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Ivory Coast’s ex-President Gbagbo to return home after ICC acquittal.

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo is expected to return home, 10 years after he was taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity. Gbagbo has been living in the Belgian capital Brussels since his release from detention three years ago. His successor and rival President Alassane Ouattara invited him back. He was the first former head of state to go on trial at the ICC but was acquitted of all charges. The 76-year-old was charged after his refusal to accept defeat in a 2010 election triggered a civil war that left 3,000 people dead. He always denied all the allegations. In March, the ICC appeals court upheld a 2019 acquittal, saying the prosecution had failed to prove its case against Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, an ally and former youth leader who was accused of leading a militia backing him. Who is Gbagbo? Born in the south-central region of Gagnoa in 1945 to a Catholic family, Gbagbo was educated in a Christian seminary and later became a history professor. He cut his political teeth in the trade union movement where he became a vocal opponent of Ivory Coast’s then one-party state. He started out on the political left, but in the 1980s took a strong nationalist, stance, which critics say bordered on xenophobia. After 20 years in opposition, he was finally elected president in 2000, but civil war broke out just two years later. Gbagbo’s supporters were accused of carrying out xenophobic attacks in areas they controlled – against those from the mainly Muslim north, immigrants from neighbouring African countries, and Westerners. They accused former colonial power France and the UN of not doing enough to put down a rebellion which had split Ivory Coast into two, with rebels allied with Ouattara seizing the north. The crisis led to the postponement of the 2005 presidential elections six times before they were finally held in 2010 but Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara after a runoff. The five months of violence that followed were described as some of the most brutal violence the country had ever seen. Gbagbo said the dispute over Ivory Coast’s presidency was a fight for Ivorian – and indeed African – sovereignty and he accused the French and Americans of siding against him. However, this argument did not prevail and the African Union backed the UN’s finding that Gbagbo lost the election and should stand down. He was finally captured in April 2011 in a presidential palace bunker by UN and French-backed forces supporting Ouattara.

Raila’s ODM to sign 2022 pre-election deal with Uhuru’s Jubilee.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party is planning to sign a pre-election coalition deal with Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement. This means Uhuru and Raila will take their handshake a notch higher and craft a political pact that will see them work together in the 2022 General Election. The pre-election deal is expected to translate into the formation of a behemoth political machine that will take on Deputy President William Ruto. Ruto was boxed out of the Jubilee Party after the President launched a ruthless purge that also targeted his key allies last year. The Star has established that after three years of the handshake, Jubilee and ODM have started taking steps to formalise the deal. A crucial meeting bringing together Jubilee and ODM officials was held on Thursday where a deal was formally struck to start talks for a 2022 pre-coalition agreement. Once the officials agree, they will then engage relevant organs for adoption and ratification. Uhuru and Raila will witness the signing of the coalition agreement that will be deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties. Thursday’s meeting was attended by Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju and his ODM counterpart Edwin Sifuna. ODM chairman John Mbadi and Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe also attended the talks at a Nairobi Hotel. Suna East MP Junet Mohamed was also present. On Thursday, Tuju who is a Cabinet Secretary without portfolio confirmed to the Star that Jubilee is indeed planning to sign a coalition agreement with ODM in the coming days. “The meeting we have had today is a culmination of several other meetings that we have held before to formalise the coalition with the former Prime Minister,” Tuju said. Sifuna said ODM has entered serious talks with Jubilee with the aim of developing a political understanding ahead of next year’s elections. “We had our initial meeting today. We have started talks that will see us having a pre-2022 coalition agreement with Jubilee,” Sifuna said. When asked about the timeliness, the ODM official said it was too early to impose them at the initial stages of the discussions. “It is too early to talk about the timeliness. We will firm up everything by holding a series of meetings in the coming days,” he said. While the President has been working with Raila, there has been no legal anchor, exposing it to political attacks from rivals including Ruto’s allies. However, the move by the two parties to initiate the process to put pen to paper will provide parameters and outline the terms of engagements. The plan could signal the President’s decision to back Raila as his successor. Uhuru retires next year after his two terms as President. The coalition is supposed to usher in a historic re-union of the Kikuyu and Luo communities which have had protracted hostilities since the falling out between founding President Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. Oginga was Mzee Kenyatta’s vice president. The announcement of the impending Jubilee-ODM coalition comes days after the President said he will support one of the Nasa principals as his successor next year. The move triggered fury in the DP’s camp with Ruto firing salvos at his boss through a string of posts on Twitter and Facebook. He said Uhuru had betrayed him and the eight million voters who backed Jubilee in 2013 and 2017. The President who spoke when he met leaders from the Ukamani region at State House on Monday, asked the Nasa chiefs to work together ahead of the 2022 polls. Nasa brings together ODM, Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya. The three parties have been working on a different political plan under the One Kenya Alliance which also includes Kanu’s Gideon Moi. Kalonzo has claimed he will not back Raila for a third time after agreeing to be his running mate in both 2013 and 2017 general elections. The Jubilee Party is already in a post-election coalition agreement with Kanu while it also has a working arrangement with Isaac Ruto’s Chama Cha Mashinani and Kalonzo’s Wiper.

