President Obama addresses Africa

by Scott A Morgan

When it was announced that President Obama would give a major policy speech towards Sub-Saharan Africa in Ghana, there was considerable interest about what that would entail.

US President Barack Obama addressing the Ghana Parliament.

US President Barack Obama addressing the Ghana Parliament.

Obama’s historic speech which was given to the Parliament of Ghana covered several areas:

1). Africa’s current role on the world stage,
2). The vital role of good governance,
3). The challenges that both conflict and corruption play in African affairs.

    Currently, Africa is seen by several countries as a place to explore new energy sources. It is also a place for new economic development as well. Therefore, the continent does have a role as an emerging market. But the President also stated that economic development depends on good governance. There are several countries in Africa facing economic turmoil due to unrest and other factors.

    In the speech, President Obama stated that the world must support strong democratic governments in Africa. Just what are considered to be the keys to success for a democratic government? Those that he highlighted include a strong parliament, honest police forces, independent media and judiciary, a vibrant private sector and a civil society.

    Health care is going to be a challenge for Africa. HIV and Malaria are serious issues that need to be taken care of. Since the George W. Bush administration, the US has provided billions of dollars not only to fight HIV/Aids but to provide life-saving medicines to those already infected. While In Ghana, Obama addressed an issue that normally doesn’t get reported that much: the recruitment of African doctors and nurses to work overseas. This creates a gap in basic Care.

    One of the areas of contention both in Africa and in the United States is the role of AFRICOM (African Command). The President stated that wherever there are global challenges, a global solution must be implemented. He then stated that AFRICOM would not be used to get a foothold on the African continent but will confront challenges to the security of Africa, America and the rest of the world.

    Just who was this speech intended for? There was ample praise for how the government of Ghana has respected the rule of law. As for security issues, both Darfur and Somalia were mentioned but the Democratic Republic of the Congo was not. Zimbabwe was mentioned twice as well but the Gambia and the Guineas were omitted. Obama mentioned the homeland of his father, Kenya, in less than glowing terms.

    All in all, Obama’s speech was good and on the surface appears to expand on the policies of George Bush.

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    The Author comments on US policy towards Africa and publishes Confused Eagle on the internet. It can be found at morganrights.tripod.com

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    Most unpopular president on earth

    Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki probably ranks as the most unpopular head of state on earth. A popularity rating of only 9% means that Kibaki is faring worse than some of the world’s dictators.

    Kibaki at State House, Nairobi.

    Kibaki at State House, Nairobi.

    However, his main rival Prime Minister Raila Odinga isn’t doing much better. Raila has an approval rating of just 19%. For someone selling himself as an alternative to Kibaki, 19% popularity should be a cause for concern.

    Kibaki’s poor showing is due to his poor leadership of the coalition, where it takes a letter from US President Barack Obama to get things moving. Increases in extra judicial killings during his tenure as well as the bungled 2007 elections have contributed towards Kenyans intensifying hatred towards the man who won more than half the vote in 2002.

    The mishandling of the Migingo Island situation, where Uganda has annexed Kenyan territory, is further proof of Kibaki and Raila’s moribund and impotent leadership. Whether impotence extends to other crucial areas of their personalities is yet to be confirmed.

    Read more on the poor showing of Kenya’s leaders from the Daily Nation and East African Standard.

    Raila toilet talk diminishes own stature

    Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s toilet story has not only stunned many but served to undermine the personality of a man who, only a year ago, was regarded as an alternative to President Mwai Kibaki.

    Speaking at the coastal city of Mombasa, Raila told a public gathering that he had been allocated a smaller toilet than what the President would have been given. Raila was visibly angry at the absence of the Coast Provincial Commissioner at the launch of the National Oceans and Fisheries Policy.

    The statements have left Kenyans wondering how someone of Raila’s stature can engage in petty quarrels and in public. But Raila was not done: he went on to insult President Kibaki as “primitive.” Raila further said that the President is operating in a “Jua Kali” manner. The term Jua Kali is a Swahili phrase used to denote informal businesses such as hawking and roadside contractors.

    Nowhere else on earth will a Prime Minister or senior government official get away with such remarks. Not only are such statements a sign of insolence but are treasonable in certain countries. However, with Kibaki’s weak leadership, Raila is unlikely to lose his job. What he has lost though is much respect from people who once admired him.

