Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chronology of the crisis in Kenya

Jan 31 (Reuters) - Here is a chronology of the crisis in Kenya, which has been torn by violence since a disputed presidential election late last year.

Dec 27, 2007 - Voters elect a new president and parliament.

Dec 30 - The Electoral Commission declares Kibaki winner of the presidential election. He is hurriedly sworn in. Riots and looting break out in opposition strongholds.

-- Raila Odinga's opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) wins the most seats in the parliamentary election.

Jan 1, 2008 - A mob sets fire to a church, killing about 30 villagers from Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe.

Jan 2 - The government accuses Odinga's backers of "ethnic cleansing" as the death toll from tribal violence rises.

Jan 4 - Kibaki says he will accept a re-run of the disputed election if a court orders it. The United Nations says the unrest has uprooted 250,000 people.

Jan 5 - Kibaki says he is ready to form a government of national unity, but the opposition rejects the offer.

Jan 7 - Odinga calls off planned protests after meeting U.S. envoy Jendayi Frazer.

Jan 8 - Kibaki announces 17 ministers for his new cabinet. Protesters respond by building and burning barricades in Odinga's western stronghold, Kisumu.

-- John Kufuor, African Union chairman and president of Ghana, arrives in Nairobi to mediate.

Jan 10 - Kufuor leaves Kenya saying both sides have agreed to work together with an African panel headed by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Kibaki and Odinga, amid recriminations, have not met or agreed how to end the crisis.

Jan 11 - The ODM calls for sanctions against Kibaki.

Jan 15 - Parliament is convened and the opposition gets a boost by winning the post of speaker.

Jan 16 - Police fight hundreds of protesters throughout the country, as the opposition defies a ban on rallies.

Jan 17 - In Nairobi and the western towns of Kisumu and Eldoret, police fire teargas and bullets during rallies called by the opposition but banned by police.

Jan 22 - Ex-U.N. chief Kofi Annan arrives in Kenya to attempt mediation. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni also flies into Nairobi to try to mediate.

Jan 24 - Kibaki and Odinga meet in a breakthrough brokered by Annan.

Jan 25 - Annan denounces "gross and systematic" human rights abuses in Kenya after continuing post-election violence.

Jan 28 - At least 64 people are killed in four days of ethnic fighting in the Rift Valley towns of Nakuru and Naivasha. Legislator Melitus Were is gunned down outside his home in Nairobi, triggering more rioting and ethnic killings.

Jan 29 - Annan launches formal mediation between the government and ODM, each side represented by a team of three -- a mix of moderates and hardliners.

Jan 31 - ODM member of parliament David Kimutai Too is killed, along with a woman, in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret. Kibaki flies to Ethiopia for a summit of the 53-nation African Union. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon warns the summit Kenya is threatened with catastrophe and says he will travel to Nairobi on Friday to try to help Annan.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pluto in Capricorn: A New Earth

Pluto was first discovered when it was in the sign of Cancer, where it started its journey in 1913, just before World War I (WWI). After WWI the power factions in for instance Russia were in complete disarray, first after the collective murder of the entire family of the Tsar, and the rebellion of the suppressed nation; the result was thorough and lasting, a true Pluto action. Pluto remained in the sign Cancer for 25 years while the European world, its countries' boundaries, its empires, were being ravaged. The power of the aristocracy and monarchies belonged to a previous zodiacal cycle of Pluto a completely new cycle of power had started the power of the "common people" (Cancer).

In a way, it's easy to compare the sign Cancer to the fourth house, especially when mundane astrology or the 'astrology of the world' is being discussed. Toward the end of Pluto's sojourn in Cancer, the forerunners of the Second World War (WWII) could be noticed, a time in which a dictatorial demagogue (Pluto) tried to control the masses (Cancer) who didn't shun collective murder of those who in past times were thought to have had power.

In Western Europe the passage of Pluto through "the fourth house" of the mundane chart thus correlated with the rumbling of wars, although WWII did not truly start until Pluto entered Leo

In 1937/1938 Pluto began a 20-year period in the sign Leo. If we divide the horoscope circle in eight phases - like the Moon's eight phases- one can compare 0 degrees Cancer with a New Moon, a moment at which all is still unaware and the fundament of the entire following cycle needs to be build first - or shaken up as was the case with Pluto when it was in the lowest 'house' of the world's horoscope. The most dramatic period coincided with the point 0 degrees Cancer - 15 degrees Leo, for after that point, when Pluto had arrived in the next (waxing) phase of its total cycle - after WWII -, renewed building and a collective baby boom started. Of course 'children' also fall under the sign Leo.

After Pluto's ravaging at the lowest point in this western "world's horoscope", when for instance weapons were discovered for mass destruction (the atom bomb), Pluto began to proceed upwards in the world's horoscope, rebuilding from the 15 degrees Leo point or, putting this differently, from the first semisquare of Pluto toward the turning point, the first square, at 0 degrees Libra.

The second phase thus started at the first semi-square and finished when Pluto reached the point of the square.i.e. at 0 degrees Libra. Rebuilding was continued during this entire period; people worked very hard, and the nations (Cancer, with which it all started) achieved more and more power over their destinations. Power and money go together, and people continued to earn more to spend. Around the 1960s earnings became higher still, and slowly but surely the people who in a previous Pluto cycle were suppressed, began to earn enough money to obtain power and, ultimately, also status.

Thus, while Pluto travelled through the first quadrant of the new cycle -which started at 0 degrees Cancer- a total turn-around of the powers that were took place. In Russia and Eastern Europe a new dictatorship had risen: that of the people's collectives with a lot of mutual espionaging going on. The time had arrived for the next phase, namely the one from 0 degrees Libra to 0 degrees Capricorn, from about 1971 - 2008. Halfway through this quarter-cycle this new dictatorship in Eastern Europe would start to fall as well, with Pluto in the 8th sign (Scorpio), midway in this second quadrant from 0 Libra to 0 Capricorn.

Matters concerning Pluto often appear to be bloody events, but alltogether it seems that we are in a Pluto-cycle during which "the people" no longer are suppressed.

Right now we have reached the end of this 'waxing' phase of Pluto, halfway through the horoscope's zodiacal circle. During the latter part of Sagittarius we notice that all over the world people hanker after safety, certainty and freedom, and wherever in the world people still are suppressed, they want to escape to the free West, which by now feels nearly inundated by the suppressed of other countries.

What will happen when Pluto will reach yet another new quadrant? To stay with the Moon cycle terminology, this will start in 2008 when the waxing phase has finished and the waning phase starts, i.e. the Full Moon point.

On January 26, 2008, Pluto will move into Capricorn for the first time, to then travel retrograde into the tail end of Sagittarius between June 14 and November 27 of that year. From November 27, 2008, Pluto will stay in Capricorn for 15/16 years 2008-2024.

