Archive for the 'Crime' Category

Russian Lord of War Arrested

While Victor Bout might be running arms to your opposition, you know he’ll also ferry arms against a U.N. embargo for you.

Oh happy day! One of the world’s biggest arms dealers was arrested in Thailand on Thursday. His name – Viktor Anatoliyevich Bout. Age: 41. Thai authorities were acting on a warrant for his arrest issued by the US who accuse him of supplying arms to Colombia, the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Al Jazeera’s Riz Khan interviews Douglas Farah an intelligence consultant and former journalist who wrote “Merchant of Death”, a book based on Bout.

Russia’s RSI Novosti reports

Moscow may request the extradition of Russian businessman Viktor Bout, arrested in Thailand at the request of U.S. authorities on charges of illegal arms trading, a Russian law enforcement source said on Thursday.

“At this time, Russia is awaiting investigation materials from Thailand…After that, a decision to request extradition may be taken,” the source said.

If this happens Bout might walk free as the present US administration is anxious to please the new Russian regime and is not fully committed to acting on the US extradition request.

He flew frozen chickens from South Africa to Nigeria and Belgian peace keepers to Somalia.

His planes delivered French soldiers to Rwanda after the genocide and United Nations food aid to some of the crises his weapons had helped to create.

In 1997 his planes flew Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator of the Congo, to safety as rebels closed in on him. Bout had armed the rebels.

He’s conducted business with both the US and UK governments. “In an age when the U.S. president has divided the world into those who are with the United States and those who are against it, Bout is both“, supplying arms to both sides of a given conflict which has earned him the moniker ‘the merchant of death’.

Bout’s real money came when he realized he could fly lucrative commercial cargo on the flights back from the weapons deliveries. His most profitable enterprise was flying gladiolas purchased for $2 in Johannesburg and resold for $100 in Dubai.

He has links to every conflict going on in Africa – Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Uganda and Kenya – to name but a few countries.

Bout was formerly a Soviet military office who built his fortune in the chaos following the breakdown of the USSR by buying up old Soviet military aircraft and weaponry from desperate arms suppliers. The main supplier being Ukraine. Desperate for hard currency the Ukraine sold off Soviet weaponry to whoever would buy. Viktor Bout helped to move and sell the product and soon the world was awash in weapons.

United Nations investigations placed him at the centre of an elaborate network of logistics and aviation companies delivering weapons to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, among other countries.

Johan Peleman, an arms trade expert who works for the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, said many of Mr Bout’s aircraft were operating in Africa but in some cases “he has either sold them or sub-leased them for longer periods of time”, making it more difficult to link him to operations.

“Planes landing in Somalia look familiar. Some of his front-men remain active in the Great Lakes region. I still see a number of aircraft registered in Sao Tome and some in Angola that used to be his,” Mr Peleman said.

Most recently, he added, law enforcement agencies had been investigating possible ties between companies associated with Mr Bout and militant groups in Nigeria, whose sophisticated weaponry has made it difficult for the federal government to re-establish control over the oil-producing Niger delta.

One Russian arms trade expert speaking on condition of anonymity said Mr Bout had been free to live in Moscow because “there were a lot of accusations but no proof. He is a transporter. He is like a taxi driver. A taxi driver can drive someone carrying suitcases. It’s not his duty to know what’s in the suitcases.”

Viktor Bout - merchant of death
“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

The photo above is one of the rare photos of Bout in circulation prior to his recent arrest and was taken for a NYT article written by Peter Landesman. Bout agreed to be interviewed by Landesman because he had things he wanted to get off his chest.

One night Landesman got a call at his hotel from an anonymous source asking him to meet at a McDonald’s in Pushkin Square, Moscow. The source put to him the idea that Bout had become the fall guy for a conspiracy involving Russia and the newly independent Soviet republic – Ukraine.

The source encouraged Landeman to view Bout from the following perspective:

He said to imagine the structure of arms trafficking in Russia like a mushroom. Bout was among those in the mushroom’s cap, which we can see. The stalk is made up of the men who are really running things in Russia and making decisions. Looking from above, he said, you never see the stalk. (Landesman)

Among those in the metaphorical mushroom cap was a Kenyan Asian who was arrested in Belgium in connection with supplying arms to Liberia in 2002. Sanjivan Ruprah described as a diamond dealer (who profited from Sierre Leone’s blood diamonds) was on a US list of most wanted men and and one of the world’s most notorious arms dealers. Ruprah was also the partner of Viktor Bout. According to Belgian researcher Tim Raemaekers they both held a substantial stake in a diamond business in Kisangani, DRC, and enjoyed diamond concessions in Banalia, DRC

Both he and Bout also enjoyed a covert relationship with US Feds since long before 9/11. According to a report submitted to the UN Security Council in 2002 his interests also included mining interests in Kenya.

Damien Hirst Diamond Skull worth £50 million
Conspicuous Consumption – Damien Hirst’s For the Love of God

Damien Hirst said in a recent documentary on the making of this grotesque diamond skull that he was careful to source conflict-free diamonds, an impossibility due to the fact that most diamonds coming on the market are coming from places like DRC. The construction of the skull also caused a shortage on the diamond market in 2006 which inevitably created demand. “Ladies and gentlemen, it would be irresponsible to circumvent the fact that it is highly problematic, if not unfeasible, to work out a system in order to control the flow of rough diamonds around the world. The reality is that once diamonds are mined there is almost nothing one can do in order to prevent them from reaching the market. No certification scheme can truly be reliable, not only because war-torn areas are by definition disorganized, but mainly because it is intrinsically impossible to distinguish between good and bad diamonds. Misguiding traders and consumers with untrustworthy guarantees would inevitably be demystified over time.”