    “If you hate your job so much, why not resign?” is the question in the minds of many.

    “Did we vote for you so that you can ride big cars, walk on red carpets and get exquisite toilets?” others are asking.

    Last Saturday, with the collapse of the Kilaguni talks, Raila’s ODM party denied claims by Kibaki allies concerning pettiness on the part of the Prime Minister and his handlers.

    Apparently, ODM was not happy with accommodation arrangements that put the Prime Minister in a hotel room far from the President. Other claims indicate that ODM functionaries were miffed that they were getting smaller mattresses and blankets than their PNU counterparts.

    At the time, everybody dismissed the claims as a fabrication aimed at soiling Raila’s reputation but yesterday, Kenyans heard it from his own mouth. The real reason behind his grievances against Kibaki lie in the fact that he is not getting the recognition he feels he deserves.

    “I am the Prime Minister and President Kibaki should be courteous enough to consult me as his partner in this coalition … it makes me feel embarrassed before the public when he contradicts or makes decisions of national importance without my knowledge,” said the Prime Minister.

    Kenyans are fast getting disillusioned with the Grand Coalition of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The country is facing serious challenges in the form of raging famine, persons displaced by ethnic clashes, an out-of-control police force and a diminishing international reputation. At the moment, Uganda has virtually annexed a Kenyan island with little response by the Kenya government. The country is adrift, floating in the big bad world without direction and waiting for the next storm to hit.

    As the people suffer in hunger, disease, poverty and crime, the leaders are busy fighting it out for limousines, red carpets and … toilets.

    What a pity.

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    With reports by the Daily Nation and Standard newspapers.

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    Hopeless Grand Coalition proves Annan right

    A meeting called by Kenya’s Grand Coalition government collapsed in chaos on Saturday, further vindicating a widespread perception that President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are hopeless failures.

    ali-gicheru_composite

    Ironically, the retreat at the Kilaguni Lodge in the vast Tsavo National Park was meant to prove to the entire world that the Grand Coalition can solve its own problems without the need for international mediators such as former United Nations Secretary General Koffi Annan.

    Kibaki and Raila, leading opposite camps of the giant coalition, could not agree on what to discuss at the much publicized meeting. Kibaki wanted to evaluate the performance of the coalition a year after its formation.

    Raila and his ODM party not only wanted to renegotiate the terms of the partnership but want Chief Justice Evans Gicheru and Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali dismissed. Kibaki has already made his position clear, that the two will remain in government at least for now.

    Yesterday’s events were both laughable and tragic at the same time. Laughable when senior government ministers appear in front of the press naively admitting their inability to function. Tragic because the fate of over 35 million Kenyans lies in the hands of bungling idiots who could not draft an agenda for a weekend meeting.

    Though Koffi Annan is not known to gloat at the failure of others, he must be feeling that his work in Kenya is far from done. He had called both President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga for a meeting at Geneva base. Both shunned the meeting arguing that Kenya is a sovereign state that does not answer to foreign masters, or words to that effect.

    Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka told Annan that Kenya’s government could handle its own affairs and that international mediation was no longer necessary. Indeed, this is the reason why the Kilaguni meeting was called: to demonstrate that the key partners of the Grand Coalition could meet at a place and time of their choosing to discuss the way forward for Kenya. Too bad none of the partners actually knew what they were going to discuss.

    Right from the start, both Kibaki and Raila had opposing views about the meeting. When Koffi Annan first issued his Geneva invitations a month ago, Raila was of the view that the National Accord that formed the Grand Coalition was going to be renegotiated. Raila has complained of not having enough power to enact reforms and that he should get a higher salary than Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.

    In reality though, Raila’s main concern is his inability to appoint ODM supporters to key government jobs as he promised during the 2007 election campaigns.

    This is what is driving his calls for the dismissal of such key government personalities as Chief Justice Evans Gicheru, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali. Raila wishes to appoint ODM affiliated personalities to the key positions in order to demonstrate his influence in government.

