Ruto pledges wealth tax on tycoons to fix Kenya’s budget

Kenyan President William Ruto has revived a proposal to impose higher taxes on Kenya’s super-rich and high-income earners, endorsing the introduction of a wealth tax that failed to sail through Parliament over the past four years.

The idea is the latest in a long list of efforts to raise taxes on the super-rich as the new administration seeks to cut reliance on loans to fund the national budget amid the burgeoning public debt.

The President told Parliament in his inaugural speech on the floor of the House on Thursday that his administration will seek to raise taxes from the wealth accumulated by the richest Kenyans over getting revenues from workers and traders.

This sort of tax would be based on a person’s net worth after deducting their liabilities and would only apply to the richest citizens.

Different from many other kinds of taxes such as income tax, people with sufficient networth would owe wealth taxes even if they failed to take any action, like earning income or selling assets.

It would apply to all property such as real estate, cash, investments, business ownership and other assets, less any debts, and investors would owe the tax each year based on the market value of the assets.

“The economic principles of equitable taxation require that the tax burden reflects ability to pay. This is best achieved by a hierarchy that taxes wealth, consumption, income and trade in that order of preference. Our tax regime currently falls far short of this,” Dr Ruto said.

“We are over-taxing trade and under-taxing wealth. We will be proposing tax measures that begin to move us in the right direction,” he said.

This means the government will impose higher taxes on the rich, followed by excise taxes on consumption of items like beer, cigarettes and betting before targeting workers’ income tax and lastly traders for corporate and sales taxes.

Dr Ruto took oath of office this month after a hard-fought electoral contest, in which he promised he would create economic opportunities for the poor.

But he faces a narrow fiscal space to implement his policies, after the government of predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta ramped up public borrowing to fund infrastructure projects, with debt repayments taking more than 60 percent of taxes.

Dr Ruto’s administration seeks to channel government resources to industries that can create the most jobs, such as farming and small businesses, which will be offered concessional lending through the so-called Hustler Fund.

He plans to introduce the wealth tax first, which was first mooted in 2018, to finance his pro-poor plans, and looks set to face opposition among the class it proposes to target.

Last year, the Treasury said they were looking at fiscal changes that would go into the Finance Bill, including discussions over the wealth tax among many other fiscal reforms to boost revenues.

The Treasury then increased capital gains tax from five percent to 15 percent in the Finance Act 2022 that will take effect from January next year.

Proponents view the wealth tax as a way to boost the government’s public coffers by taking extra money from those who do not really need it.

They argue that such a tax generally only applies to the wealthiest, and it can be argued that the extra taxation will have zero impact on their quality of life.

Critics reckon that a wealth tax is difficult to administer, tends to encourage tax evasion, and has the potential to drive the wealthy away from countries that enforce it.

These caveats, coupled with debates about how to implement it fairly, perhaps explain why only a few countries in the world impose such a tax on their residents, analysts say.

Of 38 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, only three European countries levy a net wealth tax, including Norway, Spain, and Switzerland.

France and Italy levy wealth taxes on selected assets but not on an individual’s net wealth.

OECD countries that have collected revenue from net wealth taxes grew only slightly from eight in 1965 to a peak of 12 in 1996 to just five in 2020.

“In the past and to some extent even now people try to hide their assets through trusts,” said Nikhil Hira, a tax expert and partner at Kody Africa LLP, a financial consultancy.

Kenya could introduce a wealth tax for the high net worth individuals, who will pay a small share of their net worth.

It could take the form of a higher tax rate for high-income earners.

In 2018, the Treasury sponsored a Draft Income Tax Bill that sought to impose a higher maximum tax rate of 35 percent on income of more than Sh9 million per annum or Sh750,000 a month.

At the time, the top tax rate was 30 percent on all income exceeding Sh564,709 per annum or Sh47,059 a month.

The Treasury said it dropped the bid for the higher tax rate after collecting the views of the public.

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Kenyan President William Ruto has revived a proposal to impose higher taxes on Kenya’s super-rich and high-income earners, endorsing the introduction of a wealth tax that failed to sail through […]

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Health officials probe suspected Ebola case in western Kenya

Health officials in Kakamega County, western Kenya, are investigating a suspected case of Ebola.

The patient had recently travelled to eastern Uganda to visit relatives, officials said.

Read: Uganda Ebola outbreak: Here’s what you need to know

Mumias West Disease Surveillance Coordinator Boaz Gichana said in a statement released on Friday that the patient is currently at St Mary Hospital isolation unit awaiting laboratory tests.

Last week, Kenya issued an Ebola alert and called for screening of travellers at entry points on the border with Uganda following an outbreak in the neighbouring country.

South Sudan and Tanzania also heightened surveillance, especially at their borders with Uganda, while Rwanda has began screening travellers at the borders to prevent cross-border spread of Ebola.

Last month, Kenya put health officials on the border on high alert after the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was investigating a suspected case of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. DRC then announced an Ebola outbreak, and has this week announced an end to its 15th outbreak after no more new cases of the disease were reported for 42 days.

Read: Ebola survivors to forego sex for 90 days

Uganda is currently battling a rise in infections and deaths caused by the Sudan strain, which currently has no vaccine. Health officials have urged residents to adhere to measures to prevent infection and spread of the virus.

Previous outbreaks and responses have shown that early diagnosis and treatment, optimised supportive care with fluid and electrolyte repletion, and treatment of symptoms, significantly improve survival rates of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.

Read: Uganda rules out Ebola lockdown

Also Read: Uganda closes clubs, limits gatherings to curb Ebola spread

The disease is usually introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope or porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

It is transmitted from person to person through contact with body fluids.

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Health officials in Kakamega County, western Kenya, are investigating a suspected case of Ebola. The patient had recently travelled to eastern Uganda to visit relatives, officials said. Read: Uganda Ebola outbreak: Here’s what […]

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Tanzanian Maasais lose case on relocation from game reserve

A regional court on Friday ruled that Tanzania’s decision to cordon off land for wildlife protection was legal, dealing a blow to Maasai pastoralists who had protested the move, two lawyers for the community said.

The nomadic community in Loliondo in the northern district of Ngorongoro has accused the government of trying to force them off their ancestral land in order to organise safaris and hunting expeditions.

Read: Tanzania removes Maasais out of Ngorongoro

But the government has rejected the accusations, claiming it wants to “protect” 1,500 square kilometres (580 square miles) of the area from human activity.

