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Kenya Kwanza Alliance leaders continued with their whirlwind tour of the Coast where they promised to lower the cost of living and audit all capital-intensive project undertaken by Jubilee administration.

Deputy President William Ruto said if elected he will reintroduce a subsidy to bring down cost of fertiliser to Sh2,500 to promote agriculture which will in term lower cost of food.

Speaking at Tononoka Grounds in Mombasa, Ruto said the cost of living was unbearable. He accused President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga of turning a blind eye to problems bedeviling Kenyans.

“President Uhuru told us that he gets advice from Raila. If Raila has failed to tell the president to bring down the cost of living, how will he do so if elected?,” posed Ruto.

He said his government will set aside Sh1 billion to buy land from absentee landlords to settle squatters at the Coast. He also promised an executive order to return port operations to Mombasa.

“I want to promise people of Mombasa that once elected I will sign an executive order to return all port operations to Mombasa,” said Ruto who early in the morning toured Kwale County.

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi said the Kenya Kwanza Alliance administration will conduct an audit to find out the cost of all capital-intensive projects undertaken in the last 10 years.

He said no one will be spared in the audit and that anyone found culpable of stealing public funds will be arrested and charged. Mudavadi said the government was in the last-minute borrowing spree to invest in big projects at an inflated cost.

“Kenya Kwanza will audit all national projects which we feel have been done at an exaggerated cost. We must go to the root cause of our debts,” said Mudavadi.

Earlier in Kwale, Ruto promised Sh100 billion to revamp the cashew nuts and coconut industries. He said he will compulsory acquire vast tracks of land from absentee landowners to ensure the land is used to farm and build industries and give squatters land. 

Ruto said already Kwale Deputy Governor Fatma Achani who is seeking to succeed Governor Salim Mvurya on UDA ticket has found an investor willing to invest in the cashew nuts and coconut processing.

“We have agreed that we shall pump Sh100 billion into the cashew nuts and coconut farming and processing industry to create employment, add value and look for outside markets,” said Ruto. 

Ruto held an economic forum with Kwale residents to understand their needs that will be part of the manifesto.

“We need to understand what small traders and farmers need to get more revenue. We will sign a charter with the Kwale people on the issues they feel are of priority,” said Ruto.

A farmer Ali Mondo said the government decision to ban sale of raw cashew nuts outside Kenya has limited their produce market leading to poor prices and huge post harvest losses. “There was an order banning the sale of cashew nuts outside the country which has limited the market reach leading to a waste of the produce and low prices,” said Mondo. He said they need the cashew nuts to be recognised as a cash crop like tea, coffee and khat. 

Ruto also said he will set aside Sh120 million annually for fishermen in Shimoni and Vanga areas to buy modern fishing gears. - Joackim Bwana, The Standard

Rwanda President Paul Kagame speaks during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kigali on June 24, 2022. PHOTO | CHOGM

As Rwandan President Paul Kagame takes charge of the Commonwealth for the next two years, he faces a daunting task of reviving an association that faces an existential threat due to its colonial history.

President Kagame took over chairmanship from Britain under PM Boris Johnson at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Kigali.

As chair, he is expected to oversee the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the implementing organ of the 56-nation club, whose memberships is drawn from those predominantly with colonial ties to the then imperial British Empire. In recent years, the club has admitted countries with no such historical ties including Rwanda, Mozambique and most recently Togo and Gabon.

“Countries join the Commonwealth because it has many meetings at Heads and Ministerial level and is thus a forum that provides political legitimacy. These French colonies, as are some Caribbean Commonwealth countries, are also Francophonie members. All this strengthens their political legitimacy, deepens the impression that they are recognised and accepted by the global community,” a diplomat told The EastAfrican.

The Commonwealth values enshrined in its charter include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism and world peace. 

Crown vs sovereignty debate

Critics argue that despite the increasing membership, the club has failed to live up to its values as member countries continue to violate these principles without being held to account partly because it has no binding framework to impose sanctions.

The Commonwealth, which is headed by Queen Elizabeth II, 96, is under pressure as more countries seek sovereignty and break ties with the British monarchy.

