Monday, August 31, 2009

More Millions for Ringera

President Mwai Kibaki on Monday reappointed Justice (rtd) Aaron Ringera as the Director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC).

In a gazette notice President Kibaki said Justice Ringera would serve for five years with effect from September 8.

Also reappointed in the gazette notice are Assistant Directors Fatuma Sichale and Smokin Wanjala.

“Mrs Sichale will continue serving as the Assistant Director for Legal Services while Mr Wanjala remains the Assistant Director, Preventive Services,” said a statement from the Presidential Press Service.

“Both appointments will be for a period of four years and take effect from September 8.”

Two months ago Justice Ringera's supervisor - Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission Advisory Board - indicated it would seek to cut the salary of the Director by at least Sh500, 000 and capped it at not more than Sh2 million per month.

The Board which is headed by Law Society of Kenya Chairman Okongo Omogeni said the Sh2.5 million pay cheque which Justice Ringera currently enjoys was unacceptable.

“We would like to remunerate our officers competitively but we also have to be conscious that we offer salaries that are sustainable by the Kenyan economy,” Mr Omogeni had told Capital News in an interview on June 25.

The salaries of Justice Ringera’s four assistants were also to be slashed by the same margin putting them at Sh1.1 million down from Sh1.7 million if Mr Omogeni’s proposals sailed through.

The Directors’ perks have attracted public outcry with many calling for their reduction. The Commission has come under heavy criticism for failing to convincingly reduce graft in its five years’ operation

Mr Ringera’s re-appointment is likely to cause ripples in the political and social circles since he has been accused of laxity in fighting big fishes who are accused of mega grafts among them the multi billion shillings Anglo-Leasing scandal and the long standing Goldenberg.

Mr Ringera has previously defended his office and blamed the office of the Attorney General and the High Court for allegedly frustrating the efforts to conclusively deal with graft.

Last year the High Court ruled that security contracts approved by Attorney General Amos Wako could not be probed by the anti graft body as both KACC and the AG’s office were members of the Executive.

The court also ruled that KACC had no powers to seek or receive Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) from other countries.

MLA is the formal way in which countries request and provide assistance in obtaining evidence located in another country. Immediately after the court’s ruling Britain’s serious Fraud Office announced that it has discontinued any assistance to Kenyan government in relation to the investigations into the Sh56 billion Anglo Leasing fraud case.

Mr Ringera and the Office of the Attorney General have been at loggerheads for along time with Ringera accusing the AG of frustrating efforts by the KACC to prosecute ‘big fishes’. Following the alleged frustrations, Mr Ringera has been on an upbeat campaign seeking to be given prosecutorial powers and entrenchment of his office in the Constitution. The later position is now being supported by the Advisory Board trough its chair Mr Omogeni.

Secret Draft?

The Committee of Experts on Constitution review on Monday dismissed reports of a secret draft constitution and maintained that it was not involved in any underhand deals in the process of rewriting Kenya’s supreme law.

Chairman Nzamba Kitonga said that a harmonised draft constitution will be published after they finish consultations with political parties which will be subjected to public debate before being submitted to a referendum.

“It is important for Kenyans to understand that there can be no secret constitution or secret draft. This does not hold water because the draft will eventually have to go back to the public to discuss and criticise for 30 days and eventually to referendum,” he said.

Vice Chairperson Atsango Chesoni said those criticising the review committee were misleading Kenyans. She insisted that their mandate is to study all previous drafts submitted by the defunct Constitution of Kenya Review Commission

“Some of the discussions that we are hearing are bizarre, it’s a contradiction; you are asking us not to do what we are supposed to be doing! You gave us a job and then you are accusing us of secretly doing it?”

Section 30 of the Constitution of Kenya Review Act says the Committee should study all draft constitutions, collect and collate Kenyans’ views and study documents reflecting political agreement to identify contentious issues.

Committee member Otiende Omollo added: “You cannot have a secret of four million Kenyans, just rest assured that their will be nothing secret.”

They were responding to allegations by politicians who claim the committee has taken a position on the system of government.

The Committee denied that differences among the team were affecting the review process. "All its members and secretariat are working harmoniously,” they said in a statement.

Prof Christina Murray who is a member of the committee and also participated in the South African process conceded that they have had differences of opinion but added that they had been addressed.
Meanwhile the committee is to hold consultations with representatives of political parties on Wednesday and Thursday in Mombasa to gather their views on the constitution review.

Mr Kitonga said each of the 47 invited parties has been asked to send only two representatives to the UNDP-funded retreat.

“The retreat is intended to discuss and interrogate further the proposals presented by the political parties in the context of addressing contentious issues. Each party is required to send two delegates and no more; we have been made aware that some parties are offering to pay for bigger delegation but we want only two,” he said.

The meeting with the parties is crucial to the process as the two coalition partners are divided on whether to adopt a parliamentary or presidential system of government.

Census Over

The National Census exercise was expected to end on Monday evening in most parts of the country where 98 percent of households have been covered.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Director-General Antony Kilele said an extension has been granted only for North and Upper Eastern Kenya.

“In the difficult districts, enumerators may continue to work tomorrow to ensure everyone is covered. These include some parts of north eastern, Upper Rift Valley and Upper Eastern provinces,” he said.

First of all the terrain and mobilisation and we have actually to follow this people and this is actually to get finished by tomorrow. The returns we have got from Turkana, right at the north; Pokot, the Chalbi District which is almost a desert going all the way to the Mandera, Wajir all that side but those are just small pockets of follow up that we are actually doing”

He said it was necessary to extend the period by a day to enable the counting of some of the pastoralist communities who had migrated to neighbouring countries in search of pasture.

Mr Kilele explained that as of 9am on Monday they had covered all parts of the country. Nairobi, Nyanza and Central Provinces recorded the highest number with 99 percent of households followed by eastern province which recorded 98 percent.

Western and Rift Valley recorded 97 percent enumeration with North Eastern Province recording the lowest at 94 percent.

“The next phase is data processing. That part is actually difficult than the enumeration period; we will have to deal with over 12.5 million data forms,” he said exuding confidence that provisional results will be out by December 31.

The Kenya national census that kicked off on Monday night is expected to confirm key economic and social trends that will greatly aid development planning for years to come.

Planning Permanent Secretary Edward Sambili described the process as successful but noted that it had been marked with a few incidences. He said they are hoping to learn from the challenges when they begin consolidating the data from the districts.

“I can say that Kenya is an organised country. I mean for us to do this exercise in such a short with such few hitches is quite commendable.”

Kalonzo on Unions

Trade Unions across the world have an important role to play in conflict prevention and resolution, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said on Monday.

Mr Musyoka noted that the workers unions have immense experience and skills in the negotiation process and compromise that would help in cultivating an environment of tolerance and dialogue.

"Their ability to organise effectively and carry out a structured social dialogue makes them reliable and influential partners in conflict resolution efforts," Mr Musyoka said.

The Vice President made the remarks when he presided over the official opening of COTU/PANAF Sub- Regional Conference on Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution in Africa held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi.

The five-day conference brings together participants from across Africa to deliberate on the role of trade unions in conflict prevention, management and resolution.

The Vice President called on African states to urgently address the root cause of conflicts in the continent, which he noted, arose from religious differences, fight for resources, politics and violation of human rights.

Mr Musyoka said there is need for every country to uphold human freedom and democracy while securing political and civil rights as a foundation for a just and peaceful society.

He particularly challenged trade unions to be at the forefront in identifying potential conflict environment and help prevent troublesome situation that may undermine the well-being of workers and the society in general.

"Trade unions should also fight against inequality and violation of basic human rights as part of wider campaign to address the underlying causes of conflicts in the continent,” Mr Musyoka stressed.

The Vice President commended the role of COTU Kenya for the role they played towards ending the post-election violence in the country and their efforts in peace building and reconciliation. Mr Musyoka said the government appreciates and recognises the important work undertaken by the organisation, saying they would always be called upon during arbitration efforts and peace building processes.

Internal Security Minister, Prof George Saitoti, said the government is encouraging inter-community dialogue on issues of conflict resolution through series of reconciliation meetings at the grassroots level with the help of provincial administration.

Prof Saitoti added that the government has drafted National Policy on Peace Building and Conflict Management adding that once approved, it will provide direction to all conflict management programmes in the country and across the borders.

He attributed conflict and general insecurity in Africa to post independence dictatorial regimes that denied people their basic rights including inequality in the distribution of national resources.

ODM United

Prime Minister Raila Odinga and five Orange Democratic Movement -ODM- MPs have insisted the party is still united despite apparent differences among its top officials.

Raila said the party is still popular and holds hope of bringing changes that Kenyans have been yearning for.

Speaking in Mbita district during a memorial service for a veteran politician, the late Cllr David Mbewa Ndede, Raila said all MPs from Rift Valley were still supporting the party despite differences in opinion over Mau issue and the trial of post-election suspects.

The PM, who was accompanied by Lands Minister James Orengo, immigration minister Otieno Kajwang' and Finance assistant minister Oburu Odinga, expressed hope that the differences over the issues would soon be sorted out.

Others who attended the memorial at Lanibwe included Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, Education assistant minister Prof Ayiecho Olweny and a host of local leaders.

The PM also announced that the construction of Mbita - Homabay road would begin soon adding that tender has already been awarded to Put Sarajevo Company. He said plans were also underway to construct Mbita - Sindo - Magunga road.

