Thursday, January 18th, 2018
Millions of children's lives hang in the balance as South Sudan conflict grinds on, warns UNICEF chief
JUBA/NAIROBI/NEW YORK, 19 January 2018 – “I have just spent two days in South Sudan where I saw first-hand how four years of a man-made conflict have left children sick, hungry and on the brink of death.
“The impact of the relentless violence has been devastating. I met a mother who had to walk for days to get treatment for her malnourished baby. I spoke with a young boy who was forced to join an armed group at the age of 10. I also met two siblings who were separated from their parents when fighting broke out in their town, Bentiu, in 2014.
“But amid the horror, I saw signs of hope. The malnourished child is on her way to recovery. The former child soldier is back at school and aspires to be a doctor. And today the two siblings were reunited with their mother for the first time in four years.
“UNICEF and other aid agencies are working on the ground in some of the most dangerous conditions to provide children and young people with their basic needs. This is no small feat. South Sudan is the most dangerous place in the world for humanitarians – 28 aid workers were killed last year alone – and yet we continue to help millions of children in need. Last year, working with partners, we vaccinated nearly 1.8 million children against measles, treated more 180,000 children against severe acute malnutrition, and helped 300,000 children access education.
“But this is far from enough. The fighting shows no sign of abating and the humanitarian needs are massive: 2.4 million children have been forced to flee their homes. More than a quarter of a million children are severely malnourished and at imminent risk of death. Over 19,000 children have been recruited into the conflict. At least 1 in 3 schools has been damaged, destroyed, occupied or closed. And we have documented more than 1,200 cases of sexual violence against children.
“The numbers go on and on. Together they equal an entire generation of young people denied the opportunities they so desperately need to contribute to building their society.
“As we enter the dry season, the needs – and threats – will only continue to grow. We are already seeing an increase in the number of children and families seeking help in displacement camps and we are concerned that our funding is not keeping pace.
“Only an end to hostilities can bring back hope and safety to the children and young people of South Sudan. Until then, we need unconditional, sustainable access from parties to the conflict and more resources from donors. Without these, the lives and futures of millions of children in South Sudan will continue to hang in the balance.”
Notes for editors:
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
For more information on UNICEF’s work in South Sudan, visit www.unicef.org/southsudan
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For further information, please contact:
James Elder, Regional Chief of Communication, UNICEF Eastern & Southern Africa: +254 715 581 222, email@example.com
Tim Irwin, Chief of Communication, UNICEF South Sudan: +211 912 162 888, firstname.lastname@example.org
A fresh confrontation is looming at the troubled St Mary’s Mission Hospital in Nakuru County, after a court endorsed forceful eviction of the management.
Justice Sila Munyao on Thursday affirmed orders issued on November 23 last year, granting the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi entry into the facility which is currently under the control of American missionary priest, Dr William Charles Fryda, who lays claim to the property.
The Catholic nuns have already taken over management of St Mary’s Hospital in Nairobi.
Justice Munyao, however, cautioned that the forceful takeover would not involve evicting employees from the hospital as was the case with the Nairobi facility.
According to the judge, no eviction orders have been issued against the priest, which means the Sisters should concentrate only on the management.
“I make it clear that I have not issued any order of eviction against the employees. If the confusion is whether or not employees should be evicted, then I make it clear that there is no such order either by this court or any other,” ruled Justice Munyao.
The court further ordered the Elementaita police boss to provide security to the nuns during the planned take-over.
The judge’s orders followed a contempt-of-court application by the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi against the police for a botched eviction at the hospital.
The nuns sought to have the Inspector-General of Police and a number of local commanders committed to civil jail for disobeying court orders.
However, Mr Victor Ondieki, representing the Attorney-General, said the police had stopped the operation after the Employment Court issued an order, stating that employees should not be touched as happened with the Nairobi facility.
“With the confusion, the police decided to get back to the court for clarification on the two orders which seemed conflicting,” Mr Ondieki said.
Earlier, staff at the hospital had moved to court and obtained orders restraining the new management from sacking them.
