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Only four nations have signed pact for African court
April 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

[caption id="attachment_17468" align="alignleft" width="300"]Deputy President William Ruto (right) with African presidents at an AU summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, where a protocal on establishment of an African court was made. Despite President Kenyatta’s condemnation of the ICC, lobbying by Kenya for the alternative African court has been low key. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP Deputy President William Ruto (right) with African presidents at an AU summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, where a protocal on establishment of an African court was made. Despite President Kenyatta’s condemnation of the ICC, lobbying by Kenya for the alternative African court has been low key. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP[/caption] Kenya’s push for an African court for trying crimes against humanity has received the backing of only three other countries.

A total of four countries — including Kenya — have signed the Malabo Protocol on the African court, according to the Arusha-based Pan African Lawyers Union.
In response to questions from Sunday Nation, the union listed the countries that have signed the protocol as Benin, Guinea Bissau, Kenya and Mauritania.
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed had said 11 countries had committed to support the initiative at the 24th Ordinary African Union summit in Addis Ababa (January 23 to 31 this year).
“In a recent conference, the Legal Counsel of the African Union, Prof Vincent Nmehielle, confirmed that, as at Friday March 20, 2015, only the four countries had signed the Malabo Protocol. To the best of our knowledge, no country has ratified the said Protocol to date,” the umbrella association of African lawyers and law societies said.
For the court to be operational, 15 countries need to sign and ratify the protocol, which was adopted in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, in 2014. It aims to expand the jurisdiction of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR) to handle 14 international crimes that are of serious concern to African states.
They include genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes of unconstitutional change of government, piracy, terrorism, corruption, money laundering, trafficking of persons, trafficking in drugs and crimes of aggression. Kenya, whose priority agenda at the 24th AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was to convince African countries to sign the protocol, was the first to do so on January 27. It was then Ms Mohammed told a press conference that 11 other countries had also agreed to sign up.
“We are not in a position to confirm what statement the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ms Amina Mohammed, may have made, or what her motivations may have been. We prefer not to speculate,” PALU said.
The West African nations of Benin and Guinea Bissau signed the Protocol on January 28 and 31, respectively, while Mauritania did so on February 26.
It is difficult to speculate with any measure of accuracy the time it may take to garner 15 ratifications for this Protocol, or indeed for any other,” PALU said. This, according to the association, is because “individual states have internal processes of assessing the implications and requirements of committing to international instruments, which they follow, before they ratify or accede to a treaty.
These processes could be lengthy and detailed, depending on the complexity of the treaty in question.”
Kenya has been pushing for the establishment of an African court which would weaken the International Criminal Court (ICC). Kenya and a number of African states have criticised the ICC, based at The Hague, as a puppet of the West and a tool of neo-colonialism.
Kenya’s concerted push for the African court started after the ICC indicted six senior leaders for the 2007/08 post-election violence in which an estimated 1,133 people were killed and another 650,000 driven from their homes.
Three of the individuals have had their cases terminated. They are former head of public service Francis Muthaura, former Commissioner of Police Hussein Ali and former minister Henry Kosgey. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s case was withdrawn.
However, the cases against Deputy President William Ruto and former radio broadcaster Joshua Sang are going on at The Hague. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is left with only one witness to conclude her case.
During the 24th Ordinary AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, African leaders “underscored  the need to expeditiously operationalise the exercise of the jurisdiction of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to try international crimes through signing and ratification” of the same.
According to the protocol, the African court’s criminal jurisdiction would be complementary to national jurisdictions, the Journalists for Justice said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had urged other African leaders to support the setting up of an African court that is run and funded by Africa. At the same meeting, he castigated ICC, saying The Hague court “poses a grave risk to peace and security not only in Africa, but to the whole world.” He also pledged a donation of $1 million (Sh92.6 million) to the African court. Despite the President’s strong condemnation of the ICC, lobbying by Kenya of other African States was low-key. But the country is hoping that the 25th Ordinary AU Summit in South Africa will provide it with an opportunity to get its peers to sign to the protocol. The 25th Ordinary AU Summit is set to be hosted by South Africa in June 2015. *Source Daily Nation
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Repatriation threat alarms Somali refugees in Kenya
April 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

