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LUSAKA (AFP) — Former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba was Thursday interrogated over his role in the alleged theft of 7.8 million dollars (about 4.9 million euros) during his tenure, a top investigator said.

Chiluba, who faces fresh arrest for corruption, was interrogated for more than two hours by an elite graft-busting unit over the theft of the money paid to a Canadian firm for the supply of maize that was never delivered under his rule, Max Nkole told reporters.

Zambia contracted the Canadian firm, Carlington Sales Company, to supply maize worth 24 million dollars in 1997/98 period and made an advance payment of 7.8 million dollars but the grain was never delivered.

“He (Chiluba) was evasive during the question and answer interview,” said Nkole, chairman of the Taskforce on Corruption.

Chiluba, 65, denied the allegations.

“He denied the allegations. They recorded a warning and caution statement and promised to arrest him soon,” said Chiluba aide’s Emmanuel Mwamba, who accompanied him to the interrogation venue.

“He therefore elected not to answer any questions prepared by the taskforce,” Mwamba said, adding that it was a “constitutional right to remain silent.”

“They specifically said he was involved in the theft of one million dollars out of the 7.8 million dollars allegedly stolen,” Mwamba said.

Chiluba, who ruled Zambia between 1991 to 2001, is already facing several graft charges before a magistrate court. He is accused of having stolen huge sums of public funds together with his close aides and officials during his tenure.

A Zambian magistrate’s court ruled last month that Chiluba should face a corruption trial in May.

Chiluba and two businessmen co-defendants are facing charges of theft of about 500,000 dollars (about 322,000 euros) in state funds.

The ex-leader has denied the charges, saying his arrest was politically motivated by his hand-picked successor President Levy Mwanawasa.

Copyright © 2008 AFP

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LUSAKA (AFP) — Zambia’s former president Frederick Chiluba has been summoned to appear on Thursday before a special unit investigating corruption that took place under his government, his aide said.

Chiluba received the summons at his residence in Lusaka on Tuesday, a day after he returned from South Africa where he underwent treatment for a cardiac complication, Emmanuel Mwamba told AFP.

“The call-out (summons) did not disclose the reasons. He is wanted on Thursday,” Mwamba said.

Chiluba, who is already facing several graft charges before a magistrate court, is accused of having stolen huge sums of public funds together with his close aides and officials during his 10-year rule.

The ex-leader has denied the charges, saying his arrest was politically motivated by his hand-picked successor President Levy Mwanawasa.

Chiluba ruled Zambia from 1991 to 2001 when he retired from politics after serving the constitutionally-allowed two terms of five years each.

A Zambian magistrate court ruled last month that Chiluba, 65, should face a corruption trial in May.

Chiluba and two businessmen co-defendants are facing charges of theft of about 500,000 dollars (about 322,000 euros) in state funds

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In every country there is rich and poor. For those who never experienced poverty in their up bringing, poverty is a tale. We hope politicians that are out to make change in the society should remember the legacy  to bring change. Zambian chronicle is here for change. Some clips below are here to show how important every child is. No matter, which environment or place they are being raised in. Poverty will never stop them, they dance, they play drums with their inborn skills and talent. 

Most of us at Zambian chronicle grew up with no resources, limited education system, walked to school, no lunch packs. That did not stop us, we made it, and grew up with hearts to reach out to other people with our limited resources. our legacy is to help kids( boys and girls) and women, By bringing out the positive side of this world. 

We expect Zambian presidential candidates to focus on  important issues like education, to help the future generation to be better leaders and reach their dreams.

 

Zambian Chronicle’s legacy:- Next Zambian President should bring hope to the future generation. Please all Zambian leaders should address the problems below:

v=8c1ByH_oMz4&feature=related]

Tribal Zambian Party

Zambian kids dancing

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Zambian Chronicle is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microplus Holdings International, Inc.

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By Belliah K Theise

 b6_edited.jpegThis week ‘s memo is about  the next Zambian president. Who should take the Zambian presidential sit in 2011?

I hate to admit this, the truth is, our leaders are always voted by villagers, marketeers and street boys who have no clue about education and foreign policies. 

