Monthly Archives: August 2013

Martín pidió a la Justicia “hacer cumplir las leyes existentes”

El candidato a diputado nacional por el Frente para la Victoria, Insaurralde, remarcó que “estamos trabajando en distintos proyectos de ley que tienen que ver con la seguridad", y los presentará "antes del 10 de diciembre".

Martín pidió a la Justicia “hacer cumplir las leyes existentes”

“El pueblo sirio no se intimidará con los cazabombarderos de Estados Unidos”

El primer ministro sirio, Wael al Halqi, desafió nuevamente las amenazas y aseguró que el Ejército está preparado y “derrotará a Estados Unidos y sus aliados si lanzan una guerra contra Siria”. En tanto, la oposición del país árabe pidió una intervención “amplia y decisiva”.

“El pueblo sirio no se intimidará con los cazabombarderos de Estados Unidos”

Mukhisa Kituyi takes office at UN trade agency

Former Trade minister Mukhisa Kituyi officially assumes office of the plum job of Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) today in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mukhisa Kituyi

Mukhisa Kituyi

Dr Kituyi flew out of the country yesterday to Geneva, where he will be based for the next four years. The four-year term renewable job is the highest ranked position within the UN system to be occupied by a Kenyan or individual from the East and Central African region.

Talking to The Standard On Sunday on Thursday, the elated politician promised to set good precedence for other Kenyans, East Africans and Africans in general “in order that they can find opportunities to serve or win senior positions within the UN system.”

The former Kimilili MP beat many applicants across the globe to win the UN top job. Kituyi was not initially shortlisted, but he got a second chance after a group of eminent persons including persons who have played a critical role in the evolution of UNCTAD published an open letter to the UN Secretary General  asking for the net to be cast wider.

Dr Kituyi’s formal appointment by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and subsequent endorsement by UN General Assembly in June was greeted with a lot of excitement, including President Uhuru Kenyatta who sent to him a congratulatory message.

There has since been a lull and yesterday Kituyi quietly left the country to Geneva, but when he next returns to the country it will be a highly publicised affair.

And except for a send-off party last Thursday at Nairobi’s Sankara Hotel, organised by his former development partners and a host of NGOs, there was no high-profile send-off of the former Cabinet minister by Government or political leaders.

Until his appointment, he was consulting for various Government agencies across Africa, including the African Union. After servicing as Trade minister in the former President Kibaki Government, Kituyi vied for political office in 2007 as Kimilili MP and this year as Bungoma County Senator, without success.

His reign as Kenya’s Trade minister catapulted him to prominence globally and most likely to the current plum UN job. During this tenure, he separately chaired the Comesa Council of Ministers and the African Trade Ministers’ Council, for two years.

Kituyi chaired the Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, and was the lead negotiator for Eastern and Southern African ministers in the EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations.

He was also the convenor of the agricultural negotiations at the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting of the WTO Doha Round. During all these assignments, Kituyi emerged as an avid defender of the African position and developing countries across the world – a factor that endeared him to many in the diplomatic circles.

The new position now thrusts Kituyi into a fairly influential position within the UN system. It is a development that also places the politician a pedestal above the rest – particularly rivals from his Bungoma County backyard, like former Ford-Kenya leader Musikari Kombo, with whom he has been engaged in perennial political dog-fights.

But his level now places him beyond regional politics. If he has to engage in politics, he may perhaps wish to do so at national level ­— perhaps even vie for the presidency.

By OSCAR OBONYO, The Standard

Mukhisa Kituyi takes office at UN trade agency

Political battle looms in Kisii after Ruto’s charm offensive

A recent visit by Deputy President William Ruto to Kisii for a party organised by a top ODM luminary has raised political temperatures in the region amid claims of a spirited drive to endear the community towards the Jubilee government.