After several postponements, the Arusha-based East African Court of Justice upheld the government’s decision, a lawyer for the Maasai told AFP.

“Unfortunately, the court ruled against us,” Esther Mnaro said.

“They have delivered a very impugned judgement,” another lawyer, Yonas Masiaya, told AFP.

Read: Tanzania ends hunting deal with Dubai royal family

Kenyan Maasai community members protest in solidarity with their counterparts from Ngorongoro conservation in Tanzania facing eviction at Namanga town on June 17, 2022. PHOTO | NMG

The Maasai had asked the court to “stop the evictions, the arrest, detention or persecution” of their members and demanded a billion Tanzanian shillings ($430,000) as damages.

The three-judge bench said no compensation was due, Mnaro said.

They “decided that there… was no loss of property and none of these people were injured during the evictions, but our evidence and our witnesses had said totally different things.”

Mnaro said the community would decide whether to appeal.

There was no immediate reaction to the ruling from the government, which had previously argued that the Arusha court did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Also read: Court criticised for entertaining Serengeti case without evidence

Tensions have soared in recent months with violent clashes breaking out in June in Loliondo between police and Maasai demonstrators.

More than two dozen Maasai protesters were charged with murder over the death of a policeman in the clashes.

Tanzania has historically allowed indigenous communities such as the Maasai to live within some national parks, including the Ngorongoro conservation area, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

But the authorities say their growing population is encroaching on wildlife habitat and began moving the pastoralists out of Ngorongoro in June, calling it a voluntary relocation.

Read: ULIMWENGU: Trouble in Ngorongoro paradise and MPs see no evil

The relocation has sparked concern, with a team of UN-appointed independent rights experts warning in June that “it could jeopardise the Maasai’s physical and cultural survival.”

Since 1959, the number of humans living in Ngorongoro has shot up from 8,000 to more than 100,000.

The livestock population has grown even more quickly, from around 260,000 in 2017 to over one million today.

As climate change leads to prolonged droughts and low crop yields, pressure on the pastoralists has increased, forcing them into conflict with wildlife over access to food and water.

In 2009, thousands of Maasai families were moved out of Loliondo to allow an Emirati safari company, Ortelo Business Corporation, to organise hunting expeditions there.

Read: Dar to crackdown on illegal Kenyan Maasais

The government cancelled that deal in 2017, following allegations of corruption.

The East Africa Court of Justice came into force in 2001 to ensure adherence to the laws establishing the seven-nation East African Community bloc, made up of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

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Ebola survivors to forego sex for 90 days

Ebola survivors have to wait for at least three months before having sex again unless they use condoms as one the preventive ways to curb spread of the disease, the Ministry of Health has advised.

“Before returning home, Ebola patients will have their blood tested in the laboratory to ensure the virus is no longer in their body. However, people who have recovered from the illness should not have sex for at least three months unless they use condoms,” the Ministry of Health’s advisory reads in part.

The executive director of Uganda Virus Research Institute, Prof Pontiano Kaleebu, said although Ebola is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, in some studies, experts have found the virus in sperms after recovery.

Dr Ataro Ayella, a clinical epidemiologist, who has managed previous Ebola outbreaks in Bundibugyo in 2007, Liberia in 2014, and DR Congo in 2019, told Monitor in a separate interview yesterday that Ebola can be transmitted sexually and the virus can stay in the semen for up to three months. This means transmission can occur even if the survivor has no symptoms of the disease.

“Besides having got cured of the disease, a relapse or reinfection could occur… The reinfection depends on the immunity of the person and other co-existing diseases,” Dr Ayella added.

Scientists say studies done in Liberia indicate that a woman was infected with Ebola following sexual intercourse with a male Ebola survivor.

Dr Charles Olaro, the Ministry of Health’s director for curative services, said the Ebola virus hides in testes after recovery.

Asked when the three-month count down starts, Dr Olaro said “from the time they (survivors) get discharged”.

Dr Ayella explained that the virus can hide in other places such as backbone fluid and eyes.

“The nature of the virus gives it ability to survive for long in reserves in the body (brain, spinal fluid, semen, placenta and eyes) even when the patient is declared cured…The virus can be stored alive in the semen for long since it is conducive environment for its survival, unlike other body fluids,” Dr Ayella explained.

Several people who spoke to Monitor urged the government to conduct more sensitisation.

Ms Grace Aine, businesswoman in Kampala, said: “The Ministry needs to sensitise the population. I am sure not very many people know about this despite the number of Ebola outbreaks this country has had. I am sure people will abide if they know the risk involved, after all they are saying protected sex is okay.”

Mr Alex Ariho, a resident of Kampala, said: “This message needs to be taken to people who need it the most, the sex workers. Emphasise the need for protected sex since they are saying with protection, it’s okay.”

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Catholic priest in court over sexual abuse of students in Tanzania

A Catholic priest was arraigned Monday at the Resident Magistrate’s Court in Moshi over allegations of raping and sexually assaulting more than 10 children.

He had been in police custody since September 20.

His arraignment came after he was accused of giving a Standard Six pupil and a Form One student Tsh3,000 ($1.29) and Tsh5,000 ($2.14), respectively, for sexual favours.

The children had been attending First Holy Communion and Confirmation classes.

Regional Commissioner Nurdin Babu said “it is a disgraceful incident”.

Parents had raised the alarm that the priest had abused many students and planned to march in protest to Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa’s office before the priest was arrested.

Sources said that the parents had reported the allegations to the leadership of the Catholic Church in Moshi and to the police.

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A Catholic priest was arraigned Monday at the Resident Magistrate’s Court in Moshi over allegations of raping and sexually assaulting more than 10 children. He had been in police custody […]

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Rwanda genocide ‘financier’ Felicien Kabuga trial to open in The Hague

Alleged Rwandan genocide financier Felicien Kabuga will go on trial in The Hague on Thursday, one of the last key suspects in the 1994 ethnic slaughter that devastated the small central African nation.

Kabuga’s trial will open at 0800 GMT before a UN tribunal, where he has been charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the Genocide against the Tutsi 28 years ago.

Read: Rwanda protests Kabuga trial delay at Hague court

Also read: Genocide survivors welcome decision to begin Kabuga’s trial

Prosecutors and the defence are expected to make their opening statements on Thursday and Friday, with evidence in the case to start the following Wednesday.

Kabuga’s lawyers entered a not guilty plea to the charges at a first appearance in 2020.

