By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO
July 31 2008
However, by softening his image, Mr Odinga has alienated the radical constituencies in ODM, and these will probably peel off from the movement by 2012.
He probably calculates that he needs to be nice to Mr Kibaki to pick up new support that will compensate for that loss.
So, there is the deal: Raila treats Mr Kibaki respectfully, and continues to cultivate a moderate image, then he will be extremely competitive in 2012.
Mr Kibaki doesn’t need to endorse him, of course. All he has to do is not to oppose him. Then he can make his pick for successor from PNU ranks.
That way, if Mr Odinga wins, he will be grateful that President Kibaki didn’t undermine him.
If Mr Kibaki’s chosen successor wins, the victor will forever be thankful to the old man for anointing him. Either way, Mr Kibaki wins. All this bodes well for the coalition.
The other legitimate argument that has been made against the coalition is that it is “an arranged marriage”. That is slightly inaccurate, because Kenya didn’t have a choice if it wanted to remain one country and to stop the slaughter.
But do all arranged marriages fail? There is a view that arranged marriages last longer than those born of love. Expectations are very low, or sometimes non-existent, so disappointment levels tend to be low too.
Of more interest is whether anyone really ever marries for love.
Usually, we are either trying to beat the biological clock; want to end our loneliness; we finally got a job and can afford to raise a family; or just feel the pressure from friends and family to get hitched; or think we have finally found the “right seed” to father or mother our children.
Show me someone who married purely out of love and I will
Thursday, July 31, 2008
By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO
By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO
July 31 2008
Both Kibaki and Raila have sounded optimism over the coalition's future.
If the President is losing a hold of PNU, then the success of the coalition is the main thing he has to hold on as his legacy.
Raila has done a lot to soften his image and look presidential, by presenting himself as a team-player, being a strong defender of Kibaki and building his image abroad.
Ever since Kenya's grand coalition Government was forged over 100 days ago from the ashes of the post-December election violence, it has been hard to find anyone outside the ministers in it and the American, British and German envoys who thinks it will last up to 2012.
At various interviews in his hectic international schedule, he has sold the grand coalition as “the solution” to Africa’s tribal-riven politics.
I will not bet the house on the survival of the grand coalition (I am not deluded), but I am willing to put my shirt on it limping on to 2012.
For starters, because there are internal political battles to fight (witness Narc-K shaking the PNU tree), and there is an election in under five years in which the incumbent is not standing, no one in the coalition has time to spare to work on breaking it up.
Many factors will determine the future of the coalition, but at the level of personalities, President Kibaki and Premier Odinga hold the key to its survival.
To start with President Kibaki, it is remarkable seeing ministers, including junior ones, and minor party officials ticking him off about his attempt to consolidate PNU and, allegedly, to “impose” a successor.
Going by this, commentators and critics have written the President off as damaged goods, your typical lame-duck president in his last term of office.
If that is true, then it also means that President Kibaki isn’t powerful enough to wreck the coalition.
Secondly, if he is losing grip, then the success of the coalition is the main thing he has to hold on as his legacy. My own sense is that all he has to do to secure his legacy is to sleep throughout the next four years, leaving things as they are.
Mr Odinga, on the other hand, has even less reason to tear up the grand coalition.
During the campaigns it became clear that there was quite some unease in parts of Kenya as to whether he could be “trusted”, and whether he was still a “dangerous” radical and glass-breaker.
In the last three months, he has done a lot to soften his image and look presidential. He positions himself as the great team-player, and is robust in his defence of Mr Kibaki, a fact which should place him in good standing with some of the President’s staunch supporters.
But perhaps the greater discovery has been his appeal abroad.
His record of democratic struggle, and folksy political style – speeches full of proverbs and stories about rain-soaked lions being mistaken for cats, football tales and chants on stage, and the urban underclass’s fascination with grandeur (the Hummer) – looked unsuited to a sophisticated international stage.
July 31, 2008
By Otsieno Namwaya
Depending on which side of the political divide one falls, outgoing chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) Maina Kiai is either a hero or a villain.
Sharp divisions in the delicate post-election standoff, during which voices of reason were drowned out, perhaps best exemplified the perception of Kiai’s personality.
To the Opposition, which felt cheated out of victory, Kiai’s condemnation of the polls and key Government officials confirmed his statesmanship and conviction to democratic ideals.
But to government supporters and his kinsfolk from central Kenya, his inability to conform was enough testimony of his treachery.
"I was not chairman of Kikuyu National Commission on Human Rights to be accused of betraying my tribe. I was not given a job to defend President Kibaki," said Kiai, whose tenure at KNCHR ended on Wednesday.
He has been replaced by Ms Florence Jaoko, formerly the commission’s vice-chairperson. To his critics, Kiai’s decision not to seek another term as chair of the human rights body was godsend.
Mr Maina Kiai, immediate former chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. PHOTO: JACOB OTIENO
His five-year tenure at the helm of the human rights watchdog was characterised by confrontations with Justice Minister Martha Karua, the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission director Aaron Ringera and the Police Commissioner, Maj-Gen Hussein Ali.
"It is not true my relationship with Government has been bad throughout. There are officials with whom I worked very well. Only institutions that didn’t want to be held accountable, like the police, were a problem," Kiai says.
His biggest worry, he says, is the way police are operating that creates the perception they are a dangerous institution.
"If we continue this way, we shall have a rogue police force. Those in authority are quiet because police are killing the poor. But once they start killing the middle-class and the super-rich, no one will feel secure," notes Kiai.
With Kiai at the helm, KNCHR locked horns variously with police over extra judicial killings of up to 500 suspected Mungiki adherents and over Mt Elgon killings.
The commission also accused the police of a wide range of human rights violations.
"We used to talk with Ali, but not any more. But I am not alone. He is not responsive to very many people – MPs, ministers and envoys," says Kiai, although he is quick to add the problem is actually not Ali, but unaccountability in the security system.
Other than his travails with police, Kiai has been haunted by many other forces.
During post-election violence, he received death threats, prompting concern by UN Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour.
Those behind the threats identified themselves as Mungiki followers but Kiai insists security forces were actually responsible.
"But there have been links between Mungiki and the security sector," asserts Kiai.
His high profile as chairman of the commission made him the focus of the international community. He was invited to speak at high-profile international meetings, including a speech to the US Congress.
The climax was in March, when his name was floated as a possible successor to Arbour. Civil society officials who supported Kiai’s bid for the UN job argued it would have been fitting for a man who has dedicated his life to human rights.
While studying in the US in 1992, Kiai teamed up with current Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi, Prof Makau Mutua, Dr Willy Mutunga and Prof Al Amin Mazrui to form an NGO, the Kenya Human Rights Commission.
He left KHRC in 1998 to join Amnesty International as its first black African director in charge of Africa.
Two years later, he joined the International Human Rights Law Group where he served until August 2003 when he took up the job at KNCHR.
Although he had worked closely with Karua in civil society, the two had a tenuous relationship when he worked under her as Minister for Justice.
"There is nothing personal between me and Karua. But it was obvious the smear campaign against me through the media and Kacc emanated from her ministry," he says.
While Kiai seems to exhibit some guarded respect for Karua, he has little respect for Kacc Director Aaron Ringera.
"Ringera has always done what the regime wants. In the 90s, he was used by Government against LSK. I wonder just how independent he can be. Currently, nobody perceived to be close to Government has ever been charged with corruption," he says.
July 31, 2008
By Joseph Murimi And Mutinda Mwanzia
The succession war building up among President Kibaki’s allies bubbled into the open with Justice Minister Martha Karua daring her colleague, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, to come out and face her head on.
A sharp altercation between Karua and Uhuru’s allies indicated the extent of a split that has been escalating among the President’s allies as they position themselves for his succession in 2012.
Karua took on Uhuru after a group of about 200 political activists from Uhuru’s Gatundu South constituency and his key ally, Mr David Murathe, told her to stop dragging his name into succession politics.
Gatundu South constituents defend Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta at Boulevard Hotel, Nairobi, on Wednesday. PHOTO: STAFFORD ONDEGO
Mr John Njuguna and Mr Patrick Gitau led the group that met at Hotel Boulevard, Nairobi, under the umbrella of the Gatundu South Constituency Professional Group.
Uhuru, who is out of the country, did not comment, but Karua was irked by the group that told her to keep Uhuru’s name out of her political games.