In 2020, Barbados became the fourth Caribbean country to replace the Queen as its Head of State, joining Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Dominica who did soon after gaining independence in the 1970s. Eight other former British colonies in the region, however, still pledge allegiance to the Crown.

But, most recently, in March, Jamaica formally expressed its intention to become independent amid protests calling on the monarchy to pay reparations for slavery during a visit to the country by Prince William, second-in-line to the British throne and his wife Kate Middleton.

Now, speculation is rife that Britain is attempting to persuade Jamaica to shelve the plans by endorsing Kamina Johnson Smith, their candidate for the position of Commonwealth Secretary-General.

But Ms Smith’s candidature has also created a rift between members in particular with the Caribbean, which had previously endorsed the current Secretary-General, Baroness Patricia Scotland who has had a controversial and extended tenure.

Read: Scotland retains Commonwealth SG seat in rare contest  By BERNA NAMATA, The East African

Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to Uganda Jamal Mohammed Hassan Al-Madani gives Qurans to hajj pilgrims during send off of the first batch from the East African nation on June 24, 2022. The First batch of the 2022 Mecca pilgrims from Uganda will travel on June 25, 2022. PHOTO/JOSEPH KIGGUNDU 

  • In April 2022, the kingdom announced it would permit one million Muslims from inside and outside the country to participate in this year's hajj, which will take place in July. 

Only vaccinated Muslims aged below 65 will be allowed to make the holy pilgrimage to Mecca in 2022 as required by Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s ambassador to Uganda has said. 

“As per health restrictions, we have decided not to allow persons beyond 65 years,” said Ambassador Jamal Mohammed Hassan Al-Madani.

On Friday, HE Al-Madani officiated at a sendoff of the first batch of Ugandans set to travel to Mecca for the hajj pilgrimage on June 25.

“Uganda and Saudi Arabia are working well following the good relationships between the two countries. Right. I ask all the pilgrims from Uganda and beyond to behave well while there,” HE Al-Madani told believers at the Saudi Embassy in Kololo, Kampala.

One of the five pillars of Islam, the hajj must be undertaken by all Muslims who have the means at least once in their lives. 

Usually one of the world's largest religious gatherings, about 2.5 million people participated in 2019. 

But after the onset of the pandemic in 2020, Saudi authorities announced they would only let 1,000 pilgrims take part although they were in 2021 increased to 60, 000 fully vaccinated Saudi citizens and residents chosen through a lottery. 

“We request the Muslim community and those who are above the recommended years not to feel bad about it because it’s good for their health,” HE Al-Madani said.

In April 2022, the kingdom announced it would permit one million Muslims from inside and outside the country to participate in this year's hajj, which will take place in July. 

Islamic authorities in Uganda say they expect thousands of natives to travel for the hajj which consists of a series of religious rites that are completed over five days in Islam's holiest city, Mecca, and surrounding areas of western Saudi Arabia.  

Ambassador Al-Madani also donated Holy Qurans to all pilgrims and asked devotees to read the Holy book while in Mecca- Additional reporting by AFP, By Joseph Kiggundu, Daily Monitor

  • Metropolitan police during a patrol in London. COURTESY 
  • A British woman seeking justice for her husband who was killed in Kenya while on vacation has defended the man convicted of the murder.

    According to the woman, Jude Tebbutt, their villa was raided by unknown assailants on the fateful night while they were enjoying their holiday in Kenya.

    She doubts that the man who was convicted for the murder was the true culprit. Tebbutt stated that authorities "put a man in prison who shouldn't have been put in prison."

    David and Jude Tebbutt
    David and Jude Tebbutt  COURTESY BBC
     

    Eleven years after losing her husband, Tebbutt told the BBC that she believes his killer is still at large.

    "The real murderer of David, who can only be one of two men - and I could recognise those men today - they are somewhere, living their lives and they have got no consequences." 

    It has now emerged that a senior police officer with the UK police "omitted key forensic evidence" in a trial linked to the murder of a British man, David Tebbutt, and the kidnap of his wife Jude in Kenya.

