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Kenya gets US funding for electoral reforms

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 9 – The US government has pledged to give Sh117 million to support electoral reforms in Kenya.

Making the announcement on Tuesday, US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger also said that his country would offer investigative experts to the proposed Special Tribunal if asked.

He said: “The reform agenda and even the results are not in themselves a panacea for the problems that Kenya faces, if carried out it will put in place constitutional provisions, laws and mechanisms to deal with four major issues which have plagued Kenya for over four decades.”

He called on Kenyans to push for the implementation of the reform agenda for greater accountability in government.

“We must be realistic in appreciating that it will likely take decades and generations to change the underlying attitudes that fuel such problems. The reforms will mitigate the impact of the lack of accountability, culture of impunity, ethnic tensions and conflict over land and resources and establish a more constructive framework for dealing with them.”

At the same time, the outspoken diplomat described the reform process being undertaken by the government as ‘slow’.

He said: “I am an optimist particularly when it comes to Kenya but I don’t wear rose-coloured glasses. I am also a realist, someone who recognises that while calls for reform are often enthusiastically voiced, meaningful and lasting reform can only come about through concerted and sustained effort.”

Mr Ranneberger said the next two years will be crucial for both Parliament and government in terms of ensuring the country does not lapse into another crisis as witnessed early this year.

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“In this process the MPs will be tested to demonstrate whether in fact they represent a force for constructive change,” he said.

“Will they be more responsive to the people, leading reform efforts, genuinely hearing constituent concerns, passing relevant legislation that is in the interest of all Kenyans and pay a fair amount of tax? Or will they, instead, become enmeshed in the old ways of doing business,” Mr Ranneberger posed in his address to members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kenya.

He also cited a police overhaul and reforms in the Judiciary as immense hurdles that should be addressed.

“Parliamentarians share responsibility with the leaders of the coalition government to help end the culture of impunity by insisting on police and judicial reform, land reform and vigorous investigations and prosecution of corruption as well as violent crimes,” he said.

He was speaking only hours after Members of a Cabinet committee seeking ways to implement the recommendations of the Waki Commission announced that they were keen to speed up the law that will create a local tribunal before December 17.

The government has been keen to ensure that laws are passed on how to implement both the Waki and Kriegler reports.
This includes the appointment of the three judges in each of the tribunal’s two chambers; the naming of a prosecutor and setting up a secretariat for the tribunal.

After this, the tribunal must start work within the next 30 days, meaning that it must be sitting by March 1 next year.
If this does not happen, a list of 11 suspects believed to have organised or funded the violence will be handed to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

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