Continued… The UN reports states:

A Kenyan national named Sanjivan Ruprah plays a key role in Liberia’s airline registry and in the arms trade. Before his involvement in Liberia, Sanjivan Ruprah had mining interests in Kenya, and was associated with Branch Energy (Kenya). Branch Energy owned diamond mining rights in Sierra Leone, and introduced the private military company, Executive Outcomes to the government there in 1995. Ruprah is also known as an arms broker. He has worked in South Africa with Roelf van Heerden, a former colleague from Executive Outcomes, and together they have done business in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere. Ruprah was once in charge of an airline in Kenya, Simba Airlines, until investigations into financial irregularities forced the company’s closure.

If this wasn’t interesting enough, Branch Energy is a sister company of Energem Resources previously known as DiamondWorks. Both are companies that Odinga has ties to. As Minister for Energy, Odinga handed contracts to Energem to import oil for Kenya and pushed Kenya into rapacious oil deals with Sudan.

Energem Resources is presently owned by a couple of arms-dealers. One Tony Teixeira, a South African arms dealer of Portuguese descent who coincidentally has links to the molasses factory in Kisumu originally owned by the Odinga’s firm Spectre International. These are glaring irregularities which have not been fully explained by the Odinga’s.

It is significant that the Odinga family business, Spectre International Ltd, acquired the then state-owned Kisumu Molasses Plant soon after Raila started politically cooperating with Moi.

[Spectre – a ghost. something unpleasant or dangerous imagined or expected: the spectre of nuclear holocaust Concise Oxford English Dictionary]

Raila has consistently argued that the acquisition of the molasses plant was a pure business deal which had nothing to do with politics, but his critics point out at the coincidence between the time his family acquired the parastatal and Raila’s shift of political alliance. It is highly unlikely – indeed one may even say impossible – that the Moi government would have sanctioned the Kisumu Molasses Plant deal at the time if Raila had not become an ally of Moi’s.

[…]Soon after taking over the plant from the government, Raila struck a lucrative deal with Energem whereby the Canadian firm bought 55 per cent of the Kisumu Molasses plant. Sources say that the Odinga family was paid over US$ 5 million (about Kshs 420 million) to relinquish the control of the molasses plant. The Odinga family had paid only Kshs 3.6 million for the property.

The sale of the plant to Teixeira’s Energem was made shortly before Odinga’s National Development Party entered into a partnership with then ruling party, Kanu. Teixeira now also owns a controlling stake in Spectre. Two members of the Odinga family sit on its board of directors. Spectre International is also a major funder of the Orange Democratic Movement.

It will be very interesting to see how much more the world is going to learn about the men who have helped to destabilise countries across Africa if Viktor Bout remains behind bars. This article is the bomb and lists the activities of USAID and US corporations who are engaged in extracting resources from the Democratic Republic of Congo resources. More to follow no doubt…

Revealed: The trap that lured the merchant of death

BLOWBACK

[…]While Bout’s exploits as an arms dealer of choice to a host of unsavoury regimes and groups appears largely beyond dispute, what is more puzzling is how he got away with it for so long. The answer, according to many long-time Bout experts, intelligence officials and US government sources, is that there exists a strong circumstantial case that his ability to get into the world’s most troubled regions and deliver exactly what he promised on time and at the promised cost made him an invaluable ally to more powerful interests than African warlords and diamond smugglers.

Alex Yearsley of the London-based Global Witness, the organisation that led the charge against both Bout and his partners for trading weapons throughout Africa, often in exchange for contracts for natural resources, believes his ability to evade arrest reflected not simply a lack of will by certain nations but a crass exercise in realpolitik.

‘Due to the complicity of members of the [five permanent members on the United Nations] Security Council in the conflicts that Bout armed, on both sides, there were always politically expedient excuses not to arrest [him] earlier,’ he says. ‘He ran an operation that always had plausible deniability. If his planes got caught delivering weapons to rebel movements or sanctioned regimes, they could always claim he was a rogue businessman. On several occasions when he was about to be arrested by one government another government would find a use for him.’

Bout’s activities fell under increased scrutiny over the past five years, particularly after the revelations that he had been given contracts to serve the Iraqi occupation. UN travel sanctions and moves by the US Department of Treasury to freeze his assets and complicate his business operations limited his business, according to US government documents. But based in Moscow, Bout was able to continue operations until his arrest. Yearsley echoes many observers when he says it appeared he was under the protection of the Russian government.

‘He seemed to have a very high level of protection in Russia, living there a happy and a free man despite Interpol ‘red’ notices and Belgian arrest warrants. [This protection] makes a mockery of Russia’s justice system. He was used by [Vladimir Putin] to wind up the Western liberals and make some Russian generals rich,’ he said.

In a meeting last autumn, one European intelligence official who had worked on a long-running investigation into Bout’s activities in Africa was openly cynical that he would ever be caught. ‘Arrest Bout? Nobody wants to. Even my own government eventually shut us down. There’s been a decision to hassle him with sanctions to keep him in line but everyone needs him at some point, or might [need him]. Plus he’d just be replaced by someone else and they could be worse,’ the official said.

