Sunday, September 30, 2012
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Friday, September 28, 2012
Friday, September 21, 2012
Sunday, September 16, 2012
SEPTEMBER 16, 2012.
CAIRO INSTITUTE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS STUDIES
Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir is expected to arrive in Cairo today, 16 September 2012, in his first visit to Egypt since the election of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies denounces the decision by the Egyptian authorities to host al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the Sudanese people. Welcoming al-Bashir in Cairo sends the message that Egyptian foreign policy has not undergone a radical change in the wake of the January 25 Revolution and that Egypt still welcomes people who are accused of committing gross human rights violations against civilians.
Unfortunately, this decision further reinforces the impunity and protection that al-Bashir has enjoyed from governments across the Arab region. At a time when the perpetrators of similar crimes in Egypt are being acquitted, the decision to host al-Bashir indicates that President Morsi, as Egypt’s first democratically elected president, is not dedicated to upholding justice for victims of grave human rights crimes.
In March of 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant against President al-Bashir, citing charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the conflict in Darfur which started in 2003. Over the course of the conflict, an estimated 300,000 people were killed and millions were displaced. Crimes continue to be committed with impunity by the Sudanese regime, most recently in the context of demonstrations against rising fuel prices and other costs of living. In addition to arbitrary arrest of protestors, journalists, and opposition leaders, Sudanese security forces opened live fire on a demonstration in Nyala in Southern Darfur on July 31, killing at least 10, many of whom were high school students.
Since the ICC’s issuance of the warrant against him, however, al-Bashir has endured few consequences. He has been hosted by many Arab countries, despite the charges which have been brought against him internationally. However, other world leaders have decided to follow a more principled approach, demonstrating respect for both their own people and the victims of Sudan by refusing to welcome al-Bashir on their territory, due to his status as a fugitive from justice. Most recently, Malawi refused to allow al-Bashir to attend the July, 2012 summit of the African Union, which was scheduled to be held in the country. As a result, the African Union hosted the summit at its own headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“After having risen up during the January Revolution against such abuses in our own country here in Egypt, it is a shame that our foreign policy remains unchanged towards those accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity against our neighbors in Sudan,” said Ziad Abdel Tawab, Deputy Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. “On March 25, 2009, CIHRS and three other Egyptian organizations filed a complaint with the office of the Egyptian public prosecutor, demanding that the Egyptian authorities immediately arrest president al-Bashir and surrender him to the ICC when he visited Cairo only weeks following the ICC issuance of a warrant for his arrest. Unfortunately, as with hundreds of torture complaints submitted by Egyptian NGOs under Mubarak, the complaint against President al-Bashir was closed without action.”
Although Egypt is not a state party to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, it has a moral responsibility to detain Omar al-Bashir upon his arrival in Cairo as a fugitive from justice and to surrender him to the ICC. If such steps are not taken, the Egyptian authorities will be supporting impunity and undermining basic principles of international law, including that no one – not even heads of state – shall be immune from punishment for serious crimes such as crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Friday, September 14, 2012
By Jerry Okungu
September 12, 2012
Optimistic new Somalia President sets agenda for rebuilding his new state. Really?
Din of hammers now dominate Mogadishu! Really?
These two statements formed the headlines of Somalia Rebirth in a Kenyan newspaper. Ironically, just two days after Sheikh Mohamoud was elected President of the new Somalia, two bombs rocked the hotel in which he was receiving a good will message from Kenya’s President Kibaki.
By the grace of God, Kenya’s Foreign Minister, Sam Ongeri and President Mohamoud survived the attack in which scores died including the suicide bomber. Had the plot succeeded, Mohamoud would have gone down in history as the first Head of State to have served Somalia for two days!
As expected, the Al Shabaab militias readily claimed responsibility and took credit for that daring attack.
When this news came in, I remembered the prophecy of lawyer Nelson Havi just a day earlier. As we went through the morning papers a day after the elections, he casually hinted that Somalis were not ready for a peaceful nation. He was sure that Mohamoud’s election would be contested by one clan or another because the young Somali generation cannot handle peace for it is a foreign concept to them.
When Abdulahi Yusuf became the first transitional federal president following an election by clan representatives in Nairobi way back in 2005, I predicted in the local press that Somalis would reject him. My premise at that time was that the Somali Diaspora who elected him in a foreign land had no control of militias back home. When I visited Somaliland that year, I came to understand better the Somali riddle. I was told by the then Somaliland Foreign Minister that warlords who go to live abroad are soon replaced by new warlords back home such that in the last 20 years, the number of warlords had multiplied ten-fold over time.
When I saw 260 parliamentarians who were not elected by universal suffrage this week pretending to be sitting in parliament to elect their country’s president, I felt sad for Somalia. I could see they were falling in the same trap their predecessors fell in 2005 in Nairobi. The only difference was that they were in Mogadishu.
Looking at the profile of most MPs in that Parliament, one could see that quite a number of them including Mohamoud were those that moved a broad and lived in comfort and possibly still had their families living in Western capitals or safe havens like Nairobi , Dubai and Djibouti.