Photo: John Ndiku/OCHA Some 350,000 refugees live in eastern Kenya's Dadaab complex Photo: John Ndiku/OCHA
Some 350,000 refugees live in eastern Kenya’s Dadaab complex[/caption] DADAAB, Kenya, 13 April 2015 (IRIN) – A threat from Kenya’s deputy president to send back hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees in the wake of the Garissa university shooting has prompted alarm in the camps and rebuke from advocacy groups and even some MPs. It may not reflect government policy, but William Ruto declared on Saturday in a televised speech: “We have asked the UNHCR [the UN Refugee Agency] to relocate the refugees in three months, failure to which we shall relocate them ourselves.” Ruto was speaking nine days after at least 147 people, mostly students, were murdered in a university campus in an attack claimed by al-Shabab, a mostly Somali insurgent group that also has a significant Kenyan membership. Some 350,000 Somali refugees live in the Dadaab complex in eastern Kenya, about 100 kilometres from the Somali border. Kenyan officials and MPs accuse al-Shabab of training and recruiting militants inside the camps, which were set up in the early 1990s to accommodate refugees fleeing Somalia’s civil war. Shortly after the Garissa slaughter, the Kenyan government suspended the licences of 13 money remittance firms as a counter-terrorism measure. Many refugees in Dadaab rely on such firms to receive money from friends and relatives. It is unclear whether Ruto’s speech was backed by an actual plan formulated by the Kenyan government. Both UNHCR and the Somali government say they have had no formal communication about a large-scale repatriation. Kenya’s own commissioner for refugee affairs, Harun Komen, told IRIN he had not received any official directive so was therefore unable to comment. If such a repatriation did take place, “we would find it a big challenge,” UNHCR spokesman Emmanuel Nyabera told IRIN. He pointed out that Kenya had undertaken, in a tripartite accord signed with Somalia and UNHCR in late 2013, to ensure all returns would be voluntary. “Most refugees come from southern and central parts of Somalia and some of these areas are still unsafe. We can only facilitate returns when refugees can go back in a safe and sustainable manner,” he said. About a million Somalis are internally displaced within their own country, mostly as a result of insecurity. Nyabera added that all three parties to the agreement have been taking part in follow-up meetings geared towards the establishment of a tripartite commission. Somali Foreign Minister Abdisalan Hadliye said his government had received no official word about a repatriation. “If it is true, (it) will be very serious,” he told BBC radio. “It will be against the intentional law, it will be against the human rights, it will be against the agreement we have with the Kenyan government and the [one] UN has with the Kenyan government.” Abdulahi Osman, who chairs a refugee committee in Ifo, one of the Dadaab camps, urged the Kenyan government to reverse any such decision if it had been made. “We fled from war and still there is war,” Osman said. “The government should look into the humanitarian side. We share the pain [of the Garissa attack] with the Kenyan government and we are sorry about what has happened. The reality is we have to find the real culprits.” Fatuma Yussuf, who runs a small business in Dadaab, said Kenya should not force the refugees away after sheltering them for 25 years, especially as there was nothing for them back in Somalia. “We love our country, that is where the heart is. But the question is, why are we not returning at this time? Al-Shabab controls most areas. I am from Jilib town and they are the ones controlling it. Should I surrender to them and let them do anything they like? That will not happen.” Father-of-seven Ahmed Yussuf said Ruto’s threat was “unrealistic” and “can’t happen.” “Moving 400,000 people within three months is impossible,” he added. If forced returns did happen, “I fear for my children, especially my sons,” Yussuf said. “They will join either the government forces or al-Shabab. They will start killing people and their future will be devastated. I worked hard to make sure they study so that they help themselves and also move us out of this poverty. I am sure if we go back that bright future will not be there.” But for Abdi Abdulahi, who has lived in Dadaab since he was four, Ruto’s words made sense. “What the deputy president said is right. Enough is enough. Let us go back and build our country instead of begging for food. It’s time we farm or do business instead of waiting for 3 kilograms of maize for 15 days. “Refugee life is useless. For how long can we be called refugee? I have dreamt of going back for a long time but my parents would not let me. Now the time has come,” he told IRIN. Refugees International, an advocacy group based in Washington, told IRIN that if Ruto’s plan was translated into action, it would be illegal under international conventions as well as Kenya’s own constitution. (In January, Kenya’s high court ruled that elements of new security legislation which capped the number of refugees in Kenya at 150,000 violated the constitution. ) [caption id="attachment_17455" align="alignright" width="300"]EDITORIAL CARTOON: The anti #refugees sentiments are fuelled by ignorance #Dadaab @UNHCR_Kenya via @ndula_victor EDITORIAL CARTOON: The anti #refugees sentiments are fuelled by ignorance #Dadaab @UNHCR_Kenya via @ndula_victor .
The Star, Kenya[/caption] Senior Advocate Mark Yarnell said that although the lack of official communication could mean the deportation threat was not real, “it’s extremely worrying” to hear it from such a senior person as the deputy president. Previous calls for sending Somali refugees back have come from MPs. “It’s politically expedient to blame the refugee population and for the government to try to show they are doing something in response to the attack,” Yarnell said. The government, and especially top security officials, has been widely criticized for the many hours’ delay in deploying a crack anti-terrorist police unit to the scene of the shootings in Garissa. “What’s unfortunate is that a move like this only serves to reinforce xenophobic mentalities and further enforce divisions,” said Yarnell. Mindful of this danger, some Kenyan MPs have turned on Ruto for threatening to close Dadaab. The Parliamentary Caucus on Human Rights described the deputy president’s speech as an “an arbitrary roadside chest-thumping declaration” and said it should be rescinded. Previous backlashes After a spate of bombings attributed to al-Shabab last year, Kenyan authorities arrested thousands of ethnic Somalis and deported several dozen who were found to be in Kenya illegally. The actions of the police were roundly condemned by local and international human rights organisations. And in 2012, then president Mwai Kibaki cited the threat of insecurity to justify proposing closing Dadaab and repatriating the refugees there back to Somalia. *Source IRIN]]>

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Kenya demands U.N. removes massive Somali refugee camp
April 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Duncan Miriri* [caption id="attachment_17434" align="alignleft" width="300"]An aerial view shows an extension of the Ifo camp, one of the several refugee settlements in Dadaab, Garissa County, northeastern Kenya, October 7, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola An aerial view shows an extension of the Ifo camp, one of the several refugee settlements in Dadaab, Garissa County, northeastern Kenya, October 7, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola[/caption]

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya has given the United Nations three months to remove a camp housing more than half a million Somali refugees, as part of a get-tough response to the killing of 148 people by Somali gunmen at a Kenyan university.

Kenya has in the past accused Islamist militants of hiding out in Dadaab camp which it now wants the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR to move across the border to inside Somalia.

“We have asked the UNHCR to relocate the refugees in three months, failure to which we shall relocate them ourselves,” Deputy President William Ruto said in a statement on Saturday.

“The way America changed after 9/11 is the way Kenya will change after Garissa,” he said, referring to the university that was attacked on April 2.

Emmanuel Nyabera, spokesman for the UNHCR in Kenya, said they were yet to receive formal communication from the government on the relocation of Dadaab and could not comment.

The complex of camps hosts more than 600,000 Somali refugees, according to Ruto, in a remote, dry corner in northeast Kenya, about an hour’s drive from Garissa town.

The camp was first established in 1991 when civil war broke out in neighboring Somalia, and over subsequent years has received waves of refugees fleeing conflict and drought.

The United Nations puts the number of registered refugees in the chronically overcrowded settlements of permanent structures, mud shanties and tents, at around 335,000. The camp houses schools, clinics and community centers.

Macharia Munene, professor of international relations at USIU-Africa, said the logistics of moving hundreds of thousands of refugees across the border would be “a tall order”.

But he said there were now safe areas within Somalia from where Islamist al Shabaab militants had been chased out by African Union forces in recent years.

“Kenya is in an emergency situation… Each country has an obligation to look after its people first,” he told Reuters.

[caption id="attachment_17435" align="alignright" width="300"]Kenya Police from the elite Recce Company squad pay their respects as the coffin is lowered into the grave at the funeral of Corporal Benard Kipkemoi Tonui, who was killed as he battled gunmen that attacked Garissa University, in the village of Cheleget in Bomet, April 11, 2015. Kenya has given the United Nations three months to remove a camp housing more than half a million Somali refugees, as part of a get-tough response to the killing of 148 people by Somali gunmen at a Kenyan university. REUTERS/Stringer TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY Kenya Police from the elite Recce Company squad pay their respects as the coffin is lowered into the grave at the funeral of Corporal Benard Kipkemoi Tonui, who was killed as he battled gunmen that attacked Garissa University, in the village of Cheleget in Bomet, April 11, 2015. Kenya has given the United Nations three months to remove a camp housing more than half a million Somali refugees, as part of a get-tough response to the killing of 148 people by Somali gunmen at a Kenyan university. REUTERS/Stringer TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY[/caption]

Funerals of the students killed in the campus attack were taking place across the country. Pictures of their grieving families dominated the media, reminding Kenyans of the attack.