The increase of population is now at its peak, and if Cancer means birth and Pluto is -of course- the most important and collectively strong factor, we may presume that this increase will last until 2008 and will decrease thereafter! Because unfortunately, the populationgrowth creates tremendous problems in Western Europe, living space (Sagittarius) becomes smaller and smaller, with the result that collective migrations are now taking place, looking for space and individual possibilities to expand. The population growth keeps demanding more and more regulations for the simple reason that we, 'the people', can't always cope with the concept of freedom and misuse our planet and the still open spaces so badly because we're still fighting for our own safety, thereby endangering the safety of others and of nature itself. Pluto is now still in the quadrant of 'mutual relations' between people (Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius), but the planet will move into a more collective quadrant (Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces) - the quadrant which asks us 'how will we all find a space that keeps us individual yet together; how will the world work it out on a grander scale?'.

A new kind of suppression is noticeable already the suppression by rules that are imposed upon us by outside forces, the authorities (Capricorn). It is also possible for us, individuals, to try if we can work with fewer rules by using our own disciplines better, by taking responsibility ourselves, as members of 'the people'.

Action is always followed by reaction. Whenever we take too much freedom individually, without regard for others, there will be a reaction. This may be imposed upon us by the ruling powers. During the sign Cancer the people murdered these rulers in order to claim power for themselves.

Now the people (that is, 'we') have gained power and occupy positions of political influence and authority. Will these same authorities this time be killed in a hostile manner, or will the people (we) show that we can handle individual freedom by actually accepting responsiblity?

Responsibility or rule? Rules originate when people don't take personal reponsibility; where there is chaos rules need to be created in the interest of the collective safety. Whenever we accept personal resonsibility, we'll need far less rules. Will it become possible during the Pluto in Capricorn period to have global governments that are formed by us, i.e., governments we personally created - apart from a collective new global dictatorship (also created by us) which will impose all sorts of laws and rules? The promise Pluto in Capricorn gives us is not at all a bad one - but are people capable of listening to their inner voice, or will they only take liberties and permit themselves to do as they like, at the cost of others? That is the question. Can we, "the people" who wanted the power in fact handle power? That is the question. This is always the question when Pluto occupies the tenth house of an individual's chart; power and the lack of it in relation to our social status are the order of the day in such cases. This theme exists because Pluto tries to use power in a pure, clean way, NOT at others' expense. Will it become possible to observe that our global governments will show far more prudence? - that people will take reponsibility for their own actions? - (just listening to our inner voice and our conscience should be sufficient) - so that all the objectionable rules will no longer be necessary? We will be tested from 2008 onward, and to begin with we might experience lots of noise and violence before we finally understand and can put it in practice - for Pluto is not a surgeon who leaves festering wounds. On the contrary should wounds occur they will be noticeable and they will cry out to be cleaned.

What can we do as individuals, when we are powerless and feel bullied by the collective powers? Just this: bring the power back to where it belongs - to ourselves. We, as people, have no power over circumstances beyond us, no matter how much we try to attain omnipotence to cover our fears. All we have is power over our own reactions and our inner life. Every individual is able to make a difference in this world. Our inner voice is far more important than any dictatorship - no matter whether this is a dictatorship of the times, of fashion, of status, or of entire global governments. Let's free ourselves of the dictatorship of status, of striving and distancing ourselves from ourselves. Take the power back and keep it with you; lead your life in harmony with your inner self, with nature and the people around you. Let's busy ourselves with all this rather than perish in the maelstrom of the collective force of social status, positions and powerful respectively powerless relations. We are in a prolonged Pluto cycle in which we must learn how to handle power, a cycle in which individuals ultimately need to be free to be their own self, without this happening at others' expense. Pluto in Capricorn appears to be the culmination of what was happening during Pluto in Cancer, when the planet was discovered and showed us that power belonged to the people. The people, that's us, you and me and all the others. Can we create a better world with Pluto in Capricorn by showing that we need fewer rules from the outside world and simply listen to our inner rules - the rules we all possess anyway?

We haven't reached that point yet in the coming year Pluto will first be making a conjunction with the Galactic Centre (at 26 degrees Sagittarius). In 2008, times will have changed again, and personally I definitely feel I'm still in the Pluto-in- Sagittarius phase, so that I cannot do better than speculate what will occupy us in the future. Still, astrology shows us in theory which themes will become of importance. It is evident that from 1995, when Pluto began its journey through Sagittarius, a huge revival of near "obligatory success" in the world took place. Sagittarius is rather expansive, very enthusiastic and full of vision. The economy continued to exist by the grace of all sorts of slogans regarding visions of the future that, for a great deal, rested on pantomime and balderdash. All this took place in a world full of advertisements of succesful power brokers making telephone calls in the streets for instance. Reality will overtake them all from 2008 on. I will be breathing with considerable more ease when all this economic coaching and all the balderdash about huge sums of money will become more realistic. However, I will also sadly say farewell to that part of the period Pluto-in-Sagittarius that brought us a great stimulant for meeting other peoples, other cultures, much travel, and the adventures of new worlds.

Living 'in the Now' is really better suited to Pluto in Capricorn than to Pluto in Sagittarius, for Now we live in the Future (Sagittarius). Capricorn is Time itself. Collectively we will be living in the Now more and more our future depends on it. The past and its abuse of power will certainly be brought to light and cleaned up, but unrealistic visions of the future will also belong to the past.

We will handle the principle of living in the Now better; day after day we need to be aware of how we regard the world using our own reponsibility rather than someone else's, which is helpful to others. By the year 2008 I will start living in the Now, and I'll be discovering how this feels, this new period with Pluto in a new sign and in a new quadrant. My quess is that it won't be easy-going during the first few years as large 'tension aspects' will occur with Uranus, Saturn and Pluto in the cardinal signs in 2010. The world will change, that's a certainty.

Hopefully we will witness large corporations, so powerful now and misusing these powers, (and made up from the people who took over the power at the beginning with Pluto in the "fourth" house) go under in favour of a better use of power. A better use which is not at the cost of others, and which will show more responsibility for the environment in which we live and which we share with each other, and this will not depend on outside factors, but on us. Our status might become ruined, but that is 'only' ego.

Our soul will want to express itself and will call for us to join our inner being so that we will be able to stand strong and whole in the outside world - not with a false status, not under the yoke of leaders or even boards and committees busy only with attaining status. Actually, 'status' will be out of fashion once Pluto will be in Capricorn ... ah, what a liberation!


Note: Pluto is a member of the Kuiper Belt, and is smaller than others in the belt such as Eris.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Kenya’s reality check as Annan jets in

By Standard Team

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and bitter rival Party of National Unity (PNU) will on Wednesday be presented with another important chance to take steps that could help return the country to sanity.

Expectations that former UN chief, Mr Kofi Annan, who jetted into the country on Tuesday night, will bring together the two warring groups and chart a path out of a crippling post-election impasse — which has touched off an economic meltdown and threatens a complete social breakdown — were quite high last night.

But the bloodletting continued unabated.

The country also remained in the cross-hairs of the donor community. The World Bank (WB) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) were the latest to join in the fray with a chilling proclamation.

"The current situation could drive two million Kenyans into poverty, reversing the gains made over the last few years," the two institutions said in a joint statement. "Business confidence is being undermined."

The statement added: "We wish to continue working with the people of Kenya ... but it is difficult to do so effectively in an environment of instability".

It further said that both the WB and AfDB will, accordingly, continue to monitor developments closely and keep programmes under review, while making necessary adjustments as the situation evolved.

But this did not dim the optimism.