‘As long as he stays quiet and remains useful, he can do this indefinitely.’

In the end it was an agency of one of those states suspected of turning a blind eye to Bout’s activities that was the engine behind his capture. According to a source with close ties to the DEA, the operation was so sensitive it was kept secret from other members of the US intelligence community, including high-ranking members of the Justice Department, precisely because of the fear that Bout might be tipped off by elements that the DEA agents feared had protected him in the past. A special unit was set up to run the operation due to ‘war on drugs’ legislation and guidelines, allowed to operate outside the normal protocols that require US government-wide notification.

Few people, even in the closed world of US intelligence, knew the DEA was tracking Bout, let alone setting him up for an arrest. ‘[The DEA] was laughing at the CIA in their offices,’ because they had arrested someone that was perceived to be working for the agency, said one witness.

The strong suspicion that elements in US and other Western intelligence services supposed to be pursuing Bout were occasionally protecting him – no evidence suggests an official policy to protect Bout – is supported by an American diplomat who had tracked Bout as part of investigations into the trade in Russia’s post-Cold War arms stockpiles.

The diplomat described how efforts to track or harass Bout in the late 1990s and early 2000 by small-arms control experts at the State Department would eventually draw the ire of certain CIA officials, resulting in angry phone calls to the diplomat’s superiors demanding that they back off. But the diplomat was emphatic that he did not believe the agency actively or officially worked alongside Bout, but rather traded information with him, making him a useful, if unappealing, occasional asset.

‘I sense they were just as shocked as the rest of us when the bastard was found flying into Baghdad [on behalf of the US government],’ he said of the CIA.

Farah, meanwhile, believes that Bout’s willingness to work with Islamic organisations such as Hizbollah and the Islamic Courts in Somalia, considered an al-Qaeda ally by American officials, probably helped speed his demise.

‘I think Bout was arrested now for several reasons: he was no longer useful to the United States and was an embarrassment … he had shown a willingness to work with those directly opposed to US vital interests,’ Farah says. ‘This, in the end, moved at least a portion of the US law enforcement and intelligence community to make him a high priority target, something he had not been for many years.’

Afterword: Going back to mushroom metaphors; it might be great news to hear that Bout is behind bars finally but the arms trade is not going away as the structure remains – the Antonov planes, the arms pipelines and the organisation are still in place, like mushroom mycelium ever present underground even when the mushroom is dead.

Related: On Kagame and other disinterested observers

Oh and by the way – Nicholas Cage’s character in the film Lord of War was based on him.

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What can be done?

Photobucket

From this angle I can not tell whether this woman is a Luo or a Kikuyu. What I do know is that she is a Kenyan.

Kenya’s military have been deployed to Nakuru and have fired on marauding groups of youths who have been setting fire to homes. In Naivasha, sixteen people were killed in a small two-roomed house where they had taken shelter. Most them women and children. One woman running away from the scene screamed, “They set it on fire, they are killing my brother and sister.”

The violence has continued despite Kibaki and Odinga agreeing to talk. It’s going to take more than an hand-shake to resolve the situation. The electoral crisis is no longer driving events which now center on horrifying revenge attacks directed at the Luo community in what were once quiet, cosmopolitan tourist towns. What can be done?

Who can trust Kibaki or Odinga to heal these wounds when both blame each other for the violence? For each sees the chaos as a propaganda vehicle. Kenya needs fresh faces to form a platform on which the constitutional crisis can be addressed and the long hard work of repairing the country’s damaged institutions can begin. For too long the country has been run as the personal fiefdom of the elite. An equitable redistribution of land and resources must also be carried out; ethnic divisions would never erupt in a country in which all people felt they held a stake. Edit: On reflection, achieving such equity through redistribution is complicated and difficult. Focusing on economic growth and greater inclusion through extending employment opportunities is an urgent task. It is not going to happen. The global economy has been stitched up, Kenyan workers are similarly stitched up.

Odinga could use the platform he has been given by the media to address these issues instead of harping on about the elections. What good are fresh elections now when people are dying? Kibaki might have shown himself to be singularly out of touch with what is happening but that should not prevent Odinga from taking the lead. Odinga might look more like a statesman if he were to spell out how these horrible wounds can be healed, instead of playing the blame-game and nursing his own hurt ego.

Ninety people in all were killed over the weekend as the epicentre of violence shifted to Naivasha and Nakuru. In Nakuru, witnesses identified Mungiki sect members who they said were armed with guns and wore police uniforms.

In yesterday’s incident only comparable to that visited on victims sheltering at an Eldoret Church early this month, charred remains of the 16 victims were crammed in a small, two-room house, where – according to witnesses – they had locked themselves up to escape the wrath of bloodthirsty youths.

“When the attacks started, youths burnt the house, trapping them inside,” a resident said.

Another four were hacked to death as they fled from the marauding gangs targeting members of one community.

Others were killed and lynched after being fished out of public service vehicles on account of their tribe.

Policemen watched the unfolding chaos helplessly as Nairobi was temporarily cut-off from western Kenya.

Independent reports put the death toll in Naivasha at more than 20, but police confirmed only 10. The number could be higher as several people were reported missing.

In Nakuru, the death toll hit 60, with the number expected to rise as rival groups continued to clash. Witnesses said some of the attackers, believed to be members of the proscribed Mungiki sect, were armed with guns and wore police uniforms.

