Kenya + 1 more

Horn of Africa: Monthly Review

Situation Report
Originally published
This report covers the month of February.

Moi blames opposition for violence: Kenyan President, Daniel arap Moi, issued a strong statement blaming opposition groups for inciting three weeks of violence in Rift Valley province which led to the deaths of more than a hundred people since January 11. Moi singled out Democratic Party leader, Mwai Kibaki, of inciting his (Kikuyu) community to violence. Moi contradicted earlier police reports by saying the unrest was politically motivated and not the result of ethnic tensions. In Laikipia, where the violence began, church leaders and community groups claim to have uncovered evidence of a backlash against the Kikuyu who are largely seen by the Kalenjin as having voted against Moi, himself a Kalenjin, in the December presidential poll. Meanwhile, the opening of Kenya's new parliament was delayed when opposition members staged a noisy protest against what they see as government complicity in the violence against the Kikuyu. The December elections left KANU with a four-seat majority in the 222-seat assembly and returned Moi for a fifth term as president. In responding to critics who said he was not doing enough to contain the unrest, Moi toured the worst affected areas in Nakuru district on February 11 while the Government announced the establishment of a commission of enquiry into the troubles. "No one has a right to the life of another person. Anyone found breaking the law must be apprehended and charged in court", Moi said adding that he would "saturate" the area with security personnel to stamp out the violence. In another development, Kenya's central bank governor said that the Rift Valley violence was scaring potential foreign investors and inflicting further damage on the economy. (Reuters, February 2; Guardian Weekly, February 4: The Monitor, February 5; PANA, February 12)

Increase in Malaria: The recent exceptionally wet weather, blamed on the El Niño phenomenon, has led to a dramatic increase in malaria cases, according to Kenya's ministry of health. In a statement issued on February 23, the Minister of Health, Jackson Kalweo, acknowledged 35,000 people had contracted the disease in several parts of the country, the worst affected districts being Nyanza, Wajir, Garissa, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Lamu and Tana river as well as the western and north eastern provinces. The outbreak in Wajir, northeastern Kenya, is claimed to have killed more than 1,500 in just two weeks. Due to the increase in resistance to chloroquine, the health ministry is using sulphur-based drugs as the first-line treatment of cases. Supplies are being airlifted to the worst-affected districts by the airforce together with military medical teams. According to the Government's National Disaster Operational Centre in Nairobi, mobility of the medical teams is essential to combat the epidemic which is hitting nomadic populations especially in the inaccessible and insecure north-eastern province adjacent to Somalia and Ethiopia. (The Monitor, February 12-19 & 26; PANA, Reuters, February 12)

DDT threatens wildlife reserve: Samples from Lake Nakuru, in the Rift Valley, have shown the presence of dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane, a toxic insecticide known as DDT which was banned by the Government a decade ago. Conservationist say the survival of the lake, an important wildlife reserve and tourist attraction, is being threatened by the encroachment of farmers who use chemical fertilisers and pesticides that finally end up in the lake which has no outlet. (The Monitor/PANA, February 17)

Anti-corruption measures: The governor of the Kenyan Central Bank has called upon employer federations to take concrete steps against corruption, asking them to adopt a code of conduct against corruption which binds all members. This anti-corruption initiative came on the eve of World Bank and International Monetary Fund missions to Nairobi. A US dollar 205 million three-year aid package under the IMF enhanced structural adjustment facility remains suspended since last July because the organisation is not fully satisfied about anti-corruption measures. "They have made major progress in all four areas (of governance), but none has been dealt with 100 percent" said Reimer Carstens, the IMF resident representative in Kenya. The government has set up an anti-corruption authority, strengthened management at the Kenya Revenue Authority, renegotiated power supply contracts and established an independent regulator for the energy sector but critics say these efforts are inadequately financed and do not go far enough. (Reuters, February 19; Indian Ocean Newsletter, February 21)

Who will be Vice President?: The Indian Ocean Newsletter argues that the number two job in the Kenyan government could be taken by agriculture minister Musalia Mudavadi, who is believed to be backed by a Kalenjin group close to Mark arap Too (chairman of Lonrho East Africa and unofficial adviser to arap Moi), and Joshua Kulei (a businessman close to Phillip Moi, one of arap Moi' s sons). After the bitterly fought and narrowly-won elections in December, the group seems to be developing a different strategy to defend its political and economic interests in the run-up to the 2002 poll when a successor to Moi will be chosen. It could be betting on a presidential candidate who is neither a Kikuyu nor a Kalenjin but who would get the backing of Kenya African National Union (KANU, the ruling party). Other favoured candidates are ex-vice president, George Saitoti, and Simeon Nyachae, a senior civil servant who came to politics late and who presently holds the finance portfolio. Mudavadi is seen as holding several strong cards: he has credibility among international diplomats and in business circles, he is a Luya, and he is related to Moi's family. (ION, February 21)

