President Samia Suluhu’s women-dominated entourage caught the eye in the Tanzanian leader’s first official visit to Nairobi.
At the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, President Suluhu arrived guarded by an all-female security detail and accompanied by Tanzanian Foreign Minister, Ms Liberata Mulamula, a former Executive Secretary for the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, who was recently hired to help improve Dar’s image abroad.
As a practicing Muslim, and now fasting during Ramadhan, tradition dictates that she is assisted by females as she goes about her business and the routine prayer sessions.
Kenya seemed ready for the optics as well. On hand to receive her at the airport were Kenyan Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Raychelle Omamo, and her Sports counterpart, Amina Mohamed.
Ms Mohamed, herself a veteran diplomat and former Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, had hand-delivered an invitation from President Kenyatta to Ms Suluhu last month. As she signed the visitors’ book at the Presidential Pavilion, she was surrounded by an all-female delegation of aides and officials from both governments.
And in keeping with female etiquette, the dress she wore while arriving was not the one she appeared with at State House for the bilateral meeting. Perhaps each suit and hijab served an assigned occasion. There was an air of camaraderie at State House.
President Suluhu hasn’t been wearing masks at functions in Tanzania. Yesterday, as in her trip to Uganda last month, she wore one. Her delegation, too, was all in safety gear. It was no wonder that once she touched down in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam announced tougher measures on Covid-19 for visitors. From now on, proof of a negative test will be mandatory for those arriving or transiting through Tanzanian ports of entry.
Tanzania’s departure from international Covid-19 protocols had isolated the government of John Pombe Magufuli, who died on March 17. At State House in Nairobi, she was described as a sister and friend. She returned the favour, describing President Kenyatta as “my brother” and Kenyans as “siblings.”
“We are excited to welcome you here because we see you as our sister and Tanzania and Kenya are one thing,” President Kenyatta said.
“This time, we intend to go as far as strengthening our relations. My pledge is to continue working side by side with you to ensure the vision of our founding fathers is attained,” Presidents Kenyatta and Magufuli also fondly described each other as brothers.
President Magufuli even sent a pair of peacocks to Nairobi to symbolise their friendship and brotherhood.
President Kenyatta would later return gold plates confiscated from Tanzanian smugglers in Kenya. It seemed like pals working for a common cause. Until Covid-19 came. One side denied it, the other accepted it, and a wedge was drawn between neighbours. How will it go this time? Only time will tell.
President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks during a joint statement with Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan at the State House, in Nairobi, Kenya, on May 4, 2021. [Reuters, Baz Ratner]
President Uhuru Kenyatta has been exposed politically by Thursday’s High Court ruling, which could trigger a litany of suits and a possible bid for impeachment. The five-judge Bench accused the president of violating chapter six of the Constitution, after consolidating cases from several litigants challenging the constitutional review process through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). Yesterday, ICPK director Ndungu Wainaina said the BBI process could not be salvaged after the ruling, adding that the judges had made it clear that the basic structure doctrine limits the amendment power. “The basic structure can only be amended by the primary constituent process,” said Wainaina. During the ruling, the judges also said civil court proceedings can be instituted against the president. Legal experts yesterday said President Kenyatta’s remaining tenure could be in limbo, legally. They said unless the judgment is overturned on appeal, the finding by the five judges was a clarification of the law that the president should observe the limits set by the Constitution and the law. However, lawyer Kibe Mungai said although the verdict can be the reason for impeachment, it will be a herculean task because the president enjoys majority support in both houses of Parliament. “It is not very new, it is a clarification that the president can be sued in his personal capacity and not about his functions, for example, if a president is to rob a bank, he will be sued as an individual and not as a president. That is the correct interpretation in most countries. That is proper finding,” said Mungai. The five judges were of the view that the President is only protected from such actions in respect of anything done or not done in the exercise of their powers under this Constitution. “Assuming, in his tenure, the President embarks on a mission that is not only clearly in violation of the Constitution but is also destructive to the nation, would it not be prudent that he should be stopped in his tracks rather than wait until the lapse of his tenure by which time the country may have tipped over the cliff?” they posed. The judges were determining President Kenyatta’s role in the BBI process. However, the court is split on if he was justified or had powers to appoint the BBI task force. On one hand, Justice John Mativo said the president was right, while the other judges found that he had breached Chapter Six of the Constitution. “The President cannot be said to have acted ultra vires the Constitution. He acted intra vires in taking steps to achieve this noble constitutional requirement. The President’s decision meets both the proportionality and rationality tests which are core requirements for the decision to pass the principle of legality test,” Justice Mativo ruled on the formation of the BBI task force.
