Connect with us

Published

on

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

Somalia illegally surrendered citizen to Ethiopia – parliamentary report

Published

on

Somalia’s parliament, the House of the People, says the government’s formal handover of a Somali national to neighbouring Ethiopia was illegal.

The parliamentary body set up to probe the circumstances surrounding the transfer of Mr. Abdikarin Sheikh Muse of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) presented its report with the conclusion that the government of President Farmaajo was wrong in the matter.

The team of 15 legislators – from both houses of the parliament – was constituted on September 18, 2017 from the office of the Speaker of the House with the sole objective of reporting back on the circumstances surrounding the handover.

Mogadishu’s detention and subsequent transfer of the ONLF leader to Ethiopia in August 2017 sparked outrage in the country. The action was described as a breach of Somali and international laws – which decries refoulement.

The parliament was on recess at the time the action took place, most lawmakers had gone on the annual pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. The Upper House met but deferred to the Lower Chamber to deal with the matter first. The current decision is one issued by the two houses, reports indicate.

The ONLF group in a statement confirming the handover of its top official expressed worry about the possible mistreatment that Sheikh Muse was likely to face.

“The Somali government has forcefully transferred a political refugee to Ethiopia which is known to torture and humiliate its opponents. It has been intimated that Mr. Abdikarin was sacrificed in order ti get political support from the Ethiopian regime,” their statement in August read.

It condemned the Somali regime and called for the release of Muse – who Ethiopia insists holds an Ethiopian passport and opted to return voluntarily. That claim has been roundly rejected by the family and the group which he belonged to.

ONLF describes itself as “a national liberation organisation that struggles for the rights of the Somali people in Ogaden and has no involvement whatsoever in Somalia’s multifaceted conflict at all.”

Continue Reading

Briefing Room

U.S. military builds up in land of ‘Black Hawk Down’ disaster

Published

on

The Pentagon now has its largest military presence in war-torn Somalia since the deadly battle in 1993.

WESLEY MORGAN

The number of U.S. military forces in Somalia has more than doubled this year to over 500 people as the Pentagon has quietly posted hundreds of additional special operations personnel to advise local forces in pockets of Islamic militants around the country, according to current and former senior military officials.

It is the largest American military contingent in the war-torn nation since the the infamous 1993 “Black Hawk Down” battle when 18 U.S. soldiers died. It is is also the latest example of how the Pentagon’s operations in Africa have expanded with greater authority provided to field commanders.

The growing Somalia mission, coming more fully to light after four American troops were killed in an ambush in Niger last month, also includes two new military headquarters in the capital of Mogadishu and stepped-up airstrikes. It’s driven by a major shift in strategy from primarily relying on targeted strikes against terrorists to advising and supporting Somali troops in the field, the officials said.

The new operations also come as a peacekeeping mission spearheaded by the African Union is winding down. That is putting more pressure on the fledgling Somali security forces to confront al-Shabab, a terrorist army allied with Al Qaeda that plays the role of a quasi-government in significant parts of the country.

“We had to put more small teams on the ground to partner in a regional way with the Somali government,” retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, who commanded American special operations forces in Africa until June, said in an interview. “So we changed our strategy and we changed our operational approach. That’s why the footprint went up.”

The expansion, which was also outlined by officials at U.S. Africa Command, includes deploying Green Berets and Navy SEALs to far-flung outposts to target the al-Shabab insurgency and a group of militants in the northern region of Puntland who last year pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. The deployment of a special operations adviser team to Puntland alongside Somali troops has served as a model for the broader expansion of the mission.
“Puntland was the example we used,” Bolduc said. “We said, ‘We can do this in the other areas.’ So we changed our strategy and we changed our operational approach.”

Also, in a move not previously reported, a SEAL headquarters unit has deployed to Mogadishu from Germany to coordinate the adviser teams that are spread across the country. And in a separate move, trainers from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division spent the summer working with Somali troops at the fortified airport complex in Mogadishu. That deployment has since ended, but troops from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division twill perform a similar mission next year, a spokesman for the headquarters overseeing Army activities in Africa said.

To oversee the expanded operation, the Pentagon has also sent a general for the first time: Army Brig. Gen. Miguel Castellanos, a veteran of the 1990s peacekeeping mission in Somali who took charge in June of a unit called the Mogadishu Coordination Cell.

At the same time, more airstrikes are being conducted than ever before to kill militant leaders and to defend the American advisers and their African allies. Those include one conducted Saturday 250 miles from Mogadishu that Africa Command said killed a militant after he attacked a convoy of U.S. and Somali troops.

Some of the strikes have been conducted under new authorities that the Trump administration approved in March. It declared parts of Somalia a zone of “active hostilities” akin to Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and delegated the authority to approve airstrikes further down the chain of command.

In all, according to Africa Command, the U.S. has conducted 28 airstrikes in Somalia this year, nine of them this month. That’s compared to 13 airstrikes and ground raids that the Pentagon announced last year and just five strikes and raids in 2015, according to numbers compiled by the New America Foundation.

