Category Archives: East Africa

Kenyan MPs could lose their seats over parliament violence

Nation

In Summary
Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetangula (Bungoma, Ford-K), James Orengo (Siaya, ODM), Janet Ong’era (Nominated, ODM, Dr Bonny Khalwale (Kakamega, UDF) and Johnstone Muthama (Machakos, Wiper) are also likely to be investigated for their part in the drama.
Mr Matemu warned that the legislators who will be found to have failed to adhere to the tenets of leadership and integrity as provided for in Chapter Six of the Constitution, would not be spared.
As state officers, he said, the legislators are required to adhere to principles and values of the Constitution and the rule of law while conducting their affairs, whether in public or private.

By DENNIS ODUNGA
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More than 10 MPs risk losing their seats over the chaos that rocked Parliament as the ruling coalition engaged the opposition over contentious laws on security.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) on Friday said it was investigating the MPs who were involved in fracas on Thursday, during debate of the Security (Amendment) Bill 2014.

Commission chairman Mumo Matemu warned that they could initiate the process of removal from office for all those found culpable.

The process would also involve the Powers and Privileges Committee of the National Assembly, which is chaired by Speaker Justin Muturi, he said.

Mr Matemu said the disruption of House proceedings, name calling and physical confrontations among some of the MPs was unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.

LOSE THE PERKS

“The commission will institute investigations on the chaos and take appropriate action. We will look at personal conduct of each of the persons involved,” Mr Matemu told journalists yesterday at his Integrity Centre office in Nairobi.

If punished, the MPs would lose the perks that come with their job: salaries, allowances and mileage claims, among others.

MPs from the government side managed to fight off spirited efforts by the opposition to block passage of the amendments to the security laws meant to buttress the fight against terrorism in the country.

But, in a rejoinder, Leader of Majority Aden Duale downplayed the move, saying the EACC has no powers to investigate what happens in Parliament.

He said that the bad conduct exhibited by some MPs in Parliament can only be investigated by the Powers and Privileges Committee.

“MPs enjoy immunity. When disorderly conduct occurs within the chamber or in the precincts of Parliament, they(MPs) can only be punished by this committee,” said Mr Duale.

He said what happened in the House was not an economic crime or corruption to warrant the input of the commission.

Homa Bay Women Representative Gladys Wanga alleged to have splashed water on Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso, too, dimissed the EACC threat.

SHOUTING AND WAVING

Contacted on Friday, she said: “This is ridiculous! Parliament has mechanisms of dealing with errant members – the Powers and Privileges Committee.

“EACC must concentrate on their core mandate and bring to book those who have stolen millions from taxpayers unless they are looking for scapegoats since they cannot perform their key mandate.”

On Thursday morning, John Mbadi (Suba, ODM) snatched the Order Paper from Administration and National Security Committee Chairman Asman Kamama which stopped the Third Reading from going on and marked the start of chaos.

Others likely to be investigated include Millie Odhiambo (Mbita, ODM), Ababu Namwamba (Budalang’i, ODM) and Simba Arati Dagoretti North, ODM).

Ms Odhiambo claimed that three Jubilee MPs attempted to undress her in the chambers. She wrote on her Facebook page that she “completed the process for them”.

Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetangula (Bungoma, Ford-K), James Orengo (Siaya, ODM), Janet Ong’era (Nominated, ODM, Dr Bonny Khalwale (Kakamega, UDF) and Johnstone Muthama (Machakos, Wiper) are also likely to be investigated for their part in the drama.

The senators were seated in the Speaker’s Gallery- the public gallery opposite where the Speaker sits and Justin Muturi ordered their ejection on grounds that they were shouting and waving, which is not allowed in the galleries.

When they refused to leave on Mr Muturi’s orders, some Parliamentary orderlies tried to eject them and were joined by Jubilee MPs Moses Gikaria (Nakuru Town East, TNA), Muthomi Njuki (Chuka/Igambangómbe, TNA), Joseph Kiuna (Njoro, TNA), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati, TNA), Alice Ng’ang’a (Thika Town, TNA) and James Gakuya (Embakasi North, TNA).

These, and others, could be punished for their part in the melee that followed, which was basically a mass brawl in which Mr Muthama’s trousers and shirt were torn and Mr Arati’s finger bitten.

Mr Matemu warned that the legislators who will be found to have failed to adhere to the tenets of leadership and integrity as provided for in Chapter Six of the Constitution, would not be spared.

