Several world leaders have denied wrongdoing after featuring in the Pandora Papers, a huge leak of financial documents from offshore companies.
The 12 million files constitute the biggest such leak in history.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein are among some 35 current and former leaders linked to the files.
Both have issued statements saying they have done nothing wrong.
Jordan’s royal palace said it was “not unusual nor improper” that King Abdullah owned property abroad.
Leaked documents show King Abdullah secretly spent more than £70 million ($100 million) on a property empire in the UK and US since taking power in 1999.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov meanwhile questioned the reliability of the “unsubstantiated” information, after it detailed hidden wealth linked to President Putin and members of his inner circle.
The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington DC, which has been working with more than 140 media organizations on its biggest ever global investigation.
Other leaders linked to the leak include:
Czech PM Andrej Babis, who allegedly failed to declare an offshore investment company used to purchase two villas for £12 million in the south of France;
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who – along with six members of his family – has been linked to 13 offshore companies;
Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera, a billionaire businessman, who is accused of selling a copper and iron mine in an environmentally sensitive area to a childhood friend;
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, whose family and close associates have allegedly been secretly involved in property deals in the UK worth more than £400 million.
In a tweet thread, the Czech prime minister said the allegations are an attempt to influence elections scheduled for this week and insisted he has “never done anything wrong or illegal”.
president Kenyatta said the investigation “will go a long way in enhancing the financial transparency and openness that we require in Kenya and around the globe”, and promised to “respond comprehensively” to the leak once he returned from a state visit abroad.
The Pandora Papers show no evidence that the Kenyatta family stole or hid state assets in their offshore companies.
A statement from President Piñera’s office said he denied taking part in or having any information on the sale of the Dominga mining project.
The Pandora Papers is a leak of almost 12 million documents and files exposing the secret wealth and dealings of world leaders, politicians and billionaires. The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington DC which has led one of the biggest ever global investigations.
More than 600 journalists from 117 countries have looked at the hidden fortunes of some of the most powerful people on the planet.
On October 26, the polls opened at 06:00 with tens of thousands of police and other security staff deployed to protect voters and polling stations.
International observers have scaled down their missions for security reasons.
According to unconfirmed reports, police have fired live rounds into the air to disperse opposition supporters in the western city of Kisumu and the Kibera area of Nairobi. Tear gas has also been used.
After casting his vote in the town of Gatundu, Uhuru Kenyatta urged people to cast their ballots so the country could move on.
He said: “We’re tired as a country of electioneering. It’s time we moved forward.”
Uhuru Kenyatta also said most of Kenya was “calm and peaceful”.
VP William Ruto has now called on the commission to declare Uhuru Kenyatta president as a result of Raila Odinga’s announcement.
The election re-run was due to take place on October 26, but Raila Odinga said on October 10: “We have come to the conclusion that there is no intention on the part of the IEBC [electoral commission] to undertake any changes to its operations and personnel… All indications are that the election scheduled for 26 October will be worse than the previous one.”
As a result, Raila Odinga said, “considering the interests of the people of Kenya, the region and the world at large” it was best that he withdrew from the race.
His coalition party believes the election will have to be cancelled as a result of his withdrawal, allowing “adequate time to undertake the reforms necessary to conduct an election that is in strict conformity with the constitution, the relevant laws and the constitution”.
However, Uhuru Kenyatta, speaking at a rally in the southern town of Voi, said: “We have no problem going back to elections. We are sure we will get more votes than the last time.”
The result of Kenya’s presidential election has been annulled by the country’s Supreme Court after citing irregularities.
The court ordered a new election within 60 days.
The election commission had declared incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta the winner by a margin of 1.4 million votes.
His opponent, Raila Odinga, said the commission was “rotten” and demanded resignations and prosecutions.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said he would respect the court’s decision but also branded the judges “crooks”.
Other elections in Africa have been annulled or canceled but this appears to be the first time on the continent that an opposition court challenge against a presidential poll result has been successful.
Chief Justice David Maraga said the August 8 election had not been “conducted in accordance with the constitution” and declared it “invalid, null and void”.
He said the verdict was backed by four of the six Supreme Court judges.
The announcement drew cheers from opposition supporters both inside and outside the courtroom.
Justice David Maraga said the election commission had failed “to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the constitution”.
He said the commission had committed irregularities “in the transmission of results”, adding that the court would provide details in a full judgment within 21 days.
Dissenting judges said that the Nasa opposition alliance – which had petitioned the Supreme Court – failed to prove claims that the polls had been rigged.
The election sparked days of sporadic protests, in which at least 28 people were killed. The vote had raised fears of major political violence – as was the case after a disputed poll in 2007.
Raila Odinga, 72, said the ruling marked “a historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension for the people of the continent of Africa”.
He said: “It is now clear that the entire [electoral commission] is rotten.
“It is clear that the real election results were never shared with Kenyans. Someone must take responsibility.”
He added: “We won the elections and we are going to win them again.”
In a TV address, President Kenyatta said that it was “important to respect the rule of law even if you disagree with the Supreme Court ruling”.
He called for calm, saying: “Your neighbor will still be your neighbor, regardless of what has happened… My primary message today to every single Kenyan is peace. Let us be people of peace.”
Uhuru Kenyatta, 55, added: “We are ready to go back again to the people with the same agenda that we delivered to the people.”