Orengo urged residents from the region to appreciate the services being offered by the government and stop complaining of being sidelined.

The late cllr Mbewa who died in 1999 was among leaders who fought against the single party system in the country.

Raila vs Ruto updates

By David Ohito

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has quietly put out word in his party that direct public attacks on Agriculture minister William Ruto should stop forthwith. Ruto similarly said he was keen to see ODM issues resolved amicably.

Raila, who has seemingly toned down his language, including the threat that he would sidestep Rift MPs and engage their constituents directly, also called for truce as he assured ODM members all was well with their party and its problems were not insurmountable.

The PM gave the order as Orange Democratic Movement party prepared for an eagerly awaited meeting called by party whips to try and resolve the differences between the two warring wings, coalescing around Raila and Ruto.

Behind the scenes and away from the cameras, Raila and Ruto separately held closed consultations with select groups of elders from their communities — the Luo and Kalenjin who are perceived to be ODM’s key planks. Reports intimated the pressure is building up between the two leaders that each would be politically weaker without the other.

Last week they each cancelled two separate meetings as part of efforts to heal the party that went into Bomachoge and Shinyalu by-elections as a querulous and deeply divided house but still managed to retain the seat left vacant by the death of its member and grab the other from President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU).

Expressed confidence

Silently pulling the strings away from public glare are a group of ministers, businesspeople and professionals buoyed by the by-election victory and who believe the wrangles are hurting the party and opening up cracks that rival groups could exploit to slow it down before the 2012 General Election.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno at Sony Sugar Factory Complex at the beginning of the PM’s two-day tour of Southern Nyanza region on Sunday. Photo: PMPS

Raila expressed confidence that the party would surmount the challenges it faces, arguing ODM still enjoyed countrywide support and that the party cannot afford wrangles.

"ODM’s support is expanding.What happened in Shinyalu and Bomachoge could have happened in Lamu and Garissa, but we must keep the Orange team ahead of the rivals," said the PM.

Both Raila and Ruto appeared keen to set the tempo for a peaceful and conducive atmosphere tomorrow as ODM address potentially explosive issues such as impending clearance of human settlement from Mau Forest Complex and Mr Gitobu Imanyara’s proposed Bill on non-discriminative trials for those suspected to have fanned post-election violence.

Raila took his strategy meeting to Awendo in Rongo constituency during at which the elders picked his mind on the differences between him and the Rift Valley MPs who have already threatened to dump him and chart a new political course. The meeting progressed for the better part of the day and was attended by several MPs from Luo Nyanza.

Ruto convened a meeting of elders at his Elgon View residence in Eldoret. The elders were led by Major (Rtd) John Seii, the interim chairman of the Kalenjin Council of Elders.

Overcome challenges

The National Executive Committee meeting (Nec) and Parliamentary Group meeting brings together the party’s 101 elected and six nominated MPs together with their allies from Narc, People’s Democratic Party and United Democratic Movement. Tomorrow’s meeting will be at Orange House, Nairobi from 10am.

On Sunday, Raila told a meeting of elders that he was confident the party would overcome its challenges and reach consensus on key issues.

"There is nothing to fear about tomorrow’s meeting of ODM NEC and PG," Raila told the elders.

Sources said Raila sent a quiet message to Luo MPs asking them to stop public attacks on their Rift Valley counterparts.

Political brokers

"The PM has asked us to stop media attacks on our Rift Valley colleagues saying it gives the party a bad image," revealed an MP who was uncomfortable with being quoted.

Ruto on Sunday confirmed he met with a group of eight elders who sought his side of the story on the open differences between himself and Raila, as well as their political constituency.

"We held consultations on various issues with the invited elders. But I am told some lot of old men who are political brokers seeking relevance are claiming they snubbed the meeting…How can you snub a meeting you are not invited to?" asked Ruto.

Seii said a number of Kalenjin elders and members of the community were angry at seeing Ruto and Raila rowing in public. "As elders we are concerned. I have met my counterpart, Mzee Riaga Ogalo who chairs the Luo Council of Elders and we look forward to more meetings which will restore peace and friendship.

"The Kalenjin community cannot afford to point fingers at other Kenyan communities. Where there is a problem we shall seek to resolve it amicably".

Seii said the meeting delved into the row between Raila and Ruto and concluded propaganda was being used to fuel wrangles in ODM.

"I can only deal with a legitimate group of elders who represent community’s concerns not political elders seeking to broker relationship between politicians," said the Agriculture minister.

Fruitful meeting

ODM secretary general Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o and party chairman Mr Henry Kosgey downplayed the wrangles and called them differences of opinion expressed in a democratic manner. Nyong’o confirmed tomorrow’s meeting will address wrangles within ODM.

"The agenda is exclusively for Nec and PG members. But even as you see in the media the tone has changed and issues are fast being resolved," said the Medical Services minister. "We will definitely have a fruitful meeting on Tuesday. Members are enthusiastic and with additional energy from the outcome of the two by-elections," Nyong’o said in a telephone interview.

Ruto and Raila held parallel meetings in Bomachoge and Shinyalu in what observers and party followers read as turf wars between the two leaders.

Targeting leaders

Ruto also held a meeting of 23 MPs from the Kalenjin community at which Raila was the target of attack. Raila held rallies in Chepalungu where he was accompanied by nominated MP Musa Sirma while area MP Isaac Ruto and other regional MPs stayed away.

A section of Rift Valley MPs also see the renewed push for a Special Tribunal to try perpetrators of the post election violence — which Raila has supported — as targeting leaders from the region and have vowed to oppose the move.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hague updates

Fourteen legislators at the weekend agreed that there must be justice for the victims of post election violence regardless of whether it came from a local tribunal or the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Speaking at Gikondi Technical Training Institute in Mukurweini constituency during a fundraiser the MPs said whether in Hague or a local tribunal the perpetrators should be tried immediately and be punished for offences they committed.

"I hereby declare that I back a Bill by Central Imenti legislator Gitobu Imanyara that seeks to compel the government to prosecute the perpetrators of post poll violence both locally and at The Hague," said Laikipia West legislator Mwangi Kiunjuri.

According to the proposed constitutional amendment, those who bear the greatest responsibility for the violence would be tried by the ICC while the rest would face a local process.

Marugua MP Elias Mbau said: "The culture of impunity must stop and promised to use his vote in Parliament to root for a process that would ensure justice for all Kenyans whether at The Hague or locally."

Peter Kenneth of Gatanga said perpetrators of the injustices must be punished by the fastest process possible, be it by a local tribunal or The Hague.

Luka Kigen the Rongai MP urged Kenyans, while not forsaking justice, to support the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission and forgive each other.

Mathioya MP Clement Wachira said it was time leaders stopped toying with justice and prosecuted those on the Waki list of suspected masterminds of post election violence.

But Joseph Kyuna of Molo had tough words on the local tribunal option saying he and his electorate had no faith in a Kenyan court system and would only trust justice from The Hague.

Mr Kyuna castigated the government for buying lavish cars while Kenyans still languish in IDP camps.

Said he: "Every Kenyan has a right to live anywhere in this country. Kenya belongs to all Kenyans and enough blood has been shed

Census updates

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) is willing to extend the census enumeration deadline to accommodate Kenyans who will not have been counted by the night of August 31st.

The Bureau's Director of Population and Social Statistics Collins Opiyo told Capital News on Saturday that although they are confident that the exercise would be completed by Monday, some areas such as North Eastern have been difficult to access and that will be taken into consideration.

"If and only if there are places that will not have been covered by that time, then we can always relax that. It is not unusual or uncommon to extend the deadline just a little bit particularly when they are justifiable reasons to do that," he explained.

He admitted that they were lagging behind in these areas which had challenges such as insecurity, rough terrain which hampered quick movement and fuel shortage.

"Those places had an average of 70 percent as per Thursday so if we continue at that place then I think that we are going to make it," Mr Opiyo enthused.

By Friday, which was the fifth day of the census, KNBS said 83 percent of the 12 million households in country had been covered.

Mr Opiyo however said these were conservative estimates because they were calculated based on figures received by Thursday night.

"We are very confident and we are on track. In fact, we actually think that we are ahead of schedule," said adding that the public holiday that was declared on Tuesday enabled them to cover a lot of ground particularly in the urban areas and insecure areas.

Many enumerators that are based in various districts such as Bondo, Siaya others in Western, Rift Valley and some parts in Central Provinces have reportedly finished the exercise albeit a few call backs.

He said they have had to redeploy officers who have finished counting in their specified areas to places where the exercise is still on going.

Once this exercise was finalised, the Director said his officers would spend Sunday and Monday going through their tallies to make sure that their questionnaires are in order.

Arrangements will then be made to have the materials transported back to the Bureau's headquarters in Nairobi for data processing.

At the same time, he disclosed that they were currently installing the equipment that would be used to scan data collected from the on going census.

Mr Opiyo said the equipment would be pre-tested in the next week or two to ensure that it's functioning optimally.

"We will have dry runs and then as soon as the material is in here, we will be ready to scan. We are going to scale up operation, we are going to work here 24/7 to process that data on time," the director added.

Scanning results from the census is part of the government's commitment to employ IT related technologies to ensure that accurate information is collected and compiled speedily and efficiently.

The government has pledged to have the provisional results out by December.

Kiplagat sued

A group of former torture victims led by former detainees Koigi Wa Wamwere, Otieno Mak'Onyango and Njeru Kathangu who moved to court earlier this month with an application to bar Bethuel Kiplagat from chairing the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission has formally filed its main suit.

