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Posts tagged ‘Wild Land of Kenya’

Kenyan president leads in nearly complete election results

August 09, 2017

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was leading challenger Raila Odinga by a significant margin Wednesday in nearly complete election results, but the opposition said the counting process was flawed and disputed the tally.

The website of Kenya’s election commission showed Kenyatta with 54.8 percent and opposition leader Odinga with 44.4 percent after votes were counted from more than 35,000 of the 40,833 polling stations. The commission did not release information about which constituencies had been counted, although Kenyan television news channels later showed results from individual areas that confirmed Kenyatta’s lead.

The election body’s omission of constituency results prompted sharp criticism from Odinga, who also ran against Kenyatta in the 2013 vote and unsuccessfully challenged the results in court with allegations of vote-tampering. The longtime opposition figure also ran in the 2007 election, which was followed by violence fueled by ethnic divisions that killed more than 1,000 people.

“A clean credible process would by now have a dashboard showing all tallies from all constituencies to add to a sum total so that country can know which part of the country has been counted and what the votes are,” Odinga said in a statement Wednesday.

“The system has failed,” Odinga said. He added that the election commission “has just said that no parties have disputed the results. How do parties dispute results which they do not even know their origins?”

Election officials acknowledged the opposition objection, but defended their actions. “We believe that by displaying results, we have been doing well to enhance transparency and accountability in the electoral process, consistent with the commitment the commission has made to the Kenya people,” said commissioner Consalata Bucha Nkatha Maina, vice chairwoman of the election commission.

The commission’s CEO, Ezra Chiloba, also said a results screen at the commission’s counting center had frozen because too much data was being received, and that tallies would be updated later Wednesday morning.

A similar situation with a systems failure in the 2013 election led to Odinga’s legal challenge at the time, though Kenya’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of Kenyatta by validating the results. Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya’s first president after independence from British colonial rule, campaigned this year on a record of major infrastructure projects, many backed by China, and claimed strong economic growth. Odinga, 72, also the son of a leader of the independence struggle, cast himself as a champion of the poor and a harsh critic of endemic corruption.

However, many voters were expected to vote along ethnic lines. Kenyatta is widely seen as the candidate of the Kikuyu people, the country’s largest ethnic group. Odinga is associated with the Luo voting bloc, which has never produced a head of state. There were six other presidential candidates, though they lack the wide support of the top two.

The winner of the presidential race must get more than 50 percent of the votes as well as one-quarter or more votes in at least 24 of Kenya’s 47 counties, according to officials. If the front-runner falls short of those benchmarks, the two top contenders will contest a runoff vote.

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is the chief election observer for The Carter Center, described Tuesday’s vote as “an inspiring day in Kenya watching democracy in action.” “Enthusiastic voters not fazed by long lines,” he tweeted.

Kenya leader ‘deeply shocked’ at election official’s killing

August 01, 2017

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya’s president said Tuesday he is “deeply shocked” by the torture and killing of an election official who was crucial to next week’s presidential vote, while concerns grew that the election again will face dangerous unrest.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Twitter that investigations into Christopher Msando’s killing should be allowed to “proceed calmly,” and he warned against “careless speculation.” Msando was in charge of managing information technology systems at the electoral commission. He had publicly sought to reassure voters that the results of the Aug. 8 election would not be tampered with.

Analysts have warned that further violence could accompany the hotly contested election in which Kenyatta is running again. The country’s elections have turned violent in the past, notably after the 2007 vote that international observers said was flawed. More than 1,000 people died.

The main opposition group has charged that Kenyatta wants to rig the upcoming election, an accusation the presidency has denied. The National Super Alliance called Msando’s death an assassination and an attempt to disrupt the vote.

The U.S. and British diplomats in Kenya have expressed grave concern about Msando’s death and offered the Kenyan government assistance in investigating. Hundreds of activists on Tuesday marched peacefully to the electoral commission to protest the killing. A former government official turned whistleblower, John Githongo, said there was plenty of reason to believe Msando’s death was related to the election.

