Diaspora Opinion

Returning South Sudan Evacuees Recall Horror

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 Via Mwakilishi

Two-hundred and thirty two Kenyans from South Sudan received a Boxing Day gift from the Government on Thursday when Kenya Airways lifted them back home and back to safety.

As they disembarked, one man lifted his hands to the heavens repeatedly shouting, “God is good,” as another women clutched her son to her chest as she went down the stairs and onto Kenyan soil.
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There was no walking or shouting for Emily Wasike however, as she was lifted off the plane wincing from the pain of a bullet wound in her foot.

Like thousands other Kenyans, she had travelled to South Sudan in search of the promised land only to find that the grass is not always greener.

“It’s not even been a year. A friend of mine told me there was a lot of money to be made over there but now I’ve come back home with nothing but the clothes on my back,” she said as she was wheeled off for a medical examination by the Kenya Red Cross.
“I was working in a hotel in Bentiu on Sunday when they (she’s not clear which faction) came in shooting. I was lucky I just got shot. The Eritrean women I was working with were raped,” she recounted.

Wasike is indeed one of the lucky ones as roughly 1,200 other Kenyans remain trapped in the Bor region from whence the Kenyan government has been unable to carry out any evacuations.

“We’re glad the United Nations has been able to get aid in and we have a charter plane on stand-by to carry out evacuations once we get an opening,” Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibichio said on Thursday.

Six-hundred others he said were being housed at the Kenyan embassy in South Sudan as Kenya Airways prepared to fly them out while boosting the food banks.

“We think the evacuation efforts will go on for a while because we understand that the numbers in Juba are continuing to increase and we are here to support the initiative for as long as it takes,” Kenya Airways Chief Finance Officer Alex Mbugua pledged.

And while Kibichio pegged the number of Kenyans who were resident in South Sudan at 10,000 he admitted that there were many who were unregistered and were therefore complicating rescue efforts.

“Almost half of them had not registered with the embassy. They just go to South Sudan and disappear. For example yesterday we had no one left at the Embassy following evacuations but now we have 600 more to ferry back home,” he said.

The 232 bring the number of those airlifted out of South Sudan to 1,000 as the government couples the rescue and aid efforts with diplomatic ones.

“We are trying to talk to Riek Machar. Very few people in the world have managed to talk to him. But we have an envoy from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are trying,” Kibichio stated as President Uhuru Kenyatta held talks with his South Sudan counterpart and Machar’s nemesis Salva Kiir.

Garang’s Son Blames President Kiir for Conflict

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Via New Vision.
Garang’s son blames President Kiir for conflict Publish Date: Dec 23, 2013
Mabior Garang talks to New Vision in depth about the ongoing fighting in South Sudan.
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 INTERVIEW

By Samuel Ouga and Raymond Baguma                          

Question: In your view, where did the events in South Sudan start from?

Answer: We have to go back further than December 6th. The problems in South Sudan started way back in 2011; after South Sudan independence.  A constitutional Review Commission was formed in South Sudan. After the signing of the CPO there was an interim constitution. The interim constitution was for the interim period from 2005 to 2011.

In 2011 we now had a transitional constitution. By 2014 we are supposed to have a permanent constitution. For this a constitutional review commission was formed and mandated to consult the people of South Sudan on a wide range of issues including how they want to be governed. But the Commission was poorly funded and its mandate expired in 2012 without achieving much.

It’s time was extended but still poorly funded, therefore making it impossible to fulfill its objectives. To me this was an indicator that there will be no national elections and a sign that this government is moving towards a dictatorship. After independence there was a lot of euphoria that many people of South Sudan failed to see the subtle moves towards stifling democracy.

The SPLM was in a period of transition from a liberation movement into a new reality of operating as a political party. SPLM was reviewing its Bush war guiding documents whose geo-political context had changed. Back in the bush way days the SPLM articulated in its documents a context of a united Sudan. But South Sudan gain independence and the context changed.

With this were also problems as the Chairman of the party; President Salva Kiir, frustrated efforts to review the current constitution, rules of procedure and how the national convention would be held.  For instance, in the convention, one of points of contention is the system of voting for the Chairman by show of hands rather than through secret ballot.

The group of 13 progressive party leaders led by Dr. Machar rejected this among other provisions, because people could be intimidated by security during the voting process. So the document was not passed because after the passing of this document SPLM would then be registered as a political party. So SPLM today has not yet been registered as a political party.

The parties act; an important instrument that will regulate party activities, was passed by parliament and forwarded to the president for signing. But up to now it has not been signed into law. These are indications that the president is becoming more authoritarian and that there will be no elections. Because you can’t just wake up one morning and say let’s have elections.

There are due processes that have to be followed. For those who are more educated and understand political science, they knew a long time ago that things were not going well, but sometimes you have to give people time to see what the realities are.

 

This group that has now been accused of mounting the coup has over time also raised concern over among other things the unconstitutional sacking of governors deemed critical to the current government and imposing handpicked governors on the people of South Sudan because he wants all governors to be on his side so that they can doctor the results of the national convention.

According to our constitution when a governor’s seat falls vacant there should be elections within 60 days.  But instead Chairman Salva Kiir unconstitutionally imposed handpicked Governors on the people of South Sudan.

When he sees a governor not doing his bidding, he removes that governor by first accusing him of something. Like he did to the Governors of Lake state, Western Upper Nile state…who were falsely accused and sacked.  Like when he sacked the whole cabinet. He accused the top leaders of having stolen money yet he had no evidence. Why would you do that? It’s like defamation. Why didn’t he charge them in courts of law? He was just doing this to ruin their political image in the eyes of the people.

When in reality the office of the president has borrowed US$4.2 billion. Members of parliament are not aware of details of this loan because they were not informed about it. Nobody knows where it was borrowed from or what the money was used for.