He said MPs are expected to act soberly and conduct themselves with decorum to avoid bringing Parliament into disrepute, despite their differences of opinion during debate.

“The commission notes that the conduct of some members of the National Assembly was in total violation of the Constitution and Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012, in as much as they were engaged in the spirit of protecting the same Constitution,” Mr Matemu said.

As state officers, he said, the legislators are required to adhere to principles and values of the Constitution and the rule of law while conducting their affairs, whether in public or private.

However, he clarified that the commission was not concerned with the process of legislation as that was a preserve of Parliament as an independent arm of government.

He allayed fears that it would be difficult to deal with the legislators saying the commission was committed to political neutrality and any action taken would be preceded by professional investigations.

Asked about the timeline, Mr Matemu was not categorical, explaining that the process could be lengthy.

“It is too early to give timelines. The process entails collection and analysis of information. We must build the case. We shall keep Kenyans informed of the progress,” he said.

Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama had his trousers torn during confrontations in the National Assembly on December 18, 2014 as MPs debated the contentious security Bill. Now EACC says that MPs who were involved in the rowdy behaviour would be probed with the aim of taking action against them. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

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South Sudan – Machar’s opposition demands that kiir step down in any settlement

Sudan Tribune

December 18, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The SPLM-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) faction led by former vice-president, Riek Machar, has passed a resolution renewing its demand that president Salva Kiir steps down, despite previous indications by officials from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) that the two principal leaders agreed to work together for the sake of sustaining peace.

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South Sudanese president Salva Kiir on 12 December 2013 (Photo: AP/Sayyid Azim)

As details of the final 9-page resolutions which Machar signed emerge, the SPLM-IO in the Pagak conference declared president Salva Kiir illegitimate for the “Juba genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during this current war” and therefore does not deserve to lead a transitional period.

The resolutions seen by Sudan Tribune also resolved that there shall be two separate armies with their respective commanders in chief during a 2 or 3 years of transitional period until elections are conducted.

It also reaffirmed the proposed leadership structure to comprise the president as head of state, with some executive powers, and the prime minister as head of government, taking majority of the executive powers, including the power to chair the council of minister.

Previously a power-sharing arrangement presented by the top rebel leader to the IGAD mediation in Addis Ababa before their conference in Pagak compromised that the president would chair the council of ministers.

However when reached on Thursday to clarify the circumstances surrounding what seemed to be a change of position in the rebel group, particularly on the renewed call for president Kiir to step aside, Machar’s spokesman said the decision had been intact all along and was only relaxed during the peace process.

“Initially we wanted Salva Kiir to immediately step down because of the Juba genocide in December last year. We demanded that he stepped down before the peace talks kicked off in January,” said the rebel leader’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak.

“We however made a compromise by relaxing this demand during the peace process. We have continued to negotiate with president Salva Kiir and his regime. Our leadership has been working with him as a counter-part in order to bring peace but not for him to lead the would-be transitional period,” he further explained.

Dak said there seemed to be a misunderstanding by some who thought that when the rebel group talked of sharing power with the president, it automatically meant president Kiir.

“When we talk of power-sharing between the president and the prime minister, we talk of a leadership structure, not personalities. We don’t automatically attach such positions to particular personalities,” he further explained.

He also reiterated the opposition group’s demand to head the government, saying this was to ensure that the “badly needed reforms, initiated and championed” by the SPLM-IO, would be implemented.

The rebel group demands that the executive powers and responsibilities be attached to the prime minister – a position the two parties agreed to establish during the interim period – just like in the parliamentary regime.

Dak further defended the necessity to have two separate armies, saying this would also ensure confidence building during the transitional period as well as deter each side from reneging on a peace agreement or resorting to “witch-hunting and violence.”

Juba however passed counter-resolutions on 24 November rejecting to share executive powers with the prime minister, a nominee of the rebels, and dismissed any attempt to institute two armies during a transitional period.

The two warring parties were set to resume the peace talks on Wednesday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, but government delegation did not show up, prompting IGAD mediators to reschedule the talks for Thursday.

(ST)

Turning Africa’s elephants and rhino into economic assets

The jury really is out on this approach to conservation.  It has a certain logic but the trade is so valuable and so criminalized that it is hard to see any government, whether in Africa or abroad, having the expertise, funding and manpower to police a legalised ivory or rhino horn trade and thereby provide income that could ensure ultimate survival but at the cost of regulated hunting. There are strong arguments against it and the real effects of temporary lifting of the ban on ivory sales in the past are still far from clear.  I also have the lingering suspicion that there are those in South Africa who want a legalised rhino trade who are constructing efforts to stop poaching or are actively involved in it. KS

Mail and Guardian

Turning Africa’s Big 5 into hard cash

19 Dec 2014

Lifting ivory and rhino horn trade bans could translate to an economic turnaround for Africa, where the black market for animal products is thriving.