 According to our observation, most politicians have a way to get into a mind of a person with little knowledge or no knowledge at all.  This includes developed countries. If you take a close look on politics, you will find that people end up voting for a candidates who keeps preaching what voters want to hear. People will go out to vote just because of a hear say,  without assessing a candidate  in practical terms.

In most cases, political Candidates have a tendency to study what the audience want to hear. Any one can stand and say I will give you jobs, bring rich breakfast, lunch and dinner in your home. Zambian Voters will listen because there are no jobs and are in poverty. As a candidate, you are happy when people vote for you. Are you going to keep your promise once you are voted in office?

 Practically, things always turns out to be different from all the promises that politicians make.

it’s time for candidates who are aspiring, to start preaching on practical issues and not to give fake hopes to people. Talk about real things that affects the economy of every country, and explain, to voters that it is not an easy path to bring stability to the country, it takes hard work and devotion to make things happen.

Disappointments, comes out when a candidate makes fake promises, do something else after being voted into office. We ask all the aspiring candidates to be more practical in the way they make promises to people, to avoid early disappointments.

It is not fair for voters  who have no clue on “Inflation” or economics, who listens innocently and line up to vote for a candidate who later does something contrary to his/her promise.

Zambia has highly experienced ,knowledgeable, and educated people.  Why is it that Zambians ends up voting for wrong leaders?

Could it be that all the educated Zambians, are too frustrated with the system, and has opted to sit back and watch, while the poor Zambian villagers , marketeers and street boys take their stand to vote for what they hear from those who can read their minds and give them fake promises? or could it be that qualified leaders and educated Zambians are  too busy with other duties and other personal stuff, or they are not brave enough to fight for their people or  is it lack of bringing themselves out with a positive approach to their fellow Zambians?

 If you are candidate or a voter. It is time to revisit your weaknesses and try to improve on them.

Our advice is:

Avoid:  Hate, tribal, gossip, and malicious rumors. By all means, should not be used as a tool to pick a right candidate for president. Validate each rumor, use your own discretion and common sense. Avoid operating like robots that are programed to perform certain functions.  Operating like a robot, makes both leaders and their voters look like idiots, when things go sour.

Remember:

Not every rumor or gossip is true. Yes there is no smoke without fire, but you have to remember that humans always enjoy negatives that appear on a candidate without using their good sense of judgement or common sense, they vote basing on those facts. If a negative outweighs a positive side of a candidate, it takes away all the good work he/she has done.

Remember, Media and campaigns are there to help voters to pick the best candidate, but at the same time, uses that as a tool to bring down a candidate, if the opponent has strong links to the media.  Many great leaders are brought down in no seconds, and voters end up voting for useless candidates.

Again… use your common sense and your good judgement, when you read negatives that comes flying on potential candidates.

On that note, we decided to re-visit Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika’s profile, as she seem to be carrying all the package of what makes a great president.

We at Zambian Chronicle, would like to see Dr Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika, contest for president in 2011. We have well rounded Zambian candidates like, HH and Many more, Inonge adds to the package.

For years, Zambians have had a problem when it comes to picking a president. It’s time to check where Zambians go wrong when it comes to voting?

Weakness:

We Vote with emotions, tribal, rumors and hate, Worse more when it comes to gender. 

In the end we get disappointed with our own voting when things go in a different direction. 

May be it is time to turn around, and look seriously inside lives and works of the aspiring candidates, without looking at a tribe, relations, cheap gossips or malicious rumors.

It is even more difficult to convince a Zambian mind, when it comes to women leadership.

When we look at Zambians, we see a lot of potential candidates men and women, that can lead us in 2011, and bring light to Zambia. 

I am not here advocating for Inonge because I am a woman.

Here at Zambian Chronicle, we are looking at the credentials, Education and experience.

Zambia needs a candidate for president, that has both local and foreign policy experience. As an African country we can not rule out education. It should be very cardinal  in this aspect.

 Therefore when it comes to choosing a president, let us open our eyes and pick quality and not quantity.

Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika and Hakainde Hichilema are both quality.

Having said that, Zambian Chronicles will continue to bring out candidates, that we think can make great president for Zambia in the future.

