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The East African : June 2nd 2014
16 The EastAfrican OPINION MAY 31 - JUNE 6, 2014 PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY THE NATION MEDIA GROUP Sudan: Light at the end of the tunnel? The East African region is hopeful that the positive signals from the leaders of the warring factions in South Sudan can be sustained and Africa’s newest country returned to peace. Both President Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Machar have of late been consistent in stating their commitment to a peaceful resolution to the political crisis, despite the continued fighting. The fighters on the ground need positive sig- nals from their leaders so that they can respect the two ceasefire agreement that have both been violated with impunity. In particular, Dr Machar’s decision to come out of the bush and tour East African capitals for the sake of consultations is encouraging. Both leaders were ready to hold an informal face-toface meeting in Nairobi, which failed to take place due to some diplomatic hitches. Thus the leaders of the warring sides in South Sudan have finally acknowledged that peace cannot be realised without a regional effort. Dr Machar has given his proposals for a lasting peace, indicating that he is now ready for serious engagement. President Kiir has also accepted the reality that the military option cannot work in the current situation. Other countries from the region now have the opportunity to ensure that the next round of talks, set for Addis Ababa next week, addresses concrete issues. The time for talk about talks is over as South Sudanese continue to die either from bullets or from hunger. The only remaining challenge for smooth progress of the negotiation is the continued presence of Ugandan troops in South Sudan, contrary to the January 23 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. The Machar faction continues to perceive Uganda troops as a stumbling block to the peace process, since they believe their presence contributes to Kiir’s hardline position. EAC fiddling funds? Oh no! Reports that donors are withholding pro- gramme-funds to the East African Community due to alleged mismanagement have come as a shock to everyone who holds regional integration close to their hearts. Donors support nearly 70 per cent of the Com- munity’s programmes. The Partnership Fund in particular, which is at the heart of the allegations, supports crucial programmes such the implementation of the Common Market Protocol and the Monetary Union Protocol, which are likely to face undue delays. Some donors are already demanding a refund of some $170,000. The Secretariat must move with speed to pro- vide audited reports to donors to allow the disbursement of the funds that are currently lying idle. A PUBLICATION OF THE NATION MEDIA GROUP LINUS GITAHI: Chief Executive Officer JOSEPH ODINDO: 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 We need Nkrumah-Nasser type leaders who will build a bridge across the Sahara again. ” Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo T errible things are happening in the Arab North, and the rest of Africa south of the Sahara desert, aka sub-Saharan Af- rica, doesn’t seem to be interested or bothered. The biggest mess is happening in Libya. To begin with, it is no longer clear who is in charge in Libya. In a chaotic session, the interim parliament, the General National Congress, a few Our brethren up north don’t pay much attention to us, either. They haven’t sent peacekeepers to Somalia or CAR days ago elected businessman Ahmed Miitig as the new prime minister. The dozens of militias in Libya have rejected Miitig. Then the other day gunmen attacked his home. He escaped unhurt. The old premier, Abdullah al-Thani, who at first looked like he would leave and allow Miitig to rule, has now changed his mind and decided to linger as PM. Enter rogue former general Khalif Libya is dying, and black Af≥icans don’t give a damn Haftar. He has raised a formidable army and is launching attacks on Islamists groups all over the country, most intensely in Benghazi. He even has a private air force. The place is falling apart. There are probably more weapons and bombs in Libya than people, in the inevitable crisis that has followed the grim end of Muammar Gaddafi’s rule two years ago. Hundreds of people have been killed. The country is broke, and things are getting worse by the day. The US has cut and run, telling its citizens to leave. In neighbouring, more peaceful Tu- nisia, there is reason to be nervous. A few days ago, four Tunisian police officers were killed in what authorities called a “terrorist” attack on the home of Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou. Since late 2012, security forces have been battling dozens of militants hiding out in the remote Mount Chaambi region. Authorities say the militants are linked to Al Qaeda. We know Egypt and the Egyptians better. They drink our water from the Nile. We