Ruto said Kenya had started building a 700-km (440-mile) wall along the entire length of the border with Somalia to keep out members of al Shabaab.

“We must secure this country at whatever cost, even if we lose business with Somalia, so be it,” he said.

On Tuesday, Kenya closed 13 informal money remittance firms, hawalas, to cut off funding to suspected radicals. Ruto said any business that collaborated with al Shabaab would be shut down.

Al Shabaab has killed more than 400 people on Kenyan soil in the last two years, including 67 during a siege at Nairobi’s Westgate mall in 2013, damaging tourism and inward investment.

On Monday, the Kenyan air force launched air strikes against al Shabaab targets in Somalia, a country where it has been militarily engaged against the Islamists for several years.

*Source Reuters/Yahoo]]>

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Obama plans first presidential trip to Kenya, father's homeland
March 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

 

Washington (AFP) – Barack Obama will make a long-awaited return to Kenya this July, visiting his father’s homeland for the first time since becoming US president, the White House announced Monday.

 During the much-delayed visit, Obama will attend a summit to encourage entrepreneurship and meet the country’s controversial leader Uhuru Kenyatta.
  [caption id="attachment_17213" align="alignleft" width="300"]Barack Obama will in July make a first presidential trip to Kenya (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb) Barack Obama will in July make a first presidential trip to Kenya (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)[/caption]

Obama’s late father was from a small village near the shores of Lake Victoria. He met Obama’s white American mother in Hawaii, where they had a son before divorcing.

America’s first black president has visited sub-Saharan Africa four times since taking office in 2009, but political scandal has blocked a presidential visit to his ancestral home.

For much of Obama’s time in power, Kenya’s president Kenyatta had been under investigation by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Kenyatta was indicted on five counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in 2007-08 post-election violence that killed an estimated 1,200 people.

The 53-year-old son of Kenya’s founding father protested his innocence until the case was dropped in December.

Prosecutors complained that they had been undermined by a lack of cooperation by the Kenyan government, as well as the bribing or intimidation of witnesses.

A White House official told AFP that Obama and Kenyatta would meet during the visit.

The official, who asked not to be named, said the United States regularly raises “concerns with the Kenyan government about restrictions on human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

“The president’s trip will create another opportunity for dialogue with the government and civil society on these issues.”

Kenyatta had attended a US-Africa summit in Washington in 2014 but did not hold a bilateral meeting with Obama.

Kenya is seen as a front in the fight against global terror, following a series of deadly attacks that have been claimed by Somalia-based jihadist group al-Shebab.

Many Western governments have since warned tourists against visiting Kenya’s stunning coastline, which draws in hordes of visitors and much-needed tourism revenue.

– Forefathers and ancestry –

The White House hopes that a visit will also do more to cement ties between the United States and the African continent, which has received billions in Chinese investment in recent decades.

“Just as President (John) Kennedy’s historic visit to Ireland in 1963 celebrated the connections between Irish-Americans and their forefathers, President Obama’s trip will honor the strong historical ties between the United States and Kenya – and all of Africa,” White House advisors said in a blog.

Millions of Americans trace their ancestry to the African continent, and more than 100,000 Americans live in or visit Kenya each year, they said.

Obama had visited Kenya multiple times before entering politics and in 2006 as a US senator, when he visited his father’s home village Nyang’oma-Kogelo and took a very public HIV test.

[caption id="attachment_17214" align="alignright" width="292"]Barack Obama greets his grandmother Sarah Obama at her rural home in Siaya near Kisumu in Kenya, on August 26, 2006 (AFP Photo/Simon Maina) Barack Obama greets his grandmother Sarah Obama at her rural home in Siaya near Kisumu in Kenya, on August 26, 2006 (AFP Photo/Simon Maina)[/caption]

The president’s heritage has spurred domestic controversy, with some hardline political foes claiming he was not born in the United States and so was ineligible to become president.

Obama allies say this is thinly veiled racism and the president has often made light of the controversy.

“If I did not love America, I wouldn’t have moved here from Kenya,” he recently joked.

Some Republicans accused Obama of trying to stir up controversy.

“I personally think he’s just inciting some chatter on an issue that should have been a dead issue a long time ago,” John Sununu, who served as White House chief of staff for president George H. W. Bush, told Fox News.

On the July visit, Obama is expected to take part in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), which is being held in sub-Saharan Africa for the first time.

“Hosting the GES is an opportunity for Kenya to showcase its economic progress,” said the White House official.

“Kenya maintains enormous potential for economic growth, thanks to the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of the Kenyan people.”

*Source AFP/Yahoo
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Obama plans first presidential trip to Kenya, father’s homeland
March 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

 

Washington (AFP) – Barack Obama will make a long-awaited return to Kenya this July, visiting his father’s homeland for the first time since becoming US president, the White House announced Monday.

 During the much-delayed visit, Obama will attend a summit to encourage entrepreneurship and meet the country’s controversial leader Uhuru Kenyatta.

 

Barack Obama will in July make a first presidential trip to Kenya (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Barack Obama will in July make a first presidential trip to Kenya (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Obama’s late father was from a small village near the shores of Lake Victoria. He met Obama’s white American mother in Hawaii, where they had a son before divorcing.

America’s first black president has visited sub-Saharan Africa four times since taking office in 2009, but political scandal has blocked a presidential visit to his ancestral home.

For much of Obama’s time in power, Kenya’s president Kenyatta had been under investigation by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Kenyatta was indicted on five counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in 2007-08 post-election violence that killed an estimated 1,200 people.

The 53-year-old son of Kenya’s founding father protested his innocence until the case was dropped in December.

Prosecutors complained that they had been undermined by a lack of cooperation by the Kenyan government, as well as the bribing or intimidation of witnesses.

A White House official told AFP that Obama and Kenyatta would meet during the visit.

The official, who asked not to be named, said the United States regularly raises “concerns with the Kenyan government about restrictions on human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

“The president’s trip will create another opportunity for dialogue with the government and civil society on these issues.”

Kenyatta had attended a US-Africa summit in Washington in 2014 but did not hold a bilateral meeting with Obama.

