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Archive for October 7th, 2011

Uhuru Kenyatta handshaking with Korir at the ICC in the Hague

Posted by African Press International on October 7, 2011

By Korir

Hon Uhuru Kenyatta appeared before the ICC to face confirmation of charges hearing alongside Mr Francis Muthaura and General Hussein Ali between the 21st September and 5th of October 2011.

African Press International: Hon Uhuru Kenyatta handshaking with Mr Sammy Korir at the ICC stairs in the Hague - also on the photo is Counsel for General Hussein Ali Mr Kennedy Ogeto (between Korir and Uhuru). Mr Francis Muthaura's son partly hidden behind Hon. Uhuru, Mr Francis Muthaura and on the right - a security officer holding Muthaura's hand

Mr Kenyatta was the only one to give direct evidence availing himself to cross-examination by the prosecutor. Many experts feared that Mr Kenyatta would be agitated by questions fired by the prosecution. To the surprise of many, he  managed himself brilliantly forcing the Chief Prosecutor to dive down and seek help from his juniors before continuing with his cross-examination.

While at the ICC, Korir took time to meet Mr Kenyatta, wishing him well during the proceedings.

The prosecution had a very weak case to begin with. Their case was further weakened because they chose to rely on anonymous witnesses, people characterised by the defence as lies and untrustworthy, because some of them became extotionist before the confirmation of charges hearings began.

The witnesses that the prosecutor has relied on are people who have been provided with luxurious apartments and money. These witnesses have seemingly provided written statements in exchange for relocation in Western European countries and the USA. Therefore, it is difficult to believe that their evidence hold any water because they may have given evidence simply to get favours from the prosecution.

If they had been brought to give evidence in the court, the defence would have opportunity to cross-examine them and test their credibility.

Kenyans will now have to wait for about 90 days to know the fate of the six suspects, all of whom have argued their cases well in their efforts to prove their innocence.

The prosecutor will have sleepless nights for the 90 days it will take the Judges to decide, because he still wants to see that case approved for a full trial.

Hopefully, justice will be done to all affected.

End

 

————–

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Kenyan leaders arrive in Oslo to acquiant themselves on how to manage peaceful elections

Posted by African Press International on October 7, 2011

By API

Oslo Friday 7.10.2011  – Tomorrow Saturday evening, Kenyan Parliamentarians and party members arrive in Oslo, Norway to acquaint themselves on how peaceful electioneering process in Europe is carried out. They will also acquaint themselves with how coalition governments are managed effectively. The organizers want to help Kenya in the coming elections come 2012. The move is meant to avoid clashes that killed many people in 2007 disputed elections.

The chaos of 2007 has led to charges preferred against six Kenyan leaders who appeared last month and this month at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Mr William Ruto, Mr Henry Kosgey, Mr Joshua Sang made their appearance between 1st September through 20th September, while Hon Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr Francis Muthaura and Mr Hussein Ali had their days in court between the 21st September ending on the 5th October.

The ICC Judges will now make their ruling in the coming 90 days whether to confirm the charges against the six Kenyans or clear their them against the charges.

The delegation comprises of the following;

NAMES FOR NDI KENYA STUDY MISSION OSLO 8 – 15 OCTOBER 2011

NARC-KENYA Political Party:

  1. Hon. Danson Buya. Mungatana – MP Secretary General
  2. Mr. Taabu Daniels, Executive Director,

ODM-KENYA Political Party:

  1. Hon. Mutula Kilonzo, MP, Secretary General. Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs
  2. Brig. Henry Robb, Executive Director

FORD-KENYA Political Party

  1. Hon. Moses Makisa Wetangula, – MP, Party Leader. Minister of Foreign Affairs
  2. Ms. Happy Gloria Akhayalu, vice chairperson, Ford-K, representing the Ford-K secretariat

DEMOCRATIC PARTY Political Party

  1. Hon. Joseph Munyao, party leader, DP
  2. Mr. Laban Gitau, Executive Director

ODM Political Party

  1. Jakoyo Washington Midiwo, MP and chief whip ODM
  2. Ababu Namwamba, MP, member of the constituional committee in the Parliament
  3. Janet Ongera, Executive Director ODMTBC

KANU Political Party

  1. Hon. Justin B. Muturi, former MP, National Organizing Secretary
  2. Mr. Joseph Maathai, Executive Director,

PNU Political Party

  1. Hon. Jeremiah Ngayu Kioni, MP, deputy Secretary General
  2. Mr. Jasper Nyaboga, Executive Director,

NDI

  1. Mary O’Hagan, Senior Country Director (British passport)
  2. John Lovdal, Senior Program Manager (Norwegian passport)
  3. Phoebe Mungai, Program Manager (Kenyan passport)