Come out of the "closet"
Recently, Karua was quoted saying some people were being groomed to take over from President Kibaki and challenged them to follow democratic methods.
Uhuru’s name has been floated as one of those eyeing the PNU umbrella, which the President is trying to cobble together.
Speaking to The Standard on Wednesday, Karua said: "If Uhuru has any issue with Karua, he should come out in the open and face me."
Karua told Uhuru to stop sending people to attack her, but instead come out of the "closet".
The group claimed that it was speaking for Uhuru and accused Karua of insinuating that a new ‘Project Uhuru’ had been hatched and that PNU was being prepared to eventually succeed President Kibaki.
But Karua said it was clear that the plot to make parties in PNU come together was not borne out of the interest for unity and togetherness.
She said individuals who were almost "partyless" wanted a party to belong to and were allegedly hiding behind huge offices to coerce others into submission.
Karua claimed that the drive for PNU unity only came after she declared the intention to vie for the presidency.
According to the minister, the drive for PNU unity was a scheme to derail Narc-Kenya, the party she says will be her vehicle for the presidential contest in 2012.
Karua alleged that people scared of her candidacy had started a smear campaign that she and her party were in talks with Prime minister Raila Odinga’s party, ODM.
She wondered why her announcement of intent to vie for the presidency had elicited such reaction, saying she was not an automatic candidate for her party.
"If they think I am not serious, why are they worried? It means they have been pricked. Let them watch this space," Karua said.
But Murathe, a former Gatanga MP and a close ally of Uhuru, said the deputy PM did not need to be groomed for the top seat as Karua had implied.
"Uhuru is not a novice in the presidential race. He has travelled the road before and is his own man," said Murathe.
He told Karua to shelve her ambitions and concentrate on strengthening PNU.
"It is her democratic right to run for the top seat, but she should leave Uhuru out of her campaign talk," said Murathe.
Njuguna, of the Gatundu South Professional Group, said: "Uhuru will certainly announce his future plans, but at the moment he is focused on national healing and development."
And his counterpart, Gitau dug in: "We do not want Uhuru’s name to be dragged in the ongoing succession politics. He will certainly consult widely before making any move."
The group also claimed that there was a grand plan to malign Uhuru and make him lose national appeal.
"Our leaders must desist from the old habits of waging smear campaigns against their perceived enemies," said Gitau.
The group was ferried to the hotel for the Press conference in mini-buses.
Freedom of choice
Karua said she stood by President Kibaki during the post-election violence and still does in Government.
But when it came to party politics, she said, she should be allowed the freedom of choice.
She described as double standards a move by PNU members to portray her as a rebel yet they never raised their voice to defend President Kibaki at the height of post-election violence.
Anxiety in PNU started two weeks ago when President Kibaki called a meeting and pleaded with leaders of affiliate parties to coalesce under one umbrella.
But he met resistance from Narc-Kenya, which Karua heads, Ford-Kenya led by Nominated MP Musikari Kombo and DP, who all wanted autonomy from PNU.
Karua subsequently made utterances in public rallies that were seen to target Uhuru and Internal Security Minister George Saitoti.
She said some people did not want a contest and were being groomed to take over after President Kibaki.
Uhuru and Saitoti are seen as the most likely candidates who could get a nod from Kibaki to take over the mantle from him.
July 31, 2008
By Samuel Otieno
Fourteen Kenyans are among 10,000 people being investigated by security agencies in the US for buying fake degree certificates with which they have acquired key jobs, including in the military.
The Kenyans under investigation, alongside other foreigners, are now staring at long jail terms if found guilty, deportation or humiliation among peers and family when they return home. In total, the suspects being investigated spent a staggering Sh500 million ($7.3m) to acquire the fake documents.
The Kenyans under investigations are Amunga Justus Mully, who bought an MBA, Aseno George Onyango (BA), Gitau Patrick W (BA), Kirusara Mwandi Patrick (BA), a Mohammed (BA) and Muriithi Andrew Njeru (BA).
Others are Oluchiri George (DBA), Omollo Joseph Odindo (BBA), Omukaba Martin (BS), Omukuenyi Hassan Nathan (BS), Omuluba Martin (BS), Ongunya Vitalis Omanyo (BBA), Oyer Omoro William (BBA) and Wachira Jenard Leo (MBA).
The revelations put the Commission for Higher Education (CHE) on high alert and it told employers to be on the lookout over the influx of foreign degree certificates.
Thousands of other Kenyans holding fake degrees have since joined plum jobs back home where they are unfairly edging out competent, locally trained employees.
The certificates, acquired from what are popularly referred to as ‘diploma mills’ in the US, have since landed the fake degree holders on lucrative jobs in America and other postings abroad.
Others have been propelled to promotions in their respective places of work.
Senior Kenyans involved
When The Standard contacted the Kenyan Embassy in Washington DC, the deputy Head of Mission, Mr Galma Boru, could not comment on the saga, saying the ambassador, Mr Oginga Ogego, who was the only one who could speak on the matter, was in a meeting.
The most shocking revelation of the scandalous intellectual fraud is that some senior Kenyans, including politicians, have been decorated with fake papers where some are being referred as ‘doctors’ and ‘professors’.
The 14 Kenyans under investigation, some holding what are supposed to be respected Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree certificates, are among hundreds of people working in the US military, government and education sector.
Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said the Government was not aware of the matter, but had launched investigation to establish the details of the scandal.
At the same time, Education ministry’s Director of Quality Assurance and Standards Enos Oyaya declined to comment over the matter.
"I do not comment on issues over the telephone because I must refer to the policies and I am outside the office now," Oyaya said when reached on the telephone.
However, the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) said it only equates diploma and certificates offered by other examination boards outside the country.
"The certificates and diplomas must be from an accredited examination body authorised by the law," said Knec Chief Executive Officer Paul Wasanga.
According to the US Department of Homeland Security, the suspects are being investigated for buying counterfeit degrees from colleges and universities or bogus degrees from non-existent online high schools, colleges and universities.
Normally, the US Homeland Security does not release information on cases it is investigating. It is now considering pursuing charges against about 300 US federal employees who bought bogus or counterfeit degrees.
Investigators are considering using a federal law that allows them to charge individuals who fraudulently obtain credentials giving them access to jobs in US government facilities.
An official at the US Embassy in Nairobi said they had not been notified over the investigation and referred The Standard to the Kenyan embassy in Washington and the Department of Homeland Security in the US.
"Anything like that is usually handled by the Homeland Security and we would have no idea if it is not released to us," said Mr T J Dowling, counsellor for public affairs at the embassy.
But reached in Seattle on Monday by a US Internet newspaper, Spokseman Review, Homeland Security Spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said: "We are aware of this issue, and we will take the appropriate action. But because it’s an ongoing investigation, I cannot discuss the specifics with you at this time."
The revelations raise concern over the number of people who process such certificates and use them to acquire jobs in Kenya and abroad.
Ms Eliza Chege, an assistant secretary with the Commission for Higher Education, said: "Employers have become cautious of the new trend of seeking higher education in foreign institutions. That is why they must come and verify with us."
Chege said the Teachers Service Commission was their regular customer since many teachers had resorted to further studies to earn promotions and higher perks.
She said the commission examines the content of training programmes Kenyans obtain abroad.
This, she said, was to equate the content and achievement levels with those in the local university system.
"To this effect, the commission has guidelines for standardisation, equation and recognition of degrees and diplomas," said Chege.
The complete list of buyers, which the US Department of Justice has refused to release to the public, was obtained and published by The Spokesman-Review.
"There are people in high places with these degrees, and only one of them has been charged with a crime," a source familiar with the list told the Spokesman-Review, an online paper celebrating its 12 anniversary this year.
A preliminary analysis of the list by the paper shows 135 individuals with ties to the military, 39 to educational institutions and 17 employed by government agencies.
The numbers were derived from e-mail addresses that are part of the list obtained by the newspaper.
However, the exact number of people with ties to the military, government and education is believed to be far greater because many buyers used personal e-mail accounts.
Eight people who set up and operated the Diploma Mill, including ringleader Dixie Ellen Randock, were indicted and convicted of federal crimes.
The conmen sold thousands of counterfeit degrees and transcripts from legitimate colleges, and phony degrees and transcripts from non-existent online universities and schools.