    A Kenyan man, Ali Kololo, was convicted of robbery with violence and sentenced to death. The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

    The police watchdog in the UK stated that former officer Neil Hibberd would have a case to answer for gross misconduct had he not retired.

    Hibberd was the detective from the UK who was sent to Kenya to help with the investigation. When Kololo was sentenced, the court noted that the UK detective's evidence was part of the reason for the judgment.

    The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), in the UK, found the British cop had left out key forensic evidence and he had incorporated elements from a narrative given by Kololo. This was against the law.

    "The only evidence linking Mr Kololo to the scene was the footprints from the tanga shoes. No photographs were ever produced of these prints," a complaint by Reprieve to the Metropolitan Police read. 

    "They did not fit Mr Kololo when he wore them in court and no forensic evidence has ever been produced to link Mr Kololo to the shoes, or the shoes to the crime scene. Mr Kololo has always denied that the shoes were his."

    Hibberd furnished evidence to link Kololo to the crime scene in his formal witness statement and oral evidence in court.

    Ali Kololo, was convicted of robbery with violence and sentenced to death
    Ali Kololo, was convicted of robbery with violence and sentenced to death  COURTESY SKY NEWS

    But Tebbutt faulted the outcome of the case and further revealed that she can identify the men who kidnapped her the same night her husband was killed. She has maintained that it was not Kololo.

    "I've always put my faith in the police to do the right thing, but this obviously highlighted that they haven't done the right thing. 

    "In fact, it highlights that there was some wrongdoings by a senior investigating officer, a senior member of the police force who really should have known better," Tebbutt stated. By Mumbi Mutuko, Kenyans.co.ke

  • A photo of passengers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Embakasi, Nairobi. FILE 
  • The European Union (EU) has dismissed reports that it had introduced new restrictions that would cost Kenyans seeking to travel to Europe more for visas.

    Reports published in a number of media outlets indicated that a number of countries in Europe had revised their visa rules, introducing more stringent measures and increasing the visa application fees.

    The widely shared reports had alleged that European Union member states had imposed new visa fees. For instance, the reports indicated that an adult Kenyan traveler heading to the US via Amsterdam must pay Ksh10,500 at the Dutch Embassy in Nairobi or its agents to obtain a Schengen transit visa. 

    This is in addition to Ksh18,824 they pay to obtain at the American visa. This implied that Kenyan travelers would pay up to Ksh29,000 just for a visa before even purchasing an air ticket.

    The entrance of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in August 2017.
    The entrance of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in August 2019. KENYANS.CO.KE

    According to the European Union, Germany, and Spain embassies, Kenyans in possession of a Schengen transit visa will not be required to acquire another visa as long as they stay at the airport.  

    They, however, noted that Kenyan travelers will need the Schengen Visa if they leave the airport area.

    "You don't need a visa as long as you stay in the airport transit areas. However, if you have a combination ticket that requires you to exit the airport, then you will need a Schengen entry visa," European Union clarified.

     A Schegen visa is a short-stay pass that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area, per stays up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.

    The Schengen visa is the most common visa for Europe. It enables its holder, including Kenyans, to enter and freely travel within and leave the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries. There are no border controls within the Schengen Zone.

    However, Kenyans planning to study or live in one of the Schengen countries for more than 90 days are required to apply for a national visa of that European country and not a Schengen Visa.

    For instance if a student is going to study in Germany, they are supposed to apply for a national visa in Germany. 

    Kenyans who hold Schengen visas can transit through more than 26 European countries including Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France and Germany among other European Union nations.

    It saves one the cost of applying for visa at every transit point thus one roams through different countries but without leaving the airport area.

    This clarification comes just months after the UK revised its requirements while blacklisting Kenyan universities. UK changed its High Potential Individual (HPI) visa requirements.

    According to the new directives, applicants for the HPI visa are required to have graduated from the top 50 ranked universities globally, a list in which no African university made the cut.

     
    f
    UoN graduates celebrate during the 57th Graduation Ceremony held at the institution's grounds on September 22, 2017. UON /TWITTER By GEOFFREY LUTTA , Kenyans.co.ke
     

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