Kenya is seen as a front in the fight against global terror, following a series of deadly attacks that have been claimed by Somalia-based jihadist group al-Shebab.

Many Western governments have since warned tourists against visiting Kenya’s stunning coastline, which draws in hordes of visitors and much-needed tourism revenue.

– Forefathers and ancestry –

The White House hopes that a visit will also do more to cement ties between the United States and the African continent, which has received billions in Chinese investment in recent decades.

“Just as President (John) Kennedy’s historic visit to Ireland in 1963 celebrated the connections between Irish-Americans and their forefathers, President Obama’s trip will honor the strong historical ties between the United States and Kenya – and all of Africa,” White House advisors said in a blog.

Millions of Americans trace their ancestry to the African continent, and more than 100,000 Americans live in or visit Kenya each year, they said.

Obama had visited Kenya multiple times before entering politics and in 2006 as a US senator, when he visited his father’s home village Nyang’oma-Kogelo and took a very public HIV test.

Barack Obama greets his grandmother Sarah Obama at her rural home in Siaya near Kisumu in Kenya, on August 26, 2006 (AFP Photo/Simon Maina)

Barack Obama greets his grandmother Sarah Obama at her rural home in Siaya near Kisumu in Kenya, on August 26, 2006 (AFP Photo/Simon Maina)

The president’s heritage has spurred domestic controversy, with some hardline political foes claiming he was not born in the United States and so was ineligible to become president.

Obama allies say this is thinly veiled racism and the president has often made light of the controversy.

“If I did not love America, I wouldn’t have moved here from Kenya,” he recently joked.

Some Republicans accused Obama of trying to stir up controversy.

“I personally think he’s just inciting some chatter on an issue that should have been a dead issue a long time ago,” John Sununu, who served as White House chief of staff for president George H. W. Bush, told Fox News.

On the July visit, Obama is expected to take part in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), which is being held in sub-Saharan Africa for the first time.

“Hosting the GES is an opportunity for Kenya to showcase its economic progress,” said the White House official.

“Kenya maintains enormous potential for economic growth, thanks to the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of the Kenyan people.”

*Source AFP/Yahoo

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Kenyan ministers suspended over corruption claims
March 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

President Kenyatta has given investigators 60 days to report on the allegations President Kenyatta has given investigators 60 days to report on the allegations[/caption]

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has suspended four cabinet ministers and 12 other high-ranking officials after they were implicated in corrupt deals.

A fifth minister stepped aside earlier. The officials were mentioned in a report handed to parliament by the president this week. Some had defied the president’s order to step aside and allow investigations into corrupt dealings in ministries that include transport, energy, labour and agriculture. Those suspended were named earlier this week in a report by the country’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. President Kenyatta has given the commission 60 days to investigate the allegations levelled against the officials. The BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza in Nairobi says Kenya has long grappled with sleaze in government, blamed for the loss of millions of dollars each year. *Source BBC]]>

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'No blacks' Chinese restaurant shut down in Kenya
March 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

Nairobi (AFP) – A Chinese restaurant in the Kenyan capital Nairobi has been shut down and its owners summoned by authorities after it emerged it was barring black patrons, reports said Wednesday.

[caption id="attachment_17110" align="alignleft" width="300"]The Chinese restaurant in Nairobi that has been shut down and its owners summoned by authorities after it emerged it was barring black patrons, on March 25, 2015 (AFP Photo/Simon Maina) The Chinese restaurant in Nairobi that has been shut down and its owners summoned by authorities after it emerged it was barring black patrons, on March 25, 2015 (AFP Photo/Simon Maina)[/caption]

The restaurant became the focus of city authorities after furious residents took to social media to denounce an apparently racist policy of not allowing African patrons to eat there after 5pm — pushing #RacistRestaurant, #NoBlacksHere and #TheChineseInvasion to be top trending topics.

The owners of the restaurant said the measure had been put in place following a robbery in 2013, and have apologised for causing any offence, the Daily Nation reported.

But it said the Chongquing Chinese restaurant, situated in Nairobi’s bustling commercial and residential district of Kilimani, had been shut down anyway for not having the proper licences.

“We have established that the restaurant did not have the licences and I have ordered it closed until the management complies,” Nairobi governor Evans Kidero said in a statement.

“The owners of the restaurant have no change of user from residential to commercial which is a requirement to operate a business in Nairobi,” he said, adding the restaurant did not have a valid liquor licence and had failed to comply public health requirements on food handling.

“As of now the restaurant will remain closed until they comply with all set rules and regulations. We have deployed security officers around the premises.”

The governor also asserted that “all business and service providers must ensure that all customers and clients are treated with respect and dignity, irrespective of race, colour, sex, tribe and religion,” the Standard newspaper quoted him as saying.

Reports said the restaurant’s Chinese owners and managers had also been summoned by Kenya’s immigration authorities, while one Kenyan MP has also asked the Parliamentary Committee on Security to carry out its own investigation.

– Attack fears –

The Nation newspaper quoted a restaurant manager as saying the policy was aimed at keeping out thieves and members of Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affliated Shebab militants, who in 2013 massacred at least 67 people in Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall.

“We don’t admit Africans that we don’t know because you never know who is Al-Shebab and who isn’t,” restaurant relations manager Esther Zhao was quoted as saying.

“It is not like it is written on somebody’s face that they are a thug armed with a gun,” she said, adding the Chinese embassy in Nairobi had told Chinese businesses to be vigilant over the threat of attacks.

A city official however told the Star newspaper that the incident “has nothing to do with the friendship and diplomatic relations Kenya enjoys with China,” a major investor in east Africa’s biggest economy.

Although China’s relationship with Kenya and much of Africa is seen as being at an all-time high — notably with with huge investments in major infrastructure projects — ties have also been overshadowed by China’s massive demand for ivory, which wildlife campaigners say is decimating Africa’s elephants.

