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Macharia Kamau tells off 2 former US envoys to Kenya

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Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau has come out guns blazing in response to an article published late last month by former US ambassadors to Kenya Johnnie Carson and Mark Bellamy in which they called for US intervention in Kenya. The article was published by African Arguments.

Through a statement sent to newsrooms Tuesday, the immediate former Kenya’s ambassador to the UN has said the article fell “flat on their face due to the blatant use of lies, half-truths and innuendos.”

And in an opinion piece published in the same publication, Kamau says there is no need for negotiations since Kenya has successfully gone through its five-year electoral cycle and is now focused on serving her citizens.

In effect, the Kenyan government is rejecting calls to have the United States intervene in the current political standoff pitting it against the opposition.

ABSURD DEMAND

“Our response to the authors’ absurd demand for US intervention in Kenya is a loud no, thanks,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Ambassadors Bellamy and Carson. PHOTO/COURTESY

“This is a clear demonstration of how preconceived notions and stereotypes about Africa by Western technocrats override any practical experience and knowledge they may have acquired on the continent. Their knack for getting it wrong on African and Kenyan issues is not only dumbfounding but also a demonstration of why desk research on Africa, with the only source of information being a biased Western media, should be treated with disdain,” he said.

The Daily Nation reported the President Uhuru Kenyatta’s spokesman Manoah Esipisu appeared to confirm that, indeed, that was the position held by the Head of State.

“The PS has spoken and that is his docket. What else do you want us to add?” he asked.

The former ambassadors offered their joint recommendations in a commentary published in African Arguments, an online journal.

“Publicly shaming the Kenyatta government or threatening sanctions is not the answer. However, the US must make it crystal clear privately that there are limits to what the US can tolerate if it is to maintain its close relationship and that continuing to amass executive power unconstitutionally and flout the rule of law seriously tests those limits,” they said.

 

Mr Kamau Tuesday accused the former envoys of misinforming their readers on the situation in Kenya during and after the General Election.

“The fact that Kenya went through the prolonged campaign and electioneering period and emerged peaceful, should be a reason to celebrate the resilience of her democracy,” he said.

“They talk of political chaos and possible intercommunal violence and a palpable desire to change this trajectory. They even mourn that attempts by Western governments to appeal for calm are not being heeded. The reader will note how the authors are keen to weave the now familiar narrative of a crumbling African State and the ever-benevolent Western states ready to intervene and sort out ‘another fine mess in Africa’,” he said.

 

Mr Kamau’s hard-hitting statement, coming at a time US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected in the country, may be seen as an attempt to pre-empt his agenda with observers in the diplomatic circles pointing out that the senior diplomat could in fact be stating the government’s position regarding the campaign for dialogue.

The PS said the 2017 elections presented an opportunity to test the institutions created by the constitution, including the Judiciary and the IEBC.

“The question of whether the institutions withstood the test can be attested by the peace and tranquillity that is existing in Kenya barely three months after the repeat elections,” he said, adding that the electioneering period ended with the swearing-in of President Uhuru Kenyatta on November 28, 2017, after he was duly elected in the October repeat presidential elections.

RULE OF LAW

“The claims that there is a deliberate attempt by the Executive to subvert the rule of law cannot be further from the truth.  Throughout the campaign period, the government demonstrated fidelity to the law with the then incumbent President accepting the Supreme Court ruling nullifying the August 8, 2017 presidential election even as he, and other legal analysts, disagreed with it. The main opposition coalition, clearly aware that their political strategy had failed, dithered and withered, eventually boycotting the repeat presidential elections,” he said.

He accused the opposition of attempting to perpetrate violence in the wake of their electoral loss.

To demonstrate that the country is on the right path, he said, international investors have given the Kenyan economy a vote of confidence by a sevenfold over-subscription of a Eurobond issued by the government in the London Stock Exchange recently.

 

Here is the  full article:

That Mark Bellamy and Johnnie Carson are accomplished US diplomats is not in doubt. It may also be assumed that their relationship with Kenya as former ambassadors in Nairobi gives them a more than average understanding of Kenya’s politics, economy and even social aspects.

