Macharia Kamau tells off 2 former US envoys to Kenya - Kenya Satellite News Network
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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

Kenya struggles to give life to futuristic Konza city

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Labourers milled around an unfinished eight-storey building in an expansive field in Konza dotted with zebra and antelope – the only visible sign of progress in a decade-old plan to make Kenya into Africa’s leading technology hub by 2030.

Grandiose plans, red tape and a lack of funding have left Konza Technopolis – the $14.5 billion new city to be built some 60 km (37 miles) southeast of Nairobi – way behind schedule on its goal of having 20,000 people on site by 2020.

“It has taken too long and I think people have moved on,” said tech entrepreneur Josiah Mugambi, founder of Alba.one, a Nairobi-based software company, who was initially excited by the government’s ambitious project.

Dubbed the Silicon Savannah, Konza aims to become a smart city – using tech to manage water and electricity efficiently and reduce commuting time – and a solution to the rapid, unplanned urbanisation which has plagued existing cities.

About 40 percent of Africa’s 1 billion people live in towns and cities and the World Bank predicts the urban population will double over the next 25 years, adding pressure to already stretched infrastructure.

Konza’s dream is to become a top business process outsourcing hub by 2030, with on-site universities training locals to feed into a 200,000-strong tech-savvy workforce providing IT support and call centre services remotely.

But the first building has yet to be completed on the 5,000-acre former cattle ranch, three years after breaking ground, and business has shifted its focus to other African countries, like Rwanda, with competing visions to become modern tech hubs.

“Nobody can wait that long for a city to be built. For a tech entrepreneur, they think about where their startup will be two to three years down the line,” said Mugambi.

Other smart cities planned across Africa include Nigeria’s Eko Atlantic City near Lagos that will house 250,000 people on land reclaimed from the sea, Ghana’s Hope City and an Ethiopian city styled as the real Wakanda after the film “Black Panther”.

Bringing such utopian schemes to life is no easy task for African governments that are struggling to provide adequate roads, power, water and security to their existing cities.

“Upgrading infrastructure in places like Kibera (slum) in Nairobi to provide water and a better sewerage system is equally as important as building a new city such as Konza,” said Abdu Muwonge, a senior urban specialist with the World Bank in Kenya.

Some critics say Konza was ill-conceived from the start.

“The vision is wrong; the vision is too big,” said Aly-Khan Satchu, a Nairobi-based independent financial analyst.

“This is miles from anywhere. There are not leveraging the existing infrastructure … It is assuming that you can bring in academia, you can bring in venture capital, you can bring in corporates.”

The first serious hurdle arose in 2012 when the National Land Commission (NLC), which manages public land, introduced a cumbersome land acquisition procedure, said Bitange Ndemo, who led a team that conceived Konza Technopolis in 2008.

“The NLC was saying we should follow the processes of acquiring public land, which would take years to complete,” Ndemo, now an associate professor of business at the University of Nairobi, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The delays caused at least one deal with a German university to fall through, he said, as the process was much slower than the old one where investors signed deals directly with government ministries which took care of land leases.

To resolve this, the government transferred ownership of the site to the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA), set up in 2012 to co-ordinate development of the new city, which now allocates land to investors on 50-year renewable leases.

Financing has also proven a major issue.

In its strategic plan, the government promised to fund 10 percent of Konza, laying the infrastructure, while the private sector would come in with the rest of the money to build universities, offices, housing and hotels.

But the government was slow to contribute its share and has yet to pass a law to create KoTDA as a legal entity which would make it easier to sign contracts with external lenders, said Lawrence Esho, one of Konza’s project planners until 2013.

“They are way behind schedule partly because the government took time to give Konza money,” he said, adding that no money came in until 2013.

“This stopped any work from starting at the site and investors may have developed cold feet as they waited.”

KoTDA’s chief executive, John Tanui, said the government has committed to invest more than 80 billion shillings ($780 million).

“When I say committed does not mean we have absorbed. Our absorption is less than 10 percent of that figure,” he said, without elaborating.

The government has stepped up funding since last year, said Abraham Odeng, deputy secretary at Kenya’s Information Communications and Technology ministry, without giving figures.