July 31, 2008
By PHILIP MULEE
THE CONTROVERSY surrounding promotions and retirements within the Armed Forces found its way on the floor of Parliament yesterday, with Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale demanding for a statement from the Ministry of Defence. Dr Khalwale sought an explanation from Defence Minister Yusuf Hajji on the criteria used by the Defence Council in the recent ranking, promotions and retirement of senior military officers.
Khalwale further wants the Defence Minister to clarify whether the rules on military promotions and retirements introduced by retired Chief of General Staff (CGS) Daudi Tonje are still operational.Said he: "The House would want the Minister to clarify whether the Tonje rules met international standards and further clarify if indeed the military is held hostage by corruption, nepotism and tribalism."
Information and Communication Minister Samuel Poghisio promised to convey Khalwale’s request to minister Haji who was not present in the House at the time.The military has recently come under uncharacteristic media scrutiny over claims of divided loyalties, high-handedness, tribalism, nepotism, and political meddling---issues which are said to have been stoked by the anticipated retirement of a number of top military officers next year.
Chief of General Staff General Jeremiah Kianga, is said to be due for retirement in August next year. The two generals thought to be in line to succeed him--- Lt-Gen Joseph Karangi and Army commander Lt-Gen Augustine Njoroge are also said to be up for retirement according to the Tonje reforms. The President who is the Commander-in-Chief can extend the CGS’s term, but the offer can be declined. Immediate former CGS retired General Joseph Kibwana accepted and served an extra two years.
The reforms introduced by retired General Tonje stipulated that commissioned officers who have not moved to the next rank within a stipulated period of service should be automatically retired irrespective of age.Last evening, the Department of Defence clarified that the so called ‘Tonje rules’ are still in force since they were included in the officers’ terms and conditions of service.DoD spokesman Bogita Ongeri said contrary to media reports, the Tonje rules were still in force and binding.
Ongeri ,however, said the said rules had been formulated during the tenure of General Mohamoud Mohamed but have always been credited to General Tonje because he is the one who implemented them.Other sources within the military said General (Rtd) Tonje while initiating the reforms, had invoked section 6 (2) of the Armed Forces Act that placed him responsible for the ‘control, direction and general superintendence of the armed forces."
Despite being approved by the Defence Council in place during President Moi regime, the reforms were not formalised thus making them operational, but only on ‘a gentleman agreement’ basis.The vulnerability of the Tonje reforms came to the fore at a National Defence Council meeting held on July 11 and which was chaired by Defence minister Yusuf Hajji.
The meeting deliberated on the retirement of senior officers as well as promotion and extension of terms of services of other officers in a shake up that could have a bearing on next year’s succession. According to informal reports, Deputy Army Commander Maj-Gen Jones Mutwii’s term in office ended last December but the Defence Council extended it. Maj-Gen P. J. Opiyo, who was seen as well placed to take over from Army Commander Lt-Gen Augustino Njoroge and who had sought an extension of his term had his request turned down.
Last week, Armed Forces Training College Commandant Maj-Gen Geoffrey Okanga was retired while Brigadier Simon Karanja, who was Okanga’s deputy, has reportedly been promoted and will replace Opiyo.The Defence Council comprises of Minister Hajji, Assistant Ministers Joseph Nkaiserry and David Musila, CGS Jeremiah Kianga, Army Commander Lt. General Augustine Njoroge, Navy Commander Major General Samson Mwathethe, Air Force Commander Major General Harold Tangai and Permanent Secretary.
Assistant Minister Nkaiserry has however asserted that the Tonje rules are not among the manuals and laws regulating the conduct of military personnel.In a paid-up advert in today’s Kenya Times, the Defence Ministry clarified that decision making in the military regarding military personnel is made through a set legal process of boards which make recommendations to the appropriate levels, including the Defence Council and ultimately the President.
In the advert, DoD says the extension of service for senior officers, including Major Generals Opiyo and Mutwii were considered and outcomes communicated.On the case of Major General Okanga, the report says his former position as Commandant at the Armed Forces Training College, Lanet was scaled down from a Major General to a Brigadier, leading to him being reassigned other duties at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"It also happened to several other posts and affected other officers as well. The law allows for this and it has happened many times in the past," the paid up ad said, adding that …the current media hype on the matter is merely speculative.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
By HAMADOU TIDIANE SY,
July 30, 2008
President Abdulahi Wade has had his term extended from five to seven years amidst opposition protests. The decision has been strongly criticised by the minority in Parliament. Some local analysts suspect new changes are part of the plan to prepare the ground for the president’s son, Karim Wade.
Senegalese MPs voted late Tuesday an amendment to the country’s constitution extending the presidential term from five to seven years amidst opposition protests and concern from independent experts.
The main opposition parties, not represented in the assembly due to an earlier boycott of parliamentary elections, tried to stage a demonstration outside the House. The rally was banned by the authorities and the premises were sealed off early enough by members of the security forces.
An attempt to form a crowd near the national assembly, in the heart of the city, was repressed by police causing a few minor clashes with protesters.
The decision has been strongly criticised by the minority in Parliament and by law experts who accused the assembly of violating the country’s constitution by modifying an article of the law which could only be amended “through a referendum”. Mr Madické Niang, the Justice Minister and also a former lawyer defended the government decision saying it has “a solid legal basis”.
Cheikh Bamba Dièye, a minority MP in parliament said: “Petty political debates are taking priority over serious national issues”. He said he was not happy with the minister’s justifications.
The main opposition parties criticised the move saying Senegal has now become a “monarchy”, while others denounced the “numerous changes” in the nation’s constitution.
A recent study conducted by University professors in three countries (Benin, Senegal and Burkina Faso) highlighted that the Senegalese constitution is the one “most subjected to changes” during the recent years.
Between 2000 and 2008, Senegal has on average experienced constitutional changes “every six months”, said Ismaila Madior Fall, one of the experts who took part in the study.
Besides Senegal, among the recent countries to tamper presidential terms was Cameroon where President Paul Biya pushed through Parliament a law allowing him to run again in the coming elections in his country, while he was supposed to be serving his last term.
President Abdoulaye Wade was first elected in 2000 for a seven year term. Then he and the coalition which backed him then decided to propose a new constitution, approved by referendum in 2001.
This 2001 constitution reduced the duration of the presidential mandate.
Some local analysts suspect the new changes are part of the plan to prepare the ground for the president’s son, Karim Wade, allegedly being groomed to succeed his father.
July 29, 2008
Mr Dick Wathika, Makadara MP- Against the idea
Dr Thuo Mathenge, Spokesman for the Organizers
MR. DICK WATHIKA- AGAINST
Q. What is the significance of making Raila a Kikuyu elder?
A. Every community has its own traditions and its own way of life. I do not know about other communities like Bukusu, Kuria or Mijikenda, but I know about the Kikuyu. I know there is a process to be followed. By being made an elder it would mean he gets the respect that is accorded elders of a certain age. It means the community can consult him in case of a crisis. He is expected to be a man with wisdom.
Q. How will this be viewed in the context of Raila’s political ambitions?
A. First it would mean the people of Central Kenya are warming up to him. It would mean that it would be easy to make statements on issues affecting the community and they would be acceptable. It has a huge meaning and relevance.
Q. Does the effort amount to a political gimmick?
A. It could be a mere political gimmick either by Raila or those behind it. I honestly doubt he would be taken seriously by the community by the mere fact that he has been made an elder. I do not think that the Kikuyu would automatically start consulting him on issues affecting the community. I think this is just another political gimmick.
Q. Does the Kikuyu community still maintain the tradition of honouring elders?
A. Elders are still there. Goats are still being slaughtered. Systems are still there but their relevance has dwindled over time because of rapid civilization and urbanization. We still have elders but their significance is not as prime as in the past.
Q. Do Kikuyu elders have a political role and where were they during the post-election violence?
A. They no longer have a political role. People have over the years mingled. The community is not run as it used to be because governments have replaced the customary role of elders. They do not have a lot of command. They used to be powerful when there were no governments.
DR. THUO MATHENGE- FOR
Q. Why has the proposal drawn mixed reactions?
A. Because it is a political gimmick. Some people want to place themselves strategically to be relevant or the PM wants to use it to endear himself to the Kikuyu. I do not think he is interested in sorting out our problems. However, I am not opposed to people from different cultures mingling.
