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Ruto back to Coast after long break

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MOHAMED AHMED

By MOHAMED AHMED
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Deputy President William Ruto returns to Coast after a long break of his frequent tours of the region.

His visit comes only three days after President Kenyatta toured the region, where he stayed for five days. The DP starts his five-day tour Thursday, and is set to launch a number of development projects.

Mr Ruto’s first stop is expected to be Tana River, where he will inspect a number of projects such as the KoraKora canal water and the coconut and nuts projects.

He will proceed to Kilifi, where he will commission the Baricho Water stabilisation supply and visit the National Irrigation Board project on cashew nuts and coconut, which will see farmers benefit from free seedlings.

On Saturday, the DP will head to Kwale for the launch of the Sh500 million dam project in Pemba. The dam was reconstructed after it was washed away by floods.

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On Sunday, he will be in Mombasa to launch the Sh300 million sewerage works funded by the African Development Bank in Changamwe. He will conclude criss-crossing the region on Monday by visiting Taita Taveta. On Wednesday, DP Ruto’s Communication Secretary David Mugonyi confirmed to Nation his boss’s planned tour.

During his tour, the President inspected the progress of a number of key development projects such as the first berth of the Lamu Port in Lamu and the Shimoni Port in Kwale. He met with Coast leaders and pledged to fast-track projects initiated by his government in all the six counties.

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Among the projects the Head of State committed to fast-track is the completion of roads and ensuring that revenue derived from Tsavo National Park is shared between national government and the local community.

Dr Ruto last visited the region in June, when he led a fundraiser in aid of a project to translate the Bible into Giriama language in Kilifi town.

That was Dr Ruto’s ninth visit to the region since the March 9 handshake between President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga. During his frequent visits, the DP routinely sought the region’s support on matters development, staying away from politics. The visits saw him win the backing of several local MPs, who declared to support him in his 2022 presidency bid.

But the visits raised debate among his opponents, forcing him to address the issue. They said he had started early campaigns ahead of 2022. However, he said his frequent tours around the country had nothing to do with the 2022 politics. “Some leaders should stop being worried. We are here for development since the time for politics will come,” he said at Kakuyuni in Malindi.

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Is repression newest China ‘export’ to trade partners?

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PAULINE KAIRU

By PAULINE KAIRU
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In addition to a documented bad human rights record back home, China is now being called out for its stranglehold on especially weaker economies that rely on its foreign direct investment (FDI), trade and aid.

The Human Rights Watch said China had established an assault on the global system for defending human-rights.

According to an official with Human Rights Watch, decades of rights around the world were at stake because of China.

In the Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2020, the Chinese government is described as making technology central to its repression with sustained “vast surveillance state in its efforts to achieve total social control” in China.

But away from home, the report accuses China of increasingly using its economic and diplomatic clout to cause distress on other populations.

“Beijing has long suppressed domestic critics,” observed Kenneth Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch, while launching the report in New York on Wednesday. “Now the Chinese government is trying to extend that censorship to the rest of the world.”

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He said “other governments (particularly in Africa) have been bought off through Chinese FDI, trade and aid, and through China’s Belt and Road Initiative. China is quite willing to use money to force censorships whether of governments or businesses by threatening to deny them access to the Chinese market and other benefits.”

He calls on governments to band together and challenge Beijing’s repression. Beijing blocked the report’s launch initially planned to take place in Hong Kong, after Mr Roth was barred from entering China where he was supposed to officially launch the 2020 HRW report.

HRW was scheduled to release the 652-page report that reviews human rights practices in nearly 100 countries, at a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong but was forced to move it back to the UN in New York.

The report highlighted abuses against especially Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in the northwestern Xinjiang region, as well as Tibet.

HRW estimates that at least one million Muslims are being indefinitely held in “political education” camps, where they are forced to disavow their identity and swear loyalty to the Communist Party.

Mr Roth cited many other threats, including in Syria and Yemen, where government forces from Syria, Russia, and the Saudi-led coalition blatantly disregard the international rules designed to spare civilians, including the prohibitions against attacking civilians and bombing hospitals.

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Conservation, public officer accountability top priorities for Africa

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AGGREY MUTAMBO

By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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Africa’s position in the upcoming decade could depend on how officials conserve the environment and remain answerable to the growing population.

In a new report by non-profit think-tank Brookings Institution, Africa’s ‘rising’ tag may continue, but public officers will have to change their attitude about climate change and see their positions as those of service, not enrichment.

The Foresight Africa report released last week puts forward six key areas that African leaders may focus on if at all the people’s livelihoods are to be improved.

It says they must allocate more attention and funds to the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the UN’s vision for a poverty-less world by 2030.

They must also inculcate public accountability through better elections and services, target the welfare of the youth and combat climate change.

The leaders, the report says, must also invest in the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, where innovation is encouraged and policies that support private investors implemented, rather than rake in debts for white elephants.

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It seems this has to start with a clean environment.

“Make no mistake, the big emitters absolutely must step up their domestic climate action, and quickly,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, now a non-resident Distinguished Fellow at the Africa Growth Initiative of the Brookings.

“But building the new climate economy is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that every African nation should prioritise and claim a stake in.”

Dr Okonjo-Iweala argues in the report that while Africa has contributed the least dangerous emissions to the environment, it is the most-exposed to effects of gases that contribute to global warming, the driver of climate change.