As we pointed out, in our earlier debates, Hakainde Hichilema and Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika, have the real package.

Therefore, without looking at the tribes and gender, we feel Inonge can make a great president for Zambia for 2011. This includes, the appointees of ministers and local government officials.

This forum may help the next Zambian President to pick right candidates for certain roles.

Below is Inonge ‘s profile and credentials:

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Princess Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika (born 10 July 1943, Senanga) is a senior Zambian politician currently. For more about her check

http://www.inongelewanika.com/family.htm

   1.   Dr. Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika is currently Ambassador of the Republic of Zambia to the United States of America . Before her appointment to Washington D.C.

 2. She was Ambassador and Special Envoy to the Zambian President during his term as Chairman of the African Union.

3. Dr. Lewanika served as a Member of Parliament in the Zambian Parliament from 1991 to 2001. She was the first Chairperson of the Zambia All Party Women Parliamentarians Caucus and also founding Vice-chairperson of the outhern, Eastern and Horn of Africa African Women Parliamentarian Caucus.

  

4. At a very critical time just before national elections in 2001, Dr. Lewanika chaired the National Crisis Committee of the Alliance of Opposition Political Parties.

5.  She is a former candidate for President of the Republic of Zambia in the December 2001 Elections.

6.  She is an Educator by profession and has worked in various levels of Education.

Prior to her involvement in politics, Dr. Lewanika worked with UNICEF in key leadership roles in Africa overseeing more than twenty countries at a time. Jim Grant, the former head of UNICEF once called her “the most knowledgeable person about the children of Africa .” Dr. Lewanika was among five women from various continents to brief members of the United Nations Security Council on the first and unprecedented debate that resulted in UN Resolution 13 on WOMEN, PEACE and SECURITY in the year 2000. She was among sixteen (16) eminent African Women Members of the Organization of African Unity (now African Union) Committee on Peace and Development, an Advisory Group to the African Union.

She was President of Federation of African Women’s Peace Networks (FERFAP) from 1997 to 2002. As President of the Federation of African Women Peace Networks (FEFAP) she contributed to mobilization of peace activities. In that capacity, she was selected to be among ten prominent African Women Peace Workers that visited Rwanda soon after the genocide. She later led a United Nations delegation to Burundi and Rwanda to assess the effects of the genocide on women and children and recommend intervention strategies. She led the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) Observer Mission of 96 Southern African

Academicians, Researchers and Members of Civil Society to the Zimbabwean Presidential, Mayoral and Council Elections in 2002. She was one of the International Youth Foundation’s founding board members.

Dr. Lewanika holds a Ph.D. in Early Childhood and Primary Education from New York University . She is a mother of two grown daughters, a grandmother to four boys and a grand daughter. She has lived in five countries and speaks eight languages.

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A look at more of  Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika’s work Below: 