Ministers agree to expedite reopening process between Kenya and Somalia.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister Amb Raychelle Omamo and her Somalia counterpart Mohamed Abdirizak Mahamud have agreed to speed up the re-opening of embassies in each other’s countries. In a statement Wednesday, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said the duo arrived at the decision after a telephone conversation. “Both ministers reconfirmed the need to expeditiously reopen their two missions of Kenya and Somalia, and emphasized the importance of normalizing diplomatic relations between the two countries,” the Ministry said. Omamo and Abdirizak have each extended an olive branch to the other, to help improve diplomatic relations, security, trade, and cultural relations between the two countries. Earlier in the week, Kenya announced plans to re-open its embassy in Mogadishu following talks to resolve the standoff between the two countries. The government of Kenya welcomes and acknowledges the invitation by the Federal Government of the Republic of Somalia to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries,” a statement by the Foreign Affairs Ministry read. Kenya said it would take advantage of the latest talks to repair its relations with Somalia. On June 10, Nairobi lifted the ban on direct flights to and from Somalia which was to last at least up to August 9. It said the decision to resume flights was part of Kenya’s efforts to re-establish relations with Somalia, which have been frosty since December last year. “This goodwill measure has been made in the mutual interest of the two countries and in the hope that it will cause the full normalisation of bilateral relations between Kenya and Somalia including diplomatic, trade and people to people linkages that have undergone undue strain,’’ Kenya said. Mogadishu responded saying the move was a ‘positive gesture’ by Nairobi and a starting point to kick off negotiations between the two nations.

Italy beats Switzerland to reach last 16.

In-form Italy became the first team to reach the knockout stage of the European Championship with another impressive Group A showing in victory over Switzerland. Roberto Mancini’s side thumped Turkey on the opening day of the tournament and made it back-to-back 3-0 wins courtesy of another sprightly performance in Rome. Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli scored twice, first by finishing off a move he started by tapping in from Domenico Berardi’s darting run and cutback. Italy’s passing and pressing was far superior to their opponents and Locatelli’s fizzing strike from the edge of the area underlined their control of the contest. Lazio striker Ciro Immobile’s long-range drive, which squirmed under goalkeeper Yann Sommer, completed a comprehensive victory late on. Switzerland barely threatened an Italian backline that has now gone 10 games without conceding in all competitions, a run approaching 1,000 minutes. World champions France were tipped by many as pre-tournament favourites, but Italy have showcased their credentials as strong contenders with two eye-catching performances. Once again they set the tempo before kick-off with a rousing rendition of the national anthem, sung with gusto by players and supporters alike at the Stadio Olimpico. Switzerland struggled to cope as the Azzurri impressively extended their unbeaten run to 29 games, and their fierce defence and ruthless attacking play in the final third looks like it will take some stopping as this tournament progresses. Before this championship, Italy had never netted three goals in a game at the Euros but Immobile’s effort means they have now achieved the feat twice in two games. One blemish for the Italians came with an injury to captain Giorgio Chiellini, who had a close-range finish ruled out for handball shortly before he was forced off with a suspected hamstring problem. Switzerland’s only chance of note fell to substitute Steven Zuber, but his low shot from the angle was comfortable for goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to deal with. Italy can finish top of the group with a point against Wales on Sunday, which would set up a last-16 meeting against the runner-up in Group C at Wembley Stadium on 26 June.

