Abyei Referendum Pictures

Here are some pictures of the Abyei referendum vote counting process

Residents of Abyei awaiting patiently for the vote counting process to be complete

Residents of Abyei awaiting patiently for the vote counting process to be complete

Foreign journalists and observers follow keenly the counting process

Foreign journalists and observers follow keenly the counting process

Journalists taking pictures of the counting process.

Journalists taking pictures of the counting process.

An open ballot box after the voting process.

An open ballot box after the voting process.

The vote tallying process.

The vote tallying process.

A t-shirt bearing a campaign message on the Abyei Referendum

A t-shirt bearing a campaign message on the Abyei Referendum

The Abyei referendum vote tallying process

The Abyei referendum vote tallying process

The information, educational and communication material on the Abyei referendum

The information, educational and communication material on the Abyei referendum

The Abyei Vote Counting Process

The Abyei Referendum symbols. The one hand means voting to be with South Sudan. The two hands mean voting to be with Sudan.

The Abyei Referendum symbols. The one hand means voting to join South Sudan. The two hands mean voting to join Sudan.

The Vote counting process in the 29 stations of Abyei began after the voting process was finished. The process began by ascertaining the voter turnout. Accordingly, there were 65,000 registered voters.  The vote counting is expected to go on up to the 31st of October morning hours. On 31st October evening the results of the vote will be announced by the Abyei Commission of the referendum. The process also allows those contesting the election to file their petition in the high court of Abyei against the results.

The situation however has become complicated with the Misseriya also resolving to holding a parallel referendum in Abyei. Reports indicate that about 300 Misseriya families have arrived in Diffra which is much earlier than their normal normadic journeying. The holding of a parallel vote by the Misseriya, certainly will usher in a complication as they will certainly vote for maintaining unity with Sudan.

Meanwhile, the Africa Union Peace and Security  Council (AUPSC) had promised to visit Abyei on the 5th to 6th November 2013. Their visit was meant to help diffuse tensions in the area. AUPSC had made their promise to visit the Abyei Area prior to the referendum, when they had also warned the residents of Abyei not to take a unilateral decision to conduct the referendum.  This warning was condemned by the residents of Abyei who felt that the AU was changing goal posts from their decision of 2012 on the issue of Abyei. It remains to be seen as to whether the AUPSC will still visit Abyei after the referendum.

Analysts fear that the outcome could trigger violence. On the other hand, the Sudan Government denied blocking the AU mission from visiting Abyei. According to the Sudanese foreign ministry spokesperson Abu Bakr Saddiq, the Sudan government never prevented the AU and will be welcoming the mission next week. Accordingly the Sudan government supports the AU mediation panel. Khartoum  on the other hand welcomes the AU’s call for the UN security council to intervene in Abyei.

Abyei finally Conducts the Referendum

Abyei Vote8

Residents of Abyei que in a polling station in Abyei Town. Voters have turned to vote for the referendum in thousands.

On Sunday 28th October 2013, the Ngok Dinka residents of Abyei went to the polling stations to determine their “final status.” This is a ‘unilateral’ referendum which is meant to determine whether it will be possible to split from Sudan and join South Sudan. Ballots were printed with two symbols: a sign of two hands clasped and another one of one hand alone. The former symbol meant continued unity with Sudan, the latter separation from Sudan. Voters turned out in thousands at 29 voting centers across the Abyei region, 4 of which were in Abyei town. In the past months, there was a massive voter registration exercise and compilation of voter registers. During the voting exercise, each  voter first checked whether his or her name was in the referendum register. He or she was then given a ballot paper and marker pen before being sent to a separate place to cast the vote. The voter marked his or her choice with a pen or thumbprint.

Voters cross checking their names with poll clerks.

Voters cross checking their names with poll clerks.

The Abyei referendum is in defiance to  the directive by heads of states of South Sudan and Sudan amid concerns that the poll had the potential to destabilize bilateral relations between the two countries as well as with the neighboring Misseriya tribe. The poll also defied the advise of African Union and the International community. According to a letter addressed to the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU-PSC) by the NIne Dinka Chiefdoms of Abyei Area of 26th October 2013, the right of self determination for the people of Abyei was affirmed in Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972 between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the then South Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM), in 1995 by all Sudanese opposition parties, in the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement between GoS and SPLM/A and in 2012 by the Africa Union Commission.

