Thursday, February 24, 2011




By Ngunjiri Wambugu
Kikuyus for Change
12:44am Feb 24

This morning I listened to Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta on a show on Kameme, & I am disappointed. (the show was between 8-9am between Uhuru & Njogu Wa Njoroge). A couple of things stood out in this show.
When he was asked to give his opinion on the CJ, AG, & DPP saga, part of his answer was that the President came up w...ith the list then 'agita kimudu giake' (he called his ki-person) and they consulted, then he took the names to parliament. He then said that 'kimudu giki na andu akio' decided to become a problem and claim they were never consulted. The 'kimudu' he is referrring to is the Prime Minister, who is effectively his boss. A caller who referred to himself as Masai reprimanded him, & his explanation was that he was angry, his words were 'temperature inapanda saa zingine'. (or who is he deputy to?). It reminded me of the time he referred to President Kibaki as the leader who practices a 'hands off, legs off, everything off' management system.
When he was asked to give advise on politics, he said that he believes very strongly that Kikuyus must unite under one leader to enable them negotiate with other communities. He is of the opinion that Kikuyus must do what Luos, Luhyas (?/) & Kalenjins have done ... & that we only become vulnerable when we are divided. He spoke of those calling for internal democracy as being misguided, etc. It made me wonder why he was in Kanu in 2002, and in ODM in 2005. Which side were Kikuyus on during those two occassions?
On the issue of the ICC, he explained about providing resources for blankets & transportation for victims, then he asked a couple of questions: what was he was supposed to do when people are being killed & hundreds of thousands displaced? what were police were expected to do in the circumstances? He then added that if what he did is what he is being told is wrong, he would do it again any way if circumstances re-occurred. Uhuru was in government at that time ... is he accepting that government was so unable to deal with this situation that they ended up relying on individual resources to sort out PEV victims? Incidentally, does anyone remember a day in Kikuyu Constituency where Uhuru climbed on top of a vehicle bonnet & told the people there to be peaceful, and that he had learnt that Ruto was not his ally, as he had always thought, & would never work with him again. Today they want to make the guy Prime Minister!
I hope someone will take this utterances up with Mzalendo Kibunja & the NCIC. Even more importantly, this cannot be the kind of leadership that will lead Kenya after Kibaki. The kind of contempt shown in those two words ' kimudu kiu' indicate how Uhuru cannot do what Kibaki did in 2007, i.e. humble down & listen to someone he does not agree with, and build a relationship that literally goes against his personal interests, for the sake of Kenya. In fact, with utterances like this we do not need someone to mobilize other communities against Kikuyus .... as the masai caller said, 'hapo umekosea'. Someone who aspires for national leadership cannot get there by asking (especially in public!), for his tribe to practice Kikuyu Nationalism first, then negotiate with other tribes.

I expect to get some serious beef from Uhuru's supporters for this, but we really must speak out. One also wonders whether this is meant to re-inflame tribal passions again, maybe to lead to some skirmishes as a sign that Kenya is still unstable and maybe justify why ICC should be deferred ... whatever the case, a warning is going out: if our leadership has not learnt anything from 2007, the rest of us have. We will not stand by and allow anyone to invoke/manipulate tribal emotions to serve personal interests. This time get another game-plan-preferably one that starts from the `principle that Kenya is made up of close to 40 million individuals, rather than 42+ tribes. As this generation of Kenyans, we will only accept to be led by someone who understands that tribal interests must take second tier significance to national interests.

So, my message to Uhuru Kenyatta, as a Mugikuyu from Nyeri, I refuse to accept your advice on political strategy for people of Central: Infact, the latest news from NCIC is that that plan is illegal as they have stated that no-one will be allowed to mobilize on the basis of tribe in politics. So, please, 'cora ringi'.

Ngunjiri Wambugu
Convenor, KikuyusforChange

Wednesday, February 23, 2011



By Jerry Okungu

Awasi, Kisumu

February 23, 2011

Whatever the noise that may come from candidate Dr. Besigye and his supporters; the verdict is out in the open that he did not win. And like I have said before on Kenyan and Tanzanian elections, sometimes crowds at public rallies can be deceptive. Until you convince them to take ballot papers and wake up that crucial morning and walk to their nearest polling stations, such crowds count for nothing.

The last Ugandan elections have been an interesting case study in our democratic process. Many months before the Election Day, almost every opinion poll predicted that Yoweri Museveni would win by over 60% and went on to give the seven other presidential candidates humble ratings. In most of these polls, Dr. Besigye hardly garnered 30% of the votes with other candidates ranging from 2% to 0.5%. However, as is characteristic of our ego-led political contests, the losers in these polls quickly dismissed such polls as doctored in favour of NRM or better still, sponsored by the NRM. Had they heeded these early warning signs that President Museveni and his NRM were the candidate and the party to beat, perhaps they would have done better than they did.

Yes, it has now been confirmed that a lot of money was used in the just concluded elections. However, in which country are general elections run cheaply? How much did presidential elections cost in Kenya in 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2007? How much did it cost Jakaya Kikwete to be reelected? How much did Barack Obama have to raise to be elected American President? These elections don’t come cheap and whoever plans to be president must be prepared to dig deeper into his pockets or have wealthy friends ready to finance such extra-curricula activities.