During the presidential elections, I saw something akin to a presidential campaign where a group of children and women were running around with posters and branded T shirts for various candidates. The question I asked was this: if candidates can campaign among the public, why didn’t they seek the mandate of the Somali electorate directly? Why did the constitution opt for selection of MPs by clans then gave the same selected MPs to choose their new President?
Let us face it; the gap between returnees and home grown Somalis is too wide. In fact the two sets of Somalis are foreigners to one another. One group is fabulously rich, educated and affluent. The other is pitifully poor, uneducated and has survived all these years by the grace of God and the gun. They have nothing in common. One preaches order and democracy. The other yearns for a meal on the table for his family and the only means he knows is to use the gun. This wretched of the earth appreciates a permanent fight for equality for as long as he lives. This is the type that understands the language of Al Shabbab and pirates and sees them as his role models.
In my opinion true democracy and peace can only return to Somalia upon one condition. Returnees must be prepared to sacrifice their ambitions for power and share substantive power with locals. Under the circumstances, the best option is to create autonomous states with local governors and have a ceremonial president to deal with mundane issues such as diplomatic missions and receive visiting dignitaries. Let this ceremonial president also control a small national army, the police force and the Supreme Court if another round of violence is to be averted.
With the experience of Kenya’s Foreign Minister just two days after the election, it will be awhile before another dignitary pays a courtesy call to President Mohamoud, least of all any Head of State.
Another thing; maintaining the security of this President is going to be an expensive affair because attempts on his life will intensify as days pass by. Those who wanted to kill him last Wednesday will not relent in their schemes. Therefore his sponsors such as Kenya, the AU, AMISOM, the UN, the EU and the US must be prepared for the long haul.
Yes war and manufactured peace can equally be expensive.
By Jerry Okungu
September 12, 2012
I felt Rebecca Nabutola’s pain and anguish in the courtroom that morning she was sentenced to prison. Yes, I felt bad for Achieng’ Ong’onga’ too. The reason I felt that way was because I had come to know them personally. This was irrespective of whether they were guilty or not. At that time what were on my mind more than anything else were their families. How would they take it? Yet, the law is indeed an ass and justice tends to be blind sometimes.
Having said that; Kenyans must come to the unpleasant reality that the judiciary has changed for the better forever. A few years ago, it was unthinkable to find guilty top officers in the government let alone throwing them in prison. It was that culture of impunity that allowed Golden Berg thieves to stroll our streets to this day.
The jailing of Nabutola and Ongong’a should send a chilling message to those public figures that from time to time are tempted to flout procurement rules in favour of their friends, family members or influential people with connections in high places. If you do their bid, they will take the loot and leave you with a baby in your hands.
The circumstances under which Nabutola acted the way she did is very typical of public officers behaving and making decisions where the Head of State is involved. In those circumstances top civil servants are eager to put their best foot forward and shine in front of the appointing authority. It is this instinct to prove oneself that leads to rush decisions that end up being costly to the officers concerned if by bad luck one hawkeyed officer who expected to benefit from the windfall goes away empty-handed. Such disgruntled officers end up becoming whistle blowers to punish the beneficiaries.
I have this eerie feeling that the Nabutola jailing is a tip of the iceberg- a pointer to what is likely to happen to more high profile cases pending before the judiciary. It also illustrates that the judiciary is slowly clawing back its power and independence it lost under the KANU regime.
It all started with Justice Ombija early in the year giving a ruling against President Omar Bashir. Despite Bashir’s ranting soon after the judge ordered his arrest upon his coming to Kenya, that ruling has never been overturned despite government’s feeble attempt to appeal the ruling.
Then just a week before Nabutola’s verdict came up, another verdict was passed against the former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs. He was accused of fraudulently signing off a tender to a ghost company known as Anglo Leasing to print the new generation Identity Cards for the department of Immigration and Registration of Persons. Unlike Nabutola and Ongonga’, he got away with a lighter sentence of a three million Kenya Shillings despite the fact that the tender was worth Ksh 7 billion.
The reason why big guns must have sleepless nights is because there are many cases pending before Kiraiko Tobiko that are ready for prosecution. These cases are mostly a backlog from KACC that Amos Wako had failed to prosecute for several years.
By the look of things, it would appear as if Chief Justice Willy Mutunga is not keen on following in the footsteps of Justice Evans Gicheru. He is keener to leave his own footprints in the corridors of justice considering that he has just four years before he retires. What Mutunga seems to be telling Kenyans is that within four years, he is ready to revolutionize the judiciary beyond recognition such that whoever will follow him will find it impossible to turn back the clock.
For this reason Minister Ali Makwere and Dhaho Godhana must be really weary of incitement cases facing them in the present judiciary. Yes, as we deal with economic crimes, let the courts also deal ruthlessly with war mongers and lords of impunity who have made lives of Kenyans hell on earth.
Had we had a functional judiciary like we do today, 2008 violence would not have occurred. Losers in the 2007 elections would have gone to court rather than to the streets. The Chief Justice would not have conducted a swearing in ceremony before the dispute was dissolved. The authors, planners and executors of election fraud would have been too afraid to commit crimes. Today Chairman Kivuitu and his commissioners would be languishing behind bars as Kenyans went for repeat elections rather than for each other’s heads.