Once one of Rwanda’s richest men, prosecutors say the octogenarian allegedly helped set up hate media that urged ethnic Hutus to “kill Tutsi cockroaches” and funded militia groups in 1994.

Now in his mid-80s, Kabuga was arrested in France in May 2020 after evading police in several countries for the last quarter of a century.

He was then transferred to the UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, set up to complete the work of the now defunct Rwanda war crimes tribunal.

Read: Rwandan genocide suspect Kabuga denounces charges as “lies”

Said to be in fragile health, Kabuga in August appeared before the judges in a wheelchair — and it was not known whether he’ll be in court on Thursday as judges are permitting him to attend the hearings via a video link.

Kabuga was originally scheduled to appear in court in Arusha, where the other arm of the IRMCT — also referred at as the MICT — resides, but judges had ruled he would remain in The Hague “until otherwise decided.”

Also read: Kabuga’s trial in Arusha will lift the lid off a dirty East African family secret

In June, the judges denied a defence objection, ruling Kabuga was indeed fit to stand trial.

Swift trial wanted  

The UN says 800,000 people were murdered in Rwanda in 1994 in a 100-day rampage that shocked the world.

Read: Felicien Kabuga: The quiet businessman from Byumba who took over Kigali

An ally of Rwanda’s then-ruling party, Kabuga allegedly helped create the Interahamwe Hutu militia group and the Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), whose broadcasts incited people to murder.

The radio station also identified the hiding places of Tutsis where they were later killed, prosecutors said in the indictment.

More than 50 witnesses are expected to appear for the prosecution, which said they needed about 40 hours to wrap up their case.

Prosecutors said Kabuga controlled and encouraged RTLM’s content and defended the station when the minister of information criticised the broadcasts.

Kabuga is also accused of “distributing machetes” to genocidal groups, and ordering them to kill Tutsis.

Read: Felicien Kabuga pleads not guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity

Later fleeing Rwanda, Kabuga spent years on the run using a succession of false passports.

Investigators say he was helped by a network of former Rwandan allies to evade justice.

Following his arrest in a small apartment near Paris, his lawyers argued that Kabuga, whose age is now given as 87 on the indictment, should face trial in France for health reasons.

But France’s top court ruled he should be moved to UN custody, in line with an arrest warrant issued in 1997.

Kabuga is one of the last top wanted suspects for the Rwandan genocide to face justice.

Others, including the man seen as the architect of the genocide, Augustin Bizimana, and former presidential guard commander Protais Mpiranya have both died.

Victims of the genocide have called for a swift trial for Kabuga saying “if he dies before facing justice, he would have died under the presumption of innocence.”

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Alleged Rwandan genocide financier Felicien Kabuga will go on trial in The Hague on Thursday, one of the last key suspects in the 1994 ethnic slaughter that devastated the small central African […]

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Ebola infections, deaths rise in Uganda

The death toll from Ebola in Uganda has risen to four, while the number of confirmed Ebola cases rose to 16, data from the Ministry of Health indicates.

Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona said that apart from the four confirmed deaths, 17 other fatalities are probable cases of Ebola infection. He added that the number of confirmed Ebola cases in Uganda rose to 16 at the weekend, with 18 others listed as probable cases of infection.

Read: Uganda closes clubs, limits gatherings to curb Ebola spread

“Cases reported outside Mubende include three in Kyegegwa and one in Kassanda but all linked to the index case in Mubende,” ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona said, adding that there were “no confirmed cases in [the capital] Kampala”.

Health authorities said samples from suspected cases are being analysed at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

The ministry appealed to residents to adhere to preventive measures and report any suspected cases to nearby health facilities or authorities.

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

At the weekend, officials expressed concern over the gaps in contact tracing.

While delivering his message at the national taskforce meeting at Mubende District headquarters on Saturday, Lt Col Henry Kyobe, the Ebola incident commander, said they are tracing 213 contacts.

“As we speak today (Saturday) we have 213 cumulative contacts. Contact tracing is still a challenge madam. The biggest proportion, numbering 118 (55 percent), are health workers, meaning that community contacts have not all been listed which creates a challenge,” he said.

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng demanded a robust contact tracing.

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The death toll from Ebola in Uganda has risen to four, while the number of confirmed Ebola cases rose to 16, data from the Ministry of Health indicates. Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel […]

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Stiffer penalties for human traffickers in Tanzania

Tanzania has approved amendments to the local anti-human trafficking laws to include tougher penalties such as lifetime jail-terms and fines of up to Tsh200 million ($86,000).

Attorney General Dr Eliezer Feleshi said the country needed to implement punitive measures to effectively shut down the vice.

Read: UK, Dar partner to fight child trafficking and abuse in Tanzania

Also read: 22 Kenyans rescued from human traffickers in Laos

The Human Trafficking (Amendment) Bill fixes a minimum jail term at 30 years for offenders of trafficking and hands judges free rein to impose a life sentence depending on the nature of the case.

“We have amended section 5(4) which showed that a convict may be jailed for 10 to 20 years to a minimum imprisonment of 30 years depending on the nature of the case,” the AG said last week.

Serial human traffickers may be handed life sentences while first offenders would pay Tsh100 million ($43,000) fine.

Read: Tackle escalating human trafficking in Horn of Africa, IOM says

Also read: UN uncovers human trafficking at refugee camp in Malawi

Najma Murtaza, the deputy chairperson for the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs had suggested a tougher punishment to repeat trafficking offenders (serial traffickers).

Another MP, Salome Makamba said human traffickers were wealthy people, hence the need to hit them hard with large sums in fines.

“I want us to slap bigger fines because these are people with no economic problems,” she said.

Human traffickers are paid between $5,000 and $15,000 to transport a single person, mostly from Ethiopia and Somalia, through Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique to southern Africa states, a bulletin by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) indicates, suggesting existence of networks in these countries who collude to traffic people.

Read: Burundi, South Sudan: East Africa’s weak link in human trafficking

Also read: Human trade is alive and thriving across East Africa

The IOM estimates that over 15,000 illegal immigrants pass through Tanzania every year, mostly from Ethiopia, Somalia, Burundi and Rwanda on transit to South Africa and its neighbouring states.

Other key destinations for their human cargoes are Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, India and China, data from IMO showed.

Read: Covid-19 fueling rise in human trafficking, UN warns

Victims of serial traffickers are women and children for domestic work (household), crop farms, mines and the informal business sector.