One other thing; the just concluded elections were not even too close to call. The winner was way ahead of the pack such that it would have even been better for some of them to pull out of the race before polling day. When elections are too close to call, the disputes are given the benefit of the doubt however, when they are miles apart, those who claim that elections were rigged can only attract laughter and cynicism. In the Ugandan case, one of those crying foul, Amb. Olara Otunnu came second last among the eight contestants. However, what makes Otunnu’s case more intriguing is that he didn’t even cast his vote! Why did he mislead other Ugandans to waste their time and vote for him when he hated himself so much that he refused to cast his own vote for himself?

Local, Commonwealth, EU and other international observers may not be the best antidotes for rigging. However, they are there as outside parties to measure a level of fairness of an imperfect situation. In any case nobody promised the world that Uganda would conduct a perfect General Election free of all of the world’s ills. No nation on earth has attained this perfection not even the most acclaimed United States of America.

We remember very well how Republicans rigged Al Gore out of Florida when that state remained the only state to decide the winner. Despite glaring election malpractices, Al Gore for the sake of America conceded defeat.

To rubbish the role of international observers as election tourists and their lavish lifestyles is to miss the point. When we vent our anger on wrong targets after losing an election, it makes us bad losers who are not fit to run the affairs of our state.

With people power causing tremors all over Africa and the Middle East, it is only fair to let Uganda be. Africa cannot afford Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Libya on fire while at the same time lighting other fires in Sudan and Uganda. We need time to absorb the impact of regime change in the Arab North before we embark on our own unless it is absolutely necessary to do it now.

For the people of Uganda, there is a better way out. You may just find that Museveni will no longer be interested in running again come February 2016 if he takes the cue from Omar El Bashir and the Yemeni president. These are the two troubled heads of state that have promised their citizens that they would not be seeking new terms once they finish their current terms.

As we await the opening of the new parliament, may I take this opportunity to thank my Ugandan brothers for conducting one of the most peaceful elections in many years? It shows that our democracies and electoral processes are taking root. And while on it, my special accolades must go to my friend of many years, Wafula Ogutu for his election to the National Assembly. As a veteran journalist, I am sure Waf will champion the cause of press freedom in that august house.



By Jerry Okungu

Awasi, Kisumu

February 23, 2011

It was definitely a tense moment when President Kibaki faced one of his lowest moments in his presidency. The occasion was his second press conference in a week. Unlike the first one when he chided the National Assembly Speaker for rejecting his nominees as he swore to move to the constitutional court to decide on the matter, this time round, he surprised foe and friend alike by suddenly withdrawing the names of his four nominees to the offices of Chief Justice, Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions and Controller of Budgets.

President Kibaki is not unused to eating humble pie. He has done it before when he tried to reappoint Aaron Ringera to head KACC without referring to Parliament. At that time, MPs threatened to paralyze the operations of the government if the appointment was not withdrawn. He ate humble pie then.

Soon after President Kibaki’s press conference, his Prime Minister also addressed the press in his office; the occasion he chose to congratulate the President for finally seeing the light that culminated in withdrawing the names of the controversial nominees. However, the Prime Minister’s press talk, especially during question time was not without fireworks. In his statements to the press, he reserved the best of his statements for Uhuru Kenyatta when he chose to respond to the many unkind attacks Uhuru Kenyatta has been directing at him lately.

Going back to the President’s press conference, I watched the body language of many of his allies in both PNU and ODM rebels. I saw Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Isaac Ruto, Ndaragwa MP, Hon Kioni, and Najib Balala who even struggled so hard to be the only one who shook the President’s hand after his speech. Yes, the entire President’s hardliners were there including Kalonzo Musyoka among others.

What was so telling was the loss in their faces as they listened to their captain reading what would amount to a total contradiction of the path they had taken regarding the controversial nominations. What was even more telling was the fact that this was the D- day in Parliament when the PNU hard liners had a date to deal with both the Speaker and the Prime Minister on the floor of the House!

In one stroke of the pen, the President turned his sword on his own troops and dealt them a devastating blow at least for now. And whichever way one would look at it, he stopped them in their tracks from taking the whole country downhill as they schemed for their own survival and personal interests.

In a nutshell, these are some of the grand plans the Ocampo Six (or shall we call them the New Kanu Alliance) and their supporters had in mind; they had planned to impeach the Speaker of the National Assembly for ruling against their interest. They had planned to pass a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister and if possible elect William Ruto as the new Prime Minister in the belief that the combined strength of PNU and ODM rebels would give them a majority in Parliament. Never mind that Ruto is a criminal on trial in two Kenyan courts as he awaits a third court case in The Hague in a few weeks’ time. Never mind too that the same Kibaki sacked Ruto from his cabinet post as soon as he was charged in a local court.

Their final act was to prepare ground for pulling out of the Coalition in the belief that once they are out of the coalition, PNU would form a government of National Unity without ODM and obviously appoint ODM rebels into the cabinet to replace Raila Odinga and his men. However, in this last act, they overlooked one little fact- that the reason we today have a coalition government is because the presidential election results were disputed. None of these people now clamoring for the Prime Minister’s post were presidential candidates. More importantly, presidential votes all over the world are not transferrable. This is the reason the crafters of the Grand Coalition document were clever enough to bind the two principal contenders to the Grand Coalition articles. It was to solve the dispute between the two top candidates. It was the same reason Kalonzo Musyoka who was the third ranking candidate was left out because he was irrelevant to the dispute after ranking a distant poor third.

