JIENJOY

Sunday, January 31, 2010

IMMIGRANTS

Raila Odinga has cautioned leaders from North Eastern province to stop reviving politics of secession to another state while reacting to the latest crackdown on illegal immigrants in the country.

He told the leaders to go slow on such weighty matters, seek redress in a diplomatic manner and warned that such rhetoric was likely to alienate and plant discord among the residents of the province.

The premier assured residents of North Eastern that the government was committed to uphold the constitutional right of every Kenyan irrespective of their social status, ethnic background and geographical location.

“Let me tell my colleagues that we don’t have to clamour for secession to make our point home. We have to fight for that right here in Kenya and not in Somalia or Ethiopia because they are not any better” he said.

He however registered concern over the manner in which the police conducted the countrywide swoop on immigrants arguing that force was yet to be fully reformed to adhere to ethical practices.

Mr Odinga was reacting to the leader’s outcry during a public rally in Takaba Trading Centre after touring development projects in Mandera West constituency.

Speakers had accused the police of targeting Somalis irrespective of their nationality in what they claimed was an economic war to push the community out of the prime business spots in the pretext of vetting their identities.

The PM told the aggrieved community not to overreact to mistakes that might have been perpetuated by a few elements in the police force, but pull towards national cohesion and unity for posterity of future generations.

He said tribalism had afflicted the country to the core hence the need for communities to nurture and exploit national diversity and tap our potentials for the good of the nation.

Mr Odinga at the same time asked Kenyans to co-operate with security agencies to flush out illegal immigrants within their locality, in the spirit of community policing.

On education in the region, the premier was alarmed by the low rate of girl child enrolment in local schools and asked residents to give them a chance to learn.

“We must stop early marriages to allow our girls to attend school because the current ratio of 1 girl to ten boys in school is disturbing” he stressed.

He also told teachers to stop over indulging in private business ventures at the expense of their duties to improve on the dismal performance seen by students in local schools during the national examinations.

Earlier in the day, Odinga who was accompanied by several cabinet Ministers and Members of parliament presided over the ground breaking ceremony of the proposed Takaba Power Station before commissioning the Dahani borehole.

Prominent personalities in the entourage included Cabinet Ministers Charity Ngilu, Anyang’ Nyong’o, Ibrahim Elmi, and area MP and Assistant Minister Mohamed Mohamud.

The leaders were protesting the alleged arbitrary arrest of people of Somali origin in the wake of a recent demonstration by Muslims to push for the release of a controversial Jamaican cleric Abdul El-Faisal.

AU SUMMIT

Mwai Kibaki Saturday afternoon left the country for a four day trip to Ethiopia to attend the 14th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

The plane carrying the president and his entourage departed for Addis Ababa from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport shortly before 2 .P.M.

At the airport to see off the Head of State were Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and other senior government officials.

The theme of this year's summit is "Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for development," in recognition of the role of ICT in development.

African Union is spearheading a continental programme to interconnect capitals and major African cities with ICT broadband infrastructure and to strengthen connectivity to the rest of the world by 2012.

The African Development Bank, the International Telecommunication Union, World Bank and the EU are amongst several organizations that have partnered with the AU and availed funds towards various ICT programmes in the continent.

Alongside the official theme of the summit, the Heads of State and Government of the African Union will also launch the Year for Peace and Security in Africa.

In August 2009, in Tripoli , Libya , the heads of state declared the year 2010 to be the Year of Peace and Security on the continent.

The declaration invited the African civil society to continue playing its role in promoting peace, security and stability as partners of governments and the AU.

The launch is likely to lead to discussions on security situation in Somalia.

With regard to Climate Change the Heads of State and Governments are expected to review the report of the Commission on climate change negotiations held in Copenhagen last December.

Friday, January 29, 2010

MARIGA'S 722 000 000

Parma have accepted a €10 million offer (about Sh722 million) from Manchester City for Kenyan international McDonald Mariga, according to reports from Italy and England.

Mariga had been linked with Italian champions Inter but Parma sporting director, Pietro Leonardi, apparently met with City on Thursday.

He was able to convince the English club over 22-year-old Mariga’s €10m fee during a series of talks which untangled the move.

Once the transfer is compelete, Mariga will become Kenya’s richest sportsman and the first ever to play in the English Premier League.

City turned to Mariga after seeing negotiations stall with Real Madrid in their attempts to sign Fernando Gago. City were ready to bid £6million for Mariga, according to reports in Italy, and could offer Valeri Bojinov as part of the deal.

Bulgaria striker Bojinov, 23, has scored four goals in 15 appearances since joining Parma on loan at the start of the season and he is keen to stay in Italy.

Harry Redknapp tried to sign Mariga for Portsmouth from Swedish side Helsingborgs three years ago, but work permit issues scuppered the deal.

But the 6ft 2in marauding midfielder has cemented himself as a regular at Parma, winning many admirers after joining the club in 2007.

Signed four-year deal

Mariga would be an alternative to Gago, who was keen to sign City only for Madrid to block his exit.

Mariga started his playing career at Pipeline FC. He was a member of the Kamukunji High School ‘Golden Boys’, which also included Dennis Oliech (Auxerre), that won two consecutive national championships in 2002 and 2003.

The central midfielder went to Sweden in 2005 to play for third Division side Enköpings SK. After only one season at ESK, he signed for Helsingborgs IF before the 2006 season. His success at Olympia was immediate.

Following initial interest from Redknapp, Mariga looked set to sign for the Premier League team, but work permit issues held up the deal which was supposed to have cost around €2.7 million.

He moved to the Serie A club Parma on loan in August 2007. Mariga agreed to a four year deal to keep him at Parma for four years until the end of June 2012, after the club paid a transfer fee for €1.94 million. The deal was brokered by former Swede great Martin Dahlin.

Mariga played 35 times for Parma in the Serie B during the 2008-2009 season scoring three time to help them back to Serie A for the 2009-2010 season.

WAY FORWARD

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review (PSC) is scheduled to hand over its recommendations on the revised Harmonised Draft Constitution to the Committee of Experts on Friday afternoon.

The Committee spent much of the morning fine-tuning their report at County Hall, the location of the afternoon ceremony.

PSC Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed is expected to lead his 26-member committee in submitting the document full of ‘political comprises’ on various contentious issues in the draft Constitution.

“After nine days of deliberations - sometimes well into the night - we have reached major agreements on the draft on issues that appeared to have divided us in the past and have made it difficult for us to get a new Constitution,” said Mr Mohammed.

The Committee of Experts (CoE) will take the next 21 days to incorporate the recommendations into another draft that will be submitted to Parliament for debate and adoption. Kenyans will vote for this final draft in the referendum possibly in May.

“We will be handing over the draft Constitution and our report to the Committee of Experts tomorrow afternoon (Friday) so that they can revise it taking into account the achieved consensus,” said Mr Mohammed on Thursday.

The Parliamentarians emerged from a two-week retreat in Naivasha on Thursday and announced that they had “gained broad consensus on all contentious issues.” They settled for a pure Presidential system, a 349-member Parliament and a two-tier devolution comprising the Central government and the Counties.

In the envisaged system, the President will be elected through universal suffrage and will be checked by a strong Parliament and an independent Judiciary. The Provincial Administration on the other hand will be restructured in accordance with the new devolution system.

The PSC defended itself from accusations that it has interfered with the work of the Interim Independent Boundary Review Commission (IIBRC) by setting up criteria for boundary review.

Mr Mohammed said it is within its mandate to entrench in the constitution criteria to guide IIBRC in its work. He said this would ensure that subsequent governments do not abuse their powers and set new boundaries for political or selfish reasons.

The IIBRC turned down an invitation by the PSC to discuss the issue of representation forcing the Committee to rely on statistics experts. The team fixed constituencies at 290 and mandated the IIBRC to demarcate the new units using a set criteria.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

PSC

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review has wound up its retreat in Naivasha with broad consensus on various contentious issues.

They once again revised the number of proposed MPs, this time to 349 and removed a requirement for all judges to resign and be subjected to fresh vetting.

“We want to report that after nine days of deliberations - sometimes well into the night - we have reached major agreements on the draft on issues that appeared to have divided us in the past and have made it difficult for us to get a new Constitution,” the committee chairman Mohammed Abdikadir said.



Apart from removing the requirement for judges to re-apply for their jobs, the PSC provided for the Chief Justice’s appointment to be initiated by the Judicial Service Commission, nominated by the President and approved by Parliament.

“The independence of judiciary has been enhanced including creation of an independent Judicial Service Commission with financial autonomy. The Supreme Court as the highest court in the land will have seven judges.”

He explained that they had increased constituencies from the current 210 to 290. They also proposed 47 special seats for women to be elected from each county and 12 nominated MPs from other groups which include the disabled.

The PSC also reduced the authority of the Senate, making it lower to the National Assembly and with no powers to make laws.

The MPs also reached consensus on the structure of security organs, and further resolved to retain the Provincial Administration which will be structured to suit a devolved government

The Committee agreed to allow dual citizenship. “A citizen of Kenya by birth does not lose his citizenship by acquiring another citizenship,” they said.