A voter at the polling station

A voter at the polling station

South Sudan’s government has warned that it will not consider the poll legitimate and denied participating in the logistical preparations for the conduct of the vote. Leaders of the Ngok Dinka,  point to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005, according to which the Abyei Referendum was supposed to take place concurrently with South Sudan’s referendum. The Ngok Dinka rushed to hold the vote before the end of this month because the African Union had set a one-year target for holding the vote when it sought endorsement of a plan of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel in October a year ago.

A sample of the voter register in Abyei. Voters have to first countercheck their names before going to poll.

A sample of the voter register in Abyei. Voters have to first countercheck their names before going to poll.

Although there is no formal international election observation mission in the region, members of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) are taking part in observing the poll, among others. The voting was thorough and all attempts were taken to ensure that there is no rigging. The voting is expected to end in three days and the results will be announced on the 1st of November 2013.

Time to cast the ballot. All ballot boxes were transparent.

Time to cast the ballot. All ballot boxes were transparent.

Abyei Vote6

After the voting process voters dipped their fingers in ink in order. This identified those who had voted from those who had not.

Abyei Vote5

“I have voted at last. I have made my voice heard about this referendum.” This seems to be the message conveyed by this woman showing her coloured finger.

Abyei’s Sensitive Referendum

Abyei residents hopeful that normalcy will return. They yearn for the attention of the Governments of South Sudan, Government of Sudan and the International Community.

Abyei residents hopeful that normalcy will return. They yearn for the attention of the Governments of South Sudan, Government of Sudan and the International Community.

On 26th October 2006, the women of Abyei rose up to song and dance running from one corner of Abyei to another. They carried twigs and sang their hearts out.  The whole town was alive as they anticipated a visit by the Africa Union Commission (AUC).  By 12.00 hours it became apparent that the AUC had cancelled their visit to Abyei, this being the third cancellation. The people of Abyei felt sad and held a peaceful demonstration around their town and converged at the United Nations Camp where they sang and prayed. They had carried twigs of peace and after their function they dispersed and left for their homes. The visit by the AUC would have been very important to the people of Abyei, even if the AUC would not be in a position to state its position clearly on the issue of the referendum because of the diplomatic sensitivities involved. One woman was later heard saying “we know how difficult it is for the AUC but they should have come. We are not sure on whether or not they were denied the visa. But we need to be visited and listened to.” Another said “all we need is peace. I need to construct a house that will stay. I am tired of always starting. I need a life.”

Abyei referendum was due this month. The leaders sensing little support wrote to the AU asking for support to conduct it at a later date. This referendum has drawn various opinions from various quarters. Riak Machar the former Vice President was quoted in the Sudan Tribune to have said that South Sudan should stick to the initial proposal by the African Union (AU) for the people of Abyei to exercise their self-determination referendum this month. His statement came in response a  joint communique on Tuesday 22nd October 2013 in Juba, by South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Sudanese counter-part, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, on their commitment to pursue the formation of a joint administration for Abyei inclusive of Dinka Ngok and Misseriya, prior to the conduct of referendum in the area. Following this communique the Government of South Sudan, on Wednesday 23rd October 2013, issued a statement broadcast on the state-run TV, warning that the government will not be part of a unilateral conduct of referendum by Dinka Ngok in Abyei.

Resolving the final status of Abyei still remains a major issue between Sudan and South Sudan after the latter broke away from the former in July 2011, leaving several unresolved post-secession issues. Fearing a negative impact on the relations between Khartoum and Juba of an unilateral vote and possible tensions between the two communities of Dinka Ngok and Misseriya in Abyei, the UN Security Council and the United States urged to both parties to refrain from actions that can increase tension in the disputed area. The US State Department, also welcomed the outcome of Bashir-Kiir summit in Juba, warned the Dinka Ngok against unilateral action, saying it could jeopardize peace between the two countries.