Now that President Kibaki has made it clear that he does not want to cut short his presidency for the sake of his allies; and that he wants to renegotiate and consult widely with his Prime Minister on the nominations, will Uhuru Kenyatta proceed with his plans to “do whatever it takes to ensure President Kibaki enjoys unfettered powers”? Now that President Kibaki has chosen to consult his Prime Minister on the nominations, will the PNU brigade still pursue their intention to punish Speaker Marende and Prime Minister Raila Odinga?

If they have to succeed in their plans, they had better go back to the drawing board and look at their plans afresh because neither of the options looks rosy at all.

Friday, February 18, 2011



George K. Nyaga8:34am Feb 18
I'm deeply saddened by the recent series of events surrounding the ICC issues and the Judicial nominees saga. I still see a selfish approach to many of our African countries problems and this is turning out to be our biggest undoing. I'm left to wonder what is so difficult in doing things in a simple straight manner..that people have to lie, kill and arm twist others to safeguard their own positions? We have a serious leadership crisis here and I don't think this merry-go round of voting in the same flock of people makes any sense to me. As a previous PNU supporter, I have come to the conclusion that no party affiliation will bring any kind of liberation we need in this country.

We tend to dwell too much on party this and party that, such that the very fundamental rights due to the citizens of Kenya by the so called "leaders" becomes the back bench of government. Idolizing individuals who have purported to be "reformists" now turned "reform impediments" does not serve our purpose either. We need to educate the majority of Kenyans who are "civically illiterate" to make wise choices when it comes to electoral matters. As a parent, I blame the leadership crisis to us because we teach our children how to "beg", get things for free, steal, corruption, murder, extortion etc which all culminate in an end result called "Future bad leaders".

Now we are caught in a web trying to disentangle our past mistakes but they always seems to catch up with us somehow. I could go on endlessly about this and that, but the bottom line is...we need to think outside the box. Let's use or brains and intellects to identify role models of our society who bring about meaningful leadership. As hard as it may seem, nobody is perfect but somebody somewhere needs to come out and bring forth an agenda that works for this country.

Hopefully, we will not use the opportunity to throw bad eggs at them because we don't like the shape of their nose but engage them in meaningful debate that can bring out their true potential. A person who understands that it is better to do the greater good to the struggling in society than the dining rich in the same. A person who understands that public service is a privilege awarded to them to prove their worth in the face of a country's crisis. It really is all about "leadership".

Wednesday, February 16, 2011



Wednesday, February 16, 2011 12:39 PM

KENDU BAY, 16 February 2011 (IRIN) - Bernard Ndege lost all 11 members of his immediate family when his home in the lakeside town of Naivasha was torched during the orchestrated violence that swept across much of Kenya
After the December 2007 presidential election.

Ndege, who was badly burnt and has since moved from Naivasha to his birthplace near Lake Victoria, spoke to IRIN about his daily struggle to make ends meet and his desire to bring those who organized the violence to justice.

"I now live at the mercy of others. People donate food and money, sometimes I benefit when the government distributes food to those who were affected by floods - this has become my life.

"Since 1978, I had been a fisherman in Naivasha. All came to an end on 28 January 2008.

"When we woke up on that day, my eldest son, who was 18, returned from a communal water tap to tell us he had heard other youths talk of war planned for that day. Later, I saw groups of people gathered outside their houses. I heard that the Mungiki [an outlawed sect] youth were around.

"A group of policemen came by and asked whether we had seen the Mungiki youth; they were told the group had headed to the highway nearby. The police asked us to return to our houses and to remain indoors and we did.

"We locked ourselves in and at around 10am we started hearing stones landing on our roof, I went out and locked the gate. However, a group of attackers came and broke down the gate using a huge stone, and then they surrounded the house. We tried to repulse them but it was no use, there were too many.

"We were 20 people in total inside my house. I tried to plead with the attackers but they refused to listen. Then I heard one of them ask another to bring a can of petrol. They started pouring it around the house; then the same man asked for a matchbox, it was given to him. He then lit our house.

"As we kept screaming inside that we were being burnt alive, the attackers were also screaming outside to confuse any would-be rescuers. This went on for long; I don't know how I got out of the house but when I came to, it was 3pm and I was lying outside the house, half-dead.

"The police came and took me to hospital. They did not tell me my family had perished. I was in hospital for a few days before the police took me to the mortuary to identify the bodies of my wives and children.

"Later, the ODM [Orange Democratic Party, led by presidential contender, now Prime Minister Raila Odinga gave me support by buying the coffins and transporting the bodies home. That is how I came and buried them in this compound I am now living in. Funds raised during the funeral were used to construct this house.

"Later, village elders and my relatives helped me get a new wife. Now we have two children. The local church, where I am a member, has been very helpful. They help me keep harmful thoughts away.