There is nothing to show for it and yet the people of South Sudan are left to finance this loan. Since the oil started flowing government employees have not been paid. It’s a situation where somebody has to say something. Like the Americans say, you can’t keep pissing on people and then you tell them its raining.

This group of 13, on the December 6th, called for a press conference. Before that we all know that he sacked the entire cabinet. He sacked the Vice president. Actually the national convention was supposed to happen before that.

It was so close to the national conference where if you didn’t want Dr. Machar to be your deputy, because you chose him in 2005 and again you chose him in 2011 as your running mate, didn’t you know about the atrocities of 1991 for which he accuses Dr. Machar?

When were reconciled as a movement in 2002 we had left that behind us in 2002 and we had started a process of reconciliation. Until 2005 we came together with Dr. Machar as a movement. When the CPO was signed we came with Dr. Machar as a member of the SPLM.  So why would he bring up the 1991 massacre now?

President Kiir now keeps referring to Dr. Riek Machar as the prophet of doom and keeps mentioning the 1991 massacre. The 1991 incident is being used to politicise things on tribal and to remove attention away from his mismanagement.

The Group of 13 are not saying that they are the benevolent ones, what they are saying; for instance during the press conference The Governor of Lake state who was sacked by Kiir said; “we have all failed including us seated here together with you in government. It is only our children who are going to study in good schools in East Africa. When we fall sick we are air lifted out of the country. It’s our children

who are eating ice cream. The children of the local people are not eating ice cream Lets us all seat down and have a dialogue and see how to resolve the leadership crisis and see how we can move forward.” So they were calling for a peaceful reconciliation, because after sacking the entire cabinet there was mounting tension.

 

Presedent Kiir, after meeting Khartoum allied militias who were fighting South Sudanese people, he came back and sacked top Generals of the SPLM who had fought in the bush and instead integrated the people from Khartoum into the army. This created a lot of tension.

The group of 13 said, let us resolve this issues from within the party, instead of us forming another party through dialogue. But President Salva Kiir saw all this as a threat. Because he is aware that what happened Thabo Mbeki in South Africa, could also happen to him in a national conference.

Because if he is unseated as the chairman of SPLM that another person like Dr. Riek Machar or any other person would become the new leader of the party before the elections. He knows he will be defeated. If he Chairman Salva Kiir claims that Dr. Riek Machar is the prophet of doom then why not go ahead with the elections?

 

Because it’s up to the people of South Sudan to decide. He should have faith on the people of South Sudan. If he knows he is popular then why can’t he let the convention go ahead?  If you want to stay in power you don’t throw away your party.

He is trying to compare himself to other African leaders who have stayed in power for long. Saying the “So and so has stayed in power for long so why not me.” But those people have not thrown away their parties. Those African leaders who stay in power for long use their parties. It’s the delegates in their parties who vote them to come back.

It was not unconstitutional but the sacking of the cabinet was bad politics. The national conference was so close. If he dint want the vice president he would have gone to the national conference.  By doing this, you formant tribal divisions.

After the sacking of the president you would expect an outbreak of tribal conflict. But the vice president pleaded with his people not to orchestrate violence.

It would not have been a smart move to mount a coop since he has support from most of the delegates and Dr. Machar, had the president cornered diplomatically. Salva Kiir wanted to foment tribal violence by sacking the vice president. Any lay person in South Sudan would have known that if you sack this person you would foment tribal violence.

 

So Salva Kiir has now achieved through this alleged coup what he wanted to achieve through the sacking of the vice president because this draws attention away from the problems, he can now declare martial law and suspend civil liberties. He has now achieved what he wanted. What really happened in Juba, the 13 political prisoners on the December 6th, declared that they would hold another press conference to tell the people of South Sudan about what is really happening.

Tell them how the President was running a one man show, micro managing the government and not allowing other people to do their work.  After hearing this, President Kiir scheduled a national liberation council meeting on the same day.

The group of 13 then said since we want a peaceful means of solving these issues lets then go and have dialogue within the same meeting. But when they went there they were informed that the only issue on the agenda was the passing the basic document and nothing else.

When it came to discussing other business they kept insulting them. The same thing happened on the second day. Realising that the meeting was not constructive the group of 13 decided not to show up for the meeting on the 3rd day.

Coincidentally there was an argument between members of the republican guard. A small argument between the presidential guards escalated into a gun fight that spread to other units. Apparently there was a rumour that an arrest warrant had been issued for the arrest of Dr. Riek Machar.

On Monday the president appeared on TV in full military uniform saying he had foiled a coup attempt. That he was in full control. There should have been more investigations. Because you can’t go and arrest politicians when there is a military coup. You first arrest the military commanders and find out from them. But the way they rushed to arrest the politicians and threw them in Jail raises questions. Up to now they have not been taken to court or allowed to access their lawyers. Our constitution states that suspects should be brought to court within 48 hours. They have not been charged.

They have not been given legal counsel. They are being detained illegally. One gets the feeling that everything was pre-planned because it happened so quickly. This is responsible leadership. The president of the republic started using genocidal language like calling people coach roaches.

Sometimes he speaks like it’s okay for some people to attack others. He can’t continue referring to people like “Those people of 91.” All the people of South Sudan know what he means. I will not tell you, but the people of South Sudan know what he means. There is a recording where he sanctioned violence. This is on record.

Recently during a memorial service of 80 people who were killed as result of cattle rustling by another tribe, while comforting the mourners, President Kiir told them in the mother tongue, that “You people have allowed this to happen and yet you are the ones holding the spears.” If you translate this, what he was actually telling them was that “the minister of defence is from your area. How do you let yourselves to be attacked?”

 

It’s like he has allowed the people of that area to use national resources to go against other people of South Sudan. He also mentioned that when such people use to attack “our villages my people came to me and asked what should we do? I told them organize yourselves.

