Join Friends of Pambazuka

Subscribe for Free!

Fahamu Bulletin Archive

About our Programmes

Donate to Pambazuka News!

Follow Us

delicious bookmarks facebook twitter

Pambazuka News

Pambazuka News Pambazuka News is produced by a pan-African community of some 2,600 citizens and organisations - academics, policy makers, social activists, women's organisations, civil society organisations, writers, artists, poets, bloggers, and commentators who together produce insightful, sharp and thoughtful analyses and make it one of the largest and most innovative and influential web forums for social justice in Africa.

The Inagural 2016 Pan African Colloquium, Barbados

Latest titles from Pambazuka Press

African Sexualities

Earth Grab A Reader
Sylvia Tamale
A groundbreaking book, accessible but scholarly, by African activists. It uses research, life stories and artistic expression to examine dominant and deviant sexualities, and investigate the intersections between sex, power, masculinities and femininities
Buy now

Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya

From Citizen to Refugee Horace Campbell
In this elegantly written and incisive account, scholar Horace Campbell investigates the political and economic crises of the early twenty-first century through the prism of NATO's intervention in Libya.
Buy now

Queer African Reader

Demystifying Aid Edited by Sokari Ekine, Hakima Abbas
A diverse collection of writing from across the continent exploring African LGBTI liberation: identity, tactics for activism, international solidarity, homophobia and global politics, religion and culture, and intersections with social justice movements. A richness of voices, a multiplicity of discourses, a quiverful of arguments. African queers writing for each other, theorising ourselves, making our ...more
Buy now

China and Angola

African Awakening A Marriage of Convenience?
Edited by Marcus Power, Ana Alves
This book focuses on the increased co-operation between Angola and China and shows that although relations with China might have bolstered regime stability and boosted the international standing of the Angolan government, China is not regarded as a long term strategic partner.
Buy now

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

To Cook a ContinentWalter Rodney
Rodney shows how the imperial countries of Europe, and subsequently the US, bear major responsibility for impoverishing Africa. They have been joined in this exploitation by agents or unwitting accomplices both in the North and in Africa.
Buy now

Pambazuka News Broadcasts

Pambazuka broadcasts feature audio and video content with cutting edge commentary and debate from social justice movements across the continent.

See the list of episodes.


This site has been established by Fahamu to provide regular feedback to African civil society organisations on what is happening with the African Union.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Back Issues

Pambazuka News 417: Special Issue: Kenya: One year on

The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa

Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

CONTENTS: 1. Action alerts, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Letters & Opinions, 5. African Writers’ Corner, 6. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 7. Zimbabwe update, 8. African Union Monitor, 9. Women & gender, 10. Human rights, 11. Refugees & forced migration, 12. Social movements, 13. Elections & governance, 14. Corruption, 15. Development, 16. Health & HIV/AIDS, 17. Education, 18. LGBTI, 19. Racism & xenophobia, 20. Environment, 21. Land & land rights, 22. Media & freedom of expression, 23. Conflict & emergencies, 24. Internet & technology, 25. Fundraising & useful resources, 26. Courses, seminars, & workshops

Help Pambazuka News become independent. Take out a paid subscription by donating $30 a year.

Highlights from this issue

- Shailja Patel, the guest, editor introduces the issue
- Shailja Patel on how the Kenyan left pulled Kenya back from the brink
- Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) on glaring holes in the Kriegler Report
- Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ on impunity after the violence

- An extract from a prison diary by Patrick Kamotho Githinji, a community organiser
- Ann Njogu on the violence and women, now and then
- Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) responds to the Waki report
- Mugambi Kiai on the ethnicity, identity and citizenship in Kenya
- George Nyongesa evaluates the coalition government
- Ndung'u Wainaina gives a critical look at the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission
- A Maina Kiai interview by Kwamchetsi Makhoka in which he looks back on the last year
- Ndung'u Wainaina and Haron Ndubi criticize the lack of action by the Kenyan Legislature

AFRICAN WRITERS' CORNER: 'Manifesto of Beginnings' - A poem by Shailja Patel marking the one-year anniversary of Kenya's stolen electionACTION ALERTS: Firestone: Tell NFL to stop its foul play!
ZIMBABWE UPDATE: MDC joins unity government
AU Monitor: AU against Bashir indictment
WOMEN & GENDER: Moroccan women doctors protest
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: UN to support DRC joint military plan
HUMAN RIGHTS: Algeria debates death penalty ban
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Kenya tasked on Somali refugees
SOCIAL MOVEMEMNTS: Statement on SA Slums Act judgment
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Congo opposition criticizes electoral commission
CHINA-AFRICA WATCH: Unpacking Angola's Beijing connection
CORRUPTION: Corruption takes two…
DEVELOPMENT: Burundi wins debt relief
HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Needless deaths from preventable diseases
EDUCATION: Swazilnad freed education? Maybe next year
LGBTI: Ethiopia’s gays threatened
RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA: UN chief urged to fight “Orwellian distortions”
ENVIRONMENT: Pastoralists grapple with climate change
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: New report on land registration in Ethiopia
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Tunisian station blockaded
INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: Free Ubuntu pocket guide released
PLUS: e-newsletters and mailings lists; courses, seminars and workshops, and jobs

*Pambazuka News now has a page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit

Action alerts

Global: Firestone: Tell the NFL to stop its foul play!


This year's Super Bowl Halftime show is sponsored by the Bridgestone Firestone tire company. For over 80 years, Firestone has exploited workers and the environment on its rubber plantation in Liberia. After a long campaign for justice, workers on the plantation finally signed their first contract negotiated by an independent and democratically elected union leadership in August 2008, but the company has not implemented many of the important improvements in the new contract.


Kenya: One year on

Shailja Patel


cc. Maruko
2008 began for Kenyans with the murder of Kenya’s democracy. It ended with the son of a Kenyan migrant winning the US presidential race. In editing this special issue of Pambazuka News, ‘Kenya – one year on’, our guest editor, Shailja Patel says the the questions that arise apply to both these historic events.

How do we create genuine political, social and economic transformation, rather than just settling for symbolic change?

How do we bring critical thinking and evidence-based analysis to hope and vision?

How do we address the truth of mass crimes against entire populations, while remaining open to visionary possibility?

Three pervasive myths still circulate about the Kenya Crisis.

First, that it is over. In May 2008, the host of NTV’s breakfast show asked me, ‘Shouldn’t we just get over it and move on?’ On 27 December, the one-year anniversary of the stolen election, the presenter of the BBC’s The World Today programme struggled with irritation when I kept harking back to the civil coup. ‘Hasn’t the country moved on?’, he demanded pointedly.

The answers lie in Ndung’u Wainaina’s exposure of the fundamental flaws of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Bill, and in Ann Njogu’s stark description of the ongoing purgatory of hundreds of thousands of displaced Kenyan women and girls. We cannot move on because the post-election violence simply ripped the lid off deep historical chasms and inequities that have never been truly laid out for resolution.

The second myth is the idea that ‘It is impossible to know who really won the 2007 election.’ Therefore, revert to myth one – get over it and move on. I am frequently challenged on my use of the term ‘civil coup’. Anyone who accepts the deeply compromised Kriegler Report at face value must read the articles ‘Unfinished business from Kriegler’s IREC' and ‘Truths missed and tasks dodged: Kriegler report is a half-baked job’ to understand how Kenyans have still not received the truth they deserve about the election.

The third myth has practically spawned its own genre: the stories of ‘what saved Kenya’. My favourite among these so far was recounted to me, in all earnestness, by a Ugandan lawyer: ‘It was Museveni who told Raila and Kibaki: Guys, you need to sort this out. Remember how he arrived in Kenya with that briefcase under his arm? The mediation agreement was inside.’

The lessons of how Kenya was pulled back from the brink of anarchy are vital for the rest of the continent. They highlight the unsung importance of skilled civil society professionals doing their jobs and doing them excellently. Of communities standing up for their rights, against poverty and marginalisation. Of pan-African progressive networks. Of building movements and alliances. Building institutions, infrastructure, and coalitions. So that in the moment when somebody needs to speak, the channels exist, and open, for them to be heard.

On 3 January 2008, as bloodshed escalated across Kenya, all three daily newspapers agreed to run the same banner headline: ‘Save our beloved country’. In the year since, Kenyans have moved from that supplicant pose to one of palpable, vocal outrage at the repeated betrayals of the political class. It is an outrage that has taken to the streets and will not be silenced.

Where do we seek visionary possibility in this moment, when it seems that the ruling class will sell the very soil from under our feet? I find it in the heroes of Kenya’s peoples’ movement. In ‘On the frontlines of the struggle’, Patrick Kamotho Githinji sets out, with matter-of-fact simplicity, his extraordinary ability to transcend the horrors of Kenya’s prisons to educate, empower and advocate for his fellow remandees.

Save our beloved country. What does it mean to love a country when we shut our eyes to the brutality enacted daily on the majority of its inhabitants? How can we love our country if we haven't taken in the pain of our own history? If we haven't really looked at, or listened to, the schisms and jagged cracks in our own society? Claiming the truth, feeling everything it evokes in us, is vital political work. To love our country is to demand justice for all Kenyans over sentimental invocations of national unity. To choose truth, evidence-based analysis, and the enormity of the challenges before us over the fallacy of ‘moving on’.

* Shailja Patel is an award-winning Kenyan poet, writer, and political activist.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
2008 began for Kenyans with the murder of Kenya’s democracy. It ended with the son of a Kenyan migrant winning the US presidential race. In editing this special issue of Pambazuka News, ‘Kenya – one year on’, our guest editor, Shailja Patel, says the questions that arise apply to both these historic events.

How the Kenyan Left pulled Kenya back from the brink

Internal energy and external fire

Shailja Patel


cc. Maruko
In March 2008, I was asked to deliver a “Kenya Bulletin” at South Africa’s Time Of The Writer Festival. In that bulletin, I identified the seven factors that were key to pulling Kenya back from the brink of civil war.

1) The progressive stand taken by the African Union at its January 2008 summit, bolstered by the intervention of the AU chair, President Kikwete of Tanzania.

2) Senegal’s advocacy to put the Kenya Crisis on the agenda for the AU summit.

3) The European Union’s willingness to take its lead from the AU, and offer consistent, concerted support to Kenyan civil society.

4) The deep patience and extraordinary skill of Kofi Annan and the Panel of Eminent Persons, in the face of the intransigence and belligerence of the Kibaki / PNU camp at the negotiation table. A belligerence that shamed all Kenyans, particularly when it reached the paranoid extreme of bugging Annan’s hotel room.

5) The mobilization by the Kenyan Left of progressive Pan-African networks built over decades of organizing.

6) The strength of Kenyan civil society, both domestic and diaspora.

7) The unanimous resolutions passed by the US Senate and Congress, calling for, among other things, sanctions on PNU and ODM leaders, such as travel bans and freezing of assets.

I put it on the record that no one on the Kenyan Left will ever forgive Kibaki and the PNU for placing us in the skin-crawling position of having to petition the Bush regime to intervene in Kenya. And then, having to be grateful for that intervention.

Or for making Kenya the new global hotspot for crisis entrepreneurs - flocks of UN careerists looking to make their CVs off the Kenya Crisis.

I skewered the despicable maneuvering of Uganda’s President Museveni to manipulate the crisis for his own East-African-Empire-Building agenda.

