Saturday, 16 February 2008

Bush Speaks on Kenya

... but from a safe distance.

Pres. George Dubya Bush is urging a power-sharing solution to the Kenyan crisis.

He said he was sending his secretary of state to Kenya to convey the message.

Mr Bush was speaking in Benin, at the start of his first presidential tour of Africa since 2003. [How did he ever find his way to Benin?]

He said he would highlight African success stories during his six-day, five-nation visit, even though he remained committed to ending turmoil.

Six years ago President Bush stunned a major international summit on aid finance by offering far more money to the poorest countries in the world than most people had expected. [I wonder how much of it actually filtered down to poor people?]

Call me cynical ...

Foreign missions in dilemma over crisis

From Daily Nation: 2/16/2008

Kenya’s political crisis has put a number of foreign missions in a dilemma.

Some think there will be a negotiated settlement to the problem while others see a possible worsening of the situation, should the ongoing peace efforts fail.

Impeccable sources in diplomatic circles said the envoys and development partners including the World Bank have been meeting to chart the way forward if the problem takes long to resolve.

Britain, Kenya’s former colonial master, and the US are some of the countries expressing optimism that the talks will be fruitful and have made it clear that the country is too important to be left to go the Somalia way. [Really, I didn't know Kenya had oil!]

Yes, Kenya is so important that the US President, on a tour of Africa, is NOT visiting Kenya, but has sent Condoleeza Rice. The man is on the continent - why isn't he coming to Kenya, which he considers so important. Oh yes, no oil!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Not only, but also ...

Yes, I love Kenya, warts and all, but I also love a Kenyan, or more accurately, a little group of Kenyans.

Meet my fiancée, Liz ...
... her son, Ian ...

... and her daughter, Natasha.

Kenyans to review disputed poll

From the BBC website: Friday, 15 February 2008, 15:38 GMT

Kenya's rival political parties have agreed to set up an independent panel to review last year's disputed elections, Kofi Annan has said.

The former United Nations secretary general however said that a possible power-sharing agreement had not yet been finalised.

The independent panel, including Kenyan and non-Kenyan experts, will investigate "all aspects" of the disputed election, said Mr Annan.

The committee is due to start work on 15 March and submit its report within three to six months, he added.

"We are there, we are very close, we are moving steadily," Mr Annan said, after two days of secret talks to end the crisis. [In a luxury hotel, of course]

Sorry? Are we there, nearly there or just on the way? Oh well, I suppose any move in the right direction has to be praised. After all, Tweedledum and Tweedledee weren't going to budge from their respective perches a week ago.

Annan set to unveil deal!

From BBC website Friday, 15 February 2008, 11:18 GMT

Former United Nations head Kofi Annan is set to announce the details of an agreement reached after two days of talks to end Kenya's political crisis.

Both teams have returned to the capital from an exclusive tourist resort [I hope they enjoyed themselves!] after the talks were adjourned on Thursday.

A BBC correspondent says the teams may have agreed in principle to share power but details still need to be finalised. Whoopee!

However, my concerns are more immediate. There are over 300 refugees in Kisii, mainly women and children. Some have died. I have contacted every aid agency working in Kenya, including the UNHCR, asking for food to be sent to Kisii as they have received nothing since the troubles forced them there.

To date, I have not received a reply from a single agency, not even an acknowledgement that I have sent them an email!

Is it that these people are so self-important that they consider small NGOs, who are usually at grass-roots, too insignificant to worry about?

It is these little NGOs and other organisations who could give so much information to the big boys. They know the people, they can organise food distribution.

Or, are these big fellas so clever they don't need help from local people?

Mr Annan, once you have sorted out the political crisis in Kenya, can you please have a look at how major aid organisations are run, including the UNHCR?

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Hey! What's this? Agreement? Surely not ...

From BBC website Thursday, 14 February 2008, 18:48 GMT

Kenya constitution 'within year'

Kenya's government and opposition party have agreed to write a new constitution within a year, a government negotiator has said.

Mutula Kilonzo told Reuters news agency that the parties had "reached agreement on a wide-ranging sphere of issues".

The deal comes after talks aimed at bringing an end to the post-election violence ...

Mr Kilonzo gave no further details about the contents of the deal.

The talks, led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, have been seeking a resolution to the disputed elections held in December.

So, this is more potentially good news. What is happening? Can I cope with all this?