Dr Fryda’s lawyer, Ms Esther Mwangi, defended the employees, saying the nuns had violently evicted everyone at the Nairobi hospital contrary to the court’s directive that required only change of management.
“My client is worried because when the court issued orders in November, the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi did not gain entry alone but took 200 police officers and hired more than 400 goons and evicted everyone at the hospital,” said Ms Mwangi.
The Assumption Sisters of Nairobi forcibly took over the management of St Mary’s Mission Hospital in Lang’ata on December 28 after storming the facility and evicting everyone, including staff and patients, causing public uproar over the violent manner in which the take-over was carried out.
Kenyans will wait longer for cheap maize flour from the Galana Kulalu Irrigation project, even as the government plans to cede its operations to private investors to boost production.
The government is preparing to hand over 20,000 acres of the expansive food security project to private firms and the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) to plant and mill more maize by March, according to Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.
It is expected this will result in availability of 2 kilogramme packet of maize flour to be sold to Kenyans at Sh75 each. Currently the commodity sells at between Sh115 and Sh120
To date, only 5,000 acres, out of the targeted one million, have been put under crop as work is fast-tracked for completion of the remaining 4,400 acres after installation of five pumps.
The completion date of the remaining part of the irrigation infrastructure has also been revised to March from last September. The CS said construction on an additional 10,000 acres will start in August.
National Irrigation Board (NIB), which is implementing the project, is expected to hand it over to ADC which will be fully in charge of commercial operations in the next two months.
Kenyans were hopeful that the Galana maize meal would soon be on their tables after the State-sponsored unga subsidy programme ended this month. But CS Wamalwa was non-committal on when Galana maize flour would be on the shop shelves.
“We have the sample that shows a 2kg packet of Galana unga can be produced at Sh75 and that is part of the project’s proof of concept but it’s not for production. We are inviting the private sector to do the production and commercialisation phase for us starting March,” Mr Wamalwa said.
The minister spoke during an inspection tour of the project site on the border of Tana-River and Kilifi counties on Wednesday. He was accompanied by his Agriculture counterpart Willy Bett.
The Galana Kulalu project is a key feature of the Jubilee government’s manifesto on ensuring food security, one of the four pillars of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s agenda.
The move by the government comes against a backdrop of a dismal harvest from the 10,000-acre demo farms and whose outcome was to be replicated in the targeted one million acres.
The recent status report shows the scheme produced twenty, 90kg bags of maize per acre from March 2017 to date, down from 31 bags per acre in April-October 2016, prompting MPs to question the viability of the Jubilee flagship project in Parliament.
The key mandate of the Galana irrigation project was to move the country from rain-fed agriculture in the wake of climate changes. At inception, it was reported that one acre would produce 40 bags of maize, higher than the national average of 17 bags that farmers in the country’s grain basket of Rift Valley harvest currently.
But NIB blamed a mix of factors for the poor maize harvest of the breeds planted in the pilot project carried out by Israeli firm Green Arava.
“We had an army worm attack but we took swift action otherwise we would have lost everything. There were also abnormally high temperatures which affected pollination and fertilisation. That combination saw a decline in the yield,” General Manager Mugambi Gitonga said.
Tears have been flowing freely from Grace Wokabi’s eyes for the past one week.
Three framed photos of her husband in the living room of the house he used to call home in Bombolulu estate in Mombasa are all she has of him now.
David Wokabi, a banker at Stanbic Bank, died last Sunday after spending exactly a week in the Intensive Care Unit of Aga Khan Hospital in Mombasa.
He landed at the dreaded treatment unit after he was beaten by Solvit Security guards at Nyali Centre on January 7.
The centre houses a number of entertainment joints, banks, health centres and supermarkets.
Mr Wokabi’s family finds it hard to believe their kin was attacked by the guards who beat him mercilessly only for ‘urinating’ at the parking lot.
He was leaving one of the establishments when he met the beatings from the guards.
