Posts tagged as: commission

Africa:Women Are Pivotal to Addressing Hunger, Malnutrition and Poverty

By Lakshmi Puri

United Nations — The 16th of October marks World Food Day, a reminder to the international community of the criticality of treating food security as a 21st Century priority if sustainable development, peace and security and the realisation of human rights are to be achieved.

When we think and act on food security we must think and act on gender equality and women’s empowerment as women are not only the ones most affected by food insecurity but are charged with the food and nutrition responsibilities for families and communities in the entire food value chain from growing the crops to bringing food to the table.

Rapid population growth, the slowdown of the global economy, commodity price volatility, the speculative aspects of the trade in food commodity futures, and distortive agricultural and trade policies are compounding factors for continuing food insecurity and hunger. The latest estimates indicate that 795 million people were undernourished globally in 2014-2016, with insufficient food for an active and healthy life.

Bio-fuel production with its rising pressure on land and natural resources as well as climate change, are adding to the volatility of food prices and the urgency to find solutions for food insecurity. and for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) on Ending Hunger, Achieving Food Security, Improving Nutrition and Promoting Sustainable Agriculture.

Food security and gender equality and women’s empowerment are concomitant and inextricably interlinked.

Women are pivotal to addressing hunger, malnutrition and poverty especially in developing countries. They comprise an average of 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force across the developing world making up the backbone of the agricultural sector and food production systems and the bulk of the agricultural labourers. Eight out of ten agricultural workers in Africa are women and in Asia six out of ten are women. Rural women often represent approximately two thirds of the 400 million poor livestock keepers.

Furthermore, women are on the front line of nutrition as care givers in the family – producing, storing, cleaning, cooking food for consumption – and ensuring that food, when available, reaches children first. Women have a crucial role in ensuring the health of children.

Eight out of ten agricultural workers in Africa are women and in Asia six out of ten are women. Rural women often represent approximately two thirds of the 400 million poor livestock keepers.

Nearly half of all deaths of children under the age of five are attributable to undernutrition. Anemia, caused by poor nutrition and deficiencies of iron and other micronutrients, affects 42 per cent of all pregnant women globally and contributes to maternal mortality and low birth weight.

It is therefore even more inexcusable that women continue to face many barriers and constraints including limited access to assets and resources necessary for food security as well as disproportionately bear the impact of food insecurity. It is estimated that 60 percent of the world’s chronically hungry people are women and girls.

Rural ringing women and girls have been found to be impacted disproportionately from food insecurity and experience the triple burden of malnutrition (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity).

Women tend to face higher barriers than men to productive resources, economic opportunities, and decision-making, that would help alleviate food insecurity. For farming women, the lack of access to agricultural inputs, services, credit, and markets constrain agricultural productivity growth and agricultural production, making the arduous pathway out of poverty especially difficult.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the productivity levels of female workers in agriculture are between 20 and 30 per cent lower than those of male workers, purely because of the gender gap in access to resources. Moreover, food preferences, taboos and consumption patterns give rise to differential gender outcomes on food security, as men and boys get preferential food access in some contexts. In time of food scarcity, women tend to eat last and least.

Women’s participation in decision making processes and in the leadership of rural institutions remains low – which has led to women’s rights, contributions and priorities to be largely overlooked by mainstream policies and institutions on agriculture, food security and nutrition.

Also, gender inequalities in the distribution of unpaid care work burden both in developed and in developing countries continue to deprive women from opportunities for paid work, education, and political participation, all of which have a bearing on their food security and nutrition.

It is therefore clear that achieving sustainable development and peace and security will continue to challenge humanity if gender disparities in agriculture, food security and nutrition remain unaddressed.

This year’s World Food Day should therefore be a reminder that empowering women and unleashing their untapped potential to increase agricultural production is critical to the achievement of food and nutrition security, in improving rural livelihoods and in generating income and overall well-being of their households and communities.

The inextricable links between gender equality and food security have gained enormous momentum in the international agenda. In 1995 the Beijing Platform for Action recognized that women were key to reducing poverty and ensuring food security.

The Platform for Action called upon Member States and all stakeholders to formulate and implement policies and programmes that enhance women’s access to financial, technical, extension and marketing services. It also highlighted the need to improve women’s access to and control over land and appropriate financing, infrastructure and technology.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable (the 2030) recognized both as sustainable development goals (Goal 2 for food security and ending hunger, and Goal 5 for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls), and stressed that both goals are mutually reinforcing and enabling factors in the overall achievement of sustainable development.