The more expansive military effort contrasts with the tiny and secretive U.S. military mission over the last decade headed by the classified Joint Special Operations Command, the military’s main counter-terrorism force. JSOC drone strikes reportedly began in Somalia in 2011, and two-dozen special operations troops started working as advisers in late 2013.

But the small American contingent was confined mostly to Mogadishu and the Baledogle military airfield in southern Somalia — except during short-duration missions farther afield.

“It was something like 100 people on the ground essentially being the intel and targeting apparatus” for counter-terrorism strikes, said an active-duty special operations officer who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity while discussing sensitive operations.

Officially, the Pentagon disputes that the recent increase in troops constitutes a major buildup of forces.

“I would not associate that with a buildup, as you’re calling it,” said Lt. Gen. Frank McKenzie, director of the Joint Staff in the Pentagon, referring to the troop increase. “I think it’s just the flow of forces in and out as different organizations come in that might be sized a little differently, and I certainly don’t think there’s a ramp-up of attacks.”

A spokesperson for Africa Command, Robyn Mack, told POLITICO that the U.S. presence has increased from around 200 to more than 500 this year.

The larger “advise and assist mission,” she explained, is now “the most significant element of our partnership” in Somalia.

The increased presence has not been without controversy inside national security circles, according to multiple people who have been directly involved in the decisions.

Prominent in the discussions has been the recent history of Somalia, which has been wracked by a series of civil wars over the past quarter-century. But the legacy of JSOC’s ill-fated man-hunting mission in support of the U.N. peacekeepers in 1993 — in which two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and a pilot captured — has long made American and Somali officials wary of deeper U.S. military involvement.

“Everybody defaults to ‘Black Hawk Down’ and what happened in Somalia in 1993,” said Bolduc, the former commander of special operations forces in Africa.

“That was a real concern when I was working on Somalia policy at the Pentagon and the White House,” added Luke Hartig, who worked on counter-terrorism operations at the National Security Council in the Obama administration. “Some military people would say, ‘We’ve evolved a lot as a force, we’ve done these raids every night in Iraq and Afghanistan and can mitigate risk in a way we couldn’t in 1993.’ But it is still one of the real catastrophes of U.S. military operations in the past couple decades.”

Nonetheless, most military and counter-terrorism officials agreed that air and drones strikes and other pinpoint operations were deemed insufficient to prevent Somalia from becoming a terrorist haven.

“We came to the realization that trying to handle the threat in Somalia just kinetically was not going to work,” Bolduc said. “Taking out high-value targets is necessary, but it’s not going to lead you to strategic success, and it’s not going to build capability and capacity in our partners to secure themselves. So we provided a plan that complemented the kinetic strikes” with a larger military advisory effort.

The arrival of the Trump administration also gave the military an opportunity to make its case to a more receptive audience, the active-duty special operations officer, who had knowledge of the strategy review told POLITICO.

“It wasn’t, ‘Oh thank God, new president, new party, now we can go kick ass,’ but there were opportunities with the change in the political situation,” he said.

An equally important factor, Bolduc said, was the Obama administration’s appointment last year of Stephen Schwartz as ambassador in Mogadishu. Schwartz is the first U.S. ambassador to Somalia since before the Black Hawk Down battle and is credited with laying the groundwork with the Somali government, he explained.

But with the stepped-up U.S. military effort also comes grater risk. A member of SEAL Team 6 was killed during one such mission in May.

“Do we get into contact with the enemy? Yes, we do — our partners do and we’re there to support it, and sometimes we come into contact by virtue of how the enemy attacked them,” Bolduc said. “The benchmark that we used in our planning was that U.S. forces coming into contact with the enemy was unlikely. We met that standard most of the time.”

However, Hartig, the former counter-terrorism official who also helped craft the new strategy, says he worries about special operations troops getting involved too deeply in rural regions with complex tribal politics. That’s a problem that has plagued U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan.

“Somalia’s incredibly complex human terrain, and you want to be sure you know what you’re getting into,” he said. “Some of the special operations guys do know a lot about Somalia, but we haven’t previously had people on the ground out in the communities.”

Continue Reading

Briefing Room

Egypt Warns Ethiopia Nile dam Dispute ‘Life or Death’

Published

on

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, for the second time in as many days, has delivered a stern warning to Ethiopia over a dam it is building after the two countries along with Sudan failed to approve a study on its potential effects.

Ethiopia is finalizing construction of Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile. Egypt fears that will cut into its water supply.

Cairo said last week that the three countries had failed to approve an initial study by a consultancy firm on the dam’s potential effects on Egypt and Sudan.

Ethiopia has repeatedly reassured Egypt, but Cairo’s efforts to engage in closer coordination have made little headway.

El-Sissi sought to reassure Egyptians in televised comments Saturday, but stressed that “water is a matter of life or death.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

TRENDING