Now that the courts are working, let us conclude Golden Berg, Anglo Leasing, Grand Regency, Triton, land grabbing and perpetrators of 2008 violence. In so doing this, Kenyans who died of hunger and treatable diseases, children who missed out on education due to money that these mega scandals robbed them will at least have been accorded some semblance of justice. The trial of the 5000 butchers of the 2008 violence will surely be a form of restitution to thousands of Kenyans who died and thousands more who lost their limbs, homes and livelihood.
By Jerry Okungu
September 12, 2012
Tana Delta is burning. Massacre of innocent ordinary Kenyans is slowly becoming the order of the day. It is the kind of reality that Kenyans must get used to. Looking at the ghastly scenes on our local TV screens in Nairobi, one can be forgiven for thinking that Tana Delta is a jungle out there; another country and definitely not part of the Kenyan territory.
Yes, it is only in Kenya where loss of human lives through murders can reach 100 in less than three weeks before the Executive authority wakes up. Yes, I say Executive to mean the Office of the President that proudly holds the portfolios of departments of Defence, Internal Security and National Security Intelligence Services.
The reason the Tana Delta tragedy must be placed at the doorsteps of the President of the Republic of Kenya is simply this: The same President is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Kenya. These armed forces include the Administration Police, the General Service Unit, the Regular Police Force, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
In matters of Internal Security, the Police, the NSIS and the Director of Public Prosecutions have to work in tandem to primarily preempt and prevent crime of any kind. If they cannot do this, then there is a failure of unprecedented magnitude exposing huge populations to grave danger as happened in the Rift Valley in 2008 and now happening in Tana Delta in 2012.
The reason Tana Delta has burned for four weeks without any action being taken is simply this: sacred cows in leadership positions have grown to enjoy an arrogant approach to the way they deal with their real and imagined enemies. These warlords have seen mayhem in Rift Valley, Kilifi, Mombasa and parts of Nyanza since 1992 without anybody being punished for it. They therefore know they can get away with anything.
We watch hate speeches being made by top politicians in front of cameras and senior police officers and instead of arresting the inciters, the police can only proceed to give them maximum protection. Indeed we have become accustomed to treating our inciters with kids' gloves, the more reason they have become bolder with each passing day.
It times of a national tragedy such as the one we have going on in Tana Delta, Kenya needs a ruthless President that can be as hard on his bosom friends as he can be on his adversaries. It is pointless to have friends in the cabinet whose only pastime is to embarrass the President from time to time with their incompetence, negligence or lack of work ethic.
At the end of the day any Minister of State the Office of the President managing Internal Security, Defence or National Intelligence only exercises those powers on behalf of the President. Indeed the President is the Principal Internal Security and Defence Minister by virtue of his authority as the CEO of Kenya and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
It is for these reasons that when Kenyans feel exposed to criminal elements from within and without, whether from the Al Shabbab, Oromos of Ethiopia, South Sudanese soldiers or Museveni’s soldiers squatting on Migingo Island, it is the President who must take responsibility and bear the blame.
If for some reason that cannot be explained, we could allow criminals to come into the country like the Artur Brothers did in 2006 and terrorized us for a good six months simply because they had connections to operatives at the State House, it is the President that must take responsibility.
When a security breach has occurred not once but three times as has happened in Tana Delta, a substantive President must lead from the front. The President should take to task Security Intelligence operatives, the Provincial Security Committee whose chair is the PC of the Province rather than arresting a helpless small chief in the village.
When gangs can overpower security officers sent to the area to deal with them and even kill ten of them without officers returning a single fire, then ordinary Kenyans should be really afraid brace themselves for worse times ahead.
As it is now; it is evident that the Police Force whose reason to exist is to maintain law and order has failed on the job. The Force no longer has reason to exist. If indeed we deploy the military to Tana Delta because of police failure, no amount of excuses can exonerate them from blame.
And let me be a little bit more drastic in my proposal.
In 1982, following the coup attempt against Moi, the President disbanded the Kenya Air Force and actually put the remnants of that Force under the Army Commander. Only years later was the Air Force reconstituted once the rotten eggs had been thrown out.
Right now we have a large police force comprising the regular and administration police. These two units are both armed yet they cannot keep law and order. It is possible that general indiscipline and corruption are the reason for non-performance rather than poor conditions of service.
It is therefore imperative that during this transition when we are looking for an Inspector General and his two deputies, the police force should be disbanded and its personnel put under the command of the Military Commander until such time that discipline will have returned in their ranks. This way, the military will have the free hand to deal with civilian unrests wherever they may occur without the fear of treading on police territory.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
DAVID OBONYO NALO: PERMANENT SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY HAS PASSED AWAY.
THE LORD GIVES AND THE LORD TAKES AWAY AT HIS CHOSEN MOMENT. MAY THE ALMIGHTY REST HIS SOUL IN ETERNAL PEACE AS WE PRAY FOR THE FAMILY LEFT BEHIND
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
There was significantly more negligence than has been disclosed
Posted on 12 September 2012
By: Kurt Eichenwald
The Deafness Before the Storm: It was perhaps the most famous presidential briefing in history.
On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal.
On April 10, 2004, the Bush White House declassified that daily brief — and only that daily brief — in response to pressure from the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the events leading to the attack. Administration officials dismissed the document’s significance, saying that, despite the jaw-dropping headline, it was only an assessment of Al Qaeda’s history, not a warning of the impending attack. While some critics considered that claim absurd, a close reading of the brief showed that the argument had some validity.