Tanzania is a leading transit route for trafficking due to its geographical position and longer and porous land borders and the Indian Ocean routes with pirate ports in Zanzibar, Tanga, and Mtwara.

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Tanzania has approved amendments to the local anti-human trafficking laws to include tougher penalties such as lifetime jail-terms and fines of up to Tsh200 million ($86,000). Attorney General Dr Eliezer […]

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TotalEnergies walks a tightrope as fresh hurdles threaten to delay pipeline project

International oil major TotalEnergies will on October 10 answer to charges of environmental and human rights abuse before the European Union parliament in Brussels in a new threat to the actualisation of its East African Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop) and related upstream oil projects in Uganda’s Lake Albert region.

The European parliament has summoned chief executive Patrick Pouyanné to Brussels to justify the project that the lawmakers denounced last week.

He will appear before the parliamentary Committee on Environment, Food and Natural Resources, as well as that of Human Rights. The outcome will determine how the company navigates this latest crisis.

Hit by opposition from environmentalists on one side and beleaguered by financiers on the other, Total is now walking a tightrope as it pushes ahead with the Eacop.

Last week, the European Union parliament passed a resolution calling for the French oil major and its joint venture partners to delay the projects by one year, to address environmental and human rights concerns.

That decision was dismissed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who said the country will look for alternatives if Total obeys the European Parliament.

The oil company, siding with President Museveni, has also vowed that the projects – now in the development phase – will not be halted.

As Total pondered how to navigate this crisis, President Museveni was on a warpath with the company, whose 62 percent stake makes it the biggest shareholder in Eacop. Uganda National Oil Corporation (UNOC) and Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation own 15 a percent stake each, with China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) owning eight percent shareholding.

First, while meeting ruling party MPs’ caucus on September 16, the president warned that should TotalEnergies cave in to pressure from the EU parliament and halt Eacop or pull out of the project agreement, he is ready to drag them to the international court of arbitration.

He later tweeted dismissing the EU parliament’s resolution but more significantly, he fired a warning shot at the French oil giant.

“We should remember that TotalEnergies convinced me about the pipeline idea; if they choose to listen to the EU parliament, we shall find someone else to work with,” read the tweet on September 16.

Total is a corporate citizen of the EU and could be swayed by the lawmakers.

However, it is obvious that the EU parliament’s resolution has shaken government officials in Uganda’s ministry of Energy, as well as those at TotalEnergies and the Eacop Company, who have all previously been very economic with information. They are all now scrambling to volunteer information about the project, either through media briefing or on their websites.

For example, the Eacop Company this week uploaded on its portal the status of compensation of project affected persons (PAPS) – a key tenet on which the EU censure is partly based, as well as the environmental and social impact assessment.

Before the Brussels resolution, this information was not available.

Displaced persons

With construction slated to start by end of this year, only 331 out of a total of 9,513 Eacop’s PAPs in Tanzania will be physically displaced and have been selected for replacement housing, but the website says “construction of these houses is ongoing” without giving completion timelines.

In Uganda, out of 3,648 PAPs, only 203 will be physically displaced, and majority of these have elected for replacement housing. These too are under construction according to the website, but no completion dates are given.

The EU parliament resolution puts the figure of those affected at more than 100,000 – mainly farmers, who are already being displaced from their lands without prior and fair compensation, a number that the resolution also quotes as putting communities at imminent risk of displacement.

Uganda government agencies are also sweating to dispel claims that Eacop will cross numerous protected ecosystems, which will be impacted by the heated pipe operating at 50 degrees Celsius. Officials counter that there only five small rivers and out of the 1,443km of the pipeline, only eight percent is a forest reserve.

Protected areas

The EU resolution called for an end to the extractive activities in protected and sensitive ecosystems, including the shores of Lake Albert, referring to the 132 wells that Total plans to dig into the Murchison Falls National Park.

“They will find it very hard to navigate past this,” said Omar Elmawi, co-ordinator of the Stop Eacop campaign, a network of organisations opposed to the project.

“This project has many problems. The biggest amongst them is the human rights violations,” he added.

EU parliament resolutions often bite those targeted if the European Council, the arm that implements policy, adopts them. So far, the council has said little.

TotalEnergies has kept a brave face in the face of the EU parliamentary resolution’s far reaching ramifications, which could put on hold the $10 billion investment.

The project was signed off in February this year by TotalEnergies with joint venture partners CNOOC and Uganda National Oil Company.

Since the resolution was passed on September 15, the French oil giant has played the sovereignty card, tweeting that Uganda and Tanzania are sovereign states that have made the strategic choice to exploit their natural resources to contribute to the development of their countries, and as such, are not bound by resolutions of the EU parliament.

“TotalEnergies recalls the significance of the Lake Albert/Eacop project for Uganda and Tanzania, and we shall do our utmost to ensure the project is carried out in an extremely exemplary manner in terms of transparency, shared prosperity, social and economic progress and sustainable development, including the environment and respect for human rights,” said Pouyanné.

“The EU resolution to stop the construction of pipeline is not binding on all nations in the world, Europe, European Commission or even a sovereign country like Uganda or Tanzania,” said Ali Ssekatawa, the director of Legal and Corporate Affairs at the Uganda Petroleum Authority.

“The progression of our project will go ahead, and even rigs that are needed to extract oil have reached Mombasa, and efforts are underway to bring them to Hoima and Buliisa so that they start operating,” Ssekatawa added.

Sticking with schedule

Indeed, executives of TotalEnergies and state-owned UNOC say the projects will proceed according to schedule, with site preparation for the two upstream oil production infrastructure at Kingfisher and Tilenga currently underway.

The joint venture partners – TotalEnergies, CNOOC and UNOC – target commercial production of oil and gas in 2025, and are prepared to defy EU calls to delay the project.

The projects main infrastructure is a $5 billion 1,443km long pipeline from Hoima in western Uganda to the Tanzania port of Tanga.

The EU resolution piles on a series of financial and reputational crises that Eacop faced as well as protests in several cities over the project. There were also delays and postponement due to tax disputes between Uganda and TotalEnergies.

For instance, the shareholders were expected to announce financiers that would put in the project’s debt financing before end of July 2022, according to Peter Muliisa, the chief legal and corporate affairs officer at UNOC.

But UNOC chief Proscovia Nabbanja says the shareholders are yet to reach financial close for the project and are still raising equity contributions, which will make up 40 percent of the required $5 billion, while the remaining chunk is debt financing, which “is proceeding as planned.”