Many crosscutting targets in terms of both gender equality and food security include ending hunger and addressing the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women (SDG 2.2), eliminating discrimination against women in laws, policy and practice (SDG 5.1).

Furthermore, the 2030 Agenda recognizes that women’s empowerment and control over resources reinforces nutritional health of their children (SDG 2.1). One specific group of women whose rights to economic resources must be enhanced (SDG 5.a.) is small-scale women food producers. Ensuring women’s rights and improving their access to land, resources and incomes (SDGs 2.3 and 1.4) will be critical to achieving a number of goals.

The Agreed Conclusions of the 61st Session of Commission on the Status of Women (March 2017) recognized the crucial role that rural women in particular have in food security, particularly in poor and vulnerable households and how it is important to achieve rural women’s empowerment as well as their full, equal and effective participation at all levels of decision making. Interventions on the ground aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity must focus on the protagonists of agriculture, who are mainly women in many rural contexts.

The international community is increasingly recognizing not only that women are on the front lines of food security, but that their needs and rights must be placed at the forefront of trade and agricultural policies and investments if sustainable development and peace and security are to be realized.

Today it is more evident than ever that closing the gender gap in agricultural productivity could potentially lift hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty and hunger and address losses in economic growth opportunities.

Bold and decisive action is critical to end the discrimination faced by women not only as a matter of justice and equality; but also to tackle the factors that are holding back agricultural production. Stability in the food market depends on increased investment in agriculture, particularly in developing countries, where 98 percent of the hungry live and where food production needs to double by 2050 to feed growing populations.

Strengthening support and investment in the agricultural sector, should go in hand with acknowledging women’s contributions to food security and ensuring their equal rights and equal access to resources, assets and opportunities.

Measures to advance towards this aim include supporting the contributions of rural women and women farmers and ensuring that they have equal access to agricultural technologies, through investments, innovation in small-scale agricultural production and distribution.

This in turn must be supported through policies that improve productive capacity and strengthen their resilience, addressing the existing gaps in and barriers to trading their agricultural products in local, regional and international markets. Better disaggregated data that shows where in the food systems women are, as well as their situation in terms of food security and nutrition is also urgently needed.

Gender differences in land tenure and access to productive resources are particularly relevant as rural women are significant contributors to global food production. We must ensure rural women’s full and equal rights to land and inheritance, land tenure security, common property and common resources and equal access to justice and legal support, by designing, reforming and enforcing relevant laws and policies.

Control over and ownership of assets can provide women with greater protection and stronger fallback positions, enhancing their bargaining power within the household and their capacity for economic independence. We must also promote women’s involvement in climate-resilient agriculture as farmers, workers, and agriculture and food entrepreneurs.

All these efforts require transformative financing and investment, both targeted and mainstreamed also in terms of advocacy and support from all multistakeholders. Member States, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector should to take new and concrete actions for the full and accelerated implementation of the gender equality international commitments. It is equally as crucial to engage with grassroots women organisations and rural women organisations in the implementation of these commitments.

It is critical to ensuring equal access to and control over productive resources, provision of quality basic services and infrastructure, and support to women smallholder farmers to improve productivity and resilience of food supplies, so that women are able to reach their potential as key game changers to ensure global food and nutrition security.

At the current 72nd session of the UN General Assembly these issues will be addressed by the international community and the global norms, standards and policy commitments to gender equality and the empowerment of women as a precondition and objective of food security for all will be strengthened. The report of the Secretary-General on Improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas (A/72/207) highlights the efforts of Member States, the United Nations system and other actors to address challenges faced by women and girls in rural areas, especially the poorest and most marginalized.

The report’s recommendations cover in particular economic and social policies, ending violence against women and girls, education, health, land, inheritance and property rights, decent work and social protection, labour-saving infrastructure and technology.

On the battle against climate change, we must recognize and support the potential of women as agents of change for climate mitigation and adaptation, which remains relatively untapped. The upcoming 23rd Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will recognise the vital role women play in sustainable development and in the implementation of climate policies, including through its Gender Action Plan which is being pushed for finalization at COP 23.

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) recognizes the role of women in ensuring sustainable livelihoods and by encouraging the equal participation of women in capacity building. The UNCCD Advocacy Policy Framework (APF) on gender recognizes that it is through the full participation of local people, especially women, that efforts to combat desertification can be most effective.

The forthcoming 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women with its priority theme of ‘challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls,’ will also signal the determination to make the universe of food, nutrition and agriculture one that is powered by and is empowering for women and girls.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day on October 16.

