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Kenya Cast Into Turmoil as Opposition Rejects Kenyatta Win

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  • Kenya Cast Into Turmoil as Opposition Rejects Kenyatta Win

Kenya was plunged into political turmoil as the opposition rejected the declaration of President Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner of Tuesday’s election and protests erupted in the capital, Nairobi, and an opposition stronghold in the west.

Kenyatta, 55, won about 54 percent of the vote, while his main rival, Raila Odinga, 72, garnered almost 45 percent, Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati said at a briefing Friday. The opposition, which boycotted the announcement of the results alleging they were rigged, said the commission flouted counting procedures and failed to provide documents to back up its tallies.

“This has been an entire charade,” Senator James Orengo of Odinga’s five-party National Super Alliance told reporters in Nairobi before the results announcement. “This is a disaster. I can tell you Kenyans always rise up. The resilience of Kenyans to deal with impunity, to deal with violation of their rights, every time those rights have been trampled upon, they’ve always risen up.”

Protests erupted in several parts of Nairobi, with police firing teargas to disperse the crowds. Houses were set alight in the southwestern Kawangware slum, and there were several clashes between residents and police there, said Okingo Magubo, a security guard who lives in the area. Gunfire was also heard in the Kibera slum amid a heavy police presence.

Burning Tires

People blocked roads and burned tires in the western town of Kisumu, an Odinga stronghold, Titus Yomi, the county’s police commander, said by phone.

Kenya elections have routinely been marred by violence since the country became a multiparty democracy in 1991. At least 1,100 people died in the wake of a disputed 2007 vote that Odinga lost to Mwai Kibaki. The U.S. embassy warned its citizens to stay off the streets.

Protracted turmoil could derail an economy that’s grown an average of 5.7 percent a year since Kenyatta took power in 2013, and threaten its reputation as a top African investment and tourist destination. The country is the world’s largest exporter of black tea and a regional hub for companies including Google Inc. and General Electric Co.

So far, financial markets have shrugged off the prospects of political upheaval, with the FTSE NSE Kenya 25 Index of stocks advancing for a fourth straight day on Friday. The yield on the nation’s Eurobonds rose 4 basis points to 6.35 percent, while the shilling was little changed.

Conciliatory President

Kenyatta, who won his second term and is the son of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, struck a conciliatory tone in a televised address, saying he was reaching out to the opposition to work together.

“This country needs all of us pulling together for all of us to succeed,” he said. “We are ready to engage, to dialogue. Elections come and go; Kenya is here to stay.”

Kenyan laws require that results be signed off by electoral officials and party agents at polling stations, and sent to 290 constituency offices, where they must be collated before being forwarded to a national counting center to determine the final tallies.

The opposition said documentation from almost 11,000 polling stations remains outstanding and no results were announced at the constituency offices as required, an anomaly the electoral commission has failed to explain.

Hackers Strike

Odinga also said that hackers gained access to the election computer system by using the identities of Chebukati and Chris Msando, its technology manager who was tortured and murdered in late July, to manipulate the outcome, and that his party had obtained its own data from sources within the commission showing he had won.

The commission conceded that while hackers attempted to access its servers, they failed. Chebukati said the election was credible, free and fair.

“There are so many questions unanswered, it’s very easy to come to a conclusion that there is mischief going on,” said Dismas Mokua, an analyst at Nairobi-based risk advisory firm Trintari. “The failure to announce results at the constituency centers raises so many questions about transparency.”

While election-observer missions from the African Union, European Union and the Commonwealth said the voting process was peaceful, free and fair, they have yet to pronounce on the count. Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who co-led an observer mission from the Atlanta-based Carter Center, urged those who felt aggrieved to seek redress in court rather than resorting to street demonstrations.

“This doesn’t mean the battle over the integrity of the vote is over,” said Ahmed Salim, vice president at Teneo Strategy in Dubai. “Odinga feels differently and is going to challenge in court and in the streets. There will be some skirmishes in the streets, but there may not be a lot of people willing to sacrifice stability and safety.”

The electoral commission needs to bear responsibility for the standoff over the results, because it failed to adhere to the constitution and electoral procedures, according to Ndung’u Wainaina, executive director of the International Center for Policy and Conflict in Nairobi.

“The IEBC is operating with a high degree of impunity,” he said. “It thinks its allegiance is to the incumbent.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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NHIS Moves To Recover N10B From Heritage Bank and N11B Trapped In The Federation Account

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NHIS Moves To Recover N10B From Heritage Bank and N11B Trapped In The Federation Account

The National Health Insurance Scheme is making efforts to recover some missing funds estimated at about N27bn, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, the Executive Secretary of the scheme revealed.

While expressing optimism that the NHIS Amendment Bill pending before the National Assembly for passage would change the face of health insurance in the country, he said a review of the NHIS Act would allow the agency to enroll more Nigerians.

Sambo stated these in the progress report of the NHIS which he presented after a management meeting in Kaduna.

Sambo said, “We have about N11bn trapped in the Federation Account since 2014. We have been meeting with the Minister of Finance to see how to get it back. Also, we have been pursuing another N10bn lodged in Heritage Bank and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been helping us to recover it.

“When there was COVID-19, N6bn was taken from the NHIS account without notice. So, we are working on recovering those resources and we have agreed at the level of management that a proportion of the money recovered will be put on strategic investment”.

The NHIS CEO also spoke on the progress made in improving the subscription for the insurance scheme, saying over 10 million Nigerians had now subscribed for it.

According to him, while about 10,269,996 enrolled into the scheme as of last Friday, the NHIS has been able to save money from its cost-saving reforms.

Sambo said, “The population of Nigerians that have enrolled in the health insurance scheme has risen to 10,269,996 from 6 million earlier reported by the National Demographic Health Survey”.

Sambo explained that as part of strategies to increase its subscriber base, NHIS has mapped the entire segments of the Nigerian population, including the Nigerian Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

The NHIS boss said: “We have mapped the population, and we are engaging the management of the NYSC to ensure that they are covered in the framework of the national health insurance scheme. You know that there was a presidential directive in the past that all NYSC members should be covered by the scheme, but due to budgetary constraints, it was not implemented”.

He stated that contrary to insinuation that NHIS has not been able to achieve much in terms of teaching universal health insurance for all in the last 20 years, “the major impediment is the law limiting its utilisation”.

Sambo said the best way to fund health insurance is by pooling resources through mass enrolling in the health insurance scheme at all levels.

The executive secretary said while appreciable progress is being made at the federal level, not much is happening in the state and local government areas in terms of enrolment into state health insurance scheme.

He disclosed that one of the recent decisions taken by the management is to ensure NHIS is fully automated to achieve seamless operations.

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COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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