That is, unless it was read in conjunction with the daily briefs preceding Aug. 6, the ones the Bush administration would not release. While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.
The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.
But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.
In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.
“The U.S. is not the target of a disinformation campaign by Usama Bin Laden,” the daily brief of June 29 read, using the government’s transliteration of Bin Laden’s first name. Going on for more than a page, the document recited much of the evidence, including an interview that month with a Middle Eastern journalist in which Bin Laden aides warned of a coming attack, as well as competitive pressures that the terrorist leader was feeling, given the number of Islamists being recruited for the separatist Russian region of Chechnya.
And the C.I.A. repeated the warnings in the briefs that followed. Operatives connected to Bin Laden, one reported on June 29, expected the planned near-term attacks to have “dramatic consequences,” including major casualties. On July 1, the brief stated that the operation had been delayed, but “will occur soon.” Some of the briefs again reminded Mr. Bush that the attack timing was flexible, and that, despite any perceived delay, the planned assault was on track.
Yet, the White House failed to take significant action. Officials at the Counterterrorism Center of the C.I.A. grew apoplectic. On July 9, at a meeting of the counterterrorism group, one official suggested that the staff put in for a transfer so that somebody else would be responsible when the attack took place, two people who were there told me in interviews. The suggestion was batted down, they said, because there would be no time to train anyone else.
That same day in Chechnya, according to intelligence I reviewed, Ibn Al-Khattab, an extremist who was known for his brutality and his links to Al Qaeda, told his followers that there would soon be very big news. Within 48 hours, an intelligence official told me, that information was conveyed to the White House, providing more data supporting the C.I.A.’s warnings. Still, the alarm bells didn’t sound.
On July 24, Mr. Bush was notified that the attack was still being readied, but that it had been postponed, perhaps by a few months. But the president did not feel the briefings on potential attacks were sufficient, one intelligence official told me, and instead asked for a broader analysis on Al Qaeda, its aspirations and its history. In response, the C.I.A. set to work on the Aug. 6 brief.
In the aftermath of 9/11, Bush officials attempted to deflect criticism that they had ignored C.I.A. warnings by saying they had not been told when and where the attack would occur. That is true, as far as it goes, but it misses the point. Throughout that summer, there were events that might have exposed the plans, had the government been on high alert.
Indeed, even as the Aug. 6 brief was being prepared, Mohamed al-Kahtani, a Saudi believed to have been assigned a role in the 9/11 attacks, was stopped at an airport in Orlando, Fla., by a suspicious customs agent and sent back overseas on Aug. 4. Two weeks later, another co-conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui, was arrested on immigration charges in Minnesota after arousing suspicions at a flight school.
But the dots were not connected, and Washington did not react.
Could the 9/11 attack have been stopped, had the Bush team reacted with urgency to the warnings contained in all of those daily briefs? We can’t ever know. And that may be the most agonizing reality of all.
This post was written by James Opiko - who has written 2999 posts on PoliticalArticles.NET.
PRESS FREEDOM ALERT
DAR ES SALAAM
SEPTEMBER 11 2012
Eastern Africa Journalists Association has lauded the solidarity demonstrated by the Tanzanian media fraternity over the killing of TV journalist, Daudi Mwangosi last week which has been blamed on the police who were dispersing a rally convened by an opposition party in Iringa Region of the country.
EAJA Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman said the demonstration held today Tuesday September 11, 2012 by hundred of journalists including editors in the streets of Dar es Salaam was “a powerful statement to the Tanzanian government to launch full and transparent investigations into the killing of the journalist.”
Editors and journalists poured into the streets of Dar es Salaam from morning in a peaceful demonstration to protest the killing of their colleague, Mwangosi. They carried placards condemning the killing and calling for a through probe into the incident.
Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) and Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) have formed a probe team of their own to inquire into the killing of the Channel Ten journalist. The task force consisting of three people was given 8 days to come up with the report.
EAJA, while supporting the probe by TEF and MCT said “all indications from photographs appearing in various media indicate point to the police being culpable”,
“The police cannot be trusted to conduct any independent investigation as they are already incriminated. They should not attempt to conceal the facts of this case.” added Osman.
During the demonstration, the journalists became hostile to the Tanzanian Minister of Home Affairs Dr. Emmanuel Nchimbi who arrived at the scene where the journalists were addressing a rally and attempted to address them. He had wanted to address the angry editors and journalists at the end of demonstration.
The killing of Mwangosi, who was working for Channel Ten, in Tanzania’s Iringa Region on 2 September 2012 has sparked outrage both in Tanzania and internationally.
A probe team led by the Director of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Mr. Robert Manumba, was formed on Monday, 3 September, to investigate the circumstances that led to the killing of the journalist. The investigating team consists of experts from various state organs including the chief government chemist.
There have been varying accounts of how the journalist met his death. There have been distressing images of the remains of the late Mwangosi circulating on several social networks and blogs. The images show his stomach ripped open by what is believed to have been an explosive.