And they orgnaised themselves and attacked those people. And up to now they have never come back to our village.” That is bad politics. That is inciting violence. So it’s the president who is the chairman of SPLA who has been inciting violence. He speaks one thing and does another.

Another important point is that the groups of 13 have been writing to the office of the president asking for them to meet through the office of party Secretary General.

The reason that made them call the press conference on December 6th was because they have it on record, of them sending letters to the chairman for dialogue several times but the chairman kept ignoring them and kept falsely accusing them. These people had reached out to the chairman for dialogue.

When the president kept on accusing them falsely and they would keep quite the president took it as a weakness. There was silence and the people didn’t know what was happening. He was the only one talking saying these people were thieves. But when does the buck start with you Mr. President? When do you take the blame?

You have been reshuffling your cabinet since 2005 and blaming everybody else. Can you take responsibility and say “People we have failed. What can we do?” These sacked people who fought for South Sudan have been humiliated. They have never been given any kind of military decoration. Nothing.

South Sudan You could say that south Sudan is a young nation Many African countries like Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa have offered us training opportunities for capacity building, but government selects and sends the oldest people who are going to retire in two years.

They are so old that they get bored in class and only go to enjoy the per diem. For a development of a country you develop the human resource and the human resource develops the country.

Question: But maybe the country is young with a largely untested constitution and laws. Could that be the case?

Answer: Many African countries like Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa have offered us training opportunities. But it’s up to the Government of South Sudan to show how serious they are. Yes, we could say South Sudan is a young nation but how serious have we been?

Look at some of these training opportunities for example. They send the oldest people to attend, yet they are going to retire in two years, and are so bored when they get in class. So they are wasting state resources. They are there because it is favoritism and a way of rewarding people for loyalty. They don’t get sent there in order to build a human resource.

South Sudan is two years old; but there was an interim period of five years when the guns fell silent and there was a time for nation building. On top of that, we did not just fall from the sky. We were in a liberation movement that had liberated territory bigger than the Republic of South Sudan today. We had a history of administration in the liberated territory that we could have transformed into the new political reality.

But what the President did when he took power was to first throw away the party. And that is a story for another meeting because that goes back to 2004. I am sure you are aware of the Rumbek meeting in 2004.

 

 

Question: You mean when Dr. John Garang apologized…

Answer: Yes, they had a meeting in Rumbek and they were reconciled. There was tension between Salva Kiir and Dr. John (Garang). When Dr. John died, they had just reconciled. In Kenya when Kenyatta died, President Moi said ‘Nyayo.’ But what happened in South Sudan is that Salva Kiir did not do ‘Nyayo.’

So, if we go back to 2005, this is where the SPLM got derailed. So we have to go back to 2005 and put the train back on the tracks. Otherwise the train cannot move.

Question: From what the Rumbek meeting and the reconciliation, do you think President Salva should have followed that path as well of reconciliation?

Answer: Definitely. Not only that; but even after the reconciliation with Riek Machar, there was a committee that was enacted to conduct something called the ‘South-South Dialogue.’ This is something like South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. During the reconciliation with Riek Machar in 2002, the South Sudanese had their own way to come together and resolve their conflicts.

There were not outside forces or interests that came in. South Sudanese have the capacity, and they have proven it in the past, to come together and solve their differences. In 2005, we got derailed and the process of south-south dialogue did not continue.

This is what was supposed to be. But it did not happen. Why it did not happen, I don’t know. This tension has been there since before the independence of South Sudan. But people have been exercising responsible leadership. Nobody wanted to be on the bad side of history.

People were waiting for independence; and after we can solve whichever differences we have.

 

 

Question: To what extent has ethnicity contributed to the existing tensions?

Answer: There is that dimension and it’s very real because people are killing each other. But I will say that it is in the interest of somebody who is fomenting it. If you look at the 13 political prisoners, they are from different region of South Sudan.

The tribal dimension comes in when somebody is trying to use it as a way of escalating the violence. It’s almost like hate speech coming from the President’s mouth. The year 1991 is a sad chapter in the history of South Sudan. But the President is talking about the 1991 tragedy in the context of the ‘prophet of doom.’

Yet the President should be talking of the 1991 tragedy in the context of reconciliation and truth. It was the President’s bodyguards in Juba who went house to house executing people because of their tribe. Yes it has a tribal dimension but in the context of it being used by the regime in order to create chaos and declare martial law and suspend civil liberties.

 

Question: Do you think it would have been different if Dr. John Garang was still alive?

Answer: There are no ‘what-ifs’ in history. But of course it would be different. There would still be a lot of challenges but the difference is that he was a person who was committed to his leadership and took it seriously. He would not have slept. I watched him as a leader during the war days.

He was always constantly educating himself. This is what leadership demands. You have to always be ahead of the people. This is what our President lacks. He does not take his job as a leader seriously. Otherwise, he would have constantly tried to find ways of solving the challenges.

Question: And the current role being played by Dr. Garang’s widow, your mother Rebecca?

Answer: It is up to her, but I think she would rather be a business person. She has been in that leadership position for 20 years with my father leading the movement. She knows the stress and hardships of leadership. If the people of South Sudan were managing, you would not hear from her. Through the private sector, you can do more for the people.

Two years ago, she started farming, cultivating sorghum. In the first harvest, she made at 300-400 percent more in a year than what she makes in government. She can be a leader in the private sector. But it is because the vision of the movement has been hijacked by people pretending to be using the vision on one hand while doing another thing.

They are using the family of Dr. John Garang to say that Salva is doing the right thing. With this, you get a crisis of conscience at some point and have to say something. When you see something you have contributed to being deliberately destroyed in your name, you have to say something.

So, she has been forced back into politics because at least, not because of her desire for political power.

Question: There were reports that she had been arrested. Is she safe?

Answer: She is at home. They have not harmed her. But if you go out, vigilantes can do anything. I don’t think there is any kind of presidential order for her arrest. They have respected her because within that group there are people who are trying to advise the president that this is not the way.