Good News or Bad News?

Bush to send top envoy to Kenya

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to go to Kenya amid efforts to end the violence that erupted after a disputed presidential election. President George W Bush said Ms Rice would back the mediation efforts led by former UN chief Kofi Annan.

She would press for an immediate halt to violence, justice for victims, and "a full return to democracy", he said.

Hmmm ... In most cases, when the US sticks its oar in, things go from bad to worse - not always, but usually. I'm surprised they even know where Kenya is! And it has to be remembered that the President sending Ms Rice gained his first term through apparently murky means.

And ... watch out for friendly fire!

To Liz

I wrote your name in the sand, but the waves washed it away.
I wrote your name on my hand, but I washed it the next day.
I wrote your name on a paper, but I accidentally threw it away.
I wrote your name in my heart and forever it will stay.

New Storm Brewing

A diplomatic row is brewing between Kenya and the United Kingdom following a statement by High Commissioner Adam Wood that the Government, as currently constituted, did not reflect the wishes of Kenyans, according to the Daily Nation.

Well, as a Brit, it is nice to see that someone is taking a positive stance over the situation. The governments in Europe have rattled a few sabres, but as yet, as far as I can see, have not actually done anything.

The US has prevented a few Kenyan legislators from acquiring visas, preventing them from entering the USA - big deal!

Mr Wetangula is hopping mad at the remarks - does the truth hurt? - "... the high commissioner is still hell-bent to wreck the boat.”

Mr Wetangula said the Government, as currently constituted, does not need a stamp from the British authorities to reflect the will of Kenyans. True, they need a kick up the @rse!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Finally, contact with my girlfriend!

Soon after I left her and the kids last September, she was the subject of a robbery at her house, when the nasty villains forced their way in and took everything of value. They asked where the Mzungu was and if I was coming back. So they obviously thought she was a good target, as I was obviously leaving presents etc. for her.

In the event, they took the laptop, digital camera, cell phone that I have given her as well as the TV, DVD player and other goodies.

Coupled with this, Liz worked as a receptionist in a tourist hotel and lost her job soon after the election chaos. This is a particular blow as she is well educated but lives in a small village where there is little work, especially where there are no tourists.

But she finally managed to get the use of a mobile phone, so we are contacting each other by text - what a relief and joy to be able to contact her again.

I was able to tell her that I will be there for the 6th birthday of her little boy, which pleased her, as it is next month. He misses his "Daddy".

That will put a strain on resources as I also have to go to Kisii. Still, transport is almost back to normal, apparently. I don't like public transport but with the car having been burned out, I have no choice. Never mind, it will be worth the effort.

A Spanner in the Works?

Justice Minister Martha Karua seems to want to de-rail the peace process already. After Kofi Annan stated that he did not want a news blackout regarding the talks, she has started ranting, or so it would seem from various new reports.

She has expressed anger with mediator Kofi Annan over comments on resolving the election dispute.

Mr Annan hinted that both sides had agreed on a transitional government for two years, after which fresh presidential elections would be held.

This does not seem unreasonable since it was reported that both teams had tabled proposals for a power-sharing agreement at the talks.

So is this just the Government side trying to put a spanner in the works?

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Things looking up?

Well, Kofi is still in charge and there are rumours of a big coalition in the offing - but this is just rumour.

A news blackout, insisted up on by Mr Annan is igniting the fuel on the rumour fire. Still, the violence seems to have subsided, although there are apparently gangs of Mungiki still roaming around.

Dare I start to prepare for my now overdue trip to Kenya? I have a lot to do and it isn't getting any less while I am sitting here in the UK.

But I am getting negative feedback from one of my guys. I am really thinking he has a hidden agenda because all my other friends and contacts say that it is fine for me to go.

And Mr Negative is my first port of call when I step off the plane in Nairobi. He is my interface. Without him, I may actually have to fend for myself for a while!

Then there is our car - or rather the lack of. It was destroyed at the height of the disturbances and we are not in a position to replace it. We are, after all, a very small NGO.

I have tried contacting various aid agencies to see if I can beg, steal or borrow (no, maybe not steal) a vehicle, but to no avail. I am going to be carrying to much kit to easily use a matatu, so Mr Negative is it.

Oh well, I will just have to bombshell him and tell him I am coming on such and such a date and be ready to receive me, even if he feels totally underwhelmed (is that really a word?).