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Three Kenyan girls return home after escaping ISIS captivity in Libya

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NAIROBI NEWS — Three girls who had left Kenya to join ISIS in Libya have been brought home.

The three girls, Firthoza Ali Ahmed, Aisha Mafudh Ashur and Tawfiqa Dahir Adan, were rescued in the streets of Cairo, Egypt trying to find their way to the Kenyan Embassy in Egypt, after escaping their captors in Benghazi, Libya.

Firthoza says she was job hunting online when she was contacted by someone known as Umm Mariam on Twitter.

Umm Mariam seemed to know her well from the questions she asked. She also knew that Firthoza was looking for a job.

JOB DESPERATION

Thereafter, Umm Mariam offered to help get her a job in other parts of the world, especially Europe, urging that they paid their employees well. Consumed with the desperation of getting a job, she accepted Umm Mariam’s help.

Firthoza, did not have travel documents, but Mariam, assured her, that she knew people who could fix her problems, so she should not worry.

That is how the trio was lured to embark on a dreadful journey to Libya, to Join ISIS.

The safe return of the girls to the country is the successful efforts of the multiagency security approach employed by the Kenyan government in conjunction with other foreign governments to prevent the youth from leaving the country and to track those who have left and bring them back home.

Sources say that, many youth fighting for terror groups in Somalia, Libya and Syria, have reached out to the government to seek for amnesty.

SPYING ON TERROR GROUPS

They have expressed their willingness to cooperate with the government in the fight against terrorism. Most of the Kenyans fighters are being executed for spying on the terror groups.

The girls joining the group suffer the most because they are exposed to inhumane treatment, where they are sexually abused and beaten up if they resist.

Many girls die within weeks of getting into the militia controlled territory as a result of the adverse conditions they are subjected to. For instance, while there, the girls are treated as communal wives, to serve all the fighters at the battle front.

Psychologists opine that parents have a huge stake to play in the fight against radicalization into the terrorism.

KENYA

Suspected Al-Shabaab militants kill 3 in Kenyan school attack

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WAJIR, Kenya, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) — Suspected Al-Shabaab militants killed three Kenyan teachers and injured one other in an attack Friday on a school in the country’s northeastern county of Wajir, officials said.

The militants in early morning attacked the Qarsa primary school near the borders with Somalia and Ethiopia, in a town about 70 km from Wajir town, the capital of the county, killing three non-local teachers, said Mohamud Saleh, coordinator of Kenya’s northeastern region.

Authorities have been working to find another teacher who was allegedly shot in the hand and escaped with injuries.

Saleh said that ongoing efforts have been made to trace the killers, who escaped soon after the incident.

“This is (a) very unfortunate incident and the first of its kind in Wajir County,” he said, noting that the militants had planted improvised explosive devices (IED) along the route to the school.

Police said the militants seemed to have planted enough IED on roads leading to the school, making it extremely hard for ambulances and reinforcement teams to get to the site on time.

“One of our vehicles that was responding to the attack was partly hit by an IED … but all our officers are in good condition,” said Mohamed Sheikh, Wajir Administration Police commandant.

Local residents said tension and uncertainty remains high in the entire county.

Northeastern Kenya has suffered grenade and gun attacks in recent years since Kenya took its troops to Somalia to fight the Al-Shabaab militia group in October 2011.

Several attacks believed to have been carried out by Al-Shabaab have occurred in Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa and Dadaab districts of northeastern Kenya even as the military reports gains against the Islamist group by capturing their military bases and killing scores of them.

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Somalia given greenlight to respond in border case

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The International Court of Justice has allowed Somalia to file a response to a case in which it has sued Kenya over a maritime border.

The move kick-starts a fresh round of arguments, which could determine the final flow of the border.

The court Monday announced that Somalia should respond to Kenya’s claim that the current flow of the border should remain intact by June 18, after which Kenya will have another six months to poke holes in the response.

“The court issued this decision taking into account the views of the parties and the circumstances of the case. The subsequent procedure has been reserved for further decision,” said a statement from the court’s registry.

KENYA’S PLEA

On February 2 this year, presiding judge Ronny Abraham accepted Kenya’s plea to file a second round of arguments, which Nairobi said would take longer to prepare. This means the two countries will have another opportunity to argue before the court.
Somalia sued Kenya in August 2014, saying the border between the two countries should extend diagonally into the sea, south of Kiunga and not eastwards as it is today. But Kenya has argued that this may also affect its sea border with Tanzania. The current border has existed largely as a result of Presidential Proclamation of 1979.

When the case was presented to court last year in February, Kenya’s preliminary objections were dismissed. Kenya had argued that the court lacked jurisdiction and that the two countries had signed a memorandum of understanding to have the matter resolved through the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, something which Nairobi had claimed was not yet exhausted.