She revealed that all International Finance Corporation standards on the environmental and social impact assessment, land acquisition process and technical standards – which are key to obtaining financing – have been achieved and verified by independent auditors hired by lenders.

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Rwanda, DR Congo differ on M23 threat, offer parallel solutions in French mediation

Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo agree that M23 and other armed militia are a major security threat and are hurting bilateral ties. However, the two countries are prescribing different solutions to the problem.

This week in New York, presidents Felix Tshisekedi of DR Congo and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame met under mediation of French President Emmanuel Macron. They agreed to resume talks on how to tackle the M23 threat.

“The two presidents agreed to act together to obtain, as soon as possible, the withdrawal of the M23 from all occupied regions and the return of displaced people to their homes, with the support of the United Nations and their partners in the African Union, the East African Community and the Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR),” the DR Congo presidency said in a statement.

The dispatch said President Kagame and President Tshisekedi “have also agreed to intensify their co-operation in the long term to fight against impunity and put an end to the action of armed groups in the Great Lakes region, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). These efforts will take place within the framework of existing regional peace initiatives, including the Nairobi process.”

Kigali did not release the “joint statement” but indicates that the leaders had discussed solutions to the conflict in the DR Congo’s eastern region.

The New York meeting, however, was preceded by harsh words for Rwanda by President Tshisekedi in a speech on Tuesday at the UN General Assembly.

He said that Rwanda was undermining peace efforts in the DRC.

“Despite my goodwill for the search of peace, some neighbours have found no better way to thank us than to aggress and support armed groups that are ravaging eastern Congo,” he said.

President Tshisekedi added: “In defiance of international law, [Rwanda] has once again not only interfered in the DR Congo since March by direct incursions of its armed forces, but also occupies localities in North Kivu province by an armed terrorist group, the M23, to which it provides massive support in terms of equipment and troops.”

President Kagame hit back a day later, noting that the insecurity situation in eastern DRC had exposed Rwanda to “cross border attacks that are entirely preventable”.

“The blame game does not solve the problems,” he said in his speech to the UN General Assembly.

“There is an urgent need to find the political will to finally address the root cause of instability in eastern DR Congo. These challenges are not insurmountable and solutions can be found. This would ultimately be much less costly in terms of both money and human lives,” President Kagame added.

Tensions have persisted, with officials from both governments telling The EastAfrican that no progress has been registered since the height of hostilities earlier this year.

“There is no improvement in relations at all. DR Congo has insisted on Rwanda as its scapegoat for the insecurity in the east, even when they have so many rebel groups operating there,” a Rwandan official said on condition of anonymity.

Kinshasa sees Rwanda as a state aggressor, particularly with the capture of Bunagana town by the M23 rebels. Rwanda sees the DRC as a supporter of former genocide masterminds FDLR group, which is hiding in DR Congo.

“Bunagana has to be free for RwandAir to be allowed to resume flights to DR Congo. This is DR Congo saying, ‘M23 is Rwanda’,” a DRC official told The EastAfrican.

Takeover

Since June, M23 rebels have controlled Bunagana town in the North Kivu province that borders Uganda.

The advance of M23 culminated in the suspension of RwandAir flights to the DRC, as well as the shelling of rockets into Rwandan territory by the Congolese army.

This week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told France 24, that the only way to achieve peace is through “serious” discussions between the DR Congo, Uganda and Rwanda.

“We need to have a joint perspective to avoid this situation that always takes us backwards when we make progress.

“These countries need to understand each other. These countries must co-operate effectively for the security of the Congo and also to guarantee security in Rwanda and Uganda.”

The DRC and Rwanda had opened dialogue under a Joint Commission. But the two countries have only had one meeting, in late July. Previously, the Joint Commission had not met for 10 years.

After the resurgence of the M23 rebels, this year the DRC accused Rwanda of supporting the Congolese rebels militarily and in the supply of arms.

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Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo agree that M23 and other armed militia are a major security threat and are hurting bilateral ties. However, the two countries are prescribing […]

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Uganda increases surveillance as it confirms six more Ebola cases

Uganda’s Ministry of Health on Thursday reported six new cases of Ebola, raising the total number of confirmed cases to seven.

On Tuesday, the country confirmed the first fatality from the disease after a 24-year-old man died in Mubende District, central Uganda, and was confirmed to have been infected with the virus.

“As of today, we have seven confirmed cases – one confirmed Ebola death and seven probable [Ebola] deaths. We have listed 43 contacts [of the victims] and we are doing contact tracing,” said Dr Henry Kyobe, the Ebola Incident Commander.

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

He added that they forecast an increase in infections but actions are underway to protect the population and health workers.

“There are trial drugs using the monoclonal antibody technology. Largely, the treatment is mainly on supportive care. This [Sudan] strain has no vaccine,” Dr Kyobe said.

“For now we are concentrating on making sure we inform the population about what it is, guiding them on the measures to be able to protect [themselves], guiding them to show us where contacts are –identify them to be able to get patients early in care.”

Read: Kenya on high alert after Ebola outbreak in Uganda

Also read: South Sudan on high alert after Ebola outbreak in Uganda

Meanwhile, health authorities in Uganda are increasing surveillance and contact tracing of Ebola cases, widening their nets to many more parts of the country in a bid to control the spread of disease.

Health ministry spokesperson, Emmanuel Ainebyoona, told The East African on Thursday that the ministry had mapped out 13 districts, in the proximity of the Mubende epicentre, for contact tracing with more than 42 contacts identified by Thursday.

“We have also deployed our rapid response teams to all these districts which will orient health workers and prepare them for a possible outbreak,” he said.

The rapid response units will also be tasked with activating district health task forces, risk communication to communities and evaluation of laboratory preparedness in all the 13 districts earmarked as vulnerable.

Earlier in the week, Dr Diana Atwine, Uganda’s Permanent Secretary at the Health ministry, expressed worry over the fact that the country only has in store vaccines for the Zaire strain that has twice affected it, but not for the current Sudan strain it now faces.

According to Mr Bayo Fatunmbi, the head of disease prevention and control at the World Health Organization office in Kampala, vaccines for the Sudan Strain are currently being tested.

The Sudan strain was first recorded in Sudan in 1976 and in Uganda in 2011.

Uganda has experienced three Ebola outbreaks with its deadliest being that of 2000 that killed hundreds of people, including the lead medic Dr Matthew Lukwiya.

