Last year during Kenya’s General Elections, there was a plan for a terrorist attack that would disrupt these elections as well as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s swearing- in ceremony. The Tanzanian Head of State, President Jakaya Kikwete, revealed that his country played a vital role in the hindering of these terrorist plans.
Image Source: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/business/files/2013/11/UHURU-KIKWETE.jpg
Article Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/news/-/1056/2285270/-/14fhnew/-/index.html
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta
Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s recently elected President, is facing charges for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague; however, the prosecution will have to overcome major setbacks due to a number of witnesses backing out from their testimony.
Mr. Kenyatta is alleged to have used his family fortune to sponsor death squad attacks during the violence that followed the 2007 presidential elections. Despite the fact that Mr. Kenyatta has always rejected such allegations and attributed them to politically driven gossip, the ICC has been moving forward in building a case against the Kenyan leader.
While prosecuting a current head of state is not a straightforward task and the challenges so far have been numerous, the news that one of the lead witnesses will renounce to testify will prove a major impediment to the case. The setback is only one in a series of challenges the prosecutors have had to overcome while building this case. The trial, initially scheduled for July of this year, has been postponed to November 12th in order to allow more time for the prosecution to work on the case. While this may give more time to organize evidence and testimonies, it also increases the chances of witnesses backing out of the case in fear of their own security.
Witness number 426 has stated that the security risks are just too high to justify a testimony. The fact that Mr. Kenyatta is a current head of state and has enormous influence on Kenya’s army and security forces is certainly discouraging to those who have been shown willingness to talk about the 2007 violence. By the same token, the anti-ICC climate that has been fostered by the current government is working against the case and is discouraging any further testimonies. ICC prosecutors are afraid that Kenya’s political climate may discourage other witnesses from testifying and that this trend may affect other international criminal cases where witnesses lack sufficient protection.
For more details visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/20/world/africa/dwindling-witness-list-threatens-case-against-kenyan-president.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&ref=africa&adxnnlx=1374692694-UkcuXTv0ZmW4R4TlFNva5Q
Kenyan Presidential Candidates
The Kenyan media has planned a series of American-style presidential debates before the March 4, 2013 election. Three debates will air on eight Kenyan television stations and 32 radio stations between November 26, 2012 and February 11,2013. The debates will adopt a town-hall style format for 90 minutes with two moderators and four panelists who will engage the candidates in a question and answer session.
According to the Chairman of the Joint Media Presidential Debates Steering Committee, Royal Media managing director Wachira Waruru, the debates will provide Kenyan voters with the opportunity to listen to, interrogate and interact with the presidential candidates. These debates will also provide the candidates with the opportunity to reach the widest possible audience. These debates will also help Kenyan voters make informed choices, promote national cohesion and steer the campaigns towards the quality of leadership rather than personality based politics that can often lead to violence.
On Sunday February 24th, the top Kenyan presidential candidates pledged to preach peace during national prayers at Uhuru Park. The leaders were motivated by the self styled prophet David Owuor, who’s followers have been praying for peace during the upcoming March elections. In front of thousands of supporters, Prime Minister Raila Odinga announced that he and his long time political adversary William Ruto have forgiven each other thanks to Prophet Owuor’s intervention. Odinga stated “It will not be a winner takes it all. It will be a role for everybody. I also want to thank the Prophet because he has tried hard to bring us all together. He has always done this and I can reveal here that last year he brought me and my brother William Ruto together and we are now working together. Long live Kenya!”. Ruto responded to the Prime Minister’s new-found beliefs and agreed that they have forgiven each other.
The promotion of peace is a beacon of hope amidst the possibility of election violence, similar to the ethnic violence that resulted from the 2008 elections. Although the main presidential candidates have pledged peace, many in Kenya are preparing for election-related violence after the March 4th election.
Presidential candidates pledging peace at Uhuru park
Look here for the whole story:
On Monday, November 26th, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki announced his desire to see more women seek elected offices during the March 2013 election. Due to Kenya’s changes in its constitution, Article 23 states that there may be no more than two thirds of one gender holding office, consequently, women must hold at least one third of all public offices. Kibaki stresses to women, “The fact that the Constitution accepts your right to seek elective positions is very clear but to get that right, you have to work hard”. Kibaki worries that Senate, Parliament and even some County Assemblies may be ruled unconstitutional by the courts if the gender quota is not met.