While elephants and rhinos are being slaughtered illegally for their tusks and horns, some argue that legalising trade could be beneficial for both animal and the economy. (Reuters)

For many outsiders, Africa’s big animals are among the natural wonders of the world and a major tourist draw.

For many Africans, elephants, rhinos and lions – or at least the bloody trade in their body parts, and the proximity of big, dangerous critters to their crops, cattle and kin – are part of a wider “resource curse” that has long afflicted the continent.

Commodities such as oil and minerals – or elephant ivory – have historically been extracted in Africa in ways that have enriched a few but failed to spread the prosperity. At its worst, the curse has fueled colonialism, apartheid and conflict.

Framing wildlife issues in this context may help policy makers find solutions to a poaching crisis, which has seen rhinos and elephants slaughtered at a record rate.

Legalising trade in their horns and tusk could provide revenue for housing and other social needs among communities living near wildlife. Similar initiatives in sectors like platinum have been undertaken by black-owned companies such as Royal Bafokeng Platinum.

But trade in African ivory, for example, has long benefited the traders, who exploited or terrorised local communities.

Demand for ivory
European and American demand for ivory for billiard balls reached industrial scale in the 19th century, helping to fuel the great power scramble into Africa. Men such as Tippu Tip, a Zanzibari trader, made a fortune out of the trade, using slave labour to ferry his “blood ivory”.

King Leopold of Belgium treated the Congo like a fiefdom. His officials killed elephants with abandon and confiscated tusks from villagers – part of a genocidal campaign to plunder natural resources that killed millions of people.

Today, ivory from elephant tusks and horn from rhino still benefit a limited number, including global criminal syndicates, a point underscored by the arrest this month of 16 people in the Czech Republic for horn smuggling.

The United Nations has also linked the ivory trade to terror groups such as the Lord’s Resistance Army, while a report by conservationists last year found a strong link between poverty, infant mortality and elephant poaching.

Surge in slaughter
After the trade in ivory was banned at the end of the 1980s, poaching declined sharply. It has since been escalating dramatically, driven by consumer demand in China, where ivory is coveted for decorative items and jewellery.

Last year was the third consecutive year in which at least 20 000 elephants were poached in Africa, according to the UN-linked Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Poaching of rhinos for their horns, used in traditional medicine in Vietnam and China, has also soared, with South Africa at the epicentre.

According to government data, South Africa had lost 1 020 rhinos in 2014 by the middle of November, compared with 1 004 for all of last year and over triple the 333 rhinos poached in 2010.

Based on the average weight of rhino horns, that could represent 4 000kg to 5 000kg of the commodity, which conservationists say is fetching $65 000 a kilogram on the black market – making it more valuable than gold or platinum.

That works out to a total ranging from $260-million to $325-million – money that could be used for development in poor communities such as rural villages in Mozambique, from which many of the poachers killing South Africa’s rhinos hail.

Rhino horn can be harvested, because it grows back. South Africa is considering a proposal to CITES to lift the trade ban on the commodity, though Environment Minister Edna Molewa stressed last month that no final decision has been reached yet.

Depriving income
Elsewhere, the wholesale slaying of elephants in regions such as central Africa is depriving the rural poor of a potential source of future income in the form of eco-tourism.

Finding ways to generate cash from big animals also has wider conservation and social imperatives. Poor villagers have to contend with elephants raiding their crops and lions preying on their livestock or worse.

This is another part of the curse that has contributed to African poverty, according to academics such as Jared Diamond.

African animals are especially ornery: the Asian buffalo has been harnessed to the plough, while Africa’s version is untamable, putting put the region at an historical disadvantage.

The task facing policy makers and conservationists is to lift the curse by making big animals an economic boon instead of burden to Africa’s rural poor. – Reuters

Sudan – Darfur Déjà Vu

African ArgumentsBy Alex de Waal

Alex-de-Waal1There is an old joke that Sudanese politics is different every week but if you come back after ten years it is exactly the same.