Around the country public places, authorities have heightened surveillance and are encouraging hand washing and proper disposal of waste.

In Mubende district which is the current epicentre of the outbreak, local leaders have ordered markets and entertainment places to close while crowded parties and burial are being restricted.

On Wednesday, the ministry of health issued new measures and standard operating procedures to inform national response to curb the spread of the contagion to both health workers and the public.

These measures include hand hygiene and proper use of Personal Protective Equipment; cleaning and waste management; safety with laboratory samples; managing exposure to the virus; burial protocol; and reducing home transmission risk.

Uganda’s neighbours Kenya and South Sudan have already heightened surveillance for the disease after Kampala confirmed its first case earlier in the week.

South Sudan has stepped up vigilance along its borders with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ainebyona said that Uganda is currently not worried about the border areas since the outbreak is far from border districts.

Ebola is a highly contagious disease transmitted to people from animals and rapidly spreads through human-to-human infection.

First identified in 1976 in the DRC, the virus, whose natural host is the bat, has since set off a series of epidemics in Africa, killing around 15,000 people.

Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments.

People who are infected do not become contagious until symptoms appear, which is after an incubation period of between two and 21 days.

At present, there is no licensed medication to prevent or treat Ebola, although a range of experimental drugs are in development and thousands have been vaccinated in the DRC and some neighbouring countries.

The worst epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 alone. The DRC has had more than a dozen epidemics, the deadliest killing 2,280 people in 2020. It is currently battling another outbreak

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Uganda’s Ministry of Health on Thursday reported six new cases of Ebola, raising the total number of confirmed cases to seven. On Tuesday, the country confirmed the first fatality from […]

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22 Kenyans rescued from human traffickers in Laos

Kenyan authorities on Friday warned against applying for online jobs in South East Asian countries after it emerged hundreds of East Africans are falling victim to trafficking.

The caution came as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had rescued 22 Kenyans, a Burundian and Ugandan, who had managed to raise distress calls from Laos.

Read: Kenya ‘overwhelmed’ by job scam victims in Myanmar

Also read: Tackle escalating human trafficking in Horn of Africa, IOM says

The rescued victims told authorities that hundreds more were still inside the Asian country, having been duped to go for hospitality and teaching jobs only to end up trapped.

“The government in liaison with the Government of Laos and IOM (International Organization for Migration) has rescued 24 nationals, among them a Ugandan and a Burundian, from trafficking cartels in Laos as more, still trapped in Myanmar and Laos, call for help,” the Ministry said on Friday.

Read: US offers $2m reward for two Kenyan ‘traffickers’

The 24 who were rescued have since been repatriated with the help of HAART Kenya, the IOM, and Laos government.

Earlier, 13 other Kenyans were rescued from traffickers in Myanmar .

“It is now emerging that there could be hundreds of mostly young Kenyans working in ‘Fraud Factories’ in South East Asia.

“More worrying is intelligence information that some of the factories may be facilities for extracting and storing human organs.”

Read: UK, Dar partner to fight child trafficking and abuse in Tanzania

Also read: UN uncovers human trafficking at refugee camp in Malawi

Kenya says the trafficking reflects the widening network of cartels to the region, taking advantage of joblessness and vulnerability.

Neither Kenya, Uganda nor Burundi have embassies in Laos, and Kenya had to coordinate the rescue from its diplomatic mission in Bangkok.

Traditionally, Kenya has had to deal with continual claims of mistreatment of its nationals working as domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, including Bahrain.

Read: Burundi, South Sudan: East Africa’s weak link in human trafficking

But it has this year been receiving distress calls from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.

“They (cartels) have established local networks and gangs that help them either lure the victims or transport them through various countries in the region,” the ministry added.

“This new breed includes young and tech savvy individuals, well-educated, computer literate, and multilingual.”

Read: Covid-19 fueling rise in human trafficking, UN warns

Once in the trafficked countries, the victims who are not tech savvy are offered training in computer applications for 10 days before commencing ‘work’.

The work is mostly cybercrime and sextortion, according to survivors.

The cartels reportedly lure them to the jobs by promising hefty perks, including an offer of $2,000 per month. However, they are soon only overworked, underpaid and given little rest.

Read: Human trade is alive and thriving across East Africa

Those who want to quit are told to pay $15,000 “compensation for the expenses the cartels used to traffic the victims.”

“[The government] warns Kenyans to stop applying for online jobs that are advertised in South East Asia without authenticating them, as this exposes them to dangers, including possibility of losing body organs,” MFA said.

“There are no sales and customer care jobs in Thailand or other countries in the ASEAN region.”

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Kenyan authorities on Friday warned against applying for online jobs in South East Asian countries after it emerged hundreds of East Africans are falling victim to trafficking. The caution came […]

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Kenya’s Ruto: Climate crisis ‘Africa’s biggest problem’

Kenya’s President William Ruto on Wednesday asked continental colleagues to see the climate crisis as Africa’s biggest problem, suggesting more financial focus on taming its effects.

Speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, the President indicated while the world should focus on rebuilding from the Covid-19 pandemic and other crises, Africa may find itself hurt more by climate change, in spite of contributing the least of its causes.

“While these are important issues affecting the entire world, the greatest challenge that connects our world is Climate Change: unfortunately, due to many pressing concerns, CoP27 has not been given the prominence it deserves,” he told a gathering of African leaders at the continental meeting of the 3rd Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC).

The Committee is expected to push for one voice for the continent ahead of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (CoP27) due in Egypt in November this year.

Africa produced under four percent of greenhouse gases, the pollutants that have caused global warming over the past decades, contributing to irregular climate such as frequent floods, longer droughts as well as the spread of pests like desert locusts.

Adaptation funding

Senegalese President Macky Sall, the current African Union chairman, said Africa must be given its adequate share of resources to adapt to climate change.

“It is legitimate, fair and equitable that Africa, the continent that pollutes the least and lags furthest behind in the industrialisation process, should exploit its available resources to provide basic energy, improve the competitiveness of its economy and achieve universal access to electricity,” President Sall told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. 

“We see adaptation funding not as aid, but as a contribution by industrialised countries to a global partnership of solidarity, in return for efforts by developing countries to avoid the polluting patterns that have plunged the planet into the current climate emergency,” he said.

Under the Paris Agreement on climate change, developed countries are to raise $100 million annually for mitigation programmes in developing countries. The pledge has never been fulfilled, however.