"I have not received any counselling of any kind and sometimes I wonder why God spared me. Why didn't he let me die alongside my family so that I don't have to live on handouts like I do now? Due to the burns I sustained in the attack, I can no longer stay in the sun for long hours. This makes it difficult for me to resume fishing. I wish I could get help to start a small kiosk so that I can provide for my family.

"Right now all I think about is how I have been forgotten. Even the government seems to just focus only on IDPs [internally displaced persons] who are in camps. I don't need help for myself, I need help with my young family, the children will soon grow up and they will need to go to school; how will I provide for them?

"One minute, I had a house, two wives, children and all the other stuff that people have in their homes; the next I am living on the mercy of others, this is very depressing for me.

"The only crime I committed was being above 18 and having a voter's card. It did not matter whether you voted for the Prime Minister Raila Odinga or the President Mwai Kibaki.

"My biggest wish is to go to The Hague [where the International Criminal Court has initiated proceedings against six Kenyans deemed to have had the greatest responsibility for the violence]. I want to see the suspects face-to-face. I want to know why the police asked us to remain indoors on that day. I want to know which policemen were on duty and allowed our house to burn for hours on end without taking action. I want to face my attackers and ask them to look at my scarred face.

"I would like to testify, be it in Kenyan courts or at The Hague, because I need to know who killed my family and why."



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

February 11, 2011

If Ambassador Muthaura were an Ibo from Nigeria’s Delta region, I would have said that his personal god had deserted him a long time ago; hence his many tribulations from time to time! For how else could anyone explain the many land mines he keeps stepping on from time to time?

However, having said that, there are two contrasting personalities of Ambassador Francis Muthaura that have and will continue to baffle me. His appearance and the way he carries himself in public are such that he cannot hurt a fly. He gives the impression that he is a victim of his circumstances. In fact if one were to tell me that truants surrounding the President could be the ones causing trouble then blame it on him, I would easily agree. How would such a harmless looking man be such a schemer in almost every mega problem emanating from the office of the head of state?

How could this posh diplomat be engaged in the slaughter of innocent Kenyans, try to derail the implementation of the new constitution and now dish out lots of cash from his office to strangers he was meeting the first time? Even more baffling, how can strangers posing as Meru Student leaders lead him to spill the beans on his role in the 2008 massacres in Naivasha knowing so well he may have a case to answer on the same? How?

Most of these things are not adding up. There must be a better explanation than political brinkmanship that we keep receiving from contestants from time to time.

Let us be sober here. Here is a man holding the public office on the land while at the same time facing one of the worst criminal charges internationally- crimes against humanity! Is this the kind of man who could have held court with strangers, spilled the beans about the 2007/8 chaos then parted with lots of money “for lunch” to the same strangers?

I am not interested in belabouring the theory that Ambassador Muthaura was set up by some ODM operatives. Other experts have theorized enough in that area. What I am keen to know is how these strangers got to Muthaura’s barricaded office on the second floor of Harambee House. There must be a close confidante of Muthaura who booked an appointment for these Meru student leaders and escorted them there. Who is this influential man or woman who made this strange encounter possible?

Now that PNU operatives are advancing the theory that this was an ODM scheme to hound the head of the civil service out of the office, it would be prudent to pinpoint individual ODM leaders that are close enough to Ambassador Muthaura to facilitate such a meeting. Are there some ODM operatives that Ambassador Muthaura trusts that much?

Perhaps if Ambassador Muthaura had not called a press conference to own up that indeed he met some strangers whom he gave some cash after the fact, I would have bought that theory that this was an ODM conspiracy. Perhaps had Muthaura not publicly confessed that indeed some of the words on the tape were actually his but were doctored from the original tape, I would have given him the benefit of the doubt. However, it would be nice if PNU or Muthaura himself produced the original tape so that Kenyans can compare and decide who is telling the truth.

Since the Muthaura scandal was brought into the open, both the PNU and ODM supporters have had their say. However, we must remember that when you give strangers a rare audience and a lot of money for whatever reason, chances are you can never control the direction of their action or even how to use the cash you have given them. That is why when Kenyans saw T- shirts printed with the picture of Muthaura being depicted as a role model of the Ameru university students; I was never shocked or surprised. Ours is a society that worships materialism. We tend to revere those that give us handouts. It was the same reason residents of Makadara constituency flocked Kibera courts demanding to be given their thief when their MP was charged with all manner of crimes.

These Muthaura T-shirts were not in themselves incriminating until some clever Kenyan linked them to Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s visit to Meru that weekend. Somebody had decided that some youth should wear these shirts at Raila’s meetings to send a message to Raila. Yet when six Meru MPs including some senior cabinet ministers called a press conference to defend Muthaura, Kiraitu Murungu had this idea that the reason the ODM targeted Muthaura was because “if you want to kill a snake, you must hit it on the head!” The question then arises; who is the snake here? Is it the Kibaki government that Kiraitu compared to a snake of which Muthaura is the head? Was it fair for Kiraitu Murungi to compare the government he serves to a snake?

Talking of snakes; five years ago when Artur brothers led a raid on the Standard Group, a cabinet minister remarked that “if you rattle a snake, expect to be bitten”. Why is the snake analogy so persistent in the Kibaki regime? Are cabinet ministers from the President’s own region fair to continue referring to his regime as a snake?