Three organs of National Security namely Kenya Defence Forces, National Intelligence Service and Kenya Internal Security Services-the latter to include the Kenya Police and Administration Police, and headed by Inspector General.

The President will be elected by universal suffrage, 50 per cent +1 and 25 percent in more than half of the counties;

“The President will not serve more than two five year terms and will not be a Member of Parliament. Ministers will be from outside Parliament but vetted by the House and appointed by the President.”

The election of the President will be held separately from the National Assembly elections.

Mr Abdikadir concluded by saying: “Constitution making is a very delicate process that is bound to excite contending passions so sometimes when you have witnessed us caucusing it was with a view of developing consensus.”

The draft constitution and report are now due to be handed over to the Committee of Experts on Friday afternoon.

FULL STATEMENT

We would like to bring to the attention of Kenyans that the Parliamentary Select Committee has been meeting to deliberate on the harmonized draft constitution with a view of developing consensus on issues therein.


We want to report that after nine days of deliberations-sometimes well into the night-we have reached major agreements on the draft on issues that appeared to have divided us in the past and have made it difficult for us to get a new constitution.


Members of the committee have undertaken very delicate negotiations and all decisions were arrived at through consensus. There has been no voting on any of the issues.
We have agreed on all chapters, with the following highlights-


The Republic
• Kenya’s territory should be specifically defined and not left to International law
• We did not see the need to identify Nairobi as the capital in the Constitution


Citizenship
• Dual citizenship allowed. A citizen of Kenya by birth does not lose his citizenship by acquiring another citizenship.




Bill of Rights
• First, second and third generation rights provided for.
• Consumer rights entrenched;
• vulnerable groups within society including women, older members of society, persons with disabilities, children, youth and members of minority and marginalized communities recognized;
• Authority of the court to uphold and enforce the Bill of Rights;
• Freedom of expression upheld, save for matters like propaganda for war, incitement to violence, hate speech, pornography, advocacy of hatred that constitutes ethnic incitement, vilification of others or incitement to cause harm or one that is based on any prohibited ground of discrimination;
• Political rights retained, right to property, labour relations also retained
• The family recognised as the natural and fundamental unit of society and the necessary basis of social order.
• Freedom and independence of electronic, print and other media of all types are guaranteed


Representation:


• The committee adopted the general principles for the electoral system and processes.
• Independent candidates will be allowed.
• The Electoral Commission and the Boundaries Commission should be merged.
• Constituencies be fixed at a maximum of 349 constituencies, as follows: - 80 additional elective constituencies; 47 (special elective seats for women, one per county) and 12 nominated seats. The criteria for delimitation agreed on.




Judiciary
• Independence of judiciary enhanced including creation of an independent Judicial Service Commission with financial autonomy.
• Supreme Court as highest court in the land to have 7 judges
• Constitutional Court deleted
• Appointment of the Chief Justice and other judges be initiated by JSC, nominated by President and approved by Parliament.
• Removal of any judge will be after a report by a tribunal to be chaired by the speaker in case of the Chief Justice and a person appointed by the President in case of any other judge.
• Subordinate courts retained including Kadhis’ Courts and Court Martial.


Public Service
• Public Service Commission, Judicial Service Commission and Parliamentary Service Commission retained.
• Auditor General Retained as an independent office.
• Teachers Service Commission.



National Security
• Three organs of National Security namely Kenya Defence Forces, National Intelligence Service and Kenya Internal Security Services-the latter to include the Kenya Police and administration police, and headed by Inspector General;
• Creation of National Security Council to be chaired by President


Executive: Presidential System
• Separate Executive and Legislature
• President elected by universal suffrage, 50%+1, 25% in more than half of the counties;
• President serves not more than two five year terms,
• Is not a Member of Parliament.
• Ministers to be from outside Parliament but vetted by Parliament and appointed by the President.
• National executive of the Republic to comprise the President, the Deputy President and the rest of the Cabinet
• No office for Prime Minister
• National executive to reflect the regional and ethnic diversity
• The President to be a symbol of national unity-Head of State and Government, the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces and chairperson to the National Security Council.
• The President not to hold any other State or public office including any elected or appointed office within a political party.
• President to address the opening of each newly elected National Assembly, address a special sitting of Parliament once every year and may address the National Assembly at any other time;
• President to appoint ministers, deputy ministers high commissioners, ambassadors, and diplomatic and consular representatives with the approval of the National Assembly, but president may dismiss them
• Once every year, the President to submit a report to National Assembly on the progress made in fulfilling the international obligations of the Republic.
• Election of the President to be held separately from the National Assembly elections
• Any eligible voter is qualified to run for Presidency
• Parliament may impeach President
• A Member of Parliament who is appointed as a Minister or Deputy Minister to resign as a Member of Parliament.
• Secretary to the cabinet retained
• Majority and minority leaders to enjoy powers in parliament, equivalent to cabinet ministers
• Appointments to constitutional offices to be confirmed by Parliament
• Parliament to have its own calendar
• Impeachment [on violation of the constitution/criminal/constitutional issues]
• Running mate – if President vacates office running mate to serve remainder of term, if running mate serves more than half the original term, to be construed as full term
• President to be nominated by a political party or be an independent candidate
• Cabinet of not more than 25 including the President and Vice President
• Not more than two-thirds of Cabinet to be of either gender.
• The Cabinet to reflect the regional diversity of Kenya
• President to have power to establish offices (other than constitutional offices) in the public service
• Prerogative of mercy retained


Land and environment
• Three categories of land identified-Public, community and private.
• Non citizens holding land should not exceed 99 years lease hold
• National Land Commission retained
• Protection and conservation of environment upheld


Devolved Government
• Two-tier system-National and counties
• There shall be 47 counties
• One person elected per county to the Senate through universal suffrage by the counties.
• Senate will be the lower house
• Equalisation fund to be created an evolved fund secured in the Constitution.




Conclusion
Constitution making is a very delicate process that is bound to excite contending passions so sometimes when you have witnessed us caucusing it was with a view of developing consensus.


The fact that we are here together is a clear testimony that we have resolved all contentious issues as a team. This is a consensus decision reached in accordance with Section 32 (C) and 33 (1) of the Constitution of Kenya Review Act.


The committee wants to make it very clear that whatever it has engaged in is within its mandate as provided for by the Constitution and Standing Order.
Finally, we will be handing over the draft constitution and our report to the Committee of Experts tomorrow afternoon so that they can revise it taking into account he achieved consensus.


Hon. Mohamed Abdikadir, MP
CHAIRPERSON

WAMALWA-JIMMY DEVELOPS COLD FEET

The much publicised political rally organised by President Kibaki’s son Jimmy that was to take place in Bungoma this Sunday has been cancelled due to security concerns.

Jimmy who is also the patron of Simama Kenya, a political outfit which was spearheading the rally told reporters on Thursday that police had already withdrawn a licence earlier issued to them.

“Simama Kenya Trust which is for youth empowerment both economically and politically will never want a situation where young people are put in jeopardy,” Jimmy said.

“And this is why within consultation with security services, we found it was mutually acceptable that this rally be postponed because we do not want a situation where young people are going to have their security compromised,” he told reporters and declined to answer any questions.

“That is all about our statement, questions next week,” he said.

Jimmy was expected to make a major political announcement during the rally.

He was accompanied by Simama Kenya officials including Saboti Member of Parliament Eugene Wamalwa, former Budalangi’ MP Raphael Wanjala and former Public Service Minister Moses Akaranga.

Mr Wamalwa said the rally had elicited “a lot of excitement as well as resistance.”

“As you have heard there have been allegations of those who intended to disrupt the meeting and those who have been actually opposed to this meeting,” he said.

He said: “The move to shelve the rally should not be seen as a withdrawal. It is just a temporary set back, we want to say that we will turn this temporarily set back into a comeback,” he added.

Mr Wamalwa said they had received communication from Western Provincial Police chief King’ori Mwangi on the recall of their licence.

RAILA & OTERO

The US government has emphasised its commitment to supporting Kenya’s constitution review process, registration of new voters and the upcoming referendum.

Responding to an appeal by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, US Under Secretary for Democracy Maria Otero said Kenya is going through an interesting and historic moment that America is keen to support.

“Kenya is making good progress and America is committed to support this great historical moment. It is a step to move beyond 2007,” Ms Otere said about the constitution making process.

Ms Otere held talks with the Prime Minister at his Treasury Building offices in the company of US ambassador Michael Ranneberger.

During the talks, Mr Odinga expressed hope that the 20-year journey in search for a new constitution may be coming to an end but appealed for steady support from the US.

“This is a defining moment for Kenya. It has been a long journey. We have spent at least 20 years looking for a new constitution. It has been a journey through hills and valleys. But today, I can say that I see the final hill where this journey is going to end,” the PM said.

“We may not get an ideal constitution, but that’s why there is room for amendments,” he added.

Thanking the US for the support on reforms, the PM said Kenya needs more help with the referendum and registration of voters.