Charity Ngilu is not happy with the DP and she is not afraid to say it.

Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu has come out guns blazing to hit at Deputy President William Ruto for allegedly abandoning the initial Jubilee government agenda to pursue his own political interests. Governor Ngilu told off DP Ruto for what she termed as focusing on sideshows and 2022 politics instead of helping President Uhuru Kenyatta to execute the mandate under which they were elected to office. The former presidential candidate challenged Ruto to show Kenyans his development record during the time he has served as DP in the Jubilee government and allow them to judge him from that and not any perceived antics. According to Ngilu, who spoke on Radio Citizen’s ‘Jambo Kenya’ show on Thursday morning, the DP needs to refocus otherwise he will only serve to derail the agenda of the very government he serves. “Huyo Ruto hawezi saidia nchi yetu, anahitaji kutuonyesha factory ata moja ambayo ametengeza. Amekuwa Deputy President miaka tisa sai lakini amefanya nini? Unaangalia mtu na uongozi wake sio mdomo. Badala ya kumsaidia Rais Uhuru Kenyatta, kazi ni kutangatanga tu. Ukitaka kumsaidia mtu, si kumpatia samaki akule, ni kumwonyesha kufish ndio aweze kujitafutia,” said Governor Ngilu. “DP William Ruto needs to refocus and help President Uhuru Kenyatta deliver the promises they both made together to Kenyans. His engagement in 2022 sideshows with his lieutenants within government only serves to derail government programs.” The Kitui County chief further said there was no talk of succession politics during the recent visit to State House by leaders drawn across the Ukambani region. She said they only paid a courtesy call to the Head of State to bring him up to speed about their development agenda as a region and ask him for help as the leader of the national government where necessary. “Kweli tulienda ikulu na tulimsalimia rais na kusema mambo tunayofanya na mambo ambayo tungetaka atusaidie kwa sababu yeye kama national government ako na rasilimali,” stated the governor. “Hakuna mtu anaweza kuenda State House na aanze kumwuliza rais eti ‘ukitoka hapa utamwachia nani?’ Wananchi ndio wataona mtu atakayeingia hapo State House atakuwa nani.”

Francis elected for the fourth time as member of ILO.

The Central Organization of Trade Unions COTU (K) Secretary General Francis Atwoli was on Monday morning re-elected for a record fourth time as a Member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) governing body in Geneva, Switzerland. Atwoli, according to a statement sent to newsrooms, was among the candidates that received the highest number of votes globally. He will represent the interests of working men and women in Africa for the four-year period of 2021-2024. “At the same time, Dr. Atwoli has now left a mark as the first member of the ILO Governing Body to be re-elected for a record four times consecutively to the Governing Body,” read the statement signed by COTU Deputy Secretary General Benson Okwaro. “This is a strong attestation of the confidence that trade union leaders, in the entire continent of Africa as well as globally, continue to have in Dr. Atwoli’s leadership.” Okwaro further added: “As COTU (K) we take great pride in associating with Dr. Atwoli and for his leadership, mentorship and guidance. Indeed, the person of Atwoli commands a lot of reverence and admiration internationally considering his firm leadership and commitment to the plight of the workers globally.”The ILO is a United Nations agency devoted to promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights. It was created in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, to reflect the belief that universal and lasting peace can be accomplished only if it’s based on social justice. In 1946, the ILO became a specialized agency of the United Nations. The ILO Governing Body is the Executive Body of the International Labour Organization that meets three times a year, in March, June and November, in Geneva.