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

16 February 2011

Tunisia is behind us now. The Egyptian revolution has come and gone. Both dictators in the two North African counties have been thrown out of power and are now languishing in foreign lands somewhere in the Middle East. And as I write this article, a major dispute following an election in Ivory Coast is still unresolved despite several high level interventions from the ECOWAS, the African Union and even the United Nations Union.

If we look at the election disputes in Africa in the last ten years, it is very clear that whenever they occur, the real victims that suffer as a consequence are the citizens of such countries. All that international organizations, major economic blocks and super powers can do is to condemn irregularities for a few days then later on retract their statements and start urging dialogue among disputing parties.

In 2007, President Olusegun Obasanjo openly used state machinery and rigged the Nigerian Elections in favour of his successor and despite protests from Nigerians and the losing opposition, such protests came to nothing. Four years later, the world behaves as if there were no elections disputes four years ago in that country.

When Kenya burst into an orgy of violence following elections rigging in 2007 culmination in three weeks of mayhem in many parts of the country, the entire international community descended on Nairobi. And if one looked at the nature of the peace process that the international community sought for, it was to persuade the warring parties to lay down their arms and negotiate power sharing. They were not interested in finding out who rigged the elections for punishment. It is for the same reason why the real culprits of the election violence such as the Electoral Commission of Kenya commissioners have never been arrested and tried for abuse of office.

When Zimbabwe repeated the same pattern Kenya had gone through just months later, again the international community urged that Robert Mugabe speak to his opponent and if possible share power to avoid unnecessary bloodshed and suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans.

This election mischief that is gaining currency in the continent has continued to prove that the African Union has become a toothless bulldog and at times cannot be relied upon to safeguard the basic human rights of many Africans on this continent. The AU has failed in Darfur just much as it has failed in Ivory Coast, the Gambia and Guinea.

Closer home, the AU has failed to bring peace in Somalia and despite sending a skeleton peace keeping army in that country, there is nothing to show for it save for occupying a few streets in the city of Mogadishu. The rest of Somalia is largely controlled by Al Shabaabs and other marauding militia factions.

Under the circumstances, Ugandans must follow in the footsteps of Southern Sudan and Kenya that recently conducted peaceful referenda to avoid unnecessary loss of human life and property because as the old adage says; when two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers.

I say this because if chaos follow the Ugandan elections as night follows day, all of us will suffer irreparably as East Africans. There will be economic losses as well as influx of refugees left and right. In a nutshell, it will be chaos for all of us in the region all the way to the DRC and Shinyanga.

By and large, this year’s Ugandan political campaigns have gone on peacefully in the last several months and for the first time in decades many opposition candidates have not been harassed by state security as before. We have seen candidates Bessigye, Mao, Otunnu and others crisscrossing the country wooing voters without any incidents; which is as it should be. And to give credit to where it is due, Yoweri Museveni, though the incumbent has not sat in his laurels. He has campaigned like all his life depended on this election to the extent that even if he loses tomorrow Saturday morning; it will not be because he never gave it his all.

Yes, the Tunisian and Egyptian revolts against their governments have been romantic and appealing but let us not go to the streets because our northern brothers did. We have to study our circumstances carefully to see if they are the same as our Egyptian bothers to warrant our protest. Let us remember that Tunisians and Egyptians never went to the streets following rigged elections. They did so to bring to an end three decades of repression, state of emergency and economic hardships.

Because of the foregoing, let us remind our presidential candidates that speculating mayhem and election rigging ahead of time may put the whole country on edge unnecessarily. Let us wait to see if indeed there will be election rigging on Election Day since we have many observers both local and international that will give us their verdict. This is the moment when we must see the difference between statesmen and war mongers. Let us learn to be good losers even as we work hard to be winners in an election contest.



(email the author)
Posted Tuesday, February 15 2011 at 00:00

Monitor Reporter

President Museveni is gambling his presidency on his ability to isolate the monarchists in Buganda Kingdom and make it possible for Baganda to vote for him and the NRM without appearing to betray the Kabaka.

It is a high-risk political gamble, for Buganda has the biggest size of the vote and is the most urbanised region of the country, with young, educated and unemployed people who often tend to vote for the opposition. It is also in a region where Mr Museveni lost over 350,000 votes between the 2001 and 2006 election, and one where several opinion leaders and close associates to the Kabaka are openly – and discreetly – campaigning against the incumbent.

Ssuubi, the pressure group started by former Katikkiro of Buganda Mulwanyamuli Ssemogerere to campaign for Dr Kizza Besigye has struggled to breathe in the oxygen of publicity in mainstream media but officials close to the group say their strategy was to have a low-key campaign that appeals to the hearts of the people of Buganda.

The Ssubi impact
While Ssuubi has gone to great lengths to keep the Kabaka and the monarchy out of its politicking, the unspoken truth is that their views are not very different from those held by very senior kingdom officials. Officials close to the Museveni campaign team say the gamble to isolate Buganda was worth taking and long in the making.

First, they argue, although there is a lot of love for the monarchy in Buganda, the area is not ethnically homogeneous due to the massive immigration into the urban and peri-urban areas of Buganda. NRM officials then began a deliberate strategy to further erode Mengo’s influence by stocking the old rivalry with Bunyoro Kingdom and supporting renegade chiefs in Buganda, such as the Ssabanyala Baker Kimeze’s attempts to carve out a rival power base in Kayunga.

