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Published 26th September 2003

Vol 44 No 19


Murder most foul, again

The battle for constitutional reform has become murderous and the fall-out could split the Kibaki government

The killing of university don Crispin Odhiambo Mbai on 14 September has thrown President Mwai Kibaki's government into crisis. Kibaki's nine-month honeymoon is over as Mbai joins the pantheon of prominent political murder victims, which includes Foreign Minister Robert Ouko, Tom Mboya and J.M. Kariuki. Mbai's killing further undermines the shaky coalition between Kibaki's political forces and those of Luo leader and Public Works Minister Raila Odinga (AC Vol 44 No 11). Mbai was playing a key role in the tortuous negotiations over a new constitution and was a close ally of Odinga's. The government shows little sign of investigating the Mbai killing seriously. Few are convinced by the arrest of a Nigerian pastor on 23 September who is alleged to have masterminded the killing; instead, many see a link to the new political establishment. The Kibaki government's loss of credibility was crystallised by the sight of riot police from the General Service Unit, once President Daniel arap Moi's stormtroopers, beating up female students demonstrating against the murder as protestors brought Nairobi to a standstill. So serious is the fall-out from Mbai's murder, including loss of Western support (AC Vol 44 No 15), that we hear Kibaki has asked Odinga to quieten down the protests.

Facing Mount Kenya

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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At the apex of President Mwai Kibaki's coalition government, a Kikuyu cabal known as 'the Mount Kenya mafia' is tightening its grip. The group includes several former firebrands of...

In come the vigilantes

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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The 'Arrow Boys' are doing better than the army in the war against the LRA

The advance of Joseph Kony's dreaded Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) towards Soroti, the main town of eastern Teso region, has shocked the government and caught the army by surprise. ...

Model reformer stumbles

Uganda may be faltering as a model reformer but Western states and multilateral organisations still pay most of its bills: about 55 per cent of the national budget in the 2002-03 f...

Where next for the WTO?

The failure of trade talks in Cancún is bad news for West African cotton farmers

Some campaigners hailed the collapse of the World Trade Organisation talks in Mexico as a triumph for developing countries' new-found assertiveness. However, their failure dashed t...

Watching Big Brother

As politicians fall like ninepins to the Anti-Corruption Task Force, the President turns to TV

When Cherise Makubale beat eleven contestants this month in Big Brother Africa, an international 'reality television' show avidly followed in Zambia, President Levy Mwanawasa immed...


Saharan desserts

President Olusegun Obasanjo's commitment to fighting oil sector corruption (AC Vol 44 No 18) is being severely tested on the one hand by a Federal Government probe of deals by the ...

Yala's unlamented end

Africa's most predicted coup finally happened on 14 September when Army Chief of Staff General Verissimo Correia Seabra stepped in to end President Kumba Yala's ill-starred three a...

Murder in paradise

Worsening human rights abuses, including the apparent murder of an opposition leader's sister-in-law, have brought a threat from the European Parliament's Development Commission to...

Walter's woes II

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner III is leaving his post in November, we hear, to spend more time with his young family (AC Vol 43 No 22). His ...