Form 2 student stabbed to death over a flash drive

Police in Nairobi are holding a Form 2 student who is alleged to have stabbed and killed his 19-year-old friend following a fight over a flash disk in Gatekwera area within Kibra. The two are said to have argued over ownership of the flash disk before the accused picked a kitchen knife and attacked his friend. Confirming the incident, Sarang’ombe area chief Edwin Otwori said the 15-year-old suspect surrendered to Kibra DC police officers on Sunday evening after committing the act on Saturday. The chief added that after interrogation, the suspect was transferred to Kilimani Police Station pending arraignment on Monday. The mother of the suspect was also rescued from the wrath of the irate locals who torched their house after the incident. The suspect is a student at Kibera Secondary school.

Should companies wavier intellectual right for COVID vaccines ?

As World Trade Organisation (WTO) members look for signs of progress in talks on a proposal by South Africa and India to waive patent rights on Covid-19 vaccines to boost supply to developing countries, the United States has moved to lend its support to the plan. Those behind the proposal want to ease rules of the WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement. WTO decisions are based on consensus, so all 164 members need to agree. Ten meetings in seven months have failed to produce a breakthrough, with 60 proposal sponsors from emerging economies, backed by a chorus of campaign groups, Nobel laureates and former world leaders, pitted against some richer developed countries, where many pharmaceutical companies are based. The Indian/South African proposal in October says property rights such as patents, industrial designs, copyright and protection of undisclosed information hinder timely access to affordable vaccines and medicines essential to combat Covid-19. They say the waiver should last for an unspecified time period, with an annual review until it terminates, and call for unhindered global sharing of technology and know-how. They say there cannot be a repeat of the early years of the HIV/Aids pandemic, when a lack of access to life-saving medicines cost at least 11 million African lives.The World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Ghebreyesus and 375 civil society and campaign groups back the proposal, and former leaders from Britain’s Gordon Brown to Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union had jointly written to US President Joe Biden urging him to support it. The counter view Big drug companies oppose patent waivers, as do Britain and Switzerland. The main Western producers are Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and jointly Pfizer and BioNTech. They say vaccine development is unpredictable and costly and that strong IP protection helped provide the incentive for the development of vaccines in record time and will do so again in work on tackling new variants or in a future pandemic. Proponents counter that some of the money was public funds. Big Pharma also says vaccine-making is difficult – witness the production problems non-specialist AstraZeneca has faced – so suspending patents alone will not bring more shots. Complex vaccines require deep cooperation between developers and manufacturers. Any failure to make them properly could undermine public confidence in vaccine safety, they say. They also point to over 260 partnership agreements already in place for production and distribution and comment that, under the existing TRIPS agreement, governments can allow produces to make a patented product without the consent of the patent owner. Developing countries have such “compulsory licences” to push down prices for HIV/Aids medication from 2002 to 2007. The situation, though, is fluid. In Brazil, the only developing country to oppose the waiver, the Senate has passed a bill to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents. It has become quieter at the WTO since April. The White House had said it was considering options to maximise global supply of vaccines, including backing the waiver. Third way WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has suggested a “third way” as a compromise, laying out global action to increase vaccine access after a meeting with producers, governments and others. She urged vaccine makers to increase technology transfers to bring in new manufacturing capacity and to be transparent on contracts and pricing. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai told the same meeting that extraordinary times required courage and sacrifice from governments and leaders – but also from industry. She said economic recovery depended on addressing global vaccine inequity.

Madaraka celebrations let to the spike of COVID cases in Kisumu.

