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The East African : Sep 29th 2014
24 The EastAfrican OPINION SEPTEMBER 27 - OCTOBER 3, 2014 PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY THE NATION MEDIA GROUP Te≥≥o≥ism: Is the wo≥ld ≥eady to walk the talk? THE UNITED Nations Security Council on Wednesday passed a ground breaking resolution in the global war against terror, but can eastern Africa benefit from it? The thrust of the resolution is how to address the growing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters that are joining terrorist groups, including eastern Africa. It requires nations to suppress the recruiting, organising, transporting, equipping and financing of foreign terrorist fighters and help build the capacity of the states on the front lines of the war against terror, such as Kenya. The eastern African region, especially Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Ethiopia — that are key targets of Al Shabaab — have often reached out for international co-operation and assistance in terms of equipment and intelligence. Notably, Western powers have responded swiftly to try and crush the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) because it threatens their interests, yet countries in the eastern African region, that are dealing with a more complex terrorism situation, are generally forced to deal with terrorism threats on their own. There are chances that the newly emergent ISIS could inspire some youth in eastern African region and create new breed of terrorist with totally new ideas. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta shared with the rest of the world the threat emanating from foreign fighters that are joining regional terror groups such as Al Shabaab, as well as the increased radicalisation of the youth who are vulnerable because of high rate of unemployment. President Kenyatta appealed to the world na- tions to help Kenya and the region as a whole deal with the challenge of foreign terrorist fighters. He showed concern that the war against terror in Kenya is hampering the widening of democratic space by narrowing individual freedom. In Kenya for instance, there has been sugges- tion to adopt similar measure like the United States Patriotic Act after the 9/11, which would mean, reversing the hard fought civil liberties by listening into private telephone conversations. We in east African are encouraged that US President Barrack Obama has acknowledged that resolutions alone will not be enough, must be matched and translated into action to have any effect. Obama noted that the world must do better by addressing root causes of economic insecurity and political instability to stop terror groups from being attractive to the youth. The US intelligence estimates that over 15,000 individuals from more than 80 nations have gone to fight in Syria. In eastern Africa, there is an increase number of foreign fighters from UK, Germany and other parts of Middle East that continue to join Al Shabaab. This is the biggest challenge because most of these foreign fighters pose as tourists making it difficult for security agencies to detect their intentions, and yet they boost Al Shabaab with superior technology. It was, therefore, a rare occasion for the Se- curity Council to achieve the kind of consensus that was represented in the resolution, but the question is whether world nations are ready to walk the talk? A PUBLICATION OF THE NATION MEDIA GROUP LINUS GITAHI: Chief Executive Officer TOM MSHINDI: Acting Editorial Director PAMELLA SITTONI: Managing Editor Nation Centre, Kimathi Street, P.O. Box 49010-00100 G.P.O. Nairobi. Tel. 3288000, 2221222, 337710, Fax 214531, 213946. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org © Nation Media Group A lot of emphasis is put on what happens at a general election.” Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo from the position of prime minister, was a big meal for the Uganda media and got tongues in the region wagging. To many, it was the final signal that U Museveni is definitely going for an unprecedented seventh term as president (two of them unelected), and doesn’t want anyone near him casting a green eye on his throne. Where power is personalised power, party members are little more than puppets Yet, that is not the bigger story. What has happened in Uganda was a very East African affair, and also told us that Ethiopia, is a very different country in the wider East African region. Let’s explain. If you take the second multiparty era in Africa to have started from 1990, there is no country in this region where the vice president or prime minister has succeeded the president in an internal party succession, ganda President Yoweri Museveni recent decision to sack his long-term confidant and ally Amama Mbabazi When p≥esident ≥eigns, you se≥ve at his whim and then gone to be chief executive through a competitive election, except in Ethiopia. Hailemariam Desalegn was deputy to the dominant Meles Zenawi, and took over when the big man died in August 2012. He will probably win next year’s election. In Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta died in the same month as Meles, August 1978, and his deputy Daniel arap Moi took over. But that was during the one-party age. Tanzania, often considered to have the region’s most “stable” politics, has not been any different. Ali Hassan Mwinyi, who took office in November 1985 was, as First Vice