The riots that broke out in September 2009 after government blocked a planned visit by the Kabaka to Kayunga gave it an excuse to shut down the Kingdom’s CBS radio which had been very effective in mobilising against government programmes that Mengo was opposed to, such as the Land Act.

Although CBS radio was reopened at the end of last year – an act that Mr Museveni and the NRM, incredibly but perhaps unsurprisingly seek to gain political advantage from, despite being responsible for its closure in the first place – the radio has been very restrained in its coverage of the election, in a case of self-censorship for self-preservation.

NRM officials believe they can counter the influence of Ssuubi and other Buganda elders by “keeping the head separate from the rest of the body” in the region, in the words of an official on Mr Museveni’s special campaign taskforce in Buganda.

They argue that Buganda does not always vote as a block and that, in reality, there are two Bugandas; “a small minority that owes a lot of political and financial allegiance to the Kabaka”, and that in the “cattle-corridor districts” Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Mubende, Ssembabule, some of which are part of Luweero Triangle where Mr Museveni and the NRA fought most of their five-year Bush War and retain plenty of supporters.

Mr Museveni scored about 60 per cent of the vote in the central region in the last election, winning in all districts except Kampala. In Nakasongola, 89.7 per cent voted for Museveni who also scored more than 70 per cent in Nakaseke, Mubende, Kiboga, Rakai and Ssembabule.
Dr Besigye, by comparison, scored 37 per cent of the vote in central region. Officials in the Museveni campaign team acknowledge that it will be harder to win with such a high margin in Buganda in light of the breakdown in relations between the Kabaka and the President, and the influence, however subdued, of Ssuubi.

Local leaders
However, they say the NRM enjoys support in Buganda beyond that of Mr Museveni and will come in strong in the election. For instance, they point out that out of the 80 Buganda MPs, 72 per are either NRM or leaning towards the ruling party.

NRM has also allocated several top positions in government to Buganda, creating a self-serving network of patronage that influences local politics and voting intentions. Out of the 71 ministers, 18 are from Buganda, including the vice president, the prime minister, the finance minister, and the attorney general and minster of justice. “We have people on the ground who have genuine political support that cannot easily be shifted by a single proclamation from Mengo or from the Kabaka,” a key Museveni campaign agent told this newspaper.

The Museveni campaign, nevertheless, was thrown into panic early in the year when the Kabaka appeared at New Year’s celebrations and brandished a giant key – the campaign symbol for the FDC and Dr Besigye – to symbolically open the New Year.

The Kabaka has used the key symbol in previous celebrations but in the heated campaign period, officials in the Museveni inner circle believed the traditional leader was sending out a thinly veiled message to his subjects to vote for the opposition candidate.

It is this consideration, insiders say, that encouraged the government to rush through the Traditional and Cultural Leader’s Bill (which bars them from partisan politics) in order to ensure that the Kabaka did not wrong foot the President with a dramatic last-minute declaration that could swing voters towards the opposition.

The Bill also served two other uses. First, it forced Buganda MPs to openly choose Mr Museveni and the over Mengo and the Kabaka who had openly but quietly opposed the Bill. With many NRM MPs fighting for their political lives in the campaign, they were forced to choose between disobeying their party – with the risk of expulsion, which would cost them their seats – or betraying the Kabaka. While the latter action could still lose them their seats, it at least ensures that they will throw in their lot with Mr Museveni and the NRM, come-what-may. Finally, the NRM campaign is hoping that after repeatedly whipping Buganda with several sticks, they can still offer some carrots and make a belated peace with Buganda.

Stay of Bill
Like in the rest of the country, Mr Museveni and the NRM have poured money into villages to literally buy support from ordinary folks while reaching out to the Kabaka. When the government brought the Cultural Leader’s Bill to Parliament, Mr Museveni reportedly reached out to the Kabaka, planning to offer a stay of the Bill as an act of good faith and resume dialogue.

State House was also hoping for a photo-op showing the President and the Kabaka shaking hands, a picture that could be worth half a million votes. The Kabaka refused to take the President’s calls. Thus Election Day approaches with both sides not on talking terms but with the possibility of only one winner. Mr Museveni has gambled his presidency on isolating Buganda, and Mengo has gambled its perceived hold on its subjects on defeating Museveni. Whichever way it goes, the repercussions will reverberate long after the election.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011



Monday, 14th February, 2011


New Vision

THE Speaker of Parliament, Edward Ssekandi, has directed 77 MPs affected by the Constitutional Court ruling to vacate their seats immediately.

Parliament spokesperson Helen Kawesa told New Vision yesterday that the members are also required to refund all the salary they had received since their nomination in November 2010. MPs receive about sh13m per month.

It was not confirmed whether the MPs would also refund the sh20m given to each of them last month to monitor government programmes.

By sending them out of Parliament, Kaweesa explained, the members would be immediately scrapped off the payroll. The MPs will also not be allowed to access the Parliament building like the public.

Ssekandi quoting article 83 1 (g) and (h) of the Constitution, said by seeking re-election on the party tickets different from those on which they were elected in 2006, the members were deemed to have lost their seats on the day of nomination.