The group claims that Kiplagat served under retired president Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi and may not be neutral enough to guarantee truth and justice.

They claim that the Kiplagat-led team was not gazetted before it was sworn in as required by law.

The group further claims that Kiplagat was made an ambassador by Moi on tribal grounds and that while acting as an ambassador in the United Kingdom he defended torture, abuse of judicial process and ideals of one party dictatorship.

They further say they do not have confidence in Kiplagat who they claim is not legible to serve either as the chairman or a commissioner of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

The group says as former victims of torture they will not be appearing before Kiplagat claiming that he should be a crucial witness for the commission.

The case will be heard on the 11 of September after all the parties in the suit are served with the suit papers.

Transparency won

Transparency during ODM nominations contributed to its success in Shinyalu and Bomachoge by-elections, party officials say.

Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi said on Friday that ODM easily won the seat because the party had read the political mood on the ground correctly and conducted nominations to pick its candidates.

Mr Mudavadi, who is also an ODM deputy party leader, said other parties in the race for the two seats, including Kaddu and PNU, did not carry out nominations at the grassroots to test the popularity of their candidates and said this cost them.

“Although we had problems after our party nominations, ODM was able to practise internal democracy by allowing voters in Shinyalu to pick a popular candidate to run on our party ticket,” said Mr Mudavadi, who is also the Local Government minister.

He said although some unsuccessful aspirants faulted the nominations, the party managed to weather the storm and retained the parliamentary seat.

For its part, PNU gave different reasons for its losses in Shinyalu and Bomachoge.

Party activist Stanley Livondo claimed that police were used to frustrate the PNU campaign team in Shinyalu and intimidate its supporters to not go to vote.

“We have established that the police had instructions from a senior government official to arrest our party agents to scare away our supporters, and that gave our opponents an advantage in our strongholds,” he said. He claimed that a senior ODM official had issued instructions to police to harass PNU agents and supporters at polling stations.

Mr Livondo said his party was seeking to have a senior police officer punished over the alleged harassment and arrest of party agents.
In Bomachoge, PNU branch chairman Evans Onyancha alleged ODM used vote buying and bribery to beat PNU.

“We mobilised our campaign properly and cannot exactly tell where we failed,” Mr Onyancha said.

Education minister Sam Ongeri, who spearheaded the PNU campaign in Bomachoge, said the defeat was a blow to the party.

“We are going to regroup and re-energise our party following what happened in both Bomachoge and in Shinyalu,” he said.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Good job" - Macaire

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) on Friday received admiration from the British High Commission and the US Embassy in Nairobi, over the manner in which it conducted the just-concluded by elections in Shinyalu and Bomachoge constituencies.

British High Commissioner Rob Macaire who led an observer mission to Bomachoge, said the IIEC handled the process well, given that it was the maiden polls the electoral body was handling.

"What we saw was a lot of effort by the presiding officers and by the electoral commission to get it right," he said.

"There were issues but there always are when such matters are organised on short notice. It seems there was a lot of thought going into how to run those elections in a way that helps to restore people's confidence in the election system."

He said Kenyans should be patient and draw lessons from the just concluded polls ahead of any future major elections.

"I think innovations like switching the presiding officers between the two constituencies to avoid any allegations of interference was notable," Mr Macaire told Capital News in a telephone interview.

He added: "And where there were issues for example of individuals who had names that didn't appear on the voters register we saw electoral officials trying to sort that out by looking at the old lists that had been complied so that people could be allowed to vote."

On its part, the US embassy commended the Interim Independent Election Commission for conducting the elections in what it termed as "a credible and transparent manner."

"We are encouraged by the IIEC's professional conduct of the vote in Bomachoge and Shinyalu. However, we are deeply concerned that the by-elections revealed that some politicians continue to act in ways which reflect the culture of impunity. Such conduct is unacceptable to the Kenyan people and to the international community, and those responsible must be held accountable," a statement from the embassy read in part.

The statement however said the by-elections revealed a number of issues which should be addressed in order to further improve the efficiency and fairness of the voting process. It cited isolated instances where presiding officers assisted illiterate voters to vote without the presence of party agents.

The statement added that the electoral process was marred by improper and illegal "old school" political activities intended to unduly influence the electoral outcome.

The US election observer team said they found ample indication that some political candidates and their parties engaged in the purchase of voter cards before the election, bribery of voters during the election, and in Shinyalu, supporters of one candidate reportedly held oathing ceremonies to intimidate voters.

"Agents from ODM, PNU, and KADDU all participated in bribery, according to numerous sources and events witnessed by US observers."

"When possible, US observers called these illegal activities to the attention of the police. We commend the police for taking action in response to these and other reports. We urge that improper and illegal activities be thoroughly investigated and those responsible be prosecuted. We will turn over to relevant authorities specific information obtained by the US observers" the statement said.

Sugar price = Kshs 115

Kenyan consumers are once again being asked to brace themselves for another sugar shortage in the country.

This follows an unprecedented price hike on the commodity.

The commodity's price has escalated from 75 shillings a kilogram 2 months ago, to about 115 shillings.

A spot check at major supermarkets by revealed that there is also limited capacity that consumers are allowed to purchase.

In may outlets consumers were limited to purchasing just 2 packets of sugar due to the shortage.

The shortages which began to bite several months ago has escalated even after Mumias Sugar Company restarted its operations early in the month.

The move comes as parliament publishes a bill that seeks to re-introduce price control on basic commodities.

The Price Control (Essential Goods) Bill 2009 drafted by Mathira MP Ephraim Maina also seeks to see a control on the price of fuel.

Price controls were abolished in the early 1990s when former President Daniel Arap Moi's government liberalised the economy to allow free markets.

Friday, August 28, 2009

By Elections-ODM Sweeps

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has prevailed over the by-elections in Bomachoge and Shinyalu constituencies with a convincing win in both.

ODM’s Justus Kizito had a sound victory in Shinyalu after securing 14,452 votes, way ahead of his closest rival Daniel Khamasi of KADDU, who got 5,080 votes.

PNU's Patrick Chungani was third with 3,304 votes.

There was jubilation at the Lihanda Girls High School after the returning officer declared Mr Kizito the winner.

The vote and tally was done peacefully despite a low voter turn-out.

There was a bit more trouble in Bomachoge, where Simon Ogari of ODM triumphed narrowly over former MP Joel Onyancha of PNU.

Mr Ogari got 14,788 votes while Mr Onyancha followed closely with 14,099 votes.

Albert Nyaundi of Ford People was a distant third with 2,731 votes.

Mr Onyancha and his agents had refused to accept the results.

“They maintain that Mr Onyancha is the actual winner of the by-elections here. But the returning officer Thomas Okila says whoever is not satisfied with the results can pursue other avenues to contest them.”

There were widespread reports of voter bribery and vote buying in both mini-polls but the voting was peaceful and organised overall.

Though polling stations opened on time at 6am, voters began trickling in at 6.15am in Shinyalu, and at about 7am in Bomachoge.

These were the maiden elections overseen by the recently formed Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC), and were conducted using transparent ballot boxes.

Each ballot box had four seals, unlike in the past when each box had two.

By - Elections Very latest

ODM took a commanding lead in Shinyalu with 77 out of the 80 polling stations counted. Meanwhile in Bomachoge, PNU steadily ate into the ODM lead in by-elections that were characterised by tension, allegations of voter bribery, and voter apathy.

By 1.30am the orange party candidate in Shinyalu Justus Kizito had 14,615 votes while Daniel Khamasi of Kaddu had 6,540 aand PNU’s Patrick Chungani trailed with 2,940. In Bomachoge, ODM’s candidate Simeon Ogari was leading with 8,373 votes while his closest rival and former MP Joel Onyancha had 6,456 of 76 polling stations that had been counted. The UDM candidate Zephania Nyang’wara had 363 votes while the Ford-People contestant Albert Nyaundi had 164.

Bribery stood out as a dark stain on our electoral process, in the first elections held under the watch of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC). The Ahmed Hassan Issack-led commission is the successor of the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) — which was heavily discredited for bungling the 2007 presidential election — albeit on an interim basis.

Most polling stations were open by 6.15am in both constituencies, but voting got off to a slow start with only a handful voters turning up to vote early.

In Shinyalu, the fact that some voters had their names missing in the voter register despite having cards did not make things easier.

Eight agents of various political parties were arrested on allegations of doling out bribes to voters at polling stations.

Speaking to The Standard earlier in the day, Kakamega OCPD John Mwinzi said his officers had arrested four people over voter bribery and double registration.

"We are still pursuing others whom we believe are involved in election malpractices," he said, adding that the suspects would soon be charged.

IIEC Commissioner Ken Nyaundi acknowledged that cases of bribery had been reported to the IIEC.

The front-runners for the Shinyalu seat were Kizito, Babetuu Amutavi (New Ford Kenya), PNU’s Patrick Chungani and Kaddu’s Daniel Khamasi.

Other contestants for the Shinyalu seat were Jennifer Shamala (UDM), Silas Andega (NVP), Patrick Ayisi (Narc Kenya), Geoffrey Agwili (Ford-Kenya), Christopher Milimu (Ford People), Ambrose Lusuli (Kanu) and Gerrishon Machanja (Afford Kenya).

Voting took place in 80 polling stations around the constituency with 40,531 registered voters.