Deputy President William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto

It is now emerging that the Deputy President’s attendance at the homecoming for Kisii County Deputy Governor Joash Maangi was a political move designed and executed to send signals of ongoing realignments in the political landscape of the region.

Jubilee strategists from the larger Kisii have been meeting to lay political grounds to allegedly influence local ODM bigwigs to support the government in the wake of referendum calls.

With the calls seemingly tearing the jubilee government within its ranks after Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, who is the chairman of the Governors Council, broke ranks with his URP party to support the referendum, the Jubilee strategists might have turned to another avenue to neutralise governors by using their deputies.

This is allegedly targeted at ODM strongholds to test waters before rolling out the plan in other counties in a move aimed at building favourable ground for Jubilee in case the push for a referendum sails through. The region voted overwhelmingly for CORD leader Raila Odinga in the March 4 General Election. It is on this background that Maangi invited the Deputy President to attend his homecoming at Riabongera in Bomachoge Chache Constituency last weekend.

The party was attended by Kisii Governor James Ongwae, the County Member of Parliament Mary Sally Otara, Nyaribari Chache MP Chris Bichage, Bomachoge Chache MP Simon Ogari and his Bomachoge Borabu counterpart Joel Onyancha.

Curiously, other top ODM bigwigs from the region including Kisii Senator Chris Obure, South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya, and Kitu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka did not attend.

The presence of Joel Onyancha of TNA fuelled speculations that Jubilee was warming up to working with Maangi.  Onyancha, alongside Kitutu Chache North MP Jimmy Angwenyi, were the only pair of TNA elected MPs in the larger Kisii region.

Reports indicate the Jubilee Alliance is trying to penetrate Kisii region using Maangi since the governor, James Ongwae is perceived to be too close to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

By James Mbaka, The Standard

Political battle looms in Kisii after Ruto’s charm offensive

Kipchumba Murkomen’s take on referendum push

Elgeyo/Marakwet Senator who is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Devolved Government Kipchumba Murkomen has been on the forefront championing for a referendum to empower the Senate and increase funding to the counties.

Onesimus Kipchumba Murkomen

Onesimus Kipchumba Murkomen

But Mr Murkomen says Jubilee Senators have now backed down on the referendum push as it is an exercise in futility since it is expensive and the country has just emerged from a rigorous election. He has also accused CORD leaders of ‘betrayal’ and a plot to undermine Jubilee government through a referendum. Murkomen spoke to The Standard on Sunday writer Faith Ronoh on a number of issues.

Q: Have senators abandoned their quest for increased funding to the counties?

Not at all. We support increased funding to counties and at the same time work within the provisions of Article 96 of the Constitution that clearly spell out the role of Senate in relation to the devolved system of governance. What we are saying is that we want to move the debate from financial allocation to practical costing of functions. We are simply advocating for spreading functions at county level to ensure that the spirit of devolution is maintained. As Senate, we are now encouraging other leaders to move from the ‘divide of national cake’ mentality where resources are divided at national level to ‘baking of the cake’ approach where resources are raised locally.

Do you believe the government will honour the promise to increase allocation of funds to counties by 40 per cent of the total nationalrevenue?

Absolutely. The fact that we have started with 32 per cent in itself is commendable. Jubilee senators and I believe that there is no reason for the government to fail to honor its promise because if we had doubt, then we would not have supported the proposal in the first place.

What most people fail to understand is that the national government only manages Parliament but responsibility squarely lies in the country’s parliamentary system to allocate funds. The whole debate on allocation of funds is based on total ignorance because it is the mandate of Parliament to allocate funds, not national government.

How will you ensure that the 40 per cent proposal to increase county funds is entrenched in the Constitution?

Personally, I think there is no single country across the world that has legalised division of revenue. Basically, we do not need an argument on the 15 per cent that need to be put to law because both national and county governments are our governments. Therefore, the 40 per cent need not be in law but if governors need to push it to law then they will have to do that through Parliament. However, they will have to bring out   clear justification on why they think it should be legalised.