Finally, I broached the most painful topic of all: the complicit silence and blatant partisanship of a generation of former giants of radical struggle in Kenya – most notably, writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Nobel Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai – on the murder of Kenya’s democracy. This silence grew to deafening proportions as Kibaki’s coup was followed by the suspension of civil liberties and waves of extra-judicial killings of Kenyan civilians. It was a silence which colluded with the ethno-fascist elements of the Kenyan Diaspora. A silence that became heartbreaking when this faction launched death threats against the new generation of human rights defenders, deeming them “Gikuyu traitors” for taking a public stand against the state-sponsored violence. A silence unbroken to this day.

Stories of movements do not make good film scripts, or even good headlines. We are conditioned to seek individual heroes, visionary leaders, personalities. That is why this story has not yet been told – how the Kenyan Left saved our country.

It is a necessary tale. A picture of a net, and how it works. A narrative that must be recorded. Because we on the Left need to remember our victories when the odds seem insurmountable. Because the chattering classes of Kenya still ask, in all seriousness, “Is there a Kenyan Left?” Because the ignorant still assert blithely that “civil society did nothing while Kenya burned”.

Read on………

* * * * *

On the morning of December 31st, following Mwai Kibaki's civil coup in Kenya, 23 members of Kenyan civil society convened an emergency meeting in Nairobi. All longtime activists, they represented a spectrum of legal, human rights, and governance organizations, as well as individual Kenyans.

Within hours, they had released a statement which:

denounced the credibility of the electoral process, demanded the ban on live media coverage be lifted, urged full disclosure of presidential tally results, offered hotlines for electoral commission whistleblowers, and appealed to the international community not to recognize Kibaki as president.

This group would become Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ), the voice of Kenya's "people power" that would pull the country back from the brink of civil war.

Kenyan bloggers across the world swung into action to fill the gap left by the ban on live media. A few days later, the pan-African social justice network, Fahamu, set up an Action Alerts page for Kenya, a comprehensive, real-time, globally-accessible information and resource base for activists and civil society. Fahamu is now playing a similar role in the Zimbabwe crisis.

During the intense the 48 hours after that first meeting, KPTJ created three working groups – legal, violence-monitoring, and direct action. In subsequent weeks, the legal and violence groups would generate information, backed by verified data and professional analysis, to underpin reasoned positions and messaging for diplomatic efforts. The direct action team would meet daily, defying the government ban on public assembly, providing a public forum for Kenyans across all sectors and ethnicities to channel their outrage into activism.

As an activist and scholar of movement-building, I had the tremendous opportunity to observe from within what made KPTJ so effective. From the start, there was a remarkable lack of ego, an absence of personal ambition, both among the experts who made up the steering group, and in the larger community support base. The KPTJ alchemy was built on:

Chemistry between the members. Not the adrenalin-fuelled instant combustion of response to a crisis, but a professional compatibility tried and tested in the field Experience. All the leaders had been in the movement since the early 90s. Trust. KPTJ leaders had built respect for each others’ skills and capabilities over years of working together. Responsibility and ownership. People stepped up to the demands of the hour with heroic commitment.

From the outset, KPTJ insisted that any resolution of the crisis must address the injustices at all levels - historic, and current -, which precipitated the catastrophe. Prior to the elections, many of its 40-plus member organizations were already ferocious advocates for justice and equity for all Kenyans. KPTJ categorically rejected calls for "peace" and "dialogue" from the camp sardonically labeled “Kenyans For Calm” - those who really sought violent suppression of the poorest and most disenfranchised Kenyans, so that "normal life" could resume for the wealthy.

KPTJ offered an analysis of the post-election violence that traced each strand of violence to its source, and held the initiators of each form of violence accountable. When we said "peace", we meant that the excessive use of police violence, and "shoot to kill" orders, had to stop. We challenged the uneven and selective policing that allowed Nairobi slums and marginalized areas of the country to burn, while police ringed an empty Uhuru Park to prevent peaceful assembly and protest. We named the militia mobilized in Central, Rift Valley and Nyanza provinces, by individual political actors, to evict, loot, rape and terrorize poor Kenyans, and we described their operations.

Meanwhile, across the world, the Kenyan diaspora community was rising. In Minnesota, home to over 100,000 migrants from the East Africa region, it was not just Kenyans, but Somalis, Ethiopians, Sudanese, Ugandans, who lobbied their elected representatives. All had a vital stake in the political stability of Kenya, economic gateway and entry port for the East and Central African region, and the Horn of Africa.

The initial response of the US to Kibaki’s civil coup was a formal message of congratulations on his “presidential victory”. US ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, followed this by urging Kenyans to “accept the results of the election.” The congratulations were hastily rescinded when the European Union issued a strongly-worded statement that the “tally results lacked credibility” and called for a new election.

Diaspora Kenyan organizers, Dr. Siyad Abdullahi and Dr. Sam Oyugi, made formal advocacy visits to Washington DC to lobby the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They found that the State Department’s support of Kibaki was rooted in a simplistic and factually flawed formula:

Kibaki = Christian, Pro-Markets, Pro-US, Pro-War-On-Terror Odinga = Pro-Islam (may even be Muslim!), Socialist, Anti-US

While calling for Senate hearings on the Kenya crisis, they worked to dispel the myths. They also got Minnesota’s Senator, Norm Coleman, to sponsor the Kenya Resolution in the US Senate. Drawing directly on KPTJ’s language and analysis, the Kenya Resolution called for:

1) all politicians and political parties to desist from reactivation, support and use of militia organizations

2) leaders of both parties to engage in internationally-brokered mediation and dialogue

3) a "thorough and credible independent audit of the election results" with the possibility of a recount, retallying, or re-run of the presidential election within a specified time period

4) Kenyan security forces to refrain from excessive force and respect the human rights of Kenyans

5) those found guilty of human rights violations to be held accountable

6) an immediate end to the restrictions on media and rights of peaceful assembly and association

7) an end to threats to civil society leaders and human rights activists

8) all political actors in Kenya to be responsible for the safety of civil society leaders and human rights activists

9) the international community, UN Aid organizations, and neighboring countries to assist Kenyan refugees

10) the President of the United States to:

- support diplomatic efforts towards dialogue between ODM and PNU leaders

- impose an asset ban and travel freeze on PNU and ODM leaders

- restrict all non-essential aid to Kenya until a peaceful resolution was reached.

The Kibaki camp had not counted on the strength and speed with which civil society would mobilize. Nor had it accounted for the intellectual leadership and social capital ordinary Kenyans would unleash, domestically, and internationally. This, as much as Kenya's strategic and regional importance, triggered the African Union's intervention in Kenya.

When a KPTJ team of six met the Forum of Retired African Presidents in Nairobi, Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda noted that this was the first group the Forum had met that was young, ethnically balanced, and gender-balanced (three women and three men). "This gives me hope!" he declared enthusiastically.

Behind the scenes of KPTJ was civil society powerhouse, the Soros-funded Open Society Institute for East Africa. Led by Binaifer Nowrojee and Mugambi Kiai, both human rights activists for decades, OSIEA from the outset took a position as "Kenyan, rather than NGO". Drawing on its global network of OSI foundations, OSIEA facilitated and funded international advocacy efforts for KPTJ in key policy-making centres – London, Brussels (headquarters of the European Union), New York (headquarters of the UN), Washington DC, and Addis Ababa (headquarters of the African Union).

On January 16th, 2008, KPTJ's Gladwell Otieno (Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Open Governance) spoke at the Royal Africa Society in London, and to the Afric All-Party Parliamentary Group of the British government. The following day, the Chair of the Africa APPG drew on her statement of KPTJ's position in his recommendations to the UK Parliament.

In Brussels, Otieno found that EU members were nervous of "coming across as colonial masters". KPTJ's analysis spurred the EU to offer more robust support to the AU for intervention.

The turning point for Kenya came at the AU summit in Addis at the end of January 2008. Kenya was not an agenda item for the summit. But by this time, KPTJ had drawn on decades of progressive Pan-African organizing to mobilize civil society allies across the continent. While OSIEA was unable to get KPTJ accredited to attend and speak at the AU summit, it lined up a plethora of meetings with embassies and policymakers. Senegal was particularly supportive in putting the Kenya Crisis on the agenda. When the Kibaki delegation arrived at the AU, they found the heat on them in a way they had not anticipated.

Across the Atlantic, KPTJ built momentum in its mission to shift the US position towards a mediated resolution to the conflict. Critical to their success was the groundwork already laid by the US Kenyan diaspora. The Kenya resolution had been universally passed by Senate, and was before Congress, when KPTJ's representatives arrived in DC for meetings on Capitol Hill.

This, coupled with the effective presentation of the civil society position by Maina Kiai (chair of National Commission for Human Rights) and Muthoni Wanyeki (Executive Director of Kenya Human Rights Commission), prompted a shift in the previously unhelpful unilateral approach of the US State department. As violence escalated in Kenya, Maina Kiai returned to address the House of Representatives on February 7th. He called for higher-level intervention from the US.

On February 14th, President Bush announced the dispatch of Condoleeza Rice to Kenya. On arrival in Kenya, Rice requested a meeting with representatives of Kenyan Civil Society. The team of six sent to meet her included Gladwell Otieno (KPTJ), Njeri Kabeberi (KPTJ / National Civil Society Congress) and Betty Maina (Kenya Association of Manufacturers / KPTJ). It was clear that Rice was impressed by the majority and impact of strong women leaders in the delegation. Immediately following this meeting, Rice spoke to the press, finally aligning the US with the AU and EU, in requiring Kibaki and his hardliners to negotiate a power-sharing agreement.

"The Diaspora effort provided the external fire," say's OSIEA's Mugambi Kiai. "KPTJ was the internal energy. Together, they brought the water to the boil."

* Shailja Patel founded KPTJ’s Direct Action Training Workshops, to empower grassroots activists with tools and skills for political engagement. The programme was one of seven projects, selected from a global pool, to receive a Ned Grant 2008–09 from New Tactics In Human Rights.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
On the strength of her ‘Kenya Bulletin’ delivered at South Africa’s ‘Time of the Writer Festival’in March 2008, Shailja Patel discusses the pivotal influence of the Kenyan Left in pulling Kenya back from the brink. Patel stresses the necessity of telling, recording and perpetuating this narrative as a tale of seemingly insurmountable odds, the triumph of civil society organisation, and the instrumental role of Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ).

Unfinished business from Kriegler’s IREC

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)


cc. Maruko
If the bi-partisan commission, headed by South African Judge Johann Kriegler, hoped to avoid controversy by making ambiguous statements and generalised conclusions, it walked into the eye of a storm. Although the commission completed its work on schedule and adopted many recommendations Kenyans have been making on the kind of electoral system they would like to have, a keen reading of its report shows that it went off the tracks as soon as it began the search for truth.

Civil society monitors noted that after successful countrywide visits, in which investigators identified 114 potential witnesses, the Kriegler commission chose not to record their statements or summon them to give evidence. Based on the information and evidence received even before the commission was set up, there were complaints about the results from 49 constituencies. The IREC (Independent Review of Election Commission) chose not to summon the concerned returning officers to explain alleged anomalies, which ranged from the alteration of documents to filing improper election returns.

The commission chose not to summon many of the 32 ECK (Electoral Commission of Kenya) commissioners and staff who were at the nerve centre of the discredited tallying system that produced a presidential result that even IREC does not believe. Instead, the commission chose to listen to the ECK chairman, one commissioner and 10 staff. For corroboration, it took evidence from only one domestic observer, and then closed shop.

