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UN Security Council seat battle reveals fracture within AU countries

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By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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Kenya’s bruising campaign to capture the United Nations Security Council seat has exposed fractures within the African Union, as Djibouti and its supporters fought to the very end in defiance of the continental body’s endorsement of Nairobi’s sole candidature.

Kenya on June 18 won the non-permanent UNSC seat after a tense campaign that saw neighbouring countries take strong positions against each other, handing Nairobi a tough task of healing rifts while representing the continent on the world’s most important body for fostering peace and international security.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said Nairobi would represent every country’s needs, and thanked Djibouti for being a “worthwhile opponent.” Djibouti congratulated Kenya on the victory, signalling the end of what had been a bruising campaign that saw Nairobi describe its opponent as “dishonourable” in conduct.

“Kenya will endeavour to consolidate and voice Africa’s position in the Security Council and will advance its 10-point agenda as outlined during the campaign period,” said State House Nairobi in a statement on June 18.

Kenya garnered 129 votes against Djibouti’s 62, in the second round of voting.

Djibouti had been defiant, rejecting an AU endorsement of Kenya and it consistently indicated that it had “successfully” managed to overturn that endorsement. The issue was never raised again on the AU agenda after the committee of permanent representatives at the AU submitted Kenya’s name to the Africa Group in New York last October.

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Sources in Djibouti told The EastAfrican that long before the AU vote, Djibouti had amassed some 100 MoUs with individual countries, taking advantage of bilateral ties to secure support for the vote. So when the AU endorsed Kenya, Djibouti knew it had 100 votes in the bag anyway. It would become Kenya’s headache throughout the campaign as some capitals openly told Kenya they would vote elsewhere.

Some of those countries, like Pakistan and Somalia, publicly admitted siding with Djibouti. But as is the nature of politics, Djibouti still lost some 40 votes from those who signed MoUs.

On June 18, Djiboutian President Ismail Guelleh promptly conceded defeat and congratulated Kenya. Somalia’s congratulatory message also followed.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Administrative Secretary Ababu Namwamba told The EastAfrican, “Maturity entails the ability to draw a distinction between rivalry and enmity. Djibouti has been a very worthy rival in this bid, never an enemy. The campaigns and the vote are behind us now.”

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“We want to quickly rally the region, the continent and the globe around the issues that matter, which are encapsulated in Kenya’s 10-point agenda,” he added.

Djibouti took the seat so seriously that President Guelleh travelled more than his envoys to lobby for support.

While on assignment in Baku, Azerbaijan, to campaign for Kenya at the 18th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, Mr Namwamba remembered pitching to the same audience with President Guelleh.

“We would bump into each other and good-naturedly wish each other well,” added Mr Namwamba.

Some of the issues in Kenya’s 10-point agenda include fighting terrorism, empowering youth and women, environmental conservation, human rights and justice, and sustainable development goals.

On Friday June 19, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) — the eight-member regional bloc to which both Kenya and Djibouti belong — said any bitterness between the countries had ended after the vote.

Nuur Mohamud Sheekh, a political advisor at Igad, termed the race “a win-win result.”

“If you look at Kenya’s 10-point priorities for the UNSC seat… [they are] all priorities for not only Igad member states or the AU, but also for humanity at large,” he told The EastAfrican on Friday.

“The Igad bloc, the AU and other UN member states will work closely with Kenya and other member of the UNSC to advance the UN Charter and contribute to global peace and sustainable development.”

Igad thinks the concession by Djibouti and the recognition by Nairobi is evidence the bloc will move on from the cracks of rivalry.

However, some international relations scholars feel that Kenya should pick lessons from the bruising campaigns and work harder to defend the legitimacy of the African Union.

“Djibouti should not have disregarded African Union’s endorsement of Kenya. Kenya will now have to work harder and focus on its faithful friends, while at the same time wooing doubting ones on its side,” said Mustafa Ali, chairman of the Horn International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think-tank in Nairobi.

There could be repercussions at Igad, even though bilateral relations between Kenya and Djibouti may not change, according to Wilfred Nasong’o Muliro, a lecturer of International relations and security at the Technical University of Kenya.

“The recent developments within the Horn of Africa region have shown that intra-Igad diplomatic alliances ostensibly aimed at creating a balance of power that isolates Kenya. This implies that if Ethiopia voted for Kenya, it will be ruffling its geo-strategic relationship with Djibouti.

“Yet, if it voted for Djibouti it would be going against the position of the AU whose headquarters is in Ethiopia. But the overt regional hegemonic rivalry between Kenya and Ethiopia may be directly manifest if the emerging troika of Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti vote against Kenya,” Mr Nasong’o said.

Kenya, he argued, now has two options as far as regional diplomacy in the Horn and East Africa is concerned. One, is to seek to expand the greater Horn of Africa to include other EAC members so as to stem institutionalisation of a purely Horn of Africa organisation. The second option is to expend “its energies on the development of EAC and seek to influence Igad from that perspective.”

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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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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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