Last year, the AU mediation team proposed holding a referendum in Abyei this month, but stated that only those residing permanently in the area were to be allowed to vote in the plebiscite and decide whether they want to join Sudan or South Sudan. The Sudanese government, however, rejected the AU proposal aimed at breaking the deadlock over Abyei referendum saying it ignored that the eligibility of the Misseriya. Machar criticised the two governments of South Sudan and Sudan for going back to the outdated proposal of a joint administration between Dinka Ngok and Misseriya tribes, saying this old idea has already been superseded after the killing of the Dinka Ngok chief, Kuol Deng Majok by the Misseriya in May 2013, as well as by the AU proposal presented by President Thabo Mbeki, which urged for the conduct of the referendum in October. He further explained that in accordance with the ruling by the court of arbitration in The Hague, a specific area of Abyei was demarcated for the nine Dinka Ngok chiefdoms, excluding the Misseriya. Machar who led the SPLM delegation to The Hague court in July 2009 on Abyei file pointed out that any Misseriya member who continued to live in Abyei after the court ruling should be considered a mere trader who no longer have the right to participate in the Dinka Ngok referendum. He said as a result of the court ruling, a piece of Abyei land was already cut out to the side of the Misseriya tribe and that was what they should have gotten from Abyei, leaving the Dinka Ngok alone to conduct the referendum.
Machar urged SPLM, not to let down the people of Abyei who have empowered and entrusted the party to negotiate on their behalf since the timen of the CPA. A unilateral referendum by the people of Abyei in their territory per the court ruling need to be conducted and respected as the will of the people, he said. He encouraged that the Dinka Ngok to go ahead with the conduct of the unilateral referendum in the next few days and the result to be declared by 31 October 2013. The former vice-president also commended the presence of the UNISFA forces on the ground in Abyei to ensure the security of the voters.

Combating Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Kenya

By Julie Bowen

In Kenya, John Mututho is a household name. His anti-alcohol campaign made him the subject of hate among many beer lovers and bar owners.  After his elder brother’s death in 2007 as a result of alcoholism, Mututho vigorously pursued alcohol control with a focus on the social impact of the issue rarely seen amongst Kenyan politicians. In 2010, he won his battle with the alcohol industry to implement Kenya’s first Alcohol Control Act that limited the operation time of bars and other alcohol outlets to 5.00pm till 11.00pm on weekdays and 2.00pm to 11.00pm on weekends. The Act is known as Mututho’s Law. Was he celebrated as a hero? In the succeeding 2013 elections, he didn’t even win his party ticket. One dedicated Nairobi social worker smiles wryly at the story as if it neatly encapsulates all the social ills of Kenya today. ‘Do we drink because we’re Kenyans, or are we Kenyans because we drink? That is the question.’ In Kenya, the drinking of alcohol, the life of the pub and the world of men, are indivisible.

An expanding market

Sub-Saharan Africa is the new prime territory for multinational alcohol companies looking to increase their profits; here are the perfect conditions for an expanding market. There is a relatively small consumption of commercial alcohol alongside a rising middle class with disposable income, a huge potential market of young people coming of age, and an informal moonshine industry about four times the size of the commercial market, which governments are eager to control; but when use turns to abuse, Africa cannot cope.

Kenya is ill-equipped to deal with the health problems associated with alcohol abuse. The ‘youth bulge,’ with a growing percentage of the population made up of children and young adults, means that many young drinkers are unemployed. They are drawn to the cheaper moonshine, called chang’aa – literally ‘kill me quick’ – which often contains methanol and other toxic additives and has causes more deaths than AIDS or TB. Moves to reduce this market in favour of commercial alcohol will do nothing to solve the problem.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Report on Alcohol and Health 2011, while average alcohol consumption figures (with the exception of South Africa) are low, the rest of sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest proportion of binge drinkers; some 25% of drinkers drink excessively. Men do the drinking, families feel the effects: neglect, squandering of money and increased domestic violence are the common results. Mary Wainaina, a programme coordinator at Eden Village Rehabilitation Centre, explained: ‘they’ll say “I was drunk, I didn’t know what I was doing, I’m sorry,” you know, all that. So it makes it easier for them.’

Fighting drug and alcohol abuse

In a speech delivered at the opening of the 2nd National Conference on Alcohol and Drug Abuse at Kasarani in June 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta said that his government was ‘fully committed to the attainment of high and sustainable levels of economic development within a stable and secure environment. I am aware that this commitment cannot translate into reality if our youth are sucked into alcohol and drug abuse. Moreover, drug abuse-related ailments and complications are an additional burden to the government, which must be avoided at all costs.’

