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Posts tagged ‘Wild Land of Kenya’

Kenya ruling brings new uncertainty to fresh election

October 11, 2017

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A Kenyan judge on Wednesday ruled that a minor opposition candidate can run for president in this month’s election, bringing fresh uncertainty a day after opposition leader Raila Odinga withdrew from the new vote ordered by the Supreme Court.

At the same time, lawmakers approved amendments to the electoral law that have been criticized by the opposition and Western diplomats. The amendments require the approval of President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose ruling party sought the changes after the Supreme Court nullified Kenyatta’s election in August and cited “irregularities.”

Elsewhere in Nairobi, police used tear gas to disperse thousands of opposition protesters who regrouped outside the election commission’s offices and demanded reforms. In the opposition stronghold of Kisumu city, four people with gunshot wounds were admitted to hospitals after police used live ammunition to disperse protesters, a police official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with reporters.

Wednesday’s court ruling appeared to open the way for other presidential candidates in the August election to run again on Oct. 26, though none aside from Kenyatta and Odinga received even 1 percent of the vote.

Justice John Mativo said he did not see any reason for Ekuru Aukot to be barred from participating in the repeat election. Aukot won about 27,000 votes of more than 15 million cast in the invalidated poll.

The Supreme Court last month rejected the August election in which Kenyatta was declared the winner after Odinga challenged the results, saying hackers infiltrated the electoral commission’s computer system to manipulate the vote in Kenyatta’s favor.

Odinga then surprised Kenyans on Tuesday by withdrawing from the fresh election, saying the electoral commission must be changed or the new vote risked having the same problems. His withdrawal created confusion in East Africa’s largest economy, with observers wondering how the new election might go forward.

The election commission has said it was meeting with its legal team on the way forward. Kenyatta, who called the Supreme Court judges “crooks” after their ruling, has said he does not want changes to the election commission. His Jubilee Party has instead has used its parliamentary majority to push for the changes to the electoral law.

The opposition says the changes are meant to make the transmission of election results a manual process that would have fewer safeguards against fraud, and would make it more difficult for the court to annul an election.

Diplomats including the United States ambassador this month said the proposed amendments put at risk the election commission’s “ability to conduct a better election” and unnecessarily increase political tensions.

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Kenya election official stopped from flying to US

August 16, 2017

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A top Kenyan electoral official, among those who oversaw this country’s disputed presidential election, has been stopped from traveling to the U.S., Kenyan officials said Wednesday.

At least 24 people have died in protests opposing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election although international observers saying the official results, which show Kenyatta trounced veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga with more than 1 million votes, are credible.

Electoral commissioner Roselyn Akombe was stopped by security agents from boarding a flight to New York late Tuesday, said the officials who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals. Her luggage was offloaded and she was told to seek clearance to travel from the director of immigration, said the officials. Akombe, who is a dual U.S. and Kenya citizen, was not given any reason why she stopped from boarding her flight, said officials.

The electoral commission later said Akombe who was to be traveling to the U.S. for an official meeting was delayed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by officials who have since apologized. She was to board a connecting flight to the U.S. Wednesday morning more than 10 hours later, said the officials.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has rejected the official results of the presidential election which show he lost to incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta. Odinga claims that the vote was rigged.

2 killed in Kenya protests after president wins 2nd term

August 12, 2017

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan police shot and killed two people during riots by opposition supporters after President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner in elections overshadowed by fraud allegations, authorities said Saturday.

The deaths occurred on the outskirts of Kisumu, a city where opposition leader Raila Odinga has strong support, according to Leonard Katana, a regional police commander. Another five people were injured by gunfire in Kisumu, Katana said.

Also Saturday, Kenyan police opened fire to disperse opposition protesters who blocked roads and set up burning barricades in a slum in Nairobi, the capital. Associated Press photographers saw police charging demonstrators and firing live rounds and tear gas in the Mathare area, as well as similar scenes in Kibera, another Nairobi slum.

Protesters, some with rocks or sticks, ran for cover as they came under fire in Kibera. It was not known how many people were arrested by police in anti-riot gear. Most of the country of 45 million people was calm the day after the election commission announced that Kenyatta, whose father was Kenya’s first president after independence from British colonial rule, had won a second, five-year term. In a victory speech, Kenyatta said he was extending a “hand of friendship” to the opposition, which alleged that the election commission’s database had been hacked and results were manipulated against Odinga.

Kenyatta won with a decisive 54 percent of the vote to nearly 45 percent for Odinga, but the bitter dispute over the integrity of the election process tempered what many Kenyans had hoped would be a celebration of democracy in a regional power known for its economic promise and long-term stability.

The unrest also exposed divisions in a society where poverty and corruption at top levels of government have angered large numbers of Kenyans, including those who have been protesting in the slums and see Odinga as a voice for their grievances.

Adding to the rift is ethnic loyalty. Kenyatta is widely seen as the representative of the Kikuyu people, the country’s largest ethnic group, while Odinga is associated with the Luo group, which has never produced a head of state.

But reconciliation efforts, the introduction of a progressive constitution in 2010 and an intense security operation during the recent election period have helped to ward off the kind of ethnic violence after the 2007 election in which more than 1,000 people were killed. Odinga ran unsuccessfully in that election; he also lost the 2013 vote to Kenyatta and took allegations of vote-tampering to Kenya’s highest court, which rejected his case.

Recalling its failed legal challenge in 2013, the opposition has said it will not go to court again. Its top leaders have, so far, refrained from publicly calling for mass protests. Catholic leaders on Saturday appealed for calm and asked security forces to exercise caution during protests.

“We appeal to them to restrain themselves from using excessive force in handling crowds,” said John Oballa Owaa, vice chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops. “No life should be lost because of an election.”

The bishop said any dispute over the election should be resolved peacefully and by “legal norms as provided in the constitution.”

Associated Press journalists Ben Curtis and Jerome Delay in Nairobi contributed.

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.

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