In Bomachoge — which has 46,761 voters — voting got-off to a slow start in an election that ODM’s Ogari was expected to give Onyancha — whose election was nullified following a successful petition — a run for his money.

There was a heated argument between political party agents and the presiding officer at Nyamonyo polling station earlier in the day over how illiterate voters were to be assisted. The agents insisted they had a right to help such voters.

Presiding Officer Jeff Omondi, however, said such voters had a right to nominate any person to assist them only once.

Several voters whose names missing in the voters roll were turned away. Such cases were reported at Gucha County, Nyamonyo Farmers Co-operative and Public Works polling stations.

Bomachoge Returning Officer Thomas Ingolo said he had received calls from presiding officers over the issue.

"I have got so many calls over missing names but we have a separate register for such voters. It is possible they may have registered twice, and we have a separate register for verification," Mr Ingolo said.

Following the voter registration that was undertaken by the IIEC, voters were given five days to verify their details, but indications are that very few did so.

On voter bribery allegations, Mr Ingolo said he had called Gucha OCPD Mr Richard Ngetich and asked him to send officers to clamp down on those violating the law.

A drunken presiding officer was arrested and replaced. An IIEC commissioner, Mr Davies Chirchir, said the officer assigned to Rianyangita Primary School was found drunk.

Speaking at Nyamonyo Farmers Cooperative Society, Safina candidate Cyprian Nyamwamu alleged that Government officials in ODM and PNU had blatantly violated the law by promising goodies during the campaigns.

"The Government should be ashamed for bribing voters instead of changing their lives through policy. It is not possible that so many voters are turned away due to errors. Even my father has been turned away," Nyamwamu claimed.

The Shinyalu seat fell vacant following the death of former area MP Charles Lilechi Lugano in May this year.

The Kanu candidate, Lusuli, was among those who protested over voter bribery.

In some stations, voters declined to cast their ballot papers on condition that the respective candidates offer them handouts.

By - Elections Latest

ODM seemed closer to clinching the Shinyalu Parliamentary seat on Thursday night as vote counting got underway.

Earlier, ODM and Kaddu candidates were locked in a tight race on Thursday night as votes started trickling in after the by-election.

With four stations remaining, ODM’s Justus Kizito was leading with 14,000 votes while Kaddu’s Daniel Khamasi had 4000 votes. PNU’s Patrick Chungani was running a distant third.

In Bomachoge, ODM’s Samuel Ogari took an early lead with 3100 votes over immediate former MP Joel Onyancha of PNU who had 2523votes in 41 stations which had so far concluded the counting exercise.

By-elections in the two constituencies were marked with low voter turnout. It was the first test for the Interim Independent Electoral Commission, formed after the previous commission was dissolved after the 2007 presidential election.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

By - Elections updates

ODM and Kaddu candidates were locked in a tight race on Thursday night as counting of votes started after the Shinyalu by-election.

With five stations counted, the difference between ODM’s Justus Kizito and Kaddu’s Daniel Khamasi was less than 100 votes. PNU’s Patrick Chungani was running a distant third.

But in Bomachoge, immediate former MP Joel Onyancha of PNU took an early lead over ODM’s Samuel Ogari. With 11 stations out of 130 counted, Mr Onyancha had 2,005 votes against Mr Ogari’s 684 votes.

By-elections in the two constituencies were marked with low voter turnout. It was the first test for the Interim Independent Electoral Commission, formed after the previous commission was dissolved after the 2007 presidential election.

Census Update

The government on Thursday said 71 percent of Kenya’s households had been captured by the fourth day of the on-going National Housing and Population Census exercise.

In a statement, Director General of the National Bureau of Statistics Antony Kilele said 81 percent of Central and Nairobi province homes had been visited while North Eastern was lowest at 55 percent due to inaccessibility.

He said counting will be complete by Monday.

“Rift Valley – 65percent, Nyanza – 75 percent, Coast – 61 percent (with Kilindini with over 90 percent covered), Western – 74 percent and Eastern – 64 percent of the population was covered,” he said.

Mr Kilele said he was positive that counting would be concluded on Thursday evening in most regions.

“We would like to reassure you that the Census exercise is well on track and we will be able to complete the entire exercise within the specified period of time,” he said and added that for those who will have not been counted, call-back cards would be left in their houses indicating when enumerators would return.

Those not enumerated by August 29 have been urged to report to their local provincial administrative offices.

Meanwhile, enumerators expressed optimism that they would complete the counting exercise on time.

Joseph Ndobi an enumerator in Nairobi West said most of the Nairobi population had already been captured.

“We have been fairing well because we have counted most of the people living in Nairobi. We are on our final touches re-visiting homes that we did not find people around,” he said.

He said absenteeism was a major challenge since they have to keep on visiting some homes several times hoping to find someone to enumerate.

“It’s hard to know when the working class will come back home. Sometimes I have to wait for a long time. I heard one of us was arrested yesterday so I can’t stay until late. I have to leave and try the following day,” he explained.

“Until I count them, I will continue going to those homes because I have to fill that data, though sometimes I am forced to leave a call-back card.”

Mr Ndobi also said enumerators have to spend a lot of time in some homes because some of them have many people living there.

“Like in some houses, we are even finding 20 people living together, and we have to interview one at a time because of secrecy, this takes a lot of time,” he said.

Maureen Sifuna another enumerator said it was not an easy process since some Kenyans were uncooperative.

She said disclosing one’s tribe was still a serious concern with most people declining to identify where they come from.

“But as we talk with them, somehow we get to know their tribe. We are appealing to people to identify their tribe, in fact we are not even writing the tribe by name but by codes, and it is for the good of this country, actually what is wrong with disclosing your tribe?”

Parliament - No Recess

Parliament Thursday shelved plans to go on recess pending the approval of the appropriations bill.
Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim Maalim said the financial cycle must be concluded before parliament takes a break.

On Wednesday parliament approved votes to all ministries and government department through the guiliotine process.

This is where votes whose debate is not feasible are lumped and approved at once.

Public ethics act

Meanwhile, Parliament rejected to compel the Prime Minister's office to explain why it was soliciting money from MPs through the ODM party.

Declining to rule on the matter, Maalim said the issue did not concern parliament and should be dealt with by the executive.

He ordered a letter addressed to Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto urging him to contribute to the Shinyalu and Bomachoge by-elections and tabled in parliament last week expunged from parliament's records.

The Chepalungu MP had requested the speaker to decide whether it was ethical for the office of the Prime Minister through the Chief of Staff to write to MPs to demand shs50,000 towards the polls.

Maalim had undertaken to rule on Thursday only to clarify that the issue for the executive to decide whether the officer had flouted the public ethics act and not within parliament's purview.

Price control bill

Elsewhere, the house has passed the national youth policy bill.

The bill seeks to establish a youth council that will be tasked with registering all youth groups, promote and popularize the policy, mobilize resources to support and fund youth programmes, inspire and promote the spirit of unity, patriotism and volunteerism among the youth.

The government will soon move in to control the price of essential commodities. This is if the price control bill introduced in parliament Thursday is debated and passed.

The private members bill was introduced by Mathira MP Ephraim Maina. It seeks to protect the consumer from scrupulous businessmen.

By-Elections ODM Protests

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has complained of alleged massive violations of the electoral conduct ahead in the Shinyalu and Bomachoge by elections.

In a letter addressed to IIEC chairman Ahmed Isaack Hassan, party secretary general Anyang Nyongo cited a number of violations to the electoral law and the provisions of the political parties act.

In the letter, ODM alleged a senior government official in Shinyalu who hails from Bomachoge had met presiding officers swapped from Bomachoge allegedly to assist a PNU candidate.

They also alleged elections officials in Bomachoge had been compromised besides voter buying, an allegations dismissed by the local electoral coordinator, Mr Thomas Ingolo.

They also condemned the arson attack at the IIEC offices in Gucha where 80 ballot boxes used in the last general election were destroyed.

Addressing the press in Ogembo, Bobasi MP Chris Obure said the arson attack was perpetrated by individuals keen to destroy the election materials to be used in the Thursday poll.

"We have confidence in the IIEC and as a party, we condemn this attack. We are aware of widespread voter buying going on and such unlawful acts should be condemned," Obure said.

Ugenya MP James Orengo said the election process was important both before and after the polling day noting that the attack at the offices was regrettable.

He said election offences should be dealt with immediately during the polls under the direction of the commission.

"Election material has to be secured at all times. We are aware the commission does not have full time security but we want full disclosure on what happened. The Kilgoris petition could not go on due to destruction of election materials and this should not happen again," Orengo said.

The head of ODM secretariat Mrs Janet Ongera demanded that the provincial administration provides level playing ground for all political parties.

"We are asking where the security forces were when this was happening. We want a statement from the commission on this," she said.

Meanwhile, security was heightened during the Bomachoge by election.

The officer in-charge of police operations in Nyanza, Mr Willy Lugusa said adequate security arrangements were in place at polling stations and around the constituency.

A combined force comprised of GSU, AP and regular police intensified patrols across the constituency ahead of the polls.

By Elections On

The Shinyalu and Bomachoge by-elections kicked off Thursday morning with various polling stations recording a low voter turnout.

In Shinyalu, only 40 people had cast their votes 3 hours after voting began at 6am.

Many voters were however turned away after the names on their Identification documents failed to match those on the voters registers.

Several aspirants and constituents claim that the anomalies are due to a faulty registration process.