That sums up my impressions of the Darfur peace talks in Addis Ababa two weeks ago, except that it is nine years ago, not ten, that I became engaged full time in working for the African Union on the last round of the Darfur mediation.

The participants are almost all the same, except greyer, thicker around the middle, and (in the case of the rebels) wearing smarter suits. It is the same Minni Minawi; the same Abdel Wahid al Nur (booked into a different hotel and refusing to turn up); Khalil Ibrahim has been replaced by his brother Jibreel; Majzoub al Khalifa has been replaced by his deputy Amin Hassan Omar.

The same issues, the same demands, the same procedural gimmickry, the same obstinacy, the same selective memory. (Didn’t they sign a Declaration of Principles that includes all the issues they are raising now, back in July 2005?)

The same claims by the government generals that they are on the brink of victory, and by party bosses that they are about to win round most of the rebel commanders, leaving the rebel leaders isolated; the same earnest claims by the rebels that they are talking to the Arabs who are about to rise in revolt, and the government is about to collapse when the next army offensive fails.

The same blithe insistence from U.S. diplomatic staff that Minni should be taken seriously and the rebels have learned a lot. (They have learned that the U.S. is gullible.)

The Darfur Peace Agreement failed eight and a half years ago because the government delegation had other priorities than settling the Darfur conflict on terms they thought were too expensive. (Today, the Khartoum government’s priority is not to lose the $2 billion promised by Qatar on the condition that there is no interference with the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.)

It failed because the same rebel leaders represented a small fraction of Darfurians, and moreover were too weak to take their followers with them into a peace deal, and so the rebel movements fragmented.

Darfur’s conflict can be settled but not by these means.

Alex de Waal is Director of the World Peace Foundation.

Kenya security laws passed after brawl in assembly and accusations of police state

The Star (Nairobi)

The Security (Amendment) Bill 2014 has been passed with a raft of amendments. The Bill was passed on Thursday afternoon despite three disruptions which saw the house erupt into chaos. According to some of the amendments, Registrar of persons will now have the power of amendment’s following the adoptions of the security law. The National Intelligence Service (NIS) will now be able to arrest crime suspects and hand over to the nearest police station. The Bill was passed despite attempts to disrupt the process by the opposition. Earlier Cord MP Gladys Wanga poured water on Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso and other members of the opposition destroyed order papers during debate on Bill. Amidst chants from the Cord members, the Speaker was forced to organize the order paper, putting other amendments before the Security Laws for discussion. CORD senators have vowed to move to court to challenge the passage of the controversial bill. – See more at: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/parliament-passes-security-bill-despite-chaos-house#sthash.mexAZZIo.dpuf

 

BBC

Kenya security bill: MPs brawl as measures approved

Kenyan lawmakers traded blows and the deputy speaker had water thrown on her during a chaotic parliamentary session which approved changes to a tough new security bill.

Opposition MPs shouted and ripped up copies of the bill, warning that Kenya was becoming a “police state”.

Four lawmakers were assaulted and another two engaged in a fist-fight.

Parliamentary officials adjourned the debate twice, before the controversial changes were pushed through.

The government says it needs more powers to fight militant Islamists threatening Kenya’s security.

The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group has stepped up its military campaign in Kenya, killing 64 people in two attacks in the north-eastern Mandera region since last month.

TV feed cut

The governing Jubilee Coalition MPs approved the changes despite howls of protest from the opposition in one of the most chaotic parliamentary sessions in Kenya’s history, reports the BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza from the parliament.

Policemen arrest a man protesting about controversial new security legislation outside parliament 18 December 18 2014 in Nairobi, KenyaSome people protesting about the bill were arrested by police
A protester shouts outside Kenya's parliament during a demonstration calling for freedom of speech to be respected in the capital Nairobi on 18 December 2014Activists accuse the government of threatening civil liberties

Security staff and MPs surrounded Speaker Justin Muturi as voting got under way, our correspondent says.

Earlier, opposition MPs mobbed his rostrum and threw books, documents and other projectiles in a bid to block the vote, AFP news agency reports.

But the two sides set aside their differences to endorse President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nomination of former army general Joseph Nkaissery as interior minister.

His predecessor was sacked after the Mandera attacks.

At one point, live television broadcasts of the debate were cut as the session degenerated into chaos, our correspondent says.

A group of pro-government MPs accosted opposition senators who were in the public gallery and tried to eject them, he says.

In the ensuing commotion, one of the senators had his shirt torn, while outside the parliamentary chamber an opposition and pro-government MP threw punches at each other, our correspondent adds.