The crisis has been occasioned by a stand-off between PNU and ODM over the outcome of the presidential vote. Orange party leader, Mr Raila Odinga, says he won the election and it was stolen from him. But PNU maintains President Kibaki, who was quickly sworn-in after the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) chairman Mr Samuel Kivuitu controversially declared the results, won fair and square.

"The ultimate objective is to have a solution that would bring peace and reconciliation," Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said ahead of the talks.

Former South African First Lady Mrs Graca Machel and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni — the only foreign leader to congratulate President Kibaki over his disputed re-election — arrived on Tuesday afternoon.

President Kibaki, Vice-President Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, Foreign minister Mr Moses Wetangula and his Internal Security counterpart, Prof George Saitoti, were at hand to receive the dignitaries

ODM mass protest

Machel, who gave her husband Nelson Mandela’s message of hope to Kenyans, said: "When I left home, he wished me all the best in the negotiation. He wishes all the best for Kenya and Africa as a whole".

She added: "I’m positive the crisis will be sorted out amicably and an end will be brought to the violence in which over 600 lives have been lost".

On Tuesday, ODM emerged from a day-long consultation session to announce it would pick its negotiation team once Annan establishes the rules of engagement.

Annan will head the team comprising former Tanzanian President Mr Benjamin Mkapa and Graca. The team will be working with the former African Presidents Mr Joachim Chissano (Mozambique), Sir Ketumile Masire (Botswana) and Mr Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia).

Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, ODM secretary-general, also said they would put their case to Ugandan leader Museveni as the chairman of the East African Community (EAC).

But the Orange party ruled out calling off mass protests.

"We don’t want to pretend that things look good here by calling off mass protests simply because mediators are around. It’s our right to enjoy peaceful assembly. So the mass protests will continue," Nyong’o said.

The Party of National Unity also assumed a new hardline position.

Kalonzo, who heads PNU’s 10-member talks team, ruled out any negotiations with ODM, saying the talks constituted a forum to dialogue on ways to bring down political tension.

The party also dismissed the possibility of power-sharing, throwing a spanner in the works ahead of the talks.

"Our friends on the other side are talking about forming a negotiating committee. There are no negotiations. This is dialogue in the spirit of Kenya,’’ Kalonzo, who spoke after chairing a Parliamentary Group meeting of the coalition government and which was attended by more than 40 legislators at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), Nairobi, said.

"It is not about powersharing. Our Constitution does not allow for losers to share power with winners. We beat them during the elections,’’ Makadara MP, Mr Dick Wathika, said.

The party also said it would not sit at the same table with Pentagon member Mr William Ruto and party chairman Mr Henry Kosgey.

Their reason was that the two are pursuing a different agenda.

But even as politicians sat in conference rooms, precious lives continued to be lost.

Youths suspected to be members of the outlawed Mungiki sect overran and took over Elburgon town. Sniffing tobacco and chanting war cries, they attacked a motorist and burnt him to death in his car. They barricaded all roads leading in and out of Molo town.

More killings continue

In Kipkelion, seven more people were killed, bringing the death toll of those who have died in the district to 29. Four bodies were discovered by villagers in the bush at Mutaragon village in Kipkelion division on Tuesday morning.

"The bodies, which have been taken away by the police, had deep cuts while others seem to have been hit with blunt objects," said a provincial administrator, who declined to be named.

Rival groups battled it out most of the day in Nairobi’s Korogocho, Huruma and Mathare slums. Four people were killed in the skirmishes.

In the border of the North Rift and Western Province, the violence took a new twist when erstwhile political allies turned on one another.

Fighting raged even as MPs Mr George Khaniri (Hamisi), Dr Sally Kosgei (Aldai) and Mr Elijah Lagat (Emgwen) tried to broker peace.

And another internationally renowned marathoner, Wesley Ngetich, 34, was shot in the chest with an arrow during fighting in his hometown of Trans Mara, not far from the world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

Three weeks ago, former Olympian Lucas Sang met his death in the hands of a marauding crowd on a night that another top athlete, world marathon champion Luke Kibet, narrowly escaped death.

Official Government figures released on Tuesday put the number of those killed so far at 685, but the Opposition said it could be over 1,000.

Special Programmes minister Dr Naomi Shaban also said the number of those displaced had reduced from 258,836 to 222,177.

But Nobel Peace laureate, Prof Wangari Maathai, regretted that as the current political crisis persisted, President Kibaki continued to remain aloof and unreachable.

"Internationally, the conflict is presented as ‘ethnic cleansing’ and another "Rwanda’ in the making since Kibaki and Raila are from two communities," she said.

Kenyans, she noted, bury their heads in shame, anger and frustrations as they continue to plead with the President, but State House appeared out of reach.

"Why is it difficult for Kibaki to personally pick a phone, as they sometimes do, and ask Raila to talk? He is unreachable. He is near yet so far," she said.

She called for the beginning of a healing and reconciliation process among Kenyans.

She said the current political impasse would be resolved by understanding the root cause of tribal clashes.

"This time round, let Kenyans not sweep tribal clashes, demonstrations, murders, rapes and destruction of property under the carpet as they have always done. Only when the truth is known and justice is received can anxiety be reduced and wounds heal," she said.


ODM sues Kibaki in The Hague

By Standard Reporter

ODM has filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court in The Hague against President Kibaki and several key Government officials.

The complaint states that crimes against humanity and State-sponsored terrorism were being committed to selected population.

Party Secretary-General, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, alleged that more than 1,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands injured.

Nyong’o added that most of them were victims of excessive force used by security forces.

Those named as respondents include all Cabinet ministers, Commissioner of Police, Maj-Gen Hussein Ali, Administration Police Commandant, Mr Kinuthia Mbugua, and his GSU colleague, Mr Mathew Iteere.

The party has now asked the court’s Chief Prosecutor, Mr Luis Moreno–Ocampo, to respond urgently to their complaint since the crimes are continuing.

"Kenya is party to the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court, and we have therefore today (Tuesday) filed a complaint with the court," said Nyong’o. Accompanied by the party Communication Director Mr Salim Lone, Nyong’o said the repercussions from the fraudulent election continued, as Kenyans grapple with the severest crisis since Independence.

Nyong’o said claims by the Government that police were reacting to ethnic violence by ODM supporters were untrue.

He said the ongoing security crackdown in western Kenya and Nairobi was pre-planned.

Nyong’o claimed the State agents were continuing the so-called ethnic clashes.

Nyong’o named the areas most affected as Kisii, Aldai, Emgwen, Endebess, Kipsigis, Kipkelion, Nandi, Trans Nzoia, Kasarani and Lang’ata.

ODM also condemned the police, who it said allowed armed gangs to attack other communities and then arrested the victims.

Nyong’o warned that unless checked, the situation would get out of control.

"We believe a quick response by the court will deter individuals and the State from continuing with their crimes," he said.

The party also launched an appeal for contributions to foot medical and funeral bills incurred by families of the post-poll skirmishes.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Kenya's "mafia" feel some Heat

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki

By Noel Mwakugu
BBC News, Nairobi

The plan by Kenya's opposition to boycott companies run by allies of President Mwai Kibaki in protest at the outcome of last month's presidential election is an astute political move.