No heed was paid to allegations of a break-in at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) on 31 December 2007, which is recorded at the KICC police station as OB NO. 7 of 2 January 2008. No attention was paid to issues that required further investigation, such as local administration officers issuing identity cards to schoolchildren so they could vote. Or presiding officers neglecting to accompany ballot boxes. Or fake ballot papers floating around, or even parallel ballot papers being printed.

No inquiry was made into the allegations that security agents were deployed to rig elections, despite the fact that two police officers lost their lives because of such information reaching the public.

The commission did everything possible to avoid getting to the truth. The statistical analysis it chose to use was not only ineffective and poorly employed, but also blinded the commission to what else it could do with the results to obtain the truth. The IREC chose not to draw on local experts who could have performed a more effective analysis.

In sum, the Kriegler report is a half-baked job that attempts to cover up offences committed by people who deserve no such protection. A detailed analysis of its methodological flaws is carried in the Comments & Analysis section of this issue of Pambazuka News, and what follows is an overview of the IREC’s performance.


1. Why did President Kibaki choose to ignore the Inter-Party Parliamentary Group (IPPG) in selecting the electoral commissioners?
2. Why was the mandate of the experienced deputy chairman of the ECK not renewed and why was he replaced by Kibaki’s former family lawyer?
3. Why were previous demands for electoral reforms ignored?
4. Why did the ECK choose not to utilise the IT equipment it had access to?
5. Why did the ECK recruit staff who lacked competence, and not give them adequate training?
6. Why were the ECK staff posted to work in their home areas?
7. Why did the Nation Media Group’s database crash on the evening of 28 December, and why did KTN (the other major Kenyan news network) management around the same time tell newsrooms to only broadcast ECK data?
8. Why did the ECK chairman, on the morning of 29 December, complain that he couldn’t reach his commissioners in PNU (Party of National Unity) strongholds on the phone and hint at a ‘cooking of figures’?
9. Why was the counting and tallying marred by ‘massive arithmetical errors by returning officers’ when every mobile phone had a calculator function?
10. Why did the commissioner of police prevent the public from coming near the KICC?


The IREC deserves praise for producing its report on deadline. This is a marked departure from the conduct of previous commissions of inquiry.

It is important to point out, however, that the report suffers from two principal shortcomings resulting from the methods the commission adopted:

1. On witnesses, the investigation appears to have largely relied on the evidence of the prime players, that is the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK). It failed to look for evidence either to corroborate or contradict what the ECK said. In dealing with complaints about constituency results issues, evidence from others present during the process such as security agents, observers or voters, and not just from the returning officers in question, would shed light and sharpen the findings.

The rules of evidence and investigation require that you do not rely on the uncorroborated evidence of one player. One would also have expected that the interviews of ECK commissioners could have been expanded to include other commissioners (only a small selection of them was interviewed). The total number and spread of people who testified under oath is too thin to have given the commission the totality of the evidence required to arrive at factual and accurate findings.

2. On the statutory forms and the allegations surrounding the tallying process, the approach adopted by the commission in determining whether it was error or fraud that occurred at the KICC was also limited. A more thorough forensic analysis would have determined whether it was error or fraud that occurred during the tallying of results and filling of statutory forms. This audit could have included examining documents, such as selected Forms 16, 16A and 17A. In addition, it might have helped, after dealing with the legal issues surrounding this, to have conducted a physical inspection and recount of ballots in a random, select number of ballot boxes.

The commission’s full report is analysed below along six thematic lines drawn from its terms of reference.



The report admits that there is a need to expressly provide for the right to vote in the constitution. It also recommends merging all electoral laws into one, with a provision included to set up a court to resolve disputes over elections.

Not every problem facing the country can be resolved through constitutional and legal change alone, however. Kenya, the report says, must undergo societal change and develop a culture for tolerance, fidelity to the law, honesty and transparency.


Although the report indicts the ECK for incompetence and cites institutional collapse, it fails to assign individual responsibility for critical lapses. This presents opportunities for the Kenyan habit of blaming everything on the need for legal reform without requiring adherence to existing laws. The IREC is right to call for an end to the culture of impunity, but it is not forthright enough in pointing out officials and institutions that did not carry out their mandate as required by law, and suggesting what should happen to them.


The need to change Kenya’s electoral system has been acknowledged for a long time. Part of the blame for the crisis Kenya found itself in has been laid on the first-past-the-post electoral system, which is said to encourage conflict and not conciliation. Although the report points out the shortcomings of the current system and deficiencies in the systems proposed in the Bomas and Wako draft constitutions, its attempts to highlight the shortcomings of a mixed-member representative system are unconvincing.

The report also fails to discuss the law governing presidential elections and thus passes up an opportunity to tie up all the issues requiring reform around the electoral process.



The president’s unilateral appointment of commissioners, the ECK’s unwieldy structure of too many commissioners, and the lack of separation of functions between commissioners and the secretariat are identified as problematic. The report also finds shortcomings in the lack of specific qualifications and qualities needed for one to be appointed commissioner, and the poor training for staff who handled the elections.


The report is thin on the role the appointments played in the ECK’s loss of credibility and performance. A more robust analysis of this issue would have been useful.

Although the report recommends that clear lines of individual responsibility are needed for service delivery among commissioners and staff, it fails to identify instances of the commissioners or staff failing to be accountable.


Due to the inept manner in which the ECK conducted the elections, the IREC should have suggested how to hold individuals and the institution accountable to their mandate and actions. Even as currently structured, it is clear what particular aspects for which individuals are responsible. What measures can be used to review the performance of the institution and of the individuals in it? How do you hold people and the institution accountable to their mandate and actions?



The report decries the partisan nature in which most institutions carried out their mandates and the pervasive levels of negative ethnicity that accompanied the electoral process. The discussion on opinion polls and the media is largely apt. The discussions about levels of partiality by faith-based organisations and civil society organisations (CSOs) and performance of the Kenya Elections Domestic Observation Forum (KEDOF) are also apt and worth greater introspection by the different categories.


The report proceeds as if there were only two political parties in Kenya: the Party of National Unity (PNU) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Although they were the main protagonists in the dispute, there were other parties, notably ODM-Kenya. A more comprehensive analysis and inquiry is required, incorporating other parties in the discussions on skewed party nominations and performance.

In the run-up to the 2007 elections, political parties were registered and run in a loose legal environment. Although the Political Parties Act is now in force, it is the discredited ECK that is expected to midwife it. A major shortcoming of the report is the failure to lay out how to restore confidence in the ECK.


The section on complaints against civil society organisations and election observers lacks dispassionate and rigorous analysis. It merely catalogues verbatim complaints from various groups without contextual analysis.



The finding that the ECK did not perform its role adequately with regard to redrawing constituency boundaries is overly harsh and misplaced. The current number of constituencies is the maximum allowed by the constitution. The ECK had called for changes and pleaded with parliament, but partisan politics ensured that the review of constituencies never took place.


The discussions on party nominations are also conservative. The high number of irregularities, incidents of violence and outright manipulation during the party nominations was markedly graver than the report paints them.



The report says it is impossible to know who won the presidential election since the results and the process of recording them were heavily polluted. The ECK failed to guarantee that the results accurately reflected the votes cast. There were many problems in the tallying at the polling station and at the constituency level.


The report adds that there was no evidence of crime or irregularities at the national tallying centre. The commission appears to have handled the national tallying centre differently from the field, adopting a defensive approach to some of the issues raised, including KPTJ’s reports.


The most important aspect of the election cycle, requiring utmost integrity, is the counting and tallying. Yet the commission does not say whether these two processes met the standard. The report says counting and tallying at polling stations and/or constituency tallying centres lacked integrity, but shies away from making a definite conclusion on the integrity of the tallying process at the KICC. The report dismisses the complaints raised about the tallying process. If one puts aside the complaints, what does the commission think of the integrity of the tallying process at the KICC? Failing to address this question adequately is a negation of the IREC’s mandate. Without addressing this aspect of the process, is it not possible to reach a conclusion on the integrity of the results of the 2007 elections.

A more thorough and factual analysis was needed to determine whether the pollution of the results was due to errors from the field, errors at the KICC, or both. Were these errors deliberate and schematic, pointing to some element of fraud, or were they accidental and due to incompetence?



The report reveals that provisional results announced at the KICC differed from the actual results captured in the original Form 16. The manner in which these errors were treated differed from case to case. In some cases, the errors were corrected, while in others they were not. The report indicates, however, that changes continued being made to the results even after the declaration of the winner, some of which were evident in the published results of 9 January 2008 and after.


Officials at the ECK seem to disagree on whether it was permissible to make changes once the provisional results had been announced. The results announced by the ECK are, therefore, not accurate. The issue that the IREC should have answered is the reasons for these anomalies. It fails to do so.


Although the IREC concludes that there was no evidence of fraud or rigging at the KICC, two issues stand out in the chapter discussing this fact. First is the dissent by some commissioners. Since this was a critical component of the IREC’s mandate, one should not just take the finding at face value. The commission was unable to arrive at a unanimous verdict on the accuracy and integrity of the national tallying process. Several commissioners, who were not convinced about the conclusion on the lack of fraud at the tallying centre, dissented.

Normally, dissenting minority opinion is noted as the position of the majority is adopted. In this instance, the totality of unanswered questions and errors documented by the commission – including differences between announced figures and those on some copies of Form 16, and wrong entries in the forms and the ECK database resulting in the supply of false information – points to two possibilities:

a) That all these were due only to the poor training and poor calibre of staff; or
b) That this resulted from a deliberate and planned scheme to rig the elections, as the dissenting commissioners imply.

Without attempting to conclusively determine which of these two groups is factually right, the commission should not have conclusively taken either of these positions on the basis of gut feelings or inconclusive investigations, as is evident from chapter six of the report.


The report discusses the hurried and low-key swearing-in ceremony of the president and the reported unhappiness of the ECK chairman with the manner in which the ceremony was conducted. This event needs to be viewed on a continuum with the announcement of the results. If the ECK chairman says he was not happy yet played along, does it suggest that ECK was fully in control of the elections? If the evidence was that the ECK was not in control, then who was?

Although the report says that it is unnecessary to reach a verdict on whether the stated complaints and irregularities result from human error or fraud, this issue is crucial to the integrity of the presidential results. The report only says that the conduct of the 2007 elections was so materially defective as to make it impossible to determine the true and reliable results for the presidential election. What does this mean in practice and in law? The commission needed to answer this question.

One of the key issues that has bedevilled Kenyan society is the culture of impunity. Many Kenyans, especially in public service, operate in total disregard of the law. In many cases the public officers who disregard the law do so fully aware that no legal action and culpability will follow their actions. Invariably, the manner in which the legal system has operated supports this position. This culture was neatly evident in the manner in which the 2007 elections were conducted.

Although falling short of assigning individual blame for the 2007 election debacle, the report touches on the cause of the problem. The IREC correctly identifies the culture of impunity as having pervaded most sectors of the Kenyan society and recommends urgent redress. However, except for these positive statements, the report fails to identify any participant in electoral malfeasance. It does not even say that such and such person or institution requires further investigation.

After determining that the ECK is structurally and functionally defective, the commission should have proposed a way forward. It should have offered Kenya a clear roadmap to deal with the failure of the ECK and its managers.

The Kriegler report did not provide Kenya with that roadmap for dealing with the ECK. Neither did it determine the extent of electoral offences committed, or identify who committed them. Simple as these actions may appear, they would have gone some way to restoring Kenyans’ faith in the power of the ballot.