The program for the members of the delegation while in Norway;

Monday 10th of October

08:00               Breakfast

09:00               Review of the study mission agenda (At the Oslo Center)

09:30               Briefing on the Norwegian Political System (At the Oslo Center)

11:00               Departure for Party offices

11:30               Relationship between party and legislators

11:30 – 13:00             The Labor Party

14:00 – 15:30              The Conservative Party

16:00 – 17:00              The Christian Democratic Party

 

Tuesday 11th October 2011

09:00               Departure for Stortinget

09:30               Relationship between the party caucus and the party organization

                    09:30       The Labor Party

                    10:45       The Conservative Party

                    12:00       The Christian Democratic Party

14:15           Leave for meetings with Oslo City

14:30           Sightseeing in Oslo City Hall

15:00           Meeting with representatives from Oslo City

16:30           Evening free

 

Wednesday 12th of October

09:45           Meetings with Ministry of Foreign Affairs

                    Gry Larsen

                    Bente Angell – Hansen

13:00           Round table – Oslo Center

14:30           Party coalition negotiation process and procedures – Oslo Center

                    Kari Husoy

16:00           Meeting with Ministers from the previous Coalition Government (2001 – 2005)

                    Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, Minister Torhild Skogsholm and Minister Ingjerd Schou

Thursday 12th of October

08:00           Breakfast

09:00           Leave for Stortinget

09:30          Process for inter-party cooperation and consensus building (w/ Parliamentary representatives)

14:00               Meeting with the Deputy President of the Stortinget

                        Hon. Marit Nybakk

15:15               Political Party Caucus meetings

                        Oyvind Haabrekke

End

—————

uhuru kenyatta, william ruto, international criminal court, oslo norway, and disputed elections.

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The euphoria surrounding South Sudan’s peaceful secession

Posted by African Press International on October 7, 2011

Celebrating independence

JUBA, ) – It is two months since the euphoria surrounding South Sudan’s peaceful secession from the north after decades of civil war, but violence in the border regions has flared since May. In a split still lacking clarity over border demarcations and the division of resources, several reports have outlined escalating tensions that have killed scores of people and pushed tens of thousands to leave their homes.

A report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), Sudan – Avoiding a new crisis, released on 1 October, says the lack of political inclusivity and the heavy-handed approach of President Omar al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to crush rebels and dissent could lead to a civil war in Sudan and destabilize the whole region.

The think-tank says that “conflict is spiralling out of control” in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following Sudan’s attempts to forcefully disarm and dissolve the northern branch of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) that fought against Khartoum for autonomy with the South for years.

Sudan’s refusals to pull troops out of the contested Abyei region and listen to marginalized people in eastern states and western Darfur could lead to mass unrest. The group also fears South Sudan being dragged into its first war, as accusations from both countries amplify over the funding of rebel groups to destabilize each other’s fragile political and economic situations.

In late August, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International documented civilians in South Kordofan talking about the daily, indiscriminate bomb attacks by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) that have killed many civilians and displaced more than 150,000 people since June.

Despite calls from these agencies to allow humanitarian aid to reach conflict areas, Bashir has steadfastly refused anyone but the Sudanese Red Crescent access since late August. On 29 September, foreign minister Ali Karti said Sudan could only allow aid groups to work in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan once a ceasefire was in place.

On African Arguments, author and expert on the Nuba people Nanne op’Tende says that after a 2001 ceasefire between SAF and SPLM Nuba in South Kordofan, she wrote about why this ethnic group needed to return home. She hoped that the Nuba could turn their SPLM rebel movement into a political force, capable of negotiating themselves a better deal under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Op’Tende now thinks that neither side was ready to end the war, while the Nuba are once again trapped in a cycle of conflict.

Magdi El Gizouli, a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute, accuses too many people “addicted to the pornography of bloodshed” who know too little about Sudan of meddling in its affairs. He criticizes NGOs for spurring on rebellions in Blue Nile from ousted SPLM governor Malik Agar and Abdal-Aziz al-Hilu’s operations in South Kordofan in the belief they will bring down Bashir’s regime. He explains why calling for US military intervention, the imposition of a no-fly zone over Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile and the destruction of the government’s offensive aerial assets are as bad at fomenting further unrest as hardline pledges of fighting until dissent is stamped out.