EAJA has demanded that Tanzanian authorities carry out “credible investigations” to establish the cause of Mwangosi's death.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
THE DAILY MAVERICK
J0'BURG, SOUTH AFRICA
4 SEPTEMBER 2012
Johannesburg — Calls for cultural and academic boycotts of Israel are echoing similar calls against South Africa until the end of Apartheid. J BROOKS SPECTOR takes a look at this issue, with some history in mind.
Way back in the 1950s, the resolute, implacable Rev. Trevor Huddleston first introduced the idea of a cultural boycott of South Africa, half a decade into the National Party's imposition of its full-throttled Apartheid regime on the country.
He wrote in his call to arms (and legs and fingers), "I am asking those who believe racialism to be sinful or wrong to refuse to encourage it by accepting any engagement to act, to perform as a musical artist or ballet dancer " That manifesto from a British priest at Sophiatown's Christ the King Church eventually blossomed into a global movement to isolate South Africa culturally, in its academic life and in international sports competitions. This, in turn, contributed both organisational and intellectual support to campaigns to ramp up and tighten the country's growing political, financial and economic ostracism until the early 1990s.
In recent years, the presumed success of inter-connected boycotts and shunning of Apartheid as a tool that helped push South Africa into fundamental change has become an inspiration to other international movements in their campaigns against other unpalatable regimes.
International cultural figures led just such a campaign against Austria when neo-fascist leader Jörg Haider joined the country's governing coalition.
Austria may have been uniquely vulnerable to threats of a cultural boycott: some 15% of its GDP derives from tourism, much of it from cultural events like the internationally renowned Salzburg Festival.
When Haider entered the Austrian government, highly visible sponsors and musicians publicly withdrew their involvement in the country's cultural events. French actress Catherine Deneuve, for example, publicly rejected her highly visible guest-of-honour status at the Vienna Opera Ball.
Echoing the earlier debate about the utility of a cultural boycott of South Africa, however, some urged that rather than boycotting Austria, artists should attend events there but show their opposition to the country's politics by publicly remonstrating Austria's government. At the time, Le Monde editorialised, "Is it better to refuse all co-operation with any cultural event or exchange program that has Austrian government backing? Should intellectuals put principles behind them, so as not to isolate their counterparts in Austria? Or should they, on the contrary, accept invitations in order to bring the international protest against Haider to Austria itself?"
While it is hard to quantify how much impact international cultural pressure actually had in hastening Haider's departure from the governing coalition, it is true that publicity resulting from the cultural world's disapproval kept the issue of Haider's presence in government on the front burner until he was history.
And so we circle back to look at a movement using similar tactics against Israel because of its political and military domination of the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza. Proponents of academic and cultural boycotts of Israel have argued their inspiration comes directly from the success of the academic and cultural boycotts against South Africa.
In the case of Israel, the key point is that boycotts can be real leverage points and can force difficult questioning of the legitimacy of Israel's considerable international intellectual connections, given the importance that these connections play in Israel's sense of self-worth as a nation.
A few years ago, British boycott activist Peter Keele had argued on CNN, "I'll draw an analogy here with the successful boycotting of Apartheid .
Some people argued we should constructively engage with South African institutions but I think history proved that, in the end, the intellectual boycott was helpful in bringing an end to Apartheid." And here in South Africa too, influential individuals such as struggle veteran and former cabinet minister Ronnie Kasrils have become prime advocates of boycott - also citing their success against Apartheid South Africa.
In recent months, the BDS - Boycott, Disinvestment, Sanctions - movement has begun to gain some ground in a number of South African institutions.
(In an early harbinger of this trend, in late 2010 Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu said a planned visit by the Cape Town Opera to Israel should be delayed until such time as Palestinians were independent, echoing his stance on cultural contact with South Africa back in the 1980s.) Recent successes in the campaign now include the University of Johannesburg's decision last year to break off academic cooperation with Ben-Gurion University on the grounds that university has close links with the Israeli military establishment and a statement by Ebrahim Ebrahim, deputy minister of International Relations and Cooperation, aimed at discouraging travel by South Africans to Israel.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies' recent decision to insist products made in the West Bank (rather than within Israel's pre-1967 borders) need to be re-labelled as produced in the West Bank if they are to be distributed and sold inside South Africa may also fit into a larger pattern.
Most recently, Wits University's Students Representative Council's (SRC) decision to support a full academic and cultural boycott of Israel in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.
Its decision says, in part, "Throughout the world students joined people of conscience in opposing the (Apartheid) regime which systematically perpetrated racial injustice in South Africa. Because of our history...we must unite and stand in solidarity with those who face similar oppression... The Wits Student Representative Council stands firm in its support of Palestinians and the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (against Israel) movement... (The SRC) will not participate in any form of cultural or academic collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions and will not provide any support to Israeli cultural or academic institutions."
In response to such developments, Jewish community institutions - the Board of Deputies, the Zionist Federation and the Office of the Chief Rabbi - have argued in response that, "Mr Ebrahim's statements are indicative of a highly discriminatory and disproportionate obsession with the Jewish state. In further polarizing rather than bringing together the various parties, it undermines the government's oft-stated policy of supporting a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition, it harms South Africa's standing as a credible player in resolving international disputes.
One-sided boycotts only play into the hands of those who oppose a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian question. It is not in South Africa's interests, both domestically and internationally, to support such extremists."
