Focus on prevention, no vaccine for rare Ebola strain, Uganda told

Health experts on Tuesday urged Uganda to focus on preventing and controlling the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, noting that there is no vaccine against the rare Sudan strain that has been confirmed in the country.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health confirmed an Ebola outbreak in the country after the virus was detected in Mubende, central Uganda. One death was confirmed while six other deaths are suspected to have been caused by Ebola, but remain unverified.

Bayo Fatunmbi, head of disease prevention and control at the World Health Organization office in Uganda, told reporters that the Sudan strain is rare and had only occurred in Sudan in 1976 and in Uganda in 2011.

“We have done something before in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but we find that the vaccination that worked with the Zaire virus [strain] will not be useful for this particular Sudan strain,” he said. He added that another type of vaccine is currently being tested.

Diana Atwine, Uganda’s permanent secretary at the Health ministry, said that while the country has the vaccine for the Zaire strain, there is no vaccine for the Sudan strain.

She said a team of epidemiologists has been sent to Mubende to investigate the source of the index case, a 24-year-old male who died on Monday.

“There is no need to panic at all because Uganda is well known for handling epidemics. We have built capacity, and we want to assure the public that we shall contain this epidemic,” Ms Atwine said. 

She added that Uganda is working with partners like the WHO to contain the spread of the deadly disease. 

The Ebola virus is highly contagious and causes various symptoms, including fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, generalized pain or malaise, and in some cases, internal and external bleeding. According to the WHO, the fatality rate for those who contract Ebola ranges from 50 percent to 89 percent, depending on the viral sub-type.

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South Sudan on high alert after Ebola outbreak in Uganda

South Sudan is stepping up vigilance along its borders following an outbreak of Ebola in neighbouring Uganda.

Kampala on Tuesday confirmed the outbreak of the virus in the country, with experts confirming that it was the deadly Sudan strain that currently has no vaccine.

On Tuesday, South Sudan’s undersecretary in the Ministry of Health, Victoria Anib Majur, urged communities living along the border with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to report any suspicious cases of Ebola to health authorities.

“We are very concerned about the Ebola outbreak in Uganda because we share the border. We have a lot of movement across the border. Our families are in Uganda and Ugandans are on this side,” Majur told journalists in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

She also urged the public to refrain from eating bush meat as the Ebola virus can spread from animals to humans through contaminated bush meat.

Majur added that national assessment teams will be deployed in the border areas of Yambio and Nimule bordering DRC and Uganda, respectively.

On August 21, the DRC government announced an Ebola outbreak after detecting the virus in a 46-year-old woman living in the city of Beni, in the province of North Kivu. This came just a month after it had declared the end of the 14th Ebola outbreak in the country.

Majur added that Juba would partner with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) to promote public awareness of the Ebola virus disease.

Fabian Ndenzako, the acting WHO Representative for South Sudan, said that the Ministry of Health has already activated the incident management system for Ebola virus disease.

“There is a lot of movement across the border, so it’s really important that this incident management system is really activated. We don’t have a case in South Sudan but, given the proximity and closeness, we have to prepare,” Ndenzako said.

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South Sudan is stepping up vigilance along its borders following an outbreak of Ebola in neighbouring Uganda. Kampala on Tuesday confirmed the outbreak of the virus in the country, with experts […]

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Ruto to rally African leaders on climate change

enya’s President William Ruto will use his maiden trip to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York to rally African peers to raise their voice on the danger of climate change.

Africa is expected to be take the biggest hit from climate change.

Dr Ruto is expected in New York on Tuesday afternoon to attend the 77th UN General Assembly. He will be travelling from London where he had attended the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday.

A tentative programme from the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Ruto will meet African heads of state to discuss climate change and its effects, including the ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa and flooding in Sudan.

“In his capacity as Coordinator, President Dr Ruto will also chair a meeting of the Conference of African Heads of State on Climate Crisis (CAHOSCC),” said a dispatch from the Ministry on Monday.

“The 77th UNGA coincides with the worst drought in the Horn of Africa with many countries in the region, including Kenya, are experiencing unprecedented effects in the last forty years.

“At the United Nations Headquarters, Kenya will seek to promote its foreign policy at the multilateral system including enhancing participation in the quest for realisation of SDGs and global leadership in emerging issues including climate change.”

Dr Ruto is scheduled to address the General Assembly for the first time as head of state, although he had given a speech here in 2016 then as Deputy President representing President Uhuru Kenyatta.

According to the schedule of speeches publicised by the UN, he will speak in the afternoon on Wednesday just after the Slovenian representative.

US President Joe Biden will kick off the speeches and will be followed by representatives from Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Zambia, Libya and Moldova.

As is tradition, leaders converge in New York every September for the UNGA where they give speeches, hold bilateral meetings and attend mini conferences on issues important to their countries.

This year’s UNGA theme is “A watershed moment: Transformative solutions to interlocking challenges”, under which leaders are expected to discuss the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the global energy crisis, climate change, and the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In his inauguration speech last week, Dr Ruto promised to place climate change among priority items to deal with.

“Among the central concerns of my government will be climate change. In our country, women and men, young people, farmers, workers and local communities suffer the consequences of climate emergency,” he said, suggesting he will encourage alternatives to fossil fuels.
“Africa has the opportunity to lead the world. We have immense potential for renewable energy. Reducing costs of renewal energy technologies make these the most viable energy source. We call on all African states to join us in this journey.”

Egypt is due to host the upcoming UN Conference of Parties (Cop27) on climate change in November. And African countries have demanded financial backing to pledges meant to lower temperature rise and for technological transfer to help adapt to changes. 

At the UN, Kenya is finishing its final year as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and Dr Ruto is expected to meet with various leaders whose countries sit on the Council.

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Uganda confirms Ebola outbreak

Uganda has confirmed one case of Ebola in the central Mubende District, high-level government officials briefed on the matter said late Monday.

Senior Ministry of Health staff rushed to Mubende to investigate after unknown number of residents succumbed to what was initially reported as a “strange illness” until Monday’s confirmation.

“Uganda confirms an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Mubende District, Uganda. The confirmed case is a 24 year old male a resident Ngabano village of Madudu Sub County in Mubende District presented with EVD symptoms and later succumbed,” the Health ministry said.

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng was reported to be in New York, and sources said officials first briefed President Museveni. 

The Democratic Republic of Congo, which neighbours Uganda to the west, is currently battling an outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, which causes a deadly haemorrhagic fever. 

According to the World Health Organization, the disease is transmitted to people from animals and spreads through human-to-human infection.

Uganda has had at least three previous outbreaks of Ebola, the deadliest being in 2000 that killed hundreds, including the lead treatment officer Dr. Matthew Lukwiya.

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Uganda has confirmed one case of Ebola in the central Mubende District, high-level government officials briefed on the matter said late Monday. Senior Ministry of Health staff rushed to Mubende […]

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S. Sudan plan to build harbor in Djibouti to hurt Kenyan port

South Sudan has bought a piece of land in Djibouti for the construction of a harbour in its latest effort to find an alternative to the port of Mombasa which is facing an onslaught from Dar-es-Salaam.

South Sudan has bought three acres of land at the port of Djibouti for the construction of a facility that will handle its import and export goods as Juba seeks to cut reliance on the Mombasa port in Kenya.

The latest development comes just two months after the Chamber of Commerce in South Sudan said it will shift its cargo to the port of Djibouti, which it termed as convenient for the Africa’s youngest State.

“We have been only using Port Sudan and Mombasa but recently, we have decided to go to Djibouti and as I am speaking to you, we have land in Djibouti,” South Sudan Minister for Petroleum Puot Kang Chol is quoted by local media.

The minister said the land was procured by the Ministry of Petroleum for the purpose of exporting the country’s crude oil as well as use it on imported goods. If effected, the move will hit the port of Mombasa given that Juba is one of Kenya’s largest clients.

Mombasa has been the main route for all consignments destined to the landlocked country with South Sudan importing nearly all of its cargo through the Kenyan port.

Mr Chol said they were ready to facilitate and stock goods destined for South Sudan through Djibouti.

“If any of you have goods, and you want to bring them through Djibouti, we have a land, we will have a space for you to accommodate your materials [or] whatever you want to bring,” said the official.

South Sudan is the second country in terms of cargo throughput volumes at the Mombasa port after Uganda, accounting for 9.9 percent of transit volumes. Uganda accounts for 83 percent of all throughput cargo followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda at 7.2, 3.2 and 2.4 percent in that order.

Kenya Ports Authority managing director John Mwangemi said South Sudan is one of their largest clients but they can choose a preferred facility. “I am not aware of the development in South Sudan but the government there can make a choice on which port to use,” said Mr Mwangemi.

The announcement by South Sudan comes just a few days after President William Ruto issued a directive for all inbound cargo to be cleared in Mombasa, dealing a blow to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Naivasha.

Kenya allocated South Sudan land in Naivasha for the construction of a dry port, which would see goods destined to Juba cleared at the ICD facility to save truckers the long journey to Mombasa. Kenya has also allocated a piece of land to Uganda to clear its goods in Naivasha.

Dr Ruto promised during the election campaigns to return the port services to Mombasa if elected as President in the August election.

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Kenya clarifies position on Sahrawi after gaffe

Kenya says it has not abandoned a decades-old policy in which it supported the African Union’s call for free self-determination of the Sahrawi people.

In a diplomatic note sent to embassies and representatives offices of international organisations in Nairobi, Kenya walked back on a controversial tweet last week in which President William Ruto appeared to end recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in favour of an autonomy offer by Morocco.

Read: Kenya pushes Western Sahara issue back on AU agenda

Instead, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said Nairobi has not departed from supporting the African Union call, as well as mediation programmes under the UN, to have the people of Western Sahara decide their future.

“Kenya’s position on the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is fully aligned with the decision of the Organization of African Unity (now African Union) to admit SADR to its membership on 22nd August 1982, and the AU Charter which calls for the unquestionable and inalienable right of a people to self-determination.

“Further, the country aligns itself with decisions of subsequent AU Assemblies of Heads of State and Government on SADR,” Kamau said in the note dated September 16.

Last week, a day after President Ruto took office, he tweeted: “Kenya rescinds its recognition of the SADR and initiates steps to wind down the entity’s presence in the country.” This was posted after he had earlier met Sahrawi President Brahim Ghali, who attended his inauguration, and later Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

The tweet was later deleted.

However, the President also did say that Kenya supports the United Nations framework “as the exclusive mechanism to find a lasting solution of the dispute over Western Sahara.”

Also read: UN names new envoy for Western Sahara

The Foreign Ministry in Kenya told embassies all formal declarations will, in future, be made only through formal diplomatic documents, not social media, in an apparent move to prevent another gaffe.

The President indicated that relations with Morocco will, nonetheless, be speeded up “in areas of trade, agriculture, health, tourism, energy, among others, for the mutual benefit of our countries.”

The announcement would have upended a decades-old policy in which African countries generally support the call for a referendum for a region claimed by Morocco as part of its territory.

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The SADR has had a seat at the African Union since 1982 and had, for a long time, caused Morocco’s withdrawal from the AU, then known as the Organization of African Unity (OAU) until 2017 when Rabat returned to the bloc.

The decision means Kenya has joined the US in recognising Morocco against SADR but it is the only African country to do so publicly.

During Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency, Kenya’s policy was to side with SADR. When Kenya’s then Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed ran for the Chairperson of the African Union Commission in 2017, she visited the SADR government in Algeria. That decision is said to have disadvantaged her as Morocco mounted a lobbying against her quest for AU chair.

Western Sahara has been claimed by Morocco since 1975. And Kenya had argued that the boundaries of Western Sahara as vacated by the Spanish colonialists should be left unchanged.

Initially occupied by the Spanish, the Western Sahara was claimed by both Mauritania and Morocco. Mauritania later dropped its claim, leaving Rabat to call the region as its Southern Provinces.

In 1979, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution A / RES / 34/37 which provided “the unequal rights of Western Sahara people in their own discretion and liberty, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the Organization of the African Unity and the purposes of the General Assembly.”

The dispute between the two sides had been floated in the UN systems, including at the International Court of Justice. But a referendum meant to determine the future of the region is yet to be organised as both sides disagree on who should participate.

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East African standby force seeks to correct past mistakes in DR Congo

The imminent deployment of the East African regional force to the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo will be preceded by a massive civilian awareness campaign. Officials say they first want to correct errors committed by other international missions by educating civilians on the tasks of the force, which will include engagements with locals to abandon war.

It is a new tactic endorsed last week by Kinshasa to help begin a peacebuilding programme on a clean slate.

Christophe Lutundula, the DR Congo Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs last week signed agreements on the status of the regional force with Peter Mathuki, Secretary General of the East African Community, effectively permitting member states to deploy their troops.

But while it’s only a matter of time for troops to hit the ground, military chiefs from member states agreed in their Concept of Operations to give prominence to civilian engagements. They agreed that past deployments by the UN and regional bloc SADC faced routine public suspicions. For the UN, the forces have in the past been accused of atrocities including rape. Since July, protesters have targetted UN peacekeepers’ camps in eastern DRC, accusing them of failing to beat down rebels.

Read: One killed during anti-UN protest in east DR Congo

The standby force by the EAC will have an initial timeframe of six months, renewable, and will, besides combat, work on civilian programmes such as setting up social amenities and holding peace meetings with villagers in a new strategy meant to endear locals to the authorities.

“The objective is to stabilise the region, to put an end to terrorist and criminal activities and to promote cooperation, a true partnership, beneficial to all,” said Lutundula.

Vast distances

The deployment of this force will take place in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri, three huge provinces whose combined area is seven times the size of Rwanda but which have not known peace for three decades. These provinces are also where a hundred or so armed groups of various kinds are hiding.

The deployment of the regional force will take place in a particularly tense context: The M23 rebels have resumed attacks on civilian and military bases, including the town of Bunagana, on the border with Uganda.

Additionally, Uganda’s ADF terrorists have been able to resist both the Congolese and Ugandan armies despite a joint operation launched in November. Last month, the ADF managed to carry out an escape operation of more than 800 prisoners in North Kivu. Authorities said some of the prisoners have now been recruited to fight for ADF.

Conservative estimates show that at least six million people have died from conflict in eastern DRC since 1994. This is in spite of various missions of peacekeeping, including the UN stabilisation mission (Monusco). Recent protests against Monusco were an expression of the inefficiencies of the missions.

Besides the forthcoming East African regional force, the area is already patrolled by the FARDC (the Congolese army), the UPDF (the Ugandan army) since last year, the Burundian army since last month and Monusco since 1999.

Expectations are high for the contingents. Reacting to the disillusionment of Monusco, with its 16,000 soldiers, in June, Bintou Keita, the head of Monusco explained the need for “a regional solution” to overcome the insecurity.

The contrast between the enormous expectations of the Congolese authorities with regard to the regional force, and the reticence of the same force by a part of the Congolese is striking, however. Roger Manzakele, spokesperson for the North Kivu civil society association said most Congolese “fear unnecessary and disorderly over-militarisation.”

“On top of that, there have been many other forces that have been here for a long time and yet the situation has never changed. We think that with this, the DRC will be too dependent on others for security,” he said.

The Congolese are trying to maintain a good hope that peace will return thanks to the actions of neighbours.

Nobel Prize winner Denis Mukwege and opposition leader Martin Fayulu have been among the doubting Thomases. Mr Fayulu told The EastAfrican last month that “DR Congo must not leave the issue of security in the hands of foreign armies.”

The deployment may bank heavily on a supportive vote by the public. But this early excitement may be pricked if rebels put up a fight.

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Tanzania constitution review team starts work on final report

The team formed to conduct public consultations on democratic reforms in Tanzania, as the quest for constitutional review gathers pace, says it has completed making public consultations and is compiling the views into a document to be presented to President Samia Suluhu, and the public.

The task force, chaired by Prof Rwekaza Mukandala, has been gathering the views through face-to-face interviews and written submissions in both mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar since March this year.

Read: Task force elicits new debate in Tanzania

Prof Mukandala did not specify how long the final compilation would take, saying only that it was “a big job that needs enough time to be done properly”.

The task force was formed by the Registrar of Political Parties last December year and comprises representatives of various political parties, civil society organisations, academicians, clerics, lawyers and media workers representative groups.

Its initial mandate was to look into opposition party demands for a new Tanzanian constitution to replace the current one of 1977 and the adoption of independent elections regulatory system to ensure a level political field in future polls after years of dominance by the ruling CCM party.

The task force has the backing of the Tanzania Centre for Democracy, a cross-party think-tank that includes CCM and leading opposition party ACT-Wazalendo.

But it lost the support of other major parties like Chadema and NCCR Mageuzi after it recommended in its preliminary report in March that the new constitution review process be postponed until after the next election in 2025.

After the controversy, the task force mandate was expanded to gather views on democratic reform. Still, proposals related to the constitutional review and independent electoral body have continued to form the bulk of views brought before it.

Former prime minister Joseph Warioba, who led a previous constitutional review processes that aborted, said that a “stronger political will” was required to restart the process afresh.

Former president Jakaya Kikwete, who formed a Constitutional Assembly that was later dissolved, said President Samia had made a “wise decision” in allowing the formation of the task force as a way of “reducing political tensions in the country.”

“My hope is that the goal of political reconciliation that this exercise is aiming for will eventually come to fruition,” he stated.

Other views collected included those of Tanzania’s former Chief Justice Mohamed Chande who told a press briefing after his September 7 session that he had proposed constitutional amendments to allow for presidential election results to be challenged in court, as is the case with parliamentary poll results.

Tanzania’s current constitution was adopted in 1977 when the country was still a one-party state and has remained the blueprint for successive national elections despite constant opposition demands for amendments that acknowledge the advent of multi-party politics in 1992.

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Uganda furious at EU for censuring oil project over rights abuse

The Ugandan parliament has dismissed a resolution by the European Union (EU) parliament to halt the development of the country’s oil sector, citing environmental concerns and human rights abuses, as economic racism.

Thomas Tayebwa, deputy Speaker of the Ugandan parliament, said the motion by the EU parliament seeks to curtail the progress of Uganda’s oil and gas developments and by extension, the country’s socio-economic growth and development.

“It also seeks to deny Ugandans and East Africans the benefits and opportunities from the oil and gas sector. This represents the highest form of economic racism against developing countries,” Tayebwa said.

Earlier, the European Parliament had fingered the joint oil production and transportation by Uganda and Tanzania, calling on the EU and the international community to exert “maximum pressure” on the two countries over associated human rights abuses and environmental concerns.

The parliament, sitting in Strasbourg, France, advised EU members, the international community and project promoters and stakeholders to “put an end to the extractive activities in protected and sensitive ecosystems, including the shores of Lake Albert.”

But Uganda disagrees.

“It is imprudent to say that Uganda’s oil projects will exacerbate climate change, yet it is a fact that the EU bloc, with only 10 percent of the world’s population, is responsible for 25 percent of global emissions, and Africa, with 20 percent of the world’s population, is responsible for three percent of emissions. The EU and other western countries are historically responsible for climate change. Who then should stop or slow down on development of natural resources? Certainly not Africa or Uganda,” Tayebwa added.