After 30 years of promoting girls’ education in the less-developed world, aid workers are now realizing that it is not enough to simply open the school door to girls. Unemployment, clean water and HIV/AIDS are now also on their agenda.
Inonge Mbikusita-LewanikaWASHINGTON (WOMENSENEWS)–Like many aid workers and activists trying to improve the lives of women in developing countries, Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika has long viewed education as the key to solving many of her countrywomen’s problems.Mbikusita-Lewanika, a former member of Zambia’s parliament and now the country’s ambassador to the United States, says the benefits of educating girls are so numerous– from raising marrying ages and lowering birth rates to stemming health and economic problems–that she would like to install a plaque reading “Send the Girls to School” in every village.But 30 years after the U.S. government and other aid-givers began to promote gender equality in their programs, they, like Mbikusita-Lewanika, have learned that relieving the burdens of poor women is more complex than once thought. Foreign aid officials from the United States, United Kingdom, United Nations and various nongovernmental organizations say that it is not enough to open the school door to girls if their families are besieged by unemployment, unclean water, labor-intensive household chores and, increasingly, debilitating health problems such as HIV/AIDS. Nor is it enough to get a few women elected to the parliament or congress while women in the countryside still suffer age-old discriminations.To succeed, say aid experts, gender-equality programs must be integrally incorporated into the aid process from top to bottom, beginning with constant attention to gender issues at the policy level and ending with a wide distribution of burden-relieving aid in the rural areas where discrimination is often most ingrained.In Africa, for instance, women perform about 75 percent of agricultural work, according to Mark Blackden, the lead economist in the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction and Management of Gender Equity Division. He estimates the continent’s per-capita income would have doubled over the last 30 years if women had been given more aid and education to help with crop production. But aid givers have only recently realized that “one does indeed need to talk about the African farmer and her husband,” Blackden said.Instead, because of cultural misunderstandings, they have often directed agricultural education and technology to men. As a result, Mbikusita-Lewanika said, it is not uncommon to see men sitting on tractors as women and girls continue to cultivate with a hand hoe nearby.Clearing a small plot of land in this manner can involve 18-hour days, leaving women little time to raise their children, gather fire wood, walk long distances to find potable water and, increasingly, care for the sick. With such intensive household labor needs, Mbikusita-Lewanika said girls often have little time for school.”The average woman takes care of everyone else but herself,” Mbikusita-Lewanika said at a recent Capitol Hill briefing for legislative staff.In countries where economies have been destroyed by conflict or AIDS, another factor diminishes the rationale for education: The lack of jobs when a girl graduates. As a result, Mbikusita-Lewanika said that, while education “may be the most important investment, it may not necessarily be the first investment” that donors should undertake. For instance, providing drinking water would save women in many Zambian villages 1 1/2 hours a day, she said.In 1973, the U.S. Congress passed the Percy Amendment requiring that the nation’s foreign aid help integrate women into the mainstream of developing countries’ societies. Since then, the U.S. Agency for International Development–the main administrator of U.S. development aid–and other organizations have progressed from conducting a few gender equality projects a year to considering gender issues as a part of nearly every decision. While women’s issues once were often segregated in a separate office or set of discussions, all programs are now expected to address their impact on women.”The progress can be summed up in one sentence: It is no longer a separate thing,” USAID administrator Andrew S. Natsios told a Washington foreign aid conference earlier this month.

More Work to Be Done

Still, aid officials and activists say there is much more to do. According to the World Bank, more than 20 percent of the world’s population still lives on about $1 per day. The majority are women. And women’s burdens, especially in AIDS-stricken Africa, are growing as they bear bigger social and financial burdens.

One way donors can begin to lift that burden, Mbikusita-Lewanika told legislative staff, is to bypass governments and distribute aid money to local faith-based organizations and other groups that work at the local level and already know the intricate problems the women in their community face. Many central governments have not established effective ways to distribute help in the countryside, she said.

Other officials suggest increasing funding to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. The $2 billion the Bush administration is prepared to spend in 2004 “is not enough,” said Kathryn Wolford, president of Lutheran World Relief, based in Baltimore.

Wolford also suggests an increased focus on debt relief for poor countries, which would free funds for social programs and infrastructure that could relieve women’s burdens.

Other activists say aid organizations need to collect and process more data showing the positive link between women’s participation and economic development. While many activists suggest that there is already too much talk about women’s problems and not enough action to solve them, economists say that more convincing evidence of the link between women’s progress and economic progress could be found.

At the foreign aid conference, Phil Evans, the senior social development adviser for the United Kingdom’s U.N. mission, said that statistical gender analyses are often riddled with “methodological problems,” in large part because researchers have focused on studying women instead of placing them in a societal context.

Some say the United States should signal its commitment to gender equality by ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, an international treaty that aims to outlaw discrimination against women and requires signatory countries to periodically report on their progress. President Carter signed the treaty in 1980 but the U.S. Senate has not ratified it as 174 nations have done.

Ratifying the treaty would send a powerful signal that the United States will join the world to “use the instruments available to us to hold countries accountable” for improving women’s lives, Geeta Rao Gupta, president of the Washington-based International Center for Research on Women, told legislative staff.

New Solutions in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, USAID is attempting to deal with these challenges and its methods are not always very subtle. To encourage families to educate their daughters, USAID gives extra rations of vegetable oil to girls who attend school every day for a month, Natsios said. The number of girls attending school has increased overall from 6 percent to 35 percent, Natsios said, and is reaching 50 percent in some towns.