At end-September, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said more than 25,000 people had fled over the border to Ethiopia in the previous three weeks to escape air raids in Blue Nile state. With fighting continuing between the Sudanese army and rebels in Blue Nile, UNHCR said many refugees were taking beds, animals and televisions in expectation of a long exile. With another 10,000 expected arrivals, UN agencies and the International Organization for Migration have launched an US$18.3m appeal for Blue Nile refugees.

When Sudanese Armed Forces stormed into Abyei in May, the George Clooney-sponsored Satellite Sentinel Project claimed footage showed that one-third of civilian buildings were destroyed by tanks and looting. More than 110,000 people fled south of the border and have been stuck in South Sudan ever since in areas hit by flooding and food insecurity, as the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian affairs (OCHA) requested humanitarian access to Abyei.

The former southern minister Luka Biong Deng also called for access to the disputed territory from both sides of the border on legal and political grounds that mean the area of “special status” belongs to no one until both countries reach an agreement.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) warned that escalating inter-communal violence in Jonglei from cattle raids threatened to destabilize the new country. UNMISS Special Representative Hilde Johnson said containing the increasing brutality and sophistication of these armed attacks to a state the size of Bangladesh was the peacekeeping mission’s highest priority. “If it gets out of hand, we will be in a situation where the cycle of violence will escalate to unknown proportions in South Sudan,” she said on 27 September.

Darfur

In Darfur, the impact of rebel Khalil Ibrahim’s return from Libya following Col Muammar Gaddaffi’s fall could spell further trouble in the war-ravaged area as the region’s strongest rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), regains a leader who is hell-bent on toppling Sudan’s government.

Meanwhile, Dissent Magazine mourns the loss of the UN Panel of Experts for Darfur set up in 2005 to monitor an embargo on the movement of arms and military supplies and a UN Security Council ban on military flights into the Darfur region. It claims the region has been bombed more than 100 times this year, and Sudan’s government has succeeded in closing down the most authoritative body investigating reports of indiscriminate aerial attacks, and those targeting civilians.

A Human Rights Watch report in July also lamented the world’s apparent disinterest in Darfur since South Sudan’s independence. It said that during this period, Sudan stepped up bombing attacks on civilians, displacing more than 70,000 people, largely from ethnic Zaghawah and Fur communities linked to rebel groups.

hm/mw source http://www.irinnews.org

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Women farmers in Bangladesh are blocked from subsidies and support

Posted by African Press International on October 7, 2011

Women farmers in Bangladesh are blocked from subsidies and support

DHAKA,  – A significant number of women farmers in Bangladesh are unable to access fertilizer, cash assistance and other government subsidies intended for farmers, because the land they work is registered in their husband’s name, according to government officials, NGOs and women farmers.

Close to half of all farmers in Bangladesh are women, and the majority have not received their Agriculture Input Assistance Card (AIAC) required to access government subsidies, said Sadeka Halim, of the Information Commission, the government-run agency which oversees and enforces the country’s right to information act. Farmers must present their AIAC cards to receive subsidies, such as diesel for irrigation equipment.

The problem, according to Sharmind Neelormi, an associate economics professor at Jahangir Nagar University in Dhaka who has studied gender trends in farming, and others, is that the AIAC programme requires eligible cardholders to own land.

“It is our understanding there are millions of women who have not received AIAC simply because their land is registered under the name of their male partners who left the country while these women work in the field,” Neelormi said.

“It’s a humiliation for millions of women who are relentlessly working for food production in the country,” she added.
The Ministry of Agriculture has temporarily stopped issuing new cards amid allegations of corruption in the AIAC programme. Government officials say they are investigating. But farmers are still required to present the cards in exchange for subsidies.

Quazi Akhter Hossain, additional secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, said the AIAC programme was intended to provide farmers with a way to verify their status. Since it began in 2010, nearly 14 million cards have been distributed – short of the 19 million target, said Anwar Faruque, the Ministry of Agriculture’s director-general of the seed division.

More women farmers

The number of men working in agriculture in Bangladesh has decreased about 10 percent since 2002-03, while the number of women farmers has risen, according to a study released this year by Neelormi.

“The AIAC scheme overlooked the fact that more and more women are now engaging in the agriculture sector while more men are abandoning this job to go in search of jobs in the city and abroad,” said Ziaul Hoque, a steering committee member for the Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL), a local alliance of 200 local NGOs and civil society organizations campaigning for comprehensive agrarian reform in Bangladesh.

The director-general of the Department of Agriculture Extension Service, Habibul Rahman, said the AIAC programme was not designed to distinguish between male and female farmers, but focused on land ownership only.

“In order to recognize the role of the real food heroines of the country, the government must revise its policy related to AIAC,” said Neelormi. “Ownership of land cannot be the main criteria for distributing AIAC.”