Arrests

Uganda and Tanzania are developing a cross-border oil extraction and pipeline project comprising the installation of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which will transport oil produced from Uganda’s Lake Albert oilfields to the port of Tanga in Tanzania.

The 1,443km pipeline will run from Kabaale, Hoima district in Uganda to the Chongoleani Peninsula near Tanga Port .

At least 80 percent of the thermal-insulated pipeline is in Tanzania and will be buried underground.

The EU legislative body called on the Ugandan government to release those still in custody for protesting the development, noting that various human rights defenders, journalists and civil society actors have been reported to have suffered criminalisation, intimidation and harassment.

Read: Oil pipeline $5b financing headache as activists pile pressure

They include Maxwell Atuhura, an environmental rights defender and field officer in Buliisa for the NGO Africa Institute for Energy Governance.

Federica Marsi, an Italian journalist, was also arbitrarily arrested on May 25, 2021. Others are Joss Kaheero Mugisa, the chairman of the NGO Oil and Gas Human Rights Defenders Association, who spent 56 nights in jail without being sentenced by a court; Robert Birimuye, leader of people affected by the EACOP project in Kyotera District, who was arbitrarily arrested; Yisito Kayinga Muddu, coordinator of Community Transformation Foundation Network, whose house and office were broken into; and Fred Mwesigwa, who testified in the case against TotalEnergies in France and was subsequently threatened with murder.

Read: East Africa oil and gas: The Total takeover

The EU Parliament revealed that a mission from the EU delegation and the embassies of France, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands was barred from entering the oil zone on November 9, 2021.

The MPs urged players in the project to study the feasibility of an alternative route for the project to better protect sensitive ecosystems and the water resources of Uganda and Tanzania, and limit the impact on the watersheds in the African Great Lakes region.

But environmentalists have argued that nearly a third of the pipeline will run through the basin of Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, on which more than 40 million people depend for water and food production. It will cross more than 200 rivers and run through thousands of farms. They argue that an oil leak or spill would have catastrophic consequences.

The oil fields prospected for drilling are within Uganda’s oldest and largest national park, which conservationists argue threatens one of the most ecologically diverse and wildlife-rich regions of the world.

But EACOP contends the pipeline is buried and “once topsoil and vegetation have been re-instated, people and animals will be able to cross freely anywhere along its length”.

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Sahrawi gaffe hands Kenya’s Ruto first diplomatic dilemma

President William Ruto’s communication team has remained mum on the confusion created by Kenya’s policy on the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), giving diplomats the headache of clarifying an age-old international stance.

On Wednesday, President Ruto tweeted that Kenya would no longer recognise the SADR, the portion of Western Sahara ruled by the Polisario Front exiled in neighbouring Algeria. The territory has been contested by Morocco since 1975, even though the SADR is a member of the African Union like Morocco.

“Kenya rescinds its recognition of the SADR and initiates steps to wind down the entity’s presence in the country,” Dr Ruto said.

He had on Tuesday met with Sahrawi President Brahim Ghali, who attended his inauguration at Kasarani.

“Kenya supports the United Nations framework as the exclusive mechanism to find a lasting solution to the dispute over Western Sahara,” he said after meeting Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita. 

Also read: UN names new envoy for Western Sahara

No explanation

The bit about recognition was later deleted, but State House offered no explanation on the position.

By a tweet, the President may have departed from history, including his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta’s, and by deleting the tweet, he may have left confusion on just which way the country’s foreign policy will go. 

Yet some observers think the presidency was only playing realistic politics: Choosing a side that brings direct benefit.

“It could be a strategic business move and Kenya may also be moving towards a neutral approach on this matter, given the role of Morocco,” said Dr Hawa Noor Z, a peace and security researcher and analyst for the Horn of Africa and associate fellow at the Institute for Intercultural and International Studies (InIIS) in Germany.

“Morocco is backed by many powerful countries, including Israel, that have been normalising relations with many Arab states. If you look at this trend and how Kenya is strategically placing itself, in business, especially for this regime, it becomes somehow clear where things are going,” she told The EastAfrican on Thursday. 

She, however, added that the abrupt announcement might run counter to the ‘hustler’ way of supporting the oppressed across the continent. 

SADR not informed

Later, the President indicated that relations with Morocco would be speeded up “in areas of trade, agriculture, health, tourism, energy, among others, for the mutual benefit of our countries”.

Morocco is one of the main producers of fertiliser on the continent, which the President had promised to look for, at cheaper prices, for Kenyan farmers.

In spite of the deleted message, Morocco reinforced the announcement, publishing a lengthy statement that also indicated that Kenya would be opening a resident embassy in Rabat.

“The Republic of Kenya has decided to revoke the recognition of the pseudo-SADR and to begin the steps for the closure of its representation in Nairobi,” the statement said.

By Thursday, the diplomatic mission of the SADR in Nairobi had not been formally informed of a closure requirement, according to diplomatic sources who spoke to The EastAfrican.

Ambassador’s headache

However, the biggest headache may be for Kenya’s ambassador to Algeria, Peter Katana Angore.

In May, he became the first Kenyan ambassador to present credentials to the SADR government exiled in Algerian refugee camps.

His statement after the ceremony reiterated Kenya’s decades-old policy. “The Republic of Kenya has always stood in solidarity with the Sahrawi people in their quest for independence,” he said after meeting Mr Ghali.

SADR set up a resident mission in Nairobi during President Kenyatta’s term.

“Kenya’s position on the question of Western Sahara is predicated on the fact that Kenya, as a country, owes its existence, to a large extent, on the principle of self-determination of peoples as enshrined in the United Nations Charter. 

“We have a historical parallel with the people of Sahrawi and we stand with them. We are strongly convinced that by virtue of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, all peoples have the right to freely determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social, and cultural development. As believers of a rules-based international system, we observe this principle.”

Dr Ruto’s office had butted away claims on Sahrawi before. Last year, while serving as Deputy President, Dr Ruto denied remarks attributed to him by then Moroccan Ambassador to Kenya Mokhtar Ghambou that had suggested the DP supported the autonomy of Western Sahara.

His then chief of staff, Ken Osinde, wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denying the attribution.

Rush decision

On Wednesday, Morocco’s Foreign ministry claimed Kenya had endorsed the autonomy issue.

“In compliance with the principle of territorial integrity and non-interference, Kenya gives its full support to the serious and credible autonomy plan proposed by the Kingdom of Morocco, as a single solution based on the territorial integrity of Morocco.”

Critics said the decision was made in a rush, especially as there is no substantive Cabinet secretary yet to handle the diplomatic dilemma. In the past, critical policy shifts were discussed in the Cabinet first.

“Whoever advised the President on the Moroccan/Sahrawi issue on day one of his presidency should not be anywhere near MoFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) or the presidency. These are the kind of things you take your time before you make any pronouncements,” argued Mohamed Wehliye, a Kenyan economist and senior advisor to the Saudi Central Bank.

On both occasions when Kenya chaired the African Union Peace and Security Council, in 2021 and this year, Nairobi voiced support for SADR’s quest for independence, through a referendum supervised under UN terms. 

In March 2021, the PSC chaired by Kenya asked the African Union troika and the AU special envoy for Western Sahara, Joachim Chissano, to “reinvigorate support to the UN-led mediation.”

Read: Kenya pushes Western Sahara issue back on AU agenda

At the time, however, Mr Bourita, the Moroccan Foreign minister, wrote to Kenya asking that the discussions be cancelled.

“The theme of the discussions risks provoking severe divisions among the PSC members who would be more comfortable to examine unifying and priority issues, over which there is basic consensus, especially during the challenging period of Covid-19 pandemic,” Mr Bourita argued in a March 1, 2021 letter to Nairobi.

Kenya also chaired another meeting on Western Sahara in February this year “to examine the conditions that have given rise to current tensions and violence and assess whether the policy measures and strategies adopted at the international, regional and national levels are bringing peace to Saharawi.”

Possible isolation

Kenya’s declaration, if implemented, upends a decades-old policy by Nairobi, which aligned with the African Union, to have Sahrawi pursue its self-determination, including through a referendum.

The SADR has had a seat at the African Union since 1982 and had for a long time caused Morocco’s withdrawal from the AU, then known as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), until 2017 when Rabat returned.

The decision means Kenya has joined the US and Israel in recognising Morocco against SADR but it is the only African country to do so publicly.

Read: US stresses support for Morocco over W. Sahara

Some critics warned the move may isolate Kenya on a continent massively behind SADR.

“In the 1980s, whilst the rest of Africa shunned apartheid in South Africa, Kenya and Malawi defied Africa,” said Donald Kipkorir, referring to the Moi era.

“South Africa has never forgiven Kenya. Their President didn’t attend our inauguration. We are making the same mistake in supporting Morocco against the Sahrawi Republic. Kenya is alone in AU,” he said.

It may, however, be Morocco’s latest victory as it seeks support for a UN-led solution “to vacate the AU against any improper attempt to divert the path of unity and fellowship.”

Initially occupied by the Spanish, Western Sahara was claimed by both Mauritania and Morocco.

Mauritania later left, leaving Rabat to call the region its Southern Provinces of territory.

In 1979, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution A / RES / 34/37 which provided “the unequal rights of Western Sahara people in their own discretion and liberty, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the Organisation of the African Unity and the purposes of the General Assembly.”

The dispute between the two sides had been floated in the UN systems, including at the International Court of Justice.

But a referendum meant to determine the future of the region was yet to be organised as both sides disagree on who should participate.

The Polisario Front rejected Morocco’s proposal for autonomy.

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President William Ruto’s communication team has remained mum on the confusion created by Kenya’s policy on the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), giving diplomats the headache of clarifying an age-old international […]

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Tanzania’s Samia backs African Court building permanent premises in Arusha

Tanzania President Samia Suluhu has affirmed the country’s support for the African Court for Human and People’s Rights.

President Suluhu made the pledge when the court’s judges paid her a courtesy call at State House Dar es Salaam early this week.

Led by the court President, Lady Justice Imani Daud Aboud, the delegation discussed the building of permanent premises for the Pan-African legal institution with the Tanzanian head of State.

The African Court, which executes duties from the northern Tanzanian city of Arusha, plans to move into its own permanent buildings.

Read: Treaty changes to give African court teeth

Currently, the African Court is hosted at the Tanzania National Parks’ premises in Majengo, Arusha.

Tanzania has since approved funds for the court’s building.

The National Assembly in Dodoma endorsed Tsh4 billion ($1.7 million) for the construction in the outskirts of Arusha.

The Tanzanian government has allocated about 25 hectares of land to the court along the Great North Road on the hill known as ‘Laki-Laki.’

Also read: Tanzania makes U-turn on African court pull out

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Tanzania President Samia Suluhu has affirmed the country’s support for the African Court for Human and People’s Rights. President Suluhu made the pledge when the court’s judges paid her a […]

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William Ruto sworn in as Kenya’s fifth president

Dr William Ruto has been sworn in as the fifth President of Kenya at Kasarani International Stadium in Nairobi.

Dr Ruto took the Oath of Office at 12.44 pm in a swearing-in process led by the Judiciary under Chief Justice Martha Koome and the registrar Anne Amadi.

Dr Ruto also received the highest award in the country – Chief of the Order of the Golden Heart. 

His deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, was also sworn in shortly after him. 

The swearing-in and inauguration kicked off with the entry of President Uhuru Kenyatta aboard the Commander in Chief ceremonial vehicle, after which he inspected a full parade mounted by the Kenya Defence Forces under Lt-Col Gilbert Kinanga’s command.

The event was attended by tens of head of states and diplomats from across the world. They included East African Community presidents among others. 

Check out our other coverage of William Ruto’s inauguration below:

Watch Ruto’s swearing-in live

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Dr William Ruto has been sworn in as the fifth President of Kenya at Kasarani International Stadium in Nairobi. Dr Ruto took the Oath of Office at 12.44 pm in […]

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President William Ruto’s full speech after his inauguration

Dr William Ruto was on Tuesday sworn in as the fifth President of Kenya at Kasarani International Stadium.

Here’s the full speech he issued afterwards.

“This is a momentous occasion for Kenya. Our politics and elections have never failed to be emotive, engaging and dramatic. The most recent installment, however, showcased our most exemplary democratic performance ever. This day comes on the back of a peaceful election following an intense, issue-based campaign, in which major coalitions, made up of strong political parties canvassed their agenda for examination by the people of Kenya. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) stewarded a transparent and credible election, whose result faithfully reflected the democratic will of the Kenyan people. 

Dissatisfied parties exercised their right of petition before the Supreme Court, whose proceedings and determination not only gave comfort to the doubtful, but also restored faith in our electoral and judicial institutions. Many countries aspire to have moments like this, and we should not take ours for granted. This is the third election under the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and the second peaceful democratic transition.

We have had a robust conversation about the moment we are in and what it demands of us, and we sought to answer whether this was a constitutional or an economic moment. In this process, we have demonstrated the maturity of our democracy, the robustness of our institutions and the resilience of our people.

My competitors and I mobilised vigorously to offer the citizens of Kenya the most appealing agenda as well as the best roadmap to achieving it. I remain firm in the conviction that all sides in the last election did their best to present a pathway to actualize the people’s aspirations. The just concluded election was a choice between competing agendas towards the Kenya we want. Elections and democracy entail unifying competition, not divisive rivalry.

The performance of our security services, the IEBC and the Judiciary was put to severe test. By and large, these institutions lived up to our expectations. We can only aspire to do better in future, and I give my undertaking that my administration shall work to ensure that the bar is raised even higher for the next election. 

A significant dividend of our electoral and democratic process is the tremendous achievement we made in breaking the glass ceiling by enhancing the participation of women in leadership. 7 women were elected governors, up from 3 in the last election. 29 women were elected as members of the National Assembly up from 23 in 2017. 7 women Deputy Governors and 3 women Senators were also elected.

It is very clear that this election had many winners far exceeding those who were actually elected. By far, the people are the biggest winners. We have done well. We have blazed the trail in an increasingly challenging environment where democracy is consistently on trial.

We have come a long way in our nation’s journey to freedom and going by our most recent performance in the election, we conclude in confidence that we are almost home. 

Allow me to single out the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for special commendation for the courage to do the right thing under exceptionally challenging circumstances. As an institution, they have set a new standard in public service that is uncompromising, professional and exemplary, raising the bar of integrity of our public officials and institutions. 


It is appropriate to celebrate our Judiciary for sustaining its tradition of boldly giving much-needed guidance, especially in allaying post-election anxieties and resolving grievances in a sensitive, credible and authoritative manner. Its articulation of the aspirations and standards enshrined in the Constitution has deepened our democracy and institutionalized the rule of  law. Our Judiciary is now, without doubt, Kenya’s biggest constitutional dividend. It has successfully arbitrated 3 election disputes and defended the nation against formidable onslaughts on our Constitution. Our Judiciary has demonstrated transparency in its proceedings and decision-making thereby consolidating thereby consolidating its independence, authority and legitimacy.  

I also take this opportunity to say a special word of appreciation to our security services for a commendable job at a critical period in our nation. Their service and the heroic sacrifices they have made beyond the call of duty has kept our nation safe. I am aware that our uniformed services effectively resisted concerted attempts to foment unrest and subvert the will of the people. 

My special commendation to all candidates who contested various positions. Their participation enhanced competition and enriched public debate that underpins democratic choice. Special recognition goes to my worthy competitor and friend, the Hon Raila Amolo Odinga and his running mate Hon Martha Wangari Karua, who mounted a vigorous and  determined campaign. 

Our special gratitude also goes to millions of Kenyans in the Hustler movement for tirelessly mobilizing for the campaign and executing a historic revolutionary feat, perhaps as great as the daring exploits of our legendary freedom fighters. This includes all our campaign volunteers, agents, mobilizers and those who contributed whatever they could, in whatever form, to keep the movement going.  

I also appreciate our religious community and institutions for their support, prayers and encouragement. I commend the Church in particular, and in equal measure the Islamic religious leadership, for their considerable support to us and our campaign. We also appreciate them for continuously exploring avenues for inter-faith understanding and solidarity, which have gone a long way to enhance tolerance and cohesion in Kenya. Faith-based institutions continue to play a noble and indispensable role in our communities and I commit that we will enhance our partnership, collaboration and support. 


At this juncture, it is important for me to speak directly to the youth and especially those who participated, in one way or another, in the election campaigns. I commend them for resisting pressure and enticement to be misused as agents of conflict and disruption during the electioneering period. I also congratulate those who went out to seek various roles within campaigns and election, thus playing their part in keeping Kenya’s democracy robust. Even if your candidates did not win, your participation in the activities of political parties, campaigns and elections is the beginning of political internship. My political journey similarly began as a young  campaign volunteer, fresh out of university. Your experience and lessons learnt should form the basis for your leadership journey.

We have all, therefore, emerged out of this contest stronger, more united and alive to the issues that are common to all of us. We should remain conscious that we have all been elected to work together in ensuring that our children go to school, our people have food and decent healthcare, our youth have jobs and our workers have dignified livelihoods, for it is our strong belief that every hustle matters.


Dreams and ambitions live in the hearts of Kenyans, who struggle daily against daunting odds, often with nothing except stubborn hope. Some succeed, others fail while the others do not even get a decent chance. Before the nation and the world today, I stand with great humility and profound joy, as a living testimony, that with faith in God, willingness to work hard and commitment to a vision, dreams can become reality in the fullness of time. I promise to throw open every door of opportunity and to keep them open until success stories become the norm rather than the exception and urge all other leaders to do the same, so that we can together expand opportunity and chance for many more.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We should consolidate our success in the just-concluded elections and enhance the capacity and performance of all our governance institutions. 

The innovative deployment of technology to secure election results has been the electoral commission pioneering breakthrough. Going forward, we will support IEBC’s institutional capacity so as to expand the deployment of technology to cover all elections from the MCA to the President.

I also believe that there is tremendous opportunity for IEBC to support electoral processes in our political parties as part of broader democratic development.

To consolidate the place of the judiciary in our constitutional and democratic dispensation, my administration will respect judicial decisions while we cement the place of Kenya as a country anchored on democracy and  the rule of law. 

Our campaign for financial independence of the Judiciary has paid off with the implementation of the Judiciary Fund, on July 1st this year. My administration will scale up the budgetary allocation to the judiciary by an additional Ksh 3 billion annually for the next 5 years. These resources will support the bottom-up scaling of justice by increasing the number of small claims courts from the current 25 to 100. We will also work with the Judiciary to build High Courts in the remaining 7 counties, magistrates courts in the remaining 123 sub-counties and support their ongoing digitization program. These interventions will empower the Judiciary to adjudicate and expeditiously conclude corruption cases, commercial disputes and all other matters, thereby enhancing  access to justice and efficiency in the Judiciary.

