Kenya’s Election Chief Fears Presidential Vote Won’t Be Credible

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Kenya’s election chief fears presidential vote won’t be credible

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati speaks to journalists in Nairobi in February.

Story highlights

  • Electoral commission head urges politicians from ‘both sides’ to stop interfering in process
  • Kenya’s Supreme Court ordered new election after invalidating results of August vote

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN)Kenya’s electoral commission chief warned Wednesday that he lacked faith in the possibility of Kenya delivering a free and fair presidential election next week — and pointed to political leaders as the greatest threat to a credible vote.

Wafula Chebukati’s comments come in the wake of the resignation of a senior member of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Roselyn Akombe, over security fears and alleged partisanship on the board.
“I want to issue a stern warning to the players of both sides to stop intentions to interfere in the process,” Chebukati told a news conference.
“Let my commission and I do our job and we shall deliver. Interfere as you have been doing and we will get stuck as a country.”
The IEBC chairman called for political leaders to hold a meeting to discuss issues around the October 26 rerun.

Raila Odinga would run for president again

Raila Odinga would run for president again 01:27
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The new vote was ordered after Kenya’s Supreme Court invalidated the results of a contentious August 8 election — which gave victory to incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta — following a challenge over irregularities.
Chebukati warned that if the current political crisis is not resolved, the country risks finding itself in a situation “possibly worse” than in 2007 and 2008, when more than 1,000 people died in political violence that turned ethnic in nature.
“If we don’t cap this mess I fear for the future,” he said.
Chebukati insisted he had no plans to resign himself. “The politicians are the greatest threat,” he said. “I will not tolerate the threats on my staff any more.”
Since the Supreme Court ruling, Kenyatta’s main challenger for the presidency, opposition leader Raila Odinga, has pulled out of the rerun, saying that issues around the way the first election was run have not been resolved.
Opposition supporters have clashed with police, and the government has banned demonstrations in certain areas.

Akombe: Not too late to avert crisis

Former commission meber Akombe, in a statement issued Tuesday from New York, described the IEBC as “under siege” and said it could not guarantee a credible presidential election next week.
Fellow commissioners had become increasingly partisan, coming to meetings “ready to vote along party lines,” she said, and were unwilling to “be frank with the Kenyan people.”
Akombe said she had agonized over whether to quit, but had decided to do so because the commission had “become a party to the crisis” and lives were potentially at stake.
“It is not too late to save our country from this crisis,” she said. “We need just a few men and women of integrity to stand up and say that we cannot proceed with the election on (October 26) as currently planned.”

Police spray water cannons to disperse opposition protesters last week in Kisumu, Kenya.

Akombe highlighted concerns over last-minute changes to election-related technology and results transmission, rushed training of staff because of fears of protest violence and the intimidation of electoral commissioners and staff.
“We need the commission to be courageous and speak out, that this election as planned cannot meet the basic expectations of a credible election,” she said.

Roselyn Akombe, who resigned from Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, doesn't believe that next week's presidential election will yield a credible result.

“Our people are resilient. Our people are patient. What we are faced today is a political crisis that cannot be solved by the commission alone. Let us solve the political crisis we have at hand and then chart the way forward toward a credible presidential election.”
In an interview with the BBC, Akombe said she had received numerous threats while in Kenya and did “not feel safe enough to be able to go home.”

Unrest fears

Speaking with CNN on Friday, opposition leader Odinga said his coalition did not want to “facilitate another rigging of elections” by taking part in a process in which none of the issues that led to the annulment of the first vote were resolved.
He urged the replacement of some electoral commission personnel, among other changes.
The continued uncertainty has raised fears of wider unrest in the east African nation, which has suffered bloody election-related violence in the past, particularly in 2007-08.

Riot police use tear gas on opposition supporters during an October 11 protest in Nairobi.

Last week, the government called for a ban on demonstrations in the central business districts of Kenya’s three main cities — the capital Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu — citing security fears.
Police and opposition supporters have clashed in recent days in Nairobi, Kisumu and elsewhere. On October 11, police tried to deter opposition protesters from marching on the headquarters of the electoral commission in downtown Nairobi by firing bullets in the air and releasing tear gas.