He said the government is keen to deliver a new constitution and parties are ready to make compromises.

The PM said the decision to settle for a pure presidential system was a major compromise between proponents of a pure Parliamentary and hybrid systems.

He said the Interim Independent Electoral Commission needed funds to carry out fresh registration of voters ahead of the referendum. The referendum process also needs a lot of money, the PM said.

Mr Odinga said it is important for the registration of voters to be completed early to allow the referendum to be conducted in time so that the country does not lose the momentum for reform.

The two US officials said America will support the IIEC with the ambassador saying they are putting together “a couple of millions of dollars” for the IIEC.

Ms Otere said the realisation of a new constitution will put Kenya on the best path to move Kenya forward.

She asked the government to back it with rapid efforts at reconciliation and search for justice for victims of post election violence.

Pledging support for the IIEC, Ms Otere said America is aware that there were over two million dead voters whose names remained in the register and “voted” in 2007.

“We are aware that over two million dead people voted in 2007, so we will support the process of compiling a new voters’ register. At a time when the whole world is watching Kenya, we want to be there with our support,” she said.

Kibaki and Otero

Mwai Kibaki has affirmed that the existing bilateral ties between Kenya and United States of America are strong and characterised by close cooperation in various areas of mutual interest.

President Kibaki noted that Kenya has traditionally been an important partner of the US and a key player in the East and Central Africa regions with regard to economic development and promotion of peace and security in the region.

The President made the remarks when he met and held discussions with visiting United States of America Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, Maria Otero.

During the meeting President Kibaki affirmed that Kenya was firmly on the road to reforms and was at the threshold of enacting a new constitution.

He noted that a Committee of Experts was appointed in February 2009 and submitted a draft Constitution which is currently being discussed by the Parliamentary Select Committee with a view to achieving consensus and a document that shall serve Kenyans for posterity.

President Kibaki noted that other institutions had been established in line with the Provisions of the National Accord aimed at creating a stable, harmonious and prosperous nation.

Among such institutions include the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission all intended to encourage reconciling Kenyans as well as consolidating peaceful co-existence among all communities.

On regional matters President Kibaki called for concerted efforts among the international community to restore peace in Somalia and support people of Sudan in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which is entering its most critical stage.

In attendance were Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Richard Onyonka, Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura.

The Under Secretary was accompanied by US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Rannenberger.

DAN TORO SUPPORTS M7

Former President Daniel arap Moi used a National Resistance Movement (NRM) Day celebration to lend a hand to his host’s bid for a fourth elective term.

Mr Moi who was President of Kenya for 24 years was invited as a private guest of President Yoweri Museveni, who on Tuesday inked his name in history as the longest serving east African head of State as he started his 25th year in power.

“When leadership of one person is good why should people complain,” Mr Moi said to thunderous hand claps and shouting from the crowd of NRM supporters some of whom carried placards urging Mr Museveini to stay on for a fourth term and chanted “abeewo” (he should stay).

However, Mr Moi who last visited Uganda in 2002 as he bid farewell to the region before handing over power to successor Mwai Kibaki also served a caution to his host. Probably reminiscing on his own time out of power and the chaos that engulfed his country just five years after his exit, Mr Moi said “leadership comes and goes but the country will stay,” he said adding, “we should put common good above interest of the individual.”

Mr Moi urged East Africans to quicken the pace of integration saying the longer it takes to operationalise the fully community, the longer the people will continue to suffer. “Let us all stand for peace and tranquility in Uganda ushered in by the NRM under president Museveni because this has enabled you to exploit your natural resources for the benefit of everyone,” said Mr Moi.

Moi said, he knew Mr Museveni would make a good leader for Uganda when he mediated the failed 1985 peace talks between the then National Resistance Army (NRA) rebels headed by Museveni and the military Junta of Okello Lutwa and Bazilio Olara Okello whom Museveni toppled on January 26 1986.

“I knew that he was the right person for Uganda, when I saw him moving in Nairobi for the peace of Uganda I knew he would make a good President for the nation,” Moi said adding “we must put our interest in the common good not in the personal selfish goals.

“As we move towards East Africa federation, let us preach a message of peace and harmony and togetherness. Why do we allow the boundaries fixed by colonialists to disintegrate us for easy administration, let us break these for East African Community,” said Mr Moi.

On his part Mr Museveni, in an apparent rebuff to critics who say he has deviated from the original Ten Point Programme, which defined the political programme of the 1981-86 guerilla war said he had achieved most of what he set out to do.

He picked on his favourite line of peace and tranquility warning that sufficient military capacity had been built and that no one can now distabilise the country. “The most troubled regions; the North, Karamoja are peaceful, the country is totally peaceful because the army is mature. There is no way anybody can distablise Uganda and the NRM, our army has the capacity to reach anywhere,” the president boasted.

“We have come a long way to transform this country to what it is today. We don’t want people to disturb us, bring your thoughts to the people, if the people don’t want them, then let us move with what the people want,” Mr Museveni said.

He said the army has the skills, determination and goodwill to maintain Uganda’s stability with protection of the people and their property as a major priority. The NRM 24th anniversary was marked outside Kololo air strip, the traditional home for such celebration under the theme; 24 years of NRM: So much done, so much to do.

The armed forces including the police and prisons laid on a colourful parade that was joined by party supporters from various parts of the country. Mr Museveni earlier presided at the official opening of a new Uganda Clays factory at Kamonkoli in Budaka district.

“When we were fighting in the bush and when we came to power in 1986, we developed a ten point programme as a guiding principle for better governance and 24 years down the road we have achieved most of the points laid down.’’ He said the Ten Point programme had succeeded in establishing and rooting democracy, fighting poverty, improved health, and education among others.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

MORE VISA BANS/ YES YOUTH CAN

The US government has hinted that it will issue more travel bans in coming weeks against corrupt prominent persons frustrating the Kenya's reform agenda.

US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger said the US is committed to supporting the reform agenda in Kenya and anyone opposed to reforms is unwelcome in the US.

"We may take additional actions in the coming weeks regarding persons who are not welcome to travel to the United States," said Ranneberger.

The US has previously issued travel ban to former Police Commissioner now Post Master General, Hussein Ali, Attorney General Amos Wako and some ministers.

Addressing the press, Ranneberger said the US government will continue to support implementation of reforms in Kenya.

The Ambassador hailed the crucial role played by the civil society, the private sector, and religious groups in the implementation of the reform agenda.

Ranneberger said the US encourages and supports civil society activities citing a national youth forum sponsored by the Embassy where 700 delegates representing 66 youth organization groups met in Nairobi last year as part of a broader process of propelling domestic-driven pressure for implementation of reforms.

The Ambassador said they had launched a youth programme dubbed ‘Yes Youth Can' worth sh3.3 billion as a follow up to the youth forum.

NEW GAME PLAN WITHOUT RUTO

Raila Odinga Wednesday said squatters evicted from the country’s water towers would be employed to replant trees and raise money to sustain themselves.

At a meeting with professionals from Keiyo and Marakwet who paid him a courtesy call, the PM said the government will unveil a programme that will give priority to those leaving the forests in restoring them.

Reforestation, the PM said, needs a lot of labour and the government will deploy those leaving the forests and pay them to do the work.

The Keiyo and Marakwet professionals were led by ambassador Simon arap Bullut and former Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya Mr Micah Cheserem.

They petitioned the Prime Minister to initiate the restoration of forests in and around the Keiyo Valley and decried “the current pathetic state of the roads and destruction of forests in the two districts."

The delegation said the area is getting prone to landslides due to degradation of Katanga, Kikuyus, Kereru, Embobut, Kapchemutwa and other forests in and around escarpments in Keiyo and Marakwet.

Mr Bullut, who read the petition by delegation, called for enhanced surveillance of the water towers that serve Keiyo, Marakwet, Trans Nzoia, Pokot and Uashin Gishu.

He said they are worried that Chebara dam, the main source of water for Eldoret and the proposed Arror dam are threatened by deforestation in the area.

“The Marakwet, the Keiyo and the Kalenjin in general are forest people. As a community, we conserved forests. The idea of invading forests and cutting them is new to us but it is going on and it worries us,” Mr Bullut said.

He asked the PM to tour the region and address the community on the need to conserve the forests.

The leaders also asked the government to tarmac the Nyaru-Iten-Kapsowar and Chesoi-Chesongoch roads to open up the area.

Mr Odinga said locals would be the greatest beneficiaries of the conservation work going on in the country’s water towers.

He said a healthy environment would ensure rivers in the Kerio Valley have enough water that could be used to irrigate the land for agriculture.

The PM said the escarpments in the Rift Valley are full of many scenic views that would attract tourists if other amenities like electricity and roads were provided.

“As we expand to take development to the regions, it would help if the rivers here were running at full volume. The escarpments in Keiyo and Marakwet have rivers that can generate electricity if they were flowing at full volume. But they can only run full volume if the forests are protected. That is all that we are trying to do,” the PM said.