The senseless were saying that she should be arrested. But I think sense prevailed and they said they would not arrest her. I think if she tries to leave the country they will arrest her. So, she decided to stay home until the situation subsides.

Question: How about you? Are you not threatened?

Answer: I am in danger. Not to say from direct orders of the president. When a leader makes reckless statements, I am in danger from vigilante groups. I could be mugged. I am in danger yes; but God is good.

Question: How do you think what is taking place in Sudan will end? Will it be an all-out war or reconciliation?

Answer:  It depends on the seriousness of the parties involved. Of course our priority is to have a peaceful resolution. We hope for the best. When we reconciled in 2002 with Machar, there were no outside forces involved.

I am confident the people of South Sudan will do it again and reconcile but it depends on the seriousness of the groups.

 

Question: Machar has been quoted as saying that the only negotiation they can have is to negotiate President Kiir’s departure. Do you think this will bring peace or escalate tension?

Answer: Well that’s what he said. We are all human beings. This is what negotiations are about. Now are going to enter into negotiations under IGAD. We shall see.

Question: Do you think President Kiir still has legitimacy given what has taken place?

Answer: He would not have legitimacy but for the sake of reconciliation and national unity, I think there are many components. In the case of Kenya, many people died but they found a way to resolve it. If mishandled now, it can lead to more violence.

There are people who said they would never allow Riek Machar to lead South Sudan. But if you say we are democratic, and then say that you can never allow him, you are denying people their civil rights and liberties. The people of South Sudan are not stupid.

Question: Do you have any political ambitions?

Answer: Sometimes you have to be what you have to be during certain situations. Under normal circumstances, I would rather be in the private sector. You go where your soul needs you most. If my country needs me I will not hesitate to answer that call.

Answer: Do you think from this crisis SS will emerge stronger?

Answer: Yes, people have been exposed and they will be stronger.  Whether it’s a case where we will reconcile, we will become stronger. Where the party splits, we will still be strong because the enemy within would have come out. Still the party will be strong.

Question: Is your mother Rebecca Garang supporting Riek Machar?

Answer: Mama Rebecca is not supporting Riek Marchar. Both of them declared their interest to contest for the chair of the party during the national convention. They became allies and what they are pushing for is for the national convention to take place.

And if the national convention takes place, they will compete against each other. And one of them will emerge victorious and the rest will shake hands. This is the spirit of democracy we want to bring to SPLM. So they have become allies. But they are trying to present it as if Mama Rebecca is putting her weight behind Riek Machar.

She is not putting her weight behind Riek Machar. They are allies. Their interests convinced and politics is about interests. The crisis began because people were denied their right. That they should not contest against Salva during the primaries because of some issues of 1991.

If Mama Rebecca had jumped on the tribal bandwagon, then ethnic violence that occurred would have been much worse. The fact that Mama Rebecca and Riek Machar are allies, gives people hope that there is national unity. There is a group that is supporting the President.

They call themselves Dinka elders. And their objective is not to allow the Nuers to take over power. In a way the alliance is what is making the situation not to break into genocide.

BBC boss defends Nelson Mandela coverage after 850 complaints

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Via The Guardian

Viewers voice concern that repeat of Mrs Brown’s Boys was cut short and bulletin did not devote enough time to severe storms

The BBC News director has defended the corporation’s coverage ofNelson Mandela‘s death, after 850 viewers complained that it had devoted too much airtime to the former South African president and not enough to the storms that lashed Britain’s eastern coast.

James Harding apologised to anyone who thought the corporation did not do enough about the weather on its BBC1 10pm bulletin on Thursday night but said Mandela was a man of “singular significance” and the “most significant statesman of the last 100 years”.

The BBC received about 850 complaints about the extent of its Mandela coverage, including its decision on Thursday evening to interrupt a repeat of sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys on BBC1 to bring viewers news of his death.

“Firstly I’m sorry if there are people who felt we didn’t inform them of what was happening in the weather,” Harding told the BBC’s Newswatch programme on Friday.

“The decision-making is one around the significance of Nelson Mandela. Nobody needs a lecture on his importance but we are probably talking about the most important statesman, the most significant statesman, of the last 100 years, a man who defined freedom, justice, reconciliation, forgiveness. The importance of his life and marking his death seems extremely clear to us.”

BBC1’s 9.30pm repeat of Mrs Brown’s Boys averaged 2.8 million viewers, while the channel’s 10pm bulletin – doubled in length to an hour – attracted 5.1 million. ITV’s News at Ten, also extended to 60 minutes, averaged 2.8 million.

Among those viewers who complained, one said: “Major stories such as Mandela’s death need to be dealt with but a balance has to be struck. His death was not unexpected, he was an elderly man who had been ill for many months.”

Another said on Twitter: “BBC interrupts Mrs Brown 10 minutes before the end for a newsflash about Nelson Mandela. News at 10 could’ve waited!”

Harding said he “completely took” people’s point about the weather but pointed out the BBC had other news services, such as local radio and online.

“But in this particular moment I thought on BBC1 we were telling people as they switched on the news as they came home that president Mandela a man of singular significance had died,” he said.

“In addition to that there is a lot of news that is rolling, you are seeing president Obama come out and make comments, David Cameron make comments. The BBC and only the BBC managed to get former [South African] president FW De Klerk.”

He added: “I completely take your point about the weather. What’s happening in people’s communities, what’s happening closest to where they live matters enormously. We had been rolling weather coverage from early in the day, particularly when the storms were at the strongest.”

In 1990, more than 500 Antiques Roadshow viewers complained after the BBC cut away to news of Mandela’s release from prison.

Separately, Harding defended his decision to create a handful of new senior management posts in BBC News, including the newly created role of managing editor, at a time when the corporation’s budget was being cut.