Not surprisingly then, when Ebrahim spoke at the SA Institute of International Affairs on Monday evening on the theme, "South Africa and the United Nations Security Council: Promoting Peace in the Middle East and North Africa," he had a full, attentive audience.
In his remarks, among other topics, Ebrahim preached the need for the parties in the Syrian conflict to come to a Syrian solution that recognizes the legitimate human rights of the Syrian people. To that end, South Africa's experience of reaching a negotiated settlement in its own social conflict might be helpful he said, quoting Nelson Mandela to the effect that to make peace, one has to work with one's enemies and then they eventually become one's partners.
Earlier in his speech, Ebrahim had argued there has been no real forward motion on the Palestinian issue for the past two decades, adding that expanded Israeli settlements on the West Bank have just made it harder to get to a viable, negotiated two-state reality. He insisted he and his government were not opposed to the Israeli state; they were, however, fully opposed to a continued thwarting of the just aspirations of the Palestinian people.
And then there was the throwaway line where Ebrahim said it suited the narrow domestic interests of one (unnamed) permanent member of the UN Security Council to forestall progress for the Palestinians. No prizes for guessing which country he meant by that - or what "narrow domestic interests" he was alluding to.
Of course there are some cynical folks who could argue South African government moves to put pressure on Israel might just possibly stem from another, different version of narrow domestic interest - that is, an effort to garner support for the ANC government from the Western Cape's Islamic population as part of a broader effort to reclaim the province from the DA.
One might even say this looks a bit like a reverse version of Mitt Romney's visit to Israel a few months back in which he promised to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem and to thunder that President Obama had thrown Israel under a metaphorical bus - all in an effort to gin up some firmer support for the Republicans from Israel's strongest supporters.
In South Africa, just like America, interest group politics can have a significant impact on the conduct and timbre of international relations - and even on what constitutes national interest. That's what happens if diplomacy and democracy bump into each other. Politics sure doesn't stop at the water's edge anymore.
The Daily Maverick is a unique blend of news, information, analysis and opinion delivered from our newsroom in Johannesburg, South Africa. Read us on dailymaverick.co.za.
From Ethiopian Press Agency
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
3 SEPTEMBER 2012
The Kenyan newspaper daily nation has recently carried a piece about the late prime minister Meles Zenawi.
The theme of the piece is that Meles' role in the political and security arenas put him at the heart of Africa's greatest leaders. Meles dedicated his life fighting for the stability of his country and the region.
In fact, according to the newspaper, the unsaid wisdom is that be it an absolute monarch, a sit-tight despot or a reformer on the seat of power in Addis Ababa, Ethio-Kenya relations will always sail on like a ship in calm waters.
Daily Nation stated that the young medical student who joined the guerrilla war against the Derg, the Marxist junta of Mengistu Haile-Mariam, in the 1970s as "Legesse" Zenawi returned triumphantly to Addis Ababa in 1991 as "Meles", a nom de guerre he adopted in the trenches in honour of a fallen compatriot.
Years in the bush as a revolutionary infused personal discipline, committed and principled leadership and a pan-African disposition into modern Ethiopia's third ruler who took power at 36 after the fall of Mengistu's regime, becoming Africa's youngest leader.
Twenty-one years later, the indelible marks of Meles' fine mind, firm persona and pragmatic traits are all over the canvas of the Ethiopian economy and society. Rightly eulogized as an economic reformer, Meles solicited and put foreign development aid to good use. Citing the World Bank, the paper mentioned that Ethiopia's GDP has grown by 10.6 per cent a year over the past decade, double Africa's average.
Child mortality has dropped by 40 per cent, and just under 30 per cent of Ethiopians are living in extreme poverty, those on less than a dollar a day, a quantum jump from 45 per cent when Meles took power.
Meles has left a diversified economy and laid the foundation for an industrial Ethiopia with new industries like floriculture, beverages, leather making, car assembly and infrastructure projects, including Africa's largest hydro-electric dams--Gibe III and the Grand Renaissance Dam. These economic gains at home have their corollary in a brand of "development diplomacy" Meles has pursued in Africa.
Consequently, Kenya and Ethiopia have grown stronger together as what political scientists tout as "regional hegemonies" or powerhouses in the Eastern Africa region along the lines of Nigeria and South Africa in West and Southern Africa regions, respectively, Daily Nation writes.
"Our joining in the East African community is long overdue," Meles told a Kenyan delegation early last year. He agreed to broaden the Ethio-Kenya Joint Commission from a military pact to socio-economic cooperation.
And on March 2 this year, Meles joined President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan to officially launch Africa's most ambitious project: a Sh1.5 trillion Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport project at the Lamu Port, with its main components as networks of roads, railways, an oil pipeline and airports.
In 2000, he, Meles, became the first Ethiopian ruler to allow multi-party elections and private press. The Paper noticed that in the 2010 parliamentary elections, his party won 99.6 per cent of the vote, virtually wiping out the opposition. Arguably, his record on Africa's political scene brings Meles into the pantheon of towering figures such as Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah, Tanzania's Julius Nyerere and Senegal's Leopold Senghor.