For ever since President Kibaki joined the ranks of opposition politics in 1992, he has surrounded himself with a group of close confidants and friends - many going back to his days in college.

And it is they who are being blamed for influencing his hardline stance during the ongoing crisis that followed Mr Kibaki's controversial win.

They ["Mount Kenya Mafia"] have realised good profits during his rule and letting go to an individual they do not trust sends a chill down their spine
Haroun Ndubi
Kenyan political analyst

The wealthy old men, most in their late 70s, consider themselves to be the council of elders but ordinary Kenyans know them as the "Mount Kenya Mafia".

The circle of influential Kibaki friends include Defence Minister Njenga Karume, Nairobi university chancellor Joe Wanjui, and big time investors Nat Kangethe, Joseph Kanyago and Nick Wanjohi.

The multi-millionaires have vast business interests in commercial agriculture, real estate, tourism industry and transport industry.

Behind the scenes

And when Mr Kibaki ascended to power in 2002 after two failed attempts, the time had come to use their influence.

Kenyans caught up in post-poll violence

Apart from a few appointed to prominent positions in his administration, most operate behind the scenes.

Analysts argue that they have taken full advantage of President Kibaki's hands-off style of administration to play a key role in deciding cabinet and top civil service appointments and well paid government contracts.

The president's inner circle has also been instrumental in ensuring who gets elected to parliament in most of central Kenya.

However, during the last elections a good number of their candidates, who ran for Mr Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU), were defeated at the polls by candidates from smaller political parties.

This was described by political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi as a rebellion against the old order of doing things in the region.

Recent saga

During President Kibaki's five-year term, it is argued that their business interests have grown considerably.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and former Vice-President Moody Awori
Many of Kibaki's candidates were defeated at the polls

A key area being pointed out as their core business is the active Nairobi stock exchange.

Well-informed sources allege that the "Mount Kenya Mafia" are associated with companies that have in the past couple of years acquired large numbers of shares.

Just before last year's elections, Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga claimed that underhand tactics were allegedly used at the stock exchange to the benefit of just a few individuals.

Financial experts said this led to the recent saga where the ODM leadership went to court in an attempt to stop Finance Minister Amos Kimunya from selling the government share of the highly profitable mobile phone company Safaricom.

Simmering temperatures

Political analyst Haroun Ndubi argues that their hardline political positions are intended to protect their economic gains.

"They have realised good profits during his rule and letting go to an individual they do not trust sends a chill down their spine," argues Mr Ndubi - who is also a human rights lawyer.

When ODM spokesman Salem Lone announced last week that they would be targeting business concerns linked to the government hardliners, this moved quickly.

The ODM has listed businesses in the banking, dairy, tourism and transport sector to name but a few that will be targeted for countrywide boycotts, beginning this week.

In response, President Kibaki unexpectedly appointed a negotiating team lead by Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, who came third in the race for the presidency, to try to quell the simmering temperatures.

"I think the new tactic announced by ODM has caused some shivers among the hardliners as it would hit where it hurts most," Mr Ndubi says.

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Kenya sued over police 'crimes'

Kikuyu youths stop a car at a checkpoints
Ethnic gangs have set up checkpoints in the Rift Valley
Kenya's opposition has filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court, accusing the government of crimes against humanity.

It says the police used excessive force during last week's protests, in which more than 30 people died.

In the latest violence, four people were hacked to death as at least seven were killed in the Rift Valley.

Former UN chief Kofi Annan warned it would be a disaster if Kenya lost its place as a haven of African stability.

Mr Annan was speaking after arriving in Nairobi to help solve a political crisis that spilled into nationwide violence with the announcement of last month's disputed presidential election results.

A poisoned chalice?

More than 650 people have been killed in protests, while 250,000 more have fled their homes.

Arriving in the Kenyan capital on Tuesday, Mr Annan called for dialogue but denied he had been handed a poisoned chalice with his latest peace mission.

We are here to listen, learn and work with the concerned parties.
Former UN Chief Kofi Annan

"This is a challenge," he said, flanked by Graca Michel, the wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa.

"We are here to listen, learn and work with the concerned parties."

President Yoweri Museveni of Kenya's neighbour Uganda is also in the country and has held talks with President Mwai Kibaki.

During his visit, Mr Annan will meet Mr Kibaki, who says he won December's election fairly, and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga, who insists the poll was rigged.

"Our message to the parties is this: there can be no solution, no peace and stability... without respect for the rule of law," said Mr Annan.


A spokeswoman for the ICC, based in The Hague, said she could not comment on whether the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) had filed a complaint over the government's handling of the protests.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua, however, told the AFP news agency that the authorities were planning to file a counter-suit.

"The government is aware that some leaders of ODM planned and executed a mass genocide that we saw in the Rift Valley of this country."

Women asking for food aid
Some 250,000 people have fled their homes
"They should know that very soon, they, as individuals not as a party, will be languishing in jail," he said.

Members of President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu community have often been targeted by opposition supporters in the Rift Valley, as well as in Nairobi slums and the port town of Mombasa.

One group were burnt to death as they sought shelter in a church but ODM leaders have denied responsibility and called for calm.

The ODM accuse police of adopting a shoot-to-kill policy during the protests but the police have said they acted with restraint.

ODM leader Raila Odinga says he will only meet President Mwai Kibaki to discuss the crisis if the talks are part of international mediation efforts.

So far, Mr Kibaki has rejected this condition.

The BBC's Amber Henshaw in Nairobi says few are optimistic about what progress will be made.

Mr Odinga wants fresh polls or a recount, while Mr Kibaki says he was rightfully elected.


Monday, January 21, 2008

In Kenya More lives lost

By Alex Ndegwa

The Orange party leader Mr Raila Odinga spoke of peace "returning soon" as the Government made an important concession by allowing today’s mass funeral service in the first ever sign of softening up.

But there was widespread outrage over the Kalonzo Musyoka-led mediation team, on a day 26 more lives were violently snuffed out.

In the midst of all this, the Catholic Church’s John Cardinal Njue sent out a passionate plea to President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga: Swallow your pride, sit down and talk so that you save this country before it is too late.

The prelate, who was presiding over mass at St Augustine Catholic Parish, Juja, added: "Go beyond where you are. Look ahead and realise that for Kenya to be peaceful, for current tribal divisions to end and for the killings of innocent Kenyans to stop, you must dialogue".

Police pursue rival groups who fought in Huruma Estate in Nairobi on Sunday. At least two people were hacked to death and many more injured. Picture by George Mulala

But as he spoke of ODM’s willingness to dialogue, Raila told a congregation at the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Holy Trinity Parish in Kibera — a slum that has bore the brunt of the post-election violence — that the supporters of the wounded Orange party have urged him to stand firm and not retreat.

"Peace will soon prevail even if it means that we negotiate with a thief if that is what it will take to bring it," Raila said without elaborating.

But the Lang’ata MP cautioned the Government against any tricks.

Speaking on the eve of a week in which mediation talks are expected to take centre stage with the arrival of former United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, Raila said the church had an obligation to stand against injustices and defend democracy.

He, however, said he regretted that a section of the church leadership had already taken sides with the ‘troublemakers’.