Not all of USAID’s work in Afghanistan is so targeted at women and girls but Natsios said he has found that nearly every project is having an impact on women’s status. For instance, the U.S. program that is building a 300-mile road from Kandahar to Kabul is unexpectedly improving women’s health in southern Afghanistan. Now mothers in childbirth and women in other forms of medical distress can be driven to medical facilities in Kabul in a matter of five to six hours. Before the road was built, the trip could take two days, Natsios said.

In addition, USAID has installed day-care centers in all Afghan government ministry buildings. Natsios said women who work for the ministries–many now widows with young children–said they would not return to their jobs unless their children had a safe place to go.

While many activists and government officials say gender issues are no longer seen as women’s alone, they hope the next 30 years will bring a greater resolution to age-old problems.

“It has taken a very long time to get as far as we are and (we) have a very long road to go,” said Julia Taft, assistant administrator and director of the United Nation’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.

Lori Nitschke is a freelance journalist living in Washington, D.C. She was recently a Knight-Bagehot fellow at Columbia University in New York, where she received master’s degrees in journalism and business administration. Previously, she covered economic issues for Congressional Quarterly.

Copyrights © 2008 Zambian Chronicle. All rights reserved. Zambian Chronicle content may not be stored except for personal, non-commercial use. Republication and redissemination of Zambian Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Zambian Chronicle. Zambian Chronicle shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, interruptions or delays in connection with the Zambian Chronicle content or from any damages arising therefrom.

Zambian Chronicle is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microplus Holdings International, Inc.

Copyrights © 2008 Microplus Holdings Int., Inc   

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ABOUT 500 workers at Chambishi Copper Smelter (CCS) have been issued with summary dismissal letters following their two-day riotous behaviour in protest against alleged poor conditions of service. And Police have apprehended seven CCS workers in relation to the riot that took place on Tuesday at the copper smelter company.Both CCS company secretary, Sun Chuanqi, and Copperbelt permanent secretary, Jennifer Musonda, confirmed the figure of the dismissed workers in separate interviews yesterday. Mr Chuanqi revealed that company property worth about US$200,000 was allegedly destroyed by the irate workers during the riot.He said management was saddened that the workers rioted before the conclusion of negotiations with union representatives.

Mr Chuanqi said the workers had been given a grace period of three days within which to exculpate themselves and show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them.

He complained that work had been adversely affected by the workers’ riotous behaviour.

Mr Chuanqi warned that all workers identified as ring leaders would be dismissed from employment to discourage others from behaving in a similar manner.

By press time yesterday more than 19 alleged ring leaders had been identified while more than 66 workers collected their summary dismissal letters.

Mr Chuanqi appealed to workers to exculpate themselves within the stipulated time so that the innocent ones could be reinstated.

“We’re appealing to the workers to respond quickly to the summary dismissal letters so that those that did not take part in the riotous behaviour could be reinstated because work has been grossly affected and we need local manpower,” he said.

Mr Chuanqi said CCS belonged to Zambians and wondered why the workers destroyed what belonged to them simply because of a dispute that could have been resolved amicably.

“What we are building here also belongs to Zambians, so people must desist from destroying this investment. For those who will not come to collect their letters, we will follow them until they get them so that they can exculpate themselves,” he said.

However, Mr Chuanqi paid tribute to government for its continued support to Chinese investment in Zambia.

He also said the Chinese worker only identified as a Mr Li who was injured during the riot on Tuesday was discharged from the hospital.

And Mrs Musonda also confirmed that workers were served with summary dismissal letters when they reported for work yesterday.

A check by the Zambia Daily Mail crew yesterday at the CCS premises found several riot police officers manning the company.

Some Zambian workers were found waiting to collect their summary dismissal letters while others were reluctant to collect them, claiming that they did not take part in the riot.

Those spoken to said they were ignorant about the whole thing and that they were just forced by some of their colleagues to riot.

Copperbelt Police commanding officer, Antonneil Mutentwa, revealed that six officials of the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) and their member were apprehended by police in connection with the riot.