He said the escarpments around Keiyo could provide high altitude training facilities for local athletes if the area had good roads and a reliable supply of electricity.

The PM said he will work with the community to restore the forests and will initiate the reforestation soon.

WOMEN HAPPY

The Mandeleo Ya Wanawake Organization (MYWO) has supported a proposal by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review (PSC) to increase the number of parliamentary seats from the current 222 to 356.

MYWO Chairperson Rukia Subow said on Tuesday that the proposal was neither too ambitious nor too expensive as Kenyans could afford it if the country ended corruption in public and private institutions.

She explained that the country would lose more money through corruption than it would by paying salaries for the extra 134 parliamentarians.

“They said that it will not be economically viable to have more seats in Parliament but we are a rich country. Where does the money go? We know as Kenyans that the money which goes to people’s pockets through fraud and theft is more than the money the few women who go to Parliament will be paid. We know there is enough money in this country which can sustain the Parliament even if it is four hundred members,” she said.

The women’s organisation however took issue with the PSC’s proposal to scrap the human rights clause from the harmonised draft saying the move was uncalled for. Ms Subow explained that by doing so the PSC was breaching it duties.

“They should be looking at the 20 percent that was contentious not reviewing what had already been agreed upon by Kenyans. If we leave out the human rights issue from the Constitution then we are actually weakening the system. The PSC is overstepping its mandate and it should stop,” said Rahab Muiu, the second Vice National Chairperson.

Ms Subow further appealed to the PSC to make proposals in the harmonised draft that would protect the country from repeats of election violence saying the draft had the power to make or break the country.

“The ghost of 2007 post election violence still haunts us and the PSC must start the national healing process by giving Kenyans laws for the benefit of all and not for a few. As Kenyans we should rise above the petty politics that we had in 2007,” she said.

The MYWO further implored the PSC to ensure that it removed any uncertainties or clauses that would imply that homosexuality and abortion were legal.

“We urge the PSC to tread carefully on any ambiguity that may be construed or interpreted to allow same sex marriage. Marriage must be between persons of opposite sex and this must be clearly stated so as to avoid legalising same sex marriages. The PSC must also define life as beginning at conception to avoid legalising abortion,” said Ms Subow.

She added that the organisation rooted for a presidential system of governance as proposed by the PSC saying the President would act as a symbol of national unity in the country. She added that the PSC was charged with ensuring that Kenyans’ interests were taken care of.

“We remind the PSC that it owes it to the millions of Kenyans to deliver on this. Kenyans have spoken and they made submissions to the Committee of Experts on the kind of laws they want. This time around the birth of a new Constitution should become a reality and not just another mirage,” she said.

The organisation was also of the position that the proposed devolution system would help Kenya grow economically saying: “The aim of devolution is being distorted but it is supposed to ensure that money trickles down to the common person; from the central government to the provinces and counties and finally to the constituents.”

Ms Subow also defended the PSC against allegations that it had favoured women parliamentarians. She said the proposal to create 54 special seats for women, aside from the 290 elected seats and 12 nominated seats was commendable and needful.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

ACCIDENT

Five people have been killed after a lorry lost control and rammed into another truck on the opposite side of the dual carriageway in Westlands.

Eye witnesses said the accident occurred shortly before 10am.

They told reporters at the scene that the driver of the lorry which was ferrying electricity poles from Eldoret lost control and veered into traffic on the other carriageway.

A light truck that was carrying about 11 staff from a multi-media company was hit leaving five people dead on the spot.

Another five were said to have been wounded and taken to hospital.

Gigiri police chief David Kerina said the driver of the lorry that was ferrying poles fled the scene.

RUTO VS RAILA

A fresh war of words has broken out between Agriculture Minister William Ruto and Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s allies.

On Monday, Raila’s allies told off Ruto for claiming at the weekend that Raila had turned his back on him after the two worked closely together during the 2007 campaigns.

ODM organising secretary Anyang’ Nyong’o rebutted Ruto’s accusations, saying the party had passed resolutions on the issues Ruto was blaming the PM for.

He said the minister’s claims on Raila’s stand on post-election violence and Mau were ‘fictitious’.

"Hon Ruto has all the opportunity within the party structures as well as in Government to discuss the practical issues of implementing this resolution with he PM. Constantly inciting ethnic animosity by finding fictitious faults with his party leader in public is simply undermining the party and weakening the solidarity of its members at the national level," Nyong’o said.

In the terse statement sent to newsrooms, Prof Nyong’o said contrary to Ruto’s claims, the PM stood by the youth who were accused of engaging in the post-election violence.

The statement followed comments Ruto at the weekend that Raila had forsaken those who supported him during the campaigns.

Speaking in Kipkelion, Ruto hit hard at the PM accusing him of turning his back on him soon after the last elections.

Ruto said he sacrificed a lot of his time at the KICC during the presidential vote-tallying, a dispute that led to the current coalition government with Raila as PM.

Said Ruto: "I have no grudge against the PM whom I fought so hard for to become PM. I am surprised he turned his back on me and those who struggled for him following the flawed elections."

Incite the public

On Mau Forest, Ruto accused Raila of betraying the Kalenjin by supporting evictions but yesterday the party said the PM’s firm stand was as per the party position and nothing personal.

Nyong’o claimed the minister was out to "incite the public against the PM" and using what it termed "fictitious faults" to weaken ODM.

After Nyongo’s statement, three ODM MPs allied to Ruto came to his defence, saying they fully support his assertions.

MPs Isaac Ruto, Julius Kones and Joshua Kuttuny said the PM betrayed the entire Kalenjin community by pushing for the evictions from the Mau water tower and over his stand on the arrests of youth from the Rift Valley over post-election violence.

"It was not only William Ruto who was betrayed but the entire Kalenjin community. Raila did not bother to feel what those who were arrested went through but only wanted them punished for standing by his desire for power," said the Chepalungu MP.

Kuttuny said it was wrong to claim that it was a party decision to evict people from the Mau and "throw them into the cold".

In his statement, Nyong’o had said the evictions from Mau had been agreed upon both in Government and in ODM circles.

Kuttuny said the Agriculture Minister was not disrespectful to the party leader but was merely exercising his democratic rights.

"The party’s swift reaction to Ruto’s concerns about the manner the PM was handling matters was a confirmation that whatever he was doing had the blessings of the party," said Kuttuny.

Dr Kones said he was not surprised with the immediate reaction by the party adding, "the PM was the first person to insist that everyone carries his or her own cross. He has not acknowledged he is a PM today as a product of mass action of which he was the chief architect’.

"We are now convinced that some national party officials colluded with the PM to frustrate our people and (William) Ruto," said Kuttuny.

The three MPs who spoke separately said the PM took charge of the Mau evictions "as if it was an emergency simply because he wanted to punish our people".

Rewarded lucratively

But another group of MPs allied to Raila joined the war of words and defended Raila against the accusations levelled against him.

The MPs were Shakeel Shabbir (Kisumu Town East), Pollyns Ochieng’ Daima (Nyakach), Olago Aluoch (Kisumu Town West) and Fred Outa (Nyando).

Ochieng’ termed Ruto’s claims unjustified.

"Ruto was rewarded lucratively by Raila for his efforts after the bungled General Election. He should stop crying foul," said Ochieng.

He went on: "His is one of the top ministries. It has 29 parastatals which Ruto is in charge of and has used to build himself politically".

He added other leaders like Cabinet ministers Henry Kosgey, James Orengo and Charity Ngilu put up a spirited fight at KICC during the controversial presidential vote tallying and are content with portfolios the PM gave them.

"Ruto should learn to appreciate. He should know that he is not the only one in ODM," he added.

Shabbir said Ruto was a political bully "but the problem is that he is trying to bully the wrong person,"

Olago said he was surprised at Ruto for opening up a healing wound.

"Many ODM leaders played a role in ensuring the party shared power after the bungled elections. Some were rewarded like him and others were not because there are no slots for all of us," said Olago.

Outa said dropping Ruto from the Cabinet was long overdue and urged the PM not to be lenient on him.

Ruto could not be reached for comment.

Monday, January 25, 2010

TALKS RESUME

The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Constitution resumed talks on the revised draft constitution early on Monday hoping to beat a Wednesday deadline.

The Members who had reported back to the Great Rift Valley Lodge on Sunday evening started deliberations shortly after 8am. The team had taken the weekend break after meeting for five days last week in which considerable agreements were made including a Presidential system, 18 regions, a 356 member-Parliament and a 54-member Senate.

Lined on the table for debate this week are the finer details of devolution in which they will be weighing between the Majimbo backed regional governments (proposed by the Orange Democratic Movement) and the resource backed system fronted by the Party of National Unity. The team will also be seeking appropriate checks and balances for the Presidency and also finalise on the question of representation.

“We will also be looking into matters concerning the Police, the Judiciary and the transitional clauses,” Vice Chairman Ababu Namwamba said.

The emotive debate on land and the environment will also be discussed this week.

A proposal to merge the regular police and the Administration Police (AP) is expected to pose a challenge. Whilst the Committee of Experts (CoE) entrenched the Police Service, it provided for the creation of the AP through Acts of Parliament.