    Raila further believes that Gicheru and Ali helped Kibaki consolidate his rather shaky electoral victory in the 2007 General Elections. Gicheru presided over the inauguration ceremony at State House on December 30th 2007 that gave Kibaki a second presidential term. Raila is also convinced that the post election violence could have forced Kibaki out of power if it wasn’t for the police and military.

    The ongoing saga over the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) can also be seen in similar light. KAA Managing Director, George Muhoho, is a key ally of President Kibaki and his ouster would be a coup for Raila. However, it appears that Kibaki may have seen through the machinations and instructed Transport Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere to give Muhoho a one-year contract just to prove who is in charge of appointments.

    It is interesting that the latest failure of the Grand Coalition comes after a sustained national campaign by both Kibaki and Raila to show that they are happily working together. 2009 began with the unravelling of massive corruption scandals involving Kibaki and Raila allies. The inability of the two principles to act against those stealing from the government was telling.

    Opinion poll ratings give the Grand Coalition an approval rating of only 30%, making it more unpopular than the Moi government. Religious leaders accuse the Kibaki-Raila duopoly of poor leadership and have called for fresh elections which the government outrightly rejects. The release of the United Nations Special Rapporteur’s report implicating the Grand Coalition in the deaths and disappearances of thousands of youths didn’t do much to enhance the government credibility.

    With these manifest failures, Kibaki and Raila have spent the last month traversing the country campaigning for their coalition. Kibaki has been creating new districts in an unprecedented frenzy aimed at wooing the public but civil servants are questioning the strategy behind the move. Both principal partners have been at pains to prove that the Grand Coalition will survive until the next General Elections in 2012.

    When Koffi Annan made his Geneva invitations, both Kibaki and Raila closed ranks to prove that they did not need foreign interference to solve disputes within the Grand Coalition. Last Saturday’s retreat was the culmination of Kibaki and Raila’s cosying up together but the disastrous end shows that Kenyans are in for another rough ride.

    With ODM saying that they will announce their next moves in coming days, it should now be obvious to Annan that his involvement with Kenya will last far longer than he originally thought.

    Assertive Kibaki suprises Kenyans

    Widely criticized for complacency, dilly-dallying and even cowardice, President Mwai Kibaki has lately come out in full force to show the people just who is in charge.

    President Kibaki (right) at a national function with Chief of General Staff, Jeremiah Kianga.

    President Kibaki (right) at a national function with Chief of General Staff, Jeremiah Kianga.

    The President is touring the country and whenever he is in State House, he holds strategy meetings with leaders from across the political divide. Observers note that Kibaki is at his busiest since he took office on December 30th 2002.

    Kibaki’s first term was marked by lethargy as he recovered from a near-fatal road accident he got while campaigning for the 2002 General Elections. It is widely believed that the President suffered a stroke while in office in the first few months of 2003. The affairs of government during Kibaki’s first term of office were largely run by a group of loyal aides most of whom were his buddies.

    Today, Kibaki is back in his element. The Kibaki of today is the man that Kenyans knew before that disastrous accident of December 2002. He is clear minded, articulate and forceful. This was seen in Kisii last Tuesday when Kibaki pulled no punches in criticizing his own cabinet ministers.

    “If you are a minister and you are dissatisfied with the Government, you either quit, be quiet or I will show you how to leave,” thundered Kibaki as the crowd watched in disbelief.

    The President said he was angered by ministers who have been complaining about the Grand Coalition, without offering any solutions. “They remain silent during Cabinet meetings, but rush to complain to wananchi about the running of the Government,” said a visibly upset Kibaki.

    After the rally, the Airforce helicopter carrying Kibaki to another venue almost crashed when its engine began spewing thick smoke. What did Kibaki do? He got out of the stricken chopper, got into another one then promptly went to address public gatherings elsewhere.

    In the coming week, the President is expected to visit Western Province and is already making arrangements with Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, the highest ranking government official from the province.

    If Kibaki had been this energetic right from January 2003, most of the problems we are experiencing today would have been avoided. The Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence blames Kibaki’s weak leadership during his first term of office for the near civil war in early 2008 that left at least 1,500 dead and divided the country’s people along ethnic lines.

    “The post election violence therefore is, in part, a consequence of the failure of President Kibaki and his first Government to exert political control over the country or to maintain sufficient legitimacy as would have allowed a civilized contest with him at the polls to be possible,” wrote Commission Chairman, Justice Philip Waki.