AREA IN CONTEST

The area in contest is about 100,000 square kilometres, forming a triangle east of the Kenyan coast

In 2009, Kenya and Somalia had reached an MoU and deposited it at the UN. It proclaimed that the sea border should run eastwards. But the case is also influenced by the suspected oil deposits in the contested area. Somalia had argued that Kenya was prospecting in the area, something that could expose Somali resources to exploitation should it win.

In December, Kenya filed an argument before the Court saying the matter can best be handled through the UNCLOS and insisted its continued exploration, fishing and other activity in the disputed area is based on a bilateral decree issued by the countries’ leaders in 1979.

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History repeats itself through Kenyatta, Odinga feud

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It is a much-storied political dynasty rivalry, but the history of the love-hate relationship between the Kenyatta and Odinga families keeps turning new chapters with the latest instalment playing out in the ongoing political standoff with a remarkable sense of deja vu.

Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his political rival Mr Raila Odinga once again re-lived the duel that their fathers – founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and his first Vice-President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga – started more than half a century ago.

The parallels between the contest of the fathers and sons range from the mundane – such as the similarity in ages – to the profound, like how the conflict is shaping national politics and the country’s future.

Consider this interesting fact: In terms of age, Uhuru and Raila find themselves on the opposite sides of where their fathers were at the peak of their political duels.

Jaramogi was 55 when he resigned as vice-president in 1966 while Jomo was 75.

NRM ILLEGAL

More than a half century later, the age factor is flipped: Raila is now 73 – roughly the same age Jomo was in 1966 – while Uhuru is 56, just a year older than Jaramogi was at the time of the fallout with the founding President.

What has remained constant in these dynastic duels is that the balance of power has firmly remained in favour of the Kenyattas.

Of more importance however is how the two generations of the Kenyattas have handled the challenge to their authority by the Odingas and how this has shaped Kenya’s history.

In this regard, Uhuru has proved that, indeed, the apple does not fall far from the tree.

The move by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to declare National Resistance Movement (NRM) – associated with Raila’s Nasa – an illegal group mirrors the outlawing of Jaramogi’s Kenya People’s Union (KPU) by Jomo 47 years ago.

KPU MEMBERS

After resigning as Vice President, Jaramogi formed KPU, which became the official opposition to Jomo’s ruling Kanu party.

However, the State employed every trick in the book to harass the party’s followers.

Security agencies monitored the movements of KPU officials, limited their international travel by withdrawing their passports, and fired civil servants perceived to be supportive of the party.

Jomo himself led the onslaught against KPU, branding it a clandestine organisation.

“If anybody dares to spoil the party that fought for uhuru (independence), he will be dealt with firmly. We shall crush him into powder,” Jomo warned at a public rally.

Following the deaths and chaos that broke out on October 25, 1969 between KPU supporters and Jomo’s security guards during a presidential visit to Kisumu, Jomo moved swiftly to bring Jaramogi to heel.

CONSTITUTION

Two days after the incident, Jaramogi was placed under house arrest for a year and KPU was banned five days later, thus returning Kenya to a one-party State.

In efforts to rein in Jaramogi, Jomo amassed sweeping powers that made him an imperial president, a later source of many of Kenya’s ills.

The situation has changed considerably from Jomo’s days, with the enactment in 2010 of a robust Constitution that protects freedoms.

But events of recent days suggest that the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Uhuru has waged a campaign against the Opposition, media, Judiciary and the civil society, which he accuses of unfairly targeting him and working on behalf of his opponents.

Commenting on Nasa’s plans to “swear in” Raila, Attorney-General Githu Muigai cautioned that it was “high treason”.

COLD WAR

Last week, the government arrested several Nasa MPs who played key roles in Raila’s largely symbolic “swearing-in” on January 30.

It remains to be seen whether Uhuru will carry out his AG’s threat and detain the Nasa leader, just like his father Jomo did in 1969.

The conflict between Jomo and Jaramogi took place under the shadow of the Cold War pitting the West against the communist USSR.

The two Kenyan protagonists became pawns in the global struggle for domination by the two superpowers.

While Jomo eschewed communism in favour of capitalism, Jaramogi, who had been a darling of the West before independence, threw in his lot with the Soviets.

One of the peripheral players in the Cold War was China, a communist state with its own designs in Africa.

A large but poor country at the time, China still vied with the Russians and the Americans for influence in Kenya.

SUPERPOWER

Jomo, with the help of the US, moved to limit China’s support for Jaramogi.

Kanu mandarins termed the “Red Dragon’s” embassy in Nairobi “Agent No1 of subversive activities”.

But 50 years later, things have changed. Today, China is a global superpower.

While Jomo turned his back on China, his son Uhuru has fully embraced the Asian giant and it is now shaping his legacy.

It has already done so by delivering Uhuru’s first term signature project: the standard gauge railway, whose first phase between Mombasa and Nairobi was built in a record four years at a cost of at least Sh375 billion of Chinese loans.

During a state visit to Beijing in May last year, Uhuru described China as a true friend of Kenya.