PNU's Patrick Chungani and ODM's Kizito Mugali are the frontrunners in the race that has 11 candidates vying for the seat.


In Bomachoge, polling stations opened on time and no ugly incidences were reported despite fears that the polls might be flawed after the area's Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) offices were razed on Tuesday night.

PNU's Joel Onyancha is battling it out with ODM's Simon Ogari.

The Bomachoge seat fell vacant after the High Court ruled in favour of a joint petition by aspirants Simon Ogari and Zephania Nyangwara against the election of immediate former National Heritage Assistant Minister Joel Onyancha as area MP.

The Shinyalu seat fell vacant following the death of former MP Charles Lugano Lilechi in May at Nairobi Hospital where he was undergoing treatment.

Bomachoge has 46,761, voters who were registered afresh compared to 70,349 registered for the 2007 General Election. Shinyalu has 35,271 voters who registered compared to 69,395 at the 2007 General Election.

Local and International observers are closely monitoring the first election to be conducted by the newly installed electoral body.

The commission has warned parliamentary aspirants and their supporters that those involved in electoral malpractices including violence, voter bribery or incitement would be arrested and prosecuted.

Accord to blame

Accord has been blamed for the slow pace of reforms by the Grand Coalition Government.Dutch Ambassador to Kenya Leititia van Assum said yesterday the Accord was drafted without any blue-print on how the Government would implement reforms in various sectors.She said those who drew the Accord were only keen on ending the post-election violence but did not put down measures aimed at expediting the implementation of reforms.

“The National Accord did not come up with a clear blue print on how to bring about fundamental changes.It was hurriedly drafted to end violence and did not provide policy direction,” she said.The Ambassador spoke at a Nairobi hotel during a public forum on constitutional reforms that was organised by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).The envoy urged the Government to expedite the delivery of justice for victims and perpetrators of post-election violence.

The envoy said some leaders should stop taking refuge in national stability as a cause of circumventing justice.“I have been hearing some top leaders in the Coalition Government arguing that if post-election violence suspects are made to face justice, the country’s stability would be affected. That is not true,” she said

Moi on Census

THE national census enters its third day today and whereas those carrying out the exercise were upbeat, there were concerns too about slow pace, raising fears that not all Kenyans will get to be counted before it ends.The government admitted yesterday that the National Population and Housing Census has been marred by some logistical problems with some areas still to receive materials to be used in the exercise.And last evening, former President Daniel arap Moi added his voice to the raging debate of tribe that had threatened to scuttle the exercise.

The retired President faulted the government for what he termed, fragmenting the Kalenjin community during the ongoing national census.In a statement released yesterday by his press secretary Lee Njiru, the former President said it was unfair for the Kalenjin community to be divided into sections for no apparent reasons.He wondered why the census officials insisted on sub-tribes such as Kipsigis, Keiyo, Nandi and so on, instead of just Kalenjin as was the case in past enumeration exercises.

The government has defended the inclusion of tribe question in the census saying the information will be used for planning purposes and not to advance political agenda.There have been a hue and cry over whether people should disclose their tribe during the census especially given the ethnic animosity that played a key role in the post-election violence of early 2008 and which polarised the country along tribal lines.Despite the fact that the questionnaire bears the question on tribe, KNBS says no-one will be forced to state his tribe or religion. Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Director General Anthony Kilele said some districts such as Pokot North have not received materials.

However, Kilele said they have dispatched the materials and expressed optimism that the exercise will go on well. “We must appreciate that an exercise of this magnitude has a few hitches on material distribution. We expect Pokot North district to receive all materials by tomorrow (today) because pastoralists have returned home to be counted.We have also ensured that the census officials who had not received T shirts have received them,” said Kilele told a press conference at his Herufi House office in Nairobi yesterday.Apart from lack of materials, Kenyans living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps such as Olkalau boycotted the exercise accusing the Grand Coalition Government of being insensitive to their plight.

They sent away census officials arguing the exercise will not add value to their lives since the government has left them languishing in camps for the past 18 months.However, Kilele down played the issue terming the it as an isolated case which they were protesting that for not being hired as census officials. He said the Provincial Administration has sorted out the issue and they will take part in the enumeration exercise.

A number of Kenyans complained that they yet to be enumerated at the close of the second day of the exercise. Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary General Francis Atwoli claimed majority of the people he had contacted indicated they were yet to be enumerated.“The exercise is quite slow and at this speed, I am not certain whether they would be able to cover all the 30 million plus Kenyans,” Atwoli told Kenya Times by telephone.

But while allaying fears of the slow pace, Kilele admitted that census officials in Bomachoge and Shinyalu constituencies which will have by-elections tomorrow were actively engaged in campaigns hence putting the credibility of the enumeration exercise in the areas to question.“We are aware that some enumerators in the constituencies are agents for the candidates taking part in the by-elections tomorrow.The provincial administration will make sure they don’t interfere with the counting exercise,” said Kilele.The enumeration exercise was expected to concluded by today in the two constituencies to pave way for the elections but that did not happen due to logistical hitches.

The fifth national census which kicked off on Monday has also been hampered with security concerns. In Central province, where there had been fears of members of Mungiki disrupting the exercise, there was a heavy presence of security personnel. This has not only slowed down the exercise but also made it difficult for the government to achieve its targets.Yesterday, Kilele acknowledged that the National Population and Housing Census was not moving at the expected pace but expressed optimism that all Kenyans will be enumerated by Monday when the exercise ends.

Although the government had planned to cover 90 percent of the population during the first two days, Kilele said it has not achieved the target. Kilele who was accompanied by Nairobi Provincial Commissioner Ndirangu Njoroge said they expect to cover at least 60 percent of the population by today 10 pm. “We had estimated to cover 12 million households in the first day but we are not sure whether we have covered that. But we expect to count all Kenyans by Monday,” said the Director General.He said enumerators will conclude counting Kenyans in the disputed Migingo Island by today.

There have been fears that Kenyans in the Island which both Kenya and Uganda claim ownership will not be counted.“We will be through with Migingo by tomorrow (today). This is good because we were fearing we might not be allowed to carry out the exercise there,” added the Director General.On his part, Njoroge said the security situation was under control to facilitate smooth execution of the exercise. “This is the safest week in the country’s history. The rate of crime has gone down. I thank bar owners for closing as we had requested,” said the PC who is also the alternative Chairman National Census Steering Committee.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Raila Odinga was counted at his Karen home after returning from an official visit in Italy, and urged Kenyans to provide the enumerators with all the answers asked, including one’s tribal affiliation. President Mwai Kibaki, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and retired President Daniel Moi were enumerated on Monday.This year’s census is the most expensive in the country’s history costing Sh7billion compared to the 1999 one which took approximately Sh33 million.

On Monday, Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya said the country’s population is expected to hit 40 million based on the projection of the 1999 census.Oparanya said the population has risen in the country due to low HIV prevalence which currently stands at seven percent unlike in 1999 when it was 14 percent.He promised to release the provisional results by December the final results by April next year

Task Force

Mwai Kibaki on Wednesday extended the mandate of the Task Force on Police Reforms to enable it finalise on policy recommendations.

The team, led by Justice (Rtd) Philip Ransley presented its interim report to President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Wednesday, in which it has proposed far reaching measures.

It now has an extra month to incorporate recommendations on a national security policy, a national policing policy, a policy on police service transport and reviewing functions and structures of police establishments, formation and units.

The committee was also mandated to make proposals for traffic control including policy on road blocks, the creation of municipal policing authorities and those for creating effective community policing. The taskforce is to present its report at the end of September.

President Kibaki underlined the government’s commitment to police reforms, adding that the government would keenly study the report with a view to ensuring that what is implemented will benefit the country, enhance national security and boost police staff morale.

“Welfare of police officers would continue to be a priority especially housing and remuneration. We want the reforms we implement to also lead in better relations between the police and members of the public in order to ensure that security is enhanced in all corners of the country,” said the President.

“We also want the Police Force to be transformed into a Police Service that serves wananchi well.”

Some of the recommendations in the Interim Report include the change of name from Kenya Police Force to Kenya Police Service, the establishment of a Police Service Commission and the creation of an Independent Civilian Police Oversight Authority.

In addition, recommendations on police welfare and service conditions include the audit of police housing projects and broader review of housing conditions for the police, the Introduction of Special Police Allowance and a comprehensive medical and insurance scheme. The team also recommended the establishment of a Police Reforms Implementation Commission.

The news came in against reports of discomfort from the Police Headquarters on some of the recommendations of the team.

In recent weeks, unsigned statements from Vigilance House have been in circulation castigating the task force and its interim report and have in many occasions sought to question the credibility of some of the task force members.

One of the statements criticises members of the task force as a bunch of former Provincial Administration officials who are “likely to give recommendations that favour the Administration Police.”

One of the documents titled ‘Disband Police Task Force for Mediocrity’ states that the task force had overstepped its mandate by recommending the sacking of the top police leadership instead of concentrating on giving a roadmap to policy and institutional reforms.

Sources say Vigilance House is unhappy with a raft of recommendations in the interim report, particularly calls to sack all officers holding the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) among others.

Raila Vs Wekesa

Raila Odinga has overruled a fourteen-day eviction notice given by the Kenya Forest Service on Mau settlers.

The Premier told the settlers to ignore the order and instead wait for the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee that will spearhead the restoration of the water tower.