To further demonstrate my commitment to the independence of the Judiciary, this afternoon I will appoint the 6 judges already nominated for appointment to the court of appeal, three years ago, by the Judicial Service Commission and tomorrow, I shall preside over their swearing-in ceremony so that they can get on with the business of serving the people.

As required by Article 245 of the Constitution, the Inspector-General of Police is mandated to exercise independent command over the National Police Service. The services’ operational autonomy, however, has been undermined by the continued financial dependence on the Office of the President. This situation is going to change.

As I address you, I have instructed that the instrument conferring financial autonomy to the National Police Service by transferring their budget from the Office of the President and designating the Inspector-General as the accounting officer, be placed on my desk for signature. 

Financial independence to the police will give impetus  to the fight against corruption, and end the political weaponization of the criminal justice system; an undertaking I made to the people of Kenya.

I understand the deep fissures and low morale in the public service. The intimidation that was visited on IEBC commissioners and staff during the last election was also meted on various other agencies and staff in the Public Service.  This is now in the past. I assure all public officers that my administration will respect their professional service, and no public servant, even chiefs and their assistants, will be required to run political errands so for any political party or formation.

Ladies and gentlemen, we anchored our campaign on the platform of the economy premised on job creation and the well-being of the people and we have been working continuously on the measures to bring down the cost of living.

Our people are confronted daily with increasingly unaffordable prices, especially food and transport. In our economic forums across the country during the campaign, citizens consistently shared their anxiety, pain and fury on this matter. It calls for an urgent and decisive resolution. 

The interventions in place have not borne any fruit. On fuel subsidy alone, the taxpayers have spent a total of Ksh144 billion, a whooping Ksh 60 billion in the last 4 months. If the subsidy continues to the end of the financial year, it will cost the taxpayer Ksh 280 billion, equivalent to the entire national government development budget. Additionally, there was an attempt to subsidize Unga in the run up to the election, a program that gobbled up Ksh 7 billion in one month, with no impact. In addition to being very costly, consumption subsidy interventions are prone to abuse, they distort markets and create uncertainty, including artificial shortages of the very products being subsidized. 

The cost of living challenges are related to production. Our strategy to bring down the cost of living is predicated on empowering producers. The forecast for maize harvest this year is below 30 million bags against the normal production of 40 million bags. The main cause of the decline in production is the high cost of inputs. 

Our priority intervention therefore, is to  make fertilizer, good-quality seeds and other agricultural inputs affordable and available.  For the short rain season, we have already made arrangements to make 1.4 million bags of fertilizer available at Ksh3,500 for a 50kg bag down from the current Ksh 6,500. This will be available from next week. I appeal to county governments in Eastern, Central and Western regions, to work with us in making sure that the fertilizer is available to farmers. Additionally to cushion tea farmers, we have made arrangements with KTDA to immediately supply tea farmers with fertilizer at Kshs 3,500 down from Kshs 6,500. This is our initial intervention, we will be doing more for the medium term and the long term. 

We are alive to the challenges of drought that face seven counties, which are now at ‘alarm’ and 13 that are at alert stages respectively. We are determined to ensure that no county slips into the emergency phase and will coordinate with county governments, which are the first line of response. We are mobilizing resources to reverse this situation. 

Our goal is not just to provide relief and recovery to restore the situation, but to invest and unlock the huge economic potential of the rangelands that constitute two-thirds of our country.

Jobs is our other priority. It is time for us to stem the tide of youth unemployment. Every year, 800,000 young people join the workforce and over 600,000 of them do not find opportunities for productive work. Moreover, our young people in cities and towns face  very hostile environments, many times treated as a nuisance and their hustles criminalized. Those who seek to set up formal businesses are faced with the bureaucratic monster that is multiple licences. 

Our immediate agenda is to create a favourable business and enterprise environment, decriminalize livelihoods and support people in the informal sector to organise themselves into stable, viable and creditworthy business entities. This is the essence of the bottom-up economic model, which creates a path for traders and entrepreneurs to build linkages, experience safety, and enjoy security. We will work with county governments to create frameworks that provide secure trading places in our cities and towns.

Financial inclusion and access to credit are critical in addressing the fundamental factors of the cost of living, job creation and people’s well-being. We shall take measures to drive down the cost of credit. Our starting point is to shift the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) framework from its current practice of arbitrary, punitive and all or nothing blacklisting of borrowers, which denies borrowers credit. We will work with Credit reference bureaus a new system of credit score rating that provides borrowers with an opportunity to manage on their creditworthiness. This will eliminate blacklisting. 

In our engagements, traders also complained about the onerous burden involved in cash transactions exceeding Kshs 1 million. Many have reverted to storing money under their mattresses at great risk, which is clearly not the intention of the anti-money laundering regulations. While we remain fully committed to mitigating this risk, we believe that there is scope to make compliance less burdensome on genuine business transactions. I have been assured by the Central Bank that work on how to ease this burden without compromising the security of the financial system is underway.

We shall implement the Hustler Fund, dedicated to the capitalization of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises through chamas, saccos and cooperatives to make credit available on affordable terms that do not require collateral.

To implement all these interventions, we shall establish a Ministry of Cooperatives and SME Development mandated to ensure that every small business has secure property rights, access to finance and a supportive regulatory framework.

Furthermore, to deal with the huge challenge of youth unemployment we will roll out our social and affordable low-cost housing program, targeting an average of 250,000 units a year. This will create opportunities in the entire job market.  We will engage TVET institutions to provide necessary skills to enable the Jua Kali industry supply standardized products for our housing program.  We will leverage on our competitive advantage in leather and textile to roll out our labor intensive Agro-processing industrialization program. This will start with the Dongo Kundu and Naivasha industrial parks. 

This afternoon, I will be issuing instructions for clearing of all goods and other attendant operational issues to revert to the port of Mombasa. This restore thousands of jobs in the city of Mombasa. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we must stabilize our public finances. This year, we will spend 60 per cent of our revenues to service our debt. We are faced with Ksh 600 billion in pending bills for goods and services supplied to the government. Clearly, we are living beyond our means. This situation must be corrected. I am aware that many individuals, families and their companies have been driven to ruin and forced to shut down, over government unpaid bills. 

We shall give priority to the expeditious resolution of our pending bills so that the government can meet its obligations and facilitate better economic performance. In the coming weeks, we shall advise government creditors on the mechanism for the resolution of their outstanding payments. We are committed to ensuring that they are paid in the shortest time possible. 


Additionally, we urgently need to expand our tax base. Our job-creation agenda and the capitalizing SMEs will go a long way in broadening our tax bracket.


We will make KRA more professional, efficient, responsive and people-friendly. I urge taxpayers to respond by undertaking their patriotic duty and pay taxes. 

In furtherance to this, oversight institutions such as the Auditor-General and the Controller of Budget will be adequately funded to execute their mandates.

On the matter of gender parity, I am committed to the two-thirds gender rule as enshrined in the Constitution. We will work with Parliament to fastrack various legislative proposals and establish a framework that will resolve this matter expeditiously. The participation of women in our governance does not make us lesser; it makes us greater. And their role can no longer be nominal; it has to be substantive. 

Ladies and gentlemen, our health agenda is premised on fundamental reform in the way healthcare is financed and provided. We shall reform the National Health Insurance Fund to make it a social health insurance provider, improve procurement of medical supplies, deploy an integrated state-of-the-art health information system and most importantly, provide adequate human resources at all levels. Contributions will now graduated and will now be based on income.


There is a robust conversation in the country on education, in particular the implementation of the CBC curriculum. Public participation is critical in this matter. We will establish an Education Reform Taskforce in the Presidency which will be launched in the coming weeks. It will collect views from all key players in line with the constitutional demand of public participation. We are particularly alive to the anxieties of parents on the twin transitions of the last 8-4-4 class and the first CBC class in January next year. I assure that there will be a solution to the matter before then. 

We have elevated our diaspora to be the 48th County. The complaint has been that the diaspora has not received the attention they deserve. The focus has been on remittances, while their fundamental rights as citizens have been neglected. To correct this oversight, I pledge to:

a.Elevate diaspora issues at a ministry level. 
b.Strengthen diaspora services in all embassies.
c.Work with parliament to set up a committee that will exclusively deal with diaspora issues.
d.Set up a mechanism for public participation by the Diaspora. 
e.Work closely with the IEBC to expand and enhance diaspora participation in elections.

Ladies and gentlemen, devolution and sharing of power and resources is not just a national value and principle of governance in the Constitution, but it is the crown jewel of our constitutional dispensation and the proudest achievement of the citizens of Kenya. Every part of the country has experienced the positive impacts of this invaluable institution and Kenyans yearn for a better performance of devolved units. 

One of the best ways of accelerating national development is through collaboration with county governments. As Deputy President, I witnessed first-hand the tremendous potential of inter-governmental synergy and look forward to scaling up our capacity to harness these bountiful possibilities. 

Because of this realization, I have no hesitation in accelerating the transfer of outstanding functions to counties, together with the attendant resources. 

To promote budget efficiency and minimize disruptions and delays in devolved service delivery, my administration commits to take necessary measures to secure the timely disbursement of revenue allocations to county governments.

The success of devolution depends on sound inter-governmental relations. There is a template which incorporates lessons from successes as well as failures in past engagements, and we stand a stronger chance of making devolution work better.

Kenya will continue to be a dedicated partner to peace, security and prosperity in the East African region. We look forward to deepening our integration. We welcome our newest member, the DRC, whose entry now extends our region from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. Kenya is fully committed to the implementation of the EAC treaty and its protocols of free movement of people, goods and services. Equally important is our commitment to the full actualization of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 

Ladies and gentlemen, Kenya will continue playing its key role in international diplomacy at the bilateral and multilateral levels, appreciating that we are host to major international agencies, including the United Nations.

Among the central concerns of my government will be climate change. In our country, women and men, young people, farmers, workers and local communities suffer the consequences of climate emergency. 
It is not too late to respond. To tackle this threat, we must act urgently to keep global heating levels below 1.5C, help those in need and end addiction to fossil fuels. 

Africa has the opportunity to lead the world. We have immense potential for renewable energy. Reducing costs of renewal energy technologies make this the most viable energy source. Kenya is on a transition to clean energy that will support jobs, local economies and the sustainable industrialisation. In Kenya, we will lead this endeavor by reaffirming our commitment to transition to 100% clean energy by 2030. We call on all African states to join us in this journey. 

As members of the international community, we shall support a successful Climate Summit in Africa in November, by championing delivery of the finance and technology needed for Africa to adapt to climate impacts, support those in need and manage the transition.

My administration is ready to work with global partners to fight pandemics and other health emergencies. We are also committed to promoting Kenya’s vigilance and efficacy in responding to emerging public health challenges. We stand ready to play our role in the collective efforts to keep the public safe. I call upon countries that have developed vaccines to make them accessible.

Ladies and gentlemen, my government commits to create a business-friendly environment, eradicate barriers that hamper business development and growth, and make Kenya one of the most compelling and attractive business destinations. 

We are an open, democratic society founded on freedom and justice. We take pride in receiving visitors and offering them our legendary hospitality. Kenya is a land of immense natural beauty and unforgettable delights. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I stand here on my Day One as your President. I make a commitment that, in the days ahead, I will make pronouncements that are going to better define the trajectory of my administration. I promise to make every Kenyan proud and ensure the economic well-being of all.”

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Dr William Ruto was on Tuesday sworn in as the fifth President of Kenya at Kasarani International Stadium. Here’s the full speech he issued afterwards. “This is a momentous occasion for Kenya. […]

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Benin officials in Rwanda for talks on support to fight insurgents

Police chiefs of Rwanda and Benin have discussed ways to strengthen cooperation and support the West African country, seeking military assistance to tackle the worsening terrorism insurgency.

Rwanda’s Inspector General of Police (IGP), Dan Munyuza, hosted the Director-General of Benin Republican Police, Soumaila Allabi Yaya, in Kigali on Monday for the talks.

The Benin delegation is in Rwanda for five days “to learn and draw inspiration from Rwanda’s peacekeeping experience” as both countries seek to enhance security cooperation, including fighting organised and transnational crimes.

Benin government spokesperson had told Reuters on Saturday that Kigali could provide logistical support but would not involve deploying Rwandan troops to the country.

On whether there are plans to deploy in Benin, the Rwanda National Police deputy spokesperson, Apollo Sendahangarwa, told The EastAfrican that “there are no signed agreements for now”.

“For that to happen, a memorandum of understanding would have to be signed and legal grounds would be established, which has not happened for now,” he added.

Deadly assaults

Benin, alongside the Gulf of Guinea states Togo and Cote d’Ivoire, has seen increasing attacks from militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State as violence creeps south from the Sahel countries of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

Benin, alongside Togo and Cote d’Ivoire, has been battling strings of deadly assaults by jihadists in the northwest from a spillover of militant activity in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

“I know you (Rwanda) have a lot of experience in the fight against terrorism, and we want to draw inspiration from it to protect our country, which has been plagued for some time by sordid demonstrations by lawless people,” Mr Yaya said.

Rwanda deployed a peacekeeping mission in Mozambique in July last year, with 1,000 soldiers and police deployed to fight Isis-linked militants in the Cabo Delgado province. The country also deployed troops to the Central African Republic.

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Police chiefs of Rwanda and Benin have discussed ways to strengthen cooperation and support the West African country, seeking military assistance to tackle the worsening terrorism insurgency. Rwanda’s Inspector General […]

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President William Ruto tasks Uhuru Kenyatta to lead regional peace efforts

Kenya’s new President, William Ruto, has tasked his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta to lead peace initiatives in the region as he renewed his commitment to scale up the country’s contribution to regional efforts.

In his inaugural speech after taking the oath of office on Tuesday, President Ruto said his government would be keen on advancing regional integration, trade and peace, continuing on the precedent of his predecessors.

“Kenya is fully committed to the implementation of the EAC treaty and its protocols of free movement of people, goods and services, and the full actualisation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” he said.

He added that Kenya would “continue to be a dedicated partner to peace, security and prosperity in the East African region,” commending President Kenyatta’s role in steering peace talks in the region during his term in office.

President Kenyatta has spearheaded peace talks in the region, especially involving member states of the East African Community (EAC) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad).

This year, Mr. Kenyatta has led talks in efforts to contain the conflicts in Tigray – northern Ethiopia, the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and cross-border conflicts in EAC.

He hosted the EAC heads of State in April to address the DRC conflict and led efforts to bring the rebels and Kinshasa to the table for dialogue.

Mr Kenyatta was also actively involved in halting escalating tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia earlier this year. The two neighbouring countries agreed to a peaceful resolution after the Igad heads of state and government meeting in Nairobi in July.

Diaspora docket

Alongside Dr Ruto’s commitment to continue Kenya’s role in the region is a pledge to better tackle issues related to Kenyans living abroad through embassies and a legislative committee to exclusive tackle their challenges.

The new president said he will also support the upcoming Climate Summit in Egypt and “work with global partners to fight pandemics and other health emergencies.”

“My government commits to create a business-friendly environment, eradicate barriers that hamper business development and growth, and make Kenya one of the most compelling and attractive business destinations,” he added.

He said Kenya would transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

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Purge keeps fragile peace in Burundi after coup talk

The manner in which Burundian deputies dispatched Alain Guillaume Bunyoni from the premiership on Wednesday was ruthless but not surprising. It was a unanimous 113-0 vote to impeach him and President Evariste Ndayishimiye promptly replaced him with Gervais Ndirakobuca. Power abhors a vacuum.

Ndirakobuca, a lieutenant-general, is a former rebel who fled from school after the assassination of the first democratically elected president Melchior Ndadaye in 1993. He joined a rebel group which morphed into Burundi’s ruling party in 2005, the CNDD-FDD party.

Read: Burundi MPs eject PM in president purge over coup plot

In a fragile country like Burundi, where the military has a finger in nearly every office, Bunyoni’s marked a purging of pro-Nkurunziza people in government.

At least 54 police provincial commissioners were shuffled as the president said he was disappointed with some top government officials “who think they are untouchable.”

As the head of government, the new prime minister announced his Cabinet, naming Martin Niteretse as the Internal Affairs and Public Security minister. All the dropped ministers were allies of Nkurunziza’s regime.

President Ndayishimiye signed a decree appointing Col Sindayihebura Aloys as Chief of the Civil Cabinet, replacing Gen Gabriel Nizigama, also a Nkurunziza appointee.

Breaking the cycle

Sources told The EastAfrican that border guards have been instructed not to let them out of the country, and there has been talk that Bunyoni could be seeking asylum in Tanzania but there has been no word from Dodoma.

It would not be a surprise for Bunyoni to opt to go into exile in Tanzania. The country hosted the peace talks that led to the formation of a government by the late president Pierre Nkurunziza. The latter also happened to be in Arusha in a meeting in 2015, when there was an attempted coup to oust him for refusing to relinquish power after his two terms.

For the sake of stability and to quash any future attempts to destabilise the country, sources now say President Ndayishimiye wants to make an example of Bunyoni and his accomplices by having then charged in court. However by Friday, there had been no such news and the country it was calm.

Fissures had been opening in Burundi’s political sphere when Bunyoni had a public spat with President Evariste Ndayishimiye for weeks over a rumoured coup plot and it didn’t portend well for the newly recovered stability of the country. Burundi is the poster child of the region’s instability with coups being a part of its political fabric and to crush such a danger, President Ndayishimiye needed to be harsh.

Since taking over in June 2020, following the sudden death of Pierre Nkurunziza, President Ndayishimiye’s leadership style was different. The bad apples in the military blamed for the 2015 coup attempt against Nkurunziza’s administration had been purged, and the president had embarked on cleaning up the country’s image locally and abroad, shedding the yoke of sanctions imposed by the European Union, and having an observer mission of the UN in Bujumbura closed permanently, all in one year.

Power grab

But it turns out all was not well in Gitega, when on Wednesday news started filtering through that the bad blood between the president and his PM — who had publicly criticised each other — had boiled over and that a power grab had been in the offing.

Bunyoni, a former police chief had served as minister for Internal Security in Nkurunziza’s government.

He was very influential and was among the strongmen of the system having amassed wealth, running a series of business networks, hence having his finger on the pulse of the country’s economy.

Also read: US sanctions four Burundians blamed for crisis

Fasttrack to 2022, now prime minister but in a new government, he soon was at loggerheads with the president, with what political watchers believe to be a power struggle within the system following changes in policy that limited his influence.

“During Nkurunziza’s regime, powerful officials could do what they wanted, but now the situation has changed, under Ndayishimiye,” said a top government official, who prefers to remain anonymous.

Clean-up campaign

Other sources say the disagreement between the president and the PM started when the president launched a massive ‘‘clean-up’’ campaign in government offices, to stem corruption and targeting tax cheats.

Some of Bunyoni’s businesses were closed, much to his frustration.

Burundi has been facing fuel, cement and sugar shortages for months, and president Ndayishimiye had publicly criticised top government officials of being behind the shortages for their own benefit.

