Bureau Chief, East Africa, Nairobi
David's Feed
Mar 10, 2011

Time for outside force in Ivory Coast: Raila Odinga

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo has no business clinging onto power after losing elections and the time for outside military intervention has come, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said on Thursday.

Odinga made two visits to Ivory Coast earlier this year as the African Union’s envoy but failed to persuade Gbagbo to step aside and let the internationally recognized winner of the November 28 election, Alassane Ouattara, take office.

Oct 8, 2010

Telecoms price war in Kenya not sustainable-Orange

NAIROBI, Oct 8 (Reuters) – The price war being waged by
Kenyan telecoms operators is not sustainable and firms will be
forced to cut costs and restructure at some point if revenue per
user slides, the head of Telkom Kenya said in an interview.
Kenya’s telecoms regulator slashed mobile interconnection
charges in August and Zain, the second largest mobile operator
owned by India’s Bharti Airtel (BRTI.BO: Quote, Profile, Research), sparked the price war
in east Africa’s biggest economy by halving its call tariffs.

Since then Kenya’s biggest operator, Safaricom (SCOM.NR: Quote, Profile, Research),
has followed suit and smaller players such as Telkom Kenya,
which is controlled by France Telecom’s (FTE.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) Orange, and Yu
have been forced to make drastic price cuts.

Aug 9, 2010

Democrats seek allies in consumer agency debate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Key Democratic lawmakers hope to exploit the rare August return of the House of Representatives to intensify pressure on the White House to nominate Elizabeth Warren as head of the new consumer protection agency.

Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank are trying to drum up more signatures for their draft letter requesting a meeting with President Barack Obama on the matter.

Aug 4, 2010

Kenyans vote peacefully in constitution referendum

NAIROBI, Aug 4 (Reuters) – Kenyans voted peacefully in a referendum on a new constitution on Wednesday, a poll that could reshape the politics of east Africa’s largest economy after years of disputed, violent elections.

The constitutional changes are seen as important to avoid a repeat of the post-election tribal bloodshed in early 2008 that killed 1,300 people and took the country of about 40 million people to the brink of anarchy.

They address the corruption, political patronage, land grabbing and tribalism which have plagued Kenya since it won independence in 1963. The changes allow for greater checks on presidential powers, more devolution to grassroots administrations and an increase in civil liberties.

"I have come to vote for the new constitution which will guarantee me security in my farm where I was displaced in 2007 during clashes," said Milkah Gathoni Njoroge, who was born in 1919. "I am living with my family in Nakuru town. If the constitution passes, I will return to my land."

Kenya’s 27,689 Polling stations in 210 constituencies closed at 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) with no major incidents reported.

Some 12.5 million people were registered to vote. Results will be transmitted to the electoral authority’s tallying centre in Nairobi. Initial indications are expected within a few hours and the final results likely at some point on Thursday.

There were long queues at polling stations across the country, especially in the Rift Valley centres of Eldoret and Nakuru that were at the epicentre of the post-election violence,

Turnout was reportedly low, however, in the poor, arid northeastern region of the country.

Most Kenyans were expected to vote in favour of the new constitution, according to surveys. If the law fails, Kenya will revert to the current constitution bequeathed by former colonial power Britain.



HISTORIC MOMENT

William Ruto, a cabinet minister based in the Rift Valley who is leading "No" campaigners angry with clauses related to land ownership, said he would accept the outcome.

"This is a historic moment in our country and I’m sure Kenyans will make the right decision," he told reporters in his constituency. "Everyone has an obligation to accept the decision of the people of Kenya."

A previous attempt to change the constitution through a referendum in 2005 failed. To be adopted, the law requires 50 percent plus one vote of the ballot cast nationally and at least 25 percent of the votes in five of Kenya’s eight provinces.

Kenyan shares rallied strongly for the fifth straight session on Tuesday to hit their highest level since Sept. 3 2008, driven by expectations the law will be adopted, while the shilling rose against the dollar.

Markets were closed for the voting on Wednesday. Traders and analysts say investors would take great confidence from the peaceful passage of the constitutional changes into law.

Kenya, a country that borders Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania, is the fourth largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa, Nigeria and Angola.

Throughout the capital Nairobi, long queues snaked away from polling stations as voting kicked off at 6 a.m.

At the sprawling Kibera slum in Nairobi, another hotspot of post-election violence, voting was peaceful three hours after stations opened. There were long lines with many elderly women being helped by officials to the front of the queues.