"It is hypocritical to see that some church leaders are siding with the people who have snatched democracy away from the citizens, hence the cause of trouble," Raila said.

Quoting Martin Luther King, Raila said: "I have a dream that one day the people of this county shall not be judged by their tribe but by the content of their character".

He referred to the political impasse gripping the country as a "temptation" saying ODM "shall overcome the injustices no matter how long it takes".

Raila made these remarks even as the country remained on the international radar. Both the World Bank and the African Development Bank said they would continue to monitor developments in Kenya closely and would keep their programs under review depending on the unfolding scenario.

By licensing the planned ODM mass prayers for last week’s victims of a deadly police clampdown on protesters, the Government made a huge step in limiting — if not altogether eliminating — the violence, hooliganism and unprecedented scale of destruction witnessed since the declaration of Mwai Kibaki as the winner of the presidential elections described as seriously flawed.

"The service will go on as planned. I want to assure religious leaders behind the event that police would not stop it," Mr Simon Kiragu, the Kisumu OCPD told The Standard yesterday, when asked if the mass planned for the Moi Stadium from 10am today had been sanctioned.

He added: "We know it will be an emotional service but we urge politicians and religious leaders to take control and restrain their supporters from engaging in acts of violence".

Police have shot dead at least 70 people in Kisumu alone since the post-election violence erupted.

This week promises to be another tough one after ODM renewed calls for mass action, expected to ignite fresh duels on the streets over the political crisis that has paralysed the country.

ODM also pulled out another card off its sleeve after it added economic boycott of certain companies and products, beginning this week to pile more pressure on Government.

Another storm was also brewing around the 10-member committee led by VP Kalonzo picked to spearhead talks by President Kibaki.

Several Opposition MPs, church leaders and Nobel Peace laureate Prof Wangari Maathai have all taken issue with Kalonzo leading the talks.

But three Cabinet ministers and an MP yesterday came to Kalonzo’s defence and told Raila to embrace dialogue instead of taking issue with the composition of the Government team.

Ms Martha Karua (Justice), Mr Moses Wetangula (Foreign Affairs), Mr Samuel Poghisio (Information) and Mbooni MP Mr Mutula Kilonzo told ODM to come clean and state whether they are interested in dialogue or not.

Annan is expected in the country at the head of an "Eminent Africans" group to try and help kick-start dialogue between Kibaki and Raila.

Other members of the African Union team are former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and wife of former South Africa president, Graca Machel.

ODM’s programme begins today when the party holds inter-denominational funeral services for their supporters killed in post-election violence in Kisumu.

A follow-up one would be held in Nairobi at Ligi Ndogo grounds on Wednesday.

Friday will be the national day of prayers to commemorate all the "martyrs who have given their lives in the peaceful struggle for democracy, the rule of law and the rejection of the December 27 presidential election results".

And on Thursday, the party plans to hold countrywide peace rallies.

The Government has, however, outlawed political assemblies and the mass action is expected to bring a fresh round of confrontation with the police.

Official statistics show that more than 500 people have died across the country and more than 250,000 displaced and property worth billions looted, torched or destroyed.

The crisis has also dented the previously booming economy — due to losses incurred in closures of businesses and destruction to property — and hit supplies to east and central African neighbours, including Uganda.

Lukewarm diplomatic efforts have so far been fruitless in unlocking the political standoff.

Ghanaian President and African Union head John Kufuor, and other international figures, including US’s top diplomat for Africa Dr Jendayi Frazer, failed to bring the feuding sides together.

The international community has thrown its weight behind the fresh mediation efforts led by Annan, whose fate however remains uncertain as both sides dig into their trenches.

Last Monday, Roads minister Mr John Michuki, a core member of Kibaki’s Cabinet, threw the scheduled diplomatic efforts into a spin when he said there was no need for outside help.

"We won the elections ... We do not see the point for anyone coming to mediate power sharing," he said. "We have not invited Kofi Annan or any other eminent personality to come and mediate."

ODM’s renewed call for mass action too seemed to contradict Annan’s earlier appeal to both parties to refrain from actions that could undermine scheduled mediation talks.

"Pending this (mediation), no party should create facts on the ground or engage in acts that complicate the search for a negotiated solution," Annan said. "The purpose of our mission is to help the Kenyan people find a peaceful and just solution to the current crisis".

The donor community has threatened an aid cut if the political crisis is not settled. Both the EU and the US have cautioned that it will not be business as usual until there is a political compromise that leads to a lasting solution "that reflects the will of the Kenyan people, wins their confidence and helps return Kenya to stability".

Already, the EU Parliament has recommended to its members to stop aid to the country, until the political impasse is resolved.

But EU aid commissioner Louis Michel, who is in the country in the latest diplomatic efforts to try to defuse the crisis, met President Kibaki on Saturday and assured that the EU was yet to freeze aid, saying it would wait for the outcome of dialogue.

The EU election monitoring team concluded the elections fell below international and regional standards.

Raila reiterated he was open to dialogue but he has ruled out any talks spearheaded by Kalonzo whom he described as a traitor.

"How can a Jesus Christ and his disciples sit in a committee chaired by Judas Iscariot? Kalonzo is a traitor," Raila was quoted as saying at the weekend.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Renewed ethnic clashes hit Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Diplomatic efforts to solve the violent fallout from Kenya's disputed elections continued over the weekend with a visit from the European Union's development commissioner Louis Michel, who met with President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.


Riot police patrol the streets of Nairobi on Sunday.

"We had a very nice discussion about the political situation in the country, the crisis that we are having," Odinga said after the Saturday meeting. "We told him our point of view."

Michel, meanwhile, said that the lack of stability in the nation "is good news for the extremists and anti-democratic forces."

"President Kibaki, of course, recognizes that there is a serious problem in his country," Michel said. "He is very concerned about that. There is a need for dialogue, cooling down and trying to get peaceful solutions. But he also knows that substantial problems have to be resolved."

Kenyan media reported that marauding youths armed with spears, bows and arrows and machetes were destroying homes around the town of Eldoret, near the border with Uganda.

The Kenyan Sunday Nation newspaper quoted the local district commissioner Abdi Halake, who said that six people were killed and 50 houses were burned to the ground in the weekend violence.

The Rift Valley town of Eldoret has been the scene of much of the post-election violence, which has resulted in at least 600 deaths and driven thousands from their homes.

Michel's trip came ahead of the arrival of an African Union delegation led by Kofi Annan expected Tuesday. The former U.N. Secretary General will try to mediate between the warring political factions. His visit was delayed after he was struck down with flu.

Kenya, long one of the most stable and economically developed nations in East Africa, descended into chaos after the elections.

Kibaki was re-elected in balloting that was thought to be rigged by many of his opponents. The result sparked widespread ethnically related violence.

Supporters of Kibaki, a member of the Kikuyu tribe, have battled with supporters of Odinga, a member of the Luo tribe, in bloody street fights that often involved machetes.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission told CNN Michel's visit was not an attempt to broker a deal between the two sides.

She said the commissioner was there to "collect first-hand information" about the situation on the ground in the country and to stress to both sides the need to co-operate with the African Union delegation. Michel left the country Saturday, she added.

