Envoys dismiss calls for fresh polls

April 10, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 10 – Representatives of the US and German governments in Nairobi said Friday that fresh elections were not the solution to the current political impasse in Kenya.

US ambassador Michael Ranneberger and his German counterpart Walter Lindner called on the political class to focus on development rather than on political rhetoric.

“If we have one message today, it is Mr President, Mr Prime Minister get on with the reform process. Do what you said you were going to do, honor your word,” Amb Ranneberger said.

They cited the current cash crunch in government and lack of an electoral body as some of the reasons that the country was not ready for snap elections.
“The government requires funds to mitigate the effects of the famine situation and not for financing snap polls,’ Amb Lindner said.

The statement came a day after the National Council of Churches of Kenya renewed calls for fresh elections, citing continued wrangles of the country’s top leadership.

American ambassador Michael Ranneberger however observed that an election would distract the country from the reform process. 

The two diplomats urged politicians to stop playing politics with the reform agenda noting that time was running out.

“The reform agenda needs to move ahead and politicians should stop playing politics with this issue and focus on reforms in the interest of the nation so that the country does not slip back to a situation where there could be conflict and chaos,” the envoy said.

Amb Linder said it was normal for coalition partners to disagree but urged them to focus on reforms and not trivial issues.

“In my country we have a coalition and people do disagree but they burn the midnight oil in a bid to sort out the problems, that’s the nature of a coalition government,” Mr Lidner said.

He noted that the country is just 15 months from the worst crisis ever and the best solution would be for the two principles to keep the coalition together until the reforms are in place before the next general election.

Amb Ranneberger hinted at plans to meet the two principles in a bid to push for a solution to the impasse that could tear the coalition apart.

“I have asked for a meeting next week to see how Mr Kibaki and Mr Raila can agree on the best way to implement