President, deputy to the revered Julius Nyerere. One-party era But that too was in one-party times. Of course this is not an East African reality, it is a general African one. It also points to a failing in how political transitions in the region are understood. A lot of emphasis is put on what hap- pens at a general election. It should be on intraparty democracy and leadership change. When a political party is sufficiently institutionalised, and its members have power, they will elect their presidential candidate and his or her deputy. If they win an election as president and deputy, if that power balance remains, the president cannot easily sack his VP or Petition in public inte≥est? The cost will floo≥ you! leading up to last year’s General Elections have long been overtaken by all that’s come since. To refresh our memories, High W Court Petition Number 552 of 2012 was one of the first tests of the meaning of Chapter 6 of our Constitution. Specifically, what Chapter 6 — on leadership and integrity — implied, with respect to the right to stand for public office as well as the responsibilities of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). In the end, the High Court con- solidated four separate petitions and ruled on both jurisdiction and substance. As concerns jurisdiction, it found that it had jurisdiction to interpret Chapter 6 of the Constitution. However, it argued the remedies of the IEBC and other relevant public bodies to determine matters of integrity in relation to eligibility to run for public office had not yet been exhausted, and fell solely under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. So much for that. As for substance, the High Court reminded the petitioners that Kenyatta and Ruto, despite having been internationally charged with serious of crimes, are to be assumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of e have, no doubt, almost all but forgotten the High Court Petition Number 552 of 2012. For events law. And that was that. Except that it wasn’t. For the High Court also awarded costs to the respondents. So far, the Attorney-General hasn’t forwarded costs. However, the IEBC has billed — to the tune of no less than Ksh178 million ($1.99 million) — to be paid by the petitioners, who had only acted in the public interest by seeking the judiciary’s opinion. There are, no doubt, different opin- ions on the IEBC’s billing of the petitioners today. Some might be silently, maliciously gleeful all those “evil” civil society types have finally gotten what was coming to them. Some might — tired of the ways in which Kenyans have become so litigious — feel both the High Court’s award of costs and the IEBC’s attempt to claim the same, may usefully constrain our increasingly litigious nature moving forward. But others might be alarmed. What is the signal the High Court is sending with respect to the right of any individual — let alone civil society organisation — to bring forward public interest litigation under the new Constitution? If no civil society organisation could possibly afford to pay those fees, how, one imagines, could a single individual? Who would dare move forward now, no matter the import and public interest of any issue at hand? Prime Minister. But where power is personalised power, and party members are little more than puppets, the president will all but handpick his deputy, and get the members to endorse his choice. The VP or PM then serves at his whim. If party members don’t have power over their president, though he might run an efficient government, there will be a trade off — they will not have power over him as private citizens either and he can be corrupt, curtail democratic freedoms, and be arbitrary, if he chose to and they wouldn’t be able to censure him. But mostly, while he and his govern- ment can hold on to power, their rule will be incompetent. However powerful and solid they might appear, they will still be scarecrows in the rice garden. They can frighten away the birds, yes, but they will still be empty coats hanging on a cross. And as a result, the end of their rule will be messy. There will not be an Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front to knock heads and ensure an orderly transition. Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo is edito≥ of Mail & Gua≥dian Af≥ica (mgaf≥ica.com). Twitte≥: @cobbo3 There are many ways to undermine that right. The awarding of costs is one way. L. Muthoni Wanyeki Second, what is the signal the IE- BC is sending with respect to its use of public resources? If these are the fees it is paying for a single constitutional petition, one shudders to imagine just how much it has forked out of our money for the numerous elections petitions it has been party to since March 2013. Does the IEBC not have in-house advocates? Or a legal firm on retainer at more reasonable costs? Surely there must exist — somewhere — some guidelines on what public bodies can rightfully spend on external legal fees? We have the right to make demands of our public offices. There are many ways to undermine that right. The awarding of costs is one way. The slapping down of exorbitant, ridiculous, way-over-the-top, costs is another. The matter is before the High Court again. We must all watch out for what it decides. L. Muthoni Wanyeki is the Amnesty Inte≥national’s Regional Di≥ecto≥ fo≥ East Af≥ica, cove≥ing East Af≥ica, the Ho≥n and the G≥eat Lakes.
Sep 22nd 2014
Oct 6th 2014