“In the spirit of shared prosperity and friendship, I wish to assure Your Excellency (Chinese President Xi Jinping) of our desire to co-operate closely with you, to build an even stronger strategic partnership,” he said.

TANZANIA

To cement their new-found friendship, last month President Kenyatta hosted Communist Party of China (CPC) top brass at State House, where it was agreed that the Chinese officials would train Jubilee Party on “democracy”, grassroots mobilisation and party management.

However, the geopolitical shifts brought about by the decline and eventual disintegration of the USSR and the end of the Cold War forced the Odingas to abandon their communist route and embrace the West who supported the push to end Kanu’s one-party rule.

Kenya restored multipartyism in 1991.

Neighbouring Tanzania is another country that has been at the heart of a dynastic political tussle.

The Kenyattas have always regarded successive governments in Tanzania with suspicion.

It’s not a secret that the current Jubilee administration enjoys a strained relationship with the government of President John Magufuli, a family friend of the Odingas.

INSTABILITY

During the 2015 General Election in Tanzania, Jubilee ill-disguised preference for the opposition’s Edward Lowassa of Chadema party that eventually lost.

When Raila suggested in a speech in the lead-up to the January 30 “swearing-in” that forming a government abroad was an option if the situation inside was not conducive, many thought he meant Tanzania.

In short, there hasn’t been any love lost between Dar es Salaam and Nairobi.

On December 2016, Government Spokesman Erick Kiraithe said two neighbouring countries were trying to destabilise Kenya.

It was widely perceived that one of the two countries was Tanzania.

“Investigations into recent political activity have yielded intelligence to the effect that there are individuals within the country who are working with two neighbouring countries to subvert the government and create conditions of instability, insecurity, lawlessness and strife,” Mr Kiraithe said.

SUSPICION

These were largely the same allegations that Jomo’s government made against Tanzania in the 1960s.

On April 1966, the media reported that Jaramogi had met Sheikh Hussein, a prominent Tanzanian businessman with alleged powerful political connections there, to plot against Jomo.

Jaramogi was also accused of having met two Tanzanian ministers, Sheikh Abdul Rahma Mohammed Babu, minister for Commerce and Co-operatives, and Mr Michael Kamaliza, Minister for Labour.

Dar es Salaam denied the meetings took place.

The mutual suspicions between the two neighbours was one of the factors that eventually led to the disintegration of the first East African Community in 1977.

During the fight for independence, Jaramogi, though not a collaborator, was perceived by the British colonial government as a safe, rational bet whom they could do business with, rather than Jomo.

Described by pre-independence colonial governor Sir Patrick Renison as “the leader to darkness, death and destruction, Jomo had been jailed in 1952 on trumped-up charges as the leader of the Mau Mau independence movement.

ICC

The Britons were surprised, therefore, when Jaramogi turned down the offer to be Kenya’s first president, declaring that “Kenyatta is my next God”, vowing that there would be no uhuru (independence) while Mzee was in prison.

But when Jomo’s son, Uhuru, was indicted in 2010 by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his alleged involvement in the planning of the 2007/2008 violence, Jaramogi’s son, Raila, did not defend him as his father had done to Jomo.

“The guilt or innocence of suspected perpetrators is proved through trial, where the facts of the case are examined,” Raila said in 2012.

It is believed that the strong anti-imperialist sentiment aroused by ICC cases against Uhuru, his deputy William Ruto and four other Kenyans stirred the Jubilee support base and propelled them to the presidency in 2013. The Kenyan cases eventually collapsed.

KIAMBU MAFIA

At this point, it is worth considering another interesting fact: The Kalenjin community has been at the centre of the political battles between the Kenyattas and the Odingas, and their respective Kikuyu and Luo ethnic support bases.

Following Jaramogi’s resignation in 1966, Jomo appointed Daniel Moi VP and stuck with him for the next 12 years.

This was despite a cabal around the President, often referred to as the “Kiambu Mafia”, scheming to prevent Moi from automatically taking over upon Jomo’s death.

Moi returned the favour by fishing Uhuru from relative obscurity and thrusting him into the political limelight when he named him his preferred successor.

Although Uhuru lost the December 2002 presidential elections, he had stamped his imprimatur in national politics.

SUCCESSORS

But it would take the support of another Kalenjin, Mr William Ruto, 10 years later, to actualise Uhuru’s presidential dreams.

Many political analysts think that the end of Uhuru’s term in 2022 will mark an end to the Kenyatta-Odinga dynastic battles, assuming that Raila opts out of the race as he has suggested in his previous public statements.

The death of Raila’s firstborn son Fidel in 2015 robbed the Odinga family of an obvious heir to their political dynasty.

Rosemary, Raila’s second born who dropped out of the race for Kibra constituency parliamentary seat last year over health concerns, is often seen as the most politically savvy of Raila’s children.

Of the Kenyattas, none of Uhuru’s scions are thought to be cut for the rough and tumble of political life — at least for now.

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