On Wednesday the Trade and Transport minister signed authorisation allowing businesspeople to import maize and wheat flour, cement and sugar.

Analysts believe that the removal of Gen Bunyoni from was one way to unclog blockages.

Burundi’s economy like those in the region was battered by effects of Covid-19, and although the country did not enforce lockdowns, no goods were coming in or getting out of the country.

Read: Burundi allows sugar, cement imports to tame black market

“What we have done is right and we expect the new Cabinet very soon,” Burundi’s opposition leader Agathon Rwasa told The EastAfrican in Bujumbura, commenting on the PM’s ouster and agreeing with the president’s choice of Ndirakobuca.

It was clear that President Ndayishimiye had been waiting for an opportune time to act going by what he said on Wednesday in Gitega prior to the vote to remove Bunyoni.

“You cannot threaten a general with a coup d’état. Let me be clear that there will never be any coup d’état in Burundi again, by God’s grace,” he said.

Irony facing Chair

The president, who is himself ex-military, must have found himself in awkward position, being the current chair of the EAC and expected to douse such fires in other countries and here his backyard was smoldering. Also Burundian soldiers proudly came out of civil unrest at home and deployed as peacekeepers in Somalia and lately DR Congo.

It would therefore be ironic for President Ndayishimiye to fall in a coup while “his troops” are out there, not just keeping for security but also remitting money that keeps the economy running, only for some government officials to destroy it through corruption.

The other simmering issue, going back to the chaos of 2015 is that the notorious ruling party youth wing, imbonerakure, had their wings clipped and influence dimmed by President Ndayishimiye, to stop them being used by some politicians to harass competitors.

The imbonerakure enjoyed free rein under Nkurunziza, beating, harassing, and kidnapping alleged anti-government citizens and even killing some in broad daylight. Not everyone was happy when their influence was taken away and order restored.

Further, the president gave more powers to the judiciary, army and police to arrest, charge and even relieve top corrupt and wayward officials from office, to bring civil sanity.

Judiciary purge

Corrupt judges were relieved of their duties after being accused of extorting money from the public by delaying judgments. No specific cases have been mentioned in public but the decision by the president came after citizen outreach programmes revealed a frustrated public who claimed that they could not get any service without parting with a bribe and that justice was almost a mirage for the poor.

Thirty five 35 magistrates accused of obstruction of justice and corruption were sacked in June as part of the clean-up and there had been disquiet in government circles.

According to the Presidency, President Ndayishimiye feared that corrupt judiciary officials would themselves become a security hazard by delaying judgments or disputes between villagers, especially on land matters.

In Nkurunziza’s day, Burundi was uncivil with corrupt government officials protected and untouchable. Some did not realise Ndayishimiye’s government was different. Bunyoni’s defiance was meant to frustrate the policies of the president’s clean-up, the Presidency charged.

So on Wednesday, deputies did what the president needed to get his work done, and unanimously voted for Ndirakobuca, who until Wednesday, was the minister for Internal Affairs and Public Security.

“The president of the republic proposed Gervais Ndirakobuca to be prime minister and the president has the mandate to choose who he wants to work with,” said Gelase Ndabirabe, Speaker of the Parliament.

“This was a very brave move keeping in mind that the prime minister had influence in the security forces. That is why you saw the shakeup affect many including regional and provincial police commissioners,” said a political analyst in Bujumbura.

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The manner in which Burundian deputies dispatched Alain Guillaume Bunyoni from the premiership on Wednesday was ruthless but not surprising. It was a unanimous 113-0 vote to impeach him and […]

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EAC troops get nod for deployment in east DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has signed a troop deployment deal with the East African Community (EAC), signalling the imminent formal sending of forces to combat rebels in the east of the country.

President Félix Tshisekedi witnessed the signing of the agreement by Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula and Peter Mathuki, the secretary-general of the EAC.

Mr Lutundula said “the deployment of this force will be in the execution of the political will expressed by all the Heads of State of the community, namely to definitively settle the issue of stability, security and peace in the Great Lakes region within the community”.

Dr Mathuki and Macharia Kamau, Kenya’s special envoy to the Nairobi Process launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta to seek peace in the DRC, have been in Kinshasa as part of the EAC mission to discuss the key priorities for deepening integration and exploiting investment opportunities in the region.

The troop deployment was agreed on in June by the EAC conclave of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC. It was later endorsed by the EAC Summit, indicating an entire agreement of the bloc to support the DRC peace process.

Read: East African army awaits nod on rules for DRC mission

But the actual deployment has been awaiting a formal agreement, which will describe the terms of reference, legal obligations and rights of troops and financial responsibilities of troop contributors. The EAC deal is supposed to be followed by individual member states signing the document before troops are deployed.

Mr Kamau stressed that the security situation in eastern DRC is of great concern. He said the threat requires closer cooperation and collaboration in the region and internationally to eradicate it.

A conclave of East African heads of state held in Nairobi in April decided to create a regional force made up of troops from member countries that would be deployed to the troubled provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri to help combat insecurity.

The DRC authorities have ruled out Rwanda’s participation in the force, following accusations of alleged support by the Rwandan army for the Congolese M23 rebels.

Since August 15, Burundian troops have been deployed in South Kivu to fight local armed groups and rebels from that country who are in eastern Congo. DRC authorities explained that this deployment was part of the East African regional force. South Sudan has also prepared a contingent of 750 soldiers as part of the regional force expected in eastern Congo.

The diplomatic mission was also in the DRC to help Kinshasa improve its understanding of the integration pillars and the various governance instruments of the EAC, such as protocols, laws, regulations, policies and strategies, in order to ensure a smooth entry into the community for the DRC.

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The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has signed a troop deployment deal with the East African Community (EAC), signalling the imminent formal sending of forces to combat rebels in the […]

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One killed during anti-UN protest in east DR Congo

A man was killed on Tuesday in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo during a protest against United Nations peacekeepers, police and the UN said, in the latest violence in the troubled region.

Returning from patrol, UN peacekeepers, escorted by DR Congo armed forces, “were attacked by demonstrators throwing stones”, the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, said in a statement.

“Warning shots permitted a path to be made through. One person unfortunately lost their life,” it added. “A joint investigation with the Congolese authorities will enable the circumstances of this death to be established.”

A police spokesman Nasson Murara had earlier said that UN troops had been passing through the town of Beni in North Kivu province when protesters on motorbikes blocked them and started throwing stones.

The troops fired shots to disperse the crowd, he said. “Unfortunately, in this mess of bullets, there was a stray that hit a driver, who is dead,” he told AFP. Police have launched an investigation to “identify the perpetrators of these shots”, Murara said.

Pepe Kavotha, the head of a network of civil society groups in Beni, said they “condemned the peacekeepers firing on the population”. The latest unrest follows deadly protests in July against MONUSCO.

Read: Death toll from anti-UN protests in DRC rises to 19

Thirty-two demonstrators and four UN troops died over the course of a week-long disturbance, according to a Congolese toll, and UN bases were ransacked. An estimated 120 armed groups roam eastern DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that flared in the last decade of the 20th century.

Many Congolese are frustrated by MONUSCO’s perceived ineffectiveness in the face of persistent violence. 

Read: EDITORIAL: Monusco attacks call for EAC force deployment

The United Nations first deployed an observer mission to eastern Congo in 1999. It became the peacekeeping mission MONUSCO — the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — in 2010, with a mandate to conduct offensive operations.

It has a current strength of about 16,000 uniformed personnel.

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A man was killed on Tuesday in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo during a protest against United Nations peacekeepers, police and the UN said, in the latest violence in the […]

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How William Ruto’s election as Kenya president will impact Uganda

The news of the election of William Ruto as Kenya’s next president was well received across certain quarters of the Ugandan government. His reaffirmation as duly elected by the Supreme Court on Monday is the gift that keeps on giving that Kampala could only have wished for. 

When Dr Ruto takes over the mantle next Tuesday as Kenya’s fifth president, Kampala will be waiting with bated breath on whether he will reinvigorate the dull spark in Uganda-Kenya relations. Both countries are like Siamese twins tied to the umbilical cord. They share dialects, ethnicities and cultures. 

Read: Inside Museveni-Ruto friendship

They routinely spar over, especially trade, but nothing serious. The uneasy political triangle in Nairobi between Dr Ruto and his archival, five-time presidential contender, Mr Raila Odinga, briefly spiralled to Kampala, but it was nothing serious.

Yet, according to diplomatic sources, the Kampala regime frowned upon the possibility of the Odinga presidency. Kampala’s many misgivings with Mr Odinga, whose election petition the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed over lack of evidence, include frolicking with President Museveni’s implacable foe, Dr Kizza Besigye.

The embers of anti-Ugandan sentiments are also strong in Mr Odinga’s strongholds in parts of western Kenya. During the 2007 election violence, following the contested polls that pitted Mr Odinga against Mwai Kibaki, a section of metre-gauge railway was uprooted and Uganda-bound cargo trucks were targeted. In the aftermath of last month’s Kenya polls, Uganda-bound cargo trucks were re-routed.

Dr Ruto’s romance with the Kampala establishment jolted some in Nairobi in the months leading to the August elections. While his win has been hailed as breaking the back of dynasty politics, his Kenya Kwanza manifesto under the theme “Shaking up Kenya through Bottom Up Economy” hardly mentions his foreign policy prescriptions, which raises fears that his administration might not break ranks nor alter much of his predecessor’s policies.

Uganda barely has a foreign policy—it is largely conjured based on the mood of the Executive—but in his manifesto for 2021-2026, President Museveni detailed several ways to further relations with especially the East African Community (EAC).

Kenya, which serves as Uganda’s gateway to the sea, is an economic powerhouse in sub-Saharan Africa. As such, the country has sparred with Uganda and Tanzania over non-tariff barriers to curtail imports and promote the domestic market.

Read: Kenya’s change of guard: Why neighbours watch every step

Unlike Uganda, which has a lot at stake, Tanzania reciprocates swiftly whenever Nairobi takes such a hard stance.

The outgoing Kenyatta administration enacted the Foreign Service Act—signed in November 2021—to guide Kenya’s foreign relations and engagements, including regional integration, which will be tried and tested to the fullest by the incoming government.

During his first term as Deputy President, Dr Ruto represented Kenya on a number of foreign assignments, including addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016. The delegation seems to have waned as his relationship with his boss soured.

SGR venture

Besides cementing bilateral relations between the countries and offering room for intra-trade, Kampala also hopes that the Ruto administration will rekindle plans and agree to finance the remaining sections of the shinny Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) connecting Malaba en route to Kampala, which plans were first reached in 2008.

The arrangements for the much-touted SGR were subsequently concretised in 2012 with the two countries agreeing to construct China Class One standard, whose design classification according to the Chinese standards, is one with annual passengers/freight traffic volume for the near-term, which is more than or equal to 20 metric tonnes.

While the plan was to borrow money jointly from China’s Exim Bank for the regional project, Nairobi did not live up to its promise and started parallel negotiations shortly and acquired $3.8 billion for the Mombasa to Nairobi section, and later the 120km line from Nairobi to Naivasha at $1.7 billion.

Kenya eventually took its foot off the gas pedal on the plans after Uganda, with the backing of French oil giant now TotalEnergies EP, opted for the southern route as the least cost for the route of the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline.

The Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP), a loose cooperation of EAC involving Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Sudan—to work together on joint infrastructure projects, including the SGR stretching from the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa to Kampala en route to Kigali and Juba—also collapsed. There is all indication of little appetite for the NCIP, especially after the bruising ego Kampala-Kigali disagreements and it will remain to be seen if Dr Ruto can revive the coalition.

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The news of the election of William Ruto as Kenya’s next president was well received across certain quarters of the Ugandan government. His reaffirmation as duly elected by the Supreme Court […]

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Burundi MPs eject prime minister in president purge over coup plot

Burundi’s parliament on Wednesday approved the appointment of a new prime minister after President Evariste Ndayishimiye warned last week of a possible coup plot against him.

The President sacked his prime minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni and his cabinet chief General Gabriel Nizigama on a day of high drama in the troubled country.

At a hastily called parliamentary session, lawmakers approved the appointment of Security Minister Gervais Ndirakobuca to replace Bunyoni as prime minister in a unanimous 105-0 vote.

Mr Bunyoni is a former police chief and had been in office as prime minister for two years. He had also served as Minister for Internal Security during president Nkurunziza’s regime.

“The President of the Republic proposed Gervais Ndirakobuca to be the prime minister, and the president has the mandate to choose who he wants to work with,” said Gelase Ndabirabe, the Speaker of Parliament, before lawmakers approved the new prime minister.

Coup plot

Mr Bunyoni’s departure came after President Ndayishimiye, who has been in power for just over two years, had last week warned of a coup plot against him.

“Do you think an army general can be threatened by saying they will make a coup?  Who is that person? Whoever it is should come and in the name of God I will defeat him,” President Ndayishimiye had warned at a meeting of government officials on Friday.

There has been speculation of a possible feud between the Prime Minister and the President due to a power struggle.

Read: Rumours of a coup bedevil Burundi

The fate of Bunyoni, a senior figure in the CNDD-FDD party, the former rebel group that has ruled the country for years, was not immediately known.

Nizigama was replaced by Colonel Aloys Sindayihebura, who until now has been in charge of domestic intelligence within the National Intelligence Service.

Mr Ndayishimiye took power in the troubled nation in June 2020 after his predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza died of what the authorities said was heart failure.

His election in May 2020 had offered promise after the chaotic and bloody rule of his predecessor, although the country has failed to improve its dire record on human rights.

Political opponents

Nkurunziza had launched a crackdown on political opponents in 2015 that left 1,200 people dead and made Burundi a global pariah.

The turmoil erupted after Nkurunziza launched a bid for a third term in office, despite concerns over the legality of such a move.

The United States and the European Union had imposed sanctions over the unrest that also sent 400,000 people fleeing the country, with reports of arbitrary arrests, torture, killings and enforced disappearances.

Earlier this year, both resumed aid flows to the landlocked nation of 12 million people after easing the 2015 sanctions.

Civil society groups have returned, the BBC is allowed to broadcast again and the EU — Burundi’s largest foreign donor — has commended efforts to fight corruption.

Read: Burundi’s president in Brussels for EU-AU Summit

New PM Ndirakobuca was sanctioned in 2015 by the US for “silencing those opposed” to Nkurunziza’s third term bid.

Burundi’s history is littered with presidential assassinations, coups, ethnic massacres and a long civil war that ended in 2006 and left some 300,000 dead.

– Additional reporting by The EastAfrican

*Story updated

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Burundi’s parliament on Wednesday approved the appointment of a new prime minister after President Evariste Ndayishimiye warned last week of a possible coup plot against him. The President sacked his […]

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Landslides kill at least 15 in western Uganda

At least 15 people died in Rukooki, Kasese District, western Uganda after their homes were buried following Tuesday night mudslides caused by a heavy downpour that also left hundreds of residents displaced.

Several others are reported missing or feared dead as search and rescue operations by Uganda Red Cross officials, residents and local authorities intensify.

Red Cross officials said the death toll had risen to 15 after five more bodies were retrieved from the debris on Wednesday morning. Six other people have been rescued and transferred to a nearby hospital.

“Majority of the dead are mothers and children,” Uganda Red Cross spokeswoman Irene Nakasita said in a statement.

Simon Buhaka, the local council chairperson, said the bodies had been retrieved from the debris of collapsed houses following the night rain that lasted about six hours.

Mr Buhaka said most homesteads were knocked down at 3 am when their occupants were sleeping.

Locals have been using rudimentary tools like hoes and spades to search and retrieve the victims’ bodies.

Kasese District, where the disaster occurred, is prone to landslides, especially during the rainy season, because it sits in the foothills of the Rwenzori mountains that straddle the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

After a prolonged drought, heavy rains have fallen on much of Uganda since late July, causing deaths and flooding and the destruction of crops, homes and infrastructure.

Last week, two people died following a mudslide in neighbouring Bundibugyo District. Additionally, two people were swept away by floods in Kirembe, Kasese District.

In July, flooding caused by heavy rains killed at least 24 people in Mbale district in eastern Uganda.

The country’s weather agency had warned it would be hit by unusually strong and destructive rains in the August-December season and advised people living in mountainous areas to be vigilant or evacuate to safer areas.

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At least 15 people died in Rukooki, Kasese District, western Uganda after their homes were buried following Tuesday night mudslides caused by a heavy downpour that also left hundreds of […]

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William Ruto inauguration as Kenya president set for next week

Kenya says it will swear in President-elect William Ruto on Tuesday, assuring the country of a stable transition programme in spite of reservations by his would-be predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta.

The country’s Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua announced that Dr Ruto, whose victory was upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday, will be sworn-in seven days after the decision.

Speaking after chairing an Assumption of Office meeting attended by leaders and members of Dr Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance, Mr Kinyua said the swearing in will be conducted under the law, between 10am and 2pm. Deputy President-elect Rigathi Gachagua will also take an oath on the same day.

“In keeping up with President Kenyatta’s commitment to facilitate a smooth transition to the incoming administration as announced yesterday, I am pleased to notify the nation that we convened a meeting this morning to address the progress of the change of administration that has been ongoing from August 12,” said Mr Kinyua.

He said a peaceful and orderly transition in administrations is the hallmark of Kenya’s democracy and testament of its status as a beacon of stability and rule of law.

The swearing in ceremony shall be held at Kasarani Sports Stadium and the day shall be a public holiday.

“With the election cycle now behind us, the swearing-in and inauguration ceremony is an opportunity for the nation to not only witness and usher in our country’s 5th administration, but also celebrate the strength and vibrancy of our constitutional and democratic processes which differentiates Kenya from many countries in Africa and beyond,” added Mr Kinyua.

All Kenyans have been invited to the event.

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Kenya says it will swear in President-elect William Ruto on Tuesday, assuring the country of a stable transition programme in spite of reservations by his would-be predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta. The […]

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Rumours of a coup bedevil Burundi

Just when it all seemed calm, Burundi’s political tensions have risen again, following suspicions some senior leaders were plotting to oust President Evariste Ndayishimiye.

On Friday last week, President Ndayishimiye, while addressing government officials in the capital Gitega, warned “some individuals” who he did not name are threatening to overthrow his government, just after two years in the office.

“Do you think an army general can be threatened by saying they will make a coup d’état?  Who is that? Whoever it is should come and in the name of God I will defeat him,” Mr Ndayishimiye warned.

The Burundian president expressed his frustration in the country’s political capital after video clips circulated on social media showing the country’s Prime Minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni lamenting about “individuals who are backbiting” instead of telling things straight away.

Read: Burundi, the poorest country on the planet: What went wrong?

The clips raised concerns of a possible feud between the Prime Minister and the President due to a power struggle even though the two have often appeared in public and the council of ministers meetings together.

“I want to tell those who think they are powerful to be humble…there is one I saw…in Burundi, there will never be any coup d’état again and God is the witness…those who wish bad things for Burundi, they should prepare for defeat,” the Burundian leader and army general warned.