According to CCTV footage obtained by the Nation, five guards are seen approaching Mr Wokabi’s car as he moves out of the parking lot.
The guards are then seen pulling him out of the vehicle and they start beating him for reasons that have since remained unclear to the police who are still investigating the matter.
Mrs Wokabi, 35, said on the fateful day, she received a phone call at around 3am from a woman who asked her to rush to Jocham Hospital.
Mr David Wokabi who died after being assaulted by security guards at Nyali Centre in Mombasa. PHOTO| MOHAMED AHMED | NATION MEDIA GROUP
“I went there and saw my husband lying unconsciously. We took him to the Aga Khan Hospital where he spent a week without telling me a word until he died. To date I do not know why he had to die. The guards know him well. I wonder why they beat him?” asked the mother of two as she fought back tears.
According to the postmortem exam report, Mr Wokabi died of severe injuries to the brain from three cuts on his head and one on the neck.
The report states that the banker’s skull was badly injured. Police have arrested two guards in connection to the assault that resulted in his death.
The two were charged at the Shanzu Law Courts with assault and are being remanded at Shimo la Tewa maximum prison.
Three other guards, among them their supervisor, are yet to be arrested after they fled after the arrest of their two colleagues.
Mr Benson Mosonik, a family friend of the Wokabis, has accused Solvit Security company of cover up.
“They are yet to produce some parts of the CCTV footage. We believe they have helped the other guards to flee,” said Mr Mosonik, who has been closely following up the matter.
But speaking in an interview at Solvit offices in Nyali, the group’s operations manager Christopher Wairoma said they had cooperated with the police in ensuring justice is served.
He said they helped produce the two guards to the police and are working to ensure the missing three are brought to book.
“We wish to give our condolences to the family. We are aware that our guards are said to have taken part in the incident, but the police are going on with their investigations and we cannot divulge more information on the same,” said Mr Wairoma.
Kisauni OCPD Sangura Musee said police are still searching for the other suspects and added that charges of the two who were arrested have been amended from assault to murder.
Mr Musee said the two will appear at Shanzu Law Courts on Thursday next week to answer to the charges.
On December 5-6, last year, a slightly unusual meeting was held in Nyeri County, bringing together experts from around the world and local policymakers at the Education Evidence for Action conference.
What makes this slightly out of the ordinary is the second word, “evidence”. Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) has worked with Kenyan decision makers on more than 120 studies to identify which programmes work or don’t.
The conference reflected on the ongoing global leadership of Kenya in creating evidence for improving education and applying what works.
Kenya’s leadership goes back to the late 1990s, when researchers in Busia worked with the Ministries of Health and Education to systematically offer schoolchildren simple and inexpensive deworming pills to treat intestinal parasites.
The ground-breaking study found that the pills helped the students to be healthier and attend school more, but also something else: Treating the parasites (presumably meaning they could no longer transmit them) helped their young siblings, and other people nearby, at no extra cost.
The research team tracked the children who were treated and also the untreated ones for a decade. They found that those treated were more likely to graduate and earned higher wages as adults, all from a pill that costs a few shillings.
The evidence shows that deworming is one of the best buys in education. Other countries have emulated Kenya with about 200 million children getting the dewormers every year in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
Another example, led by colleagues at the research organisation RTI, is the Tusome programme. It was piloted and refined with continuous testing and monitoring of results, which showed students in the programme were twice as likely to meet the Ministry of Education’s benchmarks for reading fluency. Based on the evidence, the ministry plans to expand it to reach seven million students.
While Kenya has been a leader in inviting researchers to help to explore specific programmes over the years, we can also learn from what other countries have done to make evidence a cornerstone of national education policy.
India faces a problem common to many countries — Kenya included — of students enrolled in school but not reaching their learning potential.
Rigorous studies in Kenya and elsewhere discovered that curriculums were typically geared towards the top students in class but many who came in with poor reading or other skills were unable to keep up as the teachers made their way through the curriculum.
The NGO Pratham found in India that teaching at the level of the child, grouping kids according to learning level rather than age or grade and targeting instruction at that level led to learning gains.