The president was more combative later at a rally of supporters in a market in Nairobi.
He referred to Justice David Maraga and his fellow judges as wakora (crooks in Swahili), saying they had “decided to cancel the election”. He warned the chief justice that as the poll had been annulled he was now the president again, not president-elect.
“Do you understand me? Maraga should know that he is now dealing with the serving president,” the president said.
“We are keeping a close eye on them. But let us deal with the election first. We are not afraid.”
After the election, international monitors from the EU, the African Union and the US had said there was no major fraud on polling day and urged Raila Odinga to concede.
On September 1, Marietje Schaake, the head of the EU Observer Mission, said the court ruling represented “a historic day for Kenya and we have always said that people who feel aggrieved should seek the path of the courts”.
She said the monitors had at the time pointed to irregularities and encouraged the Kenyan authorities to deal with them.
Marietje Schaake said the monitors were awaiting the full details of the ruling.
The Giants Club is holding its inaugural summit in Laikipia, Kenya, from April 29 to April 30, to discuss how to save Africa’s elephants from extinction.
The exclusive forum brings together African Heads of State, global business leaders and elephant protection experts to secure Africa’s remaining elephant populations and the landscapes they depend on.
The summit will be led by the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
As well as heads of state, the conservation group will bring together business leaders and scientists.
The Giants Club was founded by President Uhuru Kenyatta with the presidents of Botswana, Gabon, Kenya and Uganda, with support from Space for Giants and its patron, Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of The Independent and London Evening Standard newspapers. The body was formed to combat the poaching crisis by bringing together visionary leaders who can work together to provide the political will, financial resources and technical capacity required to protect Africa’s remaining elephant populations.
The summit is to be staged at Mount Kenya Safari Club. Delegates will also be invited to visit local conservation projects to see practical examples of Kenya’s leadership in the area of wildlife protection. Attendance is by invitation only.
According to experts, Africa’s elephant population has fallen by 90% over the past century. They warn that the animal could be extinct within decades.
After the summit, Kenya will set fire to nearly its entire confiscated stock of ivory, 105 tonnes, equivalent to the tusks of more than 6,700 elephants.
The ivory has been piled into a dozen giant pyres, which will be lit by dignitaries at the summit.
The mass burning on April 30 will be seven times the size of any stockpile destruction so far, and represents about 5% of global ivory stores.
Some 1.35 tonnes of rhino horn will also be burned.
The street value of the ivory destroyed is estimated at more than $100 million, and the rhino horn at $80 million.
Kitili Mbathi, director general of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), said: “We don’t believe there is any intrinsic value in ivory, and therefore we’re going to burn all our stockpiles and demonstrate to the world that ivory is only valuable on elephants.”
Africa is home to between 450,000 to 500,000 elephants, but more than 30,000 are killed every year for their tusks.
Pope Francis has celebrated Holy Mass attended by thousands of people at the University of Nairobi campus in Kenya.
The Pope made a plea for traditional values, saying “the health of any society depends on the health of its families”.
He earlier urged Kenyans to work for peace and reconciliation on his first trip as pontiff to Africa, amid a rise in militant violence.
Pope Francis arrived in Kenya on November 25, the first stop on a three-nation tour.
Crowds in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, waited in the rain at the University of Nairobi sports ground since the early hours of November 26. More than one million were expected to attend the Mass.
Wearing a robe embroidered to look like beads worn by the Maasai, Pope Francis told them: “Our faith in God’s word calls us to support families in their mission in society, to accept children as a blessing for our world, and to defend the dignity of each man and woman, for all of us are brothers and sisters in the one human family.”
The pontiff also spoke about abortion and the need for a caring society: “We are also called to resist practices which foster arrogance in men, hurt or demean women, and threaten the life of the innocent unborn.”
Pope Francis appealed to young Kenyans “to shape a society which is ever more just, inclusive and respectful of human dignity”.
He said they “should reject everything that leads to prejudice and discrimination”.
Ahead of the Mass, Pope Francis had been meeting with religious leaders, who he said should be “prophets of peace” in a violent and hate-driven world.
The Pope earlier said conflict and terrorism fed “on fear, mistrust, and the despair born of poverty and frustration”.
Pope Francis has played down security fears about his trip, joking that he was “more worried about the mosquitoes”.
A leading Muslim cleric in Kenya welcomed the visit, saying it gave hope to the “downtrodden in the slums”.
Pope Francis’s five-day visit will also see him go to Uganda and Central African Republic, which has been hit by Christian-Muslim conflict.
Kenya’s government has said that up to 10,000 police officers may be deployed during the visit.
Militant Islamists have carried out a series of attacks in Kenya – including the 2013 siege at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre, which left 67 people dead and the killing of about 150 people during an assault on the Garissa National University College in April 2015.
Pope Francis is later expected to visit the headquarters of the UN Environment Program, and he has already spoken of a “grave environmental crisis” facing the world, and said leaders needed to promote “responsible models of economic development”.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has called on Pope Francis to pray that Kenya succeeds in its fight against corruption.
About 30% of Kenyans – including the president – are baptized Catholics.
President Barack Obama has urged Kenya to hold “visible” trials to tackle corruption, which he said could be the “biggest impediment” to further growth.