“In the last three or four years we have been cutting senior management within BBC News by about 30%. It is a very large news organisation and it is important it is well managed. It can’t be a free-form jazz band.”

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Insensitive: IGP David Kimaiyo
Insensitive: IGP David Kimaiyo

By Mutuma Mathiu via Daily Nation (online)

There was a time my brother, Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi was often in the news for all the wrong, controversial reasons. Wags characterised him, poor man, as a politician who lost votes every time he opened his mouth.

Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo has hoisted himself into a similar position and he seems to leak public goodwill every time he offers his views in the media.

I remember watching a catastrophic interview on NTV and thinking “Dear Lord, why did they let this one out?” For Mr Kimaiyo, bless him, is not the most eloquent of men.

But it is his press conference on Wednesday which really exposed him as a man who, though he has spent some time around universities, has not modernised his views about society and rights. He also has a 1990s concept of the power of government.

Specifically, Mr Kimaiyo warned that he was going to arrest two journalists for “provoking propaganda”, whatever the hell that is, and inciting the people against the authorities.

When governments are new in office, they will always do that kind of nonsense. In 2003, the CID arrested the entire leadership of The Standard. I was also invited by the director of CID at the time “for a cup of tea” at his office which I declined and was off radar for a while.

Many attempts have been made to write laws that would allow the government to control the Kenyan press, one of the freest in the Third World. Politicians, because they are mainly self-absorbed and thick, always think the country would be better off with a muzzled press.

FREE PRESS

So let me tell it to you: the government does not own the freedoms of the people. They are not its property to give. Our right to a free press is not a gift from the President, the Inspector-General of Police, Parliament or indeed any other person or organ.

They belong to the people and can only be limited when there is manifest general good to be achieved by so doing.

Also, I don’t think it is going to be possible for anyone to roll back the gains we have made so far and for banana-republic theories of some bureaucrat to have sway in the media. It’s just not going to happen.

Now, going back to the arrest threat. Kenyans know that something went terribly with the rescue mission. They know that the calling in of the military was either premature or ill-advised and that had the SWAT team been allowed more time, they would have rescued everyone, including the VIPs in there, contained the terrorists, and preserved the scene of crime.

Secondly, they already believe that the military behaved in a most disgraceful fashion, looting and feasting as the nation grieved.

Thirdly, they are royally pissed off at being lied to by the military and Internal Security Cabinet secretary, the hapless Mr Joseph ole Lenku.

All that nonsense about matresses and carrying of water in Nakumatt bags has convinced no one. The mall was systematically looted. Instead of confronting the indiscipline in our forces, the authorities have chosen to beat up on reporters. This is beyond belief.

Finally, through no fault of his own, Kenyans believe Mr Kimaiyo was not in charge of the rescue operation. He couldn’t have been: it was a military operation and the military does not take orders from the police.

Mr Kimaiyo is not employed to break the law, although the Kenya police are some of the leading law breakers. He is employed to enforce it, including the laws protecting the freedoms of Kenyans. If he tries to do anything contrary, he will lose, if he already hasn’t.

My Relatives among 39 Killed in Mall Siege – President Kenyatta

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Via Capital News

A resolute President Uhuru Kenyatta has told the terrorists responsible for the deaths of 39 Kenyans at the Westgate mall on Saturday that they have not won the day.

He said the Kenyan spirit had not been broken and that they only succeeded in strengthening the nation’s resolve in fighting terrorism, “we remain as brave and invincible as the lions on our coat of arms,” he said.

He went on to reveal that he too had lost, “very close family members,” in Saturday’s attack and promised to hunt down and bring to book those responsible for the attack.

“Let me make it clear. We shall hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to. We shall get them. We shall punish them for this heinous crime,” he vowed.

He went on to assure the families of those who lost their loved ones in the attack and the 150 who were injured of the government’s support, “The Government will be at hand to ensure that your lives return to normal as quickly as possible,” he said.

And while thanking Kenyans for the camaraderie they had already displayed in the face of the heinous attack, he challenged them to continue to give blood and offer support to the affected families, “Please continue helping, and continue praying,” he asked.

He however chastised those whose aim it was to fuel the concern of Kenyans into panic terming their efforts futile, “The way we lead our lives; in freedom, openness, unity and consideration for each other represents our victory over all those who wish us ill.”

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta joined her husband in congratulating Kenyans for the courage they displayed on the ground in spite of the fear they must have felt for their own lives.

“I also join the people of Kenya to thank those who have been selfless and strong for those affected by today’s tragedy. By assisting in rescuing, treating, reassuring and comforting the afflicted, you have been heroic in a touching, unforgettable way,” she said.

Political differences were also put aside in the aftermath of the attack with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka joining the government in calling for calm.

Former police commissioner Hussein Ali who is in The Hague sent his message of condolences to those killed and wished quick recovery to the injured.

– Capital News

Radio Journalist Ruhila Adatia Killed in Westgate Attack: Her Last Media Update

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ruhila-adatia

Via Daily Nation

Ruhila Adatia (center)

A few hours after she arrived at the Westgate shopping mall Saturday morning, Radio Africa Group presenter Ruhila Adatia-Sood posted several photographs on her Instagram account and linked that to Twitter.

She was clad in a loose black top and black trousers with a blue and orange necklace completing the look.

Ruhila was in the parking lot of the upscale mall for Sungold Sunrice Superchef, a cooking competition sponsored by the rice brand, which she was hosting.

She posted a total of eight photos on Instagram, with her fans, with her colleagues and some of those who won prizes with bags of rice in their hands.

That was her last activity on social media.

About three hours after news of an attack on Westgate mall began spreading on social media, the first Twitter posts about her emerged.

Of the many who lost their lives in the attack yesterday, Ruhila may be the most familiar.

Kenyans are most likely to recognise her bubbly voice reading entertainment news on Kiss TV, Kiss 100 and XFM. Perhaps as a sign of her popularity, there was a page in her memory on Facebook last evening.