Under Meles, Addis Ababa has become the home of a reformed African Union and firmly Africa's diplomatic capital. With Ethiopia as a member of the powerful AU Peace and Security Council and him as the chair of NEPAD and IGAD, Meles has been one of the architects of Africa's emerging peace, security and governance infrastructure.
Meanwhile, The Daily Monitor of Uganda writes that Meles had been instrumental in the war against insurgents in Somalia. He initiated fundamental policies and strategies for his country and the struggle to liberate Somalia from political turmoil.
Moreover, different world leaders have hailed the leadership of late Premier. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sir Leaf said Meles Zenawi was an "intellectual leader for the continent." UK Prime Minister David Cameron called him "an inspirational spokesman for Africa", who had lifted millions out of poverty. There have been evident economic and infrastructure reforms in the country. Yes, he had contributed so much economically in his 21-year reign.
According to the Daily Monitor, Meles' death has come as a shock and disappointment to many people across the continent.
Prime Minister Meles made great with regard to South Sudan, the Nile waters, Somalia, fight terrorism and effectively checkmating the regime of Eritrea. The Monitor indicated that Prime Minister Meles was a tough one, right from when he chose guns over books by abandoning medical school. "Nothing was going to stop the pursuit of his ideal of making Ethiopia great. Once on top in Addis, he did not stop."
The African Union also hailed Meles for his promotion of economic growth, as well as his role as peace-maker between Sudan and South Sudan and his support for the fight against Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shebab insurgents. "He has played an important role in pioneering a new era of hope and growth in Africa, driven as he was by the vision of Ethiopia and Africa's renaissance."
European Commission Chief Jose Manuel Barroso said Meles "demonstrated his strong personal commitment over many years to improving the lives of not just his own but all African peoples, through his work on African unity, climate change, development and in promoting peace and stability."
President Kikwete of Tanzania said that Ethiopia had lost a dedicated, revolutionary and visionary leader, while Africa has lost a reliable spokesperson, adding that the late Meles would be remembered for the steadfastness in defending the interests of Africa and its peoples.
Indeed, the people of Ethiopia in particular and the people of Africa in general are mourning the death of Prime Minister Meles because he was a brilliant Africa's son who dedicated his life time to the improvement and unity of its people.
By Paul Robert Odonde
Now, same old Kenya, Wagalla massacre with no end.
Kiplagat used to hide the Wagalla massacre now a top government emissary.
The richest man in Kenya has bribed his way out of the ICC.
So let us forget about that and focus on the next President.
Raila is too sick like fomer Ford people party leader.
Narc party leader Charity Ngilu is the most considerate candidate.
Where ministers are involved prosecution does not take place.
That is why the Inspector General has not been appointed seven months over due.
Even the 5000 criminals of 2008 clashes cannot be prosecuted.
Deputy Prosecutor Dorcas is having a hard time.
Githu Muigai is simply taking donors for a ride.
The elite are involved and they are at the ICC. The matter is beyond us.
But Jerry you celebrated the new constitution. It says a new government shall be in power in September 2012. So we are in September and we have no President, vice president, ministers and their deputies. Or was it a hilarious thing to have a new constitution?
Mr. Kimemia has forced county commissions on the land. The results can be cannon ball.
Peace forums are a show thing for Kenyan regimes to hit the press and please donors. They really do not mean what they say.
I see foreign ambassaduers trying to give advice in these forums. They fall for it.
You cannot use more police force to rule. You have to open up the economy to rule.
Using police force is what happened in Egypt. There reaches a time when the people cannot take it any more.
600 policeman were sacked in Egypt and the President taken to court. Those who have broken the law are the ministers. Jerry this is not a simple problem. You have gangsters for ministers and other leaders.
Paul Robert Odonde
Sunday, September 2, 2012
BY BOAZ MBAYA,
1 SEPTEMBER 2012
The burial of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia on September 2 will bring to a close a chapter of a visionary leader who assumed the reins of power at the young age of 37 in 1991, after a brutal war of liberation from the dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam. His death at a comparatively young age of 57 is mired in mystery as was his ability to manage a complex political machine he developed when he assumed power.
Meles Zenawi belonged to a crop of progressive leaders who emerged in the 80s and 90s and took centre stage in what appeared to be a phase out of tired leadership on the continent. Together with Kaguta Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, although not young, among others, the new crop of leaders seemed to inject a breath of fresh air and hope into a continent that was fast fading from positive international attention.
Throughout the 21 years of his rule in Ethiopia, Meles built a reputation of a strong and decisive leader who brooked no nonsense with those opposed to him both internally and externally. He also came across as a visionary leader with an obsession for perfection, order and great determination. His steadfastness and zeal for hard work made him stand out as an imaginative and self conscious leader in economics, diplomacy and as a political operative.
History will judge him for being heavy handed with a singular mind for military adventure into foreign territory to prove his point. He will be remembered most for the war with Eritrea between 1998 and 2000. Dubbed to be a conflict between feuding relatives, Ethiopia-Eritrea war has characterised the fallout between Meles Zenawi and Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea with whom, it is claimed, he has a blood relationship. Personal egos of the two men almost guaranteed failure of any attempt to negotiate a solution. Meles' death could open a small window of hope for a resolution of the conflict.
