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LONDON - The Commonwealth Secretariat has held the second session of its Marlborough Dialogues in London today. The dialogues are a new forum for discussion with political leaders and thinkers from within the Commonwealth. 

Today the Marlborough Dialogues, welcomed the former Prime Minster of Kenya, the Rt Honourable Raila Odinga to London to speak on democracy and peace in Africa in the context of the forthcoming election in Kenya.  

The Marlborough Dialogues, which take their name from the historic headquarters building of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, provide an international platform for member states to explore solutions to their biggest challenges and the opportunity to discuss key issues affecting the development of free and democratic societies. 

Moderated by His Excellency George Brandis, High Commissioner of Australia to the UK, the session with former Prime Minister the Rt Honourable Raila Odinga examined democracy in Africa and peaceful transfers of power in the region - with a particular focus on Kenya's general election later this year. 

Ahead of the event, former Prime Minster the Rt Honourable Raila Odinga said: 

“Commonwealth values talk about good governance transparency and accountability of member states to their citizens we think that these are the core foundation of democracy, and we should not be judged by lower standards. The Commonwealth can ensure that as a member country Kenya adheres to these values and the Commonwealth Charter.  

Speaking on the upcoming Kenyan general election Mr Odinga added:  

“If the elections are free, fair, and verifiable, I give my undertaking to accept them, whether we win or we lose. We have a record of respecting court decisions and for the rule of law. We will not resort to violence or incitement but will only use legal and constitutional means to resolve any election disputes, if they arise.” 

The Marlborough Dialogues is one of a series of tools the Secretariat is using to deepen its interaction with member states, providing a forum to articulate their priorities, and to better align the Secretariat’s work to member states’ needs and aspirations. It is embedded within a whole-of-election cycle approach, whereby the Secretariat seeks to support democracy in member countries at all times and not only in election periods.  

Speaking at the event the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland said:  

“These sessions are an important opportunity for us to come together, and reaffirm our commitment to strengthening the culture, process and institutions of democracy. 

“Together, we work continually, and across the entire election cycle for sustainable democracy. We do not give up. These Marlborough Dialogues are underpinned by this same spirit of togetherness and integration, and in our shared commitment to peace.”


Nairobi, March 17, 2022 — Ugandan authorities should unconditionally release The Alternative Digitalk television journalists Norman Tumuhimbise and Faridah Bikobere, drop any pending investigations against seven other journalists from the online media outlet, and rigorously investigate allegations that at least two of these journalists suffered serious physical abuse while in the custody of security personnel, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

On the afternoon of March 10, a group of armed police and military officers raided the offices of The Alternative Digitalk, arresting the nine and confiscating equipment, including cameras, laptops, and books, according to media reportsa statement by the local press rights group Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-U), as well as police and court documents reviewed by CPJ.

The journalists arrested that day are Norman Tumuhimbise, The Alternative Digitalk’s executive director who is also an activist and a published author; programs director Arnold Mukose; TV host Faridah Bikobere; producer Jeremiah Mukiibi; presenters Lilian Luwedde, Teddy Teangle Nabukeera, Tumusiime Kato, and Rogers Tulyahabwe; and an intern, Jacob Jeje Wabyona, according to Tumuhimbise’s brother Innocent Ainebyona, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app, and the HRNJ-U statement.

On March 15 and 16, seven of the journalists were released on police bond, but are still under investigation on charges of sedition and cyberstalking, according to human rights lawyer Eron Kiiza and the HRNJ-U-appointed lawyer Geoffrey Turyamusima, both of whom are working on the case and spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

Two journalists, Tumuhimbise and Bikobere, remain in jail, and were charged with cyberstalking and “offensive communication,” during a court hearing in the capital Kampala on March 16, according to Turyamusima and court documents reviewed by CPJ. During the hearing, Bikobere and Tumuhimbise told the court they had been severely physically abused while in state custody, Ainebyona and Turyamusima told CPJ.

“Authorities should unconditionally release Norman Tumuhimbise and Faridah Bikobere, drop all charges against them, end all investigations against other The Alternative Digitalk journalists, and return their confiscated equipment. Allegations that these journalists have been severely physically abused should be investigated credibly, holding anyone responsible to account,” said CPJ sub-Saharan Africa representative Muthoki Mumo. “President Yoweri Museveni, whose name has been invoked in these proceedings, should also declare that he is against arbitrary detentions of the press and condemn acts of abuse by security personnel.”

Cyberstalking and “offensive communication” can carry prison terms of up to five and two years respectively under Uganda’s Computer Misuse law. Sedition can carry up to seven years, according to the penal code.