Nigeria:’Culture, Attitudes Hinder Insurance Role in Economic Development’

interviewBy Rosemary Onuoha

Commissioner for Insurance,Mohammed Kari, in this discourse reiterates efforts the Commission has been making to kick-start the second phase of the MDRI. Excerpts…

What efforts is NAICOM making to improve on insurance awareness in the country?

In line with our strategic road-map, the Commission has set out reforms needed to re-position the Nigerian insurance sector to effectively serve our growing population and most importantly the financially under-serviced low-income segment. Notwithstanding Nigeria’s vast population, insurance had a mixture of myth, misunderstanding and ignorance defining it.

Cultural issues and attitudes have continued to hinder the role of insurance in fast-tracking Nigeria’s economic growth. In keying into the federal government’s Financial System Strategy that visioned Nigeria of being a world’s top twenty economy by the year 2020, (FSS2020 development framework), the Commission initiated the “Market Development and Restructuring Initiative” (MDRI) in 2009.

The programme has among its objectives, the promotion of public understanding of insurance; the building of confidence on the Nigerian insurance market, the enforcement and monitoring of compulsory insurances in Nigeria so as to grow premium income for the benefit of the Nigerian economy, thereby increasing insurance density and it’s contribution to GDP. Having completed the first phase of execution which was devoted to awareness creation across the six geopolitical zones, the Commission is now at the verge of kick-starting the second phase of the MDRI project which is focused on implementation and enforcement of compulsory insurances across the country.

What is the statutory role of NAICOM?

The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) is the statutory body established to regulate and supervise the Nigerian Insurance Industry. The Commission derives its regulatory and supervisory powers from the National Insurance Commission and Insurance Acts of 1997 and 2003 respectively. As an agency of the Federal Government, the Commission’s activities are coordinated from our headquarters in Abuja.

Besides this, we currently have a control office in Lagos and four zonal offices in Kano, Enugu, Port Harcourt and Ilorin. New offices and branches are being considered now to ensure wider coverage and support to consumers and providers of insurance services.

What are the compulsory insurances?

Some of these compulsory insurances enshrined in various extant laws of the country include motor vehicle (third party) liability insurance, builder’s liability insurance (buildings under construction), occupier’s liability insurance on public building, healthcare professional liability insurance as well as group life insurance. These compulsory insurances put in place by various legislation in the country including the Insurance Act of 2003, are imperative because they mainly protect the interest of the third party.

We went to Kaduna State to seek the support and collaboration of the Kaduna State Government in enforcing compliance with these compulsory insurances in the State as we intend to establish a physical presence there.

In the absence of our active presence, charlatans have moved in to deceive insurance consumers and government alike that they are offering genuine insurance products and protection. We believe this collaboration will open up several opportunities that will be to the benefit of the state as well as the insurance industry when consummated. We have developed a guideline that will make it for easy execution of the collaboration and partnership.

Nigeria

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Chebukati Answers Odinga on Reform Demands Ahead of Repeat Polls

By John Ngirachu

The electoral commission has given in to 20 of the 30 conditions given by the opposition as the minimum that should be done before it takes part in the election, only 10 days away.

But the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) refuses to sack Chief Executive Ezra Chiloba and nine top managers as demanded by Nasa, setting the stage for a continued stand off.

Nasa leader Raila Odinga on Sunday said he will not take part in the election with the same team at the helm of the IEBC.

In a detailed response to Nasa’s 34 “irreducible minimum” conditions, the IEBC also declined to push out commissioners Abdi Guliye and Molu Boya.

AGREED

On that, it said: “There were no officers found to have been complicit in processing results and displaying figures that were not results. Further, as observed in the Supreme Court of Kenya judgment, there was no evidence adduced to prove to the commission of any election offence by the officials.”

It, however, agreed with a demand to have a Nasa ICT team given access to the system used in results transmission, to have results announced at the constituency tallying centres and to have the scanned result forms sent.

Some of the demands, such as to have scanned images of the forms sent and the results announced at the constituency level, have been acceded to, with the commission also telling the parties it is their job to ensure there are agents in all polling stations to verify vote counting and recording.

The commission’s response to the Opposition coalition was published in advertisements in the press on Sunday.

DEMANDS

It comes almost two weeks after the Nasa team walked out of a meeting with IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and other commissioners, saying they were dissatisfied with the response to their demands.