* This report was jointly produced by Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ). KPTJ is a coalition of over 30 Kenyan and east African legal, human rights, and governance organisations, together with ordinary Kenyans and friends of Kenya, convened in the immediate aftermath of 2007's presidential election debacle.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
Highlighting the severe limitations of the IREC’s (Independent Review of Election Commission) Kriegler report, Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) offers a damning analysis of the commission’s full report on the Kenyan electoral process. Noting the IREC’s inability to corroborate its primary evidence and testimonies, KPTJ argues that the commission effectively did everything possible to avoid getting to the truth. Concluding that the Kriegler report has manifestly failed to provide Kenya with a roadmap for adequately analysing the action of the ECK (Electoral Commission of Kenya), KPTJ contends that a key opportunity to restore Kenyans’ faith in the power of the ballot box has been lost.

Ending impunity

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)


cc. Maruko
Going the extra mile to find the truth and ensure accountability for perpetrators of post-election violence.

Excitement. Then panic. Then terrified powerlessness. Kenya’s politicians have ridden the rollercoaster of emotions since the Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election-Violence presented its report.

They have said the report is a threat to peace and national cohesion. They have said it is a product of illegal processes. They have also come round to accepting that they must implement it.

One of the expectations in setting up the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence was that it would find the people responsible for gross human rights violations and recommend appropriate punishment.

The decision not to publish the names of people the commission believes bore responsibility for the violence has elicited mixed reactions.

The commission handed the coalition government two tough political choices involving complex tradeoffs. While there are those who would prefer that justice for perpetrators of the post-election violations be secondary to structural reforms of the institutions that failed the country, Kenya’s recent crisis suggests that failure to punish those responsible would set a bad precedent.

The single most important recommendation in the Waki Report is the setting up of a Special Tribunal to seek accountability from persons bearing the greatest responsibility for serious violations relating to the 2007 elections. The tribunal should apply Kenyan law as well as international criminal law through the International Crimes Bill, which is pending enactment into law.

Further, an agreement on the tribunal’s formation must be signed within 60 days of the Panel of Eminent Persons receiving the report. The Special Tribunal should be created by law within 45 days of the agreement being signed. The tribunal will be anchored in the constitution and insulated from challenges arising from constitutional provisions about its jurisdiction.

If the Special Tribunal is established in any other manner than what has been set out, a list containing the names of suspects and relevant information will be handed over to the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.

The commission not only set general guidelines and principles on how to bring to justice those who were behind the post-election violence. It also provided measurable benchmarks within a specific timeframe. Failure to comply would spring referral to the ICC. This is by far the most ingenious proposal visited on Kenyans. The threat of enforcement is real in the event of default.


For the first time in Kenya’s history, a commission of inquiry isolated sexual and gender-based violence for special attention. An analysis of the Commission’s investigation on sexual and gender-based violence is carried in the COMMENTS AND ANALYSIS section of this issue.


Security agents failed to protect citizens and instead engaged in criminal behaviour.

How did state security agencies act in the lead up to polling day? Answering this question enabled the Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence to determine how prepared security agencies were for what would come.

The Waki report analyses how the security apparatus runs as well as its failures in the period after the elections. Overall, its verdict is that the state security agencies failed institutionally to anticipate, prepare for, and contain the violence and that individual members of the state security agencies were [often] guilty of acts of violence and gross violations of the human rights of the citizens.

In many ways, the report complements, confirms and builds on previous findings by various actors in the security sector. Its recommendations form a good basis on which to establish governance systems in the security agencies that bring them in line with democratic practice.


The report analyses how the state security machinery works in detail. It identifies this machinery as consisting of politicians, civil servants and officials in the national intelligence service, the police, the administration police, the prison service and the military.

Usually, this system develops security intelligence, which it delivers to the police or the military for action. The system is administrative and not subject to regulation by law. This makes it difficult for the public to hold it to account for its actions or omissions.

In summary, the Waki commission found the following anomalies in the way the security system was run:

1. MONOPLOY OF FORCE: The President unilaterally appoints all the people who occupy senior positions in this system. In the post-election period, the security machinery, which is designed to serve the interests of the political regime in power, was under the sole control of the Party of National Unity.

2. PARTISAN SPY AGENCY: The National Security Intelligence Service conducted an opinion poll and seemed to communicate the results outside the formal and established channels. The NSIS also became an agent of government in the electoral process. It sought accreditation badges for its officers from the Electoral Commission of Kenya; and it wrote to the ECK advising on how certificates should be dealt with by agents and that ECK should meet with media house owners and editors and the candidates with a view to striking a deal on the modalities of transmission and announcement of results. Specific advice of this nature was unwise and outside the NSIS mandate.

In the run-up to the December elections, NSIS had warned of... emerging allegations that the government is planning to use some sections of government organs including the provincial Administration and the Administration Police (APs) to rig the forthcoming elections. It seems that NSIS chose to do nothing about these allegations.

3. ABUSE OF POWER: It appears that the Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, Mr Francis Muthaura, ordered that a large number of Administration Police officers be trained to act as election agents for the Party of National Unity. A senior academic together with high-ranking government officials, commanders of the Administration Police, conducted the training.

The role of the AP officers was to disrupt polling and where possible ensure that government supporters amongst the candidates and voters prevailed. Mr Muthaura told that Commission that this deployment was approved by the Government and was commissioned for security reasons and that the reason for sending these people under plainclothes is that the area was very unfriendly.

4. LICENCE TO KILL: The police often used excessive force and killed many citizens using live bullets in efforts to maintain law and order. In some cases, victims were “shot whilst in and around their own homes.As a result, 405 people died of gunshot wounds, while 557 received treatment for gunshot wounds. The commission largely attributes these excesses to the police, saying it did not receive any evidence to show that anyone else shot or killed people with guns.

Police armoury records relating, for example, to the use of firearms and ammunition in Nyanza Province were analysed and revealed that significant amounts of ammunition and tear gas were expended and in very many cases there is no record at all of ammunition expended. Witnesses also testified that police use of firearms was indiscriminate.

The police themselves had a prime difficulty in defending the use of lethal force on retreating crowds. There was “no legal or operational basis for justifying the shooting of civilians from behind at any given time during the circumstances presented to it.

The use of live ammunition also raises two important questions. For example, the Homa Bay police boss told the Commission that his staff were only issued with live rounds and not blanks or rubber bullets. How was it that this district only received live ammunition? Perhaps the police had run out of rubber bullets, were overwhelmed and therefore resorted to using whatever means at their disposal to deal with the emergency. Or it could be that a deliberate decision was made to use live bullets in areas hostile to the government.

5. COVER-UPS AND INCOMPETENCE: Even when provided with strong evidence identifying offenders, police did not investigate complaints -- especially those relating to property offences, deaths by shooting, and rape. Where inquest files were opened, at best [only] a superficial investigative effort was undertaken. This failure to investigate is attributable to factors such as self censorship or fear on the part of the investigators who are susceptible to pressure and manipulation. Senior public officials told the commission that such self-censorship is real especially in respect of investigating individuals who could influence an investigator’s work prospects or pose a personal threat.

6. CRIMINALS IN UNIFORM: The commission found credible evidence of criminal behaviour by the police, including murder, gang rape and looting. For example, an Administrative Police officer in Nairobi, who was identified by many witnesses, is alleged to have shot a number of citizens, many of whom were killed. There were numerous instances of police officers committing acts of sexual violence, including gang rape.

7. WINKING ON RAPE: The police failed to take allegations of rape seriously. For example, some senior officers told the Commission they did not include figures relating to sexual violence in their statistics, apparently not deeming it important. The presentation by the Commissioner of Police does not have any statistics on sexual violence. The Commissioner of Police should also be held accountable for this serious omission. Indeed, the commission says victims of sexual violence who went to the police to report were met with a dismissive response.

8. TRIBAL POLICE: Policing agencies were divided along ethnic lines. In Naivasha, for example, the commission established that there were breaks in the chain of command and parallel ethnic command structures within the police meant that even with the best planning the police were too weak to respond adequately to the violence.

In addition, victims testified that they received assistance from police officers from their ethnic groups while facing hostility from officers who were not from their tribe. This testimony is corroborated by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the International Crisis Group, which observes that there was considerable evidence that officers have taken sides and that in many cases, decisive police action came only when officers thought their tribes or those who voted with their communities were under siege.

The commission also observed, at least four senior police officers were transferred or retired from their area of responsibility during the violence and at the height of operations. It is plausible that ethnic considerations were a major motivation for these transfers and retirements.

9. MISPLACED ARROGANCE: The police were simply too far off the mark in terms of being prepared to deal with the post-election violence. Their preparation and planning was scant, commenced far too close to the event, failed to take account of the intelligence received and information available on the ground, and did not encompass preventive activities designed to reduce and/or ameliorate the impact of violence around the 2007 General Election.

The approach taken by the police reflected misplaced arrogance that they would always be able to control what came up. Second, the policing system in Kenya is designed for reactive, as opposed to, preventive policing. It was, therefore, incapable of preparing and planning properly to manage the General Election. Many police officers said their plans were not written. Many seemed to be actions or reactions to events as they unfolded on the ground.

10. PLANNING FAILRUE: The National Security Advisory Committee did not meet during the crisis period. Few of the other systems that run the security machinery were working.

The provincial and district Intelligence committees put in a mixed performance. The police force does not have their own highly developed information gathering and intelligence systems. Its chain of command orientation undermines speedy and accurate dissemination of information. As information moves up and down the chain of command, it is not only distorted but also precious time is lost.

There are poor linkages and incompatibility between various intelligence arms and reporting systems. The functions of the NSIS overlap with those of the police’s Criminal Investigation Department. The law fails to spell out how the activities of the NSIS and the CID are supposed to be coordinated. The Commissioner of Police is not even a member of the National Intelligence Security Committee. The whole system is also prone to leakages.

The commission established that the security agencies do not review their performance as a matter of practice, and have not made credible efforts to assess how they worked during the post-election violence period.


1. Policing reforms should be guided by the principles of fair representation of all ethnic groups in the policing entities, impartiality and cultural sensitivity, decentralization informed by a single integrated command model based upon community policing, respect for human rights, legal and political accountability, and integration of the Kenya Police Service and Administration Police. These principles are based on best international practices.

2. The Police Act should be amended to strengthen police governance, accountability and organisational arrangements in a way which is suitable for a contemporary age” and improving the effectiveness of the police.

3. A new and modern Code of Conduct should be enacted to build trust in the police because trust is an essential component without which the police cannot function effectively. Such a code of conduct would seek to instill ethical standards in policing, including honesty, integrity, professionalism, fairness and impartiality, respect for people and confidentiality.

4. Criminal investigations should be strengthened. The question of independent investigations is particularly important because the commission says the police have a fundamental problem with its investigative capability and capacity. The commission also found that there was inability or reluctance to investigate effectively, serious crimes and their perpetrators even when strong evidence existed. The omission also established that the Police service has weak systems and approaches to investigating incidents where police officers are involved. There is therefore a compelling case for establishing an independent and autonomous Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

5. A Police Service Commission must be established, and with it a Civilian Oversight of Policing. The Police Service Commission would be responsible for holding an amalgamated police agency (that integrates the Kenya Police Service and Administration Police Service) to account. With respect to civilian oversight of policing, it envisages the establishment of a well researched, legally based, professional and independent Police Conduct Authority.

Among other things, the Police Conduct Authority would be responsible for investigating the conduct of policing agencies and officers. A specialized and independent Police Reform Group (PRG) consisting of both national and international policing experts would lead this reform process. The PRG is supposed to be established immediately (presumably following the presentation of Waki Report) and report to the Minister of Justice within six months.