Kiiza and Ainebyona told CPJ that The Alternative Digitalk is an offshoot of Alternative Uganda, an activist group headed by Tumuhimbise and of which Ainebyona is also a member, which campaigns for better governance in Uganda. On its social media accounts, the group defines itself as a “non partisan (sic) and non-violent social movement” campaigning for “youth led change.”

CPJ’s review of The Alternative Uganda’s YouTube channel, where it has about 2,700 followers, and Facebook page, with over 24,300 followers, shows that it publishes The Alternative Digitalk’s programming, such as interviews, including with politicians and government officials, analysis of current affairs as well as entertainment and lifestyle programming.

In the court documents, police allege the offenses were committed by the journalists between January 2020 and March 9, 2022, against Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in the form of content published by The Alternative Digitalk about two of Tumuhimbisi’s recently published books. The books, “The Komanyoko Politics: Unsowing the Mustard Seed” and “Liars and Accomplices,”are sharply critical of the Museveni government, according to media reports, Kiiza, and CPJ’s review of “The Komanyoko Politics.” [Editor’s note: Komanyoko is a vulgar insult originally from Kiswahili.]

In several YouTube and Facebook posts in late February and early March made by The Alternative Uganda, which streams The Alternative Digitalk’s content, The Alternative Digitalk advertised Tumuhimbise’s books and announced the planned March 30 launch event in Kampala. On March 1, the outlet published an hour-long interview with a retired judge who wrote the foreword to “The Komanyoko Politics.”

In that book, excerpts of which CPJ reviewed, Tumuhimbise’s commentary describes Uganda’s political culture as “vulgar” and full of “malice, fights, insults, greed.” He also alleges that the president “only tells the truth by mistake” and criticizes government appointments for Museveni’s family, including his son, Lieutenant General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, and wife, Janet Museveni.

Copies of this book were among those confiscated by the security officers who raided the media outlet’s offices, according to a police search certificate, a document outlining how the search was carried out and listing those who witnessed it, reviewed by CPJ. The officers also confiscated four cameras, microphones, several laptops, hard disks, as well as CDs and a company vehicle, according to that same document.

On March 16 and 17, when seven of the journalists were released on bond from the police’s Special Investigation Division in Kireka, a suburb of Kampala, two of them were limping, Ainebyona told CPJ. CPJ was unable to immediately communicate with the released journalists, whose phones were confiscated when they were arrested.

During the March 16 court hearing, Bikobere said she needed medical attention because she had been beaten by officers and was passing blood in her urine, according to Turyamusima. A video clip posted on YouTube shows part of Bikobere’s testimony in which she says she feels pain in her stomach, back, and chest; has bruises all over her body; and offers to “undress” so that her injuries can be put on record.

Tumuhimbise also told the court that he had been beaten, saying he was punched in the head and forced to drink and unknown substance, according Ainebyona and Turyamusima. Both journalists were remanded to Luzira Prison in Kampala until their next hearing on March 21.

Uganda military spokesperson Brigadier General Felix Kulayigye told CPJ by phone that the military’s involvement in the raid on The Alternative Digitalk was in support of a police operation and referred CPJ to the police for comment. Kulayigye declined to answer questions on allegations of torture, saying the journalists had not been in the army’s custody.

Calls and text messages to Uganda police spokesperson Fred Enanga and President Museveni’s senior press secretary Nabusayi Lindah Wamboka were unanswered. - Committee to Protect Journalists (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License)

State House spokesperson Kanze Dena-Mararo [PSCU]

State House has denied reports circulating online that President Uhuru Kenyatta was scheduled to meet Central Kenya Jubilee MPs tomorrow (Friday, March 18).

State House spokesperson Kanze Dena-Mararo said in a statement that the President’s diary did not have such an engagement. 

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria had, on his Facebook page, listed 34 politicians allied to President Kenyatta, who had allegedly received invitations to the said-meeting at State House. Kuria alleged that he had “accidentally” received the message, given he is not allied to Kenyatta’s Jubilee faction.


Refuting reports on the said-convention, Dena said: "His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta's attention has been drawn to misleading information circulating online on a purported meeting with Central Kenya elected leaders this week.

"The President did not convene nor postpone any such meeting. Therefore, the information is false and misleading," said Dena in the press statement.

The now-fake message to MPs said Kenyatta was communicating postponement of the convention to a later date. 

The Standard reached 11 of the 34 leaders mentioned on Kuria’s list, but none received our call or responded to our texts. The Standard

Photo combo of Dr Ronald Bisaso (left) and Dr Nicholas Itaaga (right). Photo Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • The petitioner claims his rival was given the deputy principal position despite being defeated in the interviews.

A Makerere don has petitioned the University Council praying that the appointment of his rival for the position of a deputy principal be quashed. 