What is the fate of the case you filed in the Supreme Court to stop Parliament from tabling and passing of any Bills pending the hearing of the case?

The case we launched at the Supreme Court is ongoing and it has nothing to do with financial allocation. Our main aim of moving to court was to clearly spell out the functions of Senate and the National Assembly because of squabbles between the two Houses. I have no doubt that the outcome will resolve the differences. The case is set for hearing anytime soon.

What did Jubilee senators back down from the referendum push? Was it because CORDhijacked the process or it was a scheme to save the Jubilee government’s face?

No, our backing down was not specifically about CORD or Jubilee. We backed down because as senators we felt betrayed by our colleagues in CORD.

We had agreed with them that we will consult the President and the Deputy President on the issue when the right time comes but some leaders like James Orengo went ahead and attended rallies in Homa Bay and Kisumu politicising the issue in a move that I believe is aimed at destabilising the country.

It is for that reason that we in Jubilee backed down. Another reason for our consistent push for referendumearlier was to distinguish Senate functions from those of the National Assembly. However, Speakers from both sides will meet the President to discuss those issues and I am confident that our voices have been heard and such supremacy issues will be resolved.

How does the government intend to deal with governor’s push for a referendum?

It is not about all the 47 governors but just one person still pushing for a referendum because the last time governors met to discuss the issue was several months ago. Basically, Isaac Ruto is running a monologue battle while all the other governors are busy working on sourcing funds and investing in their respective counties. What is the need of going for a referendumwhen Parliament can still amend the Constitution?

My advice to governors who are still pushing for areferendum is that they should back off because this will polarise the country and county governments will suffer because implementing devolution will be affected. However, it is important to note that we will still need an amendment at an opportune time to anchor the Senate to perform its roles.

Were you compromised in any way to change your stand on the push for a referendum?

Not at all. It was our decision to step down because at the end of the day we are saving the country billions of money and time that could be spent on a referendum. It would have taken a toll on the country’s economy. In fact, I initiated the change of position among Jubilee Senators and therefore no one would have compromised me or other senators in any way.

What do you think of the Governors Council Chairman Isaac Ruto’s push for a referendum. Is it genuine or political?

Ruto is being carried away by the publicity that comes with his consistent push for a referendum. He is missing the point of what leadership entails. He is also missing out on the A-B-C strategy because if you ask him what is next after the referendum, he will not answer you.

What he is doing is that he is displaying naivety when in essence he is not naive. I tend to think that the whole issue is political because even the 2005 and 2010 referendums were politicised even though they were meant not to be political. My advice to my friend Ruto is that as the chairman of Governors Council he should pull out as soon as possible from his battle. Failure to do so will mean that he will lose the respect he has earned over the years because he will be jeopardising the working relationship between national government and county governments.

Jubilee Senators recently released an opinion poll on the need for a referendum. Who commissioned it and what were the findings? We as politicians always have a way of checking and evaluating where we have come from. From the poll, it was evident that referendum was not acceptable. Everybody agreed that there is dire need to strengthen Senate but not through a referendum. It was also evident that the public is not happy with the constant squabbles between Senate and the National Assembly. Kenyans are tired of supremacy battles and are looking up to us to fulfill our pledges.

Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro was categorical that Senators’ change of stand was only temporary. Are you planning a fight if the government fails to honour its promise?

Like I said, our main aim of pushing for a referendumwas not really about allocation of funds but clearly spelling out functions of Senate. However, we agreed to back down temporarily as we wait for an opportune time to amend the Constitution. We reached consensus to shelve the referendum for now but in future, when the time is right, we may revisit it to strengthen the Senate.

Kipchumba Murkomen’s take on referendum push

Is ole Lenku taking over from William ole Ntimama as Maasai spokesman?

For four decades William Ronkorua ole Ntimama strode the Maasai land like a Colossus championing the rights of the community, that he claimed were marginalised.