    Kibaki’s predecessor, ex-President Daniel arap Moi, had been a forceful personality in the previous 24 years. There was an entire generation of Kenyans who had not experienced any other style of leadership other than what Moi showed them. Moi’s hand was everywhere, he had something to say for everything under the sun. Moi was a micro-manager who made telephone calls to government officials at anytime of the day or night.

    Kibaki on the other hand delegated his authority. He gave general directions without getting involved in day to day intricacies. He left Cabinet ministers and top government officials to operate independently. Looking back in hind sight, Kibaki now realizes he should have maintained closer supervision for the sake of maintaining order in government.

    As Cabinet Ministers realized that Kibaki was not supervising them, the government literally ran amok. Decisions were made with little co-ordination. In some cases, government departments stagnated as officials used to Moi’s micro-management found themselves in the unfamiliar situation of having to decide for themselves. Amidst the apparent vacuum, over-ambitious politicians sought to fill the void.

    Roads Minister Raila Odinga led a rebellion in the cabinet as he sought to capitalize on Kibaki’s absence from public view. At one point in mid-2003, politicians close to Raila discussed introducing a motion of no confidence in Parliament on grounds of the President’s ill health. Had the motion passed, the country would have been forced to hold fresh elections. However, Kibaki still enjoyed public support back then and the idea was shelved.

    By 2007, Kibaki’s was spending so much time at State House that he had lost much of the support he won in 2002. In the meantime, the opposition was maintaining high public visibility and presented itself as a viable alternative to Kibaki.

    Kibaki managed to squeeze into a second term of office in the disputed 2007 polls. Ironically, Raila’s reckless campaign drove millions of voters into electing Kibaki. Raila promised to redistribute jobs, businesses and land, to institute ethnic federalism (Majimbo) and to repossess government shares sold at the Nairobi Stock Exchange. These statements were scary to entrepreneurs, diplomats, land owners and those investing in shares.

    It is now a year since Kibaki and Raila entered a Coalition of the Unwilling. Opinion polls show that the Giant Coalition is widely unpopular, with only 30% of Kenyans giving their approval. Ministers, Members of Parliament, Judges and top civil servants engage in endless squabbling over protocol and control. The government appears clueless as 10 million Kenyans suffer from famine. Unemployment is worsening amidst the global economic crisis. The failure of rains means that hunger and water shortages will worsen.

    The President’s first wife and her children engage government officials in public wars through the media. Meanwhile, the President’s second wife is busy telling Kenyans that, “her man” will be retiring soon and that she will “identify” a suitable presidential successor.

    As the Grand Coalition falters, Kibaki has began reasserting his Presidency across the country. If it wasn’t for the fact that he is constitutionally barred from running for a third time, Kibaki could as well be in campaign mode!

    Kibaki’s experience shows that it will take a long time to undo Moi’s 24 year legacy. Kenyans must learn that it is not necessary for a president to attend public rallies in every school or market place in Kenya. As former Subukia legislator said when Moi left the Presidency in December 2002, “Moi is gone, but Moism will be with us for a long time.”

    Kibaki blames media for unpopularity

    President Mwai Kibaki has blamed Kenya’s media for massive discontent brewing against his government.

    Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka also rapped the media saying it is “sensationalising” issues rather than focusing on development matters.”

    Prime Minister Raila Odinga joined the fray saying that the Giant Coalition government was alive and kicking. “We are working and those who think the Government is not working can see the work we are doing,” said Raila.

    The trio were speaking during the launch of Kazi kwa Vijana (Jobs for Youth) National Programme in Mashuru, Kajiado district.

    Polls have indicated Kenyans are not happy with the performance of the grand coalition government in tackling corruption and reforms amongst other things.

    The latest survey conducted by Transparency International-Kenya indicated that 72 percent of respondents feel the government is not keen on fighting graft. A survey done by Steadman indicated that 70 per cent of Kenyans believe that the Government has not achieved anything.

    Only last month, religious leaders at a prayer meeting for the victims of two fire tragedies, lambasted the leaders for not doing enough in the fight against famine and corruption.

    More on these stories from Capital FM and the Standard newspaper.

