Kenya denies US funding Yes drive

July 16, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 16 – The government has brushed off complaints of meddling by American ambassador Michael Ranneberger saying the funding of independent organisations does not amount to a Yes support.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo said on Friday that the Yes camp had not received direct American funding for the campaign on the proposed Constitution. He said there was nothing wrong with the USAID support for “civic education”.

“If money is coming to the country through Non-governmental organisations, nobody can say that the Yes camp is necessarily the beneficiary since nobody is forcing anyone to support us,” he said.

The No camp on Thursday asked the government to summon the US Ambassador concerning his affiliations to the Yes campaigners and recent revelations that his government had channeled million of shillings to organisations supporting the new Constitution.

A Republican Congressman listed to the Congress a number of organisations campaigning for the draft which have received Sh50 million to fund their activities.

Among those listed include Central Organisation of Trade Unions, Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance, Amani Peoples Theatre, Provincial Commissioner North Eastern Province, and Christian Community Services among others.

Mr Mutula turned the heat on the No camp saying they too were getting support from America.

“I am not satisfied whatever activity that the non-governmental organisations are getting is any greater than the support the church is getting from the right wing extremists from the US,” he said.

Church leaders have consistently complained that MR Ranneberger has ‘crossed diplomatic etiquette’ and engaged in campaigning for the draft.

Whereas Mr Kilonzo conceded that he had disagreed with the ambassador on his comments about internal matters he said his influence on Kenyans was very minimal.

He said: “The mere fact that the ambassador is more outspoken is neither here nor there.”

Earlier in the week Mr Rannebeger was in Kitale and Kisii where he ‘received’ defectors to the Yes camp, attracting outcry from the No camp.

Friday marked the third official campaign day and the Minister said it was progressing on well. He called for sobriety in the campaigns ahead of the August 4 referendum.

“If even as you carry a green card saying Yes and you meet another Kenyan saying No, you must realise that both of you are Kenyans and you shall remain so after the referendum,” he said adding that people must work on convincing others using facts.


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