On her Twitter page, Ruhila Adatia-Sood described herself as a “food lover, thrill seeker and a bungee jump away from sanity.” “Always looking for my next meal,” she also says on her profile on the East FM website.

A fun-loving person, Ruhila is described on the East FM website as a “TV presenter by day and superhero in the evenings as I get you home in the traffic mess.”

She adds, with a twist of that familiar fun-loving person that she, “believes there’s not enough reality television. Farhan Akhtar (an Indian filmmaker, writer, singer TV host and actor) is my hubby, DiCaprio is my iceberg.”

A graduate of Rhodes University in Grahamstown in South Africa, she used to co-host The Rush on Metro East FM with Gupz Saund.

Ruhila married Ketan Sood in January 2012 in what The Star on January 9 said was a three-day Swahili-themed wedding. She was pregnant with their first child.

In an interview published in The Star in September 2012, the last-born in a family of four girls is described by her sisters as a go-getter.

Said Farah Adatia Gomes: “Ruhila loved reading, listening to music and watching TV though she never really got to watch what she wanted as most of the time we used to bully her into watching and listening to what we wanted. She was charming and outgoing, always a leader.”

East FM, a radio station whose target audience is Kenyan Asians, was holding a children’s event at the roof top parking of Westgate Mall when gunmen struck Saturday.

Information posted on the firm’s Facebook page a few hours before the fatal shooting shows that the occasion was the second round of the SunGold SunRice Junior Super Chef Competition, the first of which was held at the same time and place last Saturday.

The children competiting were to prepare a starter or main dish accompanied by a desert.

“We are super excited!! Do join us on Saturday from 11am onwards at Westgate roof top for the 2nd round of Sungold Sunrice SuperChef

Junior! See you there and do share this post!,” Kamal Kaur, an East FM presenter, wrote.

Ms Kaur attended the event which she tells the Sunday Nation was “packed with kids”.

And after the competition began, Ms Kaur said they heard popping noises.

“We heard what sounded like firecrackers,” she said, narrating how the group then ran to the edge of the parking lot and looked over to see people streaming out of the mall.

She then ran to find her son and they tried to get the children out through the Java service entry.

“One man shot at my son, but he managed to duck. He was wearing blue jeans, a black T-shirt, sunglasses and an Arabic headscarf (kaffiya) wrapped around his head. He was holding a big automatic weapon, and I could see a pistol sticking out of his pocket.”

East FM radio presenter Aleem Manji, who was also with Ms Kaur, was reported injured.

– Daily Nation

Hague police kick out Kenyan MPs

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Via Daily Nation

Dutch police Thursday dramatically ordered Kenyan MPs to keep off the entrance to the ICC building in The Hague.

The lawmakers had been joined by former Commissioner of Police Hussein Ali— himself a former suspect in the crimes against humanity cases that arose from post-2007 election violence, raising questions about his presence.

The politicians, who accompanied Deputy President William Ruto in a show of solidarity, were lost for words when local police insisted that they move away from the entrance. This is where they have been lining up every morning to greet Mr Ruto.

The encounter with the Dutch officers caught the lawmakers by surprise. They protested, with some shouting: “We are the accused. We are part of the Rome Statute.” But the police would hear none of it.

The tension briefly eased when Mr Ruto arrived and the MPs and Nandi Women Representative Zipporah Kering went into prayer.

After the solemn moment, the officers insisted on escorting them and journalists to the public entrance. The two officers had the entire group enter the ICC building through the public entrance.

One of the officers, while declining to say what penalty one could suffer for disobeying the order, told the Kenyans they would no longer be allowed to stand outside the court. However, they are free to wait for Mr Ruto and his co-accused, Mr Joshua arap Sang, across the road— at least 20 metres away.

The behaviour of the 25 MPs and senators has left many Dutch nationals curious of what is happening in the ICC building. The politicians have, for instance, been kneeling and praying daily outside the court entrance as soon as Mr Ruto arrives for his trial.

During their stay in The Hague, the MPs have been frequenting Santos Restaurant in the centre of Scheveningen Village and popular surrounding entertainment spots.

Some have narrowly escaped being knocked down by cyclists in front of the court. They often stand on bicycle lanes— leaving the locals marvelling at either their ignorance or disobedience of traffic rules.

Life has become a dreary routine  for them as hired buses drop them every morning and pick them in the evening— an expensive undertaking here. They are staying in hotels charging between 76 euros (Sh8,850) and 240 euros (Sh27,930) per day.

The Kenyans also have to contend with the cold weather, since it is autumn in Europe. Most of them have been wearing heavy jackets and sporting replicas of Mr Ruto’s trademark cap.

Most of the MPs are expected to leave for Nairobi between today and tomorrow. But another group will be coming to The Hague.

A surprise appearance yesterday was Mr Ali, who was accompanied by lawyer Donald Kipkorir.

The former police boss would not say whether he was there at the court’s invitation or to make an application.

“It would be prejudicial to discuss such matters. If there is anything concerning my case, it is certainly not today. May be later,” he said.

He said he had gone to give moral support to the Deputy President.

“As a person who has gone through this process, I know what they are going through,” he said.

Mr Ali was a suspect in the second Kenyan case alongside President Kenyatta and former civil service boss Francis Muthaura.

The pre-trial chamber on January 23, acquitted him. Although charges against Mr Muthaura were confirmed, he was also let off the hook much later.

Mr Ruto’s trial was adjourned to Monday when the prosecution will continue cross-examining Witness 536 in private.

Mr Sang expressed his displeasure with the decision to hold closed sessions.

“When it was declared that we bore the greatest responsibility for the crimes it was in public. The summonses to appear were issued in public and our names have been dragged through the mud,” Mr Sang said, accompanied by lawyer Joel Bosek.