Odinga's party kept up its protest against the president, announcing at a press conference Saturday plans for an "economic boycott" of companies whose directors are perceived to be close allies of the president, the Sunday Nation reported.

"These individuals are using the wealth they have created from our open democratic system to undermine the rule of law and democracy in Kenya," the paper reported party chairman Henry Kosgey as saying.

Kosgey said on Saturday the party plans to hold its next set of "peaceful rallies" throughout the nation on Thursday


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Green Party Standing Up for Native Americans

The following is a press release from the Green Party:

Greens back Indian Trust lawsuit against Interior Department over billions in broken obligations, mismanaged funds, and appropriated natural resources

WASHINGTON, DC—Green Party leaders and candidates expressed support for an ongoing class-action lawsuit to force the US Interior Department to account for billions of dollars owed to Native Americans since the late 19th century.

“Since the 1880s, the US government has failed to make good on its promise to provide Native Americans payment for mining, oil and gas extraction, timber, and grazing on their homelands. It’s time for the US to reverse hundreds of years of broken treaties and stolen resources, account for the breach of Indian Trust obligations, and restore honesty,” said Rodger Jennings, Green candidate for Congress in Illinois (12th District).

Filed in 1996, Cobell v. Norton (later renamed Cobell v. Kempthorne) addresses funds belonging to about a half million Native Americans and their heirs. In 1999, Judge Royce Lamberth held Clinton Administration officials (especially Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin) in contempt of court for stonewalling, destruction of documents, and misrepresentations before the court.

More recently, the US Court of Appeals sided with the federal government and removed Judge Lamberth from the case, rejecting the judge’s findings of evasion and malfeasance and his charges of racism.

The Bush Administration is now taking steps to limit the government’s liability and to ensure that only 1.3% of the trust accounts are reconciled, which means only a tiny fraction of those covered under the trust plan might see some form of restitution.

Greens, calling on the Bush Administration to honor the financial debt of the US government to Native Americans, also expressed frustration with the White House’s recent violations of treaties and agreements.

“Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne is taking action to limit drastically the scope of payments owed to Native Americans. He’s trying to get his department off the hook on its obligation to account for the historical theft of billions of dollars when white-owned firms were allowed to profit from natural resources on Indian land.

His actions are consistent with the Bush Administration’s refusal to honor numerous treaties signed by the US, from the Kyoto Accords to the Geneva prohibitions against torture,” said Rebecca Rotzler, an Alaskan Native, a former co-chair of the Green Party of the United States,and an elected Green.

For further details, background information, and recent news on Cobell v. Kempthorne, see:

• Indian Trust: Cobell v. Kempthorne

• “Interior again shifts duty to account for Indian trust,”, December 5, 2007

• Justice Department documents

Findlaw page

Sunday, January 13, 2008

World watches Kenya

BY Sunday Standard Team and Agencies

African Union’s (AU) mediator between President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga has asked political leaders not to take any further steps that would compromise the search for peace.

The US declared support for the latest peace initiative, with a raft of demands on ODM and the Government.

"Although we welcome the fact that both sides have indicated their commitment to dialogue and to ending violence, we are deeply disappointed that they have not been able to reach an agreement on the modalities for direct discussions."

The UN Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-Moon said, "The death toll stands at an appallingly high figure of more than 500 people, with more than 300,000 Kenyans displaced".

He called for a quick resolution to the crisis.

"In the face of the deeply troubling situation in Kenya, the Secretary-General calls once again on the political leadership of Kenya to find – urgently – an acceptable solution through dialogue so that the political crisis is resolved and the country returns to its peaceful and democratic path. The Secretary-General wishes to express his continued support for the various efforts being made by regional and international actors to help Kenyans arrive at a lasting solution,’’ read a statement from United Nations Information Centre, Nairobi.

He added: "Many of them are living in fear. That much of the violence appears to have been directed at specific communities is all the more worrisome. The killings must stop, alleged human rights violations should be investigated and those found responsible for crimes should be held accountable for their actions. The potential for further bloodshed remains high unless the political crisis is quickly resolved."

President Kibaki called for reconciliation a day after ODM called for mass action. He said there was no need to harbour grudges against each other.

"Let’s all forget the past and preach peace and reconciliation," he said.

Annan, a former United Nations secretary general, also asked them "not to create facts on the ground that would make it difficult for the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, which both sides to the election dispute had agreed to work with, to find viable and lasting solution."

The 2001 Nobel Peace laureate spoke as the US Government once again called for direct talks between Kibaki and Raila on the post-election violence that has claimed 300 lives and displaced 300,000.

"In our view, it is imperative for President Kibaki and Raila Odinga to sit together directly and without preconditions to discuss how to end the post-election crisis in a way that reflects the will of the Kenyan people,’’ said the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Dr Jendayi Frazer.

The US called for respect for the rule of law and the peoples’ right to assemble, as well as media freedom.

Serious flaws in the vote tallying

"We favoured no side during the electoral contest. We supported efforts to carry out transparent and fair elections. The generally peaceful and orderly voting process, and the record voter turnout, was a triumph for the Kenyan people, but the serious flaws in the vote tallying damaged the credibility of the process,’’ said the superpower.

The three statements came a day after ODM gave notice of three-day mass action rallies across the country beginning Wednesday.

It also came as government ban on live television coverage remained in force.

Frazer emphasised the fact that Kenyans believed the deadlock could be unlocked through a power-sharing arrangement.

Frazer added: "Both should acknowledge serious irregularities in the vote tallying, which made it impossible to determine with certainty the final result, and both must take forthright steps to end violence and ensure respect for the rule of law, consistent with respect for human rights."

The statement whose tone appear to harden compared to previous ones issued went on: "This particularly includes restoration of media freedom and freedom of peaceful assembly. We believe the Kenyan people have made clear that the way forward must embrace equitable power-sharing, an end to violence, reconciliation, and agreement on a specific agenda for constitutional and electoral reform."

Annan, who arrives in the country this week, to carry on from where AU chairman and Ghanaian President John Kufuor left, called on the Government and opposition to consider the interests of Kenyans and to show goodwill, leadership and maturity.

Annan said they were going to put together a secretariat to enable the panel work as expeditiously as possible to resolve many of the issues and to restore the East African country to normalcy.

Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and South Africa’s former First Lady Mrs Graca Machel will assist him.

Referring to the AU chairman’s trip to Kenya, he said it was essential and it had made a difference.

News agencies reported Annan would have more time to spend in Kenya than Kufuor, who stayed for just two days. Kufuor did bring Raila and Kibaki to the negotiating table for direct talks on poll dispute and subsequent post-election violence.

Annan spoke in Ghana and his statement was relayed by the national news agency there. He formally accepted the invitation from President Kufuor to head the panel.

President Kufuor, whose visit to Kenya was at the invitation of the two feuding parties, said he came with a programme, to get them to agree to immediate cessation of violence, to accept to use dialogue to settle their differences and to agree to talk under the aegis of the Panel of Eminent African leaders.

His visit coincided with the arrival of four former African presidents – Mkapa, Mr Joachim Chisano, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, and Sir Ketumile Masire – and Frazer’s.

Kofour on Saturday said during the two days, he won the support of both the Government and the opposition parties to abide by these.

Called for Kenyan solution

The US, however, insisted, "the post-electoral crisis can only be resolved through a Kenyan solution."