On the Judiciary, the team will be looking at the consequences of provisions requiring all judges to apply for their jobs afresh and a fair compensation package for those who choose to exit.

The team has promised to release a report of its agreements on Wednesday before officially handing it to the CoE.

The PSC received the revised draft from the experts over two weeks ago and has until this Friday to submit amendments and recommendations for incorporation. The experts will have three weeks to incorporate the views and submit a final document for debate and adoption by the National Assembly.

The team has altered most of the views of the experts raising concerns from a section of the civil society. The group has accused the team of overstepping its mandate by discussing matters that initially were not termed contentious.

The Parliamentarians have come under fire by deleting any reference of the civil society and declining to entrench the Human Rights and Gender Commission in the Constitution. They have also been criticised for apparently ‘watering down’ the Bill of Rights.

The PSC has however received big accolades from the political class for making ‘momentous agreements’ especially on the structure of government and representation without much haggling.

RAILA BRIEFED

ODM wing of the Parliamentary Select Committee met Prime Minister Raila Odinga to consolidate a position on devolution at the ongoing constitutional talks.

However, Agriculture Minister William Ruto and his ally and Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto did not attend the three-hour meeting at Nairobi Club, on Sunday.

But contacted, the Chepalungu MP said he received the invite late and could not make it to the meeting as he was in his constituency.

"I received the invite on Saturday and it was impossible for me to attend as I was in Chepalungu. If anything, the issues will be discussed in Naivasha," he said on the telephone. We could not get a response from the Agriculture Minister as calls to his mobile phone went unanswered.

Though the meeting was private, it is understood devolution and mode of delimitation of constituency and district boundaries took centre stage, with the MPs resolving to push for a strong devolution to check the Executive. This would also go along with a strong senate.

"The group was of the view that there is no need for a strong Executive with a weak Senate. The Senate has to be strong to check the Executive," said a source.

The Prime Minister also heard from the group how the party pushed for a leaner Parliament, but was unable to counter PNU’s proposal of more than 300 MPs. ODM wanted a Parliament of not more than 256 members. PSC arrived at 356 MPs (both in the Senate and National Assembly).

It is also understood the PM was taken through how the PSC hit a brick wall on the method to be used in creating the electoral units at the Naivasha retreat. The meeting further dwelt on how the ODM team would handle the matter when PSC resumes its sittings this morning.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

HOMABAY MBITA RODA

Raila Odinga Saturday at Mbita town launched the historical 43kilometres long Mbita -Homabay road to be constructed at a cost of 3.4billion Kenyan shillings.

The Premier, who hailed the project as a "major milestone'' geared towards opening up the lake region for socio-economic development, said that the road which will be upgraded to bitumen standards is expected to be completed in the next 30months.

He said that the government was committed to achieving the aspirations of the vision 2030 by improving infrastructural facilities in the whole country adding that the government will continue constructing roads all over the country to improve the communication network.

‘'As a government, we are taking major strides and investing in roads, electricity, water and roads all over the country because we know that infrastructure is key to economic development''. He said.

The PM regretted that forty six years after independence the main road leading to Rusinga Island, a highly prospective tourism hub had continue to be in an awful state.

‘'It is shameful that no road goes to the late Tom Mboya's final resting place despite the fact that he was a great statesman and one of the founding fathers of country. The PM noted.

Raila called on the contractor Put Sarajevo General Engineering Company to expedite the construction work and finish within the agreed time.

The PM however cautioned road users in the country to be cautious to avoid accidents that lead to unnecessary lose of life.

He also warned lorry drivers against overloading that leads to the decimation of our roads and called on the police especially at weigh not bridges not to compromise, but apprehend those contravening apt road use regulations.

The PM expressed optimism that the country will have a new constitution soon -and noted that most Kenyans were looking forward to a new constitutional dispensation.

"I am optimistic that we shall all agree and give this country the much awaited constitution''. He said adding that both the two Principals had deliberately opted to stay clear of the constitution making process to avoid influencing any side.

'This is a noble process as the constitution belongs not to us but to Kenya and to over 40 million Kenyans.'' He said.

However, the PM said that a referendum will be carried out since it is stipulated in the current statutes.

He was responding to calls by leaders who suggested that since there appears to be a consensus among Kenyans then there should no referendum but instead the funds earmarked for the same exercise be channeled to kazi kwa vijana programme to create additional employment opportunities for the youth.

Among those in attendance included ministers Franklin Bett, James Orengo,Otieno Kajwanga who also the Mbita MP.

Others were MPs Elizabeth Ongoro, John Pesa, James Rege,Omondi Anyango ,Paddy Ahenda among others

COLD FEET

Civil Society Organisations have dropped campaigns for a Yes-Yes referendum after the adoption of a presidential system of government.

National Civil Society Congress (NCSC) spokesman Morris Odhiambo said on Sunday that they were satisfied that the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution which has been meeting in Naivasha had addressed their concerns on the system of government.

“The Yes-Yes referendum option gave a clear way of bringing the process to an end, and avoid going back to the current constitutional dispensation; with the current consensus and avoid going the hybrid way which is neither Parliamentary nor Presidential. To that extent then, the campaign has succeeded,” he said.

The lobbyists say focus should now shift to ensuring there are sufficient checks and balances.

They said this would avoid misuse of power by the person elected to lead the country.

Mr Odhiambo said: “We call upon all Kenyans in general, politicians in different political parties and the Committee of Experts on Constitution Review to embrace the consensus on a presidential system of government. Let the debate therefore shift to the important aspects of checks and balances within the system.”

They called on the Kenyans to continue piling pressure to ensure the delivery of the elusive document.

“Major challenges lie ahead. These challenges will in fact not end when the process is concluded. Greater challenges lie in the implementation phase. We must endeavour to put our leaders in checks so as to avoid past abuses from recurring” he said.

MPs meeting in Naivasha in the past week agreed to a US-style presidential system of governance with checks and balances provided by Parliament and the Judiciary.

The agreement on the system of government was reached on last Wednesday by the PSC meeting at the Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha.

The agreement could be a significant turning point in the country’s failed attempts to write a new constitution in the last two decades.

The issue of the system of government was among the most contentious with one half of the government preferring a presidential system and the other a parliamentary system with a ceremonial President while a Prime Minister elected by MPs would have exercises executive authority.

The draft, which the 26 members of the PSC are going through, recommended a hybrid system of government where the premier and the president shared power.

The MPs resume meetings in Naivasha on Monday to agree on regional representation.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Njenga's wife to be buried

The wife of former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga and three other top officials of the sect will finally be buried on Saturday, after nearly two years of staying in the mortuary.

Mr Njenga who recently denounced the sect to embrace Christianity told reporters that he has raised Sh6 million which is enough to cater for mortuary fees and funeral arrangements.

“God is great because I have good friends who have assisted me to raise Sh6 million shillings for the mortuary fees and funeral expenses. The money is enough to cater for all the arrangements,” Mr Njenga told reporters at his Kitengela farm where friends and relatives had gathered to finalise the funeral arrangements.

Virginia Nyakio and her driver George Njoroge were abducted in Nairobi on April 8, 2008 but their bodies were found the following day in Gakoye forest, Gatundu.

They had panga cuts and appeared to have been tortured before they were killed, according to family members who at the time accused police of involvement in the killings, but Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe later denied the claims.

No suspect has been prosecuted over the murder nearly two years later.

The two other people to be buried on Saturday include Charles Ndung’u who was acting chairman in Mr Njenga’s absence and then national Treasurer Naftali Irungu who were executed on April 28, 2008 as they drove to Naivasha to visit the leader who was in prison. Both are Mr Njenga’s in-laws.

All the four bodies have been lying at the mortuary and had accumulated a staggering bill of Sh5 million, according to the former sect leader.

He said his wife will be buried within his compound while the three others will be buried at his other farm, about a kilometer away.

“My wife and the other three relatives deserve a descent burial and that is what they are going to get, I have received overwhelming support,” Mr Njenga said.

Thousands of Mungiki members and supporters are expected to attend the funeral.

Police said they will intensify security in Kitengela and parts of the city to ensure Mungiki members going for the burial do not cause mayhem.

A senior police officer said “we are on high alert; we have information that the burial will be used as a Mungiki gathering.”

“There will be tight security around that (Kitengela) area and around the city because there will be a lot of Mungiki going for that burial, we will not allow them to cause violence,” the officer added.

“He (Njenga) has notified us of the funeral and we are aware, but you see it is our mandate to provide security, therefore the burial will go on but we will be around to ensure it goes on peacefully.”

NO COUNTIES

The Parliamentary Select Committee on the constitution (PSC) on Friday settled for the creation of 18 regions in the country.

The regions that will replace provinces will act as the lowest level of devolution and will be demarcated by the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC).

The team further adopted a two-chamber Parliament with a senate made of 54 members and a lower house of 356 legislators. Each region is to be represented by three elected Senators and the team will meet four times annually to represent the interests of the regions and review the work of the legislator but will not make any laws.