    Killed for plotting radical change

    Murdered human rights activist, Oscar Kamau King’ara, was mobilizing Kenyans to massively vote against the country’s cruel and corrupt rulers in the 2012 General Elections.

    human_rights_quotes

    The Liberators Movement was seen by certain powerful personalities as a threat to their political ambitions in the 2012 General Elections. These personalities were scared enough to organize the termination of Oscar before his initiative took off.

    The Liberator movement has an elaborate membership plan: “We are organized into cells of 20 people from grassroots to national membership. And as a member you are required to form your cell, inform others why change is needed, share with them initiatives undertaken by Liberators family and call up for training and recruitment,” reads part of the information on the Oscar Foundation website.

    In Kenya, such talk will provoke an immediate and brutal response from the ruling elite.

    Oscar printed huge posters of President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Environment Minister John Michuki describing them as examples of tyranny in Kenya. Raila is shown with duct tape covering his mouth, implying a policy of silence.

    Oscar wrote that the “Liberator” is a movement of people whose mission is to redeem Kenya from the captivity of political leaders. It is meant to unite all Kenyans who are tired, unhappy and feel suppressed by the actions, nature and structure of the current crop of political leaders.

    Here’s a sample of quotes from Liberator Movement documents:

    Our vision is to create a Kenya in which all citizens belong in words and in life. A country of prosperity, justice, good governance and peace for all.

    As liberators we share a lot in common; We pay heavy tax to finance the lavish life of our Members of parliament, Ministers, Prime Minister and the President of Kenya; We toil everyday but never have the good returns for our hard labour; We thirst and hunger and even die, when our leaders thrive and make profits in our suffering; We have seen the corrupt going unpunished and public properties being looted. We are assumed to be weak helpless and easy to forget. We appear to be easily divisible in tribes and region. That is what our leaders have been thinking of us all along.

    But now we are rising as Liberator, to show them that we can free ourselves and that what they have known or thought us to be is not and will not be what we are or can be. We are waking up in readiness to let them know that though we may look weak and vulnerable, never in this initiative can we fail to achieve the change of our choice and expand the space and value of our democracy.

    We have come to this point and we are not going to wait any more. By our numbers, we will find strength and by our united commitment we will coin victory and win against our political leaders who have turned the masses into goods of trade.

    The Liberators’ guiding principles are love for the nation; sacrifice and commitment towards its reclamation; information sharing about the happenings in our country; and adoption of non-violence as a tool of struggle towards liberation of our nation. Our brief is very simple, to give you information, so that you can know your rights, know when it is being infringed upon; know whoever is responsible; and then show him or her that you will not take it any longer.

    We are determined to stand up to be counted, we pledge not to let Kenya drown or go to the dogs – the dogs will simply eat it! As our leaders continue to conspire against us; forming themselves into a fellowship of thieves; thriving in impunity with less care and concern to the rest of us, let them know that we swear never to take it any more. We intend to employ all tools and tactics available within our reach to ensure that good governance in Kenya is not made a mere token or an act of goodwill by our leaders but an inherent foundation of democracy, governance and political representation furnished and powered by the will of the people.

    You and I, in this country; must stand up and be the light of our villages however remote or near. We must be the hope for our oppressed generation; the inspiration for the young ones to come; the tower and the source of alternative leadership by the people and for the people. We must stand and give compass and direction when the Government and leadership cheats the masses. We are the repository of knowledge and so we must inform the moment; we are determined to send home all thieves, liars and looters who reside in the parliament; we demand our country back.

    We want 2012 to be a lesson to them; to send them all packing. It is happening in the rest of the world; America, Ghana are just but a few countries which have shown in the recent past that power belongs not to the leaders but in the hands of the people. And if our leaders can not see the written signs and heed to our demand now, we promise a peaceful liberation of this country by making it ungovernable for them. We will fight them with the power of our numbers through civil disobedience, mass processions and public defiance. But key to all we are not willing to make them thrive in our silence.

    We are organized into cells of 20 people from grassroots to national membership. As a member, you are required to form your cell, inform others why change is needed, share with them initiatives undertaken by the Liberators family and call up for training and recruitment.

    Our ideology is patriotism and the strength of numbers backed by conviction that we hold it as a duty to defend and determine the kind of the country we wish to live in.

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