But their article, published at African Arguments on 27 February, in which they call for US intervention in Kenya is a clear demonstration of how preconceived notions and stereotypes about Africa by Western technocrats override any practical experience and knowledge they may have acquired on the continent.

Their knack for getting it wrong on African and Kenyan issues is not only dumbfounding but also a demonstration of why desk research on Africa, with the only source of information being a biased Western media, should be treated with disdain.

The authors seem to revel in misinforming their readers not only on the existing situation but also on the events that unfolded during Kenya’s 2017 election cycle. They talk of political chaos, possible intercommunal violence, and a palpable desire to change this trajectory. They even mourn that attempts by Western governments to appeal for calm are not being heeded.

The reader will note how the authors are keen to weave the now familiar narrative of a crumbling African State and the ever-benevolent Western states ready to intervene and sort “another fine mess in Africa”. Inevitably, attempts to weave this narrative in this article fall flat on their face due to the blatant use of lies, half-truths and innuendos.

Peace and tranquillity since the elections

It’s a fact that Kenya’s vibrant electioneering period ended with the swearing in of President Uhuru Kenyatta on 28 November, after he was duly elected in the 26 October 2017 repeat presidential elections. The claims that there is a deliberate attempt by the executive to subvert the rule of law cannot be further from the truth. Throughout the campaign period, the government demonstrated fidelity to the law with the president accepting the Supreme Court ruling nullifying the 8 August presidential election even as he, and other legal analysts, disagreed with it.

The main opposition coalition, clearly aware that their political strategy had failed, dithered and withered, eventually boycotting the repeat elections. Their attempts to perpetrate violence in the wake of their electoral loss have been rejected outright by Kenyans, with the government taking the necessary steps to fulfil its cardinal responsibility of protecting the lives and property of Kenyans.

In the long and arduous walk to entrench democratic principles, no individual or institution is exempt from the dictates of the constitution. Just like in any other democracy, the media, various arms of government, political parties, civil society groups, and all citizens are bound by the constitution and its violation has consequences in line with the rule of law.

The fact that Kenya went through the prolonged campaign period and emerged peaceful should be a reason to celebrate the resilience of her democracy. Kenya’s constitution, enacted in 2010, is barely eight years old. The 2017 elections presented an opportunity to test the institutions it created, including the Judiciary and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

The question of whether the institutions withstood the test can be attested to by the peace and tranquillity in Kenya barely three months after the repeat elections. Kenyans are back to work and the economy, which had slightly slumped during the electioneering period, is now on an upward trend with the World Bank projecting 5% economic growth for 2018.

Even international investors have given the economy a vote of confidence by a sevenfold oversubscription of a Eurobond issued by the government in the London Stock Exchange on 21 February. The tourists are trooping back to enjoy the unrivalled Kenyan flora and fauna and bask in the white beaches of Malindi and the entire coastal region.

Double standards

The authors’ assertion that Kenya is unravelling due to what they refer to as a widening rift between the ruling Jubilee and the opposition NASA coalition betrays their double standards when it comes to democratic tenets in Africa as compared to in America.

It is not lost on Kenyans that the differences in ideologies between the Democrat and Republican parties and toxic political drama that culminated in the election of President Donald Trump in 2016 left some social and political fissures in America. But despite their divisive nature, the Trump vs. Clinton political campaigns can rightly be described as a demonstration of the vibrancy and maturity of America’s democracy.

In a clear display of bias and cognitive dissonance, Bellamy and Carson describe similar ideological differences and political rhetoric between the Jubilee Party and NASA Coalition during and after the elections as political turmoil. Competitive politics in a democracy, both in America and Africa, can never be described as turmoil. Political competition is a key tenet of democracy, and Kenya has demonstrated that, with strong institutions, credible and peaceful elections are possible.

An affront to Kenya’s sovereignty

On a positive note, the authors acknowledge the cordial relations between Kenya and the US, which they had an opportunity to strengthen during their respective tenures as ambassadors to Kenya. They use this as a basis for advocating for US intervention to prevent what they see as Kenya descending into violence and threats to rule of law.