Nairobi Kenya: 7 Story Apartment Building Collapses

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC AND REUTERS)

Nairobi building collapse: People missing as residents join search

Rescue workers at the scene after a building collapsed in a residential area of Nairobi, 13 June 2017Image copyright REUTERS
Image caption Witnesses said the building had been condemned

Several people are reported missing after a seven-story building collapsed on Monday night in an eastern suburb of the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

The Kenya Red Cross tweeted that response teams were at the scene, in the Kware Pipeline Embakasi area.

The Star newspaper said dozens of people had been evacuated moments before the collapse.

Witnesses told the paper that the building had been condemned after cracks appeared in its walls.

The co-coordinator of the rescue efforts, Pius Masai, said that more than 100 people had been accounted for, but added that some people may still be trapped.

“Rescue efforts are ongoing,” he said in a statement, and appealed for people with access to “cutters, drillers and any other extrication equipment” to help with the search.

Emergency personnel at the scene of a collapsed building in a residential area of Nairobi, 13 June 2017Image copyright REUTERS
Image caption Rescuers appealed for help from the public in the search for the missing

The National Disaster Management Unit said that most families acted when ordered to leave the building prior to its collapse, with 121 people making it to safety.

Local media reports that some people re-entered the building apparently to collect their belongings when it caved in, possibly trapping them. Police said they do not know how many people are trapped.

Rescue teams at the scene of a building collapse in Nairobi, 13 June 2017Image copyright ANNE SOY/BBC
Image caption Authorities said 121 people had made it to safety before the collapse

Building collapses are a problem in Kenya with many people in Nairobi living in low-income areas or slums. Housing is in high demand, and developers often bypass regulations.

In April 2017, 49 people died after a building collapsed in heavy rain in Nairobi.

At the height of Kenya’s rainy season in April 2016, a six-storey building collapsed killing 52 people in Nairobi’s poor Huruma district.

Collapsed building in NairobiImage copyright KENYA RED CROSS
Image caption Rescue workers are searching the rubble for survivors

1st Malaria Vaccine To Be Tested In 3 African Countries

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

The World Health Organization announced on Monday that Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have been chosen to test the first malaria vaccine, which will be administered to hundreds of thousands of young children next year.

The vaccine, which has partial effectiveness, has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives if used with existing measures, the WHO regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said in a statement.

The challenge is whether impoverished countries can deliver the required four doses of the vaccine for each child.

The injectable vaccine, called RTS,S or Mosquirix, was developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline to protect children from the most deadly form of malaria in Africa. The $49 million for the first phase of the pilot is being funded by the global vaccine alliance GAVI, UNITAID and Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

It will be tested on children five to 17 months old to see whether its protective effects shown so far in clinical trials can hold up under real-life conditions. At least 120,000 children in each of the three countries will receive the vaccine, which has taken decades of work and hundreds of millions of dollars to develop.

Kenya, Ghana and Malawi were chosen for the vaccine pilot because all have strong prevention and vaccination programs, but continue to have high numbers of malaria cases, WHO said. The countries will deliver the vaccine through their existing vaccination programs.

Malaria remains one of the world’s most stubborn health challenges, infecting more than 200 million people every year and killing about half a million, most of them children in Africa. Bed netting and insecticides are the chief protection.

Sub-Saharan Africa is hardest hit by the disease, with about 90 percent of the world’s cases in 2015. Malaria spreads when a mosquito bites someone already infected, sucks up blood and parasites, and then bites another person.

A global effort to counter malaria has led to a 62 percent cut in deaths between 2000 and 2015, WHO said. But the UN agency has said in the past that such estimates are based mostly on modeling and that data is so bad for 31 countries in Africa — including those believed to have the worst outbreaks — that it couldn’t tell if cases have been rising or falling in the last 15 years.

WHO is hoping to wipe out malaria by 2040 despite increasing resistance problems to both drugs and insecticides used to kill mosquitoes.

“The slow progress in this field is astonishing, given that malaria has been around for millennia and has been a major force for human evolutionary selection, shaping the genetic profiles of African populations,” Kathryn Maitland, professor of tropical pediatric infectious diseases at Imperial College London, wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine in December. “Contrast this pace of change with our progress in the treatment of HIV, a disease a little more than three decades old.”

Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East also have malaria cases.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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Shouldn’t The U.S., Russia And China Be Working Together In Fight Against Islamist?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW  YORK TIMES)

Ugandan troops serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia in 2012. About 200 to 300 American Special Operations troops work with soldiers from African nations to carry out raids, senior American military officials said. Credit Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has intensified a clandestine war in Somalia over the past year, using Special Operations troops, airstrikes, private contractors and African allies in an escalating campaign against Islamist militants in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation.