When officials in Ghana learnt about the programme, they were intrigued but also sceptical that what worked on another continent could be applied to their context.
Rather than do a straight copy-and-paste though, they worked with IPA to adapt the programme to their education system but also pilot a nationwide test, looking at the data before putting it into practice.
Liberia has a particularly challenged school system with only a third of children enrolled and 75 per cent of adult women who finish primary school unable to read a complete sentence. Officials were being pressured to allow private organisations to run public schools while others rooted for investing in making the school system functional.
So they invited a number of private school operators for a test on whether they could do better and, if so, who were more capable.
The results were complex — learning increased but often at high cost. But with evidence in hand, supporters and critics can debate the merits of the programme rather than reverting to ideological debates.
Perhaps the most enlightening example comes from Peru.
IMPROVE EDUCATION SYSTEM
The government is building rigorous evidence into education policy. An in-house “Education Lab” within the education ministry is tasked with finding or developing the latest ideas to improve classroom performance — be it in a pill, SMS-based support to teachers or adapting and translating audio recordings of lessons from abroad to local languages.
Every idea will be piloted and rigorously evaluated for whether or not it works before being expanded with decisions evidence- not intuition-based.
We are confident that Kenya’s leadership in figuring out what works will continue to improve its education system, building a culture of evidence-based decision-making.
As soon as he poked me in the chest, I knew we were all going to have a very bad day. If you grab a dog by the tail, it will turn round and bite your hand. It’s instinctive.
He was a young guy, barely out of the mid-20s, but he was outrageously, ridiculously, almost comically rude.
Many cops develop some authority because of the nature of their job. They cultivate the direct, cold stare and a rigid posture. This one was in uniform and that’s all. And I am not just hating on a poor cop; I get along very well with police officers, including the rudest and most vicious.
I had not driven on our roads for nearly two years. So, I was a stranger to NTSA and its many operations on the roads. Also, as a motoring enthusiast, I was very curious about the little car I was taking out for a ride. It was a ‘mosquito’ — a little engine of less than a litre and a half. Was it alive? I wanted to find out.
I was puzzled by the speed at which we were driving. There was a long tail of vehicles behind this strange van with a police flasher on the roof. It looked like a Mercedes Viano but, even from a distance, I could see it wasn’t. Why wasn’t anyone overtaking? We were driving at 20kph. The other lane was so clear I could see all the way to Kuwait. At the back, my children were bored. Worse, I was getting bored.
So I made a mistake.
I tapped the gas on the mosquito to down-shift, floored the pedal and shot out of the queue. Whereas the other lane was clear for kilometres, the line of vehicles was long. Many of the spaces I could see to rejoin my lane were in front of trucks.
The last thing you should do is cut in front of a truck — even if it’s doing 0kph. First, your children will be an arm’s length from 13,000cc of vaporised diesel.
Secondly, their little heads will be only a breath away from the cauldron of a radiator, big enough and hot enough to roast a pig. A cabin bouncing on its shocks can thwack your little car. Thirdly, trucks are heavy. They need some distance to slow down, leave alone stopping.
I also happen to treat with suspicion their brakes. Most tractor heads have no brakes; they are not needed. The braking is done by the trailer axles, which are on drum brakes. On our roads, most trailers are on a relatively primitive hydraulic system, which, I must admit, works reasonably well.
Anyway, my overtaking took longer than expected and, by the time I got back in lane, a solid yellow line separated me from the tail of traffic like a bad conscience.
The van struck at a dangerous, downhill section of the road. It came careening down and pulled to a dead stop in front of another vehicle. Two young cops, a man and a woman, jumped out. The male officer was shouting animatedly, ordering me out with my driving licence, his hands on the handle.
Only a mad man leaves a vehicle with children in the middle of the road. So I looked for a safe place to get off, parked and came out. That did not make the officer happy. He snatched my driving licence and ordered me to follow him to the police station.