A professor at the University of Bujumbura told The EastAfrican that the tensions between the PM and the President may be because of the policy changes under Gen Ndayishimiye. “There is a struggle inside the system as the president is changing a lot of things like fighting corruption and impunity. Many within are feeling the pinch,” he said on condition of anonymity so he can discuss the topic without fear of reprisals.

President Ndayishimiye, who took over power in June 2020, promised to restore the rule of law, accountability and fight against impunity.  This has resulted to dozens of high profile government officials relieved from their duties for failure to deliver. This push has seen him regularise ties with the West as financial sanctions imposed by the European Union were lifted in February this year.

Read: Burundi wins big as bloc lifts economic sanctions

Burundi had gone through turmoil since it gained its Independence in 1962 with the most recent political crisis dating back in 2015 when protests against the former president Pierre Nkurunziza led to deaths of more than 1,000 people. There was a coup attempt to overthrow Nkurunziza’s government as he attended a summit of the East African Community in Dar es Salaam. The culprits are still serving jail terms.

“A coup d’état at this moment is more difficult but what we need to understand is that there is a crack within the system, and who knows what comes tomorrow? The president is facing a big challenge now,” the professor argued.

Burundi has witnessed three coups, two presidential assassinations, in addition to the failed coup in 2015 that plunged the country into deadly unrest.

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Just when it all seemed calm, Burundi’s political tensions have risen again, following suspicions some senior leaders were plotting to oust President Evariste Ndayishimiye. On Friday last week, President Ndayishimiye, while addressing […]

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Inflation rises as East Africa battles high food costs and polls anxiety

The East African region is facing a wave of inflation as disruptions in the global supply chain continue and prices of essential commodities rise.

In Kenya, the region’s largest economy, inflation hit 8.5 percent this week — the highest in 62 months —from 8.3 percent in July, on a surge in food and fuel prices.

The Kenya shilling also continued to tumble, partly blamed on jitters around the presidential election results dispute, which has seen former prime minister Raila Odinga challenge the victory of Deputy President William Ruto, who was pronounced president-elect on August 15.

The Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate and his running mate Martha Karua filed a petition challenging the outcome of the presidential election on August 22, claiming the election was manipulated to favour Ruto. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a verdict on September 5.

Read: Anxiety in East Africa as Kenya Supreme Court settles election dispute

On August 31, the shilling had fallen 0.03 percent to Ksh120.05 against the US dollar as the apex court began hearing submissions by the petitioners challenging the declaration of Ruto as president-elect.

Foreign reserves had fallen to $7.6 billion— equivalent to 4.39 months of import cover — during the week ending on August 25, from $7.74 billion, equivalent to 4.46 months of import cover, during the week ending July 28.

This breaches the region’s convergence criteria that demands that countries maintain their foreign currency assets above 4.5 months’ worth of imports cover— which is one of the conditions for implementing a single currency regime.

In February, the shilling traded at Ksh113 against the US dollar.

Food, fuel prices

Foreign currency dealers at pan-African foreign exchange firm AZA Finance warned that the political instability in the country would continue to weigh heavily on the local currency in the coming days, possibly surpassing the Ksh120 level against the greenback. Market research report by property consultancy firm Knight Frank predicts that the Kenyan currency will depreciate a little further but stabilise by the fourth quarter (October-December).

Also read: More pain for Tanzanians as fuel prices soar

Besides the uncertainty in Kenya, the war in Ukraine has also triggered a spike in crude oil prices that have fuelled inflation in the region.

According to monthly data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the country’s inflation figures have been on an upward trend from a low of 5.1 percent in February before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted supply chains, pushing up global energy and food prices.

The situation has been compounded by the removal of a government food subsidy that had seen the price of a two-kilogramme packet of maize flour fall to Ksh100 ($0.83) from Ksh240 ($2). On July 20, outgoing President Kenyatta announced the fifth stimulus package of his regime focusing on food subsidy to cushion households from hunger. The one-month subsidy elapsed after the General Election of August 9.

In August, oil-marketing companies warned of another fuel crisis due to the government’s failure to honour its obligations under the state-funded fuel subsidy programme. The marketers are demanding a huge Ksh65.06 billion ($542.16 million) from the government, an amount which has been in arrears for three consecutive cycles (June, July and August).

In Uganda, the monthly inflation as measured by Consumer Price Index for August increased to nine percent from 7.9 percent registered in July, despite government interventions to lessen the hardship.

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) blames the rise to high prices of foods like plantain (matooke), which has risen from Ush709 ($0.187) per kilograme to Ush802 ($0.212), compared with an average of Ush493 ($0.130) at the same period last year.

Transport costs

Aliziki K. Lubega, the UBOS Director of Economic Statistics, said the cost of transport, a direct result of higher fuel prices, had also increased from 7.3 percent in August 2021 to 8.7 percent in August this year.

“The rise in transport inflation is specifically attributed to long-distance bus fares, which increased to minus 9.5 percent, from minus 27.8 percent,” she said.

She added that monthly petrol inflation increased by 4.5 percent last month from the 7.6 rise registered in July.

Ms Lubega noted that solid fuels inflation increased to 4.7 percent from minus 0.8 percent in July and charcoal, which rose to 4.8 percent in August, from minus 0.7 percent the previous month.

Prices for fresh milk also rose from Ush1,825 (0.482) in July to Ush2,050 (0.542) per litre in August, UBOS report shows.

Other increases in the prices of food were noted in commodities like fish from Ush11,603 ($3.06) to Ush13,339 ($$3.527) per kilogramme; dry beans from Ush3,607 ($0.95) to Ush3,805 ($1.006); maize flour from Ush3,343 ($0.88) to Ush3,421 ($0.904); fresh cassava from Ush827 ($0.218) to Ush914 ($0.24); and green cabbages from Ush810 ($0.214) to Ush1,012 ($0.267).

This rise in inflation comes at a time when government intervention saw an increase in the central bank rate to nine percent in August, from 6.5 in June.

Read: Uganda increases key rate for third time in a row

The central bank also provided exceptional funding to maintain access to money by supervised financial institutions and aided borrowers that were affected by Covid-19 pandemic as they provided credit relief measures that permitted loan rescheduling for a year.

Other inventions are prioritising debt servicing and other statutory obligations and focused expenditure on growth by enhancing sectors with higher multiple effects in economy to support recovery, create jobs and have high impact on poverty reduction, Mr Ggoobi explained.

Globally, inflation in the Eurozone hit a record high of 9.1 percent in August fuelled by soaring energy costs exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

The United Kingdom currently has the worst inflation of all the G7 countries, hitting 10.1 percent in the 12 months to July.

In the US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said on August 26 that the monetary policy could be kept tight ‘for some time’ to stem the rising inflation

The US central bank has so far overseen three consecutive rate increases of 75 basis points to deal with high inflation.

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The East African region is facing a wave of inflation as disruptions in the global supply chain continue and prices of essential commodities rise. In Kenya, the region’s largest economy, […]

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Kenya polls agency chair Wafula Chebukati, deputy Juliana Cherera clash in split

he divisions within the Kenya polls agency continued to play out Monday, with the chairman publicly clashing with his deputy in their first joint meeting after four of seven commissioners disowned the results of the presidential election.

During a meeting with candidates from eight electoral areas, which had their elections postponed, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Vice-Chairperson Juliana Cherera hung her boss, Mr Wafula Chebukati, out to dry over the cause of the initial postponement of the elections.

After being invited by Mr Chebukati to explain to the candidates what informed the first postponement, Ms Cherera put aside the official script to lament the secretive nature of IEBC operations.

Insisting that commissioners were not reading from the same script, Ms Cherera charged some commissioners were intentionally kept in the dark regarding the printing of ballot papers.

Read: Kenya’s poll agency faces performance queries

“We talked amongst ourselves as commissioners and did what we call PR [a public relations exercise] to save face because we did not want the commission to be divided,” Ms Cherera said.

“We tried to put pieces together despite the fact that, as a commission, we didn’t even know the first ballot papers were arriving. We were only made aware on the night before the arrival,” she added.

She further detailed how, as part of a team appointed by IEBC to oversee the printing of presidential ballot papers, they were frustrated only arriving at the tail end of the printing process.

“We did not see Mombasa, Kakamega or Kitui Rural papers, and so I cannot take responsibility for ballot papers that I was not part of [their] verification. I rest my case,” she said.

Caught flat-footed, Mr Chebukati looked on, not knowing what to do, appearing cornered after Ms Cherera pulled a fast one on him.

Read: Kenya polls agency split on presidential results

“The commission issued a statement on the issue and we apologise for the mix-up,” was all Mr Chebukati could say.

Since Monday last week, when Mr Chebukati declared Deputy President William Ruto the President-elect, IEBC has been divided into two camps with Ms Cherera leading one and Mr Chebukati leading the other.

Ms Cherera’s group has commissioners Justus Nyang’aya, Irene Masit and Francis Wanderi while Mr Chebukati’s camp has commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu, in what seems to be battle of wills between the newcomers to the commission and the old guard.

The four new commissioners, who rejected the presidential election results that Mr Chebukati announced said publicly that they cannot take ownership of the announced results.

They have also complained about being sidelined in the appointment of returning officers, amid claims that they were blindside by the arrival of the first batch of ballot papers.

In yesterday’s meeting at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi, the faction led by Ms Cherera sat close to each other save for Ms Masit who was sandwiched between Prof Guliye and Mr Molu.

Furthermore, Ms Cherera’s faction did not contribute to the proceedings after a round of introductions with the Chebukati-led wing dominating the session.

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Tanzania begins weeklong population census

Tanzania has launched a nationwide week-long population and housing census that will delve deeper than in the past to identify bona fide citizens, immigrants, refugees, foreign residents and passing visitors along with employment statuses and other livelihood engagements.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who designated Tuesday as a public holiday for the exercise, was the first to be enumerated at the Chamwino State House in the capital Dodoma.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is asking a raft of questions, about 100, related to age, gender, birthplace, residential status (ownership and tenancy), education, employment and financial inclusion status. It is also collecting details on marital status, reproductive health and technology use.

“I have been counted. It is true that the questions are more, but they can be answered,” President Suluhu told journalists at State House, where she urged citizens to familiarise themselves with the questions and have the necessary documents such as the national identity cards beforehand so they can answer quickly.

Read: Census: Tanzania lures hunter-gatherers with bush meat

The census commissar Anne Makinda said the exercise would run for seven days.

This year’s census is the first to be done digitally and will cost Tsh328 billion ($141 million). The census will also include housing and property statistics for the first time.

According to the concept documents, the findings will allow relevant authorities to streamline the provision of various social services and facilities according to more accurate estimations of different community, demographical and living environment needs.

Officials say the census findings will also be used to determine unemployment numbers, crime control requirements by area, and the sustainability of existing social security and pension systems.

Tanzania is estimated to have a population of between 55 and 65 million. In 2012, Tanzania reported 44.9 million people.

UN predictions have placed Tanzania’s population among the world’s eight fastest-growing countries over the next three decades.

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Tanzania has launched a nationwide week-long population and housing census that will delve deeper than in the past to identify bona fide citizens, immigrants, refugees, foreign residents and passing visitors […]

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Tanzania holds census with eye on 2025 election

The voting blocs and issue-based political campaigns are some of the issues that could emerge as Tanzania prepares to conduct a massive census in the country in a decade.

And while real political campaigns are three years away, most political aspirants may look at the contents of the upcoming census as a launchpad. This is because the registration of voters for Tanzania’s 2025 General Election will be based on data collected from this year’s population and housing census to be conducted nationwide on Tuesday, August 23, which is also a designated public holiday.

According to government officials, data on key factors such as age eligibility, citizenship status and specific area residency will be filed for future reference when verifying voters for the next poll in three years’ time.

Tanzania’s first substantive population and housing census in 10 years will seek to verify various unofficial figures. Those figures have variously put the country’s current population at between 55 and 65 million. In 2012, Tanzania reported 44.9 million people.

The upcoming census will be held against the backdrop of UN predictions that have placed Tanzania’s population to be among the world’s eight fastest-growing countries over the next three decades.

The census budget has been set at Tsh328 billion ($141 million).

According to official concept documents, this year’s census will also delve deeper than in the past to identify bona fide Tanzanian citizens, immigrants, refugees, foreign residents and passing visitors along with employment statuses and other livelihood engagements.

The Director of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Wilson Mahera, told The EastAfrican that the commission intends to use the census statistics obtained to conduct a fresh voter registration exercise ahead of the 2025 poll.

“We see this as the best way to ensure that all the voters are eligible given the kind of problems regarding age, citizenship, residency, etcetera that we have experienced in the past,” Mr Mahera said.

He said that NEC will use the data to identify eligible voters in all areas within each constituency in order to cut down on time for filling application forms and avoid complaints from contestants over alleged cheating and fraud like double voting at different polling stations.

The current voter registration process basically requires eligible voters to be citizens and permanent residents of a respective voting station aged 18 years or above.

Read: Samia’s 2025 election plan: CCM brings back veterans

Electronic storage

The latest census will also include housing and property statistics for the first time. The exercise will be done digitally instead of manually as has been the case in past censuses and all data collected will be electronically stored at the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Data clerks will gather information for several days.

The questionnaire to be used in the exercise is composed of about 100 questions related to age, gender, birthplace, residential status (ownership and tenancy), education, employment and financial inclusion status, and other details.

According to the concept documents, the findings will also allow relevant authorities to streamline the provision of various social services and facilities according to more accurate estimations of different community, demographical and living environment needs.

This includes destitute and special needs groups such as the elderly and people with disabilities, schools and enrolment numbers, hospitals and fertility rates, individual household economies and access to health care and quality education, water and electricity.

Officials say the census findings will also be used to determine unemployment numbers, crime control requirements by area, and sustainability of existing social security and pension systems.

According to the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, the data collected will also aid official updates of land surveys and demarcation boundaries for residential housing, commercial and industrial investments, and agricultural and livestock keeping activities including pastoral grazing land.

It will allow for proper identification of people living in informal settlements, particularly in urban areas, or on public land designated for other social services, the ministry said. Land use planning including plot allocations to local and foreign investors will also made easier to control incessant disputes and conflicts over ownership rights, it added.

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Senior counsel showdown: Top legal minds face off in Kenya presidential poll petition

All eyes will, from Monday and for the next 14 days, be focused on the seven judges of the Supreme Court, who have until September 5 to determine whether or not the president-elect won validly.

Deputy President William Ruto was declared winner of the presidential election and the apex court, led by Chief Justice Martha Koome, has 14 days to hear and determine the case expected to be lodged by Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party candidate Raila Odinga, who has described Dr Ruto’s win a nullity which he said should be overturned.  For Chief Justice Koome and Justice William Ouko, this will be their first presidential election petition to preside over, after they were promoted from the Court of Appeal.

Read: How Ruto won State House race

For Justices Dr Smokin Wanjala and Njoki Ndung’u, this will be their fourth petition, having joined the Supreme Court when it was first started in 2011.

For Justice Mohamed Ibrahim, who joined the apex court with the duo in 2011, this will be his second presidential election petition to preside over after he opted out of the 2017 cases over health issues.

Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Justice Isaac Lenaola will also be hearing such a petition for a third time having sat and decided on the 2017 matters.

The Supreme Court, like it did in 2017, has the power to quash the election of a president, and order fresh elections within 60 days.

Ruto says they are ready to face any election petition

And so, the biggest legal battle of the year begins Monday with both camps having lined up the country’s top legal minds and litigators for the do-or-die battle pitting Mr Odinga on one side against Dr Ruto and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and its chair Wafula Chebukati on the other.

Read: Kenya’s poll agency faces performance queries

It is not clear whether four IEBC commissioners—Juliana Cherera, Francis Wanderi, Irene Masit, and Justus Nyang’aya—who disowned the results declared by Mr Chebukati, will file a separate case or file supporting affidavits to support Mr Odinga’s case.

The deadline of filing the presidential petition is today at 2pm, according to a notice issued by the Judiciary. Among the lawyers set to represent Mr Odinga is former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Phillip Murgor, Mr Pheroze Nowrojee, a seasoned constitutional and human rights lawyer, and Mr James Orengo, the Siaya governor-elect. All are senior counsels. For the Kenya Kwanza Alliance’s Dr Ruto has gone for President Kenyatta’s former lawyer Fred Ngatia and Mr Ahmednassir Abdullahi. Both are also senior counsels.

Other lawyers in Dr Ruto’s corner are Mr Katwa Kigen and Prof Kithure Kindiki, his long-time advocates. IEBC, on its part, has tapped former Attorney-General Prof Githu Muigai to be the lead counsel in the anticipated petition.  Prof Muigai will be working with lawyers Kamau Karori, Abdikadir Mohamed, Eric Gumbo, Wambua Kilonzo, Peter Wanyama, George Murugu, Mahat Somane, Cyprian Wekesa and Edwin Mukele.  In the BBI case, Mr Karori was representing the Attorney General.

Raila Odinga team

Lawyers Philip Murgor (left) James Orengo and Pheroze Nowrojee.

Pheroze Nowrojee

Mr Nowrojee was among the lawyers who represented Mr Odinga in the 2017 petition which led to nullification of President Kenyatta’s re-election.

He was admitted to the Bar in 1967 and led the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) the following year, 1968 to 1969. Over the years, he has been involved in various politically sensitive cases.

In 1990, the soft-spoken lawyer was charged with contempt of court for protesting delays in the case concerning the widow of slain government-critic Anglican Church Bishop of Eldoret Alexander Muge.

The charges stemmed from a letter Mr Nowrojee wrote to the Registrar of the High Court protesting delayed determination of case of Ms Herma Muge (now deceased). Mr Nowrojee also represented lawyer-cum-politician Gitobu Imanyara, the editor of the Nairobi Law Monthly in September 1990 following the ban of the magazine by the government. Mr Nowrojee obtained a stay order against the government’s decision to ban the magazine.

Philip Murgor

The former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is the Managing Partner of Murgor & Murgor Advocates and boasts an experience of 35 years in legal practice.

He was admitted to the Roll of Advocates in 1986 and served as country’s DPP from 2003 to 2005.

He had previously worked as state counsel at the Attorney General’s office for eight years after graduating from law school.

He is also a Member Grade of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, London Court of International Arbitration and a member of the International Association of Prosecutors. 

In 1992 Mr Murgor was appointed to the legal team that defended President Daniel Arap Moi in court in the election petition filed after the first multiparty elections. He is a holder of Master of Laws (LLM) in International Trade and Investments Law, University of Nairobi (2011). In 2021 he was among those interviewed for the Chief Justice position.

James Aggrey Orengo

Mr Orengo, a veteran lawyer and one of the longest serving lawmakers, was also in the 2017 legal team of Mr Odinga that petitioned the Supreme Court to nullify the re-election of President Kenyatta.