Discrimination

Aloka Rani, a 45-year-old female farmer from Rangpur District, began farming after her husband’s death a decade ago. She said she is discriminated against as a woman in every step of food production.

“When I go to buy fertilizer, I am served last, and I face difficulties in hiring day labourers because in the village powerful males mock labourers who work under women,” Rani said.

A bank declined to give her a loan, too, because her land is registered under her husband’s name.

“This discrimination against me must end because our agriculture minister is a woman and our prime minister is a woman too,” the widow said.

husband, who is paralyzed. She said she spoke in March at a national programme marking International Women’s Day in Dhaka, and while she was there she asked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for an AIAC.

Six months later, Ambia Khatun continues to wait.

mh/es/nb/cbsource http://www.irinnews.org

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Setback for PrEP as branch of trial is halted

Posted by African Press International on October 7, 2011

Another setback in microbicide research

KAMPALA, ) – Hopes for a female-controlled HIV prevention tool have been dealt a blow by the termination of one part of a large African trial after it failed to show effectiveness.

The Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic (VOICE) study – involving more than 5,000 HIV-negative women in South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe – aimed to test the safety, effectiveness and acceptability of three HIV prevention methods: a vaginal gel containing antiretroviral drug tenofovir; daily use of oral tablets containing tenofovir, and daily use of oral Truvada, a combination of tenofovir and another ARV, emtricitabine.

But the independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) last week recommended that women assigned to the tenofovir tablet should discontinue use because the study would be unable to show a difference in effectiveness between the drug and a placebo. The trial’s remaining two parts will continue as planned.

“Although the findings are disappointing, this is the way research happens. By no means does it mean PrEP [pre-exposure prophylaxis] doesn’t work; it just means there are many more questions to be answered, and research will continue until we get the answers,” Mitchell Warren, executive director of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC), told IRIN/PlusNews. “This is not the end of the road, nor is it a dead end, but it is a big bump in the road.”

For the investigators, the termination of the tenofovir arm is deeply disappointing, and could create challenges for the remaining two.

“The fact that Truvada contains tenofovir and the gel also has the same agent means that we must work hard to communicate to our teams and participants that both arms are still viable and we are still hopeful about them,” Jeanne Marrazzo, one of the trial’s investigators, told IRIN/PlusNews, adding that information was being collated to ensure the trial participants were fully informed of the new developments and understood the distinction between oral tenofovir and the other two arms. The DSMB found no safety concerns with oral tenofovir.

“We do not know why the oral tenofovir proved ineffective – whether it was an adherence issue, or the absorbance of oral tenofovir did not produce high enough levels of the drug in the vagina, or a high viral load among participants’ partners; we need to wait till the end of the trial to analyze all the data,” she added. “We need to be careful about offering information until we have all the facts.”

The women on the oral tenofovir arm will all stop taking it within the next week, Marrazzo said, and they will be followed for two months to ensure there is no delayed effect.

Uncertainty

The modification of the trial will add to the uncertainty already surrounding the efficacy of ARV-based HIV prevention, with recent research yielding both promising and disappointing results. In April 2011, a three-country study known as FemPrEP was halted after daily doses of Truvada failed to prevent HIV infection in the women participating, while the iPrEx study of men who have sex with men and transgender people found that daily oral Truvada reduced HIV infection risk among participants by an average 43.8 percent.

In July 2011, scientists announced that the Partners PrEP trial had ended a year early because it found overwhelming evidence of the effectiveness of oral tenofovir and Truvada in preventing HIV infection among discordant couples; earlier in the year, a major randomized clinical trial – HPTN 052 – found that treating an HIV-infected individual reduced the risk of sexual transmission of HIV to an uninfected partner by as much as 96 percent. In 2010, the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) found that a vaginal gel containing tenofovir was 39 percent effective in reducing a woman’s HIV risk.

Marrazzo said she hoped the VOICE trial – due for completion in June 2012 – would reflect the results of the CAPRISA trial.

Sheryl Zwerski, acting director of the prevention science programme of the department of AIDS at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – the trial’s main sponsor – said the DSMB would meet in the next two months to review the trial and possibly offer further recommendations.

She noted that the setback would not affect the US government’s commitment to HIV prevention. “We are taking one step at a time and remain committed to funding HIV prevention to the point where there is an effective prevention method that women can control,” she told IRIN/PlusNews.

kr/kn/mw source http://www.irinnews.org

———-

international partnership for microbicides, safety monitoring board, vaccine advocacy, hiv negative women, and hiv prevention.

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