As political temperatures rose and the election loomed, Kenya had a security machinery that was dominated by the regime in power. This security machinery gave wide unrestricted powers to various individuals. The commission made a number of important recommendations that should be implemented. However, it does not provide a clear plan for prosecuting and punishing security agents who committed various crimes against the citizenry; and it does not recommend how the security intelligence apparatus can account to the citizenry, as well as be integrated with policing agencies.

The Waki report is an excellent account of how police officers exploit and violate the human rights of Kenyans. It collected credible evidence to show that a number of officers committed murder, rape, and theft, as well as soliciting bribes. These findings support those of other organizations such as the International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. Abuse of power by police officers greatly compromises the effectiveness of policing.

The commission appears to suggest that errant police officers should be investigated and dealt with through the machinery of the proposed Independent Police Conduct Authority. This Authority is expected to have power to investigate public complaints against police and retrospective powers to deal with historical serious misconduct. Since there are no timelines on when this authority must be in place, it is hard to tell how long the victims of police crime will wait for justice.

The recommendations concentrate too much on the reform of the Kenya Police Service and the Administration Police. The NSIS also requires a total overhaul if the goal of democratic governance of security intelligence is to be achieved. Additionally, security reform will need to embrace the military

Specifically, it is important to take note of the following gaps in the report:

1. It is clear that Mr Muthaura acted arbitrarily, abused the powers of his office, and violated the tenets of civil service neutrality. It is not clear why the commission did not recommend sanctions against Mr Muthaura for abuse of office. These circumstances the commission established raise questions about whether, in a multi-party democracy that preaches political neutrality for the civil service, the Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet should sit in, and exercise power over, the state’s key security agencies.

2. Kenya needs to re-examine the NSIS to determine how best it can serve the interests of Kenyans as opposed to the parochial interests of the regime in power. Although the Waki report says that NSIS was perhaps the best-prepared state security agency, it fails to sanction it for its blatant partisanship. The NSIS is one of the institutions that Kenya must constitute afresh as a matter of necessity and urgency. For as long as the President retains the power to appoint the Director-General of NSIS, security intelligence will always be dictated by the imperatives of keeping the ruling regime in power. The NSIS is not a democratic institution and its preoccupation with helping the ruling regime to hold power has ruled out the need for public accountability in its work.

3. The commission says the security machinery did a good job of collecting security intelligence in the run up to the election, but this information was not shared in time and in the right way. There is an urgent need to overhaul the police structure to embrace preventive policing. Among other things, this will require that quality, extensive and specialized planning that begins many months if not years before an event such as a general election.

4. On investigations, the commission’s recommendations are not clear. On one hand, the commission seems to go along with the Attorney-General’s suggestion that an independent and autonomous Directorate of Criminal Investigations should be created. On the other hand, it also suggests that in addition to developing workable and functioning independent civilian oversight arrangements, there should be provisions for some less serious allegations to be investigated and resolved by the police themselves.

This raises a number of questions. What are less serious allegations? Should the police handle cases where the less serious allegations are made against police officers? How would an independent and autonomous Directorate of Criminal Investigations function alongside independent civilian oversight arrangements?

5. Although the military may not have been intimately involved in the post-election violence, it is worth noting that the police undertook a joint mission with the Kenya Army to deal with the challenge posed by the Sabaot Land Defence Force, a militia group fighting for land rights. As the dispute over the result of the presidential election was raging, the SLDF was wreaking havoc in the districts of Mt Elgon and Trans-Nzoia.

In a joint operation against the SLDF termed Operation Okoa Maisha, the police and the Kenya Army are said to have committed ‘truly shocking’ human rights violations, ‘in particular, systematic torture.’

This activity raises a number of fundamental questions. First, how should the citizenry be policed especially in times of war? Second, how should joint operations of the police and the armed forces be conducted in a democracy? Third, how should allegations of improper conduct made by the citizenry against security forces be handled? In particular, how can the citizenry hold security forces to account in times of peace and in times of war? In this respect, it will be necessary to interrogate how the military works.

It is also worth noting that the power to deploy the military in the maintenance of internal order is not regulated. The Defence Council is not required to consult or seek the approval of Parliament. Given that the Armed Forces are not subject to the ordinary courts of law, it is therefore difficult for the public to hold the army to account for transgressions in the course of maintaining internal order.


In view of the commission’s highly credible and damning findings, there is an urgent need to overhaul the state security machinery.

Overall, the Waki commission largely fulfilled its mandate. It established credible evidence that clearly demonstrates the actions or omissions of State security agencies during the period when the post-election violence occurred. Nevertheless, it did not suggest concrete measures for bringing to justice police officers responsible for criminal acts. This is a glaring shortcoming in the report. This could unduly delay efforts to give justice to the victims of police crime.

Secondly, the report does not make recommendations on how the security intelligence and policing agencies can be integrated in a legal and accountable manner. This measure is particularly necessary if Kenya is to have democratic governance of its security. Additionally, the commission should have suggested how public actors such as the Commissioner of Police, the Director-General of the NSIS, and the Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet should be sanctioned for their abuse of office since evidence of this is abundant throughout the report.

The greatest obstacle to the implementation of the Waki report is lack of political will. Many politicians are apprehensive that their careers will come to a halt should the recommendations of the Waki report be acted on. The international community must stay engaged; Kenyans must view the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation process as an international initiative.

* This article was written collaboratively by Kenyans For Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ). KPTJ is a coalition of over 30 Kenyan and east African legal, human rights, and governance organisations, together with ordinary Kenyans and friends of Kenya, working for equitable justice for all Kenyans. For more information, please visit:
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
In this article, Kenyans For Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) look in great detail at the Waki Report. “The setting up of a Special Tribunal to seek accountability from persons bearing the greatest responsibility for serious violations relating to the 2007 elections” is the most important call by the report. But also constructively criticising the report, KPTJ argues the Waki report stresses reform over a complete overhaul of some of the governnment agencies responsible for the gross crimes against the Kenyan people.

Comment & analysis

On the frontlines of the struggle

Diary of an imprisoned activist

Patrick Githinji


The following is an extract from the diary of Patrick Kamotho Githinji, a community organiser in Kenya with Bunge La Mwananchi. Arrested on 13 November 2008 at a community gathering over the illegal sale of 56 acres of residential land – inhabited by 1,120 households – by the Ministry of Local Government, Githinji was ultimately detained until 27 November. His diary grants us a first-hand view of the prison and his inspirational efforts to improve conditions for fellow inmates.

Battered, bruised, broken, they trudge on

The War on Kenyan Women

Ann Njogu


cc. Angela
Ann Njogu argues that in addition to having their property destroyed and being forced to flee from their homes, women’s "bodies were also used as the war zone - a battlefield for opposing forces that often times included the police." Post-violence has not brought much peace to these women. They are still trying to "reconstruct their lives. Children born out of rape, physical scars, HIV and other dreaded sexually transmitted infections; widowhood, divorce, homelessness and biting poverty." Read on for Ann Njogu’s recommendations...

Addressing sexual and gender-based violence

Responding to the Waki Commission’s inquiry

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)


cc. Maruko
Following the unprecedented focus on sexual and gender-based violence by the Waki Commission, Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) reviews the commission’s findings. While supportive of its recommendations, KPTJ emphasises that the commission’s report is lacking in its focus on individual experiences at the expense of investigating patterns of conflicts, violations and violence. For the purpose of ensuring the implementation of these recommendations, KPTJ sets out a series of essential steps for the prevention and response to instances of sexual and gender-based violence, including greatly improved access to health and legal services for victims, and the removal of any form of amnesty for the perpetrators of sexual crimes.

Ethnicity abounds: Kenya’s identity crisis

Mugambi Kiai


cc. Teseum
While all of Kenyan officialdom in political and civil society alike decries the endurance of tribalism, there remains a pervasive unwillingness to address the consequences of a phenomenon still prevalent across the country and with powerful implications for democracy, representation and stability, writes Mugambi Kiai. Though understood at a rudimentary level, the theme of ethnicity, argues Kiai, persists at the heart of the architecture of power in Kenya, the negative effects of which will only begin to be tackled through decisive action to consolidate widespread faith in Kenyan identity and citizenship.

Grassroots activists take on the coalition government

Out of touch with reality

George Nyongesa


cc. Paola Barbaglia
Ordinary Kenyans are suffering from their coalition government’s lack of focus, writes George Nyongesa. High food prices, the attempted stifling of the media and increases in the cost of fuel all conspire to aggravate the hardship felt around much of the country, the author contends, a hardship that is all the more unpalatable in the face of tax exemptions for MPs. From the grassroots perspective, Nyongesa maintains, the coalition government looks decidedly out of touch.

Truths missed and tasks dodged: Kriegler report is a half-baked job

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)


cc. Maruko
Reviewing the misguided and inaccurate data informing the Independent Review of Election Commission’s (IREC) Kriegler report, Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) offers its conclusions on the statistical inadequacies that have precluded the drawing of a definitive picture of electoral fraud. Without an effective research design to establish where and why vote counting inaccuracies developed, KPTJ argues that the IREC’s inferring of ‘materially defective’ results has failed to add anything meaningful to what Kenyans already know about what went wrong with the election process.

The Truth, Justice And Reconciliation Commission: A flawed law

Ndung’u Wainaina


cc. Maruko
Following the creation of two commissions by the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation (KNDR) to address both post-election atrocities and historical human rights violations, Ndung’u Wainaina considers the limitations and weaknesses of an amnesty process likely to disadvantage victims in multiple ways. Signed into law with minimal public consultation, the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), Wainaina argues, possesses deep flaws that will ultimately block rather than facilitate the accountability and national healing the country so desperately needs.

A strategy for change:

Maina Kiai speaks to Kwamchetsi Makokha

Maina Kiai and Kwamchetsi Makokha


cc. Teseum
Maina Kiai, a former chair of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, was a driving force behind Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ), formed in the aftermath of the 2007 election debacle. In an interview with Kwamchetsi Makokha, he takes stock of the year gone by.

Get the planes ready for The Hague

Ndung'u Wainaina and Haron Ndubi


cc. Maruko
Criticising the Kenyan parliament’s failure to push through legislation to create a special tribunal to bring those involved in the country’s post-election violence to justice, Ndung'u Wainaina and Haron Ndubi argue that parliamentary stalling simply reflects politicians covering their backs. Highlighting the political class’s efforts to escape punishment through defensive strategising, Wainaina and Ndubi reiterate that the tribunal was intended for justice for victims rather than allowing perpetrators to merely devise ways to forgive themselves.

Letters & Opinions

Israel's march to madness

Kola Ibrahim


As the attack on Gaza get to its third week, over 800 Palestinians in Gaza have been murdered, including a foreign journalist while more than 3, 000 have been injured, some with live-threatening wounds. More than one third of those either killed or injured are children and women according to media reports. Moreover, tens of buildings and public facilities including a UN agency’s school, where over 40 children and women were killed, have been destroyed by the Israeli (but US produced) munitions...

Stop apologizing for Nyerere

Willie Seth


Ethiopia was never a member of the Casablanca group. And Haile Selassie was not enthusiastic about Nkrumah's call for immediate continental unification. Nyerere offered to delay Tanganyika's independence so that Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika could form an East African federation. That was a Pan-African quest and a realistic approach towards African unity...