After talks in Nairobi, Presidents Barack Obama and Uhuru Kenyatta said they were “united against terrorism” and efforts to deal with it.
However, the two leaders differed sharply in their positions on gay rights.
While Barack Obama spoke strongly against discrimination, Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenya did not share the same values.
There were “some things that we must admit we don’t share – our culture, our societies don’t accept,” Uhuru Kenyatta said.
“It’s very difficult for us to be able to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept.”
Earlier President Barack Obama praised Africa’s economic and business potential in a speech.
“Africa is on the move… People are being lifted out of poverty, incomes are up (and) the middle class is growing,” he told a business summit.
He also visited a memorial for those killed in the 1998 US embassy bombing.
The trip, which began on July 24, is Barack Obama’s first visit as president to Kenya, where his father was born.
Barack Obama said he was encouraged by statements President Uhuru Kenyatta had made about the need to root out corruption.
People were being “consistently sapped by corruption at a high level and at a low level” and there was a need for “visible prosecutions,” Barack Obama said, to show Kenyans that action was being taken.
“They don’t have to be a forensic accountant to know what is going on.”
Police officers and civil servants had to be paid properly to help curb corruption, but sometimes it just required “breaking the habit”.
President Barack Obama also said the US is providing additional funding and assistance to Kenya’s security forces for counter-terrorism.
The US and Kenya are working to establish direct flights.
The Obama administration will also propose a federal rule banning the sale of almost all ivory across state lines as part of efforts to fight poaching in Africa.
Charges of crimes against humanity against Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta have been withdrawn by prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Uhuru Kenyatta had been indicted in connection with post-election ethnic violence in 2007-2008, in which 1,200 people died.
The president, who had denied the charges, said he felt “vindicated”.
The prosecutor’s office said the Kenyan government had refused to hand over evidence vital to the case.
Uhuru Kenyatta said he was “excited” and “relieved” at the dropping of charges.
“My conscience is absolutely clear,” he said, adding that his case had been “rushed there without proper investigation”.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said her government would try to have two other similar cases thrown out including one involving Deputy President William Ruto.
“As they say, one case down, two more to go,” Uhuru Kenyatta said on Twitter.
On December 3, the ICC had given prosecutors a week to decide whether to pursue their case against Uhuru Kenyatta or withdraw charges.
Further delays in the case would be “contrary to the interests of justice”, it had said.
On December 5, prosecutors said the evidence had “not improved to such an extent that Uhuru Kenyatta’s alleged criminal responsibility can be proven beyond reasonable doubt”.
Many observers had seen the case against Uhuru Kenyatta as the biggest test in the court’s history.
He was the first head of state to appear before the court, after he was charged in 2012.
The prosecution repeatedly asked for more time to build its case, saying witnesses had been bribed and intimidated, and the Kenyan government had refused to hand over documents vital to the case.
Human Rights Watch had accused the Kenyan government of acting as a roadblock and “impairing the search for truth”.
Uhuru Kenyatta denied inciting ethnic violence following the disputed 2007 elections in order to secure victory for then-President Mwai Kibaki.
He has repeatedly accused the ICC of pursuing a political prosecution.
On December 5, Uhuru Kenyatta again criticized the legal process, saying: “The prosecutor opted to selectively pursue cases in a blatantly biased manner that served vested interests and undermined justice.
“As a result, the court has had to pay a steep reputational price, which it will continue to face unless a serious and systemic rethinking of the international justice framework is undertaken.”
Uhuru Kenyatta won Kenya’s presidential elections in 2013, with the backing of Mwai Kibaki.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has confirmed during a speech in front of the parliament that he will be appearing at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on October 8.
Uhuru Kenyatta told parliament that his deputy, William Ruto, would be in charge during his absence.
The president faces charges of organizing ethnic massacres that killed 1,200 people after the 2007 elections – something he denies.
The October 8 hearing is due to set a date for his trial to begin.
The ICC had summoned Uhuru Kenyatta to appear to explain allegations that evidence against him had been withheld.
In September, the court postponed the trial after prosecutors said the Kenyan government had failed to deliver key documents. Witnesses for the prosecution have withdrawn from the case.
Dozens of Kenyan lawmakers are expected to travel to The Hague to back Uhuru Kenyatta at the status hearing.
Uhuru Kenyatta said he would be going to The Hague in a personal capacity – not as president – so as not to compromise the sovereignty of Kenya’s 40 million people.
“To protect the sovereignty of the Kenyan republic, I now take the extraordinary and unprecedented step of evoking article 1473 of the constitution and I will shortly issue the legal notice necessary to appoint honourable William Ruto, the deputy president, as acting president while I attend the status conference at The Hague in the Netherlands,” he said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has confirmed during a speech in front of the parliament that he will be appearing at the ICC in The Hague on October 8
Uhuru Kenyatta again stressed his innocence: “I wish to reiterate here for all that my conscience is clear, has been clear and will remain forever clear that I am innocent of all the accusations that have been leveled against me.
“After all this, the prosecutor of the ICC has since last December and as recently as last month, admitted to the judges that the available evidence is insufficient to prove alleged criminal responsibility beyond reasonable doubt.”
There had been growing doubts as to whether Uhuru Kenyatta would become the first sitting president to attend the court. He had already been to the ICC before becoming president in 2013.