Q. Why are some people opposed to making Raila a Kikuyu elder?
A. Some people say it is a bad idea. Some people just want to find political relevance but certain rituals must be performed. But some support it because they think he is a courageous leader and Kikuyus admire courage.
Q. What is the significance of Raila being made a Kikuyu elder?
A. It doesn’t matter whether Raila is made a Kikuyu, Kuria or a Mijikenda elder because all these are ethnic groups in Kenya. We are not going to recognize him because he is Luo, but because he is a noble Kenyan, somebody who has contributed a lot to the country.
Q. How will this be viewed in the context of Raila’s political ambitions?
A. Our aim is not political. Raila has his way of playing politics. We are tracing our steps to the time of independence when Kenya was born and the kind of unity that existed. We are doing this because something terrible happened during the last General Election when communities rose against each other. We want to start national healing like at independence when all communities united to win freedom. Jaramogi Odinga supported Jomo Kenyatta and refused to form a Government until Kenyatta was released from jail.
Q. What rituals will be performed to make him an elder?
A. Raila is already a Kikuyu elder. He slaughtered a goat for Kiama (elders) before his son married from the Kikuyu community. When you marry from a community you become an elder in that homestead. We are just making it official.
Q. Does the Kikuyu community still honour elders?
A. It has been happening in the villages but it has not captured national limelight because of the oppression elders by the previous government. It is only the other day that Mau Mau was recognized. The Mau Mau were never given a chance to meet. The Kikuyu elders have been living in fear since colonial times.
Q. Why are some people opposed to the ceremony?
A. They are self-centered people who are thinking of their political survival only. I would like to remind them that it is the Luo/Kikuyu unity that brought independence to this country. It is also this unity that ushered in multi-party politics in 1992. I want to tell them that this unity could be used to defeat tribalism.
Q. Some have dismissed your initiative as seeking political mileage. Comment.
A. We are not here for political mileage. We are here to heal the injured relationship between communities.
Q. Some dismiss the fete as a ploy to sell Raila to Mt Kenya voters. True?
A. Raila is known nationally and internationally. People can see how he is working. He is not a tribalist. Raila supported President Kibaki in 2002 when he won his first term and also accepted to be PM in 2008 for the sake of the country. We have other leaders like Cabinet minister Martha Karua who we are supporting because of the way she has supported the people of Mt Kenya. We are asking the leaders from the region; Uhuru Kenyatta and Kiraitu Murungi, to work with others to unite Kenya.
July 29, 2008
The story of the big 2007 December General Election ODM victory party that never was can now be told five months after a peace deal pulled the country from the brink.
It’s a party whose planning was as elaborate and as discreet as it can get. And when it finally aborted, the impact was equally crushing for thousands of the Orange party supporters. They have spoken for the first time of the preparations.
The audacity of that hope and the deep disappointment with the outcome is captured in a beautifully framed portrait of party Raila Odinga clad in a blue suit and an orange tie with stripes of blue in two shades.
It’s captioned, "President Elect and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kenya". Instead, in a Grand Coalition arrangement brokered by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, Raila became Kenya’s second Prime Minister, a post founding President Jomo Kenyatta scrapped after he briefly held it at independence.
As the plan for the "big inauguration" was being worked on, so was an international guest list. Yesterday, ODM Pentagon members declined to comment, but the director of elections, Ms Janet Ongera, talked of the carnival that never was.
"I was posted to KICC to make arrangements for our presidential candidate to come and witness the announcement of the results," she says.
"My job was to confirm the results and make preparations for Raila to come. We even had a portrait declaring him president-elect ready. Preparations to have him address an international Press conference at KICC soon after being declared the winner were also complete."
To deal with a looming transport crisis, secondary school head teachers in Nyanza had been approached to provide buses to transport supporters to Nairobi for Raila’s inauguration at Uhuru Park.
In Turkana, a disappointed group of elders cancelled a busaa party at Kipsongo slums. One of them, Nakuleu Epus, later said, "ODM had promised to eliminate poverty, I’m not happy."
In West Pokot, residents spoke of plans of a big party, "because Raila would have made Rev Julius Murgor, the Kapenguria MP, Minister of Internal Security to deal with rampant insecurity in the area and along the Kenya/Uganda border.
"Celebrations to usher in Raila Odinga’s Government were set for Makutano Stadium. A big bull was to be speared in his honour," Mr Joseph Wero Makumbi, a resident, said.
Mr George Wesonga, a DJ at a popular restaurant in Kitale, spoke of ‘a big party for the youth in the town". The restaurant had also lined up a series of live performances.
"My constituents had made elaborate celebration plans. There were over 30 bulls. Each village had donated two animals," Mr Joshua Kutuny, the Cherangany MP, recalled.
For Kutuny, it would have been a dream come true, "as I was a candidate for the Agriculture ministry docket. He added: "During my campaigns, voters referred me to as Agriculture minister and Raila assured them that I was heading to Kilimo House when he addressed a campaign rally at Sibanga."
Mosop MP David Koech says the ECK announcement nipped celebrations in the bud. He spoke of families and even whole villages that were ready to start partying.
"Like the masses who supported ODM, I’m still confused over the outcome of the presidential poll," Coast Kaya elder-cum-ODM politician, Mzee Pekeshe Ndeje aka Simba Wanje, says. He had to abandon plans of colourful traditional ceremonies lined up for Raila.
"Here you are expecting your expectant wife to give birth and the baby does not come out alive, do you celebrate?" Bahari MP and Coast Parliamentary Group (CPG) chairman, Mr Benedict Gunda, said of the abortive victory party. "I will now channel all the resources I would have used to hold the victory party to the education of students from my constituency."
Sheikh Khamis Banda, who campaigned for the Orange party in the Kwale region, spoke of plans for a huge party in Ukunda. It was to cost about Sh300,000 and up to 350 Imams from the South Coast had been invited.
But Banda, now an ODM nominated councillor at the Kwale County Council, says they had to call off the celebrations as confusion reigned. He added, "This cruel turn of events broke the hearts of party supporters. Some were inconsolable."
Mr Joseph Ombok, a Kisumu taxi driver, quit his job soon after voting. "I was too excited to work. I’m well educated and I was driving a taxi because of lack of employment. I knew I would get a good job because my father is Raila’s friend," the crestfallen jobseeker, recounted.
Mr Manyala Keya, the Lurambi MP and Assistant minister for Gender and Children Affairs, observed: "What is important is for us to understand that the half loaf the party received in the Coalition Government cannot satisfy all of us in ODM."
— Reports Ayub Savula, John Oywa, David Ohito, Jane Akinyi, Stephen Makabila, Osinde Obare, Patrick Beja and Isaiah Lucheli
July 30, 2008
By David Ohito
Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi has sent a stern message to the Kenya Government that the Grand Regency Hotel belongs to his country, despite efforts to repossess it.
Gaddafi fought back on a week when investigations that would determine the fate of the sale started taking shape.
The Libyan leader sent a top government delegation with his verbatim message that was read to both President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
"The hotel is sold, gone and file closed!" were Gaddafi’s words to Kenya delivered by his right-hand man, Mr Bashir Saleh Bashir, the Libyan Head of Public Service.
Libyan Ambassador Hisham Ali Shariff (left), head of public service and chairman of Libya Africa investment portfolio (LAP) Bashir Saleh Bashir (Centre) and Libyan Arab Africa Investment Trade Company chairman Mohamed Ajil after a press conference at the Grand Regency Hotel, Nairobi, on Tuesday. PHOTO: STAFFORD ONDEGO
Mr Bashir later in a press conference at the Grand Regency Hotel’s Shaba Room, repeated the stern message he had given to Kibaki and Raila.
The Libyans spoke on a day that the Parliamentary Finance Committee chairman, Mr Chris Okemo, said his team was headed for a retreat this weekend to compile a report for Parliament that could recommend repossession.
But Gaddafi left no doubt as his special envoy met Kenya’s two principals, that his government would put up a fight to keep the five-star gem.
"You can carry on with investigations, but we assure Kenyans we followed all the procedures as established by law," Bashir told journalists.
No response from Principals
Neither State House nor the Prime Minister’s office had issued a statement by last night after the principals met the Libyans.
Okemo said the report would be ready by Thursday next week and would be tabled in Parliament.
"The report will detail how top Government officials transacted the sale of the hotel illegally," he said at Parliament buildings.
Justice (Rtd) Majid Cockar’s Commission of inquiry into the sale deal started sittings on Monday.