The dawn of the Obama era: In memory of the ancestors

Nii Akuetteh


Congratulations, Dr. Zeleza. This impressive essay makes the case for me: You are not just prolific but erudite also. Under the impression that you are an African immigrant in North America, I feel special, additional (but unearned) pride because I am one too. Still, with your indulgence, I must point out a flaw: You were too uncritical of the admirably large number of analysts you quoted. Consider two examples, the first being Archbishop Tutu. I have met the good Archbishop, having chauffeured him during one visit to Washington DC at the height of the US Free South Africa Movement in the late 1980s. And I continue to admire and give moral support to his work. However, his passionate comments on Obama, while understandable, are over the top, in my view...

African Writers’ Corner

Manifesto Of Beginnings

Shailja Patel


‘Manifesto Of Beginnings’ by Shailja Patel was commissioned by the BBC World Service to mark the one-year anniversary of Kenya's stolen election. The title arose from the questions in the poet's mind, ‘How do we begin to recount all the betrayals and broken promises? And where do we begin when the roots of the post-election violence go all the way back to before Kenya's independence?’ This piece was first broadcast on 27 December 2008 on the BBC World Service on The World Today programme, and is reproduced here as an mp3 file with permission. Visit Shailja at

Emerging powers in Africa Watch

China’s cultural interest in Sino-African cultural exchanges

Maurice Gountin


In the debates about China-Africa relations, the issue of cultural exchanges seems to be of less importance compared to questions about economics, trade, investment, aid, and exploitation of natural resources. Despite this, cultural exchanges have played a significant role in Sino-African relations, especially since the 1950s. As much as African countries have benefited from these exchanges, China has been a major beneficiary in two significant ways: 1) increasing investment and resources in these exchanges, and 2) through the active promotion of newly established Confucius Institutes across the continent. Yet the same cannot be said of the promotion of, African culture in China, which is largely absent.

Unpacking Angola’s Beijing connection

Lucy Corkin


Vanguard’s documentary Chinatown, Africa , which premiered in late 2008 is a well-informed and multi-faceted commentary on China’s growing role in Africa. Given the heightened and often fever-pitch media commentary that reflects on China-Africa relations, it is refreshing to find a documentary that attempts to presents a multidimensional perspective to what has become parochial and controversial mainstream reporting. With Angola as its case study, the production team ambitiously sought to unpack the various elements of Luanda’s relations with Beijing.

China’s reforms at 30 and the “Beijing Consensus”.

Chris Colley


In this essay Chris Colley of China’s Renmin University analyzes the UN’s new China Human Development Report. This report comes out as China celebrates 30 years of reform. Colley then discusses how the global financial crisis will affect China. He concludes by arguing that the “Beijing Consensus” model of development is unique to China and may not be able to be exported.

Liberia signs $2.6 billion mining agreement with Chinese company


The Liberian government has signed a $2.6 billion agreement with a Chinese company, China Union, to excavate for iron ore at the country's western former Bong Mines. The agreement, signed Thursday, is said to be the biggest ever investment in Liberia.

Anniversaries and uncertainties


As China enters the “Year of the Ox”, there is much to reflect on from the past 12 months and even more to speculate about regarding the coming year. 2008 began with devastating snowstorms that paralysed most of central and southern China’s transport system, interrupting lives and causing severe material damage. Then came the riots in Tibet, which caught the government off guard, followed by embarrassing protests over China’s Olympic torch relay in several Western and Asian countries.

China to fully implement promises made at China-Africa Forum


China will fully implement the eight measures for China-Africa practical cooperation agreed at the Beijing Summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation despite the ongoing global financial crisis, Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said Thursday.

Nigeria scraps oil exploration deal with Korea


The Nigerian government has abruptly cancelled Korea's concession to explore oil fields off the shore of the African country, the Korea National Oil Corporation said Thursday. The contract for blocks OPL 321 and 323 was signed by former president Roh Moo-hyun and then Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo during Roh’s visit there in March 2006.

China may expand Africa zero import tariff policy


China is considering including more African goods in a list of products excluded from import tariffs as a way of further boosting trade with the continent, state media said on Sunday. China already levies no import tariffs on more than 10 types of goods imported from 31 African countries, including textiles, machinery and farm products, the official Xinhua news agency said.

China's expanding peacekeeping role


The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has increased its participation in a broadening array of multilateral security arrangements in recent years. One of the most high-profile aspects of this trend is the dramatic expansion in Chinese peacekeeping deployments (of civilian police, military observers, engineering battalions and medical units) to UN operations: since 2000, when China deployed fewer than 100 peacekeepers, there has been a dramatic 20-fold increase in its contributions.

Chinese keep low profile to cash in on the slump in Zambia


The roulette tables at the Great Wall casino have suddenly fallen silent. A few miles away, Lusaka’s most popular Chinese restaurant is virtually empty, the only guests a handful of wealthy Africans. The ripples from the global economic meltdown have finally washed up on African shores. Nowhere is that more noticeable than in Zambia,

Chinese premier's WEF speech


The ongoing international financial crisis has landed the world economy in the most difficult situation since last century's Great Depression. In the face of the crisis, countries and the international community have taken various measures to address it. These measures have played an important role in boosting confidence, reducing the consequences of the crisis, and forestalling a meltdown of the financial system and a deep global recession.

China’s Route Forward


In an effort to hold back the domestic effects of the global downturn, China is starting to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on new highways, railroads and other infrastructure projects. The stimulus plan, one of the world’s largest, promises to carry the modernity of China’s coasts deep into the hinterlands, buying the kind of great leap forward it took the United States decades — and a world war — to build, and priming China for a new level of global competition.

India avails E50bn funding for Africa


The government of India has made available a partnership programme to the value of about E50 billion ($5bn) over a five-year period to African governments. On the other hand, the Exim Bank of India has expressed interest in partnering with local indigenous financial institutions to provide accessible financial resources.

Government moves to ban Chinese trade in clothes


Government has moved to put in place trade laws that will ban Chinese traders from dealing in clothes. The Chinese traders were given 24 months from May last year to rearrange their businesses or face being sent back to China. The government's decision to bar non-citizens - especially the Chinese traders - from dealing in clothing comes at a time when the Chinese traders are found at every corner of the country, selling all types of clothes, mainly fake overseas clothing brands.

Senegal: China pledges multi-million-dollar aid


China on Thursday said it would extend Senegal aid worth 8.9 million euros (11.5 million dollars) for sports, cultural and sanitation projects. "The Chinese government will provide the Senegalese government aid totalling 80 million yuan for cooperation projects," Chinese Ambassador Lu Shaye said. This would be used to build or refurbish 11 stadia, a museum, a national theatre in Dakar and a children's hospital, Senegalese Finance Minister Abdoulaye Diop said.

AU Commission Chairperson lauds China's role in Africa's infrastructure development


Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU) Jean Ping has spoken highly of China's role in Africa's infrastructure development, saying that the Chinese "dragon" has played a fundamental part in the improvement of the infrastructure facilities across African countries. In an exclusive interview with China's official Xinhua News Agency on the eve of 12th AU Summit to be held here from Feb. 1 to3, Ping said China is Africa's key strategic partner and has made significant contributions to the growth of infrastructure in Africa.

China expanding Africa arms sales


Increasing quantities of China-made military equipment have been finding their way to Africa, traded for oil, mineral resources and even fishing rights. Zambia has used its copper resources to pay China in a number of military deals, for instance, and Kenya has been negotiating with China to trade fishing rights for arms. Among the most popular Chinese military exports to Africa are the J-7, K-8 and Y-12 aircraft, which are relatively inexpensive and easy to operate.

Chinese premier embarks on fence-mending tour of Europe


Chinese premier Wen Jiabao will arrive in Europe on Tuesday (27 January) for a visit that Chinese foreign ministry officials have described as a 'Journey of Confidence.' His first stop will be the World Economic Forum annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, ahead of a number of scheduled meetings with European leaders in a bid to mend fences following the postponing of last month's EU-China summit.

Zimbabwe update

AU endorses SADC recommendation


The African Union will adopt in total the recommendation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) aimed at resolving the current political crisis in Zimbabwe, Tanzania's Foreign Affairs minister, Mr. Bernard Membe, said here Thursday, at the start of the African Union Executive Council meeting.

Btswana calls on ZANU-PF, MDC to set up government


Botswana on Wednesday threw its weight behind a regional push for a Zimbabwe unity government by mid-February, saying there was "no need for political games" as Zimbabweans suffered. In a statement, acting foreign minister Ramadeluka Seretse said Botswana supported the resolution that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputies be sworn in by February 11 and for the cabinet to follow two days later.

Cholera deathtoll now at 3000


Cholera has killed more than 3,000 Zimbabweans and infected at least 57,000, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, making it the deadliest outbreak in Africa in 15 years. The disease has spread as rival political parties struggle to implement a power-sharing agreement reached in September and seen as a chance to ease the humanitarian crisis and save the faltering economy.

Court remands WOZA leaders


The Bulawayo Magistrate's Court on Wednesday remanded Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, the embattled leaders of a pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), the group said in a statement received in Dakar by PANA. The Magistrate remanded the two WOZA leaders in custody till 26 February when the case is expected to resume.

Government accepts foreign currencies to avert economy collapse


Zimbabwe, mirred in a decade-long economic crisis, Thursday announced it was fully accepting foreign currencies as legal tender in its business transactions in an effort to prop up the economy, improve the inflow of basic goods and ease trading. Until now, only a select group of businesses were allowed to charge goods and services in foreign currencies.

MDC resovles to join unity government


Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change looks set to join the unity government following the party's national executive committee agreement on Friday. The move comes barely a few days after the party said it was disappointed by the outcome of a SADC-member meeting in South Africa.

Obama says South Africa can help solve crisis


U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by phone with South African President Kgalema Motlanthe and said Pretoria had an important role to play in helping resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis, the White House said on Wednesday. "President Obama emphasized the importance of South Africa's leadership role as a strong and vibrant democracy in Africa. The two leaders discussed their shared concerns about the situation in Zimbabwe," the White House said in a statement.

African Union Monitor

Africa: Africa close to Union Government after years of debate


African leaders are expected to deal conclusively with the discussions regarding the formation of the Union Government during their meeting scheduled for Sunday which could see the birth of a federal government for Africa after more than half-a-century of debate. African Union Commission (AUC) President Jean Ping told PANA the leaders were likely to make a final decision on the formation of the Union Government after several debates on the issue, which was first raised at the first meeting that gave r ise to the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

Africa: AU against Bashir indictment


African governments have rallied behind Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir in rejecting a possible international arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court on charges of orchestrating genocide in Sudan's volatile western region of Darfur.

Women & gender

Mauritius: Sceptical welcome for Equality Law


Nobody shall suffer prejudice in his social life or his place of work because of his or her ethnic origin, religion, age, sexual orientation, political conviction or physical handicap. This is the challenge of Mauritius's new Equal Opportunities Act (EOA). In Mauritius, the Constitution guarantees everybody's rights. Yet, women, minorities and many other people suffer from discrimination in jobs, and other fields. This is done in such a way that they are difficult to be detected.

Morocco: Women doctors to intensify protest action


Married female medical doctors in Morocco continued their protest this week, with a sit-in that began Monday (January 26th) in front of the Health Ministry headquarters, against a policy that allows them to be assigned to jobs far away from their families. The demonstration – scheduled to run through Friday – also protests the ministry's non-payment of the doctors' salaries since last November.