Take a quick survey and help us improve our website! Take a survey
Yesterday, a senior counsel who sought anonymity, said President Kenyatta did not act out of the blues in forming the BBI task force. He also argues that by the Judiciary participating in the process, it had given its thumb of approval. Presidential petition
“The Judiciary participated in the BBI process. They for example, sought for extension of the time of hearing of the presidential petition. How can the Judiciary participate in the process and then turn around and say the president should be impeached for it?” he posed. Lawyer Jackson Awele said if there are different interpretations on the President’s role from the High Court, then it is for the Court of Appeal to iron them out. “If there are issues which are not in sync, it will be for the Court of Appeal to harmonise them,” Awele said. Notably, it is the second time that the High Court has found that President Kenyatta can be sued in person. In the first case, involving the swearing of 41 judges, High Court judges George Dulu, William Musyoka and James Wakiaga found that the Constitution does not shield the president from being dragged into a constitutional or judicial review court even when in office. The three judges, however, pointed out that he should not be sued in person but through the Attorney General. Yesterday, Law Society of Kenya (LSK) president Nelson Havi said the 321-page judgment is an indictment to President Kenyatta. He said the breach of the Constitution was a serious issue that he can be personally held accountable for. According to him the judge’s reference to the President as Mr Uhuru also amounted to stripping him of his status as Head of State. “There is no decision of the High Court that is as clear on the misconduct of the President as this one. On the judges’ appointment, they just said if he had just breached the Constitution, if it were in Israel or India, he would have resigned. You realised they have referred to him as Mr Kenyatta; they have stripped him the stature of a President. Unfortunately, Parliament is emasculated and will not impeach him but it will go a long way to dent his image as a leader,” Havi said. But early in the week, President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga had rallied the National Assembly and the Senate to overwhelmingly endorse the BBI Bill, setting the stage for a constitutional review. Only a public endorsement through a referendum was awaiting until the High Court’s shock ruling on Thursday. The push for law review began with their March 9, 2018 Handshake, following the controversial 2017 presidential elections. But the journey to change the 2010 Constitution has not been rosy, after the BBI received a lukewarm reception from Deputy President William Ruto, a voracious civil society that sought to derail the process and then the Covid-19 pandemic, coped with a struggling economy. After the BBI sailed through in Parliament, both Speakers said they were preparing to hand over the Bill to President Kenyatta. “We have finished our role and are waiting for the President to give us an appointment so that we can jointly present the Bill,” said Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka. His National Assembly counterpart Justin Muturi said they had cleared their part. “The staff are going through typos and referencing errors before booking an appointment with the president,” said Muturi. But there had been another hurdle to the process. In February, a five-judge Bench had barred President Kenyatta from assenting to the Bill should it be passed by the bicameral Parliament. They ruled that the amendments would not come into force until determination of the petitions challenging the process. Justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, Chacha Mwita and Teresiah Matheka issued the orders following an application by Thirdway Alliance, a week ago in Nakuru. Thirdway Alliance lawyers had applied to have the National Assembly and the Senate barred from acting on the resolutions by county assemblies.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic out of Euro 2020
Zlatan Ibrahimovic requires surgery after picking up a knee injury for AC Milan last week which will rule him out of Sweden’s Euro 2020 campaign
Four months into a Covid-19 vaccination campaign marred by shortages and delays, hard-hit Brazil is still struggling to find enough doses, as political and diplomatic blunders prolong its pandemic nightmare.
Around 33 million people — 15 per cent of the population — have received at least one vaccine dose in Brazil, a proportion still too small to have a substantial impact on the virus’ spread.
Targeted by a Senate inquiry over its handling of the pandemic, President Jair Bolsonaro’s government is facing criticism for failing to secure more vaccines, including its refusal of offers to purchase millions of doses and diplomatic tension with China that may be slowing the import of vaccine ingredients.
“We don’t have enough doses right now to vaccinate as fast as we should,” said Margareth Dalcolmo, a pulmonologist and researcher at leading public health institute Fiocruz.
Vaccinate younger people
“We ought to be vaccinating younger people already, especially given that younger demographic groups are currently driving transmission,” she told AFP.
But first, Brazil still has to vaccinate 80 million people from high-priority groups, including the elderly, indigenous people and health workers.