The electoral commission chairman, Wafula Chebukati, has called the death a “brutal murder” and called for security for all commission staff. “Let us remember Chris by voting peacefully,” Chebukati told Tuesday’s gathering. The commission “shall ensure that the ground for voting on the eighth of August is level for everyone. So we can remember Chris best by participating in free, fair and credible elections.”

Kenya’s police chief Joseph Boinnet has said a special team from the Directorate of Criminal investigations has been set up to investigate Msando’s murder.

Kenya: At least 10 missing after Nairobi building collapses

June 13, 2017

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — An eight-story building has collapsed in a low-income area of Nairobi and 10 people are missing, witnesses and officials in Kenya said Tuesday. The collapse occurred late Monday night, Nairobi Police Chief Japheth Koome said.

Police fired tear gas after residents angered by the slow deployment of government rescuers hurled stones slowing search and rescue efforts, said a resident, Hailey Akinyi. Akinyi, who lives in an adjacent building, witnessed the collapse and said three people had been rescued from the debris. The collapsed building and the building she lives in had been marked with an “X,” meaning they had been condemned by the National Construction Authority, she said.

Most of Nairobi’s 4 million people live in low-income areas or slums. Housing is in high demand and unscrupulous developers often bypass regulations. Building collapses have become common. After eight buildings collapsed and killed 15 people in Kenya in 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered an audit of all the country’s buildings to see if they are up to code. The National Construction Authority found that 58 percent of buildings in Nairobi are unfit for habitation.

Last year a building collapse in another low income area killed 37 people and injured 70. The rescue mission took days during which a six-month-old baby and a pregnant woman were among those pulled safely out of the rubble. After that collapse the government ordered all condemned building demolished and residents evacuated but the operation was never completed after media attention waned.

Last month eight people died when a wall collapsed on them in the coastal city of Mombasa following heavy rains.

World’s biggest refugee camp in Kenya to stay open

09 February 2017 Thursday

Kenya’s High Court on Thursday blocked the government’s decision to close the Dadaab refugee camp — the world’s largest — and force Somali refugees to return home.

Judge John Mativo ruled that the plan to shut down the camp was unconstitutional, violated Kenya’s international obligations and amounted to the persecution of refugees.

Dadaab is home to some 256,000 people, the vast majority of them Somalis who fled across the border following the outbreak of civil war in 1991. Many have lived there ever since.

The government unilaterally decided to close the camp in May last year, saying it was a terrorist training ground for Shabaab Islamist militants based in Somalia.

But Mativo ruled that a “decision specifically targeting Somali refugees is an act of group persecution, illegal, discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional”.

The shutdown was ordered without proper consultation of people affected by the decision, in violation of the constitutional right to fair legal proceedings, he said in his ruling.

“Hence the said decision is null and void,” he said.

He also blocked a government decision to disband Kenya’s Department for Refugee Affairs.

But the government later cautioned that it aimed to “strongly” appeal the ruling.

“We as a government have the cardinal responsibility of providing security for all Kenyans,” a statement said. “The camp had lost its humanitarian nature, and had become a haven for terrorism and other illegal activities.”.

Mativo also said the forced repatriation violated the 1951 United Nations Convention on refugees.

He was ruling on a challenge to the shutdown filed by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and rights group Kituo Cha Sheria.

Amnesty International’s East Africa chief Muthoni Wanyeki hailed Thursday’s outcome as “historic”.

“Today is a historic day for more than a quarter of a million refugees who were at risk of being forcefully returned to Somalia, where they would have been at serious risk of human rights abuses,” Wanyeki said.

“This ruling reaffirms Kenya’s constitutional and international legal obligation to protect people who seek safety from harm and persecution.”

Security threat?

The government caught refugees, aid groups, the United Nations and Kenya’s Western partners offguard last May when it announced plans to shut down the huge camp near the border, citing security concerns.

Since sending troops into neighboring Somalia in 2011, Kenya has come under repeated attack from Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab militants.

The government has presented Dadaab as a security risk, saying Somali rebels inside the camp planned the Shabaab attacks at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in 2013 and the Garissa university attack in 2015, though it has not provided evidence.