The Libyan team, which had jetted into the country in the morning, was accorded high profile diplomatic treatment as they were given audience at State House with President Kibaki and later with Raila at Treasury.
Escorted by Diplomatic Police cars, the Libyan envoy’s sleek grey Mercedes Benz with a fluttering Libyan flag snaked its way across the city centre as he kept the two rendezvous.
Bashir, who doubles up as chairman of Libya Africa Investment Portfolio (LAP), was accompanied by Libyan ambassador to Kenya, Hisham Ali Sharrif, Ali Shamak — the President of Oil Libya and Mr Mohammed Ajil, the chairman of Libya Arab Africa Investment Company.
The press conference was arranged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and personally facilitated by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Thuita Mwangi, and Mr Eliphas Barine from the Public Affairs and Communication office.
"There is no political motive behind the purchase of this hotel. I can assure you no diplomatic interests can be breached between Nairobi and Tripoli," Bashir said.
He added: "The money we have invested here will not go back to Libya. It will remain here to develop your country."
An aerial view of the Grand Regency Hotel. PHOTO: tom maruko
He said the Libyan Government paid about Sh2.9 billion to the Central Bank of Kenya in May.
Sources said the Libyan government had raised concern over the uproar surrounding the hotel sale that Gaddafi said was a bilateral agreement between the Libyan Government and her Kenyan counterpart.
"We bought the hotel on a purely business interest and all legal procedures followed in a very clean transaction," Bashir said.
Bashir also explained how Libya had great interest of investing across the continent and had a portfolio worth US$ 8 billion (Sh520 billion) all over Africa — including Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Morocco.
Inviting Kenyans to welcome their business interests, Bashir said LAP was looking forward to partnerships in Kenya.
"There is no limit for our investments in Kenya," the official from the oil-rich desert country said.
He explained how the barely three-year-old Libyan investment company had aggressively invested in Togo, Guinea and was looking at putting in more monies on the African soil.
"Our strategy is to invest in African countries, with corporations, Governments and private sector initiatives. LAP is just three years old and we are one of the single biggest investors in Africa," he said.
He said the company was financing the construction of Kenya-Uganda pipeline too and was working out its shareholding.
The hotel has been sucked into controversy and propelled the resignation of Finance minister Amos Kimunya following Parliament’s verdict of a no confidence against him.
Already two parallel investigations are being carried out — one through Parliamentary Finance, Planning and Trade committee chaired by Okemo.
Another is through a judicial Commission of Inquiry appointed by President Kibaki and chaired by retired Chief Magistrate Abdul Majid Cockar.
A Cabinet Committee initially appointed after the controversy broke out recommended that the Government repossess the hotel and the transaction cancelled.
The Cockar Commission is expected to recommend legal and administrative measures on completion of its work in a month’s time.
The Cockar team will investigate circumstances leading to the sale of the hotel and the role played by the persons mentioned in the transaction process.
Lands Minister James Orengo blew the whistle on the secret sale of the hotel and demanded an explanation.
Orengo later instructed his Lands officers to enter a Caveat on the property, meaning the land on which it stands cannot be used as collateral in the bank nor be transferred to new buyer.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
July 29, 2008
By Standard Team
Two Cabinet ministers last night dug in for a fight as the storm over jobs swirled, sucking the eighth ministry — Agriculture.
Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, the Medical Services minister, and Mrs Charity Ngilu, his counterpart at the Water ministry, defended their actions and dared critics to drop the gauntlet at their feet.
Lamu DC Charles Mwaze (left) calms former Lamu County Council Chairman Omar Famau during a Lands Minister James Orengo’s meeting with Lamu residents on Sunday evening. PHOTO: Maarufu Mohamed
On Monday, a defiant Nyong’o fired back at critics opposing his recent appointments at his ministry saying: "We must dismantle the cartels that are causing rot in the provision of essential medical services.
"Those with misgivings can visit my office or the Permanent Secretary. I will ensure the right people are in the right places."
Nyong’o said he would not retract on the changes and challenged the organisations fighting the reforms to account for their achievements in the sector.
"They claim I recycled retirees, but Dr Kipkerich Koskei (Chief Pharmacist and Registrar Pharmacy and Poisons Board) is an appointee of the Public Service Commission," said Nyong’o.
"I know many retirees in their 60s and 70s who are still in public service. Why should they selectively criticise my appointments? I have no apologies," Nyong’o said.
In another statement last night, Nyong’o further defended the appointment of Koskei and Dr Richard Muga to head crucial boards in his ministry, describing the two as professionals worthy of the positions.
He also sought to clarify that while he appointed Muga, a former Director of Medical Services, to chair the Kenya Medical Services Agency (Kemsa) probe taskforce over claims of mismanagement, Koskei’s appointment was done by the Public Service Commission.
Nyong’o was reacting to criticism by professional organisations over the appointment of former chief executives to head boards they formerly served.
Members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya, Kenya Pharmaceutical Distributors Association and Kenya Pharmaceutical Association have accused Nyong’o of "recycling retirees".
Nyong’o said Koskei was appointed to the post by the Public Service Commission in 1996, but irregularly removed in 2002. He described the removal as "regrettable" and accused the Narc Government of breaking the law.
He said Koskei remained Chief Pharmacist and Registrar to the Poisons Board with no responsibilities until his reinstatement this month and noted that the officer had never been a subject of any disciplinary action in his career.
He, therefore, said it was only the PSC that could revoke the appointment.
On her part, Ngilu warned that performance would be the key indicator in the water sector even as she pointed out that many well-funded projects had stalled under senior engineers.
"I stand by my decisions. They are in best interest of Kenyans and in tandem with Vision 2030," Ngilu said.
An engineer at the Water ministry claimed that a junior official in Job Group P was promoted to Job Group S to enable him occupy a senior position. His promotion was effected in 2005.
"This demoralised many of us who inducted him in the ministry," the engineer, who requested anonymity, told The Standard.
Mr Wanguhu Ng’ang’a, the Water Services Regulatory Board chairman, took his war with Ngilu a notch higher with the demand that the minister and the Ps, Mr David Stower, be sacked.
Addressing a press conference in Nairobi, Ng’ang’a urged President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to "tame the behaviour of the minister and her PS", saying they were making decisions which undermined State procedures and protocol.
"Ngilu has no power to dissolve any board or to sack anyone sitting in any board. She is being misadvised by the PS and it is for that am appealing to Kibaki and Raila to kick them out," Ng’ang’a, who criticised the creation of Tana-Athi Water Services by the minister, said.
He dismissed the new entity as illegal.
At the weekend, Ng’ang’a had accused Ngilu and Stower of subverting regulations in discharging their responsibilities.
But as the ministers spoilt for a fight, the epicentre of the storm appeared to shift from Afya House and Maji House to Kilimo House where a controversy over appointments burst into the open.
At Kenya Sugar Board, which is under the Agriculture ministry, a new board is set to be inaugurated today without a substantive chief executive.
An acting official has held fort since November last year. Yesterday, there was no word it would be filled, even as behind-the-scenes lobbying intensified.
The vacuum has been blamed for the chaos gripping the sugar import sector, with analysts suggesting that Agriculture minister William Ruto has not benefited from expert guidance on policy issues in the industry.
It is their view that the minister has operated from the deep end where he found himself cast as he took up the docket.
Ms Rosemary Mkok has been acting in place of Mr Andrew Oloo Otieno, who was suspended over allegations of abuse of office in the Muhoroni and Miwani sugar companies receivership and disposal saga.
Yesterday, the Sugar Campaign Foundation Chairman, Mr Peter Kegode, appeared to open a new war front with a call on the minister to set a timetable for privatisation of mills.
He argued that 70 per cent of the industry was in the hands of Government.
Kegode urged the minister to appoint qualified and focused individuals, who could guide him reshape the industry.
At Sony Sugar — one of the country’s leading millers — several managerial appointments were still pending.
Some of those invited for interviews last week as liaison and legal officers were sent away without sufficient explanation.
At Kenya Trypanosomiasis Research Institute (Ketri) — another parastatal under the Agriculture ministry — the board was disbanded in 2003 and has never been reconstituted.
Its services have been transferred to the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute.
At Ardhi House, Lands Minister James Orengo has reshuffled up to 300 clerks within the department, throwing the ministry into panic.