Human rights

Africa: First-ever trial at ICC, on use of child soldiers, opens


Legal history was made today in The Hague, the Netherlands, when the International Criminal Court (ICC), which was mandated to try war crimes beginning in 2002, put its first suspect taken into custody, a Congolese warlord accused of recruiting child soldiers, on trial. The case of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo represents not only the debut proceedings of the ICC but also the first trial in the history of international law to see the active participation of victims in the proceedings, among which will number child combatants.

Africa: Protect the vulnerable and stress accountability - AU Summit


The African Union (AU) should attach top priority to civilian protection and bringing human rights abusers to justice when it meets for its summit meeting in Ethiopia next week, Human Rights Watch said in an open letter to AU Chairman Jean Ping. The AU summit takes place from January 26 to February 3 in Addis Ababa. The letter analyzes the human rights crises in Somalia, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Guinea.

Algeria: Debate rages over proposed death penalty ban


Debate is heating up in Algeria between clerics and human rights activists over a proposed ban on capital punishment in the country. Religious leaders accuse legislators of denying society a punitive measure prescribed in the Qur'an, while supporters of the ban believe the death penalty is a human rights issue and should not be approached from a religious or philosophical perspective.

Cameroon: Government 'guilty of rights abuse'


The human rights group, Amnesty International, says security forces in Cameroon routinely use force to put down anti-government protests. Political opposition was not tolerated in Cameroon, Amnesty's deputy Africa director, Tawanda Hondora, said. Dissent was suppressed by violence or abuse of the legal system, he said.

Chad: Human rights violations go unpunished


One year after the battle between government and armed opposition forces in N'Djaména, Chad, serious human rights violations perpetrated by the security forces are continuing with no one being held accountable. "A year after the conflict, members of the security forces who carried out a regime of murder, torture and enforced disappearance of suspected government opponents have not been brought to justice, fuelling an already pervasive problem of impunity," said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International's Africa Deputy Programme Director.

Rwanda: End lifetime solitary confinement


The Rwandan government should honor its international obligations by enacting legislation to abolish life imprisonment in solitary confinement, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the presidents of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies. In December 2008, the Rwanda Parliament prohibited life in solitary confinement for genocide suspects transferred from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) or extradited from other countries and found guilty by Rwandan courts.

Refugees & forced migration

Global: Spanish artists help fight malnutrition among African refugees


A close partner of the UN refugee agency has persuaded some of Spain's top artists to support an exhibition and online auction to raise money to tackle malnutrition among young refugees in four African countries. The Spanish Committee for UNHCR, with the emceeing skills of UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Jesús Vázquez, launched "Refugi@rte" in Madrid last Tuesday.

Kenya: UN Agency tasks government on Somali refugees


The UN refugee agency has asked Kenya to stop the forcible return of Somalis seeking asylum after three people who crossed the Kenyan border were sent back. "We very much regret the latest decision to forcibly return to Somalia the three wounded Somalis,'' Ron Redmond, spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement on Wednesday in New York. It also called on Kenyan authorities "to fully respect the principle of non-refoulement, as enshrined in the 1951 Geneva Convention and Kenya's own Refugees Act."

Sudan: Congolese refugees flee LRA


Recent attacks by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have driven thousands of Congolese to South Sudan. A UNHCR team last weekend visited the Sudanese village of Lasu, 50 kilometres from the DRC border, and registered 680 uprooted Congolese, most of them from the village of Aba. They said they fled their homes last week following an attack by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group from Uganda.

Sudan: Stranded Sudanese leave Iraq for Romania


A second group of Sudanese refugees, most of whom are fleeing strife-torn Darfur, have been evacuated from perilous circumstances in Iraq to a groundbreaking transit centre in Romania, from which they hope to be resettled in the United States, the United Nations refugee agency reported. The group of 42 Sudanese refugees are staying in the new Emergency Transit Centre set up by the Romanian Government, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide a temporary haven for refugees pending final resettlement in a third country, a UNHCR spokesperson said.

Social movements

South Africa: Statement on the Slums Act Judgment


Abahlali baseMjondolo have been to the Durban High Court this morning to hear the judgment being handed dawn by the KwaZulu-Natal President, Judge Vuka Shabalala. On the 6 November 2008 the Movement had applied to the Durban High Court for the KwaZulu- Natal Elimination and Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Act 2007 to be declared unconstitutional. Full details of the Act, and the reasons for our opposition to it, and can be found on the Movement's website at

Elections & governance

Congo: Opposition criticises national electoral commission


The presidential candidate of the Congolese opposition Alliance for the Republic and Democracy (ARD), Mathias Dzon, has sharply criticised the country's National Electoral Commission (CONEL), accusing it of favouring President Denis Sassou-Nguesso ahead of the country's presidential election in July. Dzon, who served as Finance Minister between 1997 and 2002, told journalists here Wednesday that CONEL was pushing ''a candidate's cause'', alluding to Sassou-Nguesso, who has yet to announce his candidacy for the election.

Cote d'Ivoire: Identified voters passes 1 million mark


reparations for the much-delayed elections in Côte d’Ivoire is making headway, the United Nations mission there said today, announcing that the number of voters identified so far in the West African nation has surpassed the four million mark. “This is an important step, particularly given the delays and difficulties that beset the identification and census that are currently taking place,” Hamadoun Touré, spokesperson for the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), told reporters in Abidjan.

Ghana: Downsizing government


Ghanaians recently went to the polls to elect a new President to succeed outgoing president Kufuor. This was the second time under the country’s nascent democracy, that one political party was handing over to another without violent dispute. Ghana can be said to have redeemed Africa’s electoral image after the carnage the world witnessed during the Kenyan and Zimbabwean elections.

Madagascar: Opposition demand justice over death


The leader of anti-government demonstrations in Madagascar said on Tuesday he would not talk with the government until those behind the death of an opposition supporter were brought to justice. But Andry Rajoelina, the 34-year-old mayor of Antananarivo, said he was calling off plans for another day of protests after Monday's demonstrations degenerated into the worst day of street violence for years on the Indian Ocean island.

Madagascar: “Unmitigated Disaster”


After two days of upheaval that resulted in an estimated death toll at 80 nationally, and the looting of dozens of stores, a day of relative calm greeted a stunned nation. Soldiers are now patrolling Antananarivo, and both parties have called for supporters to stand down. The mayor of Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina, called for a “ghost town” operation in the capital today, January 29th, urging supporters to stay at home, but attend an organized public demonstration on Saturday, January 31st.

Mauritania: Parties in search of permanent forum for dialogue


Ten Mauritanian political parties Wednesday held a meeting in the capital Nouakchott, at the instance of the Alternative Party, the main party supporting the 6 August 2008 military coup in the country, as part of an effort to establish a permanent framework for dialogue.

Somalia: Rivals to seek MPs' votes


Presidential candidates are preparing to address the expanded Somali parliament a day before it votes to choose a new head of state. At least 14 candidates are running, including Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and moderate Islamist leader Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. An additional 149 opposition members have been sworn in to parliament which is meeting in neighbouring Djibouti.


Africa: Corruption takes two...


Corruption in Africa was in the spotlight once again this week with news that Texas-based oil services company Halliburton will pay a record fine to settle a bribery probe. You can see our story here. Halliburton Co will pay a $559 million fine to end an investigation of its former KBR Inc unit if the U.S. government approves the settlement, the largest penalty against a U.S. company for charges of bribery under federal law.

Kenya: Corruption in Africa: Not in my name!


When asked by a reporter why he robbed banks, a famous American bank robber Willie Sutton is alleged to have replied: "Because that is where the money is." Over to Kenyan leaders, why are you corrupt? I guess the answer is: "Because public wealth/property belongs to no one in particular!"


Africa: Burundi wins $833 million debt relief


Some $833 million of Burundi's foreign debt was canceled on Thursday under a global program to write off the debts of the world's poorest countries. In a joint statement, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund said their executive boards had approved full debt relief for the landlocked Central African country, including money owed to the global financial institutions.

Africa: Libya invested over US$ 1 billion in Africa in 2008


Giving details of its investments in Africa in 2008 on the sidelines of the Africa Union Commission summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Libya has organised a fair depicting the investments. At the fair, Libyan companies are showing off their products and where they could be found in various parts of Africa.

Global: International support for political party development in war-torn societies


How can the international community improve its support for political party development in countries recovering from civil war? This book chapter examines the challenges of political party assistance in post-conflict environments and the support strategies used by the international community. International actors can strengthen assistance by focusing on party laws from a conflict prevention perspective, working early on rebel-to-party transformation and addressing unequal power distribution in party systems.

Southern Africa: South Africa to help rebuild Zimbabwe


South Africa will help rebuild Zimbabwe once a unity government is formed there next month and hopes investors will return quickly, President Kaglema Motlanthe said on Thursday. "This stage is really critical in terms of achieving political stability and the first step towards the economic recovery of that country," Motlanthe told Reuters at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in the Swiss Alpine resort.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa: Needless deaths as preventable diseases sweep through continent


Buoyed by what is happening with preventing malaria and unnecessary deaths using less costly and simple methods, health experts want similar strategies be applied on other diseases. Recent studies indicate the use cost-effective preventive strategies such as mosquito nets has reduced hospital admission due to malaria by close to 50 percent, cutting down the number of deaths by thousands and medical bills spend on treating the disease.

Africa: Scientists want a cocktail of strategies used to reverse malaria


The findings that malaria caseload in many parts of African countries is reducing faster than ever before is good news. But attempts by different players to take credit of the reducing numbers of malaria cases seems not go down well with others. Those who manufacture and distribute Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN) that prevent mosquito that cause malaria from transmitting the virus, claim over 60 percent of the success is attributable to the use of these nets.

Kenya: FGM falsely touted as a panacea for HIV


Priscilla Bosibori, now 17, was 14 when an aunt fetched her from her school in Kisii, western Kenya, on the pretext of taking her to an important family function. Once they had left the school grounds, her aunt said her family had found a way of protecting her from HIV. Bosibori arrived home to a welcome of songs and dances by female members of her family before being placed in a room with other girls her age.

Southern Africa: HIV pregnancy, stigma and ignorance


For many women, pregnancy is a time of anticipation and celebration, but for those living positively it can be frustrating when their status – and not their pregnancy – takes centre stage. Being pregnant and positive often comes with its own brand of stigma. In a study among HIV-positive women in the United States, released at the international AIDS conference in Mexico in 2008, about half the respondents thought HIV-positive women could have children if they received appropriate care.

Zimbabwe: Urban patients now referred to rural mission hospitals


Rosa Chimbindi, pregnant with her first child, recently went Parirenyatwa hospital, one of Zimbabwe's largest referral facilities, located in Harare, the capital, to have her baby. Instead, staff at the maternity wing told her the hospital was closed because of the health worker boycott. Her doctor had recommended that her baby be delivered by Caesarean section because she was HIV positive and had previously suffered a hip injury.


Kenya: Obama secondary school to receive $35000


The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), The Embassy of the Republic of Kenya, African Diplomatic Corps, African Union, and African Professionals in Washington, D.C., will donate $35,000 to the Barack Obama Secondary School in Kogelo, Kenya, CCA has announced. The donation, to be given in February through the United States Embassy in Nairobi, will be used to purchase books, supplies, and other needed enhancements. Event partners agreed at the offset of the event’s planning process that the Senator Barack Obama Secondary School would be the most appropriate beneficiary of event proceeds.

Swaziland: Free education? maybe next year


Although the Swazi constitution stipulates free primary education from 2009, parents will have to pay school fees this year. Only three days before the start of the January term, the country's government announced it will continue to charge for primary education, contrary to the law.