Hundreds of American troops now rotate through makeshift bases in Somalia, the largest military presence since the United States pulled out of the country after the “Black Hawk Down” battle in 1993.

The Somalia campaign, as it is described by American and African officials and international monitors of the Somali conflict, is partly designed to avoid repeating that debacle, which led to the deaths of 18 American soldiers. But it carries enormous risks — including more American casualties, botched airstrikes that kill civilians and the potential for the United States to be drawn even more deeply into a troubled country that so far has stymied all efforts to fix it.

The Somalia campaign is a blueprint for warfare that President Obama has embraced and will pass along to his successor. It is a model the United States now employs across the Middle East and North Africa — from Syria to Libya — despite the president’s stated aversion to American “boots on the ground” in the world’s war zones. This year alone, the United States has carried out airstrikes in seven countries and conducted Special Operations missions in many more.

 American officials said the White House had quietly broadened the president’s authority for the use of force in Somalia by allowing airstrikes to protect American and African troops as they combat fighters from the Shabab, a Somali-based militant group that has proclaimed allegiance to Al Qaeda.

In its public announcements, the Pentagon sometimes characterizes the operations as “self-defense strikes,” though some analysts have said this rationale has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is only because American forces are now being deployed on the front lines in Somalia that they face imminent threats from the Shabab.

America’s role in Somalia has expanded as the Shabab have become bolder and more cunning. The group has attacked police headquarters, bombed seaside restaurants, killed Somali generals and stormed heavily fortified bases used by African Union troops. In January, Shabab fighters killed more than 100 Kenyan troops and drove off with their trucks and weapons.

The group carried out the 2013 attack at the Westgate mall, which killed more than 60 people and wounded more than 175 in Nairobi, Kenya. More recently it has branched into more sophisticated forms of terrorism, including nearly downing a Somali airliner in February with a bomb hidden in a laptop computer.

Photo

United States Marines advancing in Mogadishu, Somalia, to quell violence in 1993, about seven months before the “Black Hawk Down” battle. Credit Corinne Dufka/Reuters

About 200 to 300 American Special Operations troops work with soldiers from Somalia and other African nations like Kenya and Uganda to carry out more than a half-dozen raids per month, according to senior American military officials. The operations are a combination of ground raids and drone strikes.

The Navy’s classified SEAL Team 6 has been heavily involved in many of these operations.

Once ground operations are complete, American troops working with Somali forces often interrogate prisoners at temporary screening facilities, including one in Puntland, a state in northern Somalia, before the detainees are transferred to more permanent Somali-run prisons, American military officials said.

The Pentagon has acknowledged only a small fraction of these operations. But even the information released publicly shows a marked increase this year. The Pentagon has announced 13 ground raids and airstrikes thus far in 2016 — including three operations in September — up from five in 2015, according to data compiled by New America, a Washington think tank. The strikes have killed about 25 civilians and 200 people suspected of being militants, the group found.

The strikes have had a mixed record. In March, an American airstrike killed more than 150 Shabab fighters at what military officials called a “graduation ceremony,” one of the single deadliest American airstrikes in any country in recent years. But an airstrike last month killed more than a dozen Somali government soldiers, who were American allies against the Shabab.

Outraged Somali officials said the Americans had been duped by clan rivals and fed bad intelligence, laying bare the complexities of waging a shadow war in Somalia. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said the Pentagon was investigating the strike.

Some experts point out that with the administration’s expanded self-defense justification for airstrikes, a greater American presence in Somalia would inevitably lead to an escalation of the air campaign.

“It is clear that U.S. on-the-ground support to Somali security forces and African Union peacekeepers has been stepped up this year,” said Ken Menkhaus, a Somalia expert at Davidson College. “That increases the likelihood that U.S. advisers will periodically be in positions where Al Shabab is about to launch an attack.”

Peter Cook, the Department of Defense spokesman, wrote in an email, “The DoD has a strong partnership with the Somali National Army and AMISOM forces from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi operating in Somalia. They have made steady progress pressuring Al Shabab.”

The escalation of the war can be seen in the bureaucratic language of the semiannual notifications that Mr. Obama sends to Congress about American conflicts overseas.