The changes started last week. The clerks are reportedly being moved to other ministries.
At the Prisons Department, warders continued to ponder the fate of promotions after they sat interviews, warning that it continued to cause anxiety and transparency would be compromised.
Reports by David Ohito, Elizabeth Mwai and Isaac Ongiri
July 29, 2008
By Ben Agina
Details on how 19 terror suspects arrested in Kenya, but removed from police custody by foreign security agents for interrogation can be revealed today.
Interrogation by the foreign agents — including US’ Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Britain’s MI6 — have been described as "most inhumane" and involved blindfolding suspects, shackling their feet and handcuffing them from the back.
A man said to be Kenyan was arrested after the bombing of Paradise Hotel (above) in Kikambala. He was later flown to Cuba. PHOTO: FILE
According to a report by a presidential committee exclusively obtained by The Standard, the case of one detainee, Amir Mohamed, stands out as an example how foreign agents could easily access and remove suspects from police custody in various stations.
Mohamed was taken out of his cell at Nairobi’s Kileleshwa Police Station by American agents in a US registered vehicle and taken to a local hotel for interrogation.
When contacted, Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua asked: "What is the report saying?"
After consulting the Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura, Dr Mutua said the Government had not received the final report.
However, Mutua said they were aware of the committee’s "rough draft" whose content not all members were agreed on.
He said the committee was asked to make the report more accurate.
"The committee is still refining it (report) to try and come up with a more accurate document," he said.
The Presidential Special Action Committee appointed last year to address specific concerns of the Muslim community received reports that the foreign agents had direct access to prisoners without restraint.
The report was to be handed over to the President on March 31, but to date it is yet to be received at State House.
The committee received reports from the Muslim Human Rights Forum, which witnessed Mohamed being brought back to Kileleshwa from an interrogation session on February 5, last year, in a US Embassy vehicle.
The detainee confirmed to the human rights’ group that he was interrogated by FBI agents about possible links with Al–Qaeda training military camps in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Another detainee, Mohammad Ezzouek, said he was interrogated by British intelligence agents at Kileleshwa Police Station between February 3 and 5 last year.
The human rights’ group also reported that during a fact-finding mission to Kiunga, Lamu District, the residents reported seeing foreign security personnel together with Kenyan security forces in the hunt for people fleeing Somalia and seeking refuge in Kenya.
One Abdulmalik Mohamed, said to be a Kenyan citizen and suspected of being involved in the bombing of Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, was arrested in Kenya and handed to foreign agents who flew him to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after being held in custody in Mombasa and Nairobi.
The report quotes a statement by the US Department of Defence on March 26, 2006, indicating that Abdulmalik had admitted his involvement in terrorist attacks in Mombasa in 2002 and the US Embassy bombings in Nairobi in 1998.
One suspect who appeared before the committee, Fatma Ahmed Chande, a Tanzania national married to a Kenyan, narrated her ordeal as she and her husband, Salim Awadh Salim, were fleeing from Somalia.
"It was so chilly and drizzling. We were bundled into pick ups and driven to the runway. I saw very many people, including women, kneeling," said Chande.
"The men were blindfolded and their hands handcuffed behind their backs and feet chained. I was led to the group of women and ordered to kneel, too," said Chande.
She added: "An armed man came to me and pulled down my veil to uncover my face. Some of the detainees were crying loudly. The men had black hoods covering their heads. We knelt for some time, till our knees ached. We were taken to the plane, still blindfolded. I could, however, see through my veil as it was of light material. It was very scaring, cold and wet."
According to the committee, Chande’s statement confirms the report by the human rights’ group that her husband, Salim, said to be Kenyan, was moved to Ethiopia, where he is still held.
The committee received reports that on March 31, last year, heavily armed police officers cordoned off a residential area in Kongowea, Mombasa, and harassed everyone in sight as they sought terror suspects.
After the ordeal, the officers arrested two people and later released them without charges.
On the night of April 24-25, last year, heavily armed hooded ATPU personnel raided Guraya in Mombasa.
Again, they cordoned off the area and blocked the adjacent Jomo Kenyatta highway, and proceeded to break doors at homes and paraded residents, including children and the elderly, in the rain at 3am.
It was alleged that the police ransacked their homes and took away valuables and cash, arrested 11 residents, 10 of who were later released without charges, while one was deported to the Comoros.
The committee also heard from Noor Sheikh Hassan, also said to be a Kenyan citizen who, together with five others, was arrested in Liboi, a town on the Kenya-Somali border on January 6, last year, and transferred to Langata Police Station in Nairobi, where he was held in solitary confinement for 25 days.
He was denied access to a lawyer and family members and could not make any phone call.
As of today, none of the arrests have yielded any prosecution for crimes connected with terrorism.
The report adds that some of those arrested were later released without charges whereas others were prosecuted for minor immigration offences and deported.
"The rendition of the terror suspects is illegal under the Constitution and international law because it disregards judicial and administrative processes," says the report.
Most Kenyan victims of "rendition" were arrested and detained, while others were abducted and denied legal representation.
The committee notes that rendition violates other human rights: For instance, victims of rendition have no opportunity to challenge their detention, or the arbitrary decision to transfer them to another country.
The Kenyan security agents have continued to defend themselves over the rendition, saying those taken to foreign countries were not Kenyans
The committee, however, claims to have received evidence of the rendition of at least 19 Kenyans to Ethiopia, Somalia and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Flight manifests made available to the committee show that in January and February last year, chartered planes left Nairobi with about 80 people on board to the Somali capital Mogadishu and the town of Baidoa. They were suspected to have links with Al-Qaeda.
The flights left at night, and the manifests appear to have omitted important details.
The 19 were Aden Sheikh Abdullahi, Saidi Shifa, Salam Ngama, Bashir Hussein Chirag Mohammed Sader, Said Hamisi Mohamed, Swaleh Ali Tunza, Hassan Shaban Mwazume, Hussein Ali Said, Tsuma Solomon Adam Ayila, Abdi Muhammed Abdillahi, Salim Awadh Salim, Abdulrashid Mohamed, Kasim Musa Mwarusi, Ali Musa Mwarusi, Abdallah Halifan Tondwe, Nasru Tuko, Mohammed Said Mohamed, Saqaawi Diin (all in Ethiopia) and Wahab Mohamed Abdulmalik (Guatanamo bay, Cuba).
Muslim Human Rights Forum reported to the committee that it had filed 34 applications at the High Court in Nairobi, while six others were filed in Mombasa.
Despite High Court orders in all the cases, the State defied, and only released two suspects, while the rest were moved to foreign jurisdictions.
Monday, July 28, 2008
July 28, 2008
By Dominic Odipo
The public has never owned the Grand Regency Hotel. Those making such claims do not know what they are talking about."
This statement, made by a well-known Nairobi lawyer, brought our Saturday evening dinner conversation to a hushed stop. What was this man saying?
If the public has never owned the hotel, then what did that mean, particularly with regard to the role the Central Bank of Kenya or the Ministry of Finance, played in the controversial sale of the hotel to a Libyan state firm?
As our attention focused on this lawyer, the man continued: "Have you noticed that the Governor of the Central Bank, Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, is hardly making any serious efforts to defend himself like (former governor) Andrew Mullei used to? He knows that when all the facts are out, there will be no problem for him or the bank itself."
According to this lawyer, who seemed to know what he was talking about, if the Grand Regency Hotel was never at any time owned by the public, then the provisions of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, the Government Land Act or the Privatisation Act do not apply.
And if it can be established that the Central Bank, the only direct connection between the hotel and the public, never owned the hotel, then this whole scenario changes completely.
The lawyer continued: "To understand this issue, one needs to be very clear on what the effect of putting a charge on a property really is with regard to the ownership of that property."
In a few words, this lawyer’s argument can be summarised as follows: Even though the Grand Regency Hotel was built by funds loaned by CBK, it was never actually owned by the bank.
The hotel was first owned by the late Mohamed Aslam who later passed it over to Uhuru Highway Development Ltd, whose principal shareholder was businessman Kamlesh Pattni, fingered as "the architect" of the Goldenberg scandal.
Sometime during 1993, the hotel fell into the custody of the Central Bank as a charged property, when its owner put it up as security for some three cheques drawn in favour of the bank as payment for the loan the bank had earlier advanced for its development.