Burned buses in aftermath of militant attack in Kenya in 2014Al-Shabab has increasingly targeted Kenya

Opposition MPs threw water on Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso, who ordered two of them to be thrown out.

MPs chanted “no way” and “the struggle continues” as they tore up copies of the bill.

Correspondents say there was a heavy police presence around parliament after activists called for protests to show their opposition to the bill.

MPs were recalled from their Christmas break to approve changes to the bill passed last week.

The bill was denounced by the opposition as draconian. They fear that the proposed amendments will make it even worse.

It gives the security and intelligence agencies the right to detain terror suspects for up to one year, to tap communications without court consent and requires journalists to obtain police permission before investigating or publishing stories on domestic terrorism and security issues.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has defended the bill, saying it is important for the country’s security needs.

Sudan warns South Sudan over rebels in Bahr el-Ghazal

Sudan Tribune
(Reuters) – Sudan’s intelligence chief warned South Sudan against “hostile moves from its territory”, saying any incursion by rebel forces based in its neighbour would be treated as an “assault” by Juba.

In comments broadcast by a Sudanese news channel, Mohamed Atta named two camps in neighbouring South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal state and urged Juba to disarm the rebels there.

Each side has accused the other of harbouring rebels seeking to destabilise the other, but tensions have spiked again since the collapse of African Union-brokered talks in the Ethiopian capital on Dec. 9.

Atta said the rebels were from the Justice and Equality Movement, an armed group that emerged during the war in Sudan’s western Darfur region. While fighting peaked there in 2003 and 2004, law and order has not returned and clashes between insurgents and government forces have continued despite a large United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force.

“We say to the South Sudan government that peace is better for you and better for us and ask them for reciprocity in not harbouring any armed movements.”

Relations between the two states have been troubled since the oil-rich south seceded in 2011. The governments have been unable through the African Union-backed negotiations process to reach an agreement on disputed sections of 1,800-km (1,200-mile) border. Fighting along the frontier came to the brink of full-scale war in 2012.

Kenya – uproar in parliament as MPs debate security law

Nation

Chaos in Parliament as MPs disrupt security Bill debate
Speaker Justin Muturi forced to adjourn sitting for 30 minutes.

In Summary
The MPs opposed to the Bill chanted and threw papers disrupting the session.
Speaker Justin Muturi at one point ordered the Sergeant At Arms to eject some senators who were at his gallery.
The National Assembly adjourned for half an hour after chaos, instead of discussions on the proposed security Bill, reined its special sitting on Thursday Morning.

The MPs opposed to the Bill chanted and threw papers on the floor disrupting the session.

Mr Asman Kamama, the chair of the Administration and National Security committee had attempted to move amendments but MPs opposed to the Bill started chanting “no way” and “bado mapambano”.

Speaker Justin Muturi at one point ordered the Sergeant-At-Arms to eject some senators who were at his gallery.

CORD

MPs had been recalled from their Christmas break to debate two issues; approve or disapprove the nominee for Cabinet Secretary for the Interior Ministry Joseph Nkaissery as well as debate the final stage of amendments contained in the Security Amendments Bill (2014).

When the session started, MPs from the opposition Coalition for Reform and Democracy (Cord) demanded that it be delayed to allow “us to familiarise ourselves” with the amendments in the Order Paper.

Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo and his Ruaraka counterpart Tom Kajwang’ asked the Speaker Justin Muturi to “give us more time” to go through suggested changes to a number of laws related to national security.

However, they were overruled with Mr Muturi insisting they should have read the laws long before they came to the floor of the House.

“Honourable Midiwo, I know you to be an experienced, diligent member of the House. Why are you not reading the Order Paper,” the Speaker posed.

The Speaker then ruled that the session moves to the Committee of the whole House, a period during debate when proposed amendments are voted on.

The Chair of that Committee, Joyce Laboso had to shout six times to a number of opposition MPs to take their seats.

TIGHT SECURITY

The mace, a National Assembly’s symbol for power and whose absence on the floor crippled debates, was under tight security.

This is after some MPs tried to grab the mace last week when opposition legislators tried to stop the second reading of the Bill.

When Tiati MP Asman Kamama stood to propose the deletion of clause 2B of the Bill, he was shouted down by the opposition.

But Ms Laboso allowed the vote to continue but the voice of the supporters was drowned by the jeers from the opposition.

Speaker Muturi returned to try to normalise the situation but had to adjourn as the session became more chaotic.