Fifty-five bodies are lying at the Nakuru Municipal Mortuary with five more yet to be collected from the town’s estates. The mortuary, with a capacity of 42, was stretched to the limit as bodies streamed in.

The number of those injured continued to rise and by yesterday evening, more than 100 victims were admitted to the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital nursing arrow, cuts and bullet wounds.

Burning of houses continued in various estates as hundreds continued to flee their homes. Police and military officers patrolled the town and suburbs as the violence entered its third day yesterday.

Unconfirmed reports said a military chopper patrolling the town fired gunshots at Kwa Rhonda and Ng’ambo estates to scare away marauding youths torching houses.

However, Nakuru deputy OCPD, Mr Mathew Gwiyo, said military officers fired shots in Bahati of Nakuru North District to disperse youths armed with pangas, bows and arrows who were torching houses.

“The military choppers are assisting police with aerial surveillance and intervened when the situation got out of hand,” he said.

At Sewage Estate, police had a hard time controlling two armed groups from rival communities and had to fire several times in the air to disperse them.

Armed with pangas and other weapons, they mounted death traps at illegal roadblocks on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, where they flushed out passengers from communities other than their own and lynched them.

During the skirmishes, a prison warder accidentally shot his colleague, part of a team sent to quell the violence. Houses were torched and property worth millions of shillings looted during the chaos that turned Naivasha town into a no-go zone.

William Ruto addressed Eldoret residents and called for peace, “I am appealing to our people to stop fighting each other. We know those who organised to manipulate the elections and have put us in this mess.”

In Kisumu today, young men blocked roads out of the town with burning tires and rocks.

“Kikuyus must go!” “No Raila, no peace!” they yelled, referring to the tribe of Kibaki, and to his chief rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga. Members of Odinga’s Luo tribe are among those challenging the official election results, and in Kisumu some of them took out their rage on Kikuyus, including the bus driver who was burned to death.

“The road is covered in blood. It’s chaos. Luos are hunting Kikuyus for revenge,” said Baraka Karama, a journalist for state broadcaster Kenya Television.

More on how the Kenyan election was stolen

Four Kenyan election observers who witnessed the last phase of the presidential vote tallying, when political parties were verifying the results that had been announced, have recorded their observations in an hour-by-hour log. Their testimonies expose what can only be termed a resolve among electoral officials—including Commissioners and staff—to obtain a pre-determined outcome, whether supported by fact or not.

Kenyans for Peace with Justice have released a series of documents that record how the election was stolen. This is a minute by minute account of what happened over those two fateful days.

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)
Kenyan Elections Observers’ Log: December 29-30, 2007

The following account is drawn from the statements of four of the five domestic election observers allowed into the verification process the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) afforded political party representatives the night before the announcement of the supposed results for the Presidency.

The account illustrates the list of anomalies, malpractices and illegalities that lay behind those results, raising questions as to the ethics, non-partisanship and professionalism of the ECK commissioners and staff as well as to the validity of the supposed results. The expectation of all concerned was that any findings of the verification process would be addressed by the ECK Commissioners when they met the following morning, but this did not happen.

Countdown to deception: 30 hours that destroyed Kenya

On Sunday, December 30, 2007 at 1830, Mwai Kibaki was sworn in as President of the Republic of Kenya at State House in Nairobi. Three forms of violence immediately broke out across the country: disorganised and spontaneous protests; organised militia activity; and disproportionate use of force by the Kenyan police force and General Service Unit (GSU). As a result, over 500 people were killed, 4,000 exiled in Uganda and over 250,000 people internally displaced. Many more are in hospital nursing injuries.Domestic election observers who monitored the final hours of the presidential ballot tallying and announcements noticed transgressions at once brazen and shocking. The following log captures the critical highlights of Kenya’s deviation from democracy.

Saturday December 29, 2007

1343: Results for 174 constituencies received and the gap narrows While sitting with Institute of Education in Democracy (IED)’s Executive Director, Koki Muli (observer), and journalist Kiss 100’s Paul Ilado (journalist) on the second floor of Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), the ECK’s Chair, Samuel Kivuitu, receives results that put the gap between the Party of National Unity (PNU)’s Kibaki about 107,779 votes behind the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)’s Raila Odinga— Kibaki has 3,697,768 and Odinga 3,805,547 votes, while ODM Kenya’s Kalonzo Musyoka has 498,361 votes.

1500: Nail-biting wait

1 The four domestic election observers were: Julius Melli, Association of Professional Societies of East Africa (APSEA), Koki Muli, Institute for Education in Democracy (IED) and co-Chair of the Kenya Domestic Observers Forum (KEDOF); Dr Bernard Sihanya, Faculty of Law, University of Nairobi; Hussein Mohammed Yusuf, Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims (SUPKEM). Their statements were recorded by hand, on computer and audiotape recording by Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ) and are also being turned into affidavits for the filing of criminal complaints against the ECK and,if necessary, private prosecutions against the ECK.

Some ECK Commissioners express concerns to Muli about the long delays and remark that, since the gap between the two front-runners is narrowing, the ECK may have to await results from all the constituencies before announcing the final tally. This, it is feared, will heighten tensions and anxiety among political parties, their candidates and supporters. No one seems to understand why the delays were so long, especially as the ECK had been better prepared than in 2002, when such delays were not experienced.