“Devastating cyclones affected three million people in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe in the spring of 2018. GDP exposure in African nations vulnerable to extreme climate patterns is projected to grow from $895 billion (Sh89.5 trillion) in 2018 to about $1.4 trillion (Sh140 trillion) in 2023—nearly half of the continent’s GDP,” she noted.

That anomaly is a blot to a continent said to have 10 of the fastest growing economies in the world. But experts had warned before, since 2010, that it will be the continent’s biggest headache.

“Climate change is and has been an issue for the continent for the last 15 years and has been continually getting more complex to manage,” said Macharia Kamau, Former Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for el-Niño and Climate Change.

Mr Kamau, now Kenya’s Principal Secretary of Foreign Affairs, told the Nation that he would tour the world warning leaders that the effects of climate change would worsen.

“The cost to African economies is anywhere between one and a half to three per cent of the GDP. This translates to a punitive climate change penalty and a severe restriction on economic potential, growth and positive social transformation.”

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But climate change is a result of nearly 200 years of the industrial revolution, which Africa did not take part in.

Further, the UN says about 430 million people in Africa are bone-poor or in “extreme poverty” and may need at least $1 trillion annually to implement SDGs.

Brookings experts suggest that issues of governance and inclusion could be top priority as well.

A random poll showed that nearly half of the people want better elections and governance (48 per cent) prioritised so that youth development, health, climate change and regional integration policies are implemented.

“Strong institutions and human development calibre; those are the constraints for Africa,” Armando Manuel, the Alternate Director of the World Bank, said last week during a panel discussion on the report in Washington.

“The rate of discoveries of natural resources in Africa is currently so high that the countries can easily turn into middle income countries. But the problem is that when they reach middle income level, they reach a trap; facing constraints of growth, constraints of income distribution….no inclusion.”

This decade, the UN says should be one of action on poverty, wars, environmental degradation and poor governance. The African Union prioritised 2020 to end violence and 2063 for full integration.

Foresight said business environments across the continent were improving, regional integration centered around the African Continental Free Trade Agreement were progressing, and that transformational technologies were present.

But the rapid rise of the population requires better policies.

Mr Matt Rees, the Interim Coordinator for Prosper Africa at USAID, the US government’s private investment support arm, argues African leaders must prioritise solutions to deal with the population explosion.

“Governments and, most importantly, private players must step up to solve the problem … so that they can collectively create employment for the urbanising population … begin to pay for the achievement of the SDGs … guide for policies that can lead to environmentally friendly outcomes and begin to hold governments accountable,” he said on the panel last week.

“They have to allow people to vote with their economic powers rather than their demographic powers or kinship,” he said.

“The priority should be … how to work with the private sector on policy shift. At least propose answers that are more achievable rather than take on more debt from either international development banks, multilateral banks or unsavoury characters who not only tie people in debt but also don’t invest in labour…and capacity transfer.

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Raila says ‘the handshake’ which birthed BBI has won international acclaim » Capital News

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Leaders join tradition dancers before getting down to the business of the day at Bukhungu Stadium. Kakamega County/Courtesy

, NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 18 – Orange Democratic Movement Leader Raila Odinga says ‘the handshake’ is symbolic of Kenya’s political unity and it has even attracted international attention.

Speaking during the Building Bridges Initiative forum in Kakamega county Bukhungu Stadium, Saturday, the opposition leader noted the handshake has worked for the greater good of the country.

Raila said that he and President Uhuru have been invited to the United States for two days early next month to speak about the handshake.

“The president and I have been invited to Washington DC for a prayer breakfast to discuss merits of the handshake, they say it is unique and has only been seen in Kenya,” he enthused.

He further stated the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) will put in place structures that will guide the governing of the country for posterity.

Raila said that he and president Uhuru came up with the BBI to transform the country after various earlier attempts to transform the country failed despite there being a constitution.

“We want to transform Kenya, we have a constitution but its not working, we still have problems despite having it ,we need to find new solutions that govern this country not just for today or 2022 but permanent ones,” Raila said.

The forum was attended by ODM leader Raila Odinga, Council of Governors Chairperson Wycliffe Oparanya, Cabinet Secretary of Devolution Eugene Wamalwa, Kirinyanga Governor Anne Waiguru and her Kitui counterpart Charity Ngilu together with Central Organisatin of Trade Unions (COTU), Secretary General Francis Atwoli.

The COTU boss Francis Atwoli said that BBI was the surest way for Luhyas to get into government.

CS Wamalwa said that President Kenyatta will visit Western soon to discuss the ailing sugar sector.

Musalia Mudavadi of the Amani National Congress and FORD-Kenya’s Moses Wetangula who were expected to be at the parallel meeting in Mumius made a surprise appearance and expressed their support for the initiative.

During the first BBI rally in Kisii County the opposition leader vowed to rally Kenyans to support the recommendations of the report saying it was for the benefit of all Kenyans.

He further appealed to leaders to avoid using the BBI Report to divide the country along regional or ethnic lines.

The series of consultative meetings are expected to be held in Mombasa, Embu, Garissa, Eldoret, Suswa, Nakuru in coming weeks before concluding with one in President Kenyatta’s backyard of Central region.


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