Ethiopia's engagement in Somalia may be understood from three perspectives. First, Meles argued that Ethiopia was, for strategic reasons, acting in her national interest instability in Somalia had a direct bearing on Ethiopia's security and economic interests. Meles could not contemplate a hostile government in Mogadishu. Meles was right to act to safeguard his country's interests like any other country would have done.
Second, the territorial integrity of Ethiopia was threatened through secessionist tendencies by regions such as Ogaden, Oromo which threatened to secede from Ethiopia describing them as irredentist movements. Third, having let Eritrea go after Mengistu's fall, Meles did not want to be seen to be presiding over the disintegration of Ethiopia. He became obsessed with self preservation of himself, his legacy and of Ethiopia, in fear of being seen as a weak leader.
Ethiopia prides herself as the only country in Africa never to have been colonised, except for a five-year stint under Italian rule during World War II. This is a country of diverse nationalities but which was kept together under a heavily centralised system of government, first under imperial rule, then a Marxist dictatorship and under Meles, a centralised federal system. The federal system in principle provides for federated regions, but is practically impossible to exercise. It is this principle which will test the tenacity Meles' political and administrative acumen.
In Africa, and indeed, internationally, Meles will be remembered as a visionary; a make believe politician who sought solutions to Africa's political and economic problems. His legacy as a founding member of New Partnerships for Africa's Development will be exemplified in the efforts Ethiopia made under his leadership to transform a battered economy into a competitive one with an annual GDP growth of more than seven per cent. This aspect of his contribution will continue to attract admiration.
Much as there is anxiety in the region about his demise, there are mixed reactions to his death in Ethiopia. His democratic credentials were suspect. There are those who hail him for maintaining the unity of Ethiopia in spite of deep rooted nationalistic groups which form its various components. Although there was significant internal opposition to him, it was not allowed to flourish due to draconian laws designed to contain dissent.
His brutal response to the opposition in 2005 must have informed the voting pattern in the elections of 2010 in which only one opposition Member of Parliament was elected. This is a luxury which even the most liberal democracies do not enjoy. Despite these misgivings, Meles continued to attract accolades from western governments.
His intervention in Somalia in 2005 received tacit approval from the United States of America despite lack of United Nation's Security Council authorisation thanks to the al Shaabab menace. As the world mourns Meles, his imposing presence of mind will be greatly missed in the corridors of international diplomacy. Kenya has lost a friend in the war against international terrorism.
Ambassador Boaz K. Mbaya Executive Director, Centre for Policy Analysis
2 September 2012
Last updated at 05:39 GMT
Mourners from all over Ethiopia have come to Addis Ababa to pay homage
African leaders are attending the state funeral in Addis Ababa of Ethiopia's long-serving Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died last month.
Foreign dignitaries joined ordinary Ethiopians in paying their respects as his body lay in state in the National Palace.
Mr Meles died at the age of 57 in Brussels, following a long illness.
He came to power in 1991 and was credited for bringing development and growth to Ethiopia.
But critics say this was achieved at the cost of respect for human rights.
The state funeral - Ethiopia's first in more than 80 years - is beginning in Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, from where Mr Meles' flag-draped coffin will be taken for burial at the city's Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Leaders - such as Benin's Yayi Boni - have been paying homage to Meles
The prime minister was a former Marxist rebel and not publicly religious, but was brought up as an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, the BBC's Humphrey Hawksley reports.
In contrast to the secrecy traditionally surrounding the deaths of Ethiopian leaders, the ceremony is being broadcast live, and huge screens have been erected in cities and villages around the country.
The last Ethiopian leader to be honoured with a state funeral was the Empress Zauditu in 1930.
At least 20 African presidents are attending the funeral, as well as several prominent international figures including Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.
One of them, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete laid a wreath next to Mr Meles' coffin on Saturday.
He paid tribute to Mr Meles' "charm, his intellect, his passion for Africa's development", adding that he was "a kind of leader that you can trust".
Rwandan President Paul Kagame honoured Mr Meles as "a gallant fighter for freedom not only for Ethiopia and Ethiopian people, but also Africa".
Emerged from Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which carried out armed struggle against communist military regime in 1970s and 1980s
Became president in a transitional government in 1991 and then prime minister in 1995
Married another TPLF veteran, Azeb Mesfin, and had three children
Under his leadership, a closed and secretive country gradually opened to the outside world
But reputation tarnished in 2000s amid increasing repression in Ethiopia
Also attending is Sudan's President, Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on several counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the Darfur conflict.
Mr Meles became a dominant figure in the region after toppling toppling dictator Mengistu Hailemariam 21 years ago.
He ordered Ethiopian troops to intervene against al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia, mediated in the conflict in Sudan and South Sudan, and took a leading position in the African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa.
Mr Meles will be succeeded by his deputy, Hailemariam Desalegn, 47, a relatively little-known politician from the south of Ethiopia.
Mr Hailemariam will formally take over as prime minister after Mr Meles' funeral, and will serve until elections in 2015.
Some observers have voiced fears about the political transition.
The Brussels-based think tank, the Crisis Group, has warned that Mr Hailemariam will lead a weaker government that will face mounting grievances along ethnic and religious lines.
Mr Meles died suddenly from an infection on 20 August while being treated in hospital in Brussels.
He had not been seen in public for weeks before his death was announced, and there had been increasingly intense speculation about his health.
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