Foreign minister on first overseas tour: Kenya's new minister for foreign affairs and international development, Bonaya Adhi Godana, will be touring a number of European countries from March 2 to 4. In London, he plans to meet with Robin Cook, his opposite number in the British Government, and Clare Short, Minister for Overseas Development. From there he will be going to France, Germany and Belgium. For Godana this is a "meet me" tour where he shall have the opportunity to outline his country's political scenery following the general election, and the outlook for parliamentary debate on a possible constitutional amendment, a development which might lead to creating a post for a prime minister. (ION, February 28)


War and children: UNICEF in a statement have said that up to 10,000 children and teenagers have been kidnapped by guerrillas operating in northern Uganda, 2,600 of whom were abducted in the past two years and taken to southern Sudan where they were used to fight on the military frontlines or forced to become sex slaves. The children are usually taken from their home, school or while playing in the open with friends. Anupama Rao Singh, the UN Children's Fund representative in Uganda, said that, on average, up to three children are kidnapped every day. In the district of Gulu alone, 12 children have been abducted since January 12. In an attempt to prevent captive children from being taken into southern Sudan, the Ugandan government has recently increased the number of troops deployed to the border region and stepped-up armed patrols. (AFP, February 10 & 12; UNICEF)

Rebel activity stepped-up: Early in the month, rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) killed eight people in an ambush 22 kilometers west of the main northern town of Gulu. Another rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have stepped up attacks on villages in the western district of Bunyangabo since the Ugandan army and troops from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) joined forces in an operation against them. In an attack towards the end of the month the ADF killed 11 villagers five of whom were found beheaded. In a separate incident, the ADF succeeded in abducting 30 schoolgirls from a boarding school in Kabarole district - a practice normally associated with the LRA (see "War and children" below). On February 25 a force of some 150 rebels from the LRA attacked the strategically sensitive northern town of Kitgum. There were no deaths and observers have suggested this was a diversionary move to draw government forces into the town while the main group of rebels crossed back to Sudan with a number of abductees. Following the attack, flights to Kitgum in northern Uganda were temporarily suspended on the orders of the military. Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), the only aircraft operator to fly regularly to the region, confirmed that the ban was due to "insecurity". (AFP, February, 9, 12 & 25; UN-IRIN Update, February 25)

Increased revenues from power exports: The Ugandan Electricity Board (UEB) has said the country earned US $10 million in revenue from power it sold to neighbouring Kenya in 1997, up from the $2.1 million earned in the previous year. Last year Museveni insisted that the decades-old agreement under which Uganda sold hydro-electric power to Kenya be rescinded. This agreement had been made by the British colonial authorities to run for 90 years at a fixed tariff, automatically making Uganda the loser. With the new agreement in place, the Ugandan government plans to increase exports and include other neighbouring countries once extension work is completed on the Owen Falls dam. Another hydro-electric plant is due to be constructed at the popular tourist attraction of the Bujagali Falls at a cost of about US $500 million. Four similar projects are also planned for various locations on the Nile river. (AFP, February 18)

UNHCR chief visits: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, visited Uganda as part of a three-week, nine-nation African tour. She met with President Museveni, described as a "model" in his attitude to refugees, and also traveled to the Oruchinga settlement camp in the western district of Mbarara. (AFP, February 18)

Malaria drugs in short supply: The "New Vision" newspaper reported that in the east and west of Uganda stocks of anti-malaria drugs are in short supply. Teams carrying supplies from Kampala have been sent to the affected districts. Meanwhile, the director of Uganda' s blood transfusion services has said epidemics induced by the recent heavy rains and localised flooding had trebled national demand for blood. (UN-IRIN Update, February 25)

Museveni hosts regional summit: On February 21 during a regional summit for heads of states organised in Kampala, President Museveni acted to prevent sanctions against Burundi from being lifted. According to sources close to the summit, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the OAU all came out during the meeting in favour of lifting the sanctions, imposed after the 1996 coup d'état in Bujambura. But the common front put up by Tanzania and Uganda successfully forced through an extension ("unanimously" according to the final communiqué). (ION, February 28)


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Information in this update has been obtained from UN, NGO and media reports; reference is made to sources as appropriate. No claims are made by the UNDP-EUE as to the accuracy of these reports.

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