Mr Chebukati characterised Nasa’s discontent as coming out of the failure by the IEBC to give a point-by-point response in writing to their demands but after a further meeting the same day at Bomas of Kenya, Nasa lawyer James Orengo and chief executive Norman Magaya said none of the their demands had been met.

On Sunday, Mr Odinga told a rally in Mombasa that he would have been declared winner of the August elections had the IEBC agreed to open the servers for scrutiny.

He vowed that Nasa will not take part in the elections unless the reforms they want have been implemented. “We will not go back to polls with the same team at IEBC. We want a level playing field,” he said during a rally at Mama Ngina Grounds in Mombasa where he led the crowd in chanting: “No reforms, no elections.”

EXPLAIN DECISION

In the response, IEBC also explains its decision to stick with technology provider OT Morpho and printer Al Ghurair.

On Morpho, the IEBC said it had not received any evidence of the firm’s alleged complicity in mishandling the election and had decided to retain it for a variety of reasons.

Six months

“It will require at least six months to implement a new election system (procurement, supply, commission, implementation, testing, training and support). For this reason the commission had to retain the services of OT Morpho,” it said, adding that the Dubai printing firm had printed the result forms as per the IEBC’s specifications and because of time constraints and the existing contract, another company could not be picked.

The agency refused to allow the demand that it provides the physical location of its servers on the basis that doing so would compromise their security and that the demand that a third party manage their ICT infrastructure for the elections would undermine their security.

REJECTED

It agreed with most of the other demands on the ICT system, which Nasa had listed in detail but rejected others specifying the software it should use to secure its data and to share information on the security of its database with the parties.

On forms 34B, which Nasa wanted pre-printed with the candidates’ names and polling stations, IEBC concluded that it was impractical because there are 40,883 polling stations.

“The commission shall use the appropriately customised spreadsheet to generate Form 34B and 34C to minimise errors and increase efficiency in the results management process,” it said.

The commission refused a demand that it employs new returning officers, saying: “Due to limited time, the commission will not be able to recruit, train and deploy new ones but will use its permanent employees as returning officers for accountability purposes.”

FORMS

The agency rejected the assertion by Nasa that in the last elections, there were 80 fake Forms 34B and said that it has enhanced the management of the forms.

“There shall be adequate statutory forms with specified security features to ensure that all pages of the result forms have security features. The Commission has standardised the appearance of Form 34B across all the constituencies,” IEBC said.

The commission also rejected a proposal that it allows monitors selected from a representative group to have a role in signing off election materials and result forms at polling stations and constituency tallying centres.

State Cuts Cooking Gas Cylinder Price 70% in Sh3 Billion Plan

By Neville Otuki

Poor homes will now acquire 6kg gas cylinders with cooking accessories at a discounted price of Sh2,000, down from about Sh5,000, under a government subsidy plan aimed at cutting reliance on kerosene and charcoal.

The cylinders, dubbed Gas Yetu, will be distributed to the poor across the country by State-owned National Oil.

Under the plan, which has been piloted in Machakos and Kajiado counties, the Ministry of Energy will buy about one million new cylinders for distribution.

“This campaign is meant to increase the uptake of cooking gas by low-income households,” National Oil CEO MaryJane Mwangi said.

The company sells a complete 6kg cylinder of its flagship SupaGas brand at about Sh5,000. The equivalent cylinder of the new Gas Yetu brand at Sh2,000 is set to be a game changer in weaning poor homes from the use of firewood, charcoal and kerosene for cooking.

The Treasury initially allocated the Energy ministry Sh2.2 billion for the programme and later added it Sh700 million in a mini-budget, pushing the total to Sh3.1 billion.

The Treasury in July last year scrapped value added tax (VAT) on cooking gas to cut costs and boost uptake, but poor homes have continued to find the prices prohibitive.

Gas has become the preferred energy source for households that can afford it in major towns, due to its convenience and because it is cleaner than other cooking fuel. The VAT removal on gas was part of the government’s plan to wean rural homes off reliance on toxic firewood, kerosene and charcoal.

Unlike petrol, diesel and kerosene, cooking gas prices are not regulated by the Energy Regulatory Commission and have been left to market forces.

Oil marketers have been pushing for more rigorous checks on unlicensed gas operators, whom they accuse of undercutting the market through irregular refilling.

Kenya

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Elders Reject Age Limit Bill

Photo: The Independent

President Yoweri Museveni

By Franklin Draku

A conclave of elders has asked Members of Parliament pushing for constitutional amendments to shelve the ‘Age Limit Bill’, they said only seeks “to suit one person’s interest”.