Just as alcohol consumption and abuse is largely a male preserve, so too is the issue of drug abuse, especially amongst those in their early 20s. It has a stranglehold on the young men of the nation, causing a waste of life and opportunity. In his June speech, President Kenyatta also drew attention to the NACADA 2012 survey on drugs and alcohol, which showed that 13% of children aged 10-14 have used an intoxicating substance, mostly alcohol followed by cigarettes. Figures rise with increasing age, as does use of drugs such as miraa (or khat), marijuana, controlled drugs such as heroin and cocaine, and prescription drugs, including those for hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy, HIV and AIDS. The increasing misuse of ‘prescription only’ drugs, which is made easy by their sale over the counter, particularly antibiotics, is contributing to the rise in new strains of bacterial infections alongside an increasing resistance to treatment. According to a rapid assessment of drug abuse by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) in partnership with the Kenyan government, drug abuse has permeated all strata of Kenyan society, and that an erosion of traditional cultural values and discipline at family and community level, which formerly prescribed the circumstances under which drugs and intoxicants could be used, has now largely removed the stigma with a resultant rise in abuse.

President Kenyatta has ordered security forces to deport foreigners suspected of drug trafficking, and required of all County Commissioners that they report on measures taken in their respective counties to fight the drug problem. He has also urged the Ministry of Health and development partners to assist in the provision of addiction treatment, rehabilitation and preventive services. He said: ‘My appeal to the leaders, both in government and in the community is that we must take seriously the responsibility of ensuring that our youth are not exposed to drugs.’

The young at risk

Alcohol and drug abuse is highest between the ages 15-29, with the culture of drinking starting at primary school. Eden Village director of treatment, Tony Njeru, said: ‘People in schools are so focused on passing exams that they have actually missed out on so many other things they can do that can make their life rich in school. If you ask a high school kid today whether he knows any art gallery in Nairobi, he’ll tell you he doesn’t know; but he knows all the different pubs in the city.’

Bill Sinkele, founder and director of Support for Addictions Prevention and Treatment in Africa (SAPTA), has worked for 18 years with some of Kenya’s most marginalized groups, including alcoholic kids from the slums of Nairobi. He says that underage drinkers look only to a future of increased drinking, surrounded by billboards that make alcohol look appealing. The astonishing thing is that multinationals in Africa get tax breaks for selling alcohol to the poor. Governments in the west are considering the introduction of minimum pricing standards to prevent sales to children, while in Africa, with soaring food prices and easily obtained cheap alcohol, the opposite is the case. The new Kenyan government realized the stupidity of this and rescinded the tax breaks. SABMiller, one of the world’s largest brewers, has deflected allegations of exploitation by establishing water bottling plants and becoming ‘the face and name of the regional mineral water market.’

Bill Sinkele is understandably pessimistic. He says the alcoholic will see a problem only when he’s fired, his wife has left, or he’s had an accident and been arrested. ‘It has nothing to do with African culture; it has everything to do with the disease. I don’t think our government or the infrastructure available can even scratch the surface of the problem that we have.’

Alcohol consumption continues to rise. The affluent may have the means to cope; the poor do not. In one of Nairobi’s poorest slums, beside the toxic, waste laden Mathare River, people and pigs pick over rubbish for a living. Here the largest of four illegal moonshine distilleries runs day and night to produce the filthy tasting chang’aa. Workers claim they have never produced a fatal brew. It is only later when adulterated with embalming fluid, fuel or antiretroviral drugs that the problems start. Police habitually put on a staged raid, then return for their daily bribe. The distillery employs more than 100 people and turns over close to $1 million per year. James Anunda, 18 years old, his swollen fingers attesting to five years manning the scalding barrels of distillate, explains that this is the cash crop of Mathare, and the lucky few become tycoons in the business, employing younger men like James to do the hard work. 10 shillings (about 10 US cents) buys you one watered-down shot. You hope you can afford the price of unconsciousness. The black mud of the river bank is littered with the industry’s casualties – red-eyed, unsteady on their feet, or lost in drunken oblivion.

Can technology eliminate corruption?

Posted originally in the Daily Nation by John Walubengo here

The government has in recent times put more pressure in the implementation and use of the Integrated Financial Management Information (IFMIS) platform within ministries.

IFMIS is a computerised financial system aimed at capturing and reporting government expenditure in near real-time.

It is assumed that by automating the financial processes across all government departments and agencies, it would be easier to reign in on the rampant corruption and pilferages frequently occasioned by government officials when dealing with tax payers money.

But is IFMIS the magical solution to our Kenyan problem of embezzling and misappropriating public funds?

First, we must acknowledge that automation does improve transparency and accountability.