“Yet, when we thought the nation could get to know the truth, the chamber decided to go into closed sessions. My wife and other family members are not here to know the truth. They have been relying on TV.”

Why There Are Few Accidents in The UK

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By Joseph Ngugi (The standard Digital July 14th 2013)

Since Mary Ward became the first person in the world to be killed in a car accident in 1869, millions more have died, despite all the efforts to reduce carnage on the roads. Passing a driving test is one of the many efforts by government agencies around the world to ensure safe driving and discipline on the roads. In UK, acquiring a driving licence is considered such an important milestone in one’s life that it is a cause for celebration within the family. Passing the test on first attempt is even considered a feat not so easily achieved by many new drivers.

On the contrary, acquiring a driving licence in Kenya is considered the easiest thing. In most cases, all one needs is to grease the examiner’s palms. In fact, some people don’t even bother to turn up to be examined. The consequences of cutting corners in this all-important training and examining of drivers are the devastating road carnages that Kenyans have continued to witness.

The United Kingdom’s Driving Standard Agency (DVLA), the body that licences drivers and motor vehicles has disclosed that a 26 years-old-woman from London had indeed failed her driving theory test 90 times, costing her a staggering £3000 (Sh500,000).

The woman had not even started practising for her practical lessons, whose test is even harder and more expensive. Another person who sat the most numbers of practical tests in the UK was a 39-year-old man from the West Midlands. He failed 36 times. The cost of reseating the test was devastating

Shiku Mosses, a Kenyan living in Oxford, says that she passed her driving test on the second attempt. It cost her £600 (Sh76,800) to train. Stacy Munga, another Kenyan living in London says that she too passed her test on second attempt at a cost of £750 (Sh97000).

Nobody in my circle of friends in the UK, it seems, have so far managed to acquire his or her driving licence on first attempt. We are all repeaters.

It is not that some of these learner drivers are dunderheads or blockheads. It is the thoroughness and strictness with which all drivers are examined and tested in this country. The pass rate for the first time candidates is lower than 43 percent.

Driving licence in the UK is not a luxury but rather a necessity. Although the public transport network is superb, some jobs demanded that you have to drive. Losing your licence by dangerous driving will not only make it hard to go to work in time but will also take you back a few thousands of pounds in retraining. Retraining will also take more of your valued time. That is why the driving licence is the second most important thing, from your family, that you do not want to lose even for a single day.

Good driving practice in UK is encouraged and rewarded with attractive goodies like cheap insurance cover. Bad driving practise is heavily discouraged with expensive insurance quotes and severe punishment that carries hefty fines and a possible disqualification. In Kenya, poor driving, training, treacherous road conditions, driving under the influence of alcohol, poorly maintained vehicles and corrupt traffic police are all to blame for the many accidents.

Pertinent Questions Raila Opponents Failed To Interrogate

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By Maddo Ochieng’

During any electioneering period, nasty memories are rekindled, propaganda flourish as emotions run high. Rational thinking and mature reasoning get clouded by strongly-worded rhetoric and their quick rebuttals from competing sides. The media is awash with political news. Everything else is forgotten. This was the case in Kenya early this year. But as the dust now settles on the hotly-contested presidency, our minds get clearer as time ticks away. It is now prudent to reflect back on the issues laid down by the candidates and how we perceived or reacted to them.

I was particularly supporting Raila Odinga because I believed he stood a better chance to transform Kenya. Just like in 2007 when Raila had been reduced from being a njamba to a kihi, his opponents and detractors came up with all sorts claims to discredit him. Unfortunately, Raila lost to Uhuru Kenyatta in yet another fraudulently conducted election. But barely four months down the line, every bad thing Raila was blamed for has been worsened by Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.

Writing in The Standard newspaper on September 26th 2012 under the title: Why I am wary of Raila, one Peter Nguli outlined five reasons why he cast doubt on the former Prime Minister’s ability to make an effective president. Nguli’s reasons included inconsistency, association with criminal outlawed groups, coup involvement, dictatorship and extravagance.

Nguli, however, began by paying a blowing tribute to Raila’s past achievements that he said could not be matched by any of his opponents at that time. Among the gains Raila had championed included the new constitution, reforms, human rights, equal opportunities and freedom of speech—for which he served two long detention stints in prison dungeons.

In the writer’s own words, Raila was “a very likeable person, a very respectable and of course extremely excellent nationalist with a very workaholic persona”. Then the writer went ahead and contradicted his assertions by giving very flimsy, misleading and superficially cogitated facts as to why the same good person was in fact, ‘bad’.

Nguli ranted that Raila was associating with the outlawed Mungiki sect. Nguli knew but chose to ignore the fact that ‘Mungiki’ had ceased to exist. The group’s former members are Kenyans who had once associated with the group. Most of the politicians in Kenya had once belonged to one party or another at some point. Is that too bad? Raila as a human rights fighter could not condemn and disenfranchise any group of Kenyans who have a constitutional right to vote. In any case, when those young Kenyans in Central province aligned themselves to Mwai Kibaki’s PNU in 2007, they were not called Mungiki for doing that. Going by IEBC’s recent disputed results, Mungiki, if they exist, eventually ended up voting en mase for their own Uhuru Kenyatta. Should we now turn around and blame Uhuru for receiving Mungiki votes?

Nguli also blamed Raila for calling for dialogue between the government and separatists, Mombasa Republican Council. Realising that Rila was gaining political image at the Coast, UDF’s Jeremiah Kioni sought to dilute Raila influence by rationalising that dialogue officially through an act of parliament. Nguli went loudly silent on Kioni!

On 1982 foiled coup, it is in public knowledge that Raila had been tried and acquitted. Nguli may want confirm that with Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, or Amicus Curiae Githu Muigai. The 82 coup is a sealed deal. Uhuru Kenyatta’s Icc isn’t. Any individual bringing it up the coup matter at this time and day surely needs some sanity check. I could not help but ask myself: How would Raila perform a coup on his own government when he was already in power?