The ruins of the Jazeera Palace Hotel in Mogadishu last year. The Shabab claimed responsibility for the fatal bombing. CreditFeisal Omar/Reuters

The Somalia passage in the June 2015 notification is terse, saying American troops “have worked to counter the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa’ida and associated elements of al-Shabaab.”

In June, however, the president told Congress that the United States had become engaged in a more expansive mission.

Besides hunting members of Al Qaeda and the Shabab, the notification said, American troops are in Somalia “to provide advice and assistance to regional counterterrorism forces, including the Somali National Army and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces.”

American airstrikes, it said, were carried out in defense of the African troops and in one instance because Shabab fighters “posed an imminent threat to U.S. and AMISOM forces.”

At an old Russian fighter jet base in Baledogle, about 70 miles from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, American Marines and private contractors are working to build up a Somali military unit designed to combat the Shabab throughout the country.

Soldiers for the military unit, called Danab, which means lightning in Somali, are recruited by employees of Bancroft Global Development, a Washington-based company that for years has worked with the State Department to train African Union troops and embed with them on military operations inside Somalia.

Michael Stock, the company’s founder, said the Danab recruits received initial training at a facility in Mogadishu before they were sent to Baledogle, where they go through months of training by the Marines. Bancroft advisers then accompany the Somali fighters on missions.

Mr. Stock said the goal was to create a small Somali military unit capable of battling the Shabab without repeating the mistakes in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the United States spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to build up large armies.

Still, American commanders and their international partners are considering a significant expansion of the training effort to potentially include thousands of Somali troops who would protect the country when African Union forces eventually left the country.

King Obama Telling The British People “How It Is” (I don’t think the British people like getting lectured)

THIS IS A COPY POST FROM THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH NEWS PAPER OF APRIL 24th

(This IS A Re-post From Two Months Ago, I Said Then That King Obama Should Have Kept His Royal Mouth Shut. The Vote Results Proved Me Correct.)

Brexit: Furious reaction following Barack Obama’s intervention

(By Shaun Connolly, Press Association Political Correspondent)

PUBLISHED 24/04/2016

Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama
Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama

US president Barack Obama has launched a fresh intervention into the Brexit battle, warning the UK would have to wait up to a decade for a trade deal with America if it quits the EU.

Unbowed by a furious backlash from the Leave camp against his “interference” in British affairs during his visit to London, Mr Obama reinforced his stark statement that the UK would be at “the back of the queue” for a beneficial economic arrangement if it breaks away from Brussels.

“My simple point is that it’s hard to negotiate trade deals. It takes a long time, and the point is that the UK would not be able to negotiate something with the United States faster than the EU.

“We wouldn’t abandon our efforts to negotiate a trade deal with our largest trading partner, the European market, but rather it could be five years from now, ten years from now, before we were able to actually get something done,” Mr Obama told the BBC.

Denying that he was a “lame duck” president as prominent Leave figures have alleged, Mr Obama delivered a direct slap-down to the Brexit camp who had claimed the UK could cut a speedy deal with the US.

“The point I was simply making was that for those who suggested that, you know, if we could just not be entangled with the Europeans, our special relationship is going to mean that we can just cut the line and just get a quick deal with the United States, and it will be a lot more efficient, and that’s not how we think about it.

“I don’t think that’s how the next administration will think about it, because our preference would be to work with this large bloc of countries,” Mr Obama said.

The president made it clear he believed it would be damaging for the British economy to quit the EU.

“If I am a business person or a worker in Britain, and I’m looking at the fact that I already have access seamlessly with a massive market, one of the wealthiest markets in the world, that accounts for 44% of my exports, the idea that I’m going to be in a better position to export and trade by being outside of that market and not being in the room setting the rules and standards by which trade takes place, I think is erroneous,” Mr Obama said.

The president also warned that the security of the West could be weakened by a British withdrawal which took it out of communications between Brussels and Washington.

“I think we will together be less effective if we’re not in those forums, than we are currently, where we’ve got this great ally who engages in unmatched co-operation, with us in the room negotiating.

“You know, things as simple as making sure that passenger lists are shared, it took a lot of years for us to be able to negotiate that with the European Parliament and EU, and our strongest advocate for getting that done was the UK, and it was extremely helpful.

“What we do believe is that the United Kingdom will have less influence in Europe and as a consequence, less influence globally, and since we rely heavily on the UK as a partner globally on a whole range of issues, we’d like you to have more influence. We’d like you to be at the table, helping to influence other countries who may not oftentimes see things as clearly from our perspective as our British partners do,” Mr Obama said.