1600: Ballots scrutiny

Kivuitu becomes more suspicious of discrepancies and begins to contemplate a reexamination
of results. Most results are not available as they have only been telephoned in. Kivuitu yields to pressure from ODM and PNU to scrutinise the tallying of presidential ballots in all the 210 constituencies after party agents point out that votes being announced by the ECK’s tallying centre in KICC do not agree with those announced at the constituency tallying centres. He agrees to have two political party agents each for every presidential candidate and five domestic election observers verify the results. Kivuitu says he wants the findings in a report to be discussed by all ECK Commissioners the following morning.

1800: The night shift begins

The atmosphere inside the ECK is tense. The day teams leave without properly handing over to the night teams. Kipkemoi Kirui, deputy leader for Team II (night), notes that although results for Lamu East, Lamu West, Wundanyi and Dujis have come in, they do not have the statutory documents, Forms 16A, 16 and 17A, accompanying them. The day team leaders responsible have therefore not signed for them. Kirui also refuses to receive them without the necessary documents because there are doubts about the verity of the data. Word goes round that his team is not accepting results without the accompanying Form 16As. For most of the night, he and his team repeatedly call the returning officers for results together with statutory documents. Statutory documents for Ijara, Galole, Wundanyi and Dujis are not received even though the results are phoned in.

1900: Setting up for verification

The tallying centre at KICC is set up for ten teams, each sitting around a table to receive, verify and forward constituency results to the internet technology (IT) team to prepare for announcement. The teams are managed by a team leader and a deputy leader. Most of the teams consist of returning officers and ECK staff. Each team is working on about 21 constituencies shared according to ECK’s own plan so that, for example, Team I deals with Mombasa and Nairobi.

In addition to tables for the ten teams, more are reserved for use by ECK Commissioners and senior staff as well as filing clerks, spread out strategically in the room to enable any of the above mentioned people to operate from a station. There are also waiting chairs reserved for returning officers, security staff and other people allowed inside the rooms.

2000-2100: Initial hitches

Observers are denied access to the tallying room at KICC. They get the ECK Chair and Secretary to intervene and are finally let in. ECK Deputy Secretary, Suleiman Chege, who receives them congenially, insists that they be accorded all the help they need. Observers are conducted on a tour of ECK’s offices enthusiastically.

2237: Verification begins

After arguments about how and where to begin the verification, work finally begins. James Orengo for ODM insists that results for all 210 constituencies be reviewed while Martha Karua for PNU wants scrutiny to be limited to Forms 16A of only contested constituencies, which she insists they have to identify and agree on since the discrepancies and problems associated with tallying are not only in constituencies that the ODM identified in the afternoon, mostly in Central and central Eastern Provinces, but were in Nyanza and the Rift Valley. Julius Melli, Association of Professional Societies in East Africa (APSEA) (observer) encounters a hostile reception at the verifying tables. Karua complains about there being too many observers, prompting a domestic observer to move from the table where agents of political parties are seated to another table where he is not noticeable.

2247: Extent of the problem

All results for the presidential election are in except for 14 constituencies. Observers immediately notice discrepancies in the results transmitted from the constituencies to the ECK’s headquarters at KICC. They also notice that a number of the statutory documents for the constituencies’ returns have serious anomalies:

a) they are not signed by the returning officers;

b) they are not countersigned by agents;

c) in some cases, only photocopies of these forms are available even though the law requires that the originals be filed;

d) although all these forms (Form 16A, 16 and 17A) require an ECK stamp to stamp to validate them, those that have a stamp are the exception rather than the rule;

e) ECK Commissioners have thus announced constituency results without verifying their authenticity with the necessary statutory documentation. For example, provisional results were telephoned in and even though the ECK called back the returning officers to ensure the results indeed came from them, most returning officers phoned in different results from what they delivered in person to KICC. Yet the ECK Commissioners accepted and included these results in the final tally;

f) Although the ECK Regulations (Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act, Cap 7 of 2007) clearly states that the ECK shall not accept for results that showed voter turnout of 100 per cent and above, the ECK Commissioners allowed returning officers who had returns over 100 per cent to “correct them.” They subsequently accepted and included such results for tallying without any explanation, for example, Maragwa constituency had given results amounting to a 115 per cent voter turnout but the returning officer was allowed to reduce them to 85.24 per cent at KICC and these results were accepted for the final tally!

g) It is unusual for ECK senior staff and Commissioners to accept results from constituencies without proper documentation and to allow returning officers to prepare the documentation at the ECK headquarters as they did at KICC. Most returning officers did not arrive with proper documentation yet were allowed to prepare their documents at KICC. This was the case for Kipipiri, Starehe, Kinangop, Garsen, Turkana Central and Turkana North and Kajiado North.

Observer inquiries establish that agents were unable to sign Form 16A in areas of Central and Eastern provinces because they were not allowed to do so or they were sent out of the counting halls altogether. In some areas, the returning officers inform the observers that agents did not feel secure enough to stay through the counting. This apparently happened in the Meru districts, in Central, Nyanza and parts of the Rift Valley.

The agents of PNU, ODM and ODM-K settle on 44 constituencies found to have filed results, already announced by ECK Commissioners, without any primary or original evidence for example, original signed, countersigned and stamped Forms 16A, 16 and 17A. These constituencies include the following: Gatundu South, Makadara, Likoni, Kaloleni, Galole, Lamu East, Wundanyi, Malindi, Voi, Ijara, Dujis, Igembe South, South Imenti, Nithi, Kitui West, Kitui South, Mwala, Kinangop, Ol Kalou, Mukurweini, Juja, Githunguri, Kiambaa, Lari, Eldoret East, Baringo East, Baringo Central, Laikipia West, Nakuru Town, Naivasha, Kuresoi, Rongai, Kimilili, Bumula, Alego, Bondo, Kisumu, Rural, Kasipul-Kabondo, Ndhiwa, Migori, Kuria, Bomachoge, Bobasi, Nyaribaru Chache and Kitutu Masaba.