The elders’ forum also reminded President Museveni who will be 77 in 2021, when his current five-year term expires, that “time has come for him to rest so that a new generation can take over” the reins of the country.

Some of the elders who convened in Kampala last Friday to discuss the proposed national dialogue called for wider consultations and warned that if the Bill is rushed through Parliament, there will be consequences — it will sow seeds of disunity in the country and undermine peace and stability.

Warning

Former Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi and former Chief Justice Samuel William Wako Wambuzi were outspoken and in no uncertain terms warned those pushing for the removal of age limit caps to go slow on.

They have reminded MPs that no Constitution in the world can be all inclusive and called those calling for removal of constitutional safeguards “misguided”.

“The President himself said when one is 75 years old, [he or she] gets tired. He himself has said that so why do you … him?” Prof Nsibambi questioned those hawking the disputed Constitutional amendments.

Acknowledging Mr Museveni’s contribution to the development of the country, Prof Nsibambi said, time has come for him to rest so that a new generation can take over the leadership.

He also advised the NRM leader “to accept that people shape the nation but after sometime they must allow the nation and the institution to shape them.”

With a smirking face, Mr Wambuzi paused and questioned the proponents of the Age Limit Bill on why they are rushing with the amendment without the input of Ugandans.

He reminded the architects of the Bill about the hegemony of the Constitution and the need to move cautiously because Ugandans need a happy, peaceful and prosperous nation.

“The national Constitution is the fundamental law, the supreme law I think [the people in Parliament] should pay due respect to the Constitution not to jump and amend the Constitution merely to suit one person’s interest”, he counseled.

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Age Limit Debate Shuts Down Parliament – Again

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He also warned that the Constitution must only be amended when it must, adding that the supreme law cannot be amended every time an obstacle is envisaged by one person who wants to stay in power for life.He reminded the pro-age limit removal members that it took over five years to come up with the 1995 Constitution and therefore cannot be amended in just two weeks or even months.Justice James Ogoola, the retired Principal Judge of the High Court and the chairperson of The Elders Forum of Uganda criticised those plotting against the age limit cap and wondered why the age limit proponents are rushing to amend the constitution without involving the citizens.A Private Members Bill on the Constitutional amendments was tabled on September 27, amid fierce protests Parliament.The bill was drafted by Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi and it has the Cabinet backing. It was tabled after security operatives raided Parliament and evicted MPs opposed to the Bill.Trouble started after Speaker Rebecca Kadaga suspended some of the MPs opposed to the removal of age limit.The scuffle in Parliament left some legislators hospitalised and others arrested on various charges.The Bill is now property of Parliament and is before Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.The committee starts public hearings on October 31.Those pushing for the amendments insist that Article 102 (b) is discriminatory and should therefore be amended to allow those above 75 years and below 35 contest for presidency.To illustrate their argument that their Bill is not simply hell-bent on helping Mr Museveni to contest for the sixth-elective term, the Bill proposes separate amendments to Article 104 [challenging a presidential election], Chapter 11 [Local government system] and Article 61[Functions of the Electoral Commission].On challenging a presidential election petition, the Bill proposes to amend Article 104 and increase the deadline for filing the petition challenging presidential election results from the current 10 days to 15 days.Clause 3 provides that the Supreme Court shall inquire into and determine the petition expeditiously and shall declare its findings not later than 45 days from the date the petition is filed.Under Clause 6, where such an election is annulled by court, a fresh election shall be held within 60 days from the date of the annulment.An amendment to Article 60 proposes that the Electoral Commission shall hold presidential, general parliamentary and local government council elections within the first 30 days of the last 120 days before the expiration of the term of office of the president.Justice Ogoola however, warned that the issue of the amendment should not only be handled by the few legislators, but the entire nation should be involved through wider consultations and dialogue.”Our view on this is that yes if we find big difficulties with it, let’s take it to those who own the Constitution, let them discuss its merits and demerits up and down in a measured way”, Justice Ogoola said.Ms Rhoda Nsibirwa Kalema, the first female legislator and a former member of the Constituency Assembly, who took part in the drafting of the 1995 Constitution faulted the government for failing to translate the supreme law into major local languages for easy understanding by those who do not understand the English language.Key issuesBiased. The proponents of the Bill insist that Article 102 (b) is discriminatory and should therefore be amended to allow those above 75 years and below 35, contest for presidency.Petition. On challenging a presidential election petition, the Bill proposes to amend Article 104 and increase the deadline for filing the petition challenging presidential election results from the current 10 days to 15 days.Cancelling poll. Under Clause 6, where such an election is annulled by court, a fresh election shall be held within 60 days from the date of the annulment.Role of EC. An amendment to Article 60 proposes that the Electoral Commission shall hold presidential, parliamentary and local government council elections within the first 30 days of the last 120 days before the expiration of the term of office of the president.

