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President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday declared he will impeach NASA leader Raila Odinga in two or three months if he’s elected President.

It will be impossible for Raila to govern because his Jubilee party will use its tyranny of numbers in Parliament to thwart him, the head of state told a delegation from Ukambani.

The President’s comments were immediately branded reckless and desperate by NASA.

“What charges does President Uhuru wants to bring against Raila? Those remarks are reckless speculation inconsistent with the conduct of the President of a country,” NASA principal Moses Wetang’ula said. Accompanied by Raila, the Bungoma senator addressed reporters at Raila’s Capitol Hill offices.

“This shows the desperation level the President is displaying by pressing every panic button before we go to the election. He has no capacity in his coalition whatsoever to impeach President Raila or any other President … within the current context of the two Houses of Parliament,” he said.

On September 1, the Supreme Court ruled Kenyatta’s reelection was null and void because of irregularities and illegalities in the electoral process. It ordered a rerun.
A new presidential election will be held on October 17.

Uhuru, DP William Ruto and their supporters are furious, saying four judges stole the President’s legitimate victory.

“Even if he is elected, we have the opportunity in Parliament within two or three months to remove him. We only fear God and thank Him for what He has done for us,” Uhuru told Ukambani leaders at State House in Nairobi.

Uhuru said Jubilee controls Parliament and can easily dethrone Raila and even change the Constitution without consulting the opposition.

“In the National Assembly, we are only 13 members shy of a two-thirds majority, meaning we can even change the Constitution without a single member of NASA. We don’t need them,” he said.

Uhuru said, “Today, even if Raila is elected, how will he govern this country? How? What is he going to do? We are ready to go back to the polls. The same Kenyans who voted for us will will give us the victory.”

But Wetang’ula pointed out Uhuru lacks a super majority in both houses and lacks the Constitutional threshold required to impeach Raila or any President.

According to Constitution Article 145, a member of the National Assembly, plus at least a third of all members, may move a motion to impeach the President for gross violation of the Constitution or any other law.

The head of state also may be impeached if there’s reason to believe he has violated a national or international law.

The motion should be supported by two-thirds of all members of the National Assembly. In two days the Senate speaker will convene the Senate to hear charges against the President.

The Senate will form an 11-member committee to investigate allegations against the President and present its findings to the Senate in 10 days.

If at least two-thirds of all Senators uphold any impeachment charge, “the President shall cease to hold office,” the Article states.

Yesterday, Uhuru said he will open Parliament today, despite NASA leaders saying they would boycott the event.

Uhuru said his administration has prepared fresh Bills and dusted off several others to be tabled in the 12th Parliament. House business will continue as usual, he said

“They said they will boycott the opening of Parliament. I tell them, well done. You will see us opening Parliament and start passing laws. We have both Speakers,” Uhuru told his guests.

He said his party also has support of the majority of governors, woman representatives and MCAs who will propel his government’s agenda.

“We are not bragging about having the majority of leaders because it is the reality. We have to tell you the truth without fear,” Uhuru said.

Jubilee and affiliate parties occupy 213 seats out of 349 in the National Assembly. It has 38 out of 67 Senators.

In the last Parliament, the party had 167 and 30 seats in the assembly and Senate, respectively.

Kenyatta accused the opposition of entrenching divisive and tribal politics ahead of the poll, saying ll leaders should anchor their campaigns in visions and development agendas.

The President Jubilee is a national party representing the majority of Kenyans at the grassroots across all tribes.

“You might have a child in your homestead but he or she turns out to be the one to destroy that house. But you might have another child from another region who would come to rescue you. Is that the Canaan they want to take us to?” Uhuru told the Ukambani leaders.

He said, “I conducted a thorough campaign for Governor Mike Sonko against some candidates from my tribe. Most Kambas voted for Sonko and did not vote for me, but I had to ensure that they voted him in.”

Uhuru and Ruto’s State House guests included Governors Mike Sonko (Nairobi) and Alfred Mutua (Machakos), MPs Rachel Nyamai (Kitui South), Nimrod Mbai (Kitui East), Mbai Itwiku (Masinga) and Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town). Other leaders included former Planning minister Gideon Ndambuki, former Mwingi Central MP Joe Mutambo and top government officials.

Ambassador Kiema Kilonzo and former Wiper chairman and Kitui Senator David Musila said they will marshal all leaders in the region to reelect Uhuru.