Dr Nicholas Itaaga, in his March 9 petition, argues that the election of Dr Ronald Bisaso as Deputy Principal of the College of Education and External Studies (CEES) was “unreasonable and violated the principles of natural justice.”

“Despite my superior performance at both the activities through which data was collected on our qualifications for the position, Senate [has] selected Bisaso instead of me,” Itaaga says.

The petition was filed on the same day the University Council, headed by Dr Lorna Magara, endorsed and sent its recommendations of the appointments to Chancellor Ezra Suruma for approval.

At the behest of Vice Chancellor Barnabas Nawangwe, the Senate on March 3 was called in to vote on the appointment of heads and deputies of five colleges.

The election was called after a search committee had interviewed and assessed the candidates and made recommendations for the respective appointments.

Prof Nawangwe, in a brief email response to this newspaper, said it is a standard procedure in Senate to put all the recommended candidates to a vote.

“It is not the first time the candidate with the highest score does not get the highest vote,” he said without citing any specifics.

While Itaaga and his colleagues agree with the vice chancellor, their grievances arise from how the process was engaged.

“Of course, voting can happen, but at an institution of Makerere’s reputation, a vote must meet certain minimum standards. A candidate cannot nominate voters to represent him as Dr Bisaso did. And voters cannot vote on people who have not been given any opportunity to present themselves to them,” Dr Jude Ssempebwa, an associate professor at CEES, said. 

In a rejoinder, Ssempebwa told Daily Monitor that Bisaso is a member of the Senate yet, without giving his competitor any opportunity to campaign or any notice that he will be voted on, allowed for the vote to proceed.

“Even the senate was only called to finalise the selection of deputy principals, and because most of them didn’t know the candidates, it was taken for granted that they would adopt the recommendations of the search committee. But the vice chancellor just declared an election,” Ssempebwa said.

Itaaga lost by three votes of 54 with Ssempebwa claiming some officials like Dr Kizito Maria Kasule, dean of Margaret Trowel School of Industrial and Fine Arts, had tried to argue against the vote.

“He [Kasule] tried to argue against voting without hearing from the candidates but the vice chancellor waved him away and instructed the secretariat to ‘give out the ballots,” he said.

Dr Kitizo was yet to respond to our request for a comment.

The latest fallout comes on the back of a long-running feud at CEES with Itaaga noting that Bisaso has previously been accused of misleading his PhD supervisees to co-publish with him in journals, costing the university losses in court cases, and doctoring of minutes of meetings.

In July last year, this newspaper reported of fights between Bisaso and Ssempebwa that had left several PhD candidates suffering “irreparable damage.”

Ssempebwa and Bisaso, who has been a dean at the East African School of Higher Education Studies, have been embroiled in feuds since 2017 – fights that have left some students victimised. By Jacobs Odongo Seaman & Joseph Kiggundu, Monitor

  • Huduma Namba Cards being distributed in Nairobi on Thursday, February 4, 2022.
  • Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho has addressed concerns over the proposed use of Huduma Namba cards in the August 9 polls.

    While appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Administration and National Security on March 17, Kibicho insisted that the use of Huduma Namba was not meant to rig the polls.

    He clarified that the state would not insist on the use of the Huduma card during the August 9 polls.

    Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho meeting with young people in Kirinyaga County on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
    Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho meeting with young people in Kirinyaga County on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

    The Huduma Namba Bill 2021 being debated in parliament proposes amendments to the Election Act 2011 to allow the electoral body to use information from the database of the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) to compile and update the voter register.

    "The commission may use the information contained under the NIIMS database to compile, maintain, revise and update the voter's register," the bill reads. 

    In October 2021, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) through commissioner Abdi Guliye, stated that it would only use documents that were prescribed by law in the registration of voters and during the elections.

    "We are not using Huduma Namba to register Kenyans. The documents required are defined by the law. These are the national identity card and a recent or valid passport," he stated.

    Previously, leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto expressed their fears over the use of the Huduma Namba arguing that the data could be used to rig the upcoming elections.

    “There are hiding behind the registration of Kenyans, yet all they want is to plunder public resources.  Foreigners have been brought in to rig the 2022 elections,” Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika claimed in a past rally.

    Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i refuted their sentiments, stating that Huduma Numba would help improve the registration and harmonisation of the details of Kenyans.

    "The database logistics and the software for NIIMS are 100 per cent Kenyan government-funded, designed and developed and solely managed by Kenyans," Matiang'i replied at the time. 

    At the committee, Kibicho defended Huduma Namba stating that the NIIMS system will also get rid of fraudsters who were using various means to obtain identity cards and passports fraudulently.

    An image of Kenyans in a queue to cast their vote in a past election.
    An image of Kenyans in a queue to cast their vote in a past election.  By Washington Mito ,

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