Internal Security Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku and former Narok North MP William ole Ntimama (Right).

Internal Security Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku and former Narok North MP William ole Ntimama (Right).

The 85-year old who became the self-styled spokesman of the community served 15 years as the chairman of the powerful Narok County Council and 25 years as a Member of Parliament and Cabinet minister in various capacities.

In the 1990s, Ntimama was blamed for orchestrating attacks against non-Maasai in Narok- which was subject of the Akiwumi Commission of Inquiry into the 1992 ethnic clashes — blamed for uprooting of thousands of the Kikuyu from parts of Rift Valley.

As the de facto community leader, Mr Ntimama could not stand anyone who messed with the rights of the Maasai. But in the March 4 General Election, he lost his Narok North parliamentary seat to Moitalel ole Kenta, a new comer in the Maasai politics.

His daughter Ms Lydia Masikonte who was contesting for the County Women Representative seat also lost in the election. Ntimama’s loss has now created a leadership vacuum among the Maa, according to some political analysts from the region.

Have a vision

They argue that his exit has ‘orphaned’ the region in terms of political leadership. According to the Maasai professionals chairman Joseph Sonkori the leadership void might not be filled anytime soon because he sees no leader who can fit in Ntimama’s shoes.

He says most current leaders are eco-centric, self centered, not pro-active and don’t have the interest of the people at their hearts.

“Ntimama was able to unite the community because he had passion and the community’s interest closest to his heart. Most of the leaders we have now neither have a vision nor conviction thus lacking the inspiration to lead our community,” says Mr Sonkori.

But Narok Central Business District Chairman David Sankok though conceding that there is a leadership vacuum differs with Sonkori.

Mr Sankok says the mantle is being taken over by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku who he says has been championing for the rights of the Maa speakers.

“Lenku for the short time he has been in the limelight has shown that he is ready to make sacrifices for the cause of the Maa speakers,” he said. Sankok says unlike Ntimama, Lenku is not belligerent in his fight for the rights of the Maa speakers.

He says the Cabinet Secretary portrays a picture of a diplomat as opposed to Ntimama who antagonised other communities with the Maasai with his infamous phrase of ‘lying low like an antelope.’

“His young age and hospitality background puts him in a better position above other leaders. With his knowledge he is able to advice the Maasai on how to economically empower themselves,” said Sankok.

He adds that the Maasai need a leader who can give them direction to surmount challenges in the changing global world, a bill that Lenku suits well.

“Lenku is a progressive leader as opposed to the past leadership that exploited the Maasai with their retrogressive tribal agitations,” says Sankok who adds that for the next fifty years no one from Ntimama’s family will get an elective post. Sankok sees a promising future in Narok West MP Patrick Ntutu as he comes from a prominent family and has been instrumental in uniting the Maasai in several forums.

“Just like Lenku he is young, energetic and his Provincial Administration background gives him a head start,” says Sankok who says the devolved system of governance may disadvantage political leaders.

He states that governors will only be powerful in their counties but have no say in other counties.

This view is shared by Mark Sopia, a political commentator from Narok County.

He says the devolved form of governance has altered the socio-political dimension in the country

“Most Maa speaking counties have witnessed an influx of other Kenyan communities thereby making the Maa community reconsider their political leadership,” says Sopia who adds that there is no political leader currently who can bring the Maasai together.

A former councilor of Ildamat ward and the immediate former director of Dairy Board of Kenya Maison Kuseyo agrees that none of the current crop of political leaders has come out to unite the Maasai.

Strong crusader

He says most of them have reverted back to their regional and clan cocoons but singles out Lenku as the only person who can fit into Ntimama’s shoes.

“Lenku has that national outlook and has been a strong crusader for the cause of the Maasai,” says Mr Kuseyo. He is skeptical when asked if the Ntutu family would take over from Ntimama saying they do not command respect across Maasailand.