Everyone who parted ways with Raila after realising that they had no chance to advance their own ambitions accused him of dictatorship. It is obvious in power games that people with a similar ambition cannot hold together for long. The timing of dictatorship vitriol against Raila by his competitors was telling, but a common voter who did not support him could not demystify those quips. It was lost to many that most of Raila’s former allies like Najib Balala and Ruto(including his bandwagon of Kalenjin henchmen) stopped cooperating with ODM four years earlier but were left by Raila to enjoy ministerial and parliamentary position undeterred.

Musalia Mudavadi even clang on ODM’s position of Deputy Prime Minister and Raila cared the less. It was only in ODM where leaders could hold divergent opinions contrary to their leader and still survive. Nguli’s memory failed to help him recall how President Kibaki relegated Mutula Kilonzo to a lesser ministry because of expressing his opinions on the Hague cases. Moses Wetangula was moved to another docket as a warning shot against working with ODM. Uhuru Kenyatta’s hands were believed to be in those shuffles which also saw Eugene Wamalwa ascend to Justice Ministry, ostensibly to deal with the ICC cases. And to Nguli that was good democracy to emulate!

On extravagant trips, Nguli and his ilk failed to interrogate whether there was anyone who had used cheaper services than Raila, whether the person held a higher position than Raila, who sent Raila abroad on those trips in the first place, who made the hotel reservations, and who authorised the payments. They failed to find out how much Kibaki spent on a single trip and compared with Raila’s. So, how many foreign tours have Uhuru and Ruto made in three months/ How much did they cost? It is only through careful, thoughtful and rational interrogations and arguments about issues that we can make better, informed choices. Choices have consequences!

dagran2002@yahoo.com

 

Ruto’s Name Isn’t Strange to Controversies

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By Hon. Jim Bonnie (via Facebook)

Whenever Ruto’s name is pronounced, horrific and dreadful memories are rekindled. This man Ruto, is a household name in the field of nepotism, discrimination, corruption, greed, mendacity, law breaking, post election skirmishes and in the court corridors.

For a man who edited his name to include “Samoei”, many thought that the real “Koitalel” spirit would be reborn in him. This was a fallacy.

This Moi orphan, while at the University of Nairobi, was a common figure in the christian union prayer halls. He spent alot of time and energy singing and “crying” loud. In fact, comrades thought he will in future make a good preacher or a “Bishop” for that matter. In him people saw a real “man of God” – it was a false conjecture as it has turned out.

Moi, the tyrant, wasn’t asleep all this time. He closely monitored this CU chorister. I pray you don’t believe the “chicken business” bluff. Tell this tale to nincompoops. Moi later plucked this man with a “sweet voice” – still a fresh graduate, with the aim of harnessing his rich talent.

This self decleared “praise God” “angel” backslide – he was fascinated with money – and followed earthly rewards. He opted to join his “political mentor” – Moi, and the band wagon becoming “KANU yajenga inchi” choirmaster. Together with others, he led the Kanu youth wing where he robustly campaigned for Daniel Moi in 1992 and the subsequent elections. This is where he started minting riches.

Ruto never returned to church to carry on with his calling – that of singing alto – but instead, wore a new tag, that of a “politician”. Frm then, Ruto carried the curse of duping God. He was mislead by Moi. You will bear me witness that as long as you can remember, Ruto has been mentioned in atleast each and every scandal and vice in Kenya’s history.

He is habituated to corruption, deception, chest thumping, boasting……mention it. This “Kanu go- getter” and self proclaimed “hustler” – this trash is only mollycoddled by pedesterians from his village – can do anything for money. Something bamboozles him that he will one day become the president of this country. Unless in a movie.

During Moi’s autocratic regime, he was the “rubber stump” of corruption. When Waki envelope was enclosed, he added a medal to his store, by being one of the referred to a architects of 2007/8 PEV. In his tenure at the ministry of agriculture – under the coalition government, he “ate” maize. Maize meant for the holloi polloi.

This lord of impunity adulterated university education by imposing a rushed double intake program while at the ministry of higher education. Ruto has never achieved anything worth praises. No wonder he has to go “singing” in every funeral and village “barazas” his perceived achievements.

He used to organize rallies to explain to some hungry and desperate onlookers how and why is a “performer”. The current government knows very well that Ruto must not miss in the guest list of any function whatsoever; just because the “crybaby” doesn’t want to miss such golden opportunities to explain to Kenyans, with tears rolling, that they “won” the last elections.

He stage managed the ICC issue so as to gain sympathy from his Kalenjin ethnic community. He later “rewarded” them by “hawking” them like goats to the “willing buyer”. I bet the ICC subject is the only ghost that is certainly going to gulp him. His hurried proof of innocence at the preliminary stages during the pre trial proceedings not withstanding.

You comprehend that at present, he has lost relevance. He has no any “hot topic” like the “he took us to Hague” crap or “he is chasing our people from Mau” trash to yelp about. Instead, Ruto the the “performer” has resorted to complement Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta’s role of escorting Uhuru to airports and gatherings. I can do this only when i ha a mental disorder.

On Friday 28th June, 2013, the high court yet slammed a five million fine on him for stealing an IDP’s land. He was also mandated to vacaue the property forthwith. Don’t forget the ICC was and has been following this case very closely with all the files of the case airlifted to the hague based court frequently. 

I can assure you, you ain’t seen anything yet. Ruto being at the top of the government “eating chain”, he will swim in corruption and any other available “fruit” of impunity. The Kshs. 100 million renovation cost for the VP residence is part of the wider scheme to plunder public money.

He is a callous and incorrigible man who recognizes the smell of money even if it is hidden in a pit. In short, you can use Ruto as a “sniffer dog” to recover hidden money, as long as three quarters of the recovered cash will be his to pocket. Donge?!!