The national government has admitted that the Madaraka Day celebration in Kisumu County is to blame for the spike in Covid-19 infections. In a statement to newsrooms on Monday, acting Health director-general Patrick Amoth said Covid-19 cases in Nyanza and surrounding counties are expected to rise in June and July. Kenya has reported over 172,491 Covid-19 confirmed cases since March 2020 with 3,287 deaths reported within the same period, he said. Dr Amoth added that in the past three weeks, the Health ministry has noticed a steady increase in the number of Covid cases in Nyanza and North Rift regions; especially in Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Kisii. The other counties are Nyamira, Migori, Busia, Vihiga, Bungoma, Kericho, and Bomet. Kisumu County has recorded a surge in malaria cases with most patients also testing positive for Covid-19 since the “double mutant” Indian variant was reported there a couple of months ago. Areas with the highest malaria burden include; Nyando, Nyakach and  Seme and Kisumu East sub-counties. Children are the worst hit as their admissions have surged three times in the last two months, according to records at the Kisumu County Hospital. From 19 per cent, children admitted with malaria has now hit 60 per cent while adult numbers doubled from 25 to 50 per cent and Kisumu County Director Health Fredrick Oluoch now fears there could be stock outs considering “we have antimalarial to treat the disease but if we don’t receive another consignment we might run support of the supply.” Those diagnosed with both malaria and Covid-19 are adults and the rising number of malaria cases have coincided with the recent heavy rains and the rising water levels in Lake Victoria with a projected rise in cases extending to July. The recent gatherings and increased intercountry movements during the Madaraka Day celebrations in Kisumu may have cause an upsurge, Dr Amoth said. He added that the new variants are highly infectious. The Ministry of Health cautioned residents in Nyanza and surrounding regions of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Kisii, Nyamira, Migori, Busia, Vihiga, Bungoma, Kericho, and Bomet of the risk of contracting Covid-19. He urged them to remain vigilant in observing the laid down Covid-19 containment measures. Countries that are experiencing a surge of Covid-19 cases due to the emerging variants have had their situation compounded by large social and public gatherings, and limited availability of the Covid-19 vaccines.

Raila in full support of all the multibillion projects in Kisumu that resonated from the handshake.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s 3-day tour of Nyanza counties was characterized by a flurry of mega projects launch The multi-billion shillings projects seen as Kenyatta’s bag of goodies for his handshake partner, and a stamp of appreciation for standing with him after the acrimonious Jubilee administration fallout pitting the president against his deputy William Ruto.  Rehabilitation of the Kisumu port, revamping the Nakuru-Kisumu meter gauge railway line, roads construction and water projects sparking murmurs among a section of Western Kenya leaders, who accused Odinga of channeling the handshake goodies to his political bedrock.  In a statement, Odinga defended the multi-billion shillings projects, terming them a national investment, and not a Kisumu County or Nyanza region affair. According to the Orange party chief, the revamped meter gauge railway for example, would snake into Butere, Kakamega county while another line would run from Nakuru to Uasin Gishu, to supplement another one that would cut across Bungoma and Busia counties. Rehabilitation of the Kisumu port by Kenya Defence forces was a major talking point during Kenyatta’s Nyanza tour.In a bid to assuage his Western Kenya supporters, Odinga dismissed claims of hoarding the handshake goodies, pointing that the port would boost the larger region’s economy, with the benefits extending to the East African, great lakes and Horn of Africa through River Nile. In a direct jab aimed at Western Kenya leaders critical of the projects’ distribution, Odinga cited the bag of goodies, among them partnership to construct Bukhungu stadium and a referral hospital, that Kenyatta handed Kakamega county last year, when it hosted Mashujaa day festivities in 2018.  The odm leader took exception to the portrayal of Madaraka day events in Kisumu and the projects launched as a favour, terming the view retrogressive, divisive and dishonest.  With president Kenyatta accused by some critics of skewed distribution of the national cake , Odinga cautioned against setting up communities against one another, on account of where projects had been established.