Mr Obama rowed back from criticism that Prime Minister David Cameron became “distracted” after the military action in Libya as the country slipped into turmoil.

“Well, I think that we were all distracted. You know, that portion of my comments, I’m sure got attention here. What maybe got less attention was my statement that one of my regrets is not fully anticipating the degree of concentration of focus that would be required after the campaign to make sure that Gaddafi wasn’t killing his own people in Libya,” Mr Obama said.

 

Obama issues stark trade warning against Brexit

Boris Johnson suggests ‘part-Kenyan’ Obama may have an ‘ancestral dislike’ of Britain

 

King Obama Telling The British People “How It Is”

THIS IS A COPY POST FROM THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH NEWS PAPER OF APRIL 24th,

Brexit: Furious reaction following Barack Obama’s intervention

By Shaun Connolly, Press Association Political Correspondent

PUBLISHED 24/04/2016

Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama
Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama

US president Barack Obama has launched a fresh intervention into the Brexit battle, warning the UK would have to wait up to a decade for a trade deal with America if it quits the EU.

Unbowed by a furious backlash from the Leave camp against his “interference” in British affairs during his visit to London, Mr Obama reinforced his stark statement that the UK would be at “the back of the queue” for a beneficial economic arrangement if it breaks away from Brussels.

“My simple point is that it’s hard to negotiate trade deals. It takes a long time, and the point is that the UK would not be able to negotiate something with the United States faster than the EU.

“We wouldn’t abandon our efforts to negotiate a trade deal with our largest trading partner, the European market, but rather it could be five years from now, ten years from now, before we were able to actually get something done,” Mr Obama told the BBC.

Denying that he was a “lame duck” president as prominent Leave figures have alleged, Mr Obama delivered a direct slap-down to the Brexit camp who had claimed the UK could cut a speedy deal with the US.

“The point I was simply making was that for those who suggested that, you know, if we could just not be entangled with the Europeans, our special relationship is going to mean that we can just cut the line and just get a quick deal with the United States, and it will be a lot more efficient, and that’s not how we think about it.

“I don’t think that’s how the next administration will think about it, because our preference would be to work with this large bloc of countries,” Mr Obama said.

The president made it clear he believed it would be damaging for the British economy to quit the EU.

“If I am a business person or a worker in Britain, and I’m looking at the fact that I already have access seamlessly with a massive market, one of the wealthiest markets in the world, that accounts for 44% of my exports, the idea that I’m going to be in a better position to export and trade by being outside of that market and not being in the room setting the rules and standards by which trade takes place, I think is erroneous,” Mr Obama said.

The president also warned that the security of the West could be weakened by a British withdrawal which took it out of communications between Brussels and Washington.

“I think we will together be less effective if we’re not in those forums, than we are currently, where we’ve got this great ally who engages in unmatched co-operation, with us in the room negotiating.

“You know, things as simple as making sure that passenger lists are shared, it took a lot of years for us to be able to negotiate that with the European Parliament and EU, and our strongest advocate for getting that done was the UK, and it was extremely helpful.

“What we do believe is that the United Kingdom will have less influence in Europe and as a consequence, less influence globally, and since we rely heavily on the UK as a partner globally on a whole range of issues, we’d like you to have more influence. We’d like you to be at the table, helping to influence other countries who may not oftentimes see things as clearly from our perspective as our British partners do,” Mr Obama said.

Mr Obama rowed back from criticism that Prime Minister David Cameron became “distracted” after the military action in Libya as the country slipped into turmoil.

“Well, I think that we were all distracted. You know, that portion of my comments, I’m sure got attention here. What maybe got less attention was my statement that one of my regrets is not fully anticipating the degree of concentration of focus that would be required after the campaign to make sure that Gaddafi wasn’t killing his own people in Libya,” Mr Obama said.

The president heaped praise on his wife Michelle, saying: “I cannot separate anything that I’ve achieved from the partnership that I’ve had with that remarkable woman. So I could not be prouder of her, and I think it’s fair to say that anything good that I’ve done, she gets a shared billing.”

Obama issues stark trade warning against Brexit

File photo dated 23/02/16 of Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who has come under fire over his attack on the "part-Kenyan" president Barack Obama. PA

Boris Johnson suggests ‘part-Kenyan’ Obama may have an ‘ancestral dislike’ of Britain