“Ntutu would have been the right person to take over from Ntimama but his image is tainted by the Mau debacle. He is accused by the community as having been part of the group that sanctioned the invasion of the Mau Forest,” says Kuseyo.

Ntimama has no regrets whatsoever for his stand to champion for the rights of his people.

He says his crusade against land injustices committed against the community has paid off since locals are more aware of their land rights.

“We never succeeded in returning land, but we have ensured young people know they were robbed. They are now conscious of their rights and could fight for a restoration of their lost heritage,” he said.

Ntimama was born in Melili sub-location of Narok District and schooled at Narok Massai Government School between 1937 and 1944.

He then went to Kahuhia Teacher training college in Murang’a. Thereafter he taught in several primary schools between 1947 and 1958.

In 1958, he was appointed a Clerk to the Narok District Council and a year later nominated a Councilor in the pre-Independence Narok African District Council.

By CHARLES NGENO, The Standard

Is ole Lenku taking over from William ole Ntimama as Maasai spokesman?

Will China loan lower cost of doing business?

The high cost of doing business has continued to slow down investments in Kenya despite various efforts to ease the situation.

Thika Road is one of the flagship projects constructed by the Chinese

Thika Road is one of the flagship projects constructed by the Chinese

More foreign investors have halted investments, fearing the huge costs incurred — necessitated by poor infrastructure, insecurity, escalating energy cost, and cumbersome business registration.

But last month’s visit by President Uhuru Kenyatta to China has renewed hopes of building mega infrastructural projects to up the performance of key sectors of the economy.

Uhuru concluded eight deals worth Sh425 billion (US$5 billion) with the Chinese government — which analysts say will increase investments in the country.

Uhuru explained that huge part of the funds will finance infrastructure development, power generation, and cooperation between the foreign ministries.

However, even though the new administration is upbeat with the deal secured from the Far East economic power house, the breakdown of projects the amount would be financing is not clear and whether the total amount includes past projects.

But sketchy information filtering through indicates that the funds will aid wildlife protection, funding roads, railway line and power projects.

Viewed as a strategy aimed at seeking more funding from the East over the traditional investment sources in Europe and the US, Uhuru explained the plan is geared towards widening Kenya’s scope offriends.

By extending the financial support China President Xi Jinping his country is ready to support Kenya’s quest for industrialisation.

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) has been calling on the Government to advance the business climate to encourage high economic growth.

In an earlier interview, KEPSA chairman Vimal Shah claimed it takes less than a week to transport cargo from Egypt or Malaysia to Mombasa. The same load takes more than two weeks to be transported to Nairobi.

Foreign investors have avoided Kenya while scouting for hospitable investment destinations. This has led to high level of unemployment, low revenue generation and low production in the general economy among other bottlenecks.

Of the China goodies, some Sh340 billion (US$4 billion) will be committed to finance economic partnerships, wildlife protection, and the standard gauge railway linking Mombasa and Malaba. The railway line will also open up the hinterlands of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We expect the rail project will contribute to job generation, in addition to urbanisation growth.  The rail link will also save our major roads from destruction, and help safeguard infrastructure. It will make movement of goods faster and will make our ports more efficient,” Uhuru explained.

He added the envisaged modern railway will enhance the country’s profile as it joins the league of more developed countries, and puts more modes of transport at our disposal.

In June this year, the head of State and his Uganda counterpart Yoweri Museveni agreed to revamp the existing railway network and also construct new standard gauge railway line. The line will be extended to Rwanda, including joint mobilisation of resources.

The construction of the standard gauge line will ease cargo transportation from Mombasa to various segments within the region.

The Government also agreed to source for funds together as well as pursue individual financial plans.  The State has already introduced a 1.5 per cent railway development levy expecting to raise Sh22 billion to fast track the railway development.

By NICHOLAS WAITATHU, The Standard

Will China loan lower cost of doing business?