The IIBRC will create 290 constituencies. 12 members will be nominated by the political parties. A proposal by the Committee of Experts to create 47 counties was trashed by the PSC.

The PSC had earlier shown signs that it was having a change of heart after it proposed an increase to the number of parliamentary seats to 359, up from the 325 suggested earlier at the on-going retreat in Naivasha.

Members had voted on Friday morning to adopt 300 constituencies and 59 nominated MPs, but this was changed hours later in the interest of devolution.

Professor Peter Aduol and Johnstone Sakaja, who had been called to help resolve a deadlock over representation, reportedly argued that the country’s 40 million people would adequately be represented in Parliament if a uniform figure was arrived at in creating constituencies.

Experts have recommended 133,000 as the minimum population for each constituency.

Currently, the minimum number of constituencies is 188 while the maximum is 210. The MPs also debated on the most appropriate formula for differentiating between rural, urban and sparsely populated areas.

Debate on devolution was divided with members debating between a resource-based devolution floated by PNU and Majimbo driven being spearheaded by ODM.

The team broke for the weekend on Friday evening and was scheduled to resume the deliberations on Monday morning.

ODM PLANNED THIS?

It was expected to be a contentious point that would either break or make the new constitution.

But when it came on Thursday, it surprised, nay, shocked even the keenest of observers on both sides of the political aisle at the ease of convergence of opinion.

Yet within Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM party inner sanctum, the tabling of a ‘pure’ presidential system before the Parliamentary Select Committee meeting in Naivasha was a masterstroke cleverly weaved together and kept secret for days.

It is emerging that ODM top brass, which had for years been advocating a parliamentary system to tame ‘imperial’ presidency met twice last week when it was agreed they would promote a pure presidential system.

It was then that a team of technocrats called the Technical Team was then roped in to refine the position before the meeting started on Monday. It is understood ODM wanted to take a proactive approach, seemingly agreeing to a revised presidential system unlike the one contained in the Harmonised Draft Constitution.

By drawing the pure presidential system, and getting the meeting in Naivasha to agree to it, ODM seems to have had their way, without arousing suspicion from other members who may have wanted an imperial president as suggested in the draft document.

In the agreed system, the power wielded by the President will be drastically cut in addition to being the focus of scrutiny from the other branches of government – the Legislature and the Judiciary.

The proposed pure presidential system is tailored along that of the United States with strong separation of powers, checks, and balances.

There will be no clandestine promises for positions in government and wanton creation of ministries and political positions to accommodate vested interests.

Under the proposal, the president will have his running mate, who will become the vice-president. Out will go the office of the prime minister and the two deputies as structured in the current political arrangement.

The implications are that the country will have a leaner government of popularly elected leaders, as opposed to those hand picked along party lines.

But Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang’ read mischief in the arrangement. To him, some members of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) think they are targeting Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

"They think that the law is being made for Raila, but they misread the mood in the country because Kenyans think otherwise and they will come to realise that later," said Kajwang’.

Debate on the system of government has shifted from the parliamentary system, which was favoured by the majority in the Bomas draft, the presidential system in the Wako draft, the hybrid system in the Committee of Experts (CoE) draft, and now the pure parliamentary system.

Kajwang’ warned that the so-called pure presidential system will be a bigger monster than the current imperial presidency.

"The President can ignore all other institutions, including Parliament and the Judiciary, and there was therefore no use for establishing the Committee of Experts because their input was ignored," said Kajwang’.

Should the draft be adopted then the country would use institutions to provide for checks and balances and guard against executive excesses. Parliament will have its own calendar. The President will not prorogue Parliament or delay its opening to suit his own political whims. "The President will not be able to pick half of the MPs and put them in the Cabinet as is the practice now," said former Constitution of Kenya Review Commission member Mutakha Kangu.

First, just like in the US, the President will pick members of the Cabinet from outside Parliament. These, like in the US, will be subjected to intensive vetting in Parliament. That means that only qualified people whose integrity is beyond reproach will serve in the Cabinet.

Secondly, the pure presidential system will have the second chamber of the House or the Senate as in the US.

Sources said that on Saturday that members of the PSC were on Friday evening discussing the need for a bicameral parliament. The Senate will be composed of members representing regions. That further reduces the President’s influence over Parliament.

"The pure presidential system should have a senate because it is involved in the process of impeaching the President whenever there is need for disciplinary measures," said an ODM member of the PSC.

The PSC has agreed to create 47 parliamentary seats for the senate as proposed in the revised Harmonised Draft Constitution. The senators will represent the 47 counties, these being the original districts, excluding those created by former President Moi and President Kibaki.

The third feature in the system is an independent Judiciary whose members are not appointed by the President, without vetting.

Clear separation of roles will mean that MPs will concentrate on legislative business and put members of the Cabinet under close scrutiny.

The ODM insists that for the pure presidential system to function properly, devolution should include three tiers of government – national, regional, and county.

Since the new constitution will have a strong Bill of Rights, the President will be forced by law to respect the rights of citizens.

Political analysts Adams Oloo expressed optimism that a pure presidential system will end imperial presidency and chart a new political dispensation.

However, Nairobi lawyer George Kegoro differs with Dr Oloo, arguing that any system of government is good with effective checks and balances to minimise abuse of power.

"It does not matter whether we go presidential or parliamentary as what matters are the measures taken to minimise abuse of power," said Kegoro.

Oloo posits that a pure presidential system would ruin political careers of ambitious politicians eyeing the presidency.

But lawyer Harun Ndubi dismissed the pure presidential system as a cosmetic measure that will not serve the interests of Kenyans. Mr Ndubi also cautioned that the pure presidential system would kill political parties, as there will be no motivation to strengthen them.

"The best system would have been the parliamentary model because the hybrid system we have was a transition to the parliamentary," said Ndubi. He felt there would be no effective accountability because the President may cut deals with MPs who are desperate for survival.

Oloo also says the country may experience a presidential run-off in the 2012 General Election, as no candidate may be able to win more than 50 per cent of the total votes cast.

"Since the first multi-party elections in 1992, the highest percentage a presidential candidate has managed is 36, and no one may go beyond the 50 per cent mark in 2012," said Oloo. Moreover, those who fail to secure the presidency will remain ordinary politicians.

Oloo also predicts new political re-alignments may emerge, since there will be limited appointments to be dished out by the President.

"With the positions of prime minister and his two deputies being done away with, some of the emerging alliances like the KKK [Kikuyu, Kamba, Kalenjin] alliance may be jolted because it may not be easy for the three forces behind it to agree who among them steps down for the presidential candidate and his running-mate," said Oloo.

But he believes the system would end clandestine promises for vice-presidency to various persons as a trick to win votes, since the occupier of that position will have been the President’s running mate.

Friday, January 22, 2010

BREAK

Kenya will now have 356 MPs if proposals by a Parliamentary team discussing the revised draft constitution are adopted.

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Friday agreed to increase the number of constituencies to 290 and retain the current 12 nominated positions.

The 26-member committee also provided for a further 54 special seats, which will be reserved for women.

There will also be a Senate made up of 54 members, a third of whom must be women. The Senators will meet only four times a year to discuss regional matters but will not be involved in law-making.

The team also agreed on a two-tier government: national and regional and provided for 18 regional governments.

The MPs had on Wednesday debated the emotive chapter on the executive well into the night and came up with a pure presidential system of government.

Under the model, the president will be both head of state and government and will be checked by parliament and an independent judiciary.

However, the MPs were unable to agree on the mode of devolution, whether political or financial. The former involves people governing themselves including decision making while the latter sees resources devolved to respective regions.

The committee took a break and will resume deliberations on Monday to iron out the contentious issues before handing over the draft to the Committee of Experts.

The CoE will, in turn, incorporate the changes before returning the document to Parliament for debate.

RAILA IN TROUBLE

Raila Odinga heads to Nyanza Province on Saturday to marshal ODM troops amid leadership wrangles in the party branches.

Factions have emerged and parallel list of officials prepared ahead of the Saturday meeting in Homa Bay, where 32 branches will converge.

In Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno’s Rongo constituency, he has to contend with the team of former MP and his rival Ochilo Ayacko.

Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang’ is also facing a similar scenario while Internal Security Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode will face off with a faction led by Nyanza ODM co-ordinator Monicah Amolo.

ODM chief whip Jakoyo Midiwo is not spared either. In Nyakach former MP Peter Odoyo and the incumbent Polyns Ochieng’ Daima are engaged in a fight over the leadership of the branch.

In Karachuonyo, former MP Adhu Awiti and Jack Nduri have ganged up against the incumbent James Rege. Nyatike MP Edick Omondi Anyanga is in war with his opponent Kennedy Okong’o.

However, Anyanga denied existence of any faction in Nyatike saying he would lead a team from his constituency to the meeting.

During the ODM party elections, some of the MPs lost to their opponents and declined to concede defeat and instead declared themselves winners. This led to formation of factions.

