Kenya Bombings Kill 10

Kenyan officials say at least 10 people died and 70 others were wounded Friday in two explosions targeting a minibus and a busy market in the capital city, Nairobi. The attacks came days after the U.S. and British governments issued travel advisories regarding potential terrorist attacks in the country. Mohammed Yusuf reports.

Investigators said improvised explosive devises were used to target the attacks. The minibus was spattered with blood, its windows and tires blown out. A second bomb exploded nearby, also near a market best known for second-hand clothing.

“I saw the explosion. People were running in all directions,” Reuters quoted a female witness as saying. “I know some of the people who died.”

Nairobi Police Chief Benson Kibui said police, acting on tips from the public, had detained a bombing suspect. Security officials said the suspect is a Kenyan national.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. embassy in Nairobi warned its citizens to increase their personal security in light of Kenya’s continuing terror threats and violent crime. “Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings – to include car bombings – kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports,” the statement read in part.

The blasts came a day after 300 British tourists were evacuated from the coastal city of Mombasa, following a travel advisory issued by the British Foreign Office.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said evacuations only help the terrorists.

Such action “only strengthens the will of terrorists as opposed to helping us defeat that war,” Kenyatta said.

The Mombasa County executive in charge of tourism, Joab Tumbo, lamented the impact of the bombings and advisories.

“As we speak right now, evacuation has taken place. We also understand that the evacuation will continue,” Tumbo said, adding that Kenya is “staring at a possibility of hotels closing down.”

One immediate commercial victim of Friday’s bombings was a regional telecom conference, East African Com, scheduled to take place in Nairobi next week and to attract top industry executives. Organizers said they canceled it because of security concerns.

Past attacks in the east African nation have been widely blamed on the Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which wants Kenyan troops out of Somalia. In September, gunmen from the group killed 67 people in a raid on a Nairobi shopping mall.

Many of the attacks have been along Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast, including the port of Mombasa, a tourist favorite. Some others have been in Nairobi, mainly near the Somali-populated Eastleigh district. Friday’s blasts were close to Eastleigh.

Tourism already had been damaged by kidnappings by Somali pirates in the north near the Somali border, though that threat has subsided over the past 18 months.

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KENYA’S LARGEST ETHNIC COMMUNITIES ARMING AHEAD OF ELECTIONS.

Nairobi,

Rights group says an arms race is on between two of Kenya’s largest ethnic communities ahead of the 2012 presidential election after the last disputed vote triggered weeks of tribal conflict.

A combination of a desire for revenge and lack of state security has seen Kalenjin and Kikuyu communities in Kenya’s Rift Valley stockpile firearms, said the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

“People are arming themselves with sophisticated firearms because there are certain communities who are saying enough is enough, the state cannot protect us … we lost lives, we lost property, we lost our humanity,” Ken Wafula, head of the group, siad.

The post-election mayhem that engulfed Kenya in the aftermath of the disputed presidential elections in early 2008 killed more than 1,300 people and 300,000 were uprooted, triggering investigations into crimes against humanity. Hatred turned mixed-ethnic towns into killing fields, as neighbors cut each other down with machetes and bows and arrows.

Wafula said politicians were spearheading fundraising campaigns to buy weapons such as AK-47 rifles and pistols.

“State security officials were not only turning a blind eye to the activity but actually assisting the amassing of firearms, state security machinery at the top level are involved. They are right in the middle of the arms race,” Wafula said.

The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo has concluded a visit to Kenya, where he is investigating allegations that some top level government officials were involved in the country’s deadly 2008 post-election ethnic violence.  There are fresh reports of Kenyan ethnic groups arming themselves ahead of the next presidential election in 2012.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has submitted a list of 20 names “who appear to bear the greatest responsibility”. The names have not been published, but the list is believed to include some prominent cabinet ministers.

Some of the worst violence occurred in the Kalejin’s Rift Valley homeland and targeted Kikuyus, triggering fierce reprisal attacks in the towns of Nakuru and Naivasha.

Tribal rivalries have plagued Kenyan politics since east Africa’s largest economy won independence from Britain in 1963, often intensifying around elections.

President Mwai Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe and the Kalenjin of former President Daniel Arap Moi have dominated Kenya’s post-colonial politics and acquired swathes of land across the country and in the fertile Rift Valley in particular.

Tribes, such as the Luo of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Kibaki’s arch rival in the 2007 poll before he entered a coalition government brokered by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, say they have been politically and economically marginalised.

Last year, Ken Wafula was arrested and charged with inciting violence after reporting that communities in the Rift Valley had begun to re-arm.   He says he is speaking out again because the situation is becoming worse, despite pledges by Kenya’s coalition government of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga to rid the country of illegal firearms.

Early this year, Kenyan security forces have been dispatched to the Rift Valley and other areas to collect guns from nomadic tribes, who are increasingly using firearms, smuggled in from neighboring Sudan, Somalia, and Uganda, to steal livestock and to settle personal scores.

Wafula says there is growing suspicion that many of those confiscated weapons are being re-distributed among ethnic communities by senior officials.