Kenya’s Political Destiny Lies in Wafula Chebukati’s Hands

By Patrick Lang’at and Julius Sigei

Now, more than ever before, the destiny of Kenya rests in the hands of one man – Mr Wafula Wanyonyi Chebukati – the self-effacing chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Kenyans are watching with hope and anxiety how the Trans Nzoia-born lawyer will steer the nation through the repeat elections slated for October 26.

Almost entirely, it is Mr Chebukati who will determine if peace will hold before or after the election.

Mr Chebukati has, however, in the recent past, appeared like an isolated man, a lone general leading sharply divided troops, pushing him to hold back on making make-or-break decisions.

Six times since the Supreme Court annulled the presidential election on September 1, Mr Chebukati’s actions have been publicly questioned by fellow commissioners, politicians and Parliament — with reports of even more acrimonious disagreements in private.

UNDER SIEGE

This has either exposed his indecisiveness or painted the picture of a man under siege from within the commission and a country craving direction from him.

The quick move to name October 17 as the date of the repeat poll, only to move it to October 26, disrupted other important national programmes such as the school calendar.

It also later emerged that in settling on the date, Mr Chebukati had not consulted the polls technology provider French firm OT-Morpho, which wrote back to him, saying it needed more time to get ready.

Even though the Supreme Court found no criminal culpability on Mr Chebukati and his officials, he goes into the annals of Kenya’s electoral history as the first and the only chairman — so far — to have his results annulled.

Mr Chebukati’s authority has also been challenged internally on, among others, a decision to fire IT officials, whom the commission’s chief executive Ezra Chiloba a week later said were still in office.

Externally, Mr Chebukati has been questioned on the setting up of a special team to manage the poll and for appearing before a parliamentary committee alone.

ELECTION LAWS

Mr Chebukati is also running a commission that is leaking like a sieve.

Last week, apparently aware of the differences between Mr Chebukati and a majority of the commissioners, an ad-hoc committee of Parliament working on election amendment laws sent him away and asked him to either go back with a signed memorandum with minutes, or the rest of the commissioners.

Apparently, the MPs had known that the details of Mr Chebukati’s presentation had not been agreed on by the rest of the commissioners.

On Wednesday, the commission leaked out an unsigned statement giving directions on the October 26 poll after the High Court ruling ordered the admission of Thirdway Alliance candidate Ekuru Aukot and the dramatic withdrawal from the race of Nasa’s Raila Odinga on Tuesday. The Nation has learnt that the statement was leaked out after Mr Chebukati insisted on further consultations even after the statement had been put to a vote.

TAKE CHARGE

On Thursday, trade unionist Francis Atwoli appealed to Mr Chebukati to “take charge” at the commission.

“The IEBC chairman must be assertive as he is heading a constitutional commission charged with responsibilities of guiding our elections,” the Central Organisation of Trade Unions secretary-general told journalists in Nairobi.

The most public of the disagreements at the commission was when on September 5, Mr Chebukati wrote a 12-page damning memo to Mr Chiloba, the chief executive, before four commissioners ganged up and disowned the show-cause letter.

“A quick perusal of the memo shows that the allegations are based on some report or information that has not been brought to the attention of the commission,” the commissioners led by vice-chairperson Connie Nkatha Bucha said in the statement.

Since most of the issues in the leaked memo appeared similar to what Mr Odinga raised in his Supreme Court petition, Nasa has repeatedly used the ugly episode to paint a picture of a chairman hanging by the thread — a good man, they say, who has been held hostage by Jubilee-leaning commissioners.

JUBILEE

“It is now evident that Jubilee is firmly in charge of IEBC through four commissioners who have set out to implement the Jubilee agenda within the commission,” Mr Odinga told journalists at the Okoa Kenya offices in Lavington, Nairobi, when he withdrew from the race.

He said the “conservative wing of the IEBC” had a firm grip on the operations of the commission, with every decision of the chairman being “countermanded”.

But sources within the IEBC told the Nation of a man they said was well-meaning and one who had purposed to reach out to all sides before making a decision.