Mr Mutentwa said the union officials and their member were apprehended around 17: 45 hours on Tuesday.
NUMAW national secretary Albert Mando condemned the action by the workers to riot and damage company property.

“We are not in support of what the workers did. We are also disappointed with what happened on Tuesday because the negotiations have not yet collapsed, so why strike or riot?” Mr Mando said.

Zambia Daily Mail

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Times of Zambia reports…

Chambishi fires 500

 ALL the 500 striking workers at Chambishi Copper Smelter (CCS) were yesterday fired while seven National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) branch officials were arrested and detained on Tuesday evening.

The workers were served with letters of summary dismissal by management in the morning.

The move by management was as a result of the riotous behaviour by the workers at the company premises on Tuesday morning.

Police said those arrested were detained at Kitwe Central Police Station to help with investigations.

The workers at the Chinese-owned company had been on strike since Monday, demanding improved conditions of service.

The situation worsened on Tuesday when the workers decided to become violent and damaged property worth millions of Kwacha.

Both CCS company secretary, Sun Chuanqi and NUMAW national secretary, Albert Mando, confirmed that all the 500 workers who took part in the work stoppage had been served with letters of summary dismissal and had been given three days in which to exculpate themselves.

But Mr Mando said it was unfortunate that management had decided to serve the workers with letters of summary dismissal, saying there was no reason to continue with negotiations when its members had been served with letters of dismissal.

He, however, said his union would work hard to ensure that the seven branch union officials, who had been arrested, were released so that negotiations could continue.

“Yes, I have been told that the management at the company has also served the workers with letters of summary dismissal, but it is unfortunate management has resolved to take this stance.

“This decision by management will affect our negotiations because how do we negotiate when our members have been given letters of summary dismissal,” Mr Mando said.

And speaking in an interview at CCS, Mr Chuanqi said the management at the company had decided to serve its workers with letters of summary dismissal as a way of disciplining them for their riotous behaviour, but that they were free to exculpate themselves.

He said management was eager to listen to the concerns of the workers, but was saddened that the workers quickly resolved to become riotous and damaged property at the company.

He said the Chinese investment in Zambia was there to benefit both Zambians and Chinese and there was no reason for Zambian workers to become violent and damage property.

“As management, we do not take pleasure in dismissing our employees, but we want them to know that violence does not pay and that they have to do things according to the law. Problems arise where there are people, but things must be done correctly,” Mr Chuanqi said.

And Mr Mando confirmed the detention of the seven union branch officials and that he was trying to secure their release.

Mr Mando, who was still at the Kitwe Central Police Station by Press time, said those arrested were branch chairman, Oswell Chibale Malume, vice-branch chairman, Christopher Yumba, branch secretary, Steven Kabwe, branch vice-secretary, Christopher Nkandu, treasurer, Kafwaya Ndombwani, vice-treasurer, Chanda Mhango and a shop steward, Kachinga Silungwe.

Mr Mando said the seven were picked up on Tuesday evening and had not been formally charged although they were still being interrogated.

“Yes I can confirm that seven of NUMAW branch officials at Chambishi Copper Smelter have been arrested and detained at Kitwe central police station. They were picked up around 18:00 hours on Tuesday.

“I am actually at the police station, but I have not talked to them because they are still being interrogated and have not been formally charged. As a union, we are trying to secure their release,” Mr Mando said.

The Times team which went to CCS found the place deserted with only armed police dotted all over to keep vigil.

End of report.

BBC Reports..

 

Difficult tasks await Kenyan MPs

By Karen Allen
BBC News, Nairobi

It had all the pageantry and trappings of a state ceremony.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga arrive at parliament

The two leaders agreed the power-sharing deal last week

The national anthem, the guard of honour, the ceremonial dress – but this was a unique opening of parliament.

Kenya’s lawmakers are under the spotlight in a way never seen before.

Kenyans still stunned by post-election violence are vesting their trust in leaders in a country where in the recent past, they have been badly let down.

More than half of the members of parliament are newcomers and they will be expected to hit the ground running, to turn up to vote and pave the way for a historic coalition.

A coalition aimed at restoring unity to what the president described as “one Kenya”.