Authorities initially planned to close Dadaab at the end of November, but delayed the shutdown until May 2017 at the request of the UN refugee agency and against a backdrop of growing accusations of forced refugee returns to Somalia.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says the numbers have dwindled thanks to voluntary repatriations as well as resettlement in the Kakuma camp in northwest Kenya.

In September, Human Rights Watch warned in a report that the repatriation of Somalis violated international standards and that refugees were returning home involuntarily to face persecution and hunger.

Medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) on Thursday welcomed the ruling as “a very positive step”.

It urged the government to consider “alternative solutions to long-term encampment on such a large scale,” including resettlement to third countries or to smaller camps in Kenya, or integration in Kenya.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/?aType=haber&ArticleID=184517.

Kenya court quashes government order to close refugee camp

February 09, 2017

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A Kenyan court ruled Thursday that the government must not close the world’s largest refugee camp and send more than 200,000 people back to war-torn Somalia. Kenya’s internal security minister had abused his power by ordering the closure by May of Dadaab refugee camp, in eastern Kenya, Judge John Mativo said.

The minister and other officials had “acted in excess and in abuse of their power, in violation of the rule of law and in contravention of their oaths of office,” Mativo said. The judge said the decision to close the refugee camp is discriminatory and goes against the Kenyan constitution as well as international treaties that protect refugees against being returned to a conflict zone.

“The government’s decision specifically targeting Somali refugees is act of group persecution, illegal discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional,” he said. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government has also not proved Somalia is safe for the refugees to return, Mativo said.

Kenya has said the closure of Dadaab is necessary because the sprawling camp is a recruitment ground for al-Shabab, Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, and a base for the group to launch attacks on Kenya.

Al-Shabab has carried out several attacks on Kenya, which sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight the militants who are waging an insurgency against Somalia’s weak western-backed government. Al-Shabab’s attacks on Kenyan targets include the September 21, 2013 attack on Westgate mall that killed 67 people and last year’s attack on Garissa University that killed 148 people, mostly students.

But Kenyan officials have not provided conclusive proof that Dadaab camp is a staging ground for extremist attacks. Some Kenyan officials have said the Westgate attackers came from Dadaab but investigators later said they came from a different refugee camp, Kakuma, which is mostly populated by South Sudanese refugees in northern Kenya.

Kenya president: International Criminal Court not impartial

December 12, 2016

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya’s president on Monday criticized the International Criminal Court as “not impartial,” saying his government “will give serious thought” to its membership of the court. In a speech during celebrations marking 53 years since Kenya became independent, President Uhuru Kenyatta said he believed he would win a second term next year despite what he called “divisive politicians, external powers, the ICC or paid protesters.”

Kenyatta was elected in 2013 as he and his running mate, William Ruto, faced criminal charges at the ICC over their alleged roles in post-election violence in 2007-2008. The charges against Kenyatta were withdrawn in 2014 while the case against Ruto was terminated earlier this year.

“In our pursuit of a more stable and just order, we are champions of global institutions grounded in fairness and respect for national sovereignty,” Kenyatta said Monday. “The Kenyan cases at the International Criminal Court have ended but the experience has given us cause to observe that this institution has become a tool of global power politics and not the justice it was built to dispense.”

He added: “We have started to see many more nations openly recognizing that the ICC is not impartial. Some have withdrawn. Others have considered that step. Twice, our parliament has passed motions to withdraw. We have sought the changes that will align the ICC to respect national sovereignty. Those changes have not been forthcoming. We will therefore need to give serious thought to our membership.”

South Africa, Burundi and Gambia have announced plans to withdraw from The Hague-based court. Meanwhile, Kenyan police fired tear gas on Monday to disperse a protest march against government corruption.

The march was part of a protest movement by activists who want the government to do more to stem what they charge is rampant graft within the administration. Police arrested at least three protesters in the capital, Nairobi, when they broke up the demonstration. The group later reunited at another location and resumed the march.

Kenya is considered to be among the world’s most corrupt countries, ranking 139 out of 168 countries in a 2015 index by Transparency International.