Results for these constituencies were thus announced in contravention of the law. In addition, results for Dagoretti constituency were found to have been announced while vote tallying was still in progress.

Documents for Kinangop, Kipipiri, Ol Kalou, Ndaragwa, Tetu, Kieni, Mathira, Othaya and Ndaragwa had no ECK stamp.

Many constituency results were received and announced by Commissioners without the zignatures of ECK officials and all party agents. Indeed, some of the documents conveying the results contained only the results without the presiding officers’ signature, ECK stamp or any agent’s signature. For example, there were no signatures and stamps in most Forms 16A, 16, and 17 A from Nithi, Kitui West, Kitui South, Mwala, Kinangop, Ol Kalou, Mukurweini, Gichugu, Lari, Mathioya, Eldoret East, Mosop, Aldai, Baringo East, Baringo Central, Laikipia West, Naivasha, Nakuru, Kuresoi, Kajiado North, and Kajiado South yet the Commissioners had already announced the results from these constituencies.

Some constituencies had only a few statutory forms, but their total votes were still announced. These included Ndaragwa, which had 25 Forms 16A not signed by party agents.

There were 34 Forms 16A not signed for Mathira. There was one Form 16A that had a double entry, and two returns for parliamentary results were entered in the presidential file. The total presidential tally of 16A returns was actually 77,442 votes after additions were verified by a Commissioner, ECK Deputy Secretary and observers against the 80,024 announced by the ECK.

The ECK’s legal officer, Jemimah Keli, is notified of these discrepancies by Melli, but she takes away the file and hands it to the ECK’s head of research, […] Laichena, for storage. She says rechecking numbers would slow everyone down. The focus of the scrutiny, she adds, should be limited to whether or not there are Forms 16 and 16A, and not stretch to calculations or checking for consistency in the figures. She says that she and other ECK staff had not slept for many days and wished they could do voluntary work like the observers. She asks if Melli is being paid to observe the elections.

When answers in the negative, she asks why he is paying so much attention to detail. She is taking notes but seems more preoccupied with justifying every concern raised than addressing it. There are questions about the accuracy of her record of the goings-on. 16 Forms 16A for Othaya have not been signed by party agents.

Results for the following constituencies were announced without some statutory documents including Forms 16A, 16 and 17A Makadara, Starehe, Likoni, Malindi, Galole, Wundanyi, Ijara, Lamu East, Voi, Dujis and Igembe South.

Some results were also faxed as provisional tallies, as in Kirinyaga Central. In other cases, results were announced when there was no documentation to support the announcement, for example, Kimilili, Bumula Alego, Kitutu Masaba, Nyaribari Chache, Bomachoge and Kuria constituencies.

In some cases, the returning officers’ files available at ECK’s tallying centre are in duplicate and ECK senior staff claim they cannot find the original files for scrutiny. Examples include Kieni, Ol Kalou and North Imenti. Indeed, most photocopies of Forms 16A were neither signed by the presiding officers nor by party agents, yet the results on such forms were included in the tally of results.

In some cases there were disparities between the total votes cast for parliamentary and civic elections on one part and those cast for the presidential election on the other.

2300: Results without documents

Work slows to a near-stop until around midnight when a sleepy-looking fellow is ushered in. He is the returning officer from Moyale. He does not have Forms 16A, 16, 17 or 17A. He slips into a doze as Kirui consults. Hours later, Kivuitu announces the Moyale results—without any documentation.

After Moyale, results for Saku and Laisamis follow. They are not supported by any of the statutory documents and Kirui refuses to receive them. His Team Leader goes ahead to receive them nonetheless. The ECK Chair announces the results. The figures are, in a number of instances, overstated. Kirui feels perturbed because there is no reason for the returning officers’ failure to bring in the statutory documents three days after the vote tallying at the constituency level.

Disparities between provisional results phoned in earlier and those relayed to KICC were also noted for Kipipiri, Kieni, Maragua, Juja and Dagoretti constituencies

2300: Slippery returning officers

Observers Melli and Muli meet the returning officer for Starehe and ask about the constituency. He says the people who had been causing trouble wanted to disrupt the electoral process. They had wanted him to announce results that favoured their candidate and had been threatening him and pushing him forward but he says he had insisted on doing what the ECK had sent him to do.

He says that he first called for police reinforcements and then announced the winner because they had recounted the vote twice. There had been an anomaly in one of the stations, he says, and when it was rectified, the winner was known. He does not, however, let observers examine the file for the constituency. Observers never got to examine the file.

The Kipipiri results reported on the telephone give 36,470 votes to Kibaki against the 37,315 announced by the ECK. The final tally on file shows 37,279 votes.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

0100: Insider information

One ECK senior staff member calls Muli outside the hall and asks her if she is aware that something terrible is happening. The ECK senior staff member points out that it is important for observers to scrutinise all returning officers’ returns especially of Mombasa, Central, Eastern, North Eastern, Rift Valley and Nyanza. The senior staff member also cautions her that the discrepancies have been planned systematically and are not accidental. She says the scheme involves most Commissioners, who have organised how the tallying will be carried out. There is also the concern that Commissioners were in charge of their regions—which had not been the practice in the past—and most of the Commissioners engaged returning officers who owed them loyalty, in some cases, replacing returning officers who had experience, having worked with the ECK in the past.