Without automation, the Auditor General used to be 4-5 years behind the fact or event. In other words, audited government reports used to be discussed in Parliament 4-5 years after the theft had taken place and the culprits had long moved on.

With automation, it is possible for the Auditor General to file audited accounts within 1-2 years of the event and therefore putting preventive pressure on the culprits who now know that their actions would be discussed fairly soon and within the institutional memory of their colleagues.

But automation without top leadership commitment to fight corruption will not yield the desired outcome. Indeed, corrupt deals in government can never be successfully executed unless authorised or blessed from “above”.

In other words, if the Principal Secretary or the chief executive officer of a parastatal wishes to rip-off the public, they will still find ways and means to do so and cover their tracks. Unfortunately, there is no amount of automation that can prevent this.

One quick way to do this is by incurring the expenditure outside the IFMIS tool – that is use the manual and verbal ways of authorising expenditure.

Another method – with the help of compromised IT professionals – is to use the IFMIS tool but disable or outrightly delete the corresponding audit-trail.

But if the IT team fails to cooperate, the determined high ranking government official still has the option of compromising the Auditor General staff so that they conveniently forget to highlight significant queries.

Beyond that, he or she can always think ahead and spare part of the fraudulent funds with view to “talking” to the Prosecution or eventually the Judge; to have the case disappear or dropped altogether for lack of adequate evidence.

In summary, dealing with corruption requires the same approach as dealing with a mutating AIDS epidemic. It requires a multi-pronged approach that involves multiple players with different interventions in order to be successful. Isolated IT automation of processes is not sufficient and can never be the single sliver bullet to end corruption.

Rwanda’s civil service is for example considered less corrupt than Kenya’s – despite the fact that their automation levels are much lower than Kenya’s.

Perhaps it is because their executive, judiciary, prosecution and professionals practice zero-tolerance to corruption while we on the other hand seem to celebrate corruption and its perpetrators.

Kenya endorses regional plan to end tribal raids

Please find original post here

Mrs Museveni

Uganda’s First Lady Janet Museveni chaired a meeting of ministers in charge of security and regional relations from Kenya, Ethiopia and Kenya, who agreed to “an integrated plan” to have communities living in border areas live in peace. Photo/FILE

Original story on Daily Nation by AGGREY MUTAMBO, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2013

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2013

Kenya has endorsed a move by the region to have joint efforts to bring peace to border areas between Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan, in what appears to be an attempt to end perpetual tribal raids.

In a meeting on Monday chaired in Kampala by Uganda’s First Lady Janet Museveni, ministers in charge of security and regional relations from Kenya, Ethiopia and Kenya agreed to “an integrated plan” to have communities living in these areas live in peace.

Mrs Museveni is also Uganda’s Minister for Karamoja region, one of the areas most affected with continual intertribal raids.

Kenya’s Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku, Mr Benjamin Marial, the South Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mr Omod Obang Olom, Ethiopia’s Minister for Federal Affairs were in attendance.

In a 12-point communiqué issued after the Monday meeting, the ministers said they would be “committed to the establishment of strong institutional arrangements” that ensure every campaign for peace or security is harmonised for the ‘Karamoja Cluster.’

The ‘Karamoja Cluster’ is an IGAD phrase used to describe cross-border region of four IGAD member countries. They are south western parts of Ethiopia, north western Kenya mainly in Turkana County, south eastern parts of South Sudan and north eastern parts of Uganda.

According to IGAD, these areas are located “in the peripheries” of their respective countries and share a history of under-development, marginalisation and insecurity.

As it is now, each of the country connected to the ‘Karamoja Cluster’ deals with its own security problem even though communities living here are mostly pastoralists who bump into each other over water and pasture.

“The ministers identified lack of effective coordination and harmonisation of these efforts as the main reason behind limited progress,” said a statement after the meeting.

In August, ten people on the shores of Lake Turkana were killed after they were reportedly ambushed by suspected Ethiopian bandits in Todonyang.

This wasn’t the first time such an incident happened. In 2011, about 15 people were killed after raiders attacked the same area.

But the areas have started appearing on the map as oil explorers continue to find oil and governments identify the need for security.

The Monday meeting, said the communiqué, was meant to review national policies and regional programmes for peace, security and development in the ‘Cluster’.

Although IGAD has been active in campaigning for similar programmes in the past, it would be interesting to see how this goes because numerous peace deals between the pastoralist communities have often been broken.

Previous Older Entries