The move by Raila to iron out differences in the party is seen as a move to consolidate his stake and get a strong voice in the region ahead of the constitutional referendum.

Raila and Agriculture Minister William Ruto have fallen out. The minister declared he would vie for president in the 2012 General Election.

Ruto’s supporters have threatened to sever links with Raila and form a new alliance with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka for the next General Election. Ruto has been holding a series of meetings with civic leaders from Rift Valley with most belonging to ODM.

Constituencies where all is well after the polls include Gwasi, Migori, Kasipul-Kabondo and the larger Gusii. In some constituencies, MPs are facing revolt from rival factions, a move that threatens the party’s popularity.

359 CONSTITUENCIES

The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the Constitution is now proposing an increase the number of parliamentary seats to 359, up from the 325 suggested earlier at the on-going retreat in Naivasha.

Members voted on today to adopt 300 constituencies and 59 nominated MPs.

Professor Peter Aduol and Johnstone Sakaja, who had been called to help resolve a deadlock over representation, reportedly argued that the country’s 40 million people would adequately be represented in Parliament if a uniform figure was arrived at in creating constituencies.

Experts have recommended 133,000 as the minimum population for each constituency.

The 26-member PSC was divided on whether to go by the experts’ proposal or stick to their own recommendation to create 56 new electoral areas. This is the second time the committee has increased the constituencies after raising the number to 266 on Tuesday.

The contention has been how constituencies would be established. One school of thought is that it should be based on population, while another roots for geographical area. It was agreed that the question of the formula be shelved and experts called in to help.

Currently, the minimum number of constituencies is 188 while the maximum is 210. The MPs also debated on the most appropriate formula for differentiating between rural, urban and sparsely populated areas. During Wednesday's sessions, women MPs said in case the proposal to have an additional 90 constituencies was passed.

The team moved on to discuss the chapter on Devolution. Members were debating between a resource-based devolution floated by PNU and Majimbo driven being spearheaded by ODM.

There have been proposals to also do away with the proposed 47 counties and instead create 30 regions.

It was unclear if the meeting which was due to end on today had concluded its objectives. The members are likely to continue deliberations over the weekend.

PRESIDENTIAL ALL THE WAY

The Kenyan section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has expressed its support for the pure presidential system of government agreed upon by the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution.

Chairman Albert Kamunde says the system would enable the Executive to be accountable to the voters, adding that increasing the number of MPs would act as a stronger check to the Executive.

“If the idea of increasing the Members of Parliament is to improve representation, then it will be a good thing because Parliament as an organ needs to be strong to be able to check the other two (arms of government – Executive and Judiciary),” the ICJ chairman said.

“Of cause you have to pay for this increased number but as far as I am concerned, if the increased cost comes with increased representation it is a price Kenyans should be willing to pay,” he added.

The chairman underscored the need to increase the number of constituencies to allow for equal representation in all areas.

“If you have one MP being voted in by over 100, 000 votes and another MP by 5,000 votes, then you have to look for a way to ensure that every constituency has got an almost equal number of voters,” he said.

“In this instance, when Kenyans vote on an issue, they will feel that their vote counts.”

The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the Constitution is now proposing an increase the number of parliamentary seats to 359, up from the 325 suggested earlier at the on-going retreat in Naivasha.

Members voted on Friday to adopt 300 constituencies and 59 nominated MPs.

Professor Peter Aduol and Johnstone Sakaja, who had been called to help resolve a deadlock over representation, reportedly argued that the country’s 40 million people would adequately be represented in Parliament if a uniform figure was arrived at in creating constituencies.

Experts have recommended 133,000 as the minimum population for each constituency.

The 26-member PSC was divided on whether to go by the experts’ proposal or stick to their own recommendation to create 56 new electoral areas. This is the second time the committee has increased the constituencies after raising the number to 266 on Tuesday.

The contention has been how constituencies would be established. One school of thought is that it should be based on population, while another roots for geographical area. It was agreed that the question of the formula be shelved and experts called in to help.

Currently, the minimum number of constituencies is 188 while the maximum is 210. The MPs also debated on the most appropriate formula for differentiating between rural, urban and sparsely populated areas. During Wednesday's sessions, women MPs said in case the proposal to have an additional 90 constituencies was passed.

The team moved on to discuss the chapter on Devolution. Members were debating between a resource-based devolution floated by PNU and Majimbo driven being spearheaded by ODM.

There have been proposals to also do away with the proposed 47 counties and instead create 30 regions.

It was unclear if the meeting which was due to end on Friday had concluded its objectives. The members were likely to continue deliberations over the weekend.

The deal reached by PSC members, sounded the death knell for the hybrid system of government as had been proposed in the harmonised draft by the Committee of Experts.

The Committee Chairman Dr Nzamba Kitonga said his team will adopt the changes agreed by the PSC.

“We are bound to accept all the changes that have been agreed upon by the PSC through consensus,” said Dr Kitonga.

He said the CoE will only input on areas of disagreement or where changes made are vague.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

PNU WINS

Kenya could be headed for a pure presidential system of governance modeled around the American one.

Reports from Naivasha indicate that the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution has settled on a pure presidential system of government to be checked by a strong Parliament and an independent Judiciary.

The 26 members extended their sittings on Wednesday evening and unanimously agreed on the system without having to vote. In the envisaged system, the President and Ministers will be non-members of Parliament.

The PSC was on Thursday scheduled to agree on the finer details of the system although it already ruled out the post of Prime Minister. The powerful President will however be thoroughly checked by the House.

Under this system all key government appointees will be approved by Parliament.

The presidential system has been fronted by the Party of National Unity while its coalition partner the Orange Democratic Movement has all along insisted on a pure parliamentary system. Narc Kenya came up with the proposal to adopt the American system in a bid to avoid creating two centres of power.

In its bid to adopt a middle ground, the Committee of Experts proposed a hybrid system which provided for a ceremonial President while the Prime Minister would have been Head of State and Government yielding executive power.

The committee is in a weeklong retreat in Naivasha to gain consensus on the contentious issues. The committee on Wednesday agreed on a 325-member Parliament but is yet to discuss the proposed two-chamber Parliament.

Other contentious chapters lined up for debate include the one on devolution, the Judiciary and the transitional clauses.

The team is due to submit its report to the Committee of Experts on January 29.

The experts will then be expected to incorporate the proposed amendments within 21 days and hand over the document for debate and adoption by Parliament.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

TRIP OVER

Raila Odinga has Wednesday concluded his official visit to Singapore with firm commitments for increased participation by Singaporean experts in Kenya's economic and technical development.

In a technical agreement signed during the PM's visit, Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE) was tasked to conceptualize, implement and manage three special economic zones in Mombasa, Kisumu and Lamu to enhance Kenya's quest towards the realization of vision 2030.

The government of Kenya also agreed to engage SCE in planning and implementation of affordable and sustainable public housing system.

It was further agreed that the two countries would collaborate in the development of ports, e-government, and Mass Rapid Transit System dealing in both rail and road transport in major urban areas in Kenya.

Singapore and Kenya also agreed to ease air connections between the two countries by allowing Kenya Airways and Singapore Airlines to operate in the two countries.

And during a courtesy call on the Singaporean Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Mr. Odinga said Kenya would draw from Singapore's advanced technology particularly in financial services, information communication technology (ICT), housing and urban development, transport and trade to develop her own economy.

Noting that Singapore and Kenya were at par in the 1960s, the PM observed that wealth creation rather than handouts was the way to succeed in Kenya's efforts to realize the status of a newly industrialized country as envisaged in vision 2030.

Mr. Odinga said massive rural-urban migration that arose soon after independence had severely compromised services to the people in the urban areas and singled out shortage of housing as one of the most affected.

This phenomenon, he added, was the cause of the growth of slums in the urban centres which have been difficult to eradicate in Kenya because of lack of resources.

Mr. Goh Chok Tong encouraged Kenya to modernize her systems and adopt workable policies that would spur economic development.

The PM is accompanied by the Minister for Industrialization Henry Kosgey, the Minister for Transport Chirau Ali Mwakwere, the Minister for Housing Soita Shitanda, the Minister for Trade Amos Kimunya, the Minister for Information and Communications Samuel Poghisio and an Assistant Minister for Finance Dr. Oburu Oginga.

MORE MPS

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review (PSC) has agreed on an additional 90 parliamentary seats to the current 222 in the quest for fair representation.

Reports indicate that the Committee on Tuesday evening passed a resolution to increase the number but was stuck on the criteria to delimit new constituencies and add nominated members.

The Committee resumed negotiations on Wednesday morning to sort out the criteria in its third day of the weeklong retreat. Speaking on Tuesday as the discussions went on, PSC Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed assured that the criteria to be adopted would balance off constituency sizes with the population density.

“Our guiding principle is to be fair so that there is adequate and fair representation to those areas that are heavily populated and those that are vast and sparsely populated,” he said.

Members of Parliament from the densely populated areas have on different occasions maintained that the units must be based on ‘one man one vote’ while their counterparts from the sparsely populated have insisted on ‘one kilometer one vote’ criteria.