Uhuru Kenyatta was a close ally of President Mwai Kibaki, who was declared the winner of the 2007 election. Mwai Kibaki’s rival, Raila Odinga, claimed the poll was marred by fraud.
The dispute took on an ethnic dimension, pitting members of the Kikuyu ethnic group of Uhuru Kenyatta and Mwai Kibaki against other communities. Uhuru Kenyatta is accused of organising an ethnic Kikuyu gang, the Mungiki sect, to attack rival groups.
Uhuru Kenyatta faces five charges relating to the ethnic massacres – the worst violence in Kenya since independence in 1963. Tens of thousands of people were displaced and Kenya’s reputation for stability was tarnished.
Vice-President WSilliam Ruto also faces charges at The Hague, but he was on Raila Odinga’s side during the violence. He also denies the charges.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed into law a bill legalizing polygamy in Kenya.
The new bill brings civil law, where a man was only allowed one wife, into line with customary law, where some cultures allow multiple partners.
Controversy surrounded an amendment to the bill, supported by many male lawmakers, allowing men to take more wives without consulting existing spouses.
Traditionally, first wives are supposed to give prior approval.
Last month, female lawmakers walked out of parliament in disgust after their male counterparts voted through the amendment.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed into law a bill legalizing polygamy in Kenya
They argued that a decision to take on another wife would affect the whole family, including the financial position of other spouses.
The bill was also opposed by Christian leaders who urged the president not to sign it into law, saying it undermined Christian principles of marriage and family.
“The tone of that bill, if it becomes law, would be demeaning to women since it does not respect the principle of equality of spouses in the institution of marriage,” Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki, from the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), was quoted by Kenya’s Standard newspaper as saying.
The marriage legislation has been under discussion for several years and some initial proposals were scrapped at committee stages.
It has abolished the practice of unofficial traditional marriages which were never registered and could be ended without any legal divorce proceedings.
But plans to ban the payment of bride prices were dropped – although a person must be 18 to marry and this now applies to all cultures.
Lawmakers did reject the committee amendment which said a woman should only be entitled to 30% of matrimonial property after death or divorce.
The law now allows for equal property and inheritance rights – previously a woman had to prove her contribution to the couple’s wealth.
It also stipulates that a wife is entitled to an equal share of whatever the couple acquired during their marriage but in the case of multiple partners it is going to be difficult to determine what each spouse is entitled to if one of them divorces or their husband dies.
There had also been a proposal to recognize co-habiting couples, known in Kenya as “come-we-stay” relationships, after six months, but this too was dropped.
It would have allowed a woman to seek maintenance for herself and any children of the union, had the man left.
A deferral of The Hague trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta – due to start in November – has been demanded at the African Union summit in Ethiopia.
The AU also agreed a resolution stating no sitting African head of state should appear before an international court.
With both Kenyan and Sudanese presidents facing ICC cases, African leaders have long complained that the court unfairly targets them.
The AU had discussed withdrawing from the ICC, but failed to get support.
Senior figures including Kofi Annan have criticized plans to quit the ICC.
The AU leaders, meeting in Addis Ababa, agreed to back immunity for any sitting African head of state.
They also asked Kenya to write to the UN Security Council seeking a deferral in the International Criminal Court (ICC) case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces charges of crimes against humanity.
Both he and his deputy, William Ruto, deny charges of organizing violence after the 2007 election.
While William Ruto went on trial in September, President Kenyatta has repeatedly requested his trial – due next month – be postponed.
African states want the ICC to withdraw the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
Addressing the summit, Uhuru Kenyatta accused the court of bias and “race-hunting”, AFP reports.
“The ICC has been reduced into a painfully farcical pantomime, a travesty that adds insult to the injury of victims. It stopped being the home of justice the day it became the toy of declining imperial powers.”
Ethiopian PM and AU chairman Hailemariam Dessalegn said the summit was not a crusade against the ICC but a call for the court to address Africa’s concerns seriously.
He said the ICC’s cases against the Sudanese and Kenyan presidents could hamper peace and reconciliation efforts in their countries.
“The unfair treatment that we have been subjected to by the ICC is completely unacceptable,” he said.
The ICC issued a warrant in 2009 for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir over alleged war crimes in the Darfur region, but he has not yet been arrested.
The ICC relies on the authorities of national governments to hand over suspects, but Mr Bashir has avoided arrest despite travelling to countries that have signed up to the ICC statute.
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is the current chairman of the AU’s Executive Council, said the ICC had failed to respond to the African Union’s previous complaints.
“What the summit decided is that President Kenyatta should not appear until the request we have made is actually answered,” he said.
Thirty-four of the AU’s 54 members have signed up to the ICC.
Kenya’s parliament has already passed a motion for the country to withdraw.
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said that withdrawing from the court would be a “badge of shame”.
Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has also voiced his support for the ICC.
“Those leaders seeking to skirt the court are effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence,” he wrote in an article carried by several newspapers.
“They simply vilify the institution as racist and unjust, as Hermann Goering and his fellow Nazi defendants vilified the Nuremberg tribunals following World War II.”
All eight of the cases currently open at the ICC are in Africa but it is also investigating possible cases elsewhere.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced that the four-day siege involving suspected Islamist militants at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre is over.
