Obama’s Kenyan half brother running for political seat

Updated 18 January 2013
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Obama’s Kenyan half brother running for political seat

KOGELO, Kenya: President Barack Obama’s half brother has hit the campaign trail in his native Kenya in a bid to get a county gubernatorial seat in the upcoming March 4 elections.
Malik Obama, 54, who shares a father with the US president, told AFP that the achievements of his more famous brother have “inspired and challenged” him to get into politics.
“When I look at the success that my brother has had in America, I feel I would have let down my people if I do not follow in his footsteps,” Obama told AFP in an interview in his ancestral home of Kogelo in western Kenya.
Standing well over six feet and dressed in faded jeans and a flowered beach shirt, Obama, who describes himself as an economist and a financial analyst, but who dodges questions about his employers or clients, said he is well-equipped to deal with the “endless cycle of poverty and unemployment that bedevils my people.”
“I can confidently say that I am the best placed candidate ... by virtue of my second name alone, I have the connections to bring development to Siaya,” he told AFP, referring to his home county some 100 km (60 miles) from the lakeside city of Kisumu.
Obama will need his name if he is to stand any chance against the competition, which includes Oburu Odinga, the younger brother of Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the de facto head of the Luo community, of which Obama is also part.
He said his links to Washington will help him clinch the seat.
“Why would my people settle for a local connection when they have a direct line to the White House,” he said as he weaved his way through a group of supporters, the slogan “Obama here, Obama there,” looming on posters.
“You do not have food. You do not have good schools. Life is tough for you guys,” he tells a group of young men before launching into a detailed account of his colorful and successful educational background and the positions he has held in prestigious US companies.
“I am the best placed candidate to deal with the issues affecting the people,” he added.
Government statistics show that in Siaya, the county he wants to represent, poverty is a big problem, with others including the prevalence of HIV and malaria.


UN says Nicaragua protest killings may be 'unlawful'

Updated 24 April 2018
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UN says Nicaragua protest killings may be 'unlawful'

  • Some groups called for "dictator" Ortega and his wife to step down, yelling "Out! Out!"
  • Mass street protests are rare in Nicaragua, where the army maintains a very tight grip on public order.
MANAGUA: The United Nations said Tuesday that many deaths in nearly a week of anti-government protests violently repressed by police in Nicaragua may have been "unlawful" and called for an investigation.
The scrutiny from the Swiss-based UN human rights office adds to international alarm at Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's ordered crackdown against a wave of anti-government demonstrations and clashes.
The European Union, United States and the Vatican have all urged talks to restore calm, while the US embassy in Managua ordered family members of staff out of the country after Ortega deployed the army to the streets and looting broke out.
A toll compiled from the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights and Ortega's wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, puts the number of deaths since last Wednesday at 27. Most were protesters, among which university students and youths figure prominently.
"We are particularly concerned that a number of these deaths may amount to unlawful killings," Liz Throssell of the UN Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights told reporters in Geneva.
"It is essential that all allegations of excessive use of force by police and other security forces are effectively investigated to ensure those responsible are held to account," Throssell said.
The UN office said at least 25 people, including a police officer, had been killed.
The protests were sparked Wednesday by pension reforms aimed at keeping Nicaragua's burdened Social Security Institute afloat by cutting benefits and increasing contributions.
But they rapidly spread and intensified as other grievances over Ortega's rule surged to the fore.
On Monday, tens of thousands of people -- employees, students, pensioners and ordinary citizens -- marched peacefully in the capital Managua and other cities demanding an end to the forceful security crackdown on protests.
Some groups called for "dictator" Ortega and his wife to step down, yelling "Out! Out!"
Ortega, a 72-year-old former Sandinista guerrilla leader who has ruled Nicaragua for 22 of the past 39 years, has been taken aback by the demonstrations against him, the biggest in his last 11-year stretch in power.
He has canceled the pension reforms and called for dialogue, and Murillo has suggested arrested protesters could be released.
But his security forces have not been pulled back, and -- though Managua appeared relatively calm early Tuesday -- widespread anti-government sentiment persisted.
Even Nicaragua's business sector, whose support had shored up Ortega over the past decade, has abandoned him over the violence.
A pro-government rally was being organized for Thursday to show that the president still enjoyed backing from part of the population.
Mass street protests are rare in Nicaragua, where the army maintains a very tight grip on public order.
But dissatisfaction has been bubbling over in recent months.
Frustrations have been voiced over corruption, the distant and autocratic style of Ortega and Murillo, limited options to change the country's politics in elections, and the president's control over the Congress, the courts and the electoral authority.
In rural areas, anger also stemmed from a stalled plan by Ortega to have a Chinese company carve a $50 billion canal across Nicaragua to rival Panama's lucrative Pacific-to-Atlantic shipping canal.
If the project went ahead, it would displace thousands of rural dwellers and indigenous communities, while dealing a negative impact on the environment.
"People are demanding democracy, freedom, free elections, a transparent government, the separation of powers, rule of law. The people want freedom," former Nicaraguan foreign minister Norman Caldera told AFP.
"If the government doesn't yield, it's going to be very difficult to stop this (the protests)," he said, asserting that the "big majority" of the population was showing its frustration with Ortega.
"The repressive apparatus is not able to halt protests on this scale," Caldera said.
Though Ortega has held out the promise of talks with opponents, the lack of any identifiable leader in the protest movement could make dialogue there difficult.
Under his watch, Nicaragua has avoided the rampant crime seen in northern Central American countries where gangs are rife.
It has also put in solid economic growth, yet it remains one of the poorest nations in Latin America.
The sudden upsurge in the streets puts Ortega at a crossroads: to tough it out, or to bow to the demands for democracy that have become too loud to ignore.