“I have received a copy of the court judgement directing me to take note of the contents and take appropriate action. I have also received the ruling of the Supreme Court on the matter following an appeal by Hon. William Oketcho and the Attorney General upholding the Constitutional Court ruling.”

“I wish, therefore, to direct the Members of Parliament who have been affected by these decisions of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court to vacate their seats with immediate effect,” Ssekandi said in a Febuary 11 letter to all MPs.

In a narrow escape, both Erias Lukwago and Michael Mabikke, who are contesting for the city mayorship, are not on the list of the affected MPs.

Similarly, presidential candidate Beti Kamya is also not on the list. Only MPs who are contesting for parliamentary seats after changing their party affiliations are named.

They include ministers Daniel Omara Atubo, Jennipher Namuyangu, Asuman Kiyingi, Isaac Musumba, Nsaba Buturo, Urban Tibamanya, Fred Mukisa and Henry Bagiire.

It was not immediately established whether they would lose their ministerial posts. Ministers who are not elected MPs cannot go to Parliament until the President forwards their names to the Speaker and are sworn-in as ex-officio members.

The Constitutional Court early this month ruled that it was illegal for independent MPs to stand for elections on any party ticket and also for political party MPs to contest as independents without first resigning.

The ruling is contained in a judgement in a case filed by George Owor against the Attorney General and William Okecho, the NRM flag-bearer for the West Budama North constituency.

The court ruled that any independent MP should have vacated their seat before being nominated to contest on a political party ticket.

Okecho and the Attorney General, however, petitioned the Supreme Court to stay the execution of the Constitutional Court ruling. The Supreme Court agreed to suspend the execution of the ruling, but still upheld that the MPs were illegally in Parliament.

The Supreme Court is yet to hear the appeal and rule on whether the affected MPs were lawfully nominated as candidates for the February 18 elections.

Ssekandi’s letter was copied to President Yoweri Museveni, the Vice-President, Chief Justice, deputy Speaker of Parliament, Government Chief Whip, Leader of Opposition, the Attorney General, the chairman of the Electoral Commission and the clerk to Parliament.

In an interview with New Vision on Sunday, most of the affected MPs expressed willingness to vacate their offices if the Speaker formally wrote to them asking them to quit.

Some, however, argued that they were not required to vacate office since the Supreme Court halted the execution of the Constitutional Court orders.

“The court suspended all directives to the Electoral Commission and Parliament. We are continuing with elections until court decides our fate,” MP Charles Ekemu argued.



By Antony Mugodo

It would be a most dangerous precedent if the provisions of the new constitution were to be sacrificed at the altar of convenience by dissident ODM members in the legal committee of parliament. It is one thing to try to get even with your party boss for some invisible atrocities and it’s another thing to commit a civil wrong when placed in a position to advance a civil duty to society. Irreverence for the law has long been a feature of the country’s political class. It has never been about the content of the law.

The provision in the constitution is as simple as it is basic. The President must consult the prime Minister. Consultation may not mean concurrence but certainly implies it. I have long derided the drafters of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act for drafting a bogus piece of legislation while in fact the 1963 constitution offered the best precedent from which appropriate provisions would have been reaped and heaped in the Accord to provide the best basis for a power sharing arrangement.

That constitution in which Jomo Kenyatta was prime Minster, for those not in the know, provided that the prime Minster be the nominating authority and the governor general (Representative head of State, in our case the president) the appointing authority. There was clear allocation of mandate and responsibility for each of those offices and there was not open, a room for conflict until of course the great atrocity was committed against the document by the Old man. The drafters of the new constitution sought to address the inherent inadequacies in the national accord and its inconsistencies with the old constitution by inserting the clause of consultation in the new constitution in an attempt to cement the union and give it the proper legal credence desired and deserved albeit leaving a lot of room for speculation which is a flaw in any constitution making process.

That being that, in the present case the facts are simple, the President alleges consultations took place and the premier denies. Surely a lack of affirmation by the party to be consulted is incontrovertible evidence that consultations didn’t take place. There is no room for seeking extrinsic evidence to corroborate any of the parties’ case. I am astounded the committees needed additional time to consider the merits and demerits of a simple case! Probably for political considerations, they thought it wise to indulge in being in a state of action as opposed to labor.

Gents and my favored ladies please note that defending the provisions of the constitution does not necessarily require a party affiliation; it is a patriotic duty. This is not about Old Mwai or the revered RAO, they are merely office holders. The constitution must be respected. The President must be reminded that his election was a sham which necessitated the enactment of the Accord to set up the government and the insertions of the relevant provisions in the new constitution. Surely he must not be allowed to add insult to injury by abusing the provisions in the constitution that make his presidency tolerable.

Sunday, February 13, 2011



The White House

February 11, 2011

Good afternoon, everybody.

There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. This is one of those moments. This is one of those times. The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.
By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people’s hunger for change. But this is not the end of Egypt’s transition. It’s a beginning. I’m sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt can find the answers, and do so peacefully, constructively, and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks. For Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day.