When two of these cheques were later dishonoured, the CBK took custody of the hotel, under the stipulations relating to charged properties. These stipulations provided for the chargee, in this case the Central Bank, to place the hotel under receivership or alternatively sell it by private treaty or public auction.
Which then led us to the next two questions: When the Central Bank sold off the hotel to the Libyans, was it acting merely as a custodian of the hotel or as the owner? And if it was not the owner, how could it purport to sell what it did not own?
To these two questions, the lawyer had a ready reply: "At this point, you need to understand the difference between a trustee of a public asset and a chargee of a private property.
"In this case, the Central Bank was merely acting as a chargee of a private property belonging to Uhuru Highway Development Ltd, which had been acquired as security for monies already advanced. The bank was not acting as a trustee of a public asset since the hotel had never been a public asset in the first place."
As a chargee, and not as a trustee, the bank could then legally dispose of the hotel either through private treaty or public auction. And because the hotel was not, and had never been a public asset, the relevant legal provisions governing the disposal of public property could not apply to this particular sale.
When the Cockar Commission on the sale of the Grand Regency Hotel finally gets down to business, this is obviously one of the most important issues it will have to address and resolve.
If it should establish that this is, indeed, the correct legal position, the Central Bank, and its governor, could both come through all this as clean as pure cotton.
But there is another, more subtle dimension to this controversy which Ndung’u, an academic, probable understands very well.
Even if it were to be established that the legal position advanced by this lawyer is not the correct one, the bank could argue that it made an honest intellectual effort to interpret the law as it understood it (and as the Public Procurement Oversight Board advised). That is a very different proposition from interpreting the law negligently, recklessly or corruptly. If you thought you knew what public property is, don’t be so sure. We might all be groping in the dark.
The writer is a lecturer and consultant in Nairobi.
By David Ohito
Up to seven ministries are caught up in a whirlpool of divided loyalties by technocrats, with accusations of highhandedness by Cabinet ministers, as claims of tribalism, mistrust and suspicion continue to threaten the Grand Coalition Government.
In open turmoil are the ministries of Water, Home Affairs, Medical Services and Defence.
There is also disquiet at Immigration, Lands, and Treasury.
Cabinet ministers are being accused of breaking the law, and Permanent Secretaries of divided loyalties. But accusations of tribalism and claims of a "return to the bad old ways" are also being bandied around as deep-seated ideological differences between coalition partners burst into the open.
At Maji House, Water Minister Charity Ngilu is under attack over claims of arbitrarily effecting changes at the ministry’s parastatals contrary to the State Corporations and the Water Acts.
Ngilu cracked the whip allegedly because of stalled water projects and poor performance of water boards.
Mr Wang’uhu Ng’ang’a, the director of Water Services Regulatory Board, has written to President Kibaki complaining about the minister’s action. He has copied the letter to Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
It reads in part: "She has negated the purpose of reforms and turned State corporations to be departments of the ministry by sacking, employing and transferring officers from one parastatal to another without going through the Permanent Secretary or Head of Civil Service."
The parastatals affected are Tana Athi Water Services, Water Trust Fund, Water Services Regulatory Board, Rift Valley Water Services Board, National Water and Pipeline and National Irrigation Board.
Yesterday, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, the Medical Services minister, also came under attack over the manner in which he handled appointments to boards under his ministry.
Members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya, Kenya Pharmaceutical Distributors Association, Kenya Pharmaceutical Association and Kenya Treatment Access Network accused Nyong’o of recycling retirees.
Dr Kipkerich Koskei has been appointed to the post of Chief Pharmacist and Registrar to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board, while Dr Richard Muga, a former Director of Medical Services, will be in charge of the Kenya Medical Agency Supplies (Kemsa) board probe committee.
"In this era of transparency, friendship should never be given a place to dictate the way appointments are made. Nor should political affiliation and rewards be seen to take centrestage in the Civil Service," Dr Kamamia Murichu, the chairman of the Kenya Pharmaceutical Distributors Association, told The Standard.
Nyong’o dissolved the Kemsa board two weeks ago and sent the chief executive on compulsory leave over claims of mismanagement.
At the Department of Prisons, Mr Gilbert Omondi, the commissioner, is under siege and could be on his way out. A flurry of letters between the Commissioner and Home Affairs PS, Dr Ludeki Chweya, captures the deep-seated problems between the two.
Sources say a hunt for Omondi’s successor is on and what is being used, according to insiders, is the report of the Marsden Madoka-led committee, which investigated causes of the warders’ strike.
In the Defence ministry, there is an outcry over recent promotion and retirement in the military, sources told The Standard. Matters have further been complicated by intense lobbying for Chief of General Staff General Jeremiah Kianga’s successor, with claims of nepotism and tribalism rife.
Those familiar with military matters say there are calls for the Defence Council to be scrutinised over claims of discrimination and lack of transparency.
For instance, information made available to us indicate that Deputy Army Commander Maj-Gen Jones Mutwii’s term in office ended last December, but the Defence Council extended it.
Interestingly, Maj-Gen P J Opiyo, who was tipped to take over from Army Commander Lt-Gen Augustino Njoroge, had sought an extension of his term. But this was turned down.
Last week, Armed Forces Training College Commandant Maj-Gen Geoffrey Okanga was retired.
Brigadier Simon Karanja, who was Okanga’s deputy, has been promoted and will replace Opiyo.
Insiders say the trend may affect professionalism in the force believed to be one of the most respected in the continent.
At Ardhi House, Lands Minister James Orengo, who blwe the whistle on Grand Regency sale, alleged that junior officers were instructed to hide information from him.
At Immigration, Minister Otieno Kajwang’ has been pitted against technocrats who have accused him of highhandedness.
This emerged in the middle of investigation on issuance of permits.
At the Treasury, audit queries are emerging over transactions of the Central Bank of Kenya and the Kenya Revenue Authority, amid reports that officials who question discrepancies are retired or transferred.
The divided loyalties, mistrust and suspicion that have played out beneath what on the surface is a smooth sheen of a working coalition Government has finally been thrust into the open.
It is increasingly clear that some top civil servants pay allegiance to their masters and political parties at the expense of service delivery.
New personnel seconded from the private sector, some unfamiliar with Government procedure and bureaucracy, are said to have compounded the problem.
Last Friday, Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno, while addressing PSs and accounting officers in the Civil Service, cautioned officials against allegiance to political parties.
"You might have been nominated to these positions by different parties or come from different ethnic groups, but at the moment, all problems facing the country are yours," the minister warned.
He told the officials that Cabinet decisions were based on their input and that Government risked stagnation if they failed to live up to the challenge.
The same day, the Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura noted: "We need cohesion and teamwork to effectively deliver services to members of the public and clients."
So far, two meetings have been held to harmonise the coalition’s principles to those of the public service.
One was in May and opened by President Kibaki and PM Raila Odinga.
By ANGEYO H. KALAMBUKA
July 27 2008
VISION 2030 IS NO DOUBT A timely and laudable Government effort, only it is over-ambitious on time, unattractive to the 2008 budget drafters, and unrealistic in having its foundation in neo-classisist economic thinking.
The Vision’s main economic, social and political pillars and flagship projects to be embarked upon in the medium-term period are wanting from the knowledge economics perspective, in particular on science, technology and innovation (STi), the new policy on STi notwithstanding.
Industrial cluster development is a complex, long-term endeavour that requires a critical mass of existing resources, and rich, zealous local champions.
Kenya is a poor, struggling country where knowledge-powered rural development is the most pressing need, and should play to its strengths.
It is not an over-emphasis, that effective generation and leveraging of knowledge are today’s key sources of competitive advantage as may be seen in the world’s advanced economies.
IN 1950, MOST PEOPLE ENGAGED in manufacturing, farming, mining and transportation. By the 1990s, their number had shrunk to one-fifth. Two years from now, they will be no more than one-tenth.
The balance between knowledge and resources has shifted towards the former. The traditional factors of production – land, labour, and machines – have become secondary.
The fate of nations teaches us that we live in a sea of constant change that plays rough on the global scale, and re-orienting Vision 2030 to be about walking the country into a knowledge economy should be seen as transforming the ship while a storm is raging on the open sea.
The Lisbon Agenda, for instance, has put a very ambitious blueprint, constantly informed by stimulated debate and public engagement on the issues that are at the centre of a successful knowledge economy, for rapidly moving Europe from the industrial age to a global, networked knowledge-based economy, which has inevitably necessitated changes, not only in the economy, but also in the institutions and systems designed for a different era.