Vaccine doses meanwhile continue to arrive in a trickle — although the government maintains it will be able to vaccinate all adults by the end of the year.
Brazil has lost more lives to Covid-19 than any country except the United States — more than 430,000 — and has one of the highest death tolls per capita in the world.
Though the current wave has eased somewhat since April, the virus is still killing a staggeringly high number of people in the country — nearly 2,000 a day.
Despite its huge size, the South American country is known for executing turbo-charged vaccination campaigns.
In 2010, Brazil vaccinated more than 80 million people against H1N1 — the swine flu virus — in less than three months.
“We need to be vaccinating two million people a day,” said Dalcolmo.
As it stands, Brazil has rarely managed more than one million Covid-19 shots a day.
“We’ve gotten better since the start of the year, but we’re still a long way from where we need to be,” said Joao Viola, president of the Brazilian Immunological Society’s scientific committee.
Brazil started out using two vaccines, Oxford/AstraZeneca’s and Chinese-developed CoronaVac, both of which it has licenses to produce locally.
The drive got a boost last month with the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine. But only about two million of the 100 million doses Brazil has ordered have been delivered so far.
All three shots require two doses.
Brazil could have secured more Pfizer doses faster, but Bolsonaro’s government refused an offer last August to purchase more than 70 million of them.
The far-right president, who has persistently snubbed expert advice on handling the pandemic, joked that the vaccine could “turn you into an alligator” — only to change course months later and allow a deal with the US pharmaceutical giant.
“Worldwide demand for vaccines is very high, so those who were slow to sign deals are receiving their orders later,” said Viola.
Bolsonaro, whose government often has strained relations with China, also refused to purchase CoronaVac, calling it the vaccine from “that other country.”
But a political opponent, Joao Doria, governor of Brazil’s most populous state, Sao Paulo, pursued a deal for CoronaVac anyway.
The vaccine now accounts for more than 70 percent of the doses administered in Brazil.
However, the public health centre manufacturing it in Brazil, the Butantan Institute, announced Friday it would have to halt production because it had run out of the active ingredient, which has to be imported from China.
Brazil is due to start producing the active ingredient for CoronaVac itself, but only in September.
The Butantan Institute said “diplomatic problems” could prevent it from delivering new doses in June.
Last week, Bolsonaro provoked China by saying it may have created the novel coronavirus in a lab to wage “germ warfare.”
“There are 10,000 liters (of active ingredient for CoronaVac) ready, just waiting for the Chinese government to authorize shipment,” said Doria.
“But every time someone here makes a disparaging remark about China, that clearly makes it more difficult.”
Attorney General (AG) Paul Kihara Kariuki has filed a petition appealing judgment on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) bill, citing dissatisfaction in the decision made by the five-bench judge.
The BBI Bill, officially known as Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020, was declared null and void by a five-bench judge on Thursday, May 13.
According to a ruling by judges Prof Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, Teresia Matheka and Chacha Mwita, President Uhuru Kenyatta does not have the power to initiate a Constitutional amendment.
The five bench judges ruled that even the BBI Steering Committee unconstitutional.
“It is our finding that popular initiative is a power reserved for Wanjiku neither the president or any other state organ can utilize article 257 to amend the constitution. President cannot purport to directly initiate a constitutional amendment. He isn’t part of parliament. He has no power under the constitution to initiate changes under the constitution since parliament is the only state organ that can consider the effecting of constitutional changes. The president is not permitted to amend the constitution using popular initiative,” said the judges.
The judges ruled that the President should have used the parliamentary initiative by petitioning the National Assembly through the Attorney-General to consider the desired amendments.
The appeal by Kihara comes a day after BBI secretariat co-chairs Junet Mohamed and Denis Waweru dismissed the ruling as judicial activism, vowing to appeal.
“This was a very deliberate design to plunge the country into a constitutional crisis and chaos through judicial activism,” Junet said.
The Suna East MP claimed that there exists an unholy marriage between the Deputy President William Ruto-led faction (Tanga tanga), the civil society and the judiciary.
“We note the celebration of the ruling by politicians and the civil society operators who have dismissed BBI from the word go. These politicians are determined to ignore the fact that four million Kenyans signed the BBI amendment Bill,” added the legislator.
On Saturday, May 15, ODM party leader Raila Odinga who is President Uhuru Kenyatta’s handshake partner said BBI proponents will appeal the ruling.