0200: Missing returns

The only constituencies without results are Kibwezi and Emuhaya. In the case of Kibwezi, the returning officer had reportedly been threatened with dire consequences by one of the candidates if he released the results. Although he was assured of transport by helicopter and additional paramilitary police escort, he still would not come in. Emuhaya was bogged down by logistical problems. The ECK Chair announced the results the following day.

Electoral official quits

Kirui’s colleagues tell him that results are being reduced or suppressed for certain constituencies. He raises the alarm. He takes his Team Leader, […] Njuguna, aside and starts saying: “My brother, this is an important national exercise. I am concerned that we are not following the law and we are letting down Kenyans …” Njuguna tells him he would be recommending Kirui’s removal because he was proving difficult. He goes ahead to report him to Daniel Koech, who asks Njuguna to cooperate with Kirui.

Njuguna goes back to their work station. Kirui follows him and tells the team that he regards their work as an important national exercise that demands patriotism and neutrality. Kirui also demands respect and cooperation from Njuguna, who says that if he wishes to, he could leave. Kirui leaves the ECK offices for the last time.

0400: Fatigue and irritation set in

Melli says, “I started noticing general irritation and resistance from ECK officials. I asked for the Nithi constituency file, but the returning officer grabbed it and held it close to his chest. The same was the case for the Starehe constituency file. The returning officer for Nithi went outside and carried all his documents with him wherever he went.” ECK Commissioners who are asked to intervene defend their staff, saying they had not completed work on the files.

0500: Invented figures show up

Molo constituency returning officer provides results showing that Kibaki has 50,145 votes at completion of counting but ECK prepares to announce 75,261 votes for him and provides a computer print out of the increased results. ECK Commission staff deny observers the opportunity to verify information on file, saying the result had not been announced.

Observers at the ECK tallying centre at KICC who take a break from the tallying room to freshen up are denied re-entry. Those who come in to relieve their colleagues on night duty are also barred from entering. Police presence is strong and the atmosphere tense.

0930: Agents ordered out

A message goes out on the public address system asking all agents to leave the premises. Observers are also ordered out and evicted.

1000: ECK goes underground

A media briefing scheduled for 1000 to announce presidential results is put off indefinitely.

1100: Odinga press conference

The ODM presidential candidate claims he has won the election according to results from his call centre.

1300: Trial balloon

Word goes round that the ECK could announce the results of the presidential election at any time.

1421: ODM press conference

ODM holds a press briefing at KICC and discloses rigging by the ECK in 48 constituencies after a joint parties and ECK audit of all the 210 constituencies. William Ruto discloses that all 48 constituencies lacked supporting documents and inflated Kibaki’s figures. The ECK does not provide any evidence to the contrary.

1620: Protests on the floor

The ECK Chair attempts to announce the final results of the presidential election. He, however, begun with announcing the results of Molo which were inflated, 75,261 instead of the 50,145 votes announced at the constituency tallying centre. Kivuitu is shouted down by ODM which insists that the contested results need to be resolved, including those of Molo, and also insist the delayed results from Eastern and Central provinces had been inflated. The ECK Commissioners leave the briefing centre under police escort.

1642: Bombshell

An ECK staff member, Kipkemoi Kirui, tells an ODM-convened press conference that the poll results and documents are being manipulated at the KICC, and that he and many other people had deserted their work stations in frustration.

1700: Dogged determination

A signal goes out to the diplomatic corps that the ECK is about to announce the results.

1739: The Final announcement

Paramilitary police clear KICC as the ECK Chair announces Kibaki winner of the presidential election in a sealed room. The news is relayed via the public Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) and picked up by other networks.

1824: Swift swearing-in

Kibaki is sworn in as President at State House in Nairobi as protests erupt all over Kenya. A live press conference by ODM is pulled off air as the Minister for Internal Security suspends live broadcasts.

more documents here

Justice be our shield and defender

“My father was shot as he stood in front of our house. The police were shooting indiscriminately, targeting anyone on sight. My father was shot in the stomach,” witness Alphonse Otieno said today by phone from Kisumu’s Kondele slum.

Proof that Kenyan GSU are using live rounds to kill demonstrators. A Kisumu demonstrator is shot dead in cold blood in Kondole, another is kicked brutally when he is down and dying. They are being hunted down as this video shows.

BBC clip here. Be warned: both clips are graphic and distressing.
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Police club a woman suspected of being an ODM supporter

GSU Shoot, Police Club

Therein lies the problem. The Kenyan government should not be sending the GSU armed with kalashnikovs and live bullets to police the demonstrations. I do not condone police violence at all, whether by clubbing or bullets, but make the point that arming paramilitary forces leads inexorably to those arms being used against innocent civilians and with the inevitable loss of life following closely behind. Coercion of this sort does not quell violence, it nurtures it.

Note how in Kisumu yesterday Michael Barasa, a police officer said “At the moment, [demonstrators] have lit bonfires in some parts of the city but we do not want to provoke them yet.”

We do not want to provoke them yet. Non-violent actions turns violent when the other side uses violent means to suppress them. Using tear gas and bullets only ratchets up violence. Take the GSU out of the equation and the demonstrations would in all likelihood remain peaceful. The government must also lift the ban on rallies as there is no valid reason for assuming that “criminal elements” are taking advantage of them.