But with memories of US interventions in countries such as Libya and Iraq, ostensibly to return them to democracy, still fresh in our minds, jitters about this proposal by senior US leaders are understandable. Any form of interference by the US in a country that has time and again demonstrated her commitment to entrench democratic principles, rule of law, and good governance can only portend danger.

It is no wonder that the current US ambassador in Nairobi, and indeed the entire US government, has risen above Kenya’s political challenges. Just as Ambassador Carson was proven wrong on his assertion before the 2013 elections that a victory for Uhuru Kenyatta would have negative consequences, the two countries have once again continued on the path of strengthening their bilateral relations and partnerships with a clear understanding of the need for mutual respect. The threats issued and grandstanding advocated for by the two US leaders is not only unfortunate but also an affront to Kenya’s sovereignty.

On her part, Kenya will maintain momentum in strengthening governance institutions, entrenching the rule of law, building a cohesive society, and buttressing peace within its borders and in the region. While we welcome positive and constructive criticism from our partners and friends, we remain averse to any suggestions of interference with our internal affairs from any quarters.

Our response to the authors’ absurd demand for US intervention in Kenya is a loud NO THANKS!

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Africa

Commonwealth silver medallist’s mother spends night in prison

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BY OLIVIA MUNGWANA

Ms Hannah Wambui, mother to Gold Coast Commonwealth 800metres silver medallist Margaret Nyairera, spent the night in Mweiga Police Station cells in Nyeri following her arrest on Saturday over the disputed land

Ms Wambui mother will on Monday be charged in court with forcible detainer of a three-acre piece of land.

Ms Nyairera and the family could not raise the Sh20,000 cash bail police were demanding, forcing the 50-year-old to spend Saturday night behind bars.

According to Ms Nyairera, her mother was arrested at her home in Endarasha, Kieni West on Saturday at 3pm.

“I was called yesterday about my mother’s arrest. We still do not understand fully the reason for the arrest,” the athlete said.

She said that the officers, who arrested her mother, had gone to oversee the fencing off of the property.

“I understand that they had documents which they presented to my mother but she cannot read. She resorted to scream and that is when she was arrested,” Ms Nyairera explained.

The disputed land was bought by the athlete after she won the 800m bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. The land was bought at a cost of Sh2.4million.

Commonwealth 800m silver medallist Margaret Nyairera (right) chats with her mother Hannah Wambui outside Mweiga police cells in Nyeri on September 23, 2018. The athlete's mother was arrested on September 22, 2018 for forcible detainer of a three acre parcel of land at Endarasha. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI |

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Domestic violence deaths on the rise in diaspora

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Zachary Moitui, a Kenyan-born resident of Jersey City, New Jersey, thought he had seen the worst of human brutality when he found himself at the centre of a gruesome murder in America that made headlines around the world.

On October 2010, Evans Kebabe bludgeoned his wife and their two children to death in their Vadnais Heights apartment in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The bodies of his wife Bilha Omare, 32, and their two children then aged 12 and 9 were found on October 14 in their apartment.

Kebabe, who is now serving a jail term handed down to him on January 2011, was arrested after his car ran out of gas while trying to flee.

Mr Moitui, a respected elder of the Kenyan community in Jersey, led plans to move the bodies from Minneapolis to Jersey City for burial.

“It was a heartbreaking time for our diaspora community because in all honesty, we had never witnessed such brutality and never imagined we had such people among us.

“That was until of course recently, when something eerily similar happened right here in Jersey City,” said Mr Moitui.

MURDER/SUICIDE
Mr Moitui was referring to the news early in the week that another Kenyan couple had been found dead in their home and that the husband was suspected to have shot his wife before turning the gun on himself.

The local press reported that authorities in Jersey City were investigating a murder-suicide after police discovered bodies of a man and woman dead from gunshot wounds.

It turns out that the couple — Henry Okong’o and Lydiah Okong’o — were in fact people Mr Moitui was not only familiar with but also related to one of them.

