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US defends Kenya s Cabinet size

KILGORIS, April 20 – The United States (US) government will continue funding Kenya despite the bloated cabinet that was named and sworn in last week, its ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger has assured.

Ranneberger defended President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga over the cabinet size, saying it was the best compromise they could have made to heal the nation.

He said the US government would not backtrack on its promise to help Kenya recover, and called on other funding partners to assist the country.

“The cabinet sworn in last week was the best compromise President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga could have made to rescue a nation writhing from post war pain,” Ranneberger said.

He added that everybody understood the cabinet was larger than normal, and that this was precipitated by circumstances.

Speaking in Kilgoris, the US diplomat said that the new government deserved support from Kenyans and foreign partners alike to succeed in its endeavours.

Last week there were reports that a section of the Western media had embarked on a campaign to influence their governments to suspend donor aid to Kenya over the cabinet size.

At the same time, Ranneberger who was in Trans-Mara to officiate an anti-FGM run said the US government would spend about $1 million to fight the vice in Kenya.

He said the practice was the cause of several deaths among Maasai women and other communities practicing it in Africa.

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“The United States is firmly opposed to the practice of FGM, and I am pleased that we are working with Kenyans to end it,” the envoy stated.

He said the FGM issue was still culturally sensitive in certain communities in Kenya but commended the government for outlawing the practice.

“In 2001 the Kenyan government outlawed female genital mutilation by bringing into force the children’s act,” Ranneberger uttered.

The ambassador relayed that the practice had gone down by 38 percent in the country, a sign of success that puts Kenya ahead of other African states working to end female circumcision.

Ranneberger called on the government to partner with the US to support regional organisations fighting FGM.

He later issued certificates to several girls who had undergone an alternative rite of passage organised by Cherish Others and an NGO based in Nairobi.

A UN report has indicated that at least 2 million girls in the world are under threat of facing forced circumcision.

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