“Ok, officer,” I said, and that made him even more unhappy. “Could you please identify yourself? Your number is covered, I don’t know who I am dealing with,” I said. He got doubly unhappy. He was in what appeared to be police uniform and was carrying an AK-47 but he had jumped out of what, to me, was an unfamiliar van.
“And does the law allow you to confiscate my driving licence?” I wondered.
By this time, he and his colleague were practically hopping up and down. That’s when he became touchy.
I was taken to a police station, recorded in the OB but not allowed to see what my offence was. My car was ordered detained. My licence and keys were confiscated.
Then I was breathalysed. I looked at this young man, so crooked at such a tender age. I at first resisted but the NTSA technician lied to me that the breathalyser was standard practice for all traffic arrests. So I called a witness so that they would not frame me. My reading, I was mortified to see, was 0.00.
None of the other motorists were put through this.
What made my ears hiss was not the unfairness of my treatment; folks have been unfair to me before. It was not even the sight of a growing crowd of women and children mixing for hours with criminals in a police station, with an armed policeman towering over them.
It was the fact that none of the vehicles at the station was a truck or bus — the two types most responsible for some of the worst road carnage in our country’s history. The parking was full of mums or dads who had overtaken on a yellow line, having foolishly fallen for what, I think, was a bribe trap.
Which is all very well. But from the moment that man handled me, I was never going to cooperate with him. I was going to insist on my rights. Not that I had any intention of bribing him in the first place. Officer, you have no right to confiscate my property, and you must identify yourself.
Feeding dogs and cats on raw meat could pose a new danger of bacterial infection to humans.
A study by researchers from the Netherlands revealed that feeding raw meat-based diets (RMBDs) such as meat, bones and organs to pets may be enhancing the spread of bacteria that often infect humans.
The study, published in the journal Veterinary Record, aimed to test for the presence of dangerous organisms in animals, often known as zoonotic bacterial and parasitic pathogens, in Dutch commercial RMBDs.
The scientists analysed 35 raw commercial frozen RMBDs from 18 different brands in the Netherlands, one of the countries in the world with a high number of dog owners.
They found that a dangerous bacteria known as Escherichia coli was present in several of the meats, eight products of the sample (23 per cent). The bacteria often cause diseases that range from urinary tract infections to life-threatening bloody diarrhoea in humans.
A larger variety of the bacteria that produce dangerous chemicals was also found in 28 products (80 per cent). These are enzymes that confer resistance to most antibiotics, including penicillin.
Additionally, samples also tested positive for Toxoplasma gondii, one of the most common parasitic infections of man and other warm-blooded animals. Nearly one-third of humanity has been exposed to this parasite.
In most adults it does not cause serious illness, but it can cause blindness and mental retardation in congenitally infected children.
“The results of this study demonstrate the presence of potential zoonotic pathogens in frozen RMBDs that may be a possible source of bacterial infections in pet animals and, if transmitted, pose a risk for human beings,” said Dr Paul Overgaauw, co-author of the new research from Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
The study may have been specific on Netherlands meats, some of which may have been imported. But it has relevance to Kenya.
Parasites may routinely be killed through refrigeration, but scientists warn that bacteria could survive severe temperatures, meaning they can still be transmitted long after fridge life.
The opposition coalition meets on Friday in Machakos in a final attempt to rally Mr Raila Odinga’s co-principals behind his planned swearing-in as the people’s president, scheduled for January 30.
Even as a technical organ of the opposition National Super Alliance sought to dispel reports of divisions over the oath plan, sources within the coalition revealed that talks between the four principals on Monday and Tuesday, aimed at reaching a common ground on the matter, had ended without a deal.
The issue will be discussed afresh during Friday’s meeting at Maanzoni Lodge. Thereafter, the team will proceed to Machakos, where it will launch the county’s people’s assembly.
It is understood that financiers and a few hardliners in Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement are behind the push for the former Prime Minister to take a presidential oath despite the risk of the ramifications both locally and internationally.
