Republic of Korea to apprise the Korean government and the private sector of the devastation caused by the massive floods in Pakistan. Despite the fact that religious scholars had been advocating the Muslim community to donate for the flood affectees instead of performing Umrah and Haj, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had performed Umrah a couple of days ago.
It is pertinent to mention here that the CPA had been established as an Empire Parliamentary Association, which had been renamed as CPQA in 1948.
At least 14 police officers were on Wednesday arrested for suspected looting of cargo they had salvaged from a burning trailer enroute to Kampala from the port of Mombasa, Kenya. The officers including Special Police Constables, the Mobile Unit and Regional Fire Brigade from Iganga and Jinja are suspected of having stolen an assortment of high-value household items from the trailer at Nagalama near the Mugoya Construction site on the Iganga-Bugiri Road.
The driver, Mr Obadia Kiragu, was reportedly alerted by residents about the smoke coming from the trailer’s tyres around 2am at Idudi Shopping Centre. However, he only stopped several kilometres on the road after several warnings by other road users.
Quoting the driver’s statement, the south eastern region police spokesperson, Mr Samson Lubega, said; “He was trying to avert a flare-up and possible outburst of fire at the trading centre due to the risk of killing people. He said he also thought he would exhaust
When he stopped he was reportedly driving on the rims and fire had spread to the container, the police said. The Fire Brigade from Iganga Police Station put out the fire.
But their efforts did not help much as most of the goods were destroyed. Only a handful was presented as exhibits to the Iganga Police Station, Mr Lubega said during a press conference in Jinja yesterday.
“The missing property was later found in the houses of the officers by a team of investigators sent from the regional investigative department.” The items including computers, laptops, sofa sets, and mattresses were yesterday being recovered from the suspects and the police is still searching for more. Mr Lubega said the officers are being held at the Nalufenya Police Post in Jinja as investigations continue.
The police said the goods were being transported by Godfrey Sserunjogi and Godfrey Walusimbi for a group of Ugandans living abroad who occasionally send items for relatives back home.
Police is, however, yet to enumerate the looted property and was yet to put a price tag on the stolen or destroyed goods by press time. Investigations are also going on to ascertain the cause of the fire.
Mr Lubega said the incident was an embarrassment to the Force. But he added that the public should recognise that this was an act committed by individuals. “These are just errant officers and they will be charged with theft after the conclusion of our investigations.” - Daily Monitor