"In the meantime, the United States cannot conduct business as usual in Kenya. The Kenyan people recognise that the post-electoral crisis has revealed longstanding problems that must not be ignored. As a close friend and partner of Kenya, the United States will remain intensively engaged to help encourage resolution of the post-electoral crisis. We are convinced that Kenyans will achieve this, and that the country will emerge out of this crisis a stronger and more just democratic society,’’ the statement ran.

"Political negotiation is not an event, it is a process that can take a very long time, or a short time, all depends on the co-operation of the leaders," Annan said in Accra after meeting Kufuor.

"I regard it as a great responsibility and we’ll take it seriously to restore stability and quickly end the humanitarian crisis in that country," Annan added.

"We are not going to impose solutions but work together with (with both parties) to arrive at viable and long-lasting solutions to the problem," Annan said.

Addressing a press conference at Teleposta Towers accompanied by Defence minister Mr Yusuf Haji and Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua and Information Minister Samuel Poghisio termed the agreement advertised by ODM as the one the President was to sign a fallacy.

"Kibaki never sent any emissary nor did he mandate anyone to hold discussions with ODM leaders through any intermediary on his behalf," said Poghisio.

Church leaders added their voice to the need to return to negotiations, which they cited as the only way out of the crisis.

The Catholic Church opposed the proposed mass action by ODM next week and called for dialogue.

Archbishop John Cardinal Njue said following the many deaths and massive destruction of property, dialogue was the best option.

"The country is undergoing a very difficult situation at the moment and calling for mass action next week would only add fuel to the already existing problem,’’ Njue said.

In Nairobi, 33 Anglican Church of Kenya bishops told Kibaki and Raila to submit to mediated negotiations.

"People should resort to mediated dialogue. A lot of suffering has taken place. Mass action will worsen the situation, as they will lead to looting. This will cause loss of life," warned Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi.

"We are calling for mediated settlement between the two so that a solution can be found. Both parties should submit themselves to dialogue," he added.

Religious leaders from the Kalenjin community supported mediation and called for prayers among Kenyans while encouraging peaceful co-existence.

The religious leaders, under the umbrella of Emo Community Development Society said in a statement: "We are encouraged by the numerous mediation efforts from world leaders and locals and prayers from many people all over the world who would wish to see Kenyans live peacefully and progressively as before."


Saturday, January 12, 2008

THE END of Raw Almonds in America?



The USDA has mandated that all U.S. grown almonds be sanitized through
treatment processes that the industry calls "pasteurization" (fumigation
or heat). No exceptions.

This rule was passed in response to Salmonella outbreaks in 2001 and 2004
(one traced to a 9000-acre grower!). The California "Big Almond"
industry asked for this rule in order to protect themselves from consumer

More info here:

Why was this rule such a bad idea?

The rule does not address methods used on the industrial-scale almond
orchards where the only verified Salmonella outbreak occurred.

The USDA rule requires fumigation with propylene oxide, a possibly
carcinogenic chemical, or high temperature heat. Truly raw almonds will no
longer be available from American farmers. Even U.S. organic almonds will have to be heat pasteurized.

Mandating pasteurization will negatively impact small-scale and organic
growers. Spain and Italy do not mandate pasteurization. This rule promotes
foreign almond markets over our own.

The rule allows almonds to be deceptively labeled as "raw" following
these treatments.

What can YOU do?

The Cornucopia Institute [] is leading the charge
on this issue.

In February, Mark Kastel and Will Fantel of Cornucopia will talk with
high-ranking USDA officials who are actually listening to and concerned by
consumer reaction, according to Cornucopia. "They may be looking for a
compromise," Mark Kastel of Cornucopia told The Wedge.

More on this here:

To keep the pressure on, we need your help!

Please sign a proxy letter TODAY to Acting Secretary Chuck Conner! Print
it and send it to Cornucopia yourself
[] or stop by the Wedge
and sign a letter at Customer Service Desk. The Wedge will collect these
letters and send them in a batch to Cornucopia to be hand-carried to the

Why we must seek peace even if it is inconvenient

By Muthoni Thang’wa

America’s 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, once said: "If I had to choose between righteousness and peace, I would choose righteousness."

Clearly this is a preferred position by politicians to date given the current political impasse over the controversial tally of the just concluded presidential election. While politicians have chosen to claim their own righteousness, ordinary citizens have lost their livelihoods as property is destroyed. The most vulnerable have been maimed, assaulted and displaced, and every crook in the country is running amok in the name of seeking justice.

What the children injured so far have to do with a presidential candidate remains a mystery to the logical mind.

There is no doubt that the country is entitled to a President that the majority chose. Should this not be the person declared winner, it translates to an abuse of freedom and justice. However, there is no excuse for seeking ‘justice’ in ways that infringe and abuse the freedom of others.

The situation is made more complex by an Electoral Commission that sings ‘Hallelujah’ today and utters a war cry tomorrow, a complete abuse of the duty and responsibility vested in them by their contractual agreement with Kenyans.

Our responsibility ended at the ballot box when we cast our vote. The rest was up to the constitutionally created offices to complete. Now they tell us that a baby was born, but they have no idea if it was alive or stillborn, no idea what gender it was and no idea who the parents were.

Someone should have listened to Mr Samuel Kivuitu when he told Kenyans that he is an old man who does not need a job, in regard to the renewal of his contract as the Electoral Commission chairman. A man who feels that he does not need a job will not do the job even if he is tied to a seat all hours.

Many are tempted to state that the violence we are currently seeing has little to do with the just concluded presidential election. We all now understand better why nations like South Africa had a truth and reconciliation commission: It would take a really angry person to burn children and grandmothers in a church in the wee hours of the morning.

Psychologists insist that this kind of anger is not occasioned by a single event such as the presidential election, but rather it has been simmering just under the surface waiting of the right excuse. The rest of us are left wondering if there is such a thing as communal rage.

The politicians on both side of the political divide should realise that most political strategies need public will to execute.

Such strategies will have meaning to no one but themselves if more Kenyans continue to be displaced and if in the end majority of the votes whose numbers are being argued across the impasse end up as internally displaced persons or worse as refugees.

Should Kenyans continue to call leaders, people who feel they must get into power or must stay in power at what ever price!

While the hooligans will meet with Police Commissioner Maj-Gen Hussein Ali’s kiboko, and the wealthy and affluent sit in the comfort of their fortresses trying to decipher what the current status implies for investment, ordinary mwananchi spend all their time maneuvering their way around the flames while the country is on fire, trying so hard to maintain some sense of normalcy and most of all clinging to dear life.

American civil rights activist Dr Martin Luther King stated that the true measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.

As a patriotic Kenyan, play your role during this time that we all need to put a tight lease on our emotions and actions. Desist from stealing that carpet from a shop that hooligans have broken into, or finally getting into that pair of Bata shoes that you did not afford in the last Christmas, or destroying that business that your neighbour has put all his time and money building in the last so long.

Don’t go on the streets chanting that you want peace while leaving a trail of fire and destruction in your wake and then rushing to the nearest church to offer prayers for peace, by day while returning to torch the hapless occupants by night. In giving your neighbour their peace, therein will you find your own peace.