“The committee will be gazetted very shortly and officially commissioned early next week. It is this committee that will spell out the programme and activities geared towards the restoration of the Mau in all its aspects,” a statement from the PM’s office said.

The contradicting orders came barely a month after Forestry and Wildlife Minister Noah Wekesa asserted that his Ministry was the one charged with spearheading the resettlement program of the water tower.

The evident contradiction angered a section of MPs from the Rift Valley who said this was creating more confusion and anxiety. The legislators dismissed the notice and demanded that the government puts its act together on the resettlement program.

“Unless there is an alternative land set aside somewhere nobody will move,” Belgut MP Charles Keter said.

“The government must follow the due process of the law in reclaiming the land,” said Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto.

The Forest Department failed to state whether any land had been identified for the resettlement of the genuine settlers as promised by the government. The PM however assured that: “holders of small parcels of land who hold legal title deeds will be compensated” stressing that the exercise to evict people in the forest will be done peacefully, orderly and in a humane way.

“We wonder whether the alternative land will be identified in the nine days remaining in the notice,” Ainamoi MP Benjamin Lagat inquired.

The MPs told off KFS saying that it has no mandate over the settlements since they were legally hived off from the forest and the order has not been overturned.

“They can only issue a notice on the areas within their jurisdiction in the forest not the land that was exercised from the forest a long time ago,” Mr Ruto stated.

KFS has ordered the eviction of 22 settlements covering 400,000 hectares of land and the MPs said that over two million people now occupy the contentious land.

President Mwai Kibaki last week ordered the Premier to hasten the eviction of settlers in the country’s water towers. The invasion of the forests and the subsequent destruction is widely blamed for the current water, food and energy crisis Kenya finds itself in.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ruto and Mudavadi

Campaigns for the Shinyalu and Bomachoge by-elections are in top gear. With just a day to go before voters in the two constituencies elect their new leaders, political parties are pitching tent in the two constituencies. Agriculture Minister William Ruto was in Shinyalu campaigning for the ODM candidate Justus Kizito barely two days after Prime Minister Raila Odinga led several ODM leaders to the constituency to campaign for party nominee. Ruto addressed several rallies in the constituency where he dismissed claims that ODM leaders were divided. Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi was also in Shinyalu campaigning for the party candidate.

Kirui for world record

World marathon champion Abel Kirui has set his sights on breaking the world marathon record.

Kirui who set a championship record of 2:06: 54 through the streets of Berlin said on Monday that he wants to savour his recent win and then focus on attacking the record currently being held by Haile Gebrselassie.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done and I don’t want to waste any time,” said Kirui upon arrival from Germany.

“Right now I’m proud of what I achieved in Berlin and will use the time I have training wisely and to train with the right people as well,” he added.

Kirui’s Emmanuel Mutai’s 1-2 finish in the men’s marathon was just one of three similar finishes for Kenya in the championships.

Ezekiel Kemboi and Richard Mateelong secured a similar finish in the men’s steeplechase while Vivian Cheruiyot and Sylvia Kibet secured a similar result in the women’s 5000m.

“I’m very happy with the silver. When I was preparing for the championships, my main aim was to be on the podium so I’m glad my dream came true,” said Mutai.

“I hope to run either the London or Boston marathons in future but I will discuss that with my agents then I will decide,” he added.

Kibet was the only other medalist who arrived with the rest of the entourage that received a heroes welcome at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

Most of the other medallists are in Zurich for Friday’s IAAF Golden League meet.

“The reason Vivian (Cheruiyot) and I did well is because we talk to each other during the race as we do the lapping,” said Kibet.

Kibet said that she will not be taking anything for granted especially with the African Athletics Championships looming.

“It’s going to be very tough but we are working very hard to produce a good performance at next year’s championships,” said the All Africa Games bronze medalist.

Ababu-"We are ready"

Ababu Namwamba has said his constituents were now better prepared to deal with the predicted El Nino rains in September.

He said they had stepped up community awareness on disaster preparedness through a community radio station established by the Constituency Development Fund, Ministry of Special Programmes and the Meteorological Department.

“We realised that the major problem in emergency response in the district has been inability to transmit information,” the MP said.

“We should now be able to fairly accurately alert the community to move out of risk areas at least 48 to 72 hours ahead of a disaster,” he added.

He said the sensitisation campaigns conducted through the local radio station had adequately prepared the area residents to avoid huge emergency situations.

Mr Namwamba said the government and the World Bank were also working on a comprehensive plan to the flood problem which included repair and construction of dykes and dams.

“A lot of flooding is caused by meandering of the river which slows down the river flow so we have been reducing the corners, twists and turns of the river in the last one year,” he said.

“By making it straighter, you increase the water flow and diminish the possibility of water logging in a particular point and causing flooding,” he added.

Mr Namwamba said a survey had also been commissioned to construct dams upstream so that they could hold extra volume of water when it rained especially in the Cherangany hills.

He said the contract had been awarded to a British firm to do the survey which included citing of the dams, Environmental Impact Assessment of the dams and construction of fresh dykes.

“The ones (dykes) we have today in Budalangi are like 30 years old and so they have reached their limit,” the MP said.

He said the reconstruction of dykes would be complete by December but the dams would take longer.

“We have sealed most of the weak points around the old dykes but a lot remains to be done,” he said.

“But I believe that if the 1997 style of El Nino hits this country, we would still remain vulnerable,” he added.

He said construction of a disaster management centre was also underway and the first phase would be complete by September. The disaster management centre, he said, would have response equipment like boats, tents and a multipurpose hall that could serve as temporary shelter.

“We have seen horrible sights in the past where people lose their homesteads and stay in the open. The hall is supposed to cure that,” he said.

Budalangi is infamous for flooding with every rain season leaving thousands of families displaced and affecting local food production.

“We have two key irrigation schemes in Budalangi and both schemes are in very close proximity to the flood plain. We have been able to harvest rice for the first time in about ten years and we hope that we can have another harvest in September and October,” he said.

“But if it floods around that time then we will definitely lose our crop.”

The legislator said the World Bank had set aside Sh6 billion for the project dubbed Western Kenya Community driven development and flood mitigation project.

He said the project would cover the entire Nzoia basin from Cherangany hills to Budalangi.

“This will cover 10 districts through which the Nzoia basin runs,” Mr Namwamba said.

Raila counted

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has Tuesday urged Kenyans irrespective of their cultural norms and tradition to embrace the ongoing National Population census.

He asked communities whose beliefs and practices appeared to conflict with the exercise to co-operate and give the enumerators the data required arguing that the census was only to facilitate development planning of the country.

The Premier told the communities to discard retrogressive traditions especially those barring involvement of women and children in national statistics on flimsy and outdated grounds that they were not head of their respective families.

"At this time and age when we want the country to move to greater heights we should not hang o to such beliefs because we cannot address the development agenda unless we have statistics for planning" he said.

Odinga insisted that women were equal to men and termed the selective tradition insulting in modern times saying census was crucial to facilitate equitable distribution resource.

"We cannot entertain such misplaced sexist comments at a time when the nation wants to inculcate a non sexist, non racial, non ethnic and united society', he asserted.

The Premier made the plea at his Karen home when enumerators accompanied by Planning and National development Minister Wycliffe Oparanya and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Dr. Edward Sambili conducted the exercise at the Premier's residence.

The census officials took the Odingas through the questionnaires before the glare of press cameras for at least thirty minutes in a show of the seriousness the government had attached to the weeklong exercise.

The Premiers' wife Ida underscored the importance of inclusion of women in the statistics saying the figures would be used to project establishment of social amenities like schools and hospitals which were vital for both antenatal and post natal services.

She urged communities who in recent media reports have expressed resistance to take part in the exercise to shelf their hard line stance for the mutual benefit of their society.

On his recent Official trip to Italy with high powered government delegation, the premier regretted that the Kenyan tem at the International conference cut short their stay for a day to take part in the census exercise.

He said the conference deliberated on climate change, urbanization, wealth distribution and the perennial internal conflicts bedeviling the African continent.


The Kenyan government has protested frequent raids and killings by Torposa tribesmen from southern Sudan.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetang'ula expressed the government's deep concerns over the raid by the Torposas from southern Sudan and the subsequent killing of four Turkanas in Kenya on Saturday.

The Torposas raiders also seriously injured four other people and stole over 1000 herd of cattle.

Consequently, Wetang'ula on Monday met the Ambassador of Sudan to Kenya Majok Guandong and expressed the Kenyan government's protest over the incident.

He further condemned the killing of an administration Police Constable and a police driver who were shot by the same raiders while on a peace mission to restore order after the raid.

The Sudanese envoy Majok Guandong regretted the incident and promised that his government would cooperate with Kenyan authorities to investigate the attack and ensure that similar attacks do not occur in future.

Maruge buried

The world oldest student Stephen Maruge was on Monday evening laid to rest at Arashi - B farm in Subukia.

Thousands of people and his classmates turned out to pay tribute to the 89-year-old student who died last weekend from colon cancer.

Maruge stunned the world when he joined standard one when the free primary education was introduced in 2003.

He had been a symbol of hope for the free primary education program, an initiative by the NARC government in 2003.

The principal at Kapkenduiywa primary in Eldoret says in her 30 years career she has not met a determined pupil like Maruge.

The area MP Peter Gaichuhie paid glowing tribute to Murage while Nakuru Town MP Lee Kinyanjui delivered the president's speech.

Lee said when the free primary education was introduced many were skeptical about it but Maruge demonstrated a rare spirit of resilience by enrolling as a pupil in 2004.

