17 Feb 2010

Anti-corruption activists demonstrate outside President Mwai Kibaki's office in Nairobi

By Francois Ausseill (AFP)

NAIROBI — Kenyans on Wednesday marched to vent their anger at a coalition government slowly falling apart over graft allegations and its inability to further key reforms pledged two years ago.

Thousands of people displaced by the violence that broke out following the disputed December 2007 elections began marching from the Rift Valley to Nairobi on Tuesday but their 200-kilometre (120 miles) procession was aborted.

Anti-corruption activists also demonstrated outside President Mwai Kibaki's office in Nairobi."We want political accountability," shouted scores of demonstrators gathered in front of the president's office, standing next to a sign describing the institution as a "corruption-free zone".
"We welcome the recent suspension of senior civil servants and two ministers," Okiya Omtatah, who led the protesters, read out in a petition. He said the demonstrators backed neither side in the country's coalition government.

"We now call upon your excellency to use state machinery to ensure the two suspended ministers do not continue to occupy their ministerial offices," he said, referring to Prime Minister Raila Odinga's decision to sack them at the weekend, subsequently overruled by President Mwai Kibaki.

In the Rift Valley, displaced people had launched their march on Tuesday, saying they feared the death of the coalition government could spell further misery for hundreds of families still in limbo two years after the violence.

"We have a message for the president. We want him to listen to our grievances because we fear this coalition may collapse before we are resettled as promised," Peter Kariuki, who led the march, told AFP.

Armed police on Wednesday blocked the protestors on the highway however and government lorries eventually drove them back to their tents after local officials promised to relay their concerns to the government.

Up to 15,000 of the 250,000 people displaced by post-election violence still remain in camps since the 2008 unrest, which killed some 1,500 people.Kenya's unwieldy unity government has been repeatedly criticised at home and abroad for failing to tackle the root causes of the post-poll violence, bring the perpetrators to justice and eradicate corruption and impunity.

Simmering tensions between the premier and the president boiled over at the weekend when Odinga sacked the education and agriculture ministers accused of graft before Kibaki vetoed the move.

Kibaki argued Odinga did not consult him and had no authority to fire ministers, prompting the premier's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to threaten a boycott of cabinet meetings.
"ODM may not feel comfortable attending any cabinet meetings until that matter is resolved," Lands Minister James Orengo told reporters late Tuesday.

A cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday was subsequently cancelled.
Odinga's critics charged he was seeking to undermine Agriculture Minister William Ruto, who is likely to be one of Odinga's main rivals in presidential elections scheduled for 2012.

Odinga's supporters accused Kibaki and his entourage of protecting scandal-ridden officials -- including Attorney General Amos Wako -- providing further evidence that the regime was corrupt.

Odinga's adviser Miguna Miguna lashed out at Wako for censuring Odinga's move in what he said was a deliberate misinterpretation of the constitution.

"Mr Wako?s latest statement is the most embarrassing and scandalous utterance ever made by an attorney general in the Commonwealth," Miguna said.Wako has been repeatedly singled out by top UN and US officials as one of the main obstacles to reform in the country.

When the dispute over the 2007 polls flared, an international mediation led by former UN chief Kofi Annan rushed to Kenya and eventually brokered a power-sharing deal whereby Odinga became premier and Kibaki kept his job.But distrust and gamesmanship has characterised the unity government since, causing political stalwarts to splinter one after the other ahead of the 2012 polls and public opinion to become increasingly disenchanted.

On Monday, Vice Prime Minster Musalia Mudavadi called for Annan to return to Kenya to salvage the coalition government.


This should serve as a lesson to Tanzanians as well.One would have expected a similar protest when CCM MPs recently concluded the 2-year plus investigation over the Richmond scandal in such a disgusting way.By keeping mum it's as if our country has legalised the on-going plunder of our economy.Without expressing our anger by protests and such actions,the mafisadis (economic saboteurs) are made to believe that they could go on stealing our natural resources and taxpayers' money and get away without facing any consequence.Apart from impoverishing our country,giving mafisadis a free pass pose a danger of encouraging some innocent law-abiding citizens into such criminal activities.


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