Joseph Karoki has posted photos of victims of police brutality on his blog. Graphic image.

Much of the worst violence has occured in Kisumu where many protestors have so far been shot dead. There are no reliable figures yet for how many have been killed to date. There are claims that 53 people have died and of those 44 have been killed by bullets. People are enraged by this; many of them did not vote for Kibaki and now he sends his guns in to shoot them dead. Frustration and anger levels are rising so it may now be too late to put the genie back in the bottle.

The police chief Grace Kaindi said she had no regrets about giving the “shoot to kill” order. Her statement to AP press is contradictory. She claimed that she feared the police would be overwhelmed by the demonstrators and then later said that all those killed were “looters and thieves.” Belying the video footage shown at the top of this post.

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Nairobi demonstrators in a haze of tear gas

Human Rights Watch has criticised the apparent “shoot to kill” policy by demanding that Kenyan police follow the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which state that law enforcement officers must apply non-violent methods when at all possible, leaving force as a last resort and only in proportion to the offence committed.

According to HRW even people who were not part of the demonstrations were hit by stray bullets.

Yesterday’s demonstrations in Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret remained peaceful until police started shooting tear gas and live rounds.
Eldoret demonstrations 16.01.08

Eldoret Demonstrations

This is what happened in Eldoret AFTER the GSU were sent in

The police ferried the bodies of the men they had shot to the mortuary. In the chaos, they brought some in alive, mixing them up with the dead, a priest said. Their suffering as they were left to die amid the corpses is unimaginable.

UPDATE:

Millions of Kenyans are very outraged by the brutal execution, captured by one of KTN’s courageous camera persons of a young protester in Kisumu whose capital offence appears to have been nothing more than making faces at and playing hide and seek with heavily armed goons in para-military gear… But does he have a name?

Does he have a family?

Yes, he does.

Let me resurrect him in a sense by telling you a few things about him.

His name was George Williams Omondi Onyango.

He was twenty two years old.

He was a mechanic employed by Simba Line Motors in Kisumu.

He lived in the Migosi area of that western Kenyan town.

He was also my brother-in-law. His older brother is married to my youngest sister.

Like every other television viewer in Kenya, I was gnashing my teeth and cursing the illegal and criminal assault on unarmed peaceful demonstrators all over Kenya.

I was expressing my outrage in my living room watching the news at nine pm when my cell phone rang and I saw it was my sister calling.

She was sobbing uncontrollably, asking me if I had seen the segment on the news about the young man being shot.

I replied that I had seen the piece at 4 pm, at 7 pm and now at 9.

Choking and wailing, she told me between bouts of weeping who the executed young man was.

To say I was stupefied with additional shock is probably the understatement of this week.

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On the origins of the General Service Unit

I have been dipping into James Dianga’s book Kenya 1982 The Attempted Coup, The Consequence of a One Party Dictatorship ever since it was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago and was intrigued to read why the GSU was formed. Kenyatta did not trust the army because the officer class was dominated by Kambas while the rearguard was made up of Kalenjins. Kenyatta was disdainful of the army because there were hardly any Kikuyu in its ranks and he believed it was made up of illiterates. For these reasons Kenyatta could not wholly rely on it so the GSU was formed alongside the Kenya Air Force. These two units consisted of carefully selected Kikuyus from Central Province and Kiambu and their function was to act as a bulwark against the Kenyan Army.

The GSU is a highly mobile, well trained (by Israel) and heavily-armed elitist paramilitary unit; it is a

political force, the regime’s coercive arm against its internal enemies’. Targeted for rapid transformation into a virtually all-Kikuyu hit squad, with its base at Gatundu, close to the President’s estate, there could be little doubt about the function of the G.S.U.

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Rise in Rape Victims

Rape and forced circumcisions are being reported in Nairobi.

Amid the violence that engulfed several residential areas of the Kenyan capital following the declaration of controversial results of the presidential elections, women in particular have been targetted, with at least one hospital reporting a rise in the number of rape victims seeking treatment.

The Nairobi Women’s Hospital said it had on 31 December received 19 rape cases, almost double the daily average.

Violence erupted mostly in the slums of Nairobi and other areas soon after the Electoral Commission of Kenya announced that incumbent President Mwai Kibaki had won the poll, beating his opposition rival challenger Raila Odinga, who immediately rejected the result citing alleged rigging of the poll in Kibaki’s favour.

“It looked like it was mainly systematic gang rapes,” said Sam Thenya, the chief executive officer of the hospital.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said, adding that those who made it to the hospital had spoken of other rape survivors who could not seek treatment because the security situation prevented them from venturing out of the informal settlements or they lacked transport.

The rape victims in Nairobi came mainly from the slums of Kibera, Korogocho, Mathare and Dandora, according to Thenya. Violence has pitted mainly Odinga’s supporters against communities perceived to have voted for Kibaki, with cases of reprisal attacks also being reported.

Sexual violence has also been reported against men, with the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi on 2 January saying several men had been admitted after they were assaulted during the violence.

“There are several men admitted in various wards after they were subjected to forced circumcision,” a source at the hospital said.

Odinga’s core supporters come from the Luo ethnic group that does not practise circumcision, while Kibaki draws most of his following from the Kikuyu group, one of several tribes in which male circumcision is an essential rite of passage from adolescence to manhood.