Five attackers were shot dead by troops and 11 suspects were in custody, he said in a TV address to the nation.
Kenya has “shamed and defeated our attackers” but the “losses are immense”, Uhuru Kenyatta said, confirming that 61 civilians and six soldiers had died.
Three days of national mourning have been declared, starting on Wednesday.
Uhuru Kenyatta said that several bodies – including those of “terrorists” – were thought to be trapped under rubble after three floors of the building collapsed following a blaze on Monday.
Some 175 people were injured in the attack; 62 people remain in hospital and many others are being treated for shock and are undergoing counseling.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced that the four-day siege involving suspected Islamist militants at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre is over
“I promise that we shall have a full accountability for the mindless destruction, deaths, pain, loss and suffering we have all undergone as a national family.
“These cowards will meet justice, as will their accomplices and patrons, wherever they are,” he said.
At least 18 foreigners are among the dead, citizens from France, UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Peru, India, Ghana, South Africa and China.
The militants stormed the Westgate centre on Saturday, throwing grenades and firing on shoppers and staff.
Somali Islamist group al-Shabab said it had carried out the attack in retaliation for Kenyan army operations in Somalia.
Uhuru Kenyatta said he could not confirm reports that a British national and two or three US citizens were involved in the attacks, but he said forensic experts were carrying out tests to ascertain their nationalities.
In an interview with the US TV programme PBS Newshour, Kenya’s Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said the Americans were 18 or 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin.
Her remarks have fuelled media speculation about the possible involvement of Samantha Lewthwaite, the widow of one of the men who carried out attacks on London’s transport system on July 7th, 2005.
However, a Twitter post from al-Shabab on Tuesday evening dismissed claims that women were involved in the attack. The group said it “categorically” denied involvement of any woman”.
An unknown number of hostages are still inside Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, Kenya, after a deadly assault by al-Shabab militants, officials say.
At least 39 people died when members of the Somali Islamist group stormed the Westgate centre on Saturday.
Officials say the gunmen have been cornered but that people are trapped in a number of locations.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta earlier vowed to “hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to”.
Al-Shabab said it carried out the attack on the upmarket mall in response to Kenyan military operations in Somalia.
There are about 4,000 Kenyan troops in the south of Somalia, where they have been fighting the militants since 2011.
On its Twitter feed, al-Shabab – which has links to al-Qaeda – said it was behind what it called the “Westgate spectacle”.
Kenyan officials said “major operations” were under way with police and soldiers preparing an apparent bid to bring an end to the stand-off.
They said the security forces had finally “pinned down” the surviving gunmen.
“The work is continuing, but you cannot rush these things,” an army officer posted on the perimeter cordon set up around the mall told the AFP news agency.
“Our teams are there, we are watching and monitoring, we will finish this as soon as we can.”
The authorities have asked journalists to exercise caution when reporting military developments because the gunmen might be monitoring the media.
“Hostiles suspected to have access to the internet,” the Disaster Operation Centre in Nairobi posted on Twitter.
“Reports on personnel movement and progress will not be posted for fear of compromising strategy.”
An unknown number of hostages are still inside Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi
The officials said the number of hostages was “still unknown, but they are in several locations”.
“The gunmen have been contained in one location, but there are hostages elsewhere in the vicinity who cannot access the exit.”
Upper levels of the mall had been secured, it said.
The attack began at about 12:00 local time, when the attackers entered the Westgate centre throwing grenades and firing automatic weapons. A children’s day event was being held at the time – children are among those reported killed.
Some witnesses said the militants told Muslims to leave and said non-Muslims would be targeted.
“They came and said: <<If you are Muslim, stand up. We’ve come to rescue you>>,” said Elijah Lamau.
He said the Muslims left with their hands up, and then the gunmen shot two people.
Scores of people fled or were evacuated while police and armed security guards fought running gun battles with the militants throughout the mall for hours.
As night fell in Nairobi, two contingents of army special forces troops were reported to have moved inside the mall.
Reports say at least one of the attackers was a woman who appeared to have some kind of leadership role.
One gunman was arrested and died of his wounds, Kenyan officials said. Four other gunmen were arrested.
In a televised address on Saturday evening, President Uhuru Kenyatta said security forces were “in the process of neutralizing the attackers and securing the mall”.
He went on: “We shall hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to. We shall get to them and we shall punish them for this heinous crime.”
He said he had “personally lost family members in the Westgate attack”.
Security experts are reported to have long warned that the complex, which is part Israeli-owned, was in danger of being subjected to a terror attack.
Al-Shabab says the African Union forces are invaders stopping their legitimate vision of creating an Islamic state and respond by mounting hit-and-run attacks.
The US State Department said it had reports that American citizens were injured in what it called “a senseless act of violence”.
Two French citizens and two Canadians, including a diplomat, are also among the dead.
Nairobi’s mortuary superintendent, Sammy Nyongesa Jacob, told Reuters that Africans, Asians and Caucasians were among the bodies brought to the mortuary.
This is one of the worst incidents in Kenya since the attack on the US embassy in August 1998.
Kenyan parliament has approved a motion to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) following an emergency debate.
A bill to this effect is expected to be introduced in the next 30 days, after opposition MPs boycotted the vote.
The ICC has charged President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto with crimes against humanity, which they both deny. William Ruto’s trial is due to start in The Hague next week.