“We opted to lead our people to the government and we are not here to please anybody. We will go to the grassroots and ensure we deliver more votes than ever witnessed,” Musila said.

Mutua accused NASA leader Kalonzo Musyoka of deceiving the Kamba community to stick to the opposition, saying they would weaken his grasp.

The country must spend billions of shillings of taxpayers’ money — it’s estimated at Sh12 billion — to conduct the new election, money that could have been used for development countrywide.

In the August 8 General Election, the IEBC declared Uhuru as the winner with 8,203,290 votes (54.27 per cent) against Raila’s 6,762,224 votes (44.74 per cent).

The commission announced he surpassed the 50+1 threshold of total votes cast and at least 25 per cent of votes in 24 counties. Voter turnout was almost 80 per cent.

However, the Supreme Court ruled 4-2 the election was not conducted in accordance with the Constitution and ordered a rerun.

Its detailed ruling is expected by September 22.

Briefing Room

UPDATE: Somali authorities say troops rescue 32 children from “terrorist school”

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MOGADISHU, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Somali authorities said troops stormed a school run by al Shabaab on Thursday night and rescued 32 children who had been taken as recruits by the Islamist militant group.

“The 32 children are safe and the government is looking after them. It is unfortunate that terrorists are recruiting children to their twisted ideology,” Abdirahman Omar Osman, information minister for the Somali federal government, told Reuters on Friday.

“It showed how desperate the terrorists are, as they are losing the war and people are rejecting terror.”

Al Shabaab said government forces, accompanied by drones, had attacked the school in Middle Shabelle region. It said four children and a teacher were killed.

The Somali government said no children were killed in the rescue.

“They kidnapped the rest of the students,” said Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military spokesman.

“Human Rights Watch is responsible for the deaths of the students and their teacher because it pointed fingers at them,” he added.

In a report this week, the New York-based rights group said that since September 2017, al Shabaab had ordered village elders, teachers in Islamic religious schools, and rural communities to hand over hundreds of children as young as eight.

The U.S. Africa Command said it had carried out an air strike on Thursday against al Shabaab targets 50 km (30 miles) northwest of Somalia’s port city of Kismayo, killing four militants. U.S. forces regularly launch such aerial assaults.

The al Shabaab militia, linked to al Qaeda, is fighting to topple the U.N.-backed Somali government and establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law.

Somalia has been plagued by conflict since the early 1990s, when clan-based warlords overthrew authoritarian ruler Mohamed Siad Barre then turned on each other.

In recent years, regional administrations headed by the Mogadishu-based federal government have emerged, and African Union peacekeepers supporting Somali troops have gradually clawed back territory from the Islamist insurgents.

(Additional reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Clement Uwiringiyimana; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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Briefing Room

Somalia welcomes 41 nationals released from Indian jails, more to follow

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The Federal Government of Somalia on Friday welcomed home forty-one nationals who had been in Indian jails for piracy related offences.

The returnees were welcomed at the Mogadishu International Airport by Prime Minister Ali Hassan Khayre and other government officials.

A Voice of America journalist, Harun Maruf said the former detainees were released after negotiations between the two countries.

He added that: “They were part of 120 Somalis arrested by India navy after being suspected of involvement in piracy acts, some have served their jail terms.” Two of them are said to have died in prison.

The Prime Minister later wrote on Twitter that the government will continue to do all it takes to return Somalis languishing in jails outside the country. Reports indicate that 77 others will be freed in the coming months.

The Somali government in 2017 secured the release of over twenty of its nationals held in neighbouring Ethiopia’s jails.

The government was also instrumental in the release of a top Somali journalist who was jailed in Ethiopia.

The Mohammed Abdullahi Farmaajo government, however, attracted public outrage by handing over a Somali national to the Ethiopian government.

A move that was slammed by Somalis and by human rights groups who claimed Mogadishu had virtually handed him over to be tortured.

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Briefing Room

US wary of Islamic extremism growth in Africa

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PENTAGON — With the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate almost completely retaken in Iraq and Syria, many American leaders are concerned the group might try to create a new hub elsewhere.

Islamic extremism creeps up in impoverished, politically disillusioned populations with masses of young, unemployed Muslims, and these conditions can be seen across the African continent.