Ethiopia: Gays threatened as clerics seek homosexuality ban


Ethiopian religious leaders have called on the country’s government to amend the constitution and ban homosexuality, a law which was never mentioned in the constitution of that country before. In a meeting held in December 2008 in Addis Ababa, where heads of various congregations including the Roman Catholic, Ethiopian Orthodox and Protestant churches met, a resolution was made that seeks to end homosexuality which was branded as “the pinnacle of immorality.”

Kenya: Pro-gay priest may face the axe


Pro-gay priest, Reverend John Makokha may face the axe from the United Methodist Church (UMC) following his positive stance on homosexuality, which is said to contravene the social principles of the UMC. Makokha confirmed this explaining that he is likely to be released from his duties during the next annual conference in April 2009 in Kampala.

Nigeria: Anti-gay bill passed


The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex, (LGBTI) community in Nigeria is appalled by the recent approval of the drastic Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill by the House of Representatives, which aims to root out all forms of homosexual practices in that country. According to Reverend Jide Macaulay of the House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) the Bill “is a continuing nuisance and avoidable evil that is terrorizing innocent same gender loving people.”

Nigeria: Reject ‘same gender’ marriage ban


A bill before Nigeria's National Assembly to ban "same gender marriage" would expand Nigeria's already draconian punishments for homosexual conduct and threaten all Nigerians' rights to privacy, free expression, and association, Human Rights Watch has said.

Racism & xenophobia

Global: UN rights chief urged to fight "orwellian distortions"


As diplomats gathered in Geneva to draft the outcome declaration for the U.N.'s upcoming world conference on racism, UN Watch, an independent non-govermental organization headquartered in Geneva, called on UN chief Ban Ki-moon and human rights high commissioner Navi Pillay to take the lead in fighting to remove "Orwellian distortions" that taint the proposed text, and to speak our while negotiations are held this week.


Africa: Pastoralists grapple with climate change


As many as 250 million people in Africa may not have enough water to meet their basic needs by 2020 because of climate change, a specialist in poverty, environment and climate change said on 27 January. "The day-to-day impacts of climate change, such as higher temperatures and erratic rainfall, are increasing many people's vulnerability to hazards," Charles Ehrhart, the poverty, environment and climate change network coordinator for CARE International, told policy-makers and representatives of pastoralists from the Horn, eastern and central Africa, at a consultative meeting on ways of mitigating the humanitarian effects of climate change on pastoral areas.

Nigeria: Environment threatened as oil spills from Agip’s pipeline


Okoroba community is one of the major oil bearing communities in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. It hosts two oil multinationals: Shell Petroleum Development Company [SPDC] and Nigerian Agip Oil Company [N.A.O.C. The community has boundaries with Emaguo-Kugbo and Aggrisaba on its right and left respectively.

Land & land rights

Africa: Land Registration in Ethiopia - New report


This publication from the Global Land Tool Network belongs to a series of research reports examining the changing landscape of land tenure security in developing countries. The intent is to provide up-to-date information to land professionals and policy makers working in the land sector and to raise awareness on what is being done at the country level.

Media & freedom of expression

Tunisia: Call for end to blockade of radio station


Members of the IFEX-Tunisia Monitoring Group (IFEX-TMG), a coalition of 18 member organisations of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) network, firmly condemn the siege carried out by police on Tunis-based media outlet Kalima and call on the Tunisian authorities to immediately launch an investigation into the abduction of one of its journalists and harassment of the station's staff and contributors.

Zambia: Court "bans" newspaper form covering trial


On 28 January 2009, Ndola High Court Deputy Registrar Jones Chinyama banned "The Post" newspaper from covering former president Fredrick Chiluba's case currently before the Magistrate's court. The ban came on the heels of a story published in "The Post" on 28 January, which sought to interpret the meaning of Chiluba's intention to give an unsworn statement in court.

Zimbabwe: Court orders probe into journalist's torture


On 26 January 2009, the matter of freelance photojournalist Anderson Shadreck Manyere, who is held on allegations of banditry, was heard before Harare Magistrate Gloria Takundwa. The judge ordered police to investigate and present a report on allegations that Manyere was tortured while in unlawful detention. Manyere was kidnapped and held incommunicado for more than three weeks.

Conflict & emergencies

Africa: Courting conflict? justice, peace and the ICC


Is the International Criminal Court (ICC) pursuing too aggressive and disruptive an agenda in Africa, without proper priorities? This series of papers, published by the Royal African Society, suggests that the ICC has made a promising beginning in many respects, but that its work in Africa highlights some significant weakness. According to one charge, the ICC’s pursuit of justice jeopardises fragile peace deals, risking the prolongation of conflict.

DRC: UN to support joint military plan


The top United Nations envoy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has formally accepted an invitation by the nation’s Government to support the joint DRC/Rwanda military operation targeting ethnic Rwandan Hutu militias. “We are going to bring our support so that this process can succeed as soon as possible,” Alan Doss, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said following talks with DRC authorities yesterday in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

Guinea-Bissau: Building a real stability pact


This latest policy briefing from the International Crisis Group, argues that the West African country’s new prime minister, Carlos Gomes Junior, has an opportunity to carry out the administrative and political measures needed to strengthen the state, stabilise the economy and fight drug trafficking. But he will need to base his approach on political dialogue with President Nino Vieira, the army and rivals within his own party.

Kenya: Food shortage takes a huge toll in North-Eastern Province


Last November, North Eastern Province was hit by floods that cut off the region. Two months later, the green scenery has turned tinder dry. Surface temperatures oscillate between 35 and 40 degrees, says the Kenya Meteorological Department. Residents tread on a thin line between life and death as the food shortage bites. Water sources — pans, dams, and boreholes — have turned into murky poodles. Also facing food shortage are neighbouring districts of Tana River and Kyuso. Fafi and Lagdera, that were carved out of Garissa last year, are also in a bad state.

Kenya: Hunger risk for 10 million


Caritas is launching a US$4.1 million appeal to help the people of Kenya after warnings that children have already started to die from hunger-related illnesses. Up to 10 million people could be hit by acute food shortages. A combination of drought, crop failures, high food prices and last year's post election violence means shortages are widespread. The crisis is affecting not only vulnerable groups such as women, children and pastoralists, but also households previously thought to have reliable food sources.

Madagascar: UN chief calls for protection of civilians


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has offered United Nations support to help foster reconciliation in Madagascar where serious unrest has led to the death of dozens of people. In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban voiced concern for the security of the population and deplored the loss of life. “The Secretary-General calls on the Malagasy Government to place an absolute priority on the protection of the population,” it said.

Mali: Conflict intensifies in North, despite Algiers accord


Tensions have returned to northern Mali in recent days, despite efforts by Algeria to mediate a peaceful settlement between the government and Tuareg rebels. The Malian army has intensified its attacks against rebel positions in the area of Kidal, possibly in pursuit of a commander who rejects the peace plan proposed in the 2006 Algiers Accord.

Sudan: Darfur mediator calls for end to renewed clashes


The United Nations and African Union (AU) joint chief mediator for the peace process in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region today expressed grave concern over renewed combat in the southern part of the vast region, saying it undermines hopes for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. “The escalation of violence violates the spirit of the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement on the Conflict in Darfur of 2004 and constitutes a breach of various Security Council resolutions,” Djibril Bassolé said in a formal statement released in Khartoum.

Internet & technology

Global: Free Ubuntu pocket guide released


Keir Thomas, author of numerous Linux how-to books as well as Ubuntu-specific guides, has released a new book called Ubuntu Pocket Guide. The compact 166-page guide to using Linux is available in both printed form as well as a free PDF download.

Rwanda: Better health at a click of a button


The small, dusty village of Mayange lies 20 kilometres from Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. Its health centre has fewer than 40 beds but serves an estimated 35,000 people. In most ways, the Mayange centre is like thousands of other health facilities across the continent which struggle to meet patients’ needs with very few resources and staff. Thanks to an innovative partnership involving the government, non-governmental organizations and private companies, the Mayange centre now uses mobile telephones to provide better treatment.

Fundraising & useful resources

Gender analysis of the 2009 Zimbabwe education sector


The Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network is a local Non-Governmental Organization that seeks to empower women in Zimbabwe. ZWRCN is looking for a consultant to carry out a gender analysis of the Zimbabwe Education Sector Policies, Programmes and Budget. The analysis is expected to contribute to the main objectives of the Gender Budgeting and Women’s Empowerment Programme currently under implementation by ZWRCN, including the promotion of gender equality and equity in public policies and resource allocation to the education sector, and the upholding of the right to education for children in Zimbabwe.

Gender analysis of the 2009 Zimbabwe national budget

Call for Proposals


The Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network is a local Non-Governmental Organization that seeks to empower women in Zimbabwe. ZWRCN is seeking a consultant to carry out a Gender Analysis of the 2009 Zimbabwe National Budget. The gender analysis of the 2009 National Budget is expected to contribute to the main objective of the Gender Budgeting and Women’s Empowerment Programme currently under implementation by ZWRCN. The programme seeks to promote the formulation and implementation of gender sensitive national policies, programmes and budgets at the national level.

New Path: African Forum for Intellectual thought - Call for articles


The NEW PATH: AFRICAN FORUM FOR INTELLECTUAL THOUGHT is published quarterly by the African Research and Resource Forum (ARRF) and provides a forum for innovative thinking about our common future and about how we need to tackle the most intractable problems facing Africa today – focusing on Eastern Africa. The editor invites your articles (opinion and analysis) for the March 2009 edition.

Writing Queer Kenya - Call for Submissions


We lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals, in a word, queers, have had the distinct un-pleasure of being told we don't exist—in official government statements, historical documents, and contemporary statements. Well, we do.

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Africa: CODESRIA Advanced Research Fellowship Programme

2009 Competition: Call for Applications


The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa is pleased to announce the 2009 session of its Advanced Research Fellowship Programme and to invite interested scholars based in African universities or research centres to submit applications for consideration for an award.

Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice

Pambazuka News is published by Fahamu Ltd.

© Unless otherwise indicated, all materials published are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. For further details see:

Pambazuka news can be viewed online: English language edition
Edição em língua Portuguesa
Edition française
RSS Feeds available at

Pambazuka News is published with the support of a number of funders, details of which can be obtained at

or send a message to [email protected] with the word SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line as appropriate.

The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Pambazuka News or Fahamu.

With over 1000 contributors and an estimated 500,000 readers Pambazuka News is the authoritative pan African electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa providing cutting edge commentary and in-depth analysis on politics and current affairs, development, human rights, refugees, gender issues and culture in Africa.

Edição em língua Portuguesa
Edition française

To view online, go to
To SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE – please visit,

In addition to its online store, Fahamu Books is pleased to announce that Yash Tandon’s Ending Aid Dependence is now available for purchase in bookstores in Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia, Malaysia, and Mauritius. For more information on the location of these stores, please visit Where to buy our books on the Fahamu Books website, or purchase online.

*Pambazuka News has now joined Twitter. By following 'pambazuka' on Twitter you can receive headlines from our 'Features' and 'Comment & Analysis' sections as they are published, and can even receive our headlines via SMS. Visit our Twitter page for more information:

*Pambazuka News now has a page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit

ISSN 1753-6839

ISSN 1753-6839 Pambazuka News English Edition

ISSN 1753-6847 Pambazuka News en Français

ISSN 1757-6504 Pambazuka News em Português

© 2009 Fahamu -