In 2021 he represented Mr Odinga in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) case at the Supreme Court. He started activism in 1970s when he was a student leader at the University of Nairobi. He graduated in 1974 with Bachelor of Law (LLB).

He is also a former detainee and advocate of multiparty democracy. In 2002 he vied for presidency and lost to Mwai Kibaki

William Ruto team

From left: Lawyers Katwa Kigen, Ahmednasir Abdullahi, Kithure Kindiki and Fred Ngatia.

Fred Ngatia

Mr Ngatia was also in 2021 interviewed by the Judicial Service Commission for the Chief Justice’s job. Having represented President Kenyatta in three presidential election petitions (2013 and two in 2017) at the Supreme Court, Mr Ngatia comes with long experience of handling presidential petitions.

Mr Ngatia was admitted to the Roll of Advocates in 1980 has 41 years of experience in the legal profession. His academic and professional qualifications include Master of Applied Philosophy and Ethics from Strathmore University (2019), Master of Laws from London School of Economics, University of London (1984), Bachelor of Laws from the University of Nairobi (1979) and Post Graduate Diploma in Law from the Kenya School of Law (1980).

Ahmednasir Abdullahi

Mr Abdullahi is not new to presidential petitions. In 2013 and 2017 he represented the IEBC.

He is a former member of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and has 29 years of experience in legal practice. He was admitted to the roll of advocates in 1993.  Mr Abdullahi is the publisher of the Nairobi Law Monthly and former chairperson of the Law Society of Kenya (2003-2005).

Katwa Kigen

Mr Kigen, who was admitted to the Bar in 1996, has represented Dr Ruto in various cases. He holds a Bachelor of Laws LL.B (Hons) degree from the University of Nairobi.

Prof Kithure Kindiki

Prof Kindiki, the outgoing senator of Tharaka-Nithi County, holds a Master’s in International Human Rights Law and Democracy and a PhD in International Law, both from the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

He served as Secretary of the National Cohesion in the Ministry of Justice soon after the 2008 post-election violence and was instrumental in the drafting of the National Cohesion and Integration Act.

However, he resigned after three months and accused the government of lacking political will to resettle hundreds of thousands of people who were displaced by the 2007/08 post-poll skirmishes.

He was thrown into public limelight when DP Ruto appointed him to his legal team when he faced crimes against humanity charges at the ICC.

The Wafula Chebukati team

From left: IEBC legal team in the presidential petition Kamau Karori, Prof Githu Muigai and Eric Gumbo.

Prof Githu Muigai

Prof Muigai holds an LLB and a PhD from the University of Nairobi, an LLM from the Colombia University Law School and Diploma in law from the Kenya School of Law. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb). He was admitted to the Bar in 1985.

Kamau Karori

Mr Karori also deals with constitutional petitions, dispute resolution, commercial and tax disputes. He has been involved in the resolution of various commercial disputes in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration (Kenya branch).

Eric Gumbo

Mr Gumbo holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law from Moi University. He is also a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.  Mr Gumbo was part of the team selected to advise and represent IEBC in all the past three Presidential election petitions filed in in the Supreme Court.

He is also the Board Chairperson for the Legal Aid Centre for Eldoret. He is a trial lawyer and is also engaged in dispute resolution as well as being a transactional adviser for international commercial transactions.

This story was first published by Nation.Africa.

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Joint Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda power project nears completion

The Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project (RRFHP), a joint venture by Rwanda, Tanzania, and Burundi, is 95 percent done, with completion set for November this year.

The 80MW project was started in February 2012 to supply electricity to the three countries by December 2021 but was extended by two years following procurement flaws that increased its cost by over 20 percent.

Read: Rusumo power project delayed by two years

The three governments received $468 million worth of grants and loans from multiple development partners, including the World Bank and the African Development Bank, for the project.

Taking over the one-year rotational chairmanship at the weekend, Tanzania’s Energy minister January Makamba said the project is expected to catalyse development in the three countries.

Each country is expecting 26MW to be added directly to its national grid.

“This project shows the willingness of these countries to use natural resources to bring about the development of their citizens,” said Mr Makamba.

Respective governments expect the project to help plug power supply deficits. Rwanda specifically banks on the project to help reach its 100 per cent electrification target by 2024.

The project is located at the Tanzania-Rwanda border, Rusumo Falls.

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Raila Odinga files petition challenging William Ruto’s win

Raila Odinga’s presidential petition against William Ruto’s election has finally been admitted at the Supreme Court of Kenya.

Mr Odinga, a veteran opposition leader who ran with the backing of President Uhuru Kenyatta, has rejected the outcome of the August 9 poll, branding it a “travesty.”

Mr Odinga and his running mate and co-petitioner Martha Karua are seeking 23 reliefs, including an order for inspection of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) servers and scrutiny of the rejected and spoilt votes.

They also want an order for scrutiny and forensic audit of the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (Kiems) kits, IEBC website and portal and the returns of the presidential election, including Forms 34A, 34B and 34C.

Read: What are Forms 34A and 34B?

In addition, an order for the invalidation of Ruto’s election and the IEBC be compelled to organize a fresh presidential election in strict conformity with the Constitution and Elections Act. The fresh election should not be presided by Mr Chebukati, they say.

The pair is also seeking an order to summon Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti to produce statements, photographs, reports, equipment, laptops, phones and other gadgets and any other material connected/related to the conduct of the elections and found in possession of the Venezuela nationals arrested at JKIA. 

They further want Mr Kinoti summoned and directed to produce laptop(s) allegedly retrieved and seized from Koech Geofrey Kipngosos, an agent of UDA party and report on the forensic analysis and examination of the laptop(s) and content.

Other petitioners

Besides Mr Odinga’s petition, five other lawsuits have been filed, ahead of the 2 pm deadline, seeking to overturn the presidential elections. The petitioners are human rights activist Khelef Khalifa, the director at Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri), and Anthony Manyara, the East African Students Union president, who has cited widespread irregularities. Others are Reuben Kigame, who was disqualified from contesting the 2022 presidential contest, activist and Busia-senator elect Okiya Omtatah and a voter John Njoroge Njoroge.

Politician Moses Kuria also filed a petition to dismiss Mr Odinga’s suit.

What next?

The petitioners have a day to serve the respondents, who have four days to submit their replies. A day for those who wish to be enjoined in the petition and another day for preliminary hearings.

The seven Supreme Court judges will then hold a day for pre-trial in which the judges will issue guidelines on how the hearing will be conducted, the time for presentation and rebuttal, and the sitting arrangements. The trial starts immediately after the pre-trial, which could be done on the same day.

The judges have six days to hear and write the judgment. The entire presidential election petition takes 14 days.

‘Forces of democracy’

Mr Odinga, in a briefing to the press after filing, said he has sufficient evidence to overturn the August 9 election.

“The petition is about the forces of democracy who are pushing for good governance against cartels of corruption, who can stop at nothing to ensure that they take the leadership of the country by all means,” he said.

He accused the cartels of election interference, which he said has led to the progressive low voter turnout as voting is seen not to matter.

“The 2022 election marks the most daring move by the cartels to overturn the wishes of the electorate,” said Mr Odinga.

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Raila Odinga’s presidential petition against William Ruto’s election has finally been admitted at the Supreme Court of Kenya. Mr Odinga, a veteran opposition leader who ran with the backing of President Uhuru Kenyatta, […]

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Tanzania invites bids for SGR line to Burundi

Tanzania is inviting bids for the construction of the 367km Uvinza-Gitega line that will extend the Standard Gauge Railway to Burundi.

In an August 12 notice, interested parties have until November 15 to place their bids with the Tanzania Railways Corporation, to design and build the line from Uvinza in western Tanzania to Burundi’s administrative capital of Gitega.

The TRC said funds have already been set aside by both governments for the bilateral project to take off within the 2022/2023 financial year.

“It is intended that part of the proceeds of the funds will be used to cover eligible payments for contracts under the D&B [Design and Build] arrangement,” TRC said in the notice.

The project will involve 282km of the main line and 85km of siding/passing loops. Lot 1 will cover 180km from Uvinza to Malagarasi within Tanzania, and Lot 2 will cover 187km across the border to Musongati and then Gitega.

The project has been in the pipeline since January, when the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on initial cost estimates of $900 million.

The notice said that although the Uvinza-Gitega link project will be supervised jointly with ARTF in Burundi, the TRC will be in charge of all related procurements on behalf of both governments.

Extension

The line will be an extension of Tanzania’s ongoing $7.6 billion SGR project, providing Burundi with a link to the port of Dar es Salaam through the central corridor.

The line is expected to significantly lessen the costs of transporting Burundian goods.

Both countries are set to also benefit from increased cross-border trade via the railway line, and cargo volumes through the port of Dar es Salaam will be boosted.

Negotiations for similar SGR links with Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are ongoing.

At the signing of the agreement, Burundi’s Minister for Works and Infrastructure Deogratius Nsanganiyumwami said the link would allow the country to increase its cargo export volumes through Dar es Salaam to at least three million tonnes of minerals and one million tonnes of other cargo annually.

Burundi currently ships 99.2 percent of its international cargo through the port of Dar es Salaam, and Rwanda ships 86 percent, according to Tanzania Ports Authority figures.

Tanzania’s 1,637km SGR line is being built in phases by contractors from Turkey and China. The first phase from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro (300km) is set to start operating next year following successful test runs.

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Foreign policy: Expectations for new Ruto administration

Kenya’s president-elect William Ruto may have been deputy president for 10 years, but few people can figure out his foreign policy. Many point out that the country’s policy developed in 2014 during the first Jubilee administration — in which he was DP — will likely be unaltered.

Kenya has a new Foreign Service Act, which prioritises regional integration and Uhuru Kenyatta’s successor will be the first president to implement it.

Read: How Ruto won State House race

The country’s foreign policy is anchored in a vision of “peaceful, prosperous and globally competitive Kenya”, and a mission to “project, promote and protect Kenya’s interests and image globally through innovative diplomacy, and contribute towards a just, peaceful and equitable world”.

In the manifesto of his Kenya Kwanza alliance, Mr Ruto indicated that he would promote an “Africa-focused foreign policy”.

This week, after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared him the winner of Kenya’s tightly contested presidential election, whose result his main challenger former prime minister Raila Odinga has rejected and vowed to challenge in court, the congratulatory messages, seemed to show Kenya’s friends.

Policy

President of the Chadian Transitional Military Council Mahamat Idris Deby phoned Mr Ruto: “Just called the president-elect of the sister Republic of Kenya, His Excellency William Ruto to express my heartfelt congratulations to him on the occasion of his clear election,” Gen Deby wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday. “This was also an occasion to acknowledge the co-operation and fraternal relations that bind our two countries and a pledge for co-operation in several vital sectors.”

Gen Deby was among many African leaders who congratulated Mr Ruto. Others were Emerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Samia Suluhu of Tanzania, Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia, Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi, Salva Kiir of South Sudan and Omar Ismael Guelleh of Djibouti.

In the EAC, only President Felix Tshisekedi of DR Congo had not congratulated the president-elect by press time.

Read: Kenya election: Raila and Ruto battle for supremacy in Parliament

Over the years Mr Ruto has developed ties to leaders like Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, Congo-Brazaville’s Denis Sassou Nguesso and Sudan’s former leader Omar al-Bashir.

The African Union and the EAC have remained guarded after the election whose processes were praised as open, but whose conclusion faces controversy. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) sent a message to Mr Ruto. Igad executive secretary Workneh Gebeyehu congratulated him, and asked that all disputes be resolved through legal channels.

EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki sent his congratulations too.

Protecting interests

In the meantime, Mr Ruto has vowed to settle into his new role, and his confidants say his regional policy will be one that promotes harmony in the region while protecting Kenya’s interests.

Ababu Namwamba, head of international relations in his presidential campaign, said a Ruto administration would be “robust, creative, engaging and hands-on in the deployment of Kenya’s foreign policy”.

“The immediate neighbourhood of East and the Horn of Africa will receive special attention in both bilateral and multilateral engagement, for sharing of cross-border prosperity and responsibility for regional security,” Mr Namwamba told The EastAfrican.

Mr Ruto on Thursday met with Congressional leaders from the US who had travelled to Nairobi to seek an amicable solution to the election dispute. The US delegation also met with Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta, and they all promised a peaceful resolution of the election dispute and a smooth transition.

In 2007, a post-election dispute led to violence. But the three past elections have seen Mr Odinga take the matter to court.

If the Supreme Court upholds his win and he is sworn in, sources say Mr Ruto will be unlikely to depart from Kenya’s traditional foreign policy.

“We have yet to see his priorities,” said a Kenyan diplomat, who preferred anonymity. “But he has been part of the building of Kenya’s foreign policy for many years in many capacities. And he has been deployed severally to undertake international missions. Therefore, one would assume that he is fully briefed and well understanding of Kenya’s foreign policy. So one would expect him to sustain that.”

Also read: Truckers resume regional operations after Kenya elections hitch

According to the official, a new president is usually presented with diplomatic issues according to Kenya’s five pillars of foreign policy – peace diplomacy, economic diplomacy, diaspora, environmental and cultural diplomacy.

In his capacity as Deputy President over the past 10 years, Mr Ruto represented the president at functions abroad. In May 2016, he addressed the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, where he spoke about Kenya’s plan to close the Dadaab Refugee Camp in the northeast. Kenya’s argument at the time was that the camp had become a security hazard. In September 2016, he addressed the UN General Assembly.

These diplomatic assignments fizzled out in their second term as Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta fell out over a post-election peace deal with Mr Odinga.

Mr Ruto’s “Bottom-Up” economic model proposes to develop the economy from the small enterprises.

“I think he has articulated his manifesto well, especially in areas of poverty eradication, inclusivity and home-grown fiscal policies,” a Western diplomat who preferred anonymity told The EastAfrican on Monday. “We look forward to working with him to address common challenges and take advantage of common opportunities.”

Also read: African leaders congratulate William Ruto for winning Kenyan election

The “bottom-up” proposal’s funding and sustainability could be a challenge as the new government finds its footing. The Chinese, Kenya’s traditional funders of big-ticket infrastructure projects, are unlikely to be involved.

Observers are keen to see how a Ruto government would navigate the Kenya-China relations. On the campaign trail, Mr Ruto took an antagonistic stance towards Beijing, even vowing to end government borrowing from China.

According to Kathleen Klaus, a professor at the University of San Francisco who spoke to The Conversation, if he were to implement this, Kenya would face a contentious relationship with China that could stall future development projects “while helping to rein in future debt obligations”.

Proposal

The Kenya Kwanza alliance proposed to make Kenya respected and valued abroad, promote friendly relations with neighbours, play a leading role in regional and pan-African affairs, collaborate with international partners, and uphold commitments to the international community. The Alliance proposed to expand markets for Kenyan products, taking advantage of the country’s membership in regional organisations such as the EAC, Comesa, Igad and the AU, and Kenya’s status as technology powerhouse to drive economic growth.

Also read: Observer group’s parallel tally almost similar to IEBC results

Mr Ruto also promised to lead efforts to advance regional stability and peace, support global initiatives to stem violent extremism, and co-operate with other countries as a reliable ally or neighbour.

Meanwhile, regional businesses are looking forward to more support for a competitive and stronger value chain from the new government.

Experts say that Mr Ruto’s role as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s deputy provides little indication of his ability to push through transformative economic policies within East Africa, which is smarting from the effects of Covid-19, the Ukraine-Russia war, a shortage of goods and high prices.

East Africa’s private sector is looking up to Kenya’s new president to provide the leadership that will create recovery.

“We have a lot of expectations from him in terms of his commitment to business,” said John Kalisa, East African Business Council chief executive. “He said we need to build on what his predecessor has achieved, especially infrastructure. We want him to improve the regional value chain, fast-track the EAC Common Market and support South Sudan and the DR Congo to actively participate in regional integration and build the right institutions.”

“We expect him to fast-track the Common Market commitments to address the issue of open skies, the One Area Network, common tourist visa and making the region competitive,” Mr Kalisa added.

Also read: Kenya election: Officials assure country of security

Uganda is also optimistic that Kenya’s new president will focus more on the private sector as the main driver of integration.

Simon Kaheru, vice-chair of the EABC, said Mr Ruto has experience in the private sector, “which is an advantage for us because we can engage him as a comrade”.

Robert Bafakulera, chairperson of Rwanda Private Sector Federation and vice chair of EABC, said the private sector is optimistic that the president will address the issues around the implementation of the Common Market.

“Rwanda does a lot of business with Kenya, as our cargo is transported through the port of Mombasa. We want him to reduce the cost of transportation on the Northern Corridor. We expect him to fast track the implementation of the EAC Monetary Union. It would be less expensive to do business if the region can attain a single currency, which we want him to push for.”

Rwanda’s businesses also expect the new president to lower the cost of work permits for East Africans.

“We would have wished to have more Rwandans working in Kenya, but the cost of the work permit is very high,” said Mr Bafakulera.

“In terms of his commitment to promote the region’s value chain, especially agriculture, we want to see his commitment on how the region can weather the shocks caused by the Ukraine war and to ensure that we start exploiting our comparative and competing advantage,” Mr Kalisa said.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers expects the incoming government to prioritise food and nutrition security through increased value addition in the agriculture and agro-processing.

“This is because global inflation around food is a major concern and countries will now need to focus on food security,” said Tobias Alando, acting KAM chief executive.

“We urge the incoming government to reduce the number of regulations and bring down the cost and time spent on compliance and consolidate regulators at the national and county levels.”

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Kenya’s president-elect William Ruto may have been deputy president for 10 years, but few people can figure out his foreign policy. Many point out that the country’s policy developed in […]

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Rwanda ruling party RPF waits in the wings as rivals bicker

Wrangles in Rwanda’s main opposition party could hand a walkover to the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections in 2023. And the dominant party in the country could ride on that to the presidential elections in 2024, leaving opponents politically dead.

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, led by Frank Habineza, is the only opposition party in the country not in a ruling coalition of the RPF.

Habineza unsuccessfully contested against President Paul Kagame in the 2017 presidential elections, managing a paltry 0.48 percent of the vote. He is currently under pressure after dismissing some members he accused of “harboring treacherous plans of destroying the party from within by creating another political party.”

“We had two members in our committee who were conspiring against the party. We investigated the issue and found they were in touch with opposition groups outside Rwanda, including RANP — Abaryankuna (Rwandan Alliance for The National Pact) which has a different cause than us. So, we dismissed both…” Habineza told The EastAfrican. The RANP are said to be exiled in Mozambique.

However, the duo contested his version. Ferdinand Mutabazi and Jean Deogratius Tuyishime who were dismissed by the party claim the disagreement is linked to Habineza’s leadership.

Both were influential leaders of the officially registered party with 400,000 members wanting to contest in their internal election to lead the party in 2023.

Mr Mutabazi represents the party in Southern Province while Mr Tuyishime represents the party in the Northern Province.

In a separate interview, Ferdinand Mutabazi, told The EastAfrican that the dismissal was based on factless accusations and that Habineza was threatened by his “growing influence” in the party.