“The two are not mutually exclusive. You could be fair to both without anybody feeling left out or unfairly treated,” Mr Mohammed said.

Currently there are 210 constituencies with 12 nominated members while the Speaker and the Attorney General are ex-officio members. A key factor in the criteria is how the nominated seats will be allocated to the political parties, a matter that has been in contention all along. There have been proposals to allocate special seats to women, the youth and persons with disabilities and all these need to be negotiated.

Later on Wednesday the PSC was expected to start discussions on the more contentious clause of the structure of the Executive.

While the Party of National Unity is pushing for a Presidential system with ‘checks and balances’ the Orange Democratic Movement insists on a Parliamentary system of governance.

Both parties have dismissed the compromise hybrid system proposed by the Committee of Experts on Constitution Review.

Earlier on Tuesday, the PSC yielded to public pressure to seal the ‘loophole that could give gay marriages a legal lifeline.’ The proposed draft had stated that “every adult has the right to found a family” raising eyebrows especially from religious leaders who had threatened to reject the document saying this was a Western ideal.

The team spent much of its second day debating the Bill of Rights which is the fifth Chapter. Reports indicated that the committee deleted close to half of the chapter claiming “the Committee of Experts was influenced by the civil society.”

Attempts to entrench the Human Rights and Gender Commission in the Constitution were also thwarted as the team deleted any mention of the institution in this chapter. The retreat is meant to arrive at a compromise on the contentious issues and emerge with a document that will be acceptable to MPs in Parliament and Kenyans at the referendum.

WUOD ALEGO STEPS IN AS ODM RUNS SCARED

Barack Obama Tuesday evening called Mwai Kibaki in Nairobi and Raila Odinga in Singapore with the message
‘Give Kenyans a new constitution’

But before the son a Kenyan father made the calls, sources said, he first sent his envoy in Kenya to State House with a written message for Kibaki and Raila. It was here Mr Michael Ranneberger was said to have delivered the message and time of the call, believed to have been set for 8pm. Obama, the most persistent leader in the West pushing Kenya to embrace constitutional reforms, intensified the pressure on the two as a key House Committee raced against time to reach consensus on sticky clauses in the Revised Harmonised Draft.


Sources revealed Kibaki and Raila took Obama’s call as the heat rose within the Grand Coalition after it turned out Raila’s Orange Democratic Movement’s idea of a pure presidential system was fundamentally different from the model Kibaki’s Party of National Unity is pushing for.

It turned out ODM’s desired pure presidential system is far more restrictive to the holder of the office and comes along with tougher checks and balances, including a stronger devolved system, than PNU expected when it welcomed ODM’s decision to dump the hybrid system.

The two groups represented in the Parliamentary Select Committee on constitution review, which is meeting in Naivasha and to which Kibaki and Raila surrendered the task of haggling for a cross-party compromise, were meeting for the second day in Naivasha yesterday.

The Americans have since late last year pushed the country’s top leadership to give the country a new constitution. Ranneberger and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Mr Jonnie Carson have repeatedly cautioned America would no longer tolerate leaders opposed to the reform agenda in Kenya.

Confidential sources familiar with the behind the scenes negotiations in Grand Coalition, opine Kenya will continue using the presidential system of government should the PSC agree on one of the two options proposed by ODM and PNU.

ODM agreed to go with a radically changed presidential system after intense negotiations and lobbying in Nairobi last week.

It also emerged ODM dropped the hybrid model because of two fears. First, Kenyans could vote it out because of believe its weaknesses are mirrored in the problematic Grand Coalition, and two, PNU made it look like Orange mandarins ‘fear’ presidential elections because it would be harder for them to win.

"The ODM side proposed that both the President and members of the Cabinet should not be MPs," said an ODM source.

Sources said ODM’s PSC members argued the hybrid system proposed by Committee of Experts would be hard to sell. "Even majority of the PSC members do not agree with the hybrid system which is not also supported by the public," said a source.

At the Naivasha retreat yesterday evening ODM delegation went into closed-door consultations before joining those from PNU to start looking at the chapter on the Executive.

It was not established what was discussed but it was widely speculated they were making last minute consultations on what they agreed last week.

PSC led by Mandera Central MP Mohammed Abdikadir converged in Naivasha on Sunday to seek a consensus on contentious issues.

During the ODM meeting on Wednesday last week, the party dropped its demand for a pure parliamentary system as earlier proposed.

The party had only a day before released a statement read by Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi emphasising it would settle for nothing less than a pure parliamentary system. The country will get completely new structures of governance under a new Constitution should the PSC meeting strike a consensus.

During the meeting chaired by Raila the team of technocrats led by Dr Mutakha Kangu and Mr Miguna Miguna it was agreed that the technocrats draft a presidential system for presentation at the meeting with PNU side the following day and that the party would accept the system. "The technocrats were reluctant, saying ODM backing presidential system would be seen to be losing the reform agenda," said the source.

Raila then laid out what would be entailed in the pure presidential system that PNU was demanding and the ODM alternative. Based on the explanation, the technocrats drew laid down the party’s definition of a presidential system.

The PNU side insisted on the retention of the current presidential system of government. The Thursday meeting ended in a stalemate because ODM demanded that the presidential system should have checks and balances.

The party said the current system is not presidential but a "hybrid and a mongrel" that has caused confusion and blurred separation of powers.

ODM said the presidential system the party wants would have a President who will not be an MP.

It argued a president could not belong to the Executive and Legislature at the same time because that kills the checks and balances that come with separation of powers.

In the current system, the President is also an MP. But he never comes to the House except in his capacity as Head of State and addresses the House from the Speaker’s chair. ODM has proposed the President does not occupy the seating position the Head of State currently enjoys.

The presidential system ODM wants will also mean that ministers are picked from outside parliament. The ODM side argued currently, ministers, who are part of the Executive, are also MPs, thus making them part of the Legislature.

"When a ministry is being probed or when its accounts are being probed, the minister sits in the House and votes on his own ministry,’’ a source revealed the party concluded in its drive for its model.

ODM wants that changed so ministers appointed from outside parliament will not be allowed to vote.

Any MP appointed minister must quit the parliamentary seat. The presidency proposed by ODM is tailored on the US or Nigeria system, where a presidential candidate picks a running mate who will be VP and then picks ministers from outside Parliament.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MAU PHASE 3

The third phase of evicting illegal settlers in the Mau Forest will have to wait until a report by a legal subcommittee formed to vet genuine title deed holders from fake holders completes investigations and tables its findings.

Forestry Minister Noah Wekesa said the subcommittee is currently carrying out investigations to establish occupants who are either original allotees or third party owners, and is expected to make its findings known in the next three to four weeks.

The third phase will see the eviction of persons some of whom have genuine titles whereas some are original allotees or third party owners.

The evictions target the Maasai Mau in which Ol Pusimoru and the expansive Kiptagich Tea Factory partly owned by former President Daniel Moi are located.

This is deemed to be the most difficult part of the evictions as many of the occupants have title deeds.

The government has so far reclaimed over 60,000 hectares of land in the Mau and subsequently planted some 20,000 seedlings in an exercise that was launched last Friday by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The Interim Coordinating Secretariat (ICS) ICS chairman Hassan Noor Hassan said he would announce a date for the commencement of the evictions.

Hassan also said the fourth phase of evictions would be aimed at recovering 61,000 hectares of former forest land in Marioshoni, Mauche, Teret, Nessuit, Likia and Bararget.

PILOT DAVID OTAI DEAD

A Kenyan student in the US has been killed after a single engine Cessna aircraft he was flying crashed in Southwest Michigan on Sunday morning.

David Otai, 23, was killed alongside his 20-year old female companion when the plane crashed in a snowy Michigan corn field

The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

The plane crashed in Allegan County's Manlius Township, about 5 miles south of the airport and about 155 miles west of Detroit.

Authorities in Southwest Michigan said the old Hope College second year student rented the airplane from Tulip City Air Service and sought emergency assistance from air traffic control, before crashing into the corn field.

"David apparently rented the airplane from Tulip City Air Service (Sunday) morning and sought emergency assistance from air traffic control at the Muskegon County Airport before crashing in a corn field," college President James Bultman said in a posting on the school's Web site.

Mr Otai had been renting planes from the service since early December, owner Ron Ludema told The Holland Sentinel.

He is reported to have been trying to get a commercial pilot's licence to serve as a pilot for the Africa Inland Mission in Kenya.

"He wanted to work for them. He had a purpose (for flying) that he had shared with others on campus," said Hope College spokesman Tom Renner.

According to information published on the school website, the parents of the students have been informed of the tragedy.

The deceased was in the plane with Emma Biagioni, 20, when it crashed in a corn field early Sunday morning.

During the flight which was characterized by poor weather conditions, the trainee pilot is reported to have made a distress call.

Preliminary investigation has shown the student was licenced and trained to fly under those conditions.

Mr Otai was a sophomore, and Ms Biagioni was a junior at the 3,200-student Holland-based liberal arts college, affiliated with the Reformed Church in America.
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