Odeng pointed to a 40 billion shilling contract signed in 2017 with an Italian firm to build roads, water and sewerage infrastructure by 2021, funded by the Italian government.

“That is a concessional loan, which is a long-term loan that the Kenyan government will pay,” he said.

But Kenya’s growing reliance on loans is causing jitters, with the International Monetary Fund warning of an increased risk of default this year.

Cities cannot be financed through central government but the absence of international firms points to a lack of investor confidence in the project, said the World Bank’s Muwonge.

“Getting Konza city off the ground will require that we pull in private capital with concessions for them to deliver certain kinds of infrastructure for which the government may not have resources,” he said.

“The issue is eliminating the challenges for the private sector to come and do business.”

Five local investors, including Nairobi-based software developer Craft Silicon and the state-run Kenya Electricity Transmission Company, are expected to build offices, residential buildings and hotels by 2020, KoTDA head Tanui said.

But critics say it is not enough.

“What (investors) have allocated so far is still a drop in the ocean,” said Ndemo, the former government technocrat.

And international interest is shifting elsewhere.

Rwanda – widely regarded as the least corrupt country in East Africa – launched its Kigali Innovation City in 2015, designed to host 50,000 people in universities and tech companies on a 70-hectare site outside the capital.

The $2 billion plan, due for completion by 2020, is seven times cheaper than Konza.

“All these other (cities) have better proximity, have better density and have better collaborative feedback loops,” said financial analyst Satchu. “We are now at a serious disadvantage vis-a-vis these other countries.”

Reuters

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PHOTOS: See comedian Anne Kansiime’s new love 11 months after divorce

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Ugandan comedian Anne Kansiime has found new love, 11 months after her marriage to Gerald Ojok crumbled.

Kansiime seems to have recovered from the heartbreak and is now head over heels in love with Ugandan singer Skylanta.

On Sunday, Kanssime took to her social media to introduce her new catch to the public, sharing intimate pictures as they locked lips.

Kansiime  and Skylanta

Kansiime captioned the picture in Nyankore dialect; “Rukundo Egumeho na akantukangye lazima.” (May this feeling of love reign)

A visit to Skylanta social media pages confirms the two are indeed madly in love. The little known, skinny musician has shared several picture of themselves spending time together.

Kansiime  and Skylanta

Kansiime was married to Ojok for four years until mid-last year when the marriage hit rock bottom. The cause of their split remains unclear.

The comedienne later confirmed to her fans about the divorce in a live Facebook question and answer session.

Ugandan media speculated that the split might have been caused by their financial status, with Ojok feeling emasculated by Kansiime’s financial muscle.

Other reports claimed that there was so much pressure on Ojok to have a baby with Kansiime, yet the comedienne wanted to focus on stabilising her career.

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Clean sweep for Kenya at Singapore Marathon

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Kenyans on Sunday monopolised both men’s and women’s podium positions at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon where more than 50,000 participants took part. 

Kenyans not only swept the podium elite race categories at the Marathon but did an unprecedented 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17 clean sweep in the men’s race.

Joshua Kipkorir clocked 2 hours 12 minutes and 12 seconds to win the race ahead of compatriots Felix Kirwa and Andrew Kimtai who came in second (2:13:42)and third (2:14:29) respectively.

Cosmas Matolo Muteti crossed the finish line fourth in 2:15:42 to lead Gilbert Yegon and Kibet Collins to top five  sweep before Dominic Ruto, Paul Matheka and Benson Kinutai closed in on the 10 extraordinary sweep.

“This is my first time here. I like the course, it’s very nice. I have no problems with the heat,” the 24 year old Kipkorir said.


Priscah Cherono wins the women’s category with a time of 2:32:12. Photo courtesy -ST PHOTO

In the women’s category, 38 year-old Priscah Cherono was the first to push past the tape, clocking 2:32:12 with Stella Barsosio (2:33:23) and Jane Jelagat (2:35:38) taking the silver and bronze medals.

Chernono said after her victory, “Yesterday was so hot, but today the conditions were good. I am so happy I won the race. I came to this race and I prepared myself, so now I’m dreaming”.

Kipkorir and Cherono will pocket US$50,000 (Sh5.1million) each.

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