Currently Kenya is not only falling behind nationally in their gender parity for elected offices, they are drastically behind surrounding countries in the region: only 9.8 per cent of Members of Parliament in Kenya are women, compared to 56.3 per cent in Rwanda, Uganda (35 per cent), Burundi (30.5 per cent) and Ethiopia (37.8 per cent). Kibaki specifically reached out to the organization, Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation (MYWO). MYWO is an organization of Kenyan women that works to empower women and girls throughout the nation. They have called on their 25,000 members to elect women for positions in Kenya’s 47 counties. In order for Kenya to meet their gender ratio for the 2013 election, more women must run for office.
Members of MYWO
For more information: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/-/1064/1629516/-/ag3uiy/-/index.html
President Obama with Kenyans on a previous trip to Kenya
The United States President, Barack Obama, issued a message to Kenyans February 5, 2013 regarding their upcoming elections. In March 2013, Kenya will be holding the first election since the violent 2008 elections, in which over a thousand people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Leading up to the March 4, 2013 elections, there has already been violence among some presidential candidate supporters. Next month, Kenyans go to the polls to elect a new president, parliament, and hundreds of other public offices.
In his address, President Obama stressed that the upcoming elections provide a historic opportunity for Kenyans to “stand together, as a nation, for peace and progress, and for the rule of law.” As Kenyans prepare for the election, President Obama urged them to put aside ethnic ties and to participate peacefully in a revolutionary election.
Read here for more details: http://allafrica.com/stories/201302051124.html
Kenyan woman uses her mobile phone
The month of November was crucial to the continuation of Kenya’s dominance in the world of Information Communication Technology (ICT) innovation and investment. Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Kenya’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, emphasized Kenya’s capacity to improve and expand their ICT sector. Ndemo suggested that the government should shift its focus from extra taxation and instead focus on efficiency, which will lead to more revenue for the government.
Ndemo then explained that digitization of government is one of the strategic pillars of the National ICT Master Plan. She explained that digitization of the lands registry had seen revenue collected rise from Ksh. 800 million to Ksh. 9 billion. Ndemo added that digitization around the country stood to make the country more than Ksh. 200 billion in additional revenue. She also stated that fully digitized hospitals were expected to bring savings of 40 percent in the healthcare sector.
A major contributor to Kenya’s ability to accomplish its task of being Africa’s leader in ICT, are the plans to construct the fifth undersea fiber optic cable that would provide Kenya with an opportunity to more than quadruple its current bandwidth capacity. Kenya currently has four undersea cables that also service all of Kenya’s neighboring countries and provide over 5,261,919 Mbps international connectivity.
The latest sector statistics by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) reported that 17.38 million people in the country had access to the Internet as of December 2011, marking a penetration rate of 44.12 percent. With the completion of the fifth undersea cable, these statistics will drastically increase.
On September 28, 2012 Kenyan military forces captures Kismayu, the last major stronghold of the Shabab militant group in Somalia. Kenyan military officials said that their troops staged a midnight amphibious assault to storm the beaches of Kismayu, a vital port for the Shabab. After the attack, African Union peacekeepers urged all Kismayu militants to lay down their weapons and surrender.
The city of Kismayu has been key to the success of the Shabab because it has allowed the militants to bring in weapons and raise money for operations by imposing fees on all sorts of goods. Kenya’s invasion of Somalia has been its most aggressive step towards protecting national security. The relentless chaos in Somalia has hindered Kenya’s fast-growing economy. The invasion on the 28th was a key step in the objective to secure a multibillion-dollar port on the Indian Ocean, not far from the Somali border.
The capture of the Shabab stronghold in Kismayu will benefit Kenya by reducing the threat to Kenya’s national security on the borders. The take down of this crucial city will also improve international security because it will weaken the Shabab’s ability to aid Al Qaeda.
Kenyan troops preparing for the Kismayu invasion
Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has begun preparations for a general election on March 4, 2013. The election for next spring will decide: the presidency, the representatives of the house and also for the senate, a government of the county, a woman representative and a country representative. Due to the violence that occurred after the 2007 presidential election, additional safety measures have been taken to ensure that the upcoming election runs smoothly with as little conflict as possible.
The IEBC has traveled to newly created constituencies throughout Kenya to meet with community leaders to discuss where they think the best polling stations should be, before they are installed. The electoral body will soon begin training poll officials who will supervise and administer the vote on March 4th. Along with training the poll officials, the IEBC has begun voter education to ensure that Kenyans understand what the constitution entails. In addition to voter education, the IEBC has negotiated with the government to purchase biometric voter identification and registration kits that will enable the IEBC to begin voter registration by the end of October. With the policies enacted by the IEBC months before the election, the Kenyan government hopes to have a peacefully run 2013 election.