Mutabazi says he plans to sue the party president for defamation and run against him in the next parliamentary election either as a private candidate or another party’s candidate. He did not deny or admit to planning to form another political party. He denied all the allegations and counter-accused Habineza of being “a paranoid, self-centred leader who leads the party as his own company”.

Observers say the infighting puts the party on the verge of splitting. Frederick Golooba-Mutebi, a researcher, and political analyst says the splitting and intra-conflicts hurt the parties and their influence in Rwanda’s political space.

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Wrangles in Rwanda’s main opposition party could hand a walkover to the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections in 2023. And the dominant party in […]

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WHO experts back second Covid booster for most at risk

The World Health Organization’s vaccine advisers on Thursday recommended that people most at risk from Covid-19 should be offered a second booster dose to increase their immunity. 

The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) said following initial vaccination, typically consisting of two doses, and an already recommended first booster dose, specific groups of people should be offered an additional jab.

“We are doing this on the basis obviously of observations in relation to waning immunity and particularly in the context of Omicron,” WHO senior health advisor Joachim Hornbach told reporters via video link.

The UN health agency has already recommended that all adults receive a booster shot four to six months after an initial round of vaccination, typically consisting of two jabs.

But SAGE chairman Alejandro Cravioto stressed that Thursday’s recommendation for a second booster after another four to six months had passed was only meant for the “populations at the highest risk”.

It “does not constitute a general recommendation of vaccinating all adults after the first booster”, he told the virtual press briefing.

SAGE said second boosters should be offered to the elderly and all immunocompromised people, pregnant women, as well as those with conditions like diabetes, hypertension and cardiac, lung and kidney disease that put them at higher risk.

Health workers of all ages should also get the additional jab, Cravioto said, insisting on the need to “protect our health systems from the devastation of having its personnel sick and not at work”.

Looking forward, the SAGE experts pointed to “significant uncertainties related to the evolution of the virus, the characteristics of future variants, and the trajectory of the epidemic given increasing vaccine- and infection-induced immunity globally”.

“It is likely that additional doses may be needed within 4–12 months after the second booster, especially in persons most vulnerable to severe disease and death,” they said. For now, the booster recommendations are for the available vaccines developed to tackle the initial Covid-19 strain.

WHO has said it will evaluate new jabs being developed by vaccine makers like Moderna and Pfizer that are adapted to target new, fast-spreading Omicron variants.

But SAGE stressed that current vaccines appeared to continue providing high protection “against severe disease in the context of the Omicron variant and its sub-lineages”.

Second boosters for at-risk populations “should not be delayed in anticipation of future variant-containing vaccines”, they said.

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The World Health Organization’s vaccine advisers on Thursday recommended that people most at risk from Covid-19 should be offered a second booster dose to increase their immunity.  The Strategic Advisory […]

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UN’s Congo peacekeeping mission pulls out of major eastern city

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has pulled out of one of the largest cities in the country’s east after deadly protests against its failure to protect civilians, Congolese and U.N. officials said Thursday.

Butembo, a trading hub of almost a million people, has been one of the epicentres of violent demonstrations since last month that have killed dozens, including civilians, peacekeepers and Congolese police.

Read: Death toll from anti-UN protests in DRC rises to 19

The mission’s hundreds of troops and civilian personnel in Butembo have left and discussions are planned over how to evacuate their equipment, General Constant Ndima, the military governor of North Kivu province, told reporters.

Ndeye Khady Lo, the spokesperson for the mission, which is known by its French acronym MONUSCO, said the departure was temporary. “MONUSCO is not leaving Butembo. After consultations with local and national authorities, the mission has proceeded to a temporary redeployment of its personnel outside Butembo,” she told Reuters, without saying when they might return.

Also read: DRC kicks out UN peacekeepers spokesman, to speed up troops withdrawal

The protests, which also hit the cities of Goma and Uvira, have laid bare public frustration with the U.N. peacekeepers, who have been deployed to Congo for more than two decades. MONUSCO has around 12,400 troops and costs more than $1 billion per year.

Congolese demonstrators gesture during a protest against the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO in Goma on July 26, 2022. UN peacekeepers and Congolese forces have been unable to stamp out persistent violence by dozens of rebel groups in the eastern areas. PHOTO | MICHEL LUNANGA | AFP

Even after a peace deal in 2003 drew a line under a five-year regional conflict in which millions died, U.N. peacekeepers and Congolese forces have been unable to stamp out persistent violence by dozens of rebel groups in the eastern areas bordering Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Local residents often accuse the peacekeepers of being too passive. The protests that broke out last month were called for by a faction of the ruling party’s youth wing.

Read: Protesters storm UN base in eastern DR Congo city

In a plan drawn up last year, the United Nations laid out a set of minimum conditions that would be necessary for MONUSCO’s withdrawal, which it aimed to achieve by the end of 2024.

The conditions include a reduction in the militant threat, the re-establishment of state authority in conflict zones and progress toward disarming and demobilizing former rebels.

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The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has pulled out of one of the largest cities in the country’s east after deadly protests against its failure […]

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95 killed in South Sudan communal conflicts

At least 95 people have been killed in communal conflicts in South Sudan in July alone, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has reported.

A humanitarian snapshot released by UNOCHA on Thursday and seen by The EastAfrican adds that more than 17,500 people were also displaced.

“At least 80 people were killed during intercommunal violence in Kapoeta North County, Eastern Equatoria. Fighting between armed factions in Mayom County, Unity State resulted in dozens of people being killed or injured.

“Cattle raids in Gumuruk County, Pibor Administrative Area, displaced some 1,700 people and left 15 dead. Torrential rain and floods affected nearly 2,400 people in the IDP site, Twic County in Warrap,” OCHA stated.

The agency added that some 7.7 million people are estimated to face crisis or higher levels of food insecurity across the country.

“People’s situation in Longochuk County, Upper Nile State, related to food security was reported as worrying; as a result, some 5,000 people moved to Maiwut and Pagak in Maiwut County. Residents fled to the bush or to nearby villages seeking safety.

“In July, armed cattle keepers attacked villages in Yei County, Central Equatoria and looted properties including livestock. Renewed fighting between armed factions in Kundru Boma, Yei County, displaced hundreds of people to neighbouring villages, and others crossed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said OCHA.

The agency went added that in Ikotos County of Eastern Equatoria State, clashes between an armed youth group and government soldiers led to the death and injury of an unconfirmed number of people, including an NGO worker, adding that an unknown number of civilians were reported displaced within Ikotos town.

Last year, the UN Security Council approved a resolution extending an arms embargo and sanctions against South Sudan for one year. South Sudan’s unity government opposed the decision, arguing it would jeopardise the progress of the 2018 revitalised peace agreement [ARCSS] which helped form the unity government last year.

South Sudan has many guns in circulation, most held by civilians.

According to a Gun Policy report, the estimated total number of guns (both legal and illicit) held by civilians in South Sudan was 1.2 million in 2017 and 3 million in 2013. The Defence Forces of South Sudan is reported to have 351,500 firearms.

Juba, which is barred from purchasing weapons from the international market unless with express permission from the UN Security Council, argues that the arms embargo makes it difficult to equip its forces.

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At least 95 people have been killed in communal conflicts in South Sudan in July alone, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has reported. A humanitarian […]

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Weakening shilling pushes up Kenya’s debt by $4.1b

Kenya’s depreciating currency cost the country nearly half a trillion shillings on the external public debt burden alone, eroding the government’s efforts to pay external lenders.

The shilling, which continues to present a challenge to the economy mainly in servicing of external debts and importation of goods by businesses, devalued by 9.3 per cent from 107.85 units by end of June 2021 to 117.83 by June 30 this year.

A new report by the National Treasury shows that while Kenya’s external debt stock – in dollar terms – reduced by five per cent from $37.1 billion to $35.3 billion in the year to June 2022, in Kenyan shilling terms it increased by Ksh156 billion ($1.3 billion), to Ksh4.16 trillion ($34.7 billion).

“The increase in the public debt is attributed to external loan disbursements, exchange rate fluctuation and the uptake of domestic debt during the period,” Treasury stated in the 2021/22 last quarterly budget and economic review report. The increase in the external debt burden was despite the government’s spending to service loans from other countries, multilateral lenders and foreign commercial banks.

External lenders

Between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, Treasury reported that taxpayers paid a total of Ksh305.3 billion ($25.5 billion) to external lenders. This shows the full impact of the depreciated currency on the external debt burden in the last financial year alone totaled Ksh461 billion ($38.5 billion), or at least 12 per cent of the country’s 2021/22 budget.

“By the end of June 2022, the total cumulative debt service payments to external creditors amounted to Ksh305.3 billion ($25.5 billion). This comprised Ksh184.5 billion ($15.4 billion) (60.4 per cent) principal and Ksh120.8 billion ($10.1 billion) (39.6 per cent) interest,” Treasury stated.

The government spent the highest amount Ksh152 billion ($12.7 billion) on repayments to commercial lenders, bilateral lenders Ksh102 billion ($8.5 billion) and multilateral lenders Ksh51 billion ($ 4.3 billion). Yet the multilateral lenders’ debt stock still rose by Ksh265 billion ($22.1 billion), commercial lender’s debt stock was only reduced by Ksh74 billion ($6.2 billion) and bilateral lenders’ by Ksh30 billion ($2.5 billion).

Had the shilling remained at 107.85 units in the mean exchange rate as was the case by end of June 2021, the external debt stock by end of June 2022 would have been Ksh3.8 trillion ($ 2.5 trillion).

External public debt

“In dollar terms, external public debt stock declined by US$1.8 billion from US$37.08 billion by end of June 2021 to US$35.26 billion by the end of June 2022. This comprised debt owed to multilateral (46.3 per cent), bilateral (26.6 per cent), commercial banks (26.8 per cent), and Suppliers Credit (0.3 per cent),” Treasury stated.

The amount by which the debt reduced is equivalent to Ksh214.6 billion ($17.9 billion), by June 30, 2022 exchange rate terms.

The punishing cost of the depreciating currency, which has remained on an accelerated devaluation trend for months now, is not only being felt by taxpayers while servicing the external debts but also by businesses while importing goods since they have to purchase dollars first.

In recent months, companies have complained of an acute shortage and high cost of dollars in the market, with some being forced to scale down operations.

The ultimate victim is the final consumer, as businesses pass on the cost when setting prices. This has led to higher prices of commodities and increased overall cost of living in the country.

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Kenya’s depreciating currency cost the country nearly half a trillion shillings on the external public debt burden alone, eroding the government’s efforts to pay external lenders. The shilling, which continues […]

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Kenya polls: Former Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete to head EAC observer mission

Retired Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete will head the East African Community (EAC) election observation mission to Kenya.

The mission of 52 observers drawn from key governance and independent institutions and civil society organisations across the seven-member EAC bloc except Kenya is expected to be in the country from August 1st to 12th. Kenyans will vote in the general elections on August 9.

Speaking during the launch held on Monday at a Nairobi hotel, Mr Kikwete said the mission would assess the level of preparedness of key electoral stakeholders in Kenya.

“We are here to assess the level of preparedness of the key electoral stakeholders for this election. We are also looking at the level of compliance of the electoral processes and management and how they meet international, regional and national standards including established laws, principles and practices,” said Mr Kikwete.

“Our mission will interact with a number of key stakeholders in pursuit of peaceful elections. Among these will be IEBC, political parties, candidates, the judiciary, security organs, media and civil society.”

Read: Kenya’s change of guard: Why neighbours watch every step

The mission will build on the outcomes of the Joint African Union/EAC/IGAD/COMESA pre-election assessment conducted over the last one month.

The EAC will then announce the findings of the mission through an interim statement on August 11.

“We are committed to offer objective recommendations for continuous improvement for the conduct of this general election,” said Mr Kikwete.

The EAC Secretary-General, Dr Peter Mathuki, in remarks read on his behalf by the EAC Principal Political Affairs Officer, David Onen said that the bloc’s mandate to observe elections in the partner states is governed by the Treaty and the EAC Principles for the Observation and Evaluation of Elections.

“As a region, we have a conviction that regional observation is critical to enhancing the credibility of the elections, reinforcing the work of domestic observer groups and enhancing public confidence in the entire electoral process,” he said.

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Retired Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete will head the East African Community (EAC) election observation mission to Kenya. The mission of 52 observers drawn from key governance and independent institutions and […]

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Change of guard in Kenya: 5 reasons neighbors watch every step

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta – whose final term in office ends after the 9 August polls – has been a key figure in east Africa. Over the last nine years, he has tried to create markets and address issues like peace, malaria and climate change. Within the East African Community, he signalled the end of an era on 21 July when he handed over the bloc’s leadership to his Burundian counterpart, Evariste Ndayishimiye.

International relations scholar Nicodemus Minde explores five reasons neighboring states follow the change of guard in Nairobi very keenly.

1. Participatory politics and term limits

Kenya’s democratic trajectory has always been viewed by east African neighbours as the bellwether for being fairly participatory. The annulment of President Kenyatta’s electoral victory on 1 September 2017 also offered crucial lessons to neighbours.

As court reversed Kenyatta’s win, John Magufuli (Tanzania’s president at the time) had banned all political party activities, ushering in an era of brutal dictatorship. In Rwanda, President Paul Kagame had just been declared winner with 98.8% of the votes.

In neighbouring Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza had controversially extended his stay in power through a “third term”. Over in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni was just clocking 31 years in office and showing no signs of letting go. The other East African Community member state, South Sudan, was still embroiled in a civil war.

Only Tanzania has enjoyed periodic transitions, albeit through the one-party dominant system.

Kenya has experienced many democratic transitions since the reintroduction of multiparty politics in 1992. Despite its ethnic cleavages, Kenyan elections have been competitive. In 2002, there was a transition from the independence party, the Kenya African National Union, to the opposition National Alliance Rainbow Coalition.

Since the 1990s, Kenya has been the only country in east Africa to transfer power smoothly from a ruling party to the opposition.

2. Political and economic network

Kenya has always projected itself as a regional economic hub and an international political player. It has the largest economy in east Africa, almost double that of Tanzania and nearly three times that of Uganda.

Tanzania, which previously had lukewarm relations with Kenya, has benefited immensely from rapprochement between Presidents Samia Hassan and Kenyatta. Recent reports indicate that bilateral trade hit US$905.5 million in the first 11 months of 2021 as their trade relations improved.

Over the years, Kenya has been Uganda’s biggest trading partner. Uganda accounted for 29.3% of Kenya’s exports to Africa in 2020. Kenya’s exports to the East African Community increased from Ksh140.4 billion ($1.28 billion) in 2019 to Ksh158.3 billion (US$1.44 billion) in 2020.

Kenya has also maintained close economic ties with Rwanda and South Sudan.

3. Transit trade

The landlocked countries in the region rely heavily on Kenya’s seaport and transport corridor. The maritime port of Mombasa serves parts of Tanzania, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda. These countries often follow very keenly how elections unfold in Kenya.

Kenya’s bungled 2007/8 political transition came as a surprise to many regional traders whose transit goods were destroyed along the transport corridor. The Northern Corridor and the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport Corridor that run through Kenya are designed as key commercial arteries for landlocked countries in the region.

4. Regional integration

In February this year, presidential candidate William Ruto made a diplomatic gaffe when he said the DRC did not have a single cow. He was speaking about Kenya’s dairy and beef investments.

The storm that erupted showed how quickly regional relations could sour. The remark epitomised the low priority assigned to the east Africa policy agenda among Kenyan presidential candidates – Raila Odinga included.

The DRC became the seventh member of the East African Community in April this year. President Kenyatta has steered the regional agenda, including the admission of the DRC. In June he hosted the east African leaders to discuss the tensions between Rwanda and the DRC. He has also taken political leadership in stabilising Somalia and South Sudan.

Read: Exit Uhuru, EA’s big hugger and master of soft power

The neighboring states may wish to have as Kenya’s next president a person who continues to seek solutions to the conflicts of the region.

5. An ally as Kenya’s president

Who do the east African leaders want to be Kenya’s next president? Today’s personal friendships can be used to advance or safeguard bilateral interests tomorrow. In July 2021, Museveni hosted Ruto as the chief guest when laying the foundation of a new vaccine facility. Museveni’s action was interpreted as an endorsement for Ruto.

Museveni has had a tepid relationship with Odinga since 2007 when Odinga’s supporters uprooted the railway line during the post-election violence, disrupting exports to Uganda. In an apparent attempt to heal old wounds and appear even-handed, Museveni hosted Odinga in May this year. The two later said they discussed ways of strengthening relations between Kenya and Uganda.

Odinga had flown to Uganda from South Sudan, where, as the African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development, he had gone to commission a 3.6km bridge that will connect Juba to the rest of the east Africa region. He was received there by President Salva Kiir. At the event, Odinga talked of his presidential bid, pledging to reopen the troubled border with South Sudan and prioritise construction of a Mombasa-Juba highway, if he won the 9 August elections. President Kenyatta had in May 2018 appointed Odinga as his special envoy to South Sudan in the effort to reconcile Kiir and his vice-president, Riek Machar.

Key Odinga ally

In Tanzania, the late Magufuli was a key ally of Odinga’s, thanks to a friendship forged when both were works ministers in their countries. Magufuli’s support for Odinga against Kenyatta in the 2013 and 2017 polls led to a perfunctory relationship with Kenyatta and tense relations between the two countries.

His successor Hassan was quick to restore friendly terms. But Tanzania, just like Rwanda and Burundi, has not shown any signs of leaning towards one candidate. Many Tanzanians have, however, been excited by rank outsider George Wajackoyah’s eccentric promises.

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Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta – whose final term in office ends after the 9 August polls – has been a key figure in east Africa. Over the last nine years, […]

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Private sector to blame for blocking trade, East African integration

The private sector has come in for blame for the enduring non-tariff barriers (NTBs) that have perennially choked trade in spite of policies to eliminate them.

At a retreat on the EAC Common Market held on July 20 in Arusha, it was revealed that NTBs have significantly contributed to the declining intra-EAC trade, which is below 20 percent.

What is more, local laws and regulations of partner states continue to present barriers to increased cross-border trade and investment. And these laws are often the result of lobbying by local business groups in a bid to protect themselves from the competition beyond borders.

Since the Common Market Protocol was passed 10 years ago, the EAC Partner States have managed to resolve 230 NTBs as at the end of February, only for new ones to emerge.

Read: EAC Common Market scorecard falls short

“I have heard that business rivalry among individual companies that trade within the EAC borders canvass and connive to increase or reduce tariffs on their goods in order to deny others a chance to sell their goods,” said Betty Maina, chairperson to the EAC Council of Ministers and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Trade, Industrialisation and Enterprise Development.

She is also acting Cabinet Secretary for EAC and Regional Development.

“Some of the trade issues that the private sector raise in the form of NTBs could be sorted out at the individual government level and should not find its way to the EAC level,” she told the retreat.