He was recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest pupil and was set to achieve his dream of reading the Bible before the 2007 post-election violence rooted him from Eldoret.

Maruge died two weeks ago at Chesire Home for the Aged where he has been battling stomach cancer.

He was forced to withdraw from school at Kapkenduiywo and relocate to a retirement home for senior citizens last year after the post election violence.

He was 89 years old when he enrolled in standard ine in 2004.

Although there are no papers to prove his age, Maruge is believed he was born in 1920.

Maruge attended Kapkenduiywo Primary School in Eldoret before relocating to Nairobi in June last year after the post election violence.

He enrolled once again into standard six at Marura primary school in the Kariobangi area, Nairobi.

Maruge was a widower with two of his 30 grandchildren attending his former school alongside their grandfather.

He was a combatant in the Mau Mau Uprising against the British colonizers in the 1950s.

In 2005 Maruge, who was a model student was elected head boy of his former school.

In September 2005 Maruge boarded a plane for the first time in his life and headed to New York City to address the United Nations Millennium Development Summit on the importance of free primary education.

His property was stolen during 2007-2008 post-election violence and he contemplated quitting school.

As of early 2008 he lived in a refugee camp four kilometers from his former school, but still attended classes every day.

Early this year his health deteriorated and he was moved to the home where he was also baptised at the Kariobangi Catholic Church.


At least 16 people were killed and dozens injured when a passenger bus veered off a road and crashed into two oil tankers in western Kenya, police said on Monday.

The bus travelling from the capital Nairobi on Sunday night collided with two lorries before veering off the road and hitting the parked tankers.

"Initial investigations show that the bus driver was speeding and he lost control as he veered off from the first accident," said Vitalis Otieno, the regional traffic police commander.

Kenya records more than 13,000 traffic accidents annually, 85 percent of which are due to human error with poor roads and badly maintained vehicles blamed for the rest.

An average of 2,600 people are killed and 11,000 injured every year, according to government statistics.


George Saitoti directed District Commissioners to ensure the businesses to remain closed between 6pm and 10pm on Monday and Tuesday.

“I wish to appeal to the owners of bars, nightclubs and other entertainment spots to cooperate and ensure that they remain closed for the Census period,” he said.

Prof Saitoti however said the operators were free to open their premises after the 10pm deadline when the exercise closes.

“I am sure some Kenyans will feel they have been inconvenienced but it is just for some time. Let us take a break from drinking,” the Internal Security Minister said.

The exercise that kicks off on Monday is scheduled to take place between 6am to 10Pm daily for seven days when officials would be going round to confirm where one spent on the night of August 24. President Mwai Kibaki has declared Tuesday a national holiday to enable citizens remain home for the exercise.

Kenyans will be required to volunteer information about everyone who is expected to spend the night in their households including those who will be out at work. For houses where members are not available for a couple of days a call-back card will be left for them to indicate their convenient time.

The government has assured that security will be tightened throughout this period. Prof Saitoti said there would be intense police patrols to ensure that security of members of public and the enumerators is guaranteed. He said the police department had a comprehensive security plan for the period.

“Let me warn criminals who are hoping to cash in on this that they will be met by a very rude shock. I want to assure all Kenyans that they are all going to be safe,” he reiterated.

Kenyans have also expressed concerns on their security given that the exercise will take place at night. The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) however assured that the enumerators will be clearly identifiable and will be accompanied by a village elder or a member of the resident associations in urban centres.

Enumerators will be wearing a red T-Shirt while the supervisors will be donned in a blue T-shirt and senior supervisors a green T-shirt. The enumerators who will be going to collect the data will have a bag branded with the Coat of Arms, the Census Logo and the KNBS logo.

The exercise carried out after every decade is the fifth since independence and it is expected that close to 40 million Kenyans will be enumerated. During the 1999 exercise the country’s population stood at 28.6 million. During that exercise the government refused to reveal the statistics on tribe and religion attracting criticisms.

Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya has however assured that all the variables of this year’s Census results will be made public after the exercise.

“In December we shall have provisional total national figures and distribution per constituency and districts. Four months later we expect full results showing all the variables shown on the questionnaire,” he said.

The Minister appealed to Kenyans to fully and willingly participate in the exercise to assist the government in its plans


EDUCATION minister Prof Sam Ongeri yesterday led a group of MPs and other Abagusii community leaders to drum up support for PNU candidate Joel Onyancha for the Bomachoge parliamentary by-election.Walking through inner parts of villages, Ongeri asked Bomachoge residents to re-elect Onyancha whom he said stood at a better position to assist them compared to rivals.The Nyaribari Masaba MP asked voters to shun clanism and elect leaders on their credibility.

He dismissed ODM candidate Simion Ogari and his Ford People counterpart Albert Nyaundi, terming them as political projects by outsiders.Kitutu Masaba MP Walter Nyambati asked voters not to vote for ODM candidate and blamed the party for the post election violence that rocked parts of the country.Nyambati said ODM was already divided and voting in the party candidate would be waste to the area and the community.

Wifred Ombui of North Mugirango Borabu, asked the electorate to vote in Onyancha whom he said was conversant with area politics.
He said failure to vote for Onyancha could lead to the loss if of the assistant minister’s position that he had been appointed before the seat was declared vacant.

Earlier, ODM party leader Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, who is also Gichugu MP and former Kabete legislator and Safina party leader Paul Muite were in Bomachoge to drum up support for their party candidates.Speaking during a campaign rally at Bomachoge in support for his party candidate Cyprien Nyamwamu, Muite called for compensation and resettlement of all those displaced during the post-election violence.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tuesday 25th August is Public Holiday

Kibaki has declared Tuesday 25th August a public holiday to enable enumerators carry out most of their work within the first day of the National Housing and population Census.

In a live address to the nation from State House Nairobi on Sunday, President Kibaki reassured Kenyans of the government commitment to security of the census officials as well as wananchi during the census period.

The President said the census, whose 25-day countdown he launched three weeks ago, commences at 6 .00 PM - 10.00 PM on Monday 24th, August and continues for one week during the day between 6.00 AM and 10.00 pm until all people within the Country's borders are counted.

Limited movement

The Head of State pointed out that preparations for the census were finalized and all districts already supplied with materials ready for the exercise.

The President observed that while the Government, NGOs and Religious Organizations have carried out a comprehensive awareness campaign to make every Kenyan aware of the forthcoming National census, wananchi should share the information with the few ignorant of the exercise in the next 24 hours.

President Kibaki appealed to all Kenyans to observe limited movement and stay in-doors so as to participate fully in the noble exercise which is instrumental to planning and development in the country.

The President allayed fears over possible thuggery during the census period saying the census enumerators who will be visiting homes have been recruited from the local neighborhoods and in most cases known to the residents.

"The Enumerators will carry identification cards while wearing branded T-shirts for identification. They will be accompanied by village and community elders as they visit households," the Head of State said.


President Kibaki encouraged pastoral communities who may have migrated to neighbouring countries in search of pastures due to prolonged drought to make arrangements to herd along the Kenyan borders so as to be counted.

The Head of State assured returning pastoralists that relevant government ministries have put in place strategies to distribute relief food and water to them along the borders during the census period.

President Kibaki wished all Kenyans a peaceful census.

Golden Day

Vivian Cheruiyot won the women's 5,000 metres and compatriot Sylvia Kibet took the silver on Saturday at the world track and field championships in Berlin.

Vivian Cheruiyot made history by becoming the first woman to win a World 5000 metres title just hours after Abel Kirui led compatriot Emmanuel Mutai to a 1-2 finish in the men's marathon .

Cheruiyot, won in a time of 14:57.97.

Defending champion Meseret Defar of Ethiopia (14:58.41) led coming down the home stretch but was forced to settle for bronze when she was overtaken by Kibet (14:58.33) at the line.

"With our team we decided to go at a fast pace, to push," said Cheruiyot. "We did not know how the others could do in their final lap.

‘Good sprint'

"It has been such a long time that Kenya has not got the gold medal in the 5000m.

"On my last 100 metres I was pushing so hard. I like fast races because if the race is not fast there can still be 10 athletes in the last lap at the same time. Anybody can win then with a good sprint." An elated Cheruiyot said.

Kibet was just happy to get on to the podium.

"I'm very grateful to have a medal because I was fourth in Osaka and fourth again in Beijing," she said.

Defar, however, said she was "very disappointed".

"I expected to get gold but I wasn't successful," she said. "I'm very sad. The pace wasn't too fast. I was confident I could win gold but I don't know what happened."


Earlier, Abel Kirui secured the world marathon gold.

Kirui ran a tactical race and prevailed to lead a 1-2 Kenyan finish in the 42km race held on Saturday afternoon in Berlin Germany.

The 27 year old claimed the gold in a new championship record of 2 hours 6 minutes 54 seconds after a blistering first half around the city.

Compatriot Emmanuel Mutai clocked 2hr 7 minutes 48 seconds clinching the silver after battling a bout of vomiting in the final 3 kilometers.

Another Kenyan four time Boston marathon champion Robert Mwafrika Cheruiyot finished 5th behind bronze medalist Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia and his compatriot Deriba Merga.

Kenya now has 10 medals, 4 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze medals.

Gold Medals

Abel Kirui led compatriot Emmanuel Mutai to a 1-2 finish as Kenya once again demonstrated its prowess in road running at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin on Saturday.