The ICC said the cases would continue even if Kenya pulled out.
The charges against both Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto stem from violence that broke out after disputed elections in 2007, in which more than 1,000 people were killed and 600,000 forced from their homes.
Uhuru Kenyatta is to go on trial in November.
They were on opposite sides during the 2007 election but formed an alliance for elections in March this year, and analysts say the ICC prosecutions bolstered their campaign as they portrayed it as foreign interference in Kenya’s domestic affairs.
Kenyan parliament has approved a motion to leave the ICC following an emergency debate
Eeven though the vote does not halt the cases, it sends a powerful signal of defiance to The Hague – a sentiment that is becoming increasingly popular, in Kenya and across much of Africa.
No other country has withdrawn from the ICC.
Kenya’s parliament is dominated by the Jubilee coalition formed by Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.
The motion, tabled by majority leader Adan Duale, said the pair had been “lawfully elected” and the government should take steps to “immediately” withdraw from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC.
It also says Kenya will “suspend any links, cooperation and assistance” to the ICC.
Adan Duale noted that the US had refused to sign the Rome Statute to protect its citizens and soldiers from potential politically motivated prosecutions.
“Let us protect our citizens. Let us defend the sovereignty of the nation of Kenya,” Adan Duale is quoted as saying.
MPs from the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), led by former PM Raila Odinga, walked out of the debate, calling the motion “capricious” and “ill-considered”.
Kenya’s withdrawal would not bring “honor to the nation and dignity to our leaders”, CORD said in a statement.
“Kenya cannot exist outside the realm of international law,” it said.
In May, the African Union accused the ICC of “hunting” Africans because of their race.
The ICC strongly denies this, saying it is fighting for the rights of the African victims of atrocities.
The court was set up in 2002 to deal with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.
The ICC has been ratified by 122 countries, including 34 in Africa.
Uhuru Kenyatta has been sworn in as Kenya’s president after winning elections against Raila Odinga back in March.
Dignitaries and tens of thousands of people witnessed the inauguration at a stadium in the capital, Nairobi.
Raila Odinga did not attend the ceremony after his attempt to overturn Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in court failed.
Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, face charges at the International Criminal Court relating to post-election violence five years ago.
Uhuru Kenyatta has been sworn in as Kenya’s president after winning elections against Raila Odinga back in March
They were on opposite sides at the time and both deny the accusations.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who faces an ICC arrest warrant over the conflict in Darfur, was not in Nairobi for the inauguration.
Uhuru Kenyatta, 51, is the son of Kenya’s founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, and is heir to one of the largest fortunes in Kenya.
He served as deputy prime minister, minister for trade, and finance minister under outgoing President Mwai Kibaki
The crowd, waving Kenyan flags, burst into rapturous welcome as Uhuru Kenyatta took the oath of office, becoming Kenya’s youngest president.
In his inaugural address, Uhuru Kenyatta said he would govern for all Kenyans.
“We will leave no community behind… Where there’s disillusionment, we’ll restore hope,” he said.
The new government would abolish maternity fees in its first 100 days and children starting school next year would be given laptops, he added.
In an apparent reference to the ICC case against him, Uhuru Kenyatta said: “I assure you again that under my leadership, Kenya will strive to uphold our international obligations, so long as these are founded on the well-established principles of mutual respect and reciprocity.”
US and European diplomats attended the inauguration, despite warning before the election that they would have limited contact with Uhuru Kenyatta if he is voted into office.
Among the African leaders present for the inauguration were South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.
Yoweri Museveni told the cheering crowd that he wanted to applaud Kenyans for rejecting the “blackmail” of the ICC.
He supported the ICC when it was formed, but it was now being used by “arrogant actors” who were trying to “install leaders of their choice in Africa and eliminate those they don’t like”, he said.
Raila Odinga – the outgoing prime minister – did not attend the ceremony, choosing to be on holiday in South Africa instead.
Other senior members of his Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) party have also stayed away to signal their opposition to Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency, correspondents say.
According to official results, Uhuru Kenyatta beat Raila Odinga by 50.07% to 43.28% in March, avoiding a run-off by just 8,100 votes.
Raila Odinga challenged the result, but said he would respect the Kenyan Supreme Court’s ruling in Uhuru Kenyatta’s favor.
The election was Kenya’s first after a disputed poll in 2007, which led to violence that left more than 1,200 people dead.
Uhuru Kenyatta is due to appear at the ICC for his trial in The Hague later this year, accused of crimes against humanity. He denies the charges.
Kenya is a party to the Rome Statute, the treaty which established the ICC in 2002.
But like most African countries, it has refused to enforce the ICC warrant for Omar al-Bashir’s arrest.
After Omar al-Bashir visited Kenya in 2010, a Kenyan court ruled that the government must arrest him if he returned, in line with its international obligations under the Rome Statute.
Uhuru Kenyatta has fairly won the country’s presidential election, Kenya’s Supreme Court has ruled today rejecting several petitions challenging the vote.
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga announced the decision, saying the poll was free and fair.
The appeal was lodged by PM Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta’s main rival in the presidential poll this month.
Kenya’s Supreme Court has upheld Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidential election victory
Official results said Uhuru Kenyatta beat Raila Odinga by 50.07% to 43.28%, avoiding a run-off by just 8,100 votes.