In Eldoret and Nakuru, some voters said they hoped the referendum would usher in a new era of peaceful democracy and pledged an end to violence between Kikuyu and Kalenjin — the two tribes that have dominated politics since independence.

"We want Kenya to be peaceful, that’s our major concern. We don’t want problems like in 2008. Voting is peaceful. If I am standing next to a Kikuyu, he is my brother. We are fine," said Ronald Cheruiyot, a herbalist voting in Eldoret.



TRANSPARENT PROCESS

The country’s electoral authority said on Tuesday the process would be more transparent than in the 2007 election, when allegations the poll was rigged in favour of President Mwai Kibaki led to the bloodletting.

The authority has distributed mobile phones and broadband modems to polling stations throughout the country that can only communicate with the tallying centre in a bid to curb rigging at the constituency level seen at past elections.

Philippe de Pontet, Africa analyst at Eurasia Group, said in a research note that there appeared to be broad support for the new constitution.

"The ‘No’ camp’s efforts to tie the document to controversial social such as abortion have mobilised opposition from some church groups, but the ‘Yes’ camp has a broader regional and ethnic coalition," he said.

"Voter approval of a new constitution in a national referendum on 4 August will provide a short-term boost for the coalition government."

The new charter was a key provision in the power-sharing deal struck between then-rivals Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to end the violence that followed the election in 2007. (Additional reporting by James Macharia, Duncan Miriri, Helen Nyambura-Mwaura and Humphrey Malalo in Nairobi; Richard Lough in Eldoret; Celestine Achieng’ in Mombasa and Antony Gitonga in Naivasha; Writing by David Clarke; Editing by Giles Elgood)





Jul 7, 2010

Midfield mastery seals Spanish success, says coach

DURBAN (Reuters) – Bossing the midfield with experienced, talented players was the decisive factor in Spain’s deserved 1-0 win over Germany in the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said.

As in their previous matches in South Africa, Spain attacked relentlessly and clung on to the ball as the German midfield struggled to repeat the flowing moves that had crushed England and the widely fancied Argentina.

Jul 5, 2010

Nets protect World Cup fans from Durban’s sharks

By David Clarke

DURBAN (Reuters Life!) – The boat speeds out of Durban’s port before dawn carrying men with a crucial job: checking the nets that keep sharks at bay each day before thousands of World Cup soccer fans hit the beach.

Since June 11, hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world have enjoyed the coastal city’s winter sunshine, sandy beachfront and spectacular surf, but the Indian Ocean waters off Durban are also teeming with large, hungry sharks.

Jun 28, 2010

“Genius” Robben takes Dutch to last eight

DURBAN (Reuters) – Arjen Robben returned from injury to lead Netherlands to a 2-1 win over Slovakia on Monday and a place in the World Cup’s last eight, after the Slovaks found no answer to the winger’s “genius” despite three days of working out how to nullify him.

Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss could only reflect that his fears that, if the quicksilver winger played he would improve the Dutch by 50 percent, proved spot on.

Jun 28, 2010

Fallen African nations have more woes than soccer

DURBAN (Reuters) – Too much pressure on top players with massive egos? Chopping managers just before competitions? Poor coaching and facilities at home? Pampered foreign players not giving their all for the national colours?

Many explanations have been sought for why five of the six African nations stumbled at the first hurdle in the continent’s first World Cup. But perhaps it has nothing to do with soccer. Maybe countries need to feel good about themselves to succeed.

Jun 24, 2010

Groundsman wry about Durban’s rye grass

DURBAN (Reuters) – Bathed in the Durban sunshine, the Moses Mabhida stadium looks magnificent, but it’s not great for growing the rye grass FIFA deems necessary for the skills of Cristiano Ronaldo and Robinho — at least not quickly.

Head groundsman Kevin Gramoney, a self-confessed sports fanatic and Manchester United fan, had been nurturing a pitch grown with South Africa summer grass but just seven weeks before the contest he had to prepare a new surface from scratch.

Jun 22, 2010

South Korea’s mastery of new ball pays dividends

DURBAN (Reuters) – Long hours practising set pieces with the new World Cup soccer ball paid huge dividends for South Korea on Tuesday after the Asian side qualified for the second round with a 2-2 draw with Nigeria.

After going behind in the 12th minute, South Korea equalised when Lee Chung-soo latched onto a freekick from just outside the penalty area and then took the lead after the break when Park Chu-young curled another freekick around Nigeria’s wall.