The 27 year old led from the halfway mark to win gold in a new championship record of 2:06:54 as Kenya displayed brilliant team tactics to successfully defend the title won by Luke Kibet in Osaka in 2007.

"I was overjoyed with emotion. You know as I approached the finish line I could not believe it was happening. It is great for me to win in these championships because this is my first time to win gold and represent Kenya,” said Kirui.

Mutai who was also making his debut in a Kenyan vest clinched an impressive silver.

“The race was very good. I worked very hard and it showed today. I am delighted to win silver in my very first time to represent Kenya. It’s a big appreciation for me and also for my country,” said Mutai.

“We decided to run as a team and help each other with pace making to ensure that we won the individual title and it worked very well,” he added.

Four time Boston marathon champion Robert Mwafrika Cheruiyot was fifth in a time of 2:10:46.

“We had to push the pace because the Ethiopians were very strong. Even if the other two Kenyans were ahead, I had to keep going because I wanted us to win the team title,” stated Cheruiyot.

Head coach Peter Mathu was delighted with his charges’ performances.

“All our runners were very strong and we had prepared for the race for the last five months, we set them out to run as a team and not give anyone a chance. I am very happy with Cheruiyot especially who really set the pace for the others. Today proves that Kenya is the best in marathon,” said Mathu.

Kenya now has three gold, three silver and two bronze.

Kenyatta's 31st Anniversary

Kibaki on Saturday led the nation in commemorating the 31st anniversary of the death of the founding father of the nation Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

President Kibaki joined Mzee Kenyatta's family led by the widow Mama Ngina Kenyatta in laying a wreath at the mausoleum of the late President at Parliament buildings before attending a memorial service at the Holy Family Minor Basilica.

Others who laid wreaths were the Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende and the chief of General staff Jeremiah Kianga and Nairobi Mayor Geoffrey Majiwa.

The anniversary service was conducted by Bishop Anthony Muheria of the Catholic diocese of Kitui.

In his sermons based on Isaiah 30: 19-21, Psalms 23,Romans 5: 1-5 and Matthews 25: 31-46, Bishop Muheria exhorted Christians to seek God's forgiveness and strength to fulfill the vision of the founders of this nation who sacrificed and struggled to make the country a better place for all Kenyans.

He challenged Christians to be the light and salt of the earth during their life as their deeds reflected the will of God towards mankind.

The Bishop urged all leaders to always seek God's guidance in whatever they do to add value to lives of Kenyans and the Country's posterity.

Bishop Muheria also led prayers for the President, Government, the nation and Mzee Kenyatta's soul.

At the mausoleum, dignitaries who also included the Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Cabinet Minister Beth Mugo and Nairobi Mayor Geoffrey Majiwa observed two minutes silence in remembrance of the founding father of the Nation.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Women MPS

Women parliamentarians from the region are meeting in Nairobi to discuss ways of increasing their representation at the national level.

The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Conference will also be used to chart an agenda ahead of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting due to be held in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Kenya Women Parliamentarians Association (KEWOPA) Chairperson Jebii Kilimo said on Friday that women's low representation in Parliament is also a key challenge to their empowerment.

“This is despite the fact that European experience shows that where women MPs have a mission to effect change even small numbers can produce significant results” she said adding: “even though we are 10 percent we know we can be felt in our constituencies.”

The Marakwet East MP and Cooperatives Development Assistant Minister also wants African countries to domesticate all international protocols on women.

She advocated the passage of the Marriage and Matrimonial Property Bill which is awaiting Cabinet consent while the FGM Bill is currently at parliamentary committee stage.

At the same time, Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende urged women parliamentarians to lobby their male colleagues to issues that would lead to the promotion and adoption of gender sensitive legislations and policies.

In a speech read on his behalf by Mwingi North MP and Defence Assistant Minister David Musila at the conference, he said that women in the region remained disadvantaged in the education, employment and political representation arena despite making up 51 percent of the population.

He said they must speak with one voice as Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians in order to achieve their objectives of identifying and addressing the challenges facing the women agenda for the East Africa region.

“Debates about men and masculinity need to stimulate development agencies and other actors to put gender and development theory into practice by, among others, focusing on challenging unequal power relations in society directly,” he said.

The Speaker said the education system is a useful channel to fight gender stereotypes as well as recruit gender champions amongst men through public recognition and awards of gender sensitivity.

“We must move from preaching to the converted and address the perpetrators of some of the issues facing gender imbalances in our society which are largely patriarchic in nature,” Mr. Marende said.

This is after Ms Kilimo said the 22 female MPs were still facing challenges in having women issues articulated in the House.

Mr Marende said he hoped that the ongoing constitutional revive process will address the gender inequality.

“As MPs you must demand higher demonstration of political will to reduce gender inequalities an empower women through enhanced budgetary allocations and relevant legislation”
Mr Musila also serves as the country’s representative to the CPA- Africa chapter.

The tow-day meeting has attracted participants from Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Odinga on Mau again

Raila Odinga Friday insisted that the decision to remove all settlers from the country's water towers was irreversible.

Noting that conservation of the environment was 'a matter of life and death', Odinga said all those who had settled in the water towers will be removed to give way to intensive re-afforestation efforts.

He singled out the Mau Complex the government was committed to restoring it to its original state following years of plunder by settlers.

"This programme will start soon in the Mau but will be rolled out to other water towers so that we can conserve our environment," the PM said.

He told the youth to join the afforestation efforts under the Kazi Kwa Vijana programme noting that an initial Ksh 8 billion had been released this financial year for community programmes under the programme.

Mr. Odinga was addressing a public rally at Mesesi market in Bomachoge constituency where he led a campaign rally for the ODM candidate in the forthcoming by-election Eng. Simon Ogari.

He said the government was commited to ensuring all parts of the country were allocated equal resources for development regardless of the regions' political affiliations.

"We are all in the government and should pool our resources together for the benefit of our country," he added.

Among the targeted projects aimed at boosting development in the area Odinga said was the tarmacking of the Ogembo-Egetuki-Suneka road and the upgrading of the Mesesi dispensary to a health centre.

"We shall also address the shortage of doctors in government health institutions in this area and countrywide to ensure that wananchi receive good medical attention," he added.

He said under the constituency development fund and other devolved funds, every constituency was required to have a model school, a health centre and a market.

The Premier at the same time called for peaceful and democratic electioneering and voting in the Bomachoge by-elections saying there was no preferred government candidate.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kenyan Youth

Kalonzo Musyoka has challenged young people to reject being misused by politicians to further their own agenda and instead pursue what is for their best interests and national benefit.

Mr Musyoka particularly urged the youth who comprise over 60 percent of the country’s population to be at the forefront in promoting national healing and reconciliation following the 2007 post election violence.

“It is time for the youth to be encouraged to participate fully in deciding the destiny of Africa, we need to give them inspirational leadership and not confusion,” he said.

The Vice President made the remarks on Wednesday night when he officially opened a five-day International Youth Fellowship 2009 at Mohanam Good News Mission, Kasarani, Nairobi.

The conference brings together youth from a cross the world for a religious experience and cultural exchange.

Mr Musyoka noted that there is need for young persons across the world to interact and learn more about each other, noting that the world had become a global village.

He called on the youth not to shy away from taking leadership challenges and instead pursue their calling and aspiration in life.

“We have able youth who are currently holding high positions of responsibility both in private and public sector. Be courageous and also try to develop your skills and abilities and pursue your calling,” VP challenged.

Mr Musyoka noted that the youth have been at the forefront in ICT revolution that has transformed the world and should be supported in order for them to utilise their energies positively.

Kenyans win

Three Kenyans won their heats as the 800 metres quartet easily made the semifinals of the 800 metres on a sunny morning in day six of the World Athletics Championships in Berlin.

Africa champion David Rudisha, reigning world champion Alfred Kirwa Yego and former World junior silver medallist Jackson Kivuva won their heats respectively Olympic 1500 metres silver medallist Asbel Kiprop was second in his heat.

Running in heat five, Kirwa stayed infront throughout the race before applying a finishing kick to finish in 1:48.32.

“I am very happy with my start. We have been waiting and finally I have run. My body is feeling good and hopefully by tomorrow everything will be even better,” said Kirwa.

Next up was the pride of Africa Rudisha who easily covered the ground in the final 400 metres to win in1:47.83. It was his debut at the championships and he was elated especially after missing out on Beijing.

“I am happy we have started well and I hope we are going to get even better. The semifinals will tell as exactly where we stand,” said Rudisha.

The third Kenyan to win his heat was Kivuva. Running a very smart race, the Armed Forces stayed at the shoulder of the through until the last 150 metres when he shifted through the gears to easily clinch victory in a time of 1:46.17.

Looking ahead to the semifinals, the trio stated that it will pose the greatest challenge yet.

“The semifinals will be very tough. Tomorrow will resemble a final. Being there in the final will be a privilege and one will have to work extremely hard just to be in the final eight,” said Kirwa.

The semis are always very tough because only 1-2 automatically for the final in so its going to be tough because qualifying as a fastest loser depends on luck so you have to ensure you are there,” said Rudisha.

For Kivuva it will be all about tactics.

“Semifinals will not be a joke. It will be a proper competition but I am confident I will make it. I just have to run smart because the races are so tactical. Mohammed Saad has been locked out despite the fact that he is fourth in the world this year so its very tricky you have to think. It will all depend with the pace. If it’s slow or fast then you know what to do,” said Kivuva.