There is tight security at the Supreme Court. Violence after a disputed election in 2007 left more than 1,200 people dead.
The presidential, legislative and municipal elections held on March 4 were the first since the 2007 poll.
Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto, are facing trial on charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly fuelling unrest after that election. They deny the charges.
There was tight security for the court decision, with all roads leading to the building closed.
Police chief David Kimaiyo warned on Friday that unrest would not be tolerated.
He said: “We have reports indicating that some parties have organized their supporters to converge outside the Supreme Court during delivery of the ruling, and we will not allow any such gatherings.
“There will be tight security in all parts of the country, we will not tolerate any form of violence.”
Outgoing President Mwai Kibaki has urged people to stay calm and accept the result, but much will depend on Kenyans’ faith in their newly reformed judiciary.
Lawyers for Raila Odinga said their petition to the Supreme Court included allegations of vote manipulation, as well as problems with the registration of voters and an electronic vote counting mechanism.
On Friday, the Supreme Court reviewed recounts from 22 polling stations. Both sides claimed that the recounts vindicated their position.
Uhuru Kenyatta has called the election, which was largely conducted peacefully, a “triumph of democracy”.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has insisted that the vote was credible, despite technical failures with an electronic voter ID system and the vote counting mechanism.
International observers said the poll was largely free, fair and credible, and that the electoral commission had conducted its business in an open and transparent manner.
Kenya’s PM Raila Odinga has filed a Supreme Court appeal against Uhuru Kenyatta’s narrow victory in the recent presidential election’s first round.
Uhuru Kenyatta beat Raila Odinga comfortably by 50.7% to 43.28% on March 4, avoiding a run-off by only 8,100 votes.
However, Raila Odinga has accused the electoral authorities of manipulating the result.
Police fired tear gas to disperse about 100 supporters of his Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) who had gathered outside the Supreme Court.
The police had warned them that they would not be allowed to do so.
Some of the crowd were wearing t-shirts bearing slogans including “I support the petition” and “Democracy on trial”.
The presidential, legislative and municipal elections held 12 days ago were the first since the 2007 poll which set off ethnic and political violence in which more than 1,200 people were killed.
Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto, are facing trial on charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly fuelling the unrest. They deny the charges.
Lawyers for Raila Odinga said their petition to the Supreme Court included allegations of vote manipulation, as well as problems with the registration of voters and an electronic vote counting mechanism.
“I have no hesitation whatsoever in lawfully challenging the election outcome,” Raila Odinga told reporters outside his offices in Nairobi.
“These failures dwarf anything Kenyans have ever witnessed in any previous election,” the prime minister added.
Raila Odinga has filed a Supreme Court appeal against Uhuru Kenyatta’s narrow victory in the recent presidential election’s first round
However, Raila Odinga urged his supporters not to resort to violence.“We cannot begin what is supposed to be a new era under a new constitution in the same old ways,” he added, referring to the charter adopted in 2010.
The Minister of Lands, James Orengo, a senior Cord official, said the party had a constitutional right to file the petition and a “strong case”.
“Expect a new election, and this time around no monkey-business. I think we’re going to win and win in the first round,” James Orengo told KTN TV.
“I can assure you that we have the evidence, and we have the will and the preparedness to prosecute the petition,” he added.
James Orengo nevertheless promised that Cord would respect the Supreme Court’s ruling if it went against the party, and urged Uhuru Kenyatta and his supporters to declare that they would do likewise.
In his acceptance speech last Saturday, Uhuru Kenyatta described the election as “free and fair” and a “triumph of democracy”.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has also insisted that the vote was credible and that it is ready for any legal scrutiny.
International observers said the election was largely free, fair and credible, and that the electoral commission had conducted its business in an open and transparent manner.
Raila Odinga was the runner-up to Mwai Kibaki in the 2007 presidential election, which he also said was stolen.
Kenyan Deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have won the presidential election by the tightest of margins as the provisional results indicate.
After all the votes were counted Uhuru Kenyatta had polled 50.03% of the vote, 4,109 votes over the threshold required for outright victory.
However, the official result is not expected before 11:00 on Saturday.
Rival candidate Raila Odinga is set to file a legal challenge if he loses.
One of Raila Odinga’s aides said the candidate had “no intention” of conceding defeat.
Salim Lone told the Daily Nation newspaper: “The level of the failures in the system makes it very difficult to believe it was a credible result, and if Uhuru is declared president, Raila will go to court.”
Both candidates have complained of irregularities during the course of the count, since Monday’s election.
Uhuru Kenyatta won 6,173,433 votes out of a total of 12,338,667, well ahead of the prime minister, who polled 5,340,546 – or 43.28% of the vote.
Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Coalition party said it was “proud and honored for the trust” bestowed on it, adding that it had taken a message to the people and that “we are grateful to the people of Kenya for accepting this message”.
Early on Saturday, small groups of Kenyatta supporters celebrated in Nairobi, hooting car horns and singing.
If Uhuru Kenyatta is confirmed by Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), he could face difficult relations with Western countries.
He faces trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in July for crimes against humanity.
He is accused of fuelling communal violence after the 2007 election that saw more than 1,000 people killed and 600,000 forced from their homes.
Uhuru Kenyatta’s running mate, William Ruto, also faces similar charges.
Both men deny the accusations.