Read: Tax disputes, trade wars headache for new EABC board

Diversification call

Businesses are also blamed for churning out similar products such as maize, eggs, and sugar but then impose internal taxes to prohibit the same products from being imported.

Speaking at the retreat, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni observed that EAC partner states were competing to sell the same product instead of diversifying to give due advantage to the best or largest producer.

“Policy can make things fail. For instance, a country like Uganda easily produce enough food such as maize, milk and sugar, but we don’t produce a lot of rice like Tanzania does,” President Museveni explained.

He said it was better for Uganda to import more rice from Tanzania as it was better placed to produce more and efficiently than Uganda, instead of levying taxes on rice ostensibly to protect Ugandan rice growers.

Away from food, the implementation of the high charges and taxes in the region is contributing to high telecommunications and broadband internet costs.

Read: Lack of product diversity leaves East Africa exposed

These, together with high licensing and numbering fees, unharmonized inter-operator tariff rates and the non-adoption of the One Network Area (ONA) model across the EAC Partner States has contributed to the high costs of doing business.

“For instance, the cost of making a telephone call between Kigali (Rwanda) and Arusha (Tanzania) is similar to the cost of flying between the two cities,” said Prof Manasseh Nshuti, Rwanda’s Minister for EAC Affairs.

If the one network area is implemented, it would result in eliminating charges for receiving voice calls while roaming in Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.

Sovereignty vs freedom

“It is high time partner states implemented decisions they themselves agreed upon. This could save us a lot of time we spend in discussing what is not working under the CMP,” said Prof Nshuti. “Why can’t we all be under the ONA by the end of 2022?”

Government policy on agriculture (food), manufacturing, telecommunication, communication, the bureaucracy by civil servants manning the immigration and Customs, and partner states’ failure to cede sovereignty over the free movement of goods and services has contributed to the slow implementation of the common market.

In goods, the partner states have deviated from their commitments through application of tariff equivalent measures, resulting in an increase in non-tariff barriers while in services, they remain non-compliant in implementing their commitments, with the total number of non-conforming measures (NCMs) rising.

It is no better in capital as partner states maintain restrictions against freedom of movement of capital.

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The private sector has come in for blame for the enduring non-tariff barriers (NTBs) that have perennially choked trade in spite of policies to eliminate them. At a retreat on […]

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Exit Uhuru Kenyatta, East Africa’s big hugger, glad-hander and master of soft power

In the past 10 years the Kenyan president has perpetuated an unblinking business-led foreign policy in the region, playing the main character in the play. As he exits the stage, he might well say, with his bow to the audience: “East Africa is our plate. You don’t pee where you eat,” writes Charles Onyango-Obbo.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s political rodeo will end a few weeks after the August 9 General Election. With that, the East African Community (EAC) will see the departure of its most extroverted president. There was more, though, to Uhuru’s gregariousness than a happy lad.

The late Tanzanian president, John Magufuli, was a combative, prickly, volatile and quarrelsome leader who got things done. His government had trade disputes with nearly all his neighbours and, in an unforgettable “up yours” moment, set day-old chicks from Uganda and Kenya on fire. By July 2019, the trade fight with Kenya had reached a fever pitch.

Uhuru jumped on his plane and headed for Dar es Salaam to massage Magufuli’s feelings. He went one better, visiting Magufuli’s ailing mother and the grave of father.

He melted combative Magufuli’s heart. A weepy Magufuli spoke of how he was touched by Uhuru’s kind-heartedness and gifted him four peacocks, a gesture, which he said, had great significance in Tanzania’s history.

Read: Kenyatta arrives in Tanzania for two-day private visit

For effect, Magufuli said that he had never gifted any other Head of State the birds, nor was he planning to do so again. He died in March 2021 before he could go back on his word.

It was signature Uhuru to hug his peers and give them backslaps like none of them.

His most hearty hugs and backslaps were handed out to Rwanda President Paul Kagame, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and, curiously, newcomer Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi.

President Uhuru Kenyatta receives Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi at State House Nairobi on June 20, 2022. PHOTO | PSCU

He was less handsy with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, an avuncular philosophising germaphobe who is averse to public cuddling but accorded him the reverence of an elder. He handled South Sudan’s fragile President Salva Kiir like a delicate pot.

When newish Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye broke the Pierre Nkurunziza-era isolation and visited Kenya in May 2021, the first time in nearly a decade that a Burundian leader had dropped in the country, Uhuru buttered and treated him like a long-lost brother. Ndayishimiye grinned happily throughout the visit.

Uhuru Kenyatta receiving President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi at State House, Nairobi, in June 2022. PHOTO | PSCU

He liked to give PM Abiy massive bear hugs, and they would walk hand-in-hand, chuckling away. When new Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan visited Kenya in May 2021, Uhuru brought out the best family silver and laid on elite-level pampering for her. With a rare pro-Suluhu chorus in the Kenyan media during her visit, the Tanzanian president was visibly pleased.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (left) and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta embrace during the Kenyan leader’s visit to Addis Ababa on November 14, 2021. PHOTO | POOL

If it hadn’t been for the lingering social distancing of Covid-19, the awkwardness men feel around powerful women, and the austere signals sent by Suluhu’s hijab, Uhuru would probably have kissed her hand.

Also read: A region on the fly: Queen Samia and the five East African kings

As president, Uhuru was East Africa’s champion hugger and backslapper. If it were only about pressing the flesh, it would have gone down in history as little more than feel-good. But it wasn’t.

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Uhuru Kenyatta receiving President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia during his official visit at State House, Nairobi on July 15, 2022. PHOTO | PSCU

It was partly a posture that allowed him to leverage soft power and steward the ever-expanding business interests of corporate Kenya in the region. And, too often panned at home, he seemed to find refuge in East Africa.

The result of the latter was that there were more peace meetings held in Nairobi during Uhuru’s presidency than in any other EAC capital.

When South Sudan descended into a deadly war again in 2013, the warring parties gathered in Nairobi under Uhuru’s watch to talk peace.

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Uhuru Kenyatta receiving South Sudan President Salva Kiir at State House, Nairobi, in June 2022. PHOTO | PSCU

When the horrors of the Tigray war against the Ethiopian government eventually forced the adversaries to yield to negotiation, the Tigrayan rebels suggested that Uhuru host peace talks with Addis Ababa.

As the security situation in eastern DR Congo deteriorated sharply this year, Uhuru hosted the rebels and the Kinshasa government to seek a settlement.

A good part of all this is about oiling the wheels for Kenyan business. The chest bumps with Tshisekedi were not just boys’ play. It had money written all over it. During his presidency, Uhuru unlocked doors for companies like Equity Bank to enter DR Congo, make acquisitions and become the country’s second-largest bank in a blink. Profits for Kenyan banks in the East African region have soared.

Read: Equity to fund Kenyan businesses in DRC cities

His glad-handing of Abiy might well have helped telco giant Safaricom, East Africa’s most profitable company, to gain a foothold in the lucrative but closed 120-million-people Ethiopian market. Unsurprisingly, in June last year, Uhuru flew to Addis Ababa on an official visit that included witnessing the formal award of a telecom operating licence to a consortium led by Safaricom.

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Uhuru Kenyatta after talks with his host Rwanda President Paul Kagame in Kigali in 2019. PHOTO | PSCU

His East African canoodling also represented perhaps the strongest stream of continuity with the policies of his predecessor Mwai Kibaki. Kibaki pushed a neutralist “don’t-rock-the-boat” policy with the rest of East Africa.

Thus, like Kibaki, Uhuru prevaricated and buried the dispute with Uganda over the pint-sized Migingo island in Lake Victoria in diplomatic niceties and promises of task forces to look into it. He was not going to die on that island.

Read: Kibaki was East Africa’s ‘good thief in the night’

This unblinking business-led foreign policy is uniquely Kenyan in the region. For the past nearly 10 years, Uhuru has been the main character in the play.

As he exits the stage, he might well say with his bow to the audience: “East Africa is our plate. You don’t pee where you eat.”

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In the past 10 years the Kenyan president has perpetuated an unblinking business-led foreign policy in the region, playing the main character in the play. As he exits the stage, […]

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Elections: Why Kenya is worried about youth turnout

As a familiar campaign jingle brings the Kenyan crowd to their feet, Hellen Atieno joins her compatriots and sways to the catchy tune at a political rally in the lakeside city of Kisumu.

Just don’t expect the 23-year-old to vote.

“I have only come to the rally because there is money. I hope there will be something,” Atieno told AFP, referring to the widespread Kenyan practice of offering freebies to prospective voters. 

Currently, without a job, the former fishmonger says she is so fed up with the country’s insular political class that she plans to stay home when Kenya votes on August 9 in parliamentary and presidential polls.

She is not alone.

The East African economic powerhouse ranks among the world’s youngest countries — three-quarters of Kenyans are aged under 34, according to government figures.

Many have no interest in participating in an electoral process they widely dismiss as corrupt and pointless.

The number of registered young voters has dropped five percent since the 2017 poll, in contrast to over-35s, whose tally has increased, Kenya’s election commission announced last month.

Over 22 million Kenyans are eligible to take part in this year’s polls, with young people accounting for less than 40 percent of that number, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said.

‘A dirty game’

Politicians have responded with a freebie bonanza, offering cash, umbrellas, shirts, caps and even packets of maize flour — a dietary staple — to anyone who attends their rallies.

The bribes — an electoral offence that can attract a fine of up to two million Kenyan shillings ($17,000) and/or a six-year jail term — are not new to Kenyan politics.

But galloping food inflation — made worse by the war in Ukraine — and an unemployment crisis have intensified the appetite for such handouts.

According to census figures published in 2020, about five million young Kenyans were out of work.

Brian Denzel has spent recent weeks hitting one rally after another, eager to pocket the cash on offer, even though the 19-year-old butcher has no plans to vote and sees politics as little more than “a dirty game”.

“Who will reject the free money that they are given?” he said, while waiting in line to collect 200 shillings ($1.70) from a local politician.

Kenya’s Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i even told reporters on Wednesday that the banks were running short of 100 and 200 shilling notes “because politicians are bribing villagers”.

In the months leading up to the polls, observers suggested that the youth factor could help heal Kenya’s often toxic tribal politics, with a younger electorate less likely to vote according to ethnic affiliations.

Yet, although young Kenyans are less tribally-minded, they also lack “ideological steadfastness”, Kisumu-based political analyst Francis Owuor told AFP.

“That conviction that normally comes with the political process is not there,” Owuor said.

“Everyone (is) to blame for this, both the people and the leaders, but again the leaders are the duty bearers, so they must take much of the blame.” 

Also read: What you need to know about the 2022 Kenya elections

Disillusioned

Thirty years after the emergence of multi-party democracy in Kenya, many are disillusioned by constant battles over the credibility of polls and disputed election results.

This year’s presidential vote is largely a two-horse race between Deputy President William Ruto, 55, and Raila Odinga, the 77-year-old veteran opposition leader who is now backed by the ruling party.

If both leaders accept the results, it will be a first for the country since 2002.

Amina Soud, manager for voter education at the IEBC, told AFP the election watchdog was “worried” by the increasing indifference shown by young people towards the political process.

“We did a lot of mobilization during registration using all these tools and still voter apathy was too high,” Soud said, referring to the IEBC’s social media push to enlist new voters.

But exhorting youth to vote via campaigns on TikTok or comics in Sheng — a local slang popular with urban youth — does little to offer hope to a generation of Kenyans facing runaway inflation, corruption and unemployment.

“I don’t think I am going to vote,” 27-year-old salon owner Irene Awino Owino told AFP.

“I have no interest, because the government puts themselves first rather than us.”

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As a familiar campaign jingle brings the Kenyan crowd to their feet, Hellen Atieno joins her compatriots and sways to the catchy tune at a political rally in the lakeside […]

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Museveni lauds Africa-Russia ties as US fires back on Lavrov’s visit

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country is ready to sell oil and wheat to African countries even as the US Mission in Uganda opened a Twitter storm against Moscow.

Mr. Lavrov on Monday met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Entebbe, where they discussed the issue of rising fuel and food costs in Africa following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

In a joint press conference at State House Entebbe, Mr Lavrov, on the second leg of his trip to four African countries, said the two discussed “the current energy situation and the food crisis”.

“We sell oil to all the interested countries, and if there is a state that is interested or willing to buy our oil, whether it’s India or an African state, then there are no obstacles to this,” said Russia’s top diplomat.

“Not only do we sell oil, but we provide assistance in terms of developing its own infrastructure like refineries and oil products. So we are committed to having a discussion with our Ugandan friends on this topic,” he added.

Mr. Lavrov, who started his four-nation Africa tour in Egypt, then the Congo Republic before heading on Monday to Uganda, from where he will proceed to Ethiopia, observed that Africa has been hard hit by the economic dimension of the sanctions imposed against Russia.

US reaction

But upon arrival in Kampala, Russia’s top diplomat immediately triggered a reaction from the US Embassy in Uganda, which took to Twitter on July 25 to comment about the current food crisis in the country.

“Great to see the $21 million USAid food aid for refugees and vulnerable groups in [Uganda] reaching people through WFP’s Karamoja response.

“We applaud WFP’s work to address the dire food security situation exacerbated by price [increase] due to Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine,” the Embassy tweeted.

Both Ukraine and Russia are major producers and exporters of wheat, whose supply on the global market was affected after the war started in February this year, which triggered sanctions against Moscow that prevented it from selling its oil.

While the sanctions do not affect food supplies directly, they have prevented Russian banks from using an international payment settlement system that would otherwise make it quick for importers to pay for supplies. Ukraine can also not export its wheat as its key ports are mined to prevent the entry of ships.

Last week, the two countries, on the mediation of Turkey, agreed to reopen the ports, but it may take several weeks before mines are removed and trust is re-established. In fact, there were reports of continued shelling even after Ankara brokered the deal.

Read: Russia, Ukraine seal grain deal in Istanbul

Africa’s stance

In Uganda, President Museveni did not give details but hinted that the two leaders discussed how to avert the food crisis in Africa while millions of tonnes of wheat cannot be shipped from Russia.

“In the sanctions by the West against Russia, they don’t mention that they have sanctioned wheat or fertilisers – it’s not part of the list. But the West has stopped Russian ships from calling on a number of ports. So, how will the fertilisers go?” President Museveni posed.

The Ugandan leader also said sanctions against Russian banks were top on the agenda of the discussions as it is also fuelling the food crisis because the global financial institutions are not allowed to do business with Russia, which affects payment for wheat imports.

President Museveni explained Africa’s position on the Ukraine-Russia war, which saw Uganda and other countries from the continent abstain and take a neutral stand on the sanctions during the UN General Assembly in March.

Read: Why Africa is divided on Putin’s war

Also read: Russia reacts to Kenya’s stand on Ukraine war

Mr Museveni said that people with “limited understanding” want African countries to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine but argued that the Eastern Europe nation had “stood with Africa for the last 100 years” as part of the continent’s anti-colonial movements and can only be condemned when “it makes mistakes”.

“We highly appreciate the right balance and responsible position that has taken Uganda together with other African states in light of the current events in Ukraine,” Mr. Lavrov said.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country is ready to sell oil and wheat to African countries even as the US Mission in Uganda opened a Twitter storm against […]

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Burundi secretly sent troops to DR Congo – rights group

Burundi has secretly sent hundreds of troops and members of a youth militia into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo since the end of 2021 to fight an armed rebel group, a Burundian human rights group said Wednesday.

The main target of the operation is the RED-Tabara, the Burundi Human Rights Initiative said, referring to the most active of the rebel groups which is deemed a terrorist organization by the Burundian government.

Burundi has always denied carrying out any secret operations, insisting it has acted only within the framework of joint operations by the East African Community (EAC), African Union or United Nations.

Burundi is part of a regional force agreed by the EAC in June to fight the myriad rebel groups involved in an upsurge of violence in the eastern DRC that has ensnared neighbouring countries.

Read: Why EAC force is yet to deploy to DR Congo

“Several hundred Burundian soldiers and Imbonerakure — more than 1,000 — are believed to have gone to the DRC in successive waves since late 2021,” the BHRI said in a report.

The Imbonerakure are members of the youth league of the ruling CNDD-FDD party of President Evariste Ndayishimiye.

“For more than 10 years, Burundian soldiers and Imbonerakure have periodically sought to hunt down Burundian armed opposition groups in the DRC,” the BHRI said.

“But the current operation is different in scale and duration,” it said, adding that about 700 were estimated to be on DRC soil in the early phase of the deployment in December.

The rights group, which is based abroad, said it collected testimonies from soldiers, relatives and members of the ruling and opposition parties.

It said it was not able to confirm the exact numbers of troops or incursions, although it reported that the UN Group of Experts collected information on 17 incursions in the Uvira region between September last year and this March.

“Some soldiers are ordered to swap their military uniforms for civilian clothes and leave behind possessions that could identify them,” said the BHRI.

The report said those returning have been warned not to talk about their mission, and little or no explanation is given to the families of those who die on the battlefield.

It said some Imbonerakure have become angry about their treatment during the military operation, with some saying they felt they had been deceived or abandoned.

In May, Ndayishimiye said he was ready “to dialogue” with Burundian rebels in DRC, in particular RED-Tabara and the National Forces of Liberation (FNL).

Founded in 2011, RED-Tabara has been accused of a string of attacks in Burundi since 2015. 

In September it claimed responsibility for an attack on the international airport in Bujumbura, the country’s economic capital.

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Burundi has secretly sent hundreds of troops and members of a youth militia into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo since the end of 2021 to fight an armed rebel group, […]

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Protesters storm UN base in eastern DR Congo city

Protesters stormed a United Nations base in the eastern Congolese city of Goma on Monday, an AFP journalist said, demanding the departure of peacekeepers from the region.

Hundreds of people blocked roads and chanted anti-UN slogans before storming the headquarters of the UN peacekeeping mission in Goma, as well as a logistical base on the outskirts of the city.

The protesters smashed windows and looted computers, furniture and other valuables from the headquarters, an AFP journalist witnessed, while UN police officers fired tear gas in a bid to push them back.

At the logistics base, a student was shot in the leg, the AFP journalist added.

The UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, known as Monusco, has come under regular local criticism for its perceived inability to stop fighting in the conflict-torn east.

Over 120 armed groups roam the volatile region, where conflict has displaced millions of people and civilian massacres are common.

Ahead of Monday’s protest, the Goma youth branch of the ruling UDPS party released a statement demanding Monusco “withdraw from Congolese soil without conditions because it has already proved its incapacity to provide us with protection”. 

Khassim Diagne, the deputy special representative of the UN secretary-general to Monusco, told AFP that the UN is not opposed to protests but that violence is unacceptable. 

“These are looters,” he said. “We condemn them in the strongest terms”.

The latest protest comes after the president of the Congolese senate, Modeste Bahati, told supporters in Goma on July 15 that Monusco should “pack its bags”.

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Protesters stormed a United Nations base in the eastern Congolese city of Goma on Monday, an AFP journalist said, demanding the departure of peacekeepers from the region. Hundreds of people […]

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