It will be that neighbour who will answer your call on distress in the night and help you put the pieces together when peace is brokered at the high table and bread is served with crumbs that will not get to you. If Kenyans had to choose between righteousness and peace at this time, I’m sure they would choose peace.

The writer is a curator at the Karen Blixen Museum


ODM plans three days of mass action

By Saturday Standard Team

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) plans countrywide three-day rallies beginning Wednesday as part of its mass action programme to push up its claim President Kibaki stole their victory.

The prospect of a confrontation immediately sprung up as Police Commissioner Hussein Ali once again decreed all rallies, no matter the profile of the organisers, will not be allowed.

"The ban on public protests and rallies is still on. The ODM protests are thus illegal and outlawed," said Ali. But ODM maintained its rallies would be peaceful.

ODM also struck a different cord, a day after African Union effort to bring Mr Raila Odinga and President Kibaki to the negotiating table failed, by calling for aid freeze. ODM, whose previous attempts to hold a rally in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park were blocked by a security human wall around the venue, also conceded negotiations had flopped.

ODM escalated the scope of its planned rallies as news arrived former UN secretary general Mr Kofi Annan, who replaces the African Union chairman and Ghanaian President Mr John Kufuor, won’t arrive before Tuesday.

Annan’s office in Geneva broke the news the global peacemaker who takes up negotiations from Kufuor, would not be around before Tuesday when the Tenth Parliament sits.

Terming the mass action ‘a call to defence of our nation’ the party said the protests would be held in the full glare of Annan.

"We want Mr Annan to mediate the talks with full knowledge of the magnitude of the problem," ODM secretary General Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o said, in a statement read before 100 MPs-elect and Pentagon members.

"How can donors trust a government that steals votes to use funds judiciously without pilferage?" Nyong’o asked.

"Talks are just an opportunity for them to delay and silence us, while they consolidate power," the party said.

Pentagon members Mr William Ruto, Mr Najib Balala, Mr Joe Nyagah and Raila were present.

The venues of the rallies released by the party include Ruringu stadium in Kibaki’s home turf, as well as Tonoka Grounds (Mombasa) Jomo Kenyatta Grounds (Kisumu) Afraha Stadium (Nakuru), Muliro Gardens (Kakamega), Kipchoge Keino Stadium (Eldoret), Gusii Stadium (Kisii), Kericho Green Stadium, Moi’s Embu Stadium, and Mulu Mutisya Gardens in Machakos.

At the same time four former African leaders continued to push for face-to-face talks between Raila and Kibaki as the African Union names three new mediators.

Meanwhile, President Kibaki attended a funeral service of a family member in Nairobi and called on leaders to help heal the nation from the post-election violence.

The violence, which exploded in Kitale yesterday after days of relative calm, has claimed about 500 lives, displaced close to 300,000 people and led to wanton destruction of private property in Western, Nyanza, Coast, Nairobi and Rift Valley provinces.

Kibaki said there was need for leaders to find solutions to these problems.

Kibaki calling for dialogue

In a brief speech that hinted that Kibaki had not closed doors on dialogue with the opposition, the President said the challenge facing political leaders was to rebuild the nation and "each one of us is going to rise to the occasion".

"The challenge is to build the nation and each one of us is going to rise to the occasion," he said.

But Kibaki was silent on how he would engage the opposition in talks to end the sporadic skirmishes and the humanitarian crisis that has rocked the country for two weeks.

Finance minister Mr Amos Kimunya said: "The position taken by ODM that the talks had collapsed was not correct, the Government is still open to dialogue."

Kimunya said Kufuor left the country after he looked at the issues under dispute and realised "he had better things to do at home".

"ODM wants to join government and we are encouraging dialogue. We do not see the need for mediation for such an issue. We did not need mediation between ODM-Kenya and us,’’ Kimunya said.

Kanu chairman and Local Government minister Mr Uhuru Kenyatta said the call for mass action by ODM was a sign of bad faith since negotiations were on-going.

"It is not a sign of good faith because we are open for dialogue. The President waited for them and they did not turn up. We are ready and waiting to talk. We ask the same from our colleagues,’’ Uhuru said.

Kibaki’s statement came as senior PNU politicians trooped to a city hotel for a meeting with MPs elected on small parties’ tickets reportedly to discuss a power-sharing arrangement and a partnership deal in Parliament where PNU is outnumbered.

It is believed PNU dangled the seats left vacant after Kibaki named half the Cabinet this week, to MPs falling under the Small Parties Parliamentary Group.

Raila said he shared every sentiments expressed by his colleagues for protest. "I share in every sentiment expressed here. The views expressed here are also my views," said Raila, in response to a BBC question.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth offices said in a statement Annan would be joined by South African First Lady Graca Machel and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa.

A statement by Foreign Secretary David Miliband said UK supports the effort.

Former African Head of States who came in to support the mediation rendered another international effort, rekindling hope all is not yet lost.

Under the aegis of the Africa Forum Mission to Kenya, former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, Dr Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia), Sir Ketumile Masire (Botswana) and Mkapa called on the parties to end the turmoil.

Talks collapsed

They maintained the talks were still on course, terming the perception that a breakthrough had stalled, ‘dangerous.’

Said Nyong’o: "Talks between ODM and Kibaki collapsed due to the refusal of that side to negotiate with us. We’re are responsive and working for a just solution."

"Kibaki side is hell-bent on clinging to power, regardless of the verdict of Kenyans. His side wants to dictate terms for us without the will to redress the situation" Nyong’o added.

Government members insisted mediation had not collapsed and that the doors for negotiations are still open.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Ms Martha Karua has maintained a hard line, arguing President Kibaki was validly elected during an interview with BBC’s Hard Talk programme. "President Kibaki had been validly elected and those who opposed to it should seek redress in court,’’ Karua said.

"There is nothing like negotiations for power. The talks are to restore peace and calm, not for power," the Government spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua is on record saying.

But Science and Technology minister Dr Noah Wekesa said the Government was still committed to mediation and refuted claims it had declined to have round-table talks with ODM.

"There is room for negotiations and we are willing to sit with ODM. We must allow ourselves to talk to each other," he said.

Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly has announced the commitment of the assembly in finding a solution to current political crisis.

"The assembly reaffirms its commitment to play its part in this process and do all in its power to assist in getting a lasting solution," said Mr Abdirahin Haithar Abdi.

Other appeals for negotiations to go on came from National Council of Churches of Kenya, Hindu Council of Kenya, Evangelical Churches of Kenya, Anglican Church, and the Nairobi Pentecostal Church, after a press conference to back negotiations.

Acknowledging the daunting task in front of the ODM’s media consultant Mr Salim Lone, told Britain’s Sky News, on Friday, "It is going to be very hard," to resolve the impasse.

He said ODM had "gone two or three extra miles to show we are reasonable, we are flexible, even though we won the election. The whole world knows we won the election."

The Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya asked Kenyans not to react violently to the collapse of talks between the Government and ODM.

The secretary general Sheikh Mohammad Dor, however, says Kenyans should continue fighting for their rights peacefully, "Until Kibaki steps down".

"Kenyans should continue with countrywide but peaceful protests until they get their rights," Dor he advised.


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