“The late Lydia was my niece. Fourteen years ago when they started having domestic issues, Lydia moved out and lived with me for five months.

“She went back after we helped them to reconcile. Little did I know it would turn out as it did on Monday,” Mr Moitui said.

RECONCILIATION
He added: “I’m not only feeling devastated by her death, I’m also wondering whether reconciling them was the best thing to do.

“What I did then to reconcile them was what any parent would do for the good of the family, especially the children but, here we are!”

The couple has been living in the 2 Mina Drive property for over a decade and neighbours are still confounded by the incident.

“Three children have been left without parents. This is so sad,” one neighbour was quoted by the local press as saying.

Dr George Omburo, one of the Seventh day Adventists church elders, said the couple “had a tough marriage”.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
This incident and many others that seem to have escalated in the recent past involving the Kenyan Diaspora have left many wondering what exactly is going on within the community that is usually reluctant to discuss issues of domestic violence openly.

“Having lived in the US for more than 10 years, and having witnessed a lot of these cases, I can confidently say that the major cause of domestic disagreements among Kenyans is the reversal of gender roles as we know them,” Mr Chris Majani, a Kenyan-born resident of Dallas, Texas, said.

Saturday Nation

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Unmasking MPs: How they tricked Kenyans on new tax vote

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MPs may have tricked Kenyans into believing that they were on their side when they met for a special sitting on Tuesday and Thursday to consider President Uhuru Kenyatta’s memorandum on the Finance Bill, 2018.

A section of the MPs had planned to veto President Kenyatta’s reservations on the bill because it was going to increase the cost of living.

They cited the President’s proposal of eight per cent VAT on petroleum products, the 1.5 per cent levy on housing fund as well as the extra Sh18 for every litre of Kerosene among others.

In so doing, they lobbied a good number to shoot down the President’s views ahead of the big day. Just like amending the Constitution, it requires two-thirds or at least 233 of the 349 MPs in the House to veto the memorandum.

Although the MPs had been lobbied by their respective party leaders to pass the proposals, they were in a Catch-22 situation.

They were to please their party leaders, Mr Kenyatta, who held a Jubilee parliamentary group meeting at State House, Nairobi on Tuesday and the National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Mr Raila Odinga.

Mr Odinga had chaired the Nasa parliamentary group at Orange House on the same day Mr Kenyatta did at State House. However, the tricky part was that they were to please their party bosses without betraying the public.

But how possible could this have happened? Unbeknown to the public, the MPs may have just killed two birds with a stone.

On Thursday afternoon, after approving the supplementary budget the MPs retreated to the committee of the Whole House to consider the memorandum.

Narok Woman Representative Soipan Tuya, also a member of the Committee of Chairpersons, was the chair of the committee for the afternoon.

When Ms Tuya put the clause on the eight percent VAT on fuel products to vote, she declared the “ayes” had won.

Those in opposition protested and stood up as the House almost degenerated into chaos.

According to Article 115 of the Constitution, those voting “nays” have the obligation to confirm that they have the requisite two-thirds majority before the presiding chair calls for a division.

Though leader of majority Aden Duale led some members out of the chamber, a claim he confirmed saying it was meant to deny the others the numbers, it is a trick that even the opposition previously employed to have their way.

However, under the same provision and Article 122, those voting “ayes” just need to be 26, being the simple majority.

In a voice vote, the only legally known and procedurally simple process is to rule that the “ayes” have it like Ms Tuya did so that the “nays” can vote electronically or by way of being counted, which is called roll call vote so that their number of 233 is confirmed.

The roll call vote is quite popular in the US congress.

When Ms Tuya called for a roll call, the MPs would not listen with Isiolo Woman Representative Rehema Dida Jaldesa captured on the table microphone saying that they did not want the roll call because it would be known which side they were leaning on.

She would also be heard advising Mandera North MP Bashir Abdullahi against the roll call vote.

One of the MPs, who was against the memorandum blatantly told a parliamentary orderly that all they wanted was to be allowed to shout, as they did not have time for a roll call.

Daily Nation

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