How much this prevarication can be blamed on the lawyer or the push and pull within or without the commission, can only remain a matter of conjecture. But any more equivocation from the chairman only two weeks to poll day could be preparing the country for another election fraught with peril.

WORKING LATE

An early riser and a man who has no qualms working late, Mr Chebukati has also been described by insiders at the commission as “a man of order and detail, the diplomatic type who feels the need to involve as many of the parties as possible in decisions”.

Mr Chebukati started his stint at the commission by opening his arms and his doors to any of the political camps who sought to consult him and has since appeared disturbed that even with such an offer, politicians would still prosecute him in public and in the media.

Outside IEBC, little is known of the advocate who practices from Agip House, the downtown office where the doyen of opposition politics Jaramogi Oginga Odinga operated from.

The only time Mr Chebukati took a high profile case was when he tried, unsuccessfully, to defend the beleaguered former Ethics and anti-Corruption Commission chief Philip Kinisu.

The 56-year-old University of Nairobi law graduate’s admirers point to his “track record in (the) Kenya Golf Union both in Mombasa and Nairobi.”

His critics, however, say he did not prosecute his case well during the interview for the job, garnering 63 marks against Mr Tukero Ole Kina’s 79.

Additional reporting by John Ngirachu and Collins Omulo

AU Commission Closely Monitoring Situation in Kenya

By Laban Wanambisi

Nairobi — The African Union (AU) Commission says it is closely monitoring the political situation in Kenya including the decision by NASA leader Raila Odinga to withdraw from the fresh presidential election.

In a statement, Chairperson of the Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat appealed to all leaders involved to “exercise leadership during this crucial period of the country’s democracy to ensure successful completion of the electoral process.”

He stressed the need for them to also contribute to the “preservation of peace and stability in the country.”

He stated that the AU stands ready to take any initiative deemed appropriate to facilitate the peaceful conclusion of the electoral process.

“It should be recalled that the AU has deployed an Observer Mission in Kenya since September 2017 to support the electoral process and assist towards its peaceful and successful conclusion.”

His sentiments come as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission stated that all eight candidates who participated in August 8 poll will be included in the ballot during the fresh presidential election.

According to the Commission, all the candidates will be included in the gazette notice which already has the two main candidates President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga.

The decision came after High Court Justice Mativo delivered a verdict that all candidates who participated in the General Election held on the August 8, 2017 were entitled to participate as candidates in the fresh presidential election.

The electoral body indicated that the NASA leader is yet to submit Form 24A supporting his decision to withdraw from the fresh presidential election as required by law.

Odinga in the meantime jetted off to the United Kingdom for a series of high profile engagements, including giving a lecture at Chatham House.

The NASA leader will discuss the Supreme Court ruling that nullified the August 8 the presidential election and the reforms the Opposition would like to see ahead of the October 26 election.

Kenya

Govt Bans Demos in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu CBDs

The government has banned demonstrations within the Central Business Districts in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu following… Read more »

Kenyan MPs Assure World There is No Constitutional Crisis

By Laban Wanambisi

Brussels — A delegation of Kenya MPs attending a meeting of parliamentarians in Brussels, Belgium have downplayed concerns that Kenya risks running into a constitutional crisis following the withdrawal of NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga from the October 26 fresh presidential election in the country.

The MPs led by Kigumo MP Ruth Mwaniki told counterparts from other Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific regions that the country now awaits further advisory from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission as well as the Judiciary on the next course of action.

“Since the delivery of the Supreme Court judgment, however, there has been broad discourse on the political state of the nation. This includes the unfortunate misconception, mostly in the media that there may be a constitutional crisis in Kenya. This is far from the truth,” Mwaniki told the ACP-EU legislators.

“The decision of the Supreme Court to overturn the presidential election, which is said to be a first in Africa and third in the world, is a clear demonstration of the expanding democratic space, respect of the rule of law and a manifestation of the independence of the institutions within the governance system in Kenya. Since the annulment, the electoral commission has been reaching out to the presidential candidates to assure them of the Commission’s preparedness to conduct the repeat election as required by the Constitution and the directive of the Supreme Court.”

She explained that the Constitution provides that upon invalidation of an election, a fresh election shall be held within 60 days.

Mwaniki further stressed that the Constitution further provides that the President of Kenya shall hold office for a term beginning on the date on which he/she was sworn in, and ending when the next elected President is sworn-in.

Mwaniki who is leading a four-member delegation comprising Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar, Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo and Kenya’s Ambassador to Belgium Johnson Weru, cited that Kenya has over the years built great resilience in governance institutions and democratic traditions.