Among the thorny issues facing Nasa are the venue of the swearing-in ceremony, the likelihood of violent confrontations with police, the charges Mr Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka could face, and possible reactions by the international community. Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula are the other co-principals.
The Nasa leadership, it is understood, does not want Mr Odinga to take an oath in a private residence like Uganda opposition leader Kizza Besigye and his Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) did in May 2016, since such action would be taken as an exercise in futility by the Jubilee Party.
The meeting at Maanzoni, therefore, will be used to address these sticky issues and seek ways out of the tight corner the opposition has found itself in.
On Thursday, the People’s Assembly Organising Committee said arrangements for Mr Odinga’s swearing-in ceremony are complete.
The committee chairman, Dr David Ndii, described the ceremony as a reclamation of the Nasa presidential election victory of August 8, 2017, which he claimed the Supreme Court validated by annulling Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory.
“We advise our people to reject and ignore the plain lies and half-truths being peddled by sections of the media and the political class that the swearing-in of Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka is a bargaining chip for dialogue,” Dr Ndii said during a press conference at Okoa Kenya offices in Nairobi.
The committee made the clarification as the government stood its ground on the legality of the planned oathing, warning Mr Odinga that he could face treason charges.
Government Spokesman Eric Kiraithe, while responding to an interview in which Mr Odinga indicated that he could run a parallel government from exile, said the position of the government on the matter had not changed.
“Acts against the Kenyan law within or outside Kenya will be treated accordingly,” said Mr Kiraithe.
In an interview with Voice of America on Tuesday, Mr Odinga vowed to form a rival government after he is sworn in, even if it is based outside the country. He said his oath of office will be based on the results of the August 8, 2017 election, which he claims he won.
“This is not a joke,” said Mr Odinga during the interview. “An illegitimate government is in office, and the one that the people actually wanted to be there is outside. On January 30, we will end this. We will be sworn in (on the basis of) the August 8 results, which show we won.”
During their last public engagement in Kakamega on January 7, Nasa leaders said the drastic step could be averted if President Kenyatta acceded to calls for national dialogue, which they said must address electoral and police reforms, judicial independence, devolution, and restructuring the executive.
This week, the four principals have held at least two different meetings to try to diffuse claims that the other three principals are slowly crawling away from Mr Odinga over the oath plan to avoid what they believe will be a messy confrontation with the State. The two meetings have not yielded any tangible fruit.
However, Dr Ndii dismissed claims of disagreement over the oath, saying it was part of the disinformation of the political opponents. He maintained the event will go on, but insisted they are open to dialogue.
“It (dialogue) is the only way out of the current political crisis,” he said. “The country must embark on an urgent, honest and far-reaching conversation without which Kenya will not stand for long.”
Dr Ndii observed that the nation is deeply divided between two irreconcilable political values — authoritarian rule and democracy — adding that time has come for Kenyans to talk about why the nation has this divide and how it can be bridged.
But, he clarified, Nasa “is not holding its breath for dialogue with Jubilee Party, much as we believe the country needs it”.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has stepped in to quell nascent rebellion within his Jubilee Party, ordering members of four National Assembly committees to remove the chairmen they elected against his wishes.
The MPs are Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills), who heads the Labour committee, Silas Tiren (Moiben), the chairman of Agriculture, Kangogo Bowen (Marakwet East), Environment and Natural Resources, and James Gakuya (Embakasi North), Broadcasting and Library.
The decision was reached at a meeting of the MPs in the four committees with President Kenyatta at State House Nairobi.
The four have been at loggerheads with Jubilee Party chiefs in Parliament since going against the President’s preferences and working their way to the leadership of the committees.
On Thursday, however, Mr Keter and Mr Tiren remained defiant, insisting they were legally elected as chairmen and vowing to stay put, complicating matters for Jubilee.
Mr Keter, who has taken on the mantle of chief rebel and who takes pride in the fact that he was re-elected despite opposing Jubilee during its first term, described his colleagues as “puppets of the Executive who are destroying the independence of the Legislature.’’
“They want people they can control but I will not allow them to get away with it,” the MP said.