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Battle for dominance, peer rivalry and jealousy at the centre of Nairobi-Dar tiff
March 24, 2015 | 1 Comments

By MURITHI MUTIGA*

[caption id="attachment_17074" align="alignleft" width="600"]Kenya has barred Tanzanian-registered tour vans from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport because Kenyan operators are equally barred in Tanzania. FILE PHOTO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP Kenya has barred Tanzanian-registered tour vans from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport because Kenyan operators are equally barred in Tanzania. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP[/caption] The headline in Wednesday’s edition of The Citizen newspaper summed up the poor state of relations between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam: “Tanzania hits Kenya where it hurts,” the paper declared, going on to describe, in triumphal terms, how a decision to sharply reduce the number of flights operated by Kenya Airways in Tanzania would cause the airline to “lose big time”.
The spat over KQ flights has not been the only clash between Dar and Nairobi in recent times.
Everywhere you look, relations between the two biggest economies in East Africa seem to be steadily heading south.
Tanzania’s decision to reduce Kenya Airways flights into its territory from a weekly schedule of 42 to 14 follows an earlier move by Kenya to bar Tanzanian-registered tour vans from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
That measure in turn was prompted by steady complaints over many years that Kenyan tour operators are frequently barred from Tanzanian game parks while their counterparts could freely enter those on the Kenyan side.
In what would seem an escalation of anti-foreigner rhetoric in Tanzania, MPs there passed a law last week barring foreigners from holding any job that a Tanzanian citizen can perform.
While the Non-Citizens Employment Regulation Bill matches similar laws in most countries in the world, the BBC reported that Kenyans, Zambians and Chinese nationals appeared to be the main targets of the new law.
Meanwhile, a Tanzanian plan to build a road that would cut through the Serengeti National Park — and effectively halt the world-famous wildebeest migration that terminates spectacularly in Kenya’s Maasai Mara — seems to have been frozen only by global protests by environmental groups.
The EastAfrican newspaper, published in Nairobi by the Nation Media Group, remains banned in Tanzania while a number of Kenyan editors and executives have in the past been bundled out of the country on short notice over work permit issues.
Most seriously, however, Kenya has been seen to be at the heart of a “coalition of the willing” between the administrations in Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali and lately Juba, which have isolated Tanzania from a series of mega-projects planned in the region and triggered disquiet in the halls of power in Dar es Salaam.
Some have questioned whether the escalating spat between Kenya and Tanzania could herald anew the problems of mutual mistrust and hostility in the 1970s that led to the break-up of the original East African Community.
Dr Benson Bana of the University of Dar es Salaam told the Sunday Nation this outcome was unlikely.
“There is no looking back in the journey towards integration,” he said. “Our people already enjoy so many ties. What is important is for those in power to emphasise the integration of the East African people rather than just their governments so that citizens appreciate the benefits of integration. I highly doubt we will see the breakup of the union, there just needs to be better communication.”
Kenyan observers are far less optimistic. Dr Samuel Nyandemo of the University of Nairobi’s Department of Economics says Kenya should find alternatives to the Tanzanian market because the relationship between the two countries is in a state of permanent dysfunction.
“Around the world, the trend is towards integration, with people looking to build bigger markets and partnerships which are mutually beneficial. (President Jakaya) Kikwete’s attitude is, however, inward looking, introverted and outdated. Kenya should intensify its relations with the more modern, open-minded leaders in Uganda and Rwanda and explore new markets and commercial relationships in Ethiopia, South Sudan and even Sudan.”
ECONOMIC DOMINANCE
Ties between Kenya and Tanzania have never been warm. The worldviews of the founding fathers of the two countries, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, were radically different.
Mzee Kenyatta branded his economic policy “African socialism”, but he was in fact a believer in the free market, attracting large flows of investor funds into the country which not only helped to make Kenya the biggest non-mineral economy in sub-Saharan Africa but also one with some of the highest levels of income inequality.
Mwalimu Nyerere, in turn, dabbled with a socialist experiment of collective production known as ujamaa, which failed disastrously — meaning Tanzania, despite its vast mineral deposits and huge agriculturally productive lands that some say should make it “Africa’s Australia”, is instead an economic laggard by most standards.
Nevertheless, President Nyerere left behind a nation with one of the highest levels of social cohesion on the continent.
The clashes of the 1970s between Mzee Kenyatta and Mwalimu Nyerere appear to have been rekindled under the watch of the younger Kenyatta.
A veteran diplomat who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations within government in which he took part told the Sunday Nation that at root, the sour relations between Kenya and Tanzania were a tussle for economic dominance and a proxy for the competition between Tanzania’s planned multi-billion new port at Bagamoyo and Kenya’s Mombasa port and its planned new facility in Lamu.
“When President Kenyatta came to power in 2013, he was told that the greatest strategic challenge Kenya faced was the slow death of the Mombasa port due to years of inefficiency and the declared plans by (Presidents Yoweri) Museveni and (Paul) Kagame to build road and rail links to the new Bagamoyo port. In fact, Rwanda was so frustrated with Mombasa that it had even opened talks with Djibouti, asking to be allowed to build its own port there.”
The diplomat said unlike his largely aloof predecessor Mwai Kibaki, Mr Kenyatta quickly built good relations with Mr Museveni and Mr Kagame and bent over backwards to show them that the Mombasa port was being reformed.
A key decision was the adoption of a single customs territory regime under whose terms Ugandan and Rwandan customs officials are now allowed to directly collect duty on goods heading to their countries at the Mombasa port.
The move triggered disquiet among Kenyan operators at the port, with the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association recently claiming it had affected 500 companies involved in the clearing and forwarding business and could lead to job losses among Kenyans.
But the decision proved a diplomatic success, arresting the earlier drift of Kigali and Kampala towards the Bagamoyo port.
ISOLATION
This early rapprochement between the three countries built into what President Museveni would later dub the “coalition of the willing”, with the three heads of state holding a string of summits from which President Kikwete was notably absent.
But some critics say there was also an element of peer rivalry and resentment over Mr Kikwete’s regional “golden boy” status which saw President Barack Obama pass other countries in the region over for a stop in Dar on his African tour in July 2013.
The key moment in the diplomatic manoeuvring came on August 28, 2013 when the three heads of state and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan met in Mombasa and inked a deal to jointly push a series of major infrastructure projects including the standard gauge railway and an oil pipeline.
All these developments caused great alarm in Dar. In what Tanzanian newspapers described as a tense parliamentary session in the first week of November 2013, President Kikwete assailed the seeming isolation of his country.
“For some time, I have been asking myself: is there a scheme to force Tanzania out of the EAC?” he said. “Do my brothers from Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda hate me personally? Finding answers for these questions has been a hard nut to crack.”
Mr Kikwete questioned why Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya were holding meetings on their own to discuss major projects yet his country was a key stakeholder.
“This is a clear move to isolate Tanzania. How can we realize political integration through isolation?” he said.
The veteran diplomat approached to analyse these developments said while Mr Kenyatta had shown good diplomatic skills in wooing Uganda and Rwanda to the Kenyan side, his administration had badly mishandled the recent Tanzanian tour vans situation.
Around the world, he argued, countries that dominate their economic blocs like Germany and Brazil work very hard to keep their trade partners happy and take the lead in fighting to maintain regional integration projects.
Since Kenya has much more to lose from a deteriorating relationship with Tanzania than Tanzania does, he argued, Kenya should simply have allowed Tanzanian tour drivers into JKIA despite the lack of reciprocity when it comes to game drives.
According to the Economic Survey of 2014, Tanzania was second only to Uganda on the continent as an export destination for Kenya in 2013, taking in goods valued at Sh40.5 billion.
Thousands of Kenyans are employed in Tanzania, holding primarily mid-level managerial positions.
Businessman and commentator Robert Shaw says it is vital for Kenya to repair ties with its neighbour.
“This is a sensitive and important relationship,” he said. “There needs to be a much greater effort on both sides and especially on the Kenyan side to get the two sides to sit down and talk. There is a lot of potential for this relationship to work much better.”
Dr Bana, however, argued that it was possible to overstate the extent of the problem.
“It is true that we have seen many meetings between Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, but that is perfectly in order and the projects they are working on are within the ambit of the EAC. However, President Kikwete attended the most recent meeting and we saw very warm words exchanged between him and President Kenyatta. The fact they have a jovial and respectful relationship is a good omen, and there is no reason why the problems that exist cannot be surmounted.”
Dr Bana pointed out that the minister in charge of East African cooperation in Tanzania was yet to speak about the latest restrictions on Kenya Airways and said it was only fair to believe the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authorities’ stance that its actions flowed from a breakdown in negotiations and was not punitive.
The political science lecturer said leaders of the two countries need to appreciate that international relations should be governed by a mutually respectful give-and-take approach.
“Some of us who travel frequently use Kenya Airways and are bound to be affected by these cutbacks,” he said. “Yet it is also true that Kenya has enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the Dar, Zanzibar and Entebbe routes, which is not always to the benefit of customers. Nobody wins in this stalemate. The Tanzanian tourism industry may suffer, travellers will be inconvenienced while Kenya Airways will also be negatively affected.”
Dr Bana said the Tanzanian decision seemed to have been taken “hurriedly without looking at its impact” and called for talks to resolve the standoff. In the long term, he said, Tanzania and Uganda should explore reviving their national carriers or preferably look at the possibility with Kenya of building an East African airline.
Dr Nyandemo, in turn, argues that the future is bleak for Kenya-Tanzania ties.
“Fundamentally, the issue is that Tanzania is not sure it wants to belong in the EAC. It has taken a spaghetti approach to integration and has one foot in East Africa and another in the Southern African Development Community. We should be honest with ourselves and work with more open-minded leaders who appreciate that integration in the modern world is about benefiting from the comparative advantage of one another and is not governed by pettiness and jealousy.”
The hostilities between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam have occasionally taken a comical turn, with a Tanzanian MP last year demanding that the attorney-general in Dar es Salaam take steps to stop Kenya Airways from using the image of Mount Kilimanjaro in its promotional material.
Same East MP Anne Kilango-Malecela told Parliament that she had seen “a Kenya Airways plane bearing Mount Kilimanjaro as a symbol and yet the (Tanzania) government is silent…the mountain is in Tanzania and is a leading tourist attraction,” she said.
Attorney-General Frederick Werema, however, responded that it was not wrong for the airline or any other party to use Mount Kilimanjaro as a business symbol “because Tanzania has not taken out a patent for the mountain. It is true there is such a plane moving around with images of Mount Kilimanjaro, but there is no problem because the mountain can also be viewed from Kenya,” he said. In the months to come, it will be instructive to see whether it is the more integrationist attitude adopted by AG Werema or the more hostile attitude of those such as MP Kilango-Malecela, that will triumph in the always difficult relationship between Nairobi and Dar. *Source Daily Nation
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Kenyan president torches 15-tonne ivory stockpile
March 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Tristan McConnell*