Kenyan Deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have won the presidential election by the tightest of margins as the provisional results indicate
The ICC has agreed to postpone William Ruto’s trial by a month until May after his lawyers complained of not having enough time to prepare his defence.
Countries including the US and UK have hinted that his election as president would have consequences for their relations with the Nairobi government – comments which have been dismissed in Nairobi as unwanted foreign interference in domestic matters.
Kenya’s new electronic voting system was designed to eliminate the chance of vote-rigging and with it any risk of a repeat of the post-poll violence of 2007.
But the count has been plagued with technical glitches, including a programming error that led to the number of rejected votes being multiplied by a factor of eight. By Wednesday, the electronic system was abandoned and the count restarted by hand.
According to Kenya’s election rules, the winner needs to poll more than 50% of the vote to avoid a second round run-off next month.
If the election commission confirms that Uhuru Kenyatta has crossed the 50% threshold by such a narrow margin, then Raila Odinga’s officials say he will challenge the outcome.
The prime minister’s Cord alliance had earlier complained that votes from 11 constituencies were missing, in effect leaving him more than 250,000 votes short.
Both men passed a second condition needed for victory – at least 25% of the vote in more than half of the 47 counties.
The ballot count in Kenya’s presidential elections has been rigged, says the running mate of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who is trailing behind his rival, Uhuru Kenyatta.
“We have evidence the results we have received have been doctored,” said Raila Odinga’s running mate Kalonzo Musyoka.
He said the vote count should be stopped but added that his comments were not a call for protest.
Counting has been severely delayed after the electronic system crashed.
Following the latest allegation, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is holding a closed-door meeting with various high commissioners and ambassadors.
The chairman of the IEBC is due to address journalists later on Thursday.
More than 1,000 people were killed in the violence which broke out in 2007-08 after Raila Odinga claimed he had been cheated of victory by supporters of President Mwai Kibaki, who is stepping down after two terms in office.
Uhuru Kenyatta, who backed Mwai Kibaki, is due to stand trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) next month, accused of organizing attacks on members of ethnic groups seen as supporters of Raila Odinga. He denies the charges.
Kalonzo Musyoka said the failure of the electronic vote transmission system earlier this week had allowed results to be rigged.
“We as a coalition take the position the national vote-tallying process lacks integrity and has to be stopped and re-started using primary documents from the polling stations,” he said on Thursday.
But Kalonzo Musyoka also called on Kenyans to remain calm.
“It is not a call to mass action. We are committed as a coalition to the principle of the rule of law.”
The ballot count in Kenya’s presidential elections has been rigged, says the running mate of Prime Minister Raila Odinga
Meanwhile, senior members of Raila Odinga’s coalition have given further details about their allegations, saying that the number of ballots counted exceeded that of votes cast.
The long delays, and these new accusations are increasing the tension surrounding the polls.
However, until they see comprehensive evidence, many Kenyans will remain skeptical.
Following glitches with hi-tech voting and counting systems, the vote-tallying process was started again from scratch, and by hand, on Wednesday.
Results were only being announced after the ballots had been physically delivered to election headquarters in Nairobi, rather than being filed electronically.
The latest figures indicate Uhuru Kenyatta has maintained his lead over Raila Odinga, with 2.5 million (53%) votes to 1.9 million (42%) – as originally indicated.
However, the new tally shows that the number of rejected ballots, which have become a major bone contention, has sharply come down.
In the initial count, some 300,000 votes – about 6% – were disqualified for various reasons.
But according to latest official results, this figure has now come down to about 40,000. While the reason for the drop remains unclear, some observers said that election officials were being too strict first time round.
Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee coalition has rejected calls for some of these ballots to be included, as requested by Raila Odinga’s allies.
Counting the rejected votes would greatly add to the number needed for a candidate to break the 50% threshold for a first-round win and increase the prospect of a runoff due within a month.
The push for these ballots’ inclusion was motivated by a “sinister and suspect logic”, said Charity Ngilu, a senior member of Uhuru Kenyatta’s coalition.
The camp also accused the British High Commissioner in Kenya of “canvassing to have rejected votes tallied” in an attempt to deny Uhuru Kenyatta outright victory in Monday’s vote.
The UK Foreign Office said claims of British interference were “entirely false and misleading”.
Correspondents say one of the reasons for the many rejected votes is that Kenyans had, for the first time, six ballot papers to fill in, which may have caused confusion.
The winning candidate must get more than 50% of the total votes cast and at least 25% of votes in half of the 47 counties. The latter was a requirement introduced in the new constitution to make sure the new president wins with wide support, rather than only with the backing of voters in his regional and ethnic strongholds.
If there is no clear winner, a second round of voting will take place, probably on April 11.
Son of Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta
Due to stand trial at ICC in April accused of organizing violence in last election
His running mate, William Ruto, also accused
Both deny the charges
From Kikuyu ethnic group – Kenya’s largest at 22% of population and powerful economically
Kikuyus and William Ruto’s Kalenjin community saw fierce clashes after 2007 poll
Currently deputy prime minister
Son of first Vice-President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga
Distant relative of Barack Obama
Believes he was cheated of victory in last election
From Luo community in western Kenya – 11% of population.
Some Luos feel they have been marginalized by central government
Third time running for president
Currently prime minister under power-sharing deal to end violence last time
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