“Africa is going to be the spot; it’s going to be the hot spot,” Congressman Michael McCaul, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a hearing last month.

In a letter sent to congressional leaders on Monday detailing counter-extremism efforts, President Donald Trump said his administration had placed a “particular focus” on the U.S. Central and Africa Commands’ areas of responsibility.

While tens of thousands of American troops are deployed to the Middle East and Southeast Asia, where U.S. Central Command oversees military operations, the entire African continent has less than half the number of American troops deployed in the single country of Afghanistan.

But increases in terrorist activity are among the reasons why American military presence has grown rapidly on the continent, from 3,200 military personnel in 2009 to some 6,500 military personnel today.

The bulk of U.S. military personnel in Africa, some 4,000 Americans, are based in Djibouti, home to the United States’ only military base on the continent. The second-largest concentration is in the Lake Chad Basin, where some 1,300 U.S. military personnel work in Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad to help strengthen local militaries and counter Boko Haram, al-Qaida, Islamic State and other extremist groups. About 500 U.S. military personnel are based in Somalia, where al-Shabaab terrorists are battling the U.N.-backed Somali government and Islamic State operates in mountainous areas of Puntland.

John Campbell, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria from 2004 to 2007, is critical of the United States’ policy toward Africa.

“There is African concern that the U.S. approach is becoming rather more militarized, or more concerned with military and security issues than had been the case in the past,” he told VOA.

Campbell said he believes that the main thrust of American effort on the continent should be on the “root causes” of extremism — poor governance and lack of economic development. But this effort will likely prove more difficult if the State Department’s budget is slashed, as proposed by the Trump administration.

Ripe for recruitment

Africa’s growing young, male population is ripe for recruitment, Africa Command’s senior enlisted leader, Command Chief Master Sergeant Ramon Colon-Lopez told VOA in an exclusive interview.

“When you have no options and here comes an extremist that is offering you a motorbike and a bride, what do you think you’re going to do? Your family’s starving, you can’t provide for them and somebody’s giving you an option,” he said.

The Trump administration this year changed rules governing U.Smilitary operations in the area, expanding the ability to strike al-Shabab and IS fighters in the war-torn country of Somalia. The change allowed offensive strikes against the terrorists rather than limiting attacks to defending African allies and their American advisers on the ground. This matches a similar expansion of strike authorities this year against the Taliban in Afghanistan, where under President Barack Obama, the Taliban had to be in close proximity to Afghan National Security Forces before they could be targeted.

The new authorities have led to an increase in strikes in Somalia. The latest of the more than 30 U.S. strikes across the west African country this year came on Tuesday, taking out what U.S. military officials said was an al-Shabab car bomb planned for use in an attack in the capital, Mogadishu.

Colon-Lopez said the new authorities have “definitely” helped the counter-terrorism mission in Africa.

The U.S. has also used air strikes this year to target IS militants in Libya. Just last month, the U.S. and Niger reached an agreement permitting armed American military drones for use against jihadist terrorist groups in the African nation, according to a U.S. official. It is still unclear whether the drones in Niger will be used to carry out targeted strikes or solely as a defensive measure.

Special operations forces

In the past decade, Africa has also seen a vast expansion of U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF), elite military units that are specifically trained and use special weapons, and tactics.

In 2006, Special Operations Forces made up just 1 percent of U.S. military personnel. Today, there are about 1,200 Special Operations Forces deployed to Africa, or about 15 percent of the total deployed force, a U.S. military official told VOA on the condition of anonymity.

Their jobs range from short-term training to long-term partnering with African military units that place American troops in potentially dangerous locations.

That’s what happened in Niger in October, when four American soldiers died in an IS ambush, and in May, when a U.S. Navy SEAL died aiding Somali security forces against al-Shabaab.

“I worry about the outposts that have U.S. military members that are getting after this threat,” Colon-Lopez said. “I worry about them because we can see what happened out there when the enemy decides to overpower the United States of America.”

The number of times that U.S. troops are exposed to danger in Africa are rare, a U.S. military official told VOA, adding that Special Operations Forces limit their involvement with local partners because of the strong desire to find “African solutions to African problems.”

“Our role is more like preventative medicine in Africa than emergency surgery,” the military official said.

However, if the security need grows in the coming months, more Americans troops could find themselves in dangerous situations across the continent.

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