The military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker to the state, and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people. That means protecting the rights of Egypt’s citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free. Above all, this transition must bring all of Egypt’s voices to the table. For the spirit of peaceful protest and perseverance that the Egyptian people have shown can serve as a powerful wind at the back of this change.
The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt. We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary -- and asked for -- to pursue a credible transition to a democracy. I’m also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunity -- jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight. And I know that a democratic Egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around the world.
Egypt has played a pivotal role in human history for over 6,000 years. But over the last few weeks, the wheel of history turned at a blinding pace as the Egyptian people demanded their universal rights.
We saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders to show them what true freedom might look like.
We saw a young Egyptian say, “For the first time in my life, I really count. My voice is heard. Even though I’m only one person, this is the way real democracy works.”
We saw protesters chant “Selmiyya, selmiyya” -- “We are peaceful” -- again and again.
We saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect.
And we saw doctors and nurses rushing into the streets to care for those who were wounded, volunteers checking protesters to ensure that they were unarmed.
We saw people of faith praying together and chanting – “Muslims, Christians, We are one.” And though we know that the strains between faiths still divide too many in this world and no single event will close that chasm immediately, these scenes remind us that we need not be defined by our differences. We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.
And above all, we saw a new generation emerge -- a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears; a government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations. One Egyptian put it simply: Most people have discovered in the last few days…that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever.
This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence -- not terrorism, not mindless killing -- but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.

And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can’t help but hear the echoes of history -- echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice.
As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, “There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.” Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note.
Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.
The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people -- of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world.
Thank you.
3:13 P.M. EST

Friday, February 11, 2011



By Eric Bradner

Indiana lawmakers started a push Wednesday for a crackdown on illegal immigration modeled after a controversial Arizona law that is being challenged by the federal government.

A Senate panel heard more than four hours of testimony on a bill that Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, the bill's author, said would "put teeth into existing law — to say the citizens of Indiana welcome legal immigration but adamantly reject illegal immigration."

It would do so in part by having law enforcement officers ask for proof of citizenship or legal immigration status from anyone they stop for violating any law or ordinance, if those officers have "reasonable suspicion" that the person is not here legally.

"The inability to speak the English language, I believe, will be a key component or a key factor for law enforcement to establish reasonable suspicion," Delph told the committee.

The bill allows officers to arrest those they have probable cause to believe are illegal immigrants and requires prisons to check the legal status of inmates.

It also requires contractors who have deals with public agencies to check the immigration status of all their employees using the E-Verify system, and would allow prosecutors and courts to focus extra attention on businesses that are caught employing illegal immigrants.

"This is an economic issue. It's about right and wrong. It's about human exploitation and American greed," Delph said.

But Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, called some parts of the bill "way out there."

The Senate Pensions and Labor Committee approved the bill on an 8-1 vote, but instead of moving on to the full Senate, it must now also gain the approval of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The hearing on SB 590 was pre-empted earlier Wednesday by Indiana Attorney GeneralGreg Zoeller.

Zoeller a Republican, joined religious leaders, university presidents and business groups hours before the hearing to argue that the debate over illegal immigration is one that should take place in Congress, not in state legislatures.

Along with Catholic Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, Rabbi Dennis Sasso, Butler University President Bobby Fong and others, he signed the "Indiana Compact," a document that offered guiding principles for the immigration debate.

"While I understand the significant problems and deep frustration felt by our sister states," Zoeller said, "we must be realistic about the costs of the state superimposing itself onto a federal enforcement responsibility when the methods for doing so might be constitutionally suspect or fiscally impractical."

Delph, meanwhile, had lined up a series of speakers who said Indiana does have a role to play.

Former U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, who once chaired a subcommittee on immigration, told the panel that since leaving Congress in 2007, he has realized that he had never asked himself: "Is immigration policy a federal issue?"

It is not, he argued. Hostettler said the federal government has the power to grant citizenship but not to regulate the pool of applicants for citizenship. He compared doing so to the National Football League attempting to govern high school varsity football.

"The impact of aliens on our society is clearly the province of the state government and not the federal government," he said.

He said an Arizona-style effort to enforce the law is appropriate because public safety officials are duty-bound to do so.

"It's not a question of whether they may or may not. Their oath requires them to do that," he said.

Steve Short, a government liaison for the American Legion, said the "chaotic situation in Mexico" gives Indiana lawmakers good reason to renew efforts to toughen up illegal immigration laws.

"We believe that lax enforcement of immigration laws has invited the criminal element into our society," he said.

A long line of opponents were there to testify against the bill, as well.

Jose D. Salinas, a Marion County Superior Court judge, said he is afraid the bill, if it becomes law, would unfairly burden Hispanics.

"If Gov. (Mitch) Daniels doesn't have to answer that question and Sen. Delph doesn't have to answer that question, then why should I? I was born in this country. I have worked my way up to where I am now," he said.

"You don't know what that feels like, and you don't know how that demeans a person."

Angela Adams, an immigration law attorney at Lewis and Kappes, P.C., in Indianapolis, said there should be more legal avenues to enter the United States, so that backlogs of five to 15 years do not exist.

"You can't stay; you can't go; and, on top of that, you can't get here to see a family member," she said.

"So, they resort to other measures, like crossing the border without inspection."

That, she said, is why the problem should be handled on a national level.

"Do we want to be the next Arizona?" she asked. "I don't think we do."

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