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Guaido cranks up pressure on Maduro

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Venezuela’s opposition leader stepped up his campaign to oust President Nicolas Maduro on Friday, calling for a “major demonstration” and rejecting an offer of talks with the socialist leader.

National Assembly head Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself acting president during street rallies by tens of thousands on Wednesday, said he wouldn’t attend a “fake dialogue” on a crisis that has left 26 dead this week in clashes between anti-Maduro activists and security forces.

After four years of economic pain that has left Venezuelans short of food and medicine and driven more than two million to flee the country — which sits on the world’s largest oil reserves — the opposition found its voice this month in Mr Guaido after Mr Maduro was sworn in for a second presidential term following controversial elections.

Mexico had offered to host talks between the rival leaders, and Mr Maduro professed he was ready to go “wherever I have to.”

But Mr Guaido, who is backed by the US and several Latin American countries, told supporters in Caracas the public would remain in the streets “until we achieve an end to the usurpation, a transitional government and free elections.”

He accused President Maduro’s regime of only offering talks after “repression” failed to achieve its objectives.

The European Union and US have ratcheted up the pressure on Mr Maduro to agree to a new vote. An EU diplomat told AFP the bloc wanted “an immediate call for elections in the near future.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will underline US support for the Venezuelan people at a UN Security Council meeting Saturday and urge members to recognise Mr Guaido as interim president, the State Department said.

President Donald Trump’s administration has spearheaded the international pressure on Mr Maduro, who accuses Washington of being behind an attempted “coup,” by declaring his regime “illegitimate.”

On Friday, Mr Pompeo announced the US was naming a new envoy to lead efforts to help Venezuela “in achieving democracy.” Elliot Abrams was a central figure in former president Ronald Reagan’s controversial anti-communist campaigns in Central America during the 1980s.

Washington’s immediate support for Mr Guaido led to Mr Maduro, who retains the powerful military’s backing, closing his country’s embassy and consulates in the US and breaking off diplomatic ties, giving US diplomatic staff until Saturday to leave the country.

Mr Guaido, though, urged the US diplomats to stay and keep the embassy’s doors open.

Mr Maduro’s deadline runs out on Saturday but even though it ordered non-emergency staff to leave Venezuela, the US has refused to comply fully with the order.

Despite the diplomatic sparring, the President on Friday said his country will continue to sell oil to the United States, which private consultants say provides the largest source of cash to Venezuelan coffers.

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“If they buy our oil, we will sell oil,” he said.

But the US Treasury Department warned that “commercial transactions by the Venezuelan Government, including those involving its state-owned enterprises and international reserves” must be consistent with Washington’s recognition of Mr Guaido.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — whose country is Venezuela’s second-largest creditor and a military ally — denounced US policy on Venezuela as “destructive.”

Spain pushed the EU to recognise Mr Guaido’s claims to the presidency if no new elections are held, while Germany said it may follow suit.

France warned Mr Maduro against “any form of repression” of the opposition as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said more than 350 people were arrested this week during the protests.

Mr Maduro’s re-election last year was boycotted by the opposition and rejected by the US, EU and UN as a sham — but the military has repeatedly reiterated its loyalty to the socialist leader.

Mr Guaido, 35, has galvanized a previously divided opposition and even attempted to attract military support by offering an amnesty to anyone who disavows Mr Maduro.

In a Skype interview with Univision late Thursday he went one step further by suggesting Mr Maduro could also be offered amnesty if he agrees to step down.

But such an option would have to be evaluated, he said, because he is responsible for the deaths of protesters.

Mr Guaido continues to seek military support, though, and has tasked his supporters with handing out copies of the amnesty law parliament is working on to soldiers on Sunday.

Analysts at the Eurasia Group consultancy noted that while international recognition of Mr Guaido as interim president cemented his position as the main opposition leader, his failure to win over the military meant Mr Maduro’s fall “does not appear imminent.”

Venezuela’s political crisis rapidly escalated after a group of soldiers rose up against Mr Maduro this week and sparked a number of protests leading up to Wednesday’s rival rallies of pro and anti-Maduro groups.

Mr Guaido’s proclamation of himself as acting president drew recognition from major regional players including Brazil and Argentina, as well as the US.

President Trump has openly mused about military intervention in Venezuela, saying “all options are on the table,” but Russia said that “violates the fundamental norms of international law.”

Mr Maduro came to power in 2013 as the designated heir to the hugely-popular Hugo Chavez.



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General

Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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