Nairobi (AFP) – Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta set fire to a giant pile of 15 tonnes of elephant ivory Tuesday, vowing to destroy the country’s entire stockpile of illegal tusks by the year’s end.

[caption id="attachment_16812" align="alignleft" width="300"]A Kenyan soldier stands near a burning pile of ivory at Nairobi National Park on March 3, 2015 (AFP Photo/Carl De Souza) A Kenyan soldier stands near a burning pile of ivory at Nairobi National Park on March 3, 2015 (AFP Photo/Carl De Souza)[/caption]

The 15 tonnes destroyed was worth some $30 million (over 26 million euros) on the black market and represented up to 1,500 slaughtered elephants — and dwarfs the ivory burned by previous Kenyan leaders.

“We want future generations of Kenyans, Africans and the entire world to experience the majesty and beauty of these magnificent beasts,” Kenyatta said as he lit a three-metre (10-foot) tall pyre of tusks — which conservationists said was the largest ever burned in Africa.

“Poachers and their enablers will not have the last word. We hope the rest of the world will follow our action in the same manner,” he said at the event, held on World Wildlife Day.

“Elephant and rhino poaching is driven by demand from international markets,” Kenyatta said, calling for “effective and collective action” as well as saying the inferno stood as a sign of Kenya’s “determination to put an end to poaching”.

Huge flames and thick plumes of smoke reached high into the air from the pile of yellow tusks at the burning site, in Nairobi’s national park, just on the edge of the capital.

“We will burn the rest of the stockpile we have within the year,” Kenyatta promised.

No official figures are available but the total of seized ivory held in Kenyan is believed to be some 100 tonnes. Former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi set fire to 12 tonnes in 1989, while president Mwai Kibaki destroyed five tonnes in 2011.

– ‘Buying a dead animal’ –

A sharp rise in poaching in Kenya, which is home to an estimated 30,000 elephants and just over a thousand rhinos, has sparked warnings from conservation groups that the government is losing the fight against the slaughter.

Ivory is sought out for jewellery and decorative objects and much of it is smuggled to China, where many increasingly wealthy shoppers are buying ivory trinkets as a sign of financial success.

“Poaching and illicit wildlife trafficking have become growing challenges for Kenya,” the president added.

“These vile crimes threaten biodiversity as well as human peace and security.”

Conservationists said the destruction of the ivory sent a clear signal to both poachers and buyers.