“Presidential elections are mostly characterized by intense and passionate campaigns which may sometimes appear, incensed, fanatical and emotive. Kenya is not any different. Even as we enjoy our political freedom, all our institutions, including Parliament, The Judiciary, the National Executive and its administration apparatus are well in place and operational. We remain optimistic that we will, sooner than later, democratically and constitutionally sort out the remaining political aspects,” the Kigumo MP told participants at the global conference.

The MP spoke when issuing a statement on the political situation in Kenya, under the quarterly debate which discusses openly the political situations in member states.

Kenya is a member of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly which was established under the Cotonou Agreement and brings together parliamentarians from the African, Pacific and Caribbean countries four times every year to discuss social, political and economic concerns of the member states.

The meeting in Brussels started on Monday and was to end on Thursday.

Kenya

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House Approves Repeat Election Budget Amid Crisis

By David Mwere

The National Assembly has approved a Sh47.6 billion supplementary budget to fund key programmes, including fresh presidential election.

The passing of the estimates on Wednesday saw the Kenya’s development budget for 2017/18 reduced by Sh24.9 billion as recurrent expenditure shot up by Sh63.5 billion.

SH12BN

This also saw the budget for the current financial year increase by Sh38.6 billion.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission was allocated Sh12 billion to prepare for fresh presidential election, including buying of materials.

MPs also nodded to a Sh25-billion allocation for free secondary education that starts January 2018.

Although Nasa leader Raila Odinga pulled out of the fresh presidential race, plunging the country into a legal crisis, Kipkelion East MP Mr Joseph Limo, who chaired a special committee that processed the supplementary budget, said preparations must go on.

“We have not received any indication from IEBC that there will be no election. The election will go on as scheduled and the money stands allocated,” Mr Limo said.

CHAN

The government will also spend Sh6.5 billion on Inua Jamii, a social protection plan for people above 70 years and Sh2 billion to settle Kenyans uprooted from their homes during the 2007/08 post-poll chaos.

The Sh4.2 billion allocated for Africa Nations Championships was, however, withdrawn after the Confederation of African Football stripped Kenya of hosting rights for lack of up-to-standard infrastructure.

The passage of the estimates saw reorganisation in the budgetary allocations for various government agencies.

Although the National Treasury had targeted to reduce the Sh36 billion allocated to Parliament by Sh9.2 billion, the Parliamentary Service Commission put up a spirited fight.

The committee would scale down the figure by Sh3.5 billion.

More follows.

Kenya

AU Calls on Kenyatta, Odinga to Steer Kenya Out of Political Impasse

African Union Commission Chairman Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, has called on all stakeholders in Kenya’s electoral process to… Read more »

Expect More Rain in Coming Days, Met Dept Tells Nairobians

By Collins Omulo

The Kenya Meteorological Department has told Nairobi residents to brace for more rains in the next two days.

This comes after Nairobi on Wednesday evening experienced a heavy downpour after sunny intervals for the better part of the day.

The evening shower started minutes after 4pm and went on unabated with residents who had not carried any protective clothes or umbrellas left to rue their bad luck.

Many had to wait in their offices for the rain to subside before leaving for their respective homes.

“I did not carry any warm cloth or an umbrella because when I woke up the sun was already up,” said Jacinta Koki.

But the warning of the abrupt rain had been on the wall before the impromptu deluge.

WEATHER FORECAST

According to the latest seven-day weather forecast by the meteorological department released on Monday and covering between October 10 and October 16, Nairobi region was set to receive rainfall over several places between Thursday and Friday.

Nairobi is part of the Central Highlands region which covers counties of Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Kiambu, Meru, Embu, and Tharaka Nithi that the forecast had said was expected to experience showers over few places in the afternoon from Wednesday to the end of the forecast period.

“Afternoon showers over few places are expected from Wednesday to the end of the forecast period. Thursday and Friday are, however, expected to receive rainfall over several places,” read the latest forecast in part.

The forecast also said that the region was also expected to have cloudy mornings giving way to sunny intervals and showers in the afternoon with the region also expected to have temperatures ranging between 15 degrees Celsius and 28 degrees Celsius.

The weatherman also said that highlands to the west and east of the Rift Valley, and the northwest parts of the country were expected to receive rainfall over the next five days, despite most parts of the country remaining dry.

Kenya

AU Calls on Kenyatta, Odinga to Steer Kenya Out of Political Impasse

African Union Commission Chairman Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, has called on all stakeholders in Kenya’s electoral process to… Read more »

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