Stumbling blocks

It was a week to the day that a power-sharing deal had been agreed between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

They shook hands in the presence of the world’s media, flanked by Kofi Annan and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.

Opening of Kenyan parliament 6/03/08
The new parliament began with two minutes of silence

That was just the start of a process. In the coming weeks lawmakers will be expected to enact legislation that will amend the constitution and allow a grand coalition to be formed.

They then have to try to “sell” the idea of power sharing to their constituents, among them people who are now homeless or who have lost loved ones in the violence.

There are still potential stumbling blocks ahead – in particular, how power will be shared and how cabinet posts and other senior positions will be allocated.

But for Thursday’s ceremony the tone was conciliatory and upbeat.

After a two minute silence – first for parliamentarians killed in post-election violence and then for “ordinary” Kenyans who lost their lives, President Kibaki rose to his feet.

In a 30-minute speech he stressed the need for last week’s peace accord to be quickly enacted into law, but warned that it would require “goodwill, unity, good faith and integrity” of Kenya’s lawmakers.

Awkward realities

This country is emerging from one of the darkest periods of its history and the coming weeks will be a real test of the commitment of all sides to a durable peace.

A member of the Kikuyu Mungiki gang threatens a man with a machete in Nairobi's Kibera slum, 10 January 2008

Some 1,500 people died in unrest after disputed poll results

Kenyans will be forced to confront some awkward realities with the establishment of a truth, justice and reconciliation commission to investigate past injustices and violence blamed on supporters on all sides of the political fence.

They will also be forced to compromise.

There are concerns that a grand coalition will rob Kenyans of a real opposition.

This has effectively been a deal between two political blocks – those supporting President Kibaki’s PNU and those backing Raila Odinga’s ODM.

Earlier in the day, diplomats insisted the onus would be on the media to help keep the government in check.

But what is clear is that this could be the start of a new pragmatism in Kenyan politics. A chance for a new breed of politician to shine, putting aside a past where winner takes all.

UN warns on food price inflation

Pakistani women at subsidised food store 03.03.08

Governments are urged to take action to help ease rising prices

The head of the UN World Food Programme has warned that the rise in basic food costs could continue until 2010.Josette Sheeran blamed soaring energy and grain prices, the effects of climate change and demand for biofuels.

Miss Sheeran has already warned that the WFP is considering plans to ration food aid due to a shortage of funds.

Some food prices rose 40% last year, and the WFP fears the world’s poorest will buy less food, less nutritious food or be forced to rely on aid.

Speaking after briefing the European Parliament, Miss Sheeran said the agency needed an extra $375m (244m euros; £187m) for food projects this year and $125m (81m euros; £93m) to transport it.

This is not a short-term bubble and will definitely continue
Josette Sheeran
WFP

She said she saw no quick solution to high food and fuel costs.

“The assessment is that we are facing high food prices at least for the next couple of years,” she said.

Miss Sheeran said global food reserves were at their lowest level in 30 years – with enough to cover the need for emergency deliveries for 53 days, compared with 169 days in 2007.

Biofuel prices

Among the contributing factors to high food prices is biofuel production.

Miss Sheeran says demand for crops to produce biofuels is increasing prices for food stuffs such as palm oil.

Miss Sheeran said governments needed “to look more carefully at the link between the acceleration in biofuels and food supply and give more thought to it”.

The WFP says countries where price rises are expected to have a most direct impact include Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Haiti, Djibouti, the Gambia, Tajikistan, Togo, Chad, Benin, Burma, Cameroon, Niger, Senegal, Yemen and Cuba.

Areas where the WFP is already seeing an impact include:

  • Afghanistan: 2.5 million people in Afghanistan cannot afford the price of wheat, which rose more than 60% in 2007
  • Bangladesh: The price of rice has risen 25% to 30% over the last three months. In 2007, the price rose about 70%.
  • El Salvador: Rural communities are buying 50% less food than they did 18 months ago with the same amount of money. This means their nutritional intake, on an already poor diet, is cut by half.
  • Anger over rising food prices have already led to riots in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal and Morocco.

    The BBC is planning a special day of coverage of this issue on Tuesday 11 March, online, on radio and on TV.
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