[caption id="attachment_16814" align="alignright" width="300"]Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (C) looks on as 15 tonnes of ivory confiscated from smugglers and poachers is burnt to mark the World Wildlife Day at the Nairobi National Park March 3, 2015. The United Nations on December 20, 2013, declared 3rd March World Wildlife Day as a celebration of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of illegal trade. The 2015 theme for World Wildlife Day is "Wildlife Crime is serious; let's get serious about wildlife crime". REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY CRIME LAW POLITICS ANNIVERSARY ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS) Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta (C) looks on as 15 tonnes of ivory confiscated from smugglers and poachers is burnt to mark the World Wildlife Day at the Nairobi National Park March 3, 2015. The United Nations on December 20, 2013, declared 3rd March World Wildlife Day as a celebration of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of illegal trade. The 2015 theme for World Wildlife Day is “Wildlife Crime is serious; let’s get serious about wildlife crime”. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (KENYA – Tags: SOCIETY CRIME LAW POLITICS ANNIVERSARY ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS)[/caption]

“It’s a symbolic act to bring the world’s attention to the elephant crisis, but it’s also a clear message to people who buy ivory that all they’re buying is a dead animal,” said Ian Craig, chief executive of Kenya’s Northern Rangelands Trust.

“I would like to see every tusk in Africa go up in flames.”

The United Nations estimates that up to 30,000 elephants are killed in Africa every year out of a total population of not more than half a million.

It is expected that the pyre will burn for around five days until the tusks have turned to worthless ash.

The burning comes after China on Friday launched a one-year ban on imports of ivory carvings.

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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First AfriK4R-COMESA Peer Review Meeting Launched in Nairobi
February 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

A crosssection of the 140 delegates representing 8 COMESA member states and associated country Tanzania… A crosssection of the 140 delegates representing 8 COMESA member states and associated country Tanzania…[/caption] The first peer-review meeting for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) under the Africa for Results (AfriK4R) initiative kicked off in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on February 24, 2015. The three-day meeting is aimed at evaluating the efforts of eight COMESA member states and associated country Tanzania in improving policy convergence and results-oriented policies and programs in the region, with a focus on accelerating the implementation of development interventions. Speaking at the opening on behalf of Kenya’s Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, Principal Secretary Eng. Peter Mangiti stressed the need for development interventions with a transformative impact. He also challenged country delegates to plan and implement better in order to “make sure development drivers are impacting people’s lives at least possible cost”. Kipyego Cheluget, Assistant General Secretary for Programmes at the COMESA Secretariat, made a passionate appeal to member states to show commitment to achieving results and help scale up the benefits of regional integration. In her presentation on COMESA and its Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Anne Ndirangu, Chief of Monitoring and Evaluation at the COMESA Secretariat, emphasized that “regional integration is the way forward for Africa”; echoing the sentiments of Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs Phylis Kandie, who was represented by Integration Secretary Barrack Ndegwa. The Tripartite FTA is slated for launch by mid-2015. During his speech on behalf of Gabriel Negatu, Director of the Bank’s East Africa Regional Resource Center (EARC), Stefan Muller called on delegates to address the issue of “soft” infrastructure which would help “build strong and accountable institutions and create a performance culture that permeates the management of public affairs and accelerates regional integration”. Victoria Chisala, AfCoP Coordinator and Results Division Manager of Quality and Results at the Bank, reiterated both AfCoP and AfDB’s commitment to supporting regional integration efforts in the COMESA region. Throughout the meeting, 140 delegates representing government, civil society, private sector, parliament, as well as gender and youth organizations will share insights, best practices and solutions on key regional integration objectives, including the promotion of an attractive business climate; trade facilitation and improved public financial management; and the mainstreaming of a managing for development results (MfDR) culture in the COMESA Secretariat and its member states. The event is organized under the Africa for Results (AfriK4R) Initiative; the flagship program of the African Community of Practice on Managing for Development Results, housed within the Quality and Results Department of the Bank, in collaboration with COMESA and with support from EARC. AfriK4R aims at building results capacity and accelerating regional integration through MfDR, and the AfriK4R-COMESA Peer Review Meeting represents the first major regional activity since the COMESA-CoP’s establishment in May 2012. COMESA-CoP is the result of a partnership launched in 2012 between the African Community of Practice for Managing on Development Results (AfCoP-MfDR) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern States (COMESA) and aims at accelerating regional policy implementation through the use of MfDR tools and mainstreaming the use of results-based management principles. The African Community of Practice (AfCoP) is a coalition of over 3,500 development leaders and practitioners from 68 countries globally. AfCoP members work for African governments, civil society, and as independent experts in the field. The African Development Bank (AfDB), in partnership with the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), is supporting AfCoP in mainstreaming MfDR on the continent with a focus on regional integration. The Africa for Results (AfriK4R) initiative, AfCoP’s flagship program, aims to promote regional integration in Africa through the use of managing for development results (MfDR) principles and practices. To date, 17 countries have committed to the AfriK4R initiative, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The WAEMU and COMESA regional economic communities are also partners on the AfriK4R initiative. * Source AFDB]]>

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U.S. and East African Community Join to Increase Trade Competitiveness and Deepen Economic Ties
February 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

Obama Administration to Expand Trade Africa Initiative

02262015 EAC SigningU.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and trade ministers from the East African Community (EAC) marked a milestone for Trade Africa today; signing a Cooperation Agreement that will increase trade-related capacity in the region and deepen the economic ties between the United States and the EAC.

During the ceremony, Ambassador Froman announced that the United States will begin looking to expand Trade Africa beyond the EAC (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda).

“Today’s agreement is an important milestone for deepening what has already proven itself to be a promising and impactful partnership,” said Ambassador Michael Froman. “This agreement will help us lift the burdens that trade barriers impose, unlocking opportunity on both our continents.”

The Cooperation Agreement will build capacity in three key areas: Trade Facilitation, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).  Implementing critical customs reforms, harmonizing standards, and undertaking multilateral commitments will support greater EAC regional economic integration and strengthen its trade relationship with the United States and other global partners.

The Trade Africa initiative was announced by President Obama during a visit to Africa in 2013, aimed at supporting greater U.S.-Africa trade and investment, beginning initially with the EAC. 

Trade Africa has contributed to a number of successes in the region — notably, improvements at the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, construction of one-stop border posts in East Africa, and more effectively linking the U.S. and EAC private sectors under the U.S.-EAC Commercial Dialogue.

The Obama Administration is now looking to expand Trade Africa beyond the EAC, laying the foundation for a more mature and comprehensive 21st century U.S.-Africa trade and investment relationship over the medium to long term.