The goal of politics in the 21st century should be to create societies that maximise knowledge. There is no part of our economic activity which cannot be improved by, or which will not benefit from, the application of knowledge and ideas.
Any country that writes off a third of its people through poor schooling, family breakdowns, poverty and strife, throws away precious assets: brain-power, intelligence and creativity.
As Alvin Toffler observes in his book, Future Shock “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
Like people, States are in today’s information age, more than ever before, expected to be able to unlearn, relearn and learn in the tumultuous ‘sea’ of change.
States which are prepared to learn will succeed, while those which consider themselves learned will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
Knowledge capitalism, which involves generating new ideas and turning them speedily into products and services that reach the market through a wide variety of routes, is a vital driving force in the new world economy.
By GITAU GIKONYO
July 25 2008
Robert Mugabe ran an election against himself and won
Tsvangirai has embraced Mugabe and termed his agreement to begin peace talks with Mugabe as “historic”
There is a saying among my kinsmen to the effect that “what it sires is what it breastfeeds”. The reference in this case is to animals and they seem to have no choice. Thus should a cow give birth to a hen, then it will breast feed it. But we humans have a choice and if, for instance, a woman heavy with child, knew that she would give birth to Lucifer himself, she can terminate the pregnancy.
Zimbabweans have followed suit after Robert Mugabe ran an election against himself and won. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has embraced Mugabe and termed his agreement to begin peace talks with Mugabe as “historic”. What a misuse of a good word. He sees it as a great opportunity for peace and possible continuance of governance in Zimbabwe.
Unfortunately democracy or the delusion that passed for it in Africa has finally been mutilated, and may never again be allowed to grace this continent. It has inhaled its last breath of life through the suffocation of the people’s will by the powerful clench of electoral fraud witnessed in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Kenya had offered to help Zimbabwe in settling the impasse by prescribing solutions or suggestions. It seems like the Zimbabweans took the offer and most likely Tsvangirai will be bequeathed premiership and half of the cabinet like his friend Raila Odinga. Ask Tsvangirai why he is negotiating and he will tell you that he does not want to see more blood being spilt. But is there an alternative?
I submit that there is, but the alternative never seems to work in Africa. Even though the flame inside us has died and has been replaced by a dark bottomless void, a small ember must remain, refuse to die and grow. According to the American Declaration of Independence a government derives its just powers from the governed in guaranteeing their liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Where it fails, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and institute a new one that guarantees safety and happiness. Thus on February 26, 1986, for instance, Corazon Aquino became the President of Philippines. An almost bloodless revolution known as ‘Peoples Power’ had brought Aquino into office.
When one looks at the crisis in Zimbabwe and recently in Kenya, there are almost similar events that had built up to that day 22 years ago. However, while the Philippines crisis resulted into a revolution by the people, the same did not happen in Kenya and with Tsvangirai having thrown in the towel, it won’t happen in Zimbabwe. Why? Because revolutions are waged by people seeking to regain their identity from repressive regimes or foreign domination.
Philippines was under President Ferdinand Marcos, one of the world’s most powerful dictators. First elected President in 1965, he became a master of manipulating public opinion, stealing elections and bribery.
In November 1985, Marcos in an American talkshow, This Week with David Brinkley, announced his decision to hold a snap presidential election to appease the Americans and legitimise his control over the country, a monumental blunder. The elections were held on February 7, 1986, and were marred by violence and alleged electoral fraud from both sides of the political divide.
According to official election canvasser, the Commission on Elections, Marcos won with 10,807,197 votes against Aquino’s 9,291,761. National Movement for Free Elections had Aquino winning with 7,835,070 votes against Marcos’ 7,053,068. Marcos was proclaimed the winner but the Filipinos rejected the results asserting that Aquino was the real victor.
Both “winners” held separate inaugurations with Marcos’ attended by family members and a few paid guests.
Why haven’t we seen such a scenario in Africa? It’s because most African countries lack a middle class and a cultural–spiritual battlefront necessary for a people’s revolution.
Monday, July 28, 2008
By Obadiah Ayoti
PRIME Minister and ODM leader Raila Odinga may find some comfort in the accolades which rate him the top government performer but within the party rank and file, he is a man subtly under siege. Barely four months after the grand coalition government was formed amid high expectations, there is growing anxiety within a section of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ranks that had expected to benefit from the new power-sharing arrangement.
And now Prime Minister Raila Odinga is being seen in some quarters as having been given a raw deal since he is yet to meet expectations of supporters who had provided key campaign support. An inside ODM source was derisive in perspective, saying Raila’s role has been reduced to that of a master of ceremonies at a grand party where he can only coordinate events and make announcements but cannot influence proceedings in any significant direction.
In essence, the discontented voices in ODM are saying that ODM’s participation in the coalition has been thrown to the periphery by President Mwai Kibaki who still wields too much power and influence despite having agreed to share power equally with the Premier as stipulated by the National Accord and Reconciliation Act.
The worried voices in ODM who are mostly MPs claim that about four months down the road since Raila was sworn in, his office is not fully functional either by design or default, saying that it is a sham for a portfolio of that stature to have only four members of staff who include the Permanent Secretary Mohammed Isahakia.
Other staffers at the Office of the Prime Minister are Administration Secretary Caroli Omondi, Protocol Officer Tony Gachoka and Personal Assistant to the PM, Maj (Rtd) Mohammed Idris.
But whereas some people within ODM blame the failure to recruit staff to the PM’s office on infighting among Raila’s close allies allegedly engaged in superiority contest, others say it falls within the bigger picture where few of those who had expected to benefit from high government appointments have seen any appointments.
They question why those who had been top strategists and ODM supporters have not been appointed to ambassadorial and parastatal positions as stipulated under the accord."Real power sharing meant to us sharing all appointments, including ambassadorial and parastatal positions. Why has President Kibaki retained all the positions after the signing of the accord?" posed a disenchanted ODM legislator.
Buoyed by the zero tolerance to corruption pledge ODM made in the run up to last year’s general election and now that Raila assumed the strategic coordination and supervisory role of government affairs. The key supporters, including some MPs are now questioning who handles graft, economic, political and human resource affairs in his office since there have been no appointments made.
The issue of the shaky secretariat featured prominently during the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) held in May at Safari Park hotel with members demanding an explanation from the PM.
In an effort seen to address themselves to discontent within the party, Rift Valley MPs have called for a meeting on Wednesday this week to strategise on how to put the ODM house in order so as to deliver the promises it made to Kenyans. Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto, one of the dissenting voices, confirmed the Wednesday meeting, but could not divulge its agenda.
A similar meeting for Luo Nyanza MPs held on July, 9 at a Nairobi hotel failed to solve the issues bedeviling the Orange party, leaving the 12 legislators who attended to mandate Joshua Ojodeh to seek an appointment with Raila.Ojodeh is reported to have presented the memorandum from the Luo MPs to Raila before he jetted out of the country for an official visit to the UK. The PM is yet to respond to the MPs’ concerns.
But when sought for comment yesterday, Ojodeh declined to comment on the issue and referred our enquiry to the PM himself.But assistant minister and Belgut MP Charles Keter came to the defense of Raila, insisting that the PM’s office was still new and ought to be given more time to organise itself.More In Print Edition
Friday, July 25, 2008
By Senator Barack Obama
July 24th, 2008
Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.
I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.
I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.
At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning – his dream – required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.
That is why I’m here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.
Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.
On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.
This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.
The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.
And that’s when the airlift began – when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.
The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.
But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city’s mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. “There is only one possibility,” he said. “For us to stand together united until this battle is won…The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty…People of the world, look at Berlin!”
People of the world – look at Berlin!
Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.
Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.
Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.
People of the world – look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.
Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall – a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope – walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.
The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers – dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.
The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.
As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.
Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.
In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we’re honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.
In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe’s role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.
Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.
That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another. The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.
We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.
So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.
That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations – and all nations – must summon that spirit anew.
This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.
This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO’s first mission beyond Europe’s borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.
This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.
This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century – in this city of all cities – we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.
This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.
This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.
This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations – including my own – will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.
And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust – not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.
Now the world will watch and remember what we do here – what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?
Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?
Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?
People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.
I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.
But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us – what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.
These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people – everywhere – became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation – our generation – must make our mark on the world.
People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.
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