Kenya accuses UN of targeting general fired in South Sudan

November 04, 2016

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Kenya accused the U. N. secretary-general on Thursday of instigating an investigation of deadly attacks in South Sudan with the “preordained” outcome of blaming the Kenyan commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force, who was fired over events that occurred just three weeks after he assumed the post.

Kenya’s U.N. Ambassador Macharia Kamau told a news conference that Lt. Gen. Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki was sacked by U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon as “a scapegoat” for the systemic failures of the U.N. peacekeeping system.

He said the investigation was demanded “by certain current and future members” of the Security Council who wanted to protect their interests during the July attacks in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. He refused to identify them.

The investigation sharply criticized the U.N. peacekeeping force’s response to attacks on a U.N. compound in Juba housing 27,000 displaced people. Over three days in July, at least 73 people were killed, including two Chinese peacekeepers and more than 20 internally displaced people who had sought U.N. protection. The investigators also criticized U.N. peacekeepers for failing to respond to an attack on a private compound just over a kilometer away where U.N. staff, aid workers and local staff were robbed, beaten, raped and killed by armed government soldiers.

Kenya’s Foreign Ministry, expressing “dismay” at Ondieki’s firing and the way the investigation was conducted, announced Wednesday that it was withdrawing its 1,000 troops from the U.N. peacekeeping operation in South Sudan and will not contribute to beefing up the force by 4,000 troops.

“Kenya had warned that any unfair or prejudicial action taken on the basis of this investigation would compel Kenya to re-evaluate completely its engagement in South Sudan,” Kamau said. “The secretary-general, in his lame-duck season, seems to have found the courage that has eluded him throughout his tenure by choosing to ignore Kenya’s plea.”

Ban’s 10 years as U.N. chief ends on Dec. 31 and Antonio Guterres will take over as secretary-general on Jan. 1. South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, has been riven by ethnic violence since shortly after gaining its independence from Sudan in 2011. Civil war broke out in 2013 when government forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, battled rebels led by his former vice president Riek Machar, who is a Nuer. Tens of thousands have been killed, more than 2 million displaced, and despite an August 2015 peace agreement, fighting has continued.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric rejected Kamau’s accusations, saying there was “no preordained conclusion” to the investigation led by retired Dutch Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert. He said the investigators looked at “leadership, command decisions taken on that day,” and the secretary-general fired Ondieki on the basis of their findings, which “deeply distressed” him.

“The decision to ask for his removal is an initial decision,” Dujarric said. “Other decisions might be taken, but obviously the secretary-general stands by the report that Mr. Cammaert did and the way it was done.”

U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said “there is, of course, the system-wide accountability. We all have a degree of responsibility.” As for the firing of Ondieki, he said, “I don’t want to add salt to the wound. I think that conclusions were irrefutable.”

Ladsous spoke to reporters after briefing the Security Council at a closed meeting. A council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because the session was private, said the United States proposed a press statement welcoming the report and the U.N.’s transparency, but there was no agreement because China was not willing to accept any reference to the report.

In the attacks on the U.N. compound, the report said confusing senior leadership and the lack of leadership on the ground, where the Chinese battalion commander had been appointed as the incident commander, “contributed to incidents of poor performance among the military and police contingents at UN House.”

This included “at least two instances in which the Chinese battalion abandoned some of its defensive positions” and an “inadequate” performance by Nepalese police to stop looting by some displaced people and control the crowd, it said.

Kamau said “the sources used to inform the investigation, according to our information, were people who were … in the direct line of command and related colleagues to the force commander. “These individuals, who had been in position years and months before the force commander arrived, have reason to miscue information in a manner that protects them and apportions blame elsewhere,” he said.

Kamau said “the investigation could not and should not have been just about the force commander.” Instead, the investigation should have centered on response to events, the failure of the peacekeeping system, and the need for collective responsibility and accountability from the U.N. peacekeeping department in New York to the joint operations command at the U.N. mission in Juba, Kamau said.

Associated Press writer Michael Astor contributed to this report from the United Nations.

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