“We see this agreement and all our work with the EAC to date as an important steppingstone, not the final destination,” Ambassador Froman added. “The global economy is evolving and the U.S.-Africa economic relationship must evolve, too. Together, we can tackle more tasks, support more jobs, and unlock more opportunities for the American and African people alike.”

The Office of the USTR has also worked closely with the Commerce Department to ensure a strong and vibrant private sector voice to expanded U.S.-African trade.  Following the morning session, the Commerce Department will host the first U.S.-East Africa Commercial Dialogue, which will develop joint public-private sector initiatives to boost our trade and investment in the region by focusing on issues such as through customs modernization, electronic payments, cold chain development and access to capital, among others. 

During a series of meetings following this signing, the U.S. and the EAC governments, private sector, and other stakeholders also discussed the strategic way forward for the U.S.-EAC trade and investment relationship, including the need for a seamless renewal of AGOA; discussed a regional strategy to help the EAC countries to take better advantage of AGOA; and held the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-EAC Commercial Dialogue with the U.S. and EAC private sectors. 

The United States is committed to using all the tools at its disposal to help support greater African regional economic integration and U.S.-African trade and investment to help create jobs and opportunities for the American and African people alike.

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FACT SHEET: The United States – East African Community Cooperation Agreement

The East Africa Community (EAC), comprised of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, is one of the leading regional economic organizations in sub-Saharan Africa and has made great strides in recent years toward integrating the economies of its partner states. It has established a free trade area and a customs union, and is working toward a common market. 

THE U.S.-EAC COOPERATION AGREEMENT

The U.S.-EAC Cooperation Agreement on Trade Facilitation, SPS, and TBT commits both the EAC and the United States to three objectives:

IMPLEMENT THE WTO’s TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT

  • The Agreement commits the parties to cooperate on customs issues, including the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, reducing red tape and unnecessary formalities at borders decreasing border release times, and implementing other positive reforms laid out in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement to help streamline and facilitate trade.    This will build on the EAC’s own work on customs reforms, which have resulted in substantial reductions in the time and costs of moving goods across borders within the EAC.  For instance, container transit times from Mombasa, Kenya, to Kigali, Rwanda have declined from 21 days several years ago to six days, while associated transport costs are down by over $1,700 per container. 

ENHANCING FOOD SAFETY, PLANT AND ANIMAL HEALTH

  • The Agreement provides for U.S.-EAC cooperation and capacity building related to food safety and animal and plant health standards. While a majority of the region’s people are involved in agricultural production or processing, the export potential of these products is currently limited. The Cooperation Agreement will help the EAC meet international standards by bringing U.S. technological expertise to bear and fully implement the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, which will help the EAC Partner States increase food security and create additional export opportunities for products produced in the region. 
  • BUILD CAPACITY TO MEET GLOBAL STANDARDS

    • The Agreement provides for U.S.-EAC cooperation and capacity related to technical regulations, standards, testing, and certification – for example, by helping to train East African standards officials and developing electronic systems for engaging the public and interested stakeholders on new proposed technical regulations.  This will help increase the EAC partner States’ ability to meet international quality and safety standards by improving full implement of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.  Both U.S. and African international competitiveness is enhanced when countries meet international standards and avoid unnecessary differences among technical regulations and standards developed independently and separately by each nation, national standards organization, or company. 

    PROGRESS RESULTING FROM TRADE AFRICA INITIATIVE

    • Enhanced U.S.-EAC private sector engagement under the Commercial Dialogue.  [The Department of Commerce will issue a separate press release outlining new private sector commitments under the Commercial Dialogue, not sure if we can have a link to their press release, or simply note that it is forthcoming.]
    • The establishment of a new five-year, $64 million Trade and Investment Hub in East Africa focused on: i) increasing exports under AGOA to the United States, to regional partners, and to the rest of the world, ii) facilitating investment and access to the newest technologies and expertise to priority development sectors, iii) expanding and diversifying regional agricultural trade and food security, and iv) supporting the implementation of regional integration policies adopted by the EAC. 

    The United States has $2.8 billion in total (two way) goods trade with the Eastern African Community (EAC) during 2014. Exports totaled $2.0 billion; Imports totaled $743 million.

    Total trade in goods grew by 52% in the last year and 103% in the last five.  U.S. goods exports to these countries grew by 66% in the last year, and 106% between 2009 and 2014. Exports of goods from Africa to the U.S. from EAC grew by 24% in 2014 from 2013 and 93% over the last 5 years. 

*Source USTR News

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Kenya anti-terror laws: Court scraps main clauses
February 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

Opposition lawyer James Orengo told the court the law undermined civil liberties Opposition lawyer James Orengo told the court the law undermined civil liberties[/caption]

Kenya’s High Court has thrown out key aspects of a tough new anti-terrorism law after a legal challenge by the opposition.

Eight clauses were annulled, including those which curbed media freedom and capped the number of refugees and asylum-seekers to 150,000. The government said the law was needed to counter the growing threat posed by militant Islamists. The opposition warned that it violated civil liberties. Covert operations The BBC’s Maryam Abdalla in the capital, Nairobi, says that the opposition Coalition for Reform and Democracy (Cord) party applauded the ruling, saying it had saved Kenya from becoming a police state. The government said it would consider lodging an appeal. Our reporter says the court had ruled in the government’s favour on some controversial clauses. These included giving Kenya’s intelligence agencies the power to carry out covert operations to prevent attacks and allowing police to detain terror suspects beyond 24 hours, provided they were first brought to court. The law was passed during a chaotic parliamentary session in December, following the killing of 64 people in two attacks in north-western Kenya by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group. In September 2013, 67 people were killed when al-Shabab militants laid siege to the upmarket Westgate shopping centre in the capital, Nairobi. On Saturday, al-Shabab posted a documentary-style account of the siege online. A masked fighter suggested that similar attacks could be carried out on shopping centres in Canada, France, the US and UK. Al-Shabab is fighting to create an Islamic state in Somalia, but it has been increasingly targeting neighbouring Kenya. The government alleges that it is recruiting Somalis living in Kenya, and therefore wants to restrict entry to refugees and asylum-seekers. Kenya has nearly 500,000 refugees, many of whom fled conflict in Somalia. Kenya sent soldiers into Somalia in 2011 to attack the militants, accusing them of being behind the kidnapping of foreigners on Kenyan soil. The militants are demanding the withdrawal of Kenyan troops in Somalia. *Source BBC]]>

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