“Cartels that have been looting institutions like the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) are against my election as chairman. I want to tell them that I’m going nowhere and will play my role effectively,” he said.
Mr Tiren, who was reported to be in Mombasa attending a retreat of another committee, said he was ready to fight his detractors.
“As it is, I am planning to attend a retreat next week in Mombasa as the chair of the committee as stipulated in the Standing Orders and having been clarified by the Clerk of the Assembly,” he said in a statement.
He described himself as a quiet person who does not court trouble “but at the same time, I hate being taken for granted.”
“If you rattle me the wrong way, then I will come out fighting. I am not a pushover and I will remain chairman of the committee, as elected by MPs,” he said.
He declared that he is well informed about Agriculture and is best placed to deliver on his mandate and help achieve Jubilee’s agenda, which includes improving food security.
“I respect His Excellency William Samoei Ruto the Deputy President and our Deputy Party Leader and I shall accord him all the support, but also I was elected by the people of Moiben to represent them in Parliament and I wonder what I will tell them if I step down from this position which actually touches on their lives directly because they are farmers,” he said.
Jubilee agreed on how to share the seats at a meeting between the MPs and President Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, in December. The party agreed that the positions should be shared equitably among counties with each getting a chairperson and vice-chair. But since the committees are not as many as the devolved units, neighbouring counties were to agree on the leadership.
Some of the MPs who attended the State House meeting yesterday said they were asked to sign petitions to the Clerk of the National Assembly expressing lack of confidence in the committees’ leadership.
“We have committed ourselves that we do not have confidence in the committees’ leadership and that fresh elections should be held,” a member of the Agriculture committee, who did not want to go on record to avoid a backlash, said.
Nominated MP David Sankok said the election of the four, especially Mr Keter and Mr Tiren, went against the party’s wishes.
“There is no way we can have two chairmen of committees from Nandi. We want regional balance. Coast does not have a chairperson,” said Mr Sankok, a member of the Labour and Social Welfare Committee.
He said the most likely route for the removal of Mr Keter and the others would be impeachment which, in Parliament, is done through a vote of no-confidence.
Mr Keter and Mr Tiren are reported to have rejected overtures by the Deputy President last week to step down. Mr Ruto is reported to have told the MPs at Weston Hotel in Nairobi that it was wrong to have the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture and the chairman of the Committee on Agriculture coming from the same region.
Reported by David Mwere, Samwel Owino and John Ngirachu
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko on Thursday ruled out talks with his deputy Polycarp Igathe who resigned from his position last week.
Asked if he was considering dialogue with Mr Igathe to end the current stalemate between them, Mr Sonko said the matter was a non-issue.
“I do not want to comment on that for now, it is a non-issue to me. I did not fire him, he decided to fire himself,” he said.
He was speaking at Ruiru Rainbow Resort in Kiambu after opening a three-day workshop for Nairobi MCAs to discuss the budget-making process and implementation of the county’s ward development fund.
Mr Sonko said the MCAs did not discuss Mr Igathe’s resignation.
“We were just focusing on development and delivering services to the people of Nairobi. What Nairobians want is for us to fix roads, drainage systems and collect waste within our wards amongst other services, it is only through working together and implementing the ward development fund that we can realise this,” he said.
He said he was committed to ensuring that devolution succeeds in Nairobi, adding that this could only be achieved if the executive and assembly work in harmony.
“One of the pillars of my manifesto is to promote development in our wards. Our work as a county government can only be realised through the investments we put into all our wards across the entire county,” he said.
The governor directed that a ward development fund account be opened and Sh400 million be deposited into it.
County assembly chief whip Chege Mwaura said the meeting also involved talks on how the governor would fulfil his agenda for the region with the support of the MCAs.
“We are going to support him to fulfil his mandate, nothing is going to stop regardless of the recent happenings,” said Mr Mwaura.
Nairobi West ward representative Morris Maurice Gari Otieno said support for the governor would not based on party affiliation, as they were all interested in growth of the county.