Politicians in Kenya have long used election periods to entrench tribal loyalties and to whip up ethnic animosity to gain an advantage over their rivals.  Since multi-party elections were introduced in 1992, political violence has marred each election.

AG PUBLISHES DRAFT LAW

Nairobi,

Kenya’s Attorney General Amos Wako has officially published the draft constitution and handed in to President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, paving way for Kenyans either to approve or reject the proposed laws at referendum due to be held August this year.

Amos Wako said proposed law, published today, is a culmination of more than two decades of the clamor for a new constitutional order and the road to constitutional review has been full of bumps and turns, lives have been lost, tears shed, sacrifices made.

Committee of experts will facilitate civic education for a period of 30 days and involve known state-actors and provincial administration for support.

“No rallies called for purposes of campaigning for or against the draft shall be held within those 30 days to allow effective voter education, it is only after 30 days that we can have real campaigns for Yes and No” he said.

The AG calls on Kenyans to exercise their right and take an active role in shaping history saying no government, no NGO, no religion and no foreign agency can force Kenyans to vote in a particular way.

Kenyans have been urged to read and understand the draft constitution so that they can be less prone to misinformation and to be tolerant and respect for both sides during campaigns.

The two principals’ president Kibaki and PM odinga are in full support of the referendum and called voters to turn in large numbers to vote for the new constitution.

During the 2005 referendum the two principals were on the opposite side of the referendum, in that year the draft constitution was rejected by many Kenyans.

KENYA’S FARMERS LOSING $ 1.3 MILLION A DAY.

Nairobi,

As volcanic ash engulf across Europe, Kenya farmers are losing $ 1.3 million a day in flight chaos. Farmers are dumping tones of vegetable and flowers destined to UK.

So far 5000 staff has been laid off, and growers have warned thousands of workers will be told to stay at home if flights didn’t resume by Tuesday. This would deal a serious blow to the country’s economy.

Managing director of AAA Growers in Nairobi Ariff Shamji said they usually ship 10-15 tones of produce every day to different parts of the world and that’s come to a complete halt.

Kenya normally exports up to 500 tons of flowers daily – 97% of which is delivered to Europe. Horticulture earned Kenya 71 billion shillings ($946m) in 2009 and is the country’s top foreign exchange earner.

ENDS……

KENYA MAY RECEIVE NEW CONSTITUTION, BUT CONTROVERSIAL AMENDMENTS THREATENS ITS PASSAGE.

Nairobi.

After nearly two decades of waiting, Kenyans may finally receive a new constitution.  Political leaders are calling for Kenya to support the proposed set of laws, but controversial amendments threaten its passage through referendum in the coming months.

Attorney General Amos Wako has received the draft constitution from the parliament and has 30 days to publish it.

Kenya moved one step closer to reform last week when parliament unanimously passed the proposed constitution and sent it to the attorney general for drafting.

While receiving the draft law from the Speaker of the National Assembly, Amos Wako promised Kenyans that he would not make any alterations to the document.

Wako, the government’s legal chief advisor also said that he would publish the draft before the end of the 30-day period provided by the review Act.

“I want to assure the people of Kenya that I will not amend, I will not affect any alteration to the draft,” said Wako.

The Constitution says the AG should publish the draft within 30 days of receiving it from Parliament but he said he would do that sooner than the set period.

PSC Chairman Mohammed Abdikadir urged the long-serving AG, who has been in office almost since the beginning of the quest for a new set of laws in 1990s, to move with speed so that the document can be published soon and the issues made clear.

Parliament last week passed the draft without any amendments after several attempts to introduce changes were frustrated by walkouts from MPs.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has ruled out the possibility of amending the draft constitution saying that the process has reached a point of no return.

“The general wish of the majority of Kenyans is reflected in the Draft Constitution.

“No one should pretend that they are the only ones who can gauge and determine what the country needs,” Odinga told a news conference in Nairobi.

He said that once Parliament had passed the proposed Constitution, the next stage on the roadmap as set out by the Constitution of Kenya Review Act (2008) is clear:

With the draft moving towards a referendum, Kenya’s churches have emerged as the most significant threat to its passage.

Many religious groups in Kenya are opposed to a provision in the document that allows doctors to terminate a pregnancy if it threatens a mother’s life.

They are also opposed to articles that allow Kadhis courts to deliver judgment disputes over marriage, divorce and inheritance when both parties are Muslim and consent to bring the case before a Muslim judge.

The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) has threatened to reject the constitution if the clauses are not removed.  Muslim leaders in Kenya say they have stated a series of meeting and consultations to review the document before deciding to whether or not to back it.

The document is handed over to the AG for publication and “onward remittal to the people to ratify at a referendum.”

An attempt was made in 2005 to pass a new constitution, but the proposed draft was rejected in a countrywide referendum that polarized the nation.  The 2005 referendum was seen as a direct cause of the ethnic violence that rocked the country after a disputed presidential election in December of 2007.

Between January and February 2008 1,300 people were killed and more than 300,000 were displaced  from their homes as supporters of President Mwai Kibaki and his challenger, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, clashed amidst allegations of vote rigging.

ENDS……