An earlier dispatch from Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had indicated President Ruto would insist on more focus on climate change because Kenya sees most other problems tied to it. According to President Ruto, African countries have already been doing their bit to ensure mitigation, including 10 percent of GDP annual allocations.“

African countries will need financial and technical support for a just transition to low carbon, clean technologies to drive our industrial and productive sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure development and job creation.

“It is my hope that we will, at CoP27, call for enhanced adaptation efforts, fulfilment and implementation of pledges.

“Building resilience to address the multiple crises and risks, while ensuring the impact of climate change on Africa remain high on the global political agenda, and must remain a priority for CAHOSCC.”

President Ruto gave his maiden speech to the Assembly, as head of state, on Wednesday night. Watch here

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Kenya’s President William Ruto on Wednesday asked continental colleagues to see the climate crisis as Africa’s biggest problem, suggesting more financial focus on taming its effects. Speaking on the sidelines […]

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Emmanuel Macron meets Paul Kagame and Felix Tshisekedi over DRC war

French President Emmanuel Macron has met with the leaders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, seeing progress in easing tensions that have flared in recent months.

On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Macron on Wednesday invited Rwandan President Paul Kagame to lunch with his DR Congo counterpart Felix Tshisekedi, who a day earlier had accused Kigali of backing rebel attacks in his country.

Read: Tshisekedi accuses Rwanda, again, of backing rebels

The three leaders together “noted their concerns about the resurgence of violence in the east of the DRC,” the French presidency said in a statement.

France said that Kagame and Tshisekedi agreed on the need for the pullout of M23 rebels from the strategic town of Bunagana on the Ugandan border.

The three leaders want to “intensify lasting cooperation to fight impunity and put an end to activities of armed groups in the Great Lakes region,” including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, the statement said.

Kagame’s government has demanded a crackdown on the FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu group that Kigali views as a threat due to links to the 1994 genocide.

But the M23, a separate group in the violence-wracked east of DR Congo, has been the focus of recent tensions. 

In his address to the General Assembly on Tuesday, Tshisekedi alleged that Rwanda has provided “massive support” to M23, which he blamed for the shooting down of a UN peacekeeping helicopter in March, in which eight people died.

“Rwanda’s involvement and responsibility are no longer debatable,” he said.

Kagame called for calm in his own address on Wednesday.

“There is an urgent need to find a political need to find and address the root cause of instability in eastern DRC,” Kagame said.

“The blame game does not solve the problems. These challenges are not insurmountable and solutions can be found,” he said.

“This would ultimately be much less costly in terms of both money and human lives.”

Kagame’s government has long rejected allegations of backing the M23, but US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on an August visit to Kinshasa, said there were “credible” reports of Rwandan support.

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Tshisekedi accuses Rwanda, again, of backing rebels in DR Congo

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has reignited an accusation against Rwanda, insisting that Kigali is still fanning rebel groups in his country’s territory.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Tshisekedi claimed his efforts to reunite the country and pursue peaceful settlements have been dragged by continual external interference, accusing Rwanda, in particular, of fomenting rebel movements.

“Despite my goodwill for the search of peace, some neighbours have found no better way to thank us than to aggress and support armed groups that are ravaging eastern Congo,” he told an audience on Tuesday night.

Read: DRC, Rwanda agree to ease tension and normalise diplomatic relations

Also read: The M23 demon: Could Rwanda ultimately invade eastern Congo?

Turning to Rwanda, he said: “In defiance of international law, has once again not only interfered in the DRC since MARCH by direct incursions of its armed forces (Rwanda Defense Force RDF), but also occupies localities in North Kivu province (eastern DRC) by an armed terrorist group, the M23, to which it provides massive support in terms of equipment and troops.”

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Tshisekedi accuses Rwanda, again, of backing rebels in DR Congo

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 21 2022

    

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi at the UN headquarters.

Democratic Republic of the Congo President Felix Tshisekedi addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 20, 2022. PHOTO | ANGELA WEISS | AFPADVERTISEMENT

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DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has reignited an accusation against Rwanda, insisting that Kigali is still fanning rebel groups in his country’s territory.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Tshisekedi claimed his efforts to reunite the country and pursue peaceful settlements have been dragged by continual external interference, accusing Rwanda, in particular, of fomenting rebel movements.

“Despite my goodwill for the search of peace, some neighbours have found no better way to thank us than to aggress and support armed groups that are ravaging eastern Congo,” he told an audience on Tuesday night.

Read: DRC, Rwanda agree to ease tension and normalise diplomatic relations

Also read: The M23 demon: Could Rwanda ultimately invade eastern Congo?

Turning to Rwanda, he said: “In defiance of international law, has once again not only interfered in the DRC since MARCH by direct incursions of its armed forces (Rwanda Defence Force RDF), but also occupies localities in North Kivu province (eastern DRC) by an armed terrorist group, the M23, to which it provides massive support in terms of equipment and troops.”

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The accusation against Rwanda, which has been rejected many times before by Kigali, is likely to elicit a response when Kigali’s representative addresses the UN later in the week. But it could also signal simmering differences between the two countries that had initially cut official communication between them before resuming talks.

In July, after meeting in Angolan capital Luanda, under mediation of President Joao Lourenço, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and President Tshisekedi agreed to reopen dialogue and have their differences solved diplomatically.

Read: Region steps up diplomatic firefighting in Rwanda-DRC tensions

Tshisekedi told the audience he is always ready to pursue peace, speaking of recent arrangements to hold dialogue with rebel groups that did not succeed as other parties to the talks pulled out.

“Since my election as head of state of the DRC, I have not stopped fighting every day for peace. In order to definitively eradicate insecurity, restore lasting peace and ensure stability in the East of my country, several agreements have been signed with armed groups and even neighbouring countries.

“National and international mechanisms have been created. All these prospects for a final settlement of the conflict lasted only a few months. Soon, the architecture cracked and the building collapsed; we always start with the same tragedies.

Read: Rwanda: ‘Leaked UN report’ on DRC invasion a distraction from real issues

Tshisekedi spoke at the opening of the regular session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. And for 38 minutes, the Congolese head of state touched on global security issues, including terrorism, which he argued had not spared the African continent. He also talked about the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the need for a peaceful settlement between these two countries.

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DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has reignited an accusation against Rwanda, insisting that Kigali is still fanning rebel groups in his country’s territory. In a speech to the UN General […]

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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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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 […]

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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.

******

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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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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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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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.

SOURCE

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.

SOURCE

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 […]

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Uganda Passes Regressive Law on “Misuse of Social Media” and Hate Speech

Uganda’s parliament on September 8, 2022 passed a draconian law that criminalises various uses of computers and digital technologies and largely curtails digital rights.

Among the key regressive provisions is the prohibition of the “misuse of social media”, described in clause 6 as publishing, distributing or sharing information prohibited under Uganda’s laws. A highly punitive penalty has been prescribed for the offence: imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of up to UGX 10 million (USD 2,619), or both.

Other retrogressive provisions in the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill 2022 are prohibition of sending or sharing of unsolicited information through a computer, and prohibition of sending, sharing or transmitting of malicious information about or relating to any person.

Prior to the enactment of the law, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) presented its analysis of the Bill to parliament’s Committee on Information and Communications Technology (ICT), which indicated that the proposed amendments would be a blow to the enjoyment of online civil liberties. However, the committee has disregarded most of the feedback received from stakeholders listed in the Committee report, many of whom raised concerns on the digital rights gaps within the Bill..

In presentations to the parliamentary  committee, CIPESA argued that rather than introducing new, poorly defined offences, the amendments should have focussed on addressing existing retrogressive provisions in the law on computer misuse, such as section 24 on cyber harassment and section 25 on offensive communication, which have been used severally to criminalise freedom of expression, including through arrests and prosecution of journalists, activists and government opponents. Moreover, trolling, cyber harassment, unauthorised sharing of intimate images, and other forms of online violence against women and girls, are not addressed either.

Gorreth Namugga, the shadow minister for ICT and a member of parliament’s ICT Committee, said in a minority report that the issue of misuse of social media was not discussed in the committee and was not among the clauses the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill sought to amend. She added that the ICT Committee did not make a deep analysis of the issue, and none of the organisations and individuals consulted by the committee offered any input on the matter.

In introducing the offence of misuse of social media, the committee reasoned that, while considering the Bill, it observed that “the information technology evolution had created a new medium of communication called social media that is not fully regulated in the existing laws, yet it is “the commonest platform of Computer Misuse.” The committee therefore deemed it fit to define social media and to regulate it.

Accordingly, the Bill defines social media as a set of technologies, sites, and practices which are used to share opinions, experiences and perspectives. It cites as examples YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat, TikTok, Sina Weibo, QQ, Telegram, Snapchat, Kuaishou, Qzone, Reddit, Quora, Skype, Microsoft Team and Linkedin.

The new law will provide that “a person who uses social media to publish, distribute or share information, prohibited under the laws of Uganda or using disguised or false identity, commits an offence.” It adds that where “prohibited” information is published, shared or distributed on a social media account of an organisation, the person who manages the organisation’s social media account shall be held personally liable for the commission of the offence.

There remain questions as to how the committee introduced provisions on misuse of social media that were not in the Bill, not subjected to stakeholder consultation and, according to the minority report, not discussed by committee members. Moreover, the term, “under the laws of Uganda” with reference to prohibited information is very broad and ambiguous. This could be used by the government and its agencies to target critics and would largely curtail freedom of expression and access to information.

Uganda is not new to regressive control of digital technologies. In 2018, the east African country introduced a tax through the Excise Duty (Amendment) Act that required users to pay a daily tax in order to access social media services. The tax, which dismally failed to raise the anticipated revenues, was  replaced  with a 12% levy tax on internet data. The country’s digital taxation regime has become a key impediment to inclusive access and affordability, with millions of citizens still left out of the digital society. Uganda also routinely blocks access to the internet and social media. Since January 2021, Facebook has been blocked in Uganda on orders of the government.

While the new law attempts to define “unsolicited information” as meaning “information transmitted to a person using the internet without the person’s consent, but does not include an unsolicited commercial communication.” The guidance offered by the provision only extends to interpretation of the earlier blanket provision that had been proposed in the Bill. It does not provide any guarantees for the protection and enjoyment of freedom of expression and access to information.

In submissions to parliament, CIPESA stated that, besides undermining civil liberties, many provisions of the Bill duplicated existing laws such as the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act, 2010 and the Data Protection and Privacy Act, 2019, and would be difficult to implement

According to the minority report, all the clauses in the Bill are already catered for in existing legislation and in some instances offend Uganda’s constitution. The report states: “The fundamental rights to access information electronically and to express oneself over computer networks are utterly risked by this Bill. If passed into law it will stifle the acquisition of information. The penalties proposed in the Bill are overly harsh and disproportionate when compared to similar offences in other legislations. This Bill, if passed, will be a bad law and liable to constitutional petitions upon assent.”

Despite the largely regressive law, there are some positives, such as defining and proscribing hate speech and i the law provides and if rightly employed they could potentially improve on certain aspects regarding the digital civic space. Thus;

  • The addition of the element of intent in clause 3 in the definition of the offence of unauthorised access is quite progressive. It potentially helps to exonerate innocent individuals from wanton prosecution of what would constitute criminal access over innocent and unintended access. The Bill did not have the element of intent which is core to determination of criminal liability to qualify the offence.
  • Clause 3 was initially overly broad to the extent of discouraging the public from sharing information to the best interests of the child such as their protection from danger and harmful practices. The amendment in clause 3 in as far as it provides for circumstances under which information about children may be shared will serve to ensure that while privacy of the child is paramount, their best interest should not be disregarded.
  • Clause 4 of the Bill defines hate speech which was not previously provided for. It goes milestones in addressing hate speech which has for decades posed challenges to public order, security and persons. Furthermore, section 41 of the Penal Code Act on sectarianism presented uncertainties having limited the definition of sectarianism to groups of religion, tribe, ethnic or regional origin.
  • The law recognizes other laws on disciplinary action against errant leaders. Thus, the deletion of clause 7 is commended. It is a progressive move against a potentially excessive and discriminatory provision as was initially presented in the Bill.

The newly passed Bill is a threat to digital rights and digital civic space and falls short of the key international minimum standards. As such, it is imperative for the law to be challenged in court and for the president to deny its assent and return it to parliament for reconsideration.

SOURCE

Uganda’s parliament on September 8, 2022 passed a draconian law that criminalises various uses of computers and digital technologies and largely curtails digital rights. Among the key regressive provisions is […]

Continue reading "Uganda Passes Regressive Law on “Misuse of Social Media” and Hate Speech"

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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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 […]

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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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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 […]

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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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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 […]

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

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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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 […]

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