play football with them, and their elections are similar to ours. At the start the week, they held a presidential election. Former military chief Field Mar- shal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi won it handily. Remember, last July, Sisi overthrew the democratically elected president of Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsy. He jailed him, and the worst political violence in recent Egyptian history followed. Anyway, Sisi put the election machinery together, retired from the army, stood and won the vote. That is very familiar in the rest of Africa. We understand that. If Libya, or pre-Sisi Egypt, were elsewhere in Africa, we would have pressured the African Union to send a peacekeeping force there. So why don’t we? First, our Arab brothers and sisters up north don’t pay much attention to us, either. They have not sent peacekeepers to Somalia, Central African Republic, or DR Congo either. They don’t visit us — and we don’t visit them. The only exception was Muammar, who liked to come south bearing gifts, with a phalanx of female bodyguards and wearing expensive robes whose cost could feed several African villages for years. North Africa and sub-Saharan Afri- ca needs a Kwame Nkrumah or Gamal Abdel Nasser kind of leader who will build a bridge across the Sahara again. Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo is is the edito≥ of Mail & Gua≥dian Af≥ica (mgaf≥ica.com). Twitte≥:cobbo3 B≥utalising Somalis ove≥ suga≥ smuggling? Sweet! ing on Usalama Watch. The personal testimonies in the briefing — from both Kenyans of Somali descent and Somali asylum-seekers and refugees — are harrowing. The briefing — documenting arbi- S trary arrest, detention without trial beyond the constitutional 24-hour limit, physical and sexual harassment, extortion, forcible relocation contrary to a High Court ruling and expulsion contrary to regional and international norms on non-refoulement — was released on Tuesday. The irony is, of course, that accord- ing to the briefing, not a single terrorism-related charge has been laid against any of those brought to court as a result of the operation. The few that have been charged have only been charged with various immigration-related offences. So, if the operation isn’t about counter-terrorism, what is it about? Forcible relocation of urban asylumseekers and refugees to the camps against a High Court order and thus contempt of court? If so, “only” 1,000 of the estimated 55,000 urban asylum-seekers and refugees have been moved to the camps — in some cases separating breast-feeding babies from their mothers and children from their omalis are Scapegoats in Kenya’s Counter-Terror Crackdown.” This is the title of Amnesty International’s brief- parents. Or is it about expulsion to a country still in conflict contrary to regional and international norms on non-refoulement? If so, “only” 359 asylum-seekers and refugees have been expelled — including three registered refugees as well as many others who claimed their documentation was confiscated and destroyed during the operation. The point being that as a counter- terrorism measure, the operation is evidently ineffective — not to mention counter-productive given that GoK bellicosity has now trickled down into the general population. Other Why would GoK not just stir the xenophobic pot but keep it on the boil? Should we, as always, follow the money? Kenyans are now feeling quite free in their hateful behaviour — expelling Kenyans of Somali descent and Somalis from public transport and denying them rental accomodation. Similarly, as a measure to ease the burden of refugee hosting, it’s been equally ineffective. So...what was the point? Why would the GoK feel so free not just stirring the xenophobic pot but keeping it on the boil? Should we, as always, follow the money? Reports of the de- As counter-terrorism, the operation is ineffective — even counter-productive.” L. Muthoni Wanyeki struction of small businesses in the erstwhile thriving mini-metropolis of Eastleigh and repeated extortion are disturbing enough. The allegations and rumours that this was actually about the takeover of the illegal sugar importation business from Somalia are even worse. Note: takeover — not legitimate exposure and ending. If those allegations and rumours are true, we are back to the days before the political “transition” of 2002. When those in power hungry for money merely looked around for lucrative businesses — legal and otherwise — and went out and took them. First with offers of buy-in and then, if resisted, by sheer takeover. The Kenyan Asian community was especially vulnerable to this then. Today it seems it is the Kenyan Somali community. Shame, shame, shame. To bring down the hell outlined above on the heads of ordinary people for that: A takeover of an illegitimate business. L. Muthoni Wanyeki is Amnesty Inte≥national’s ≥egional di≥ecto≥ fo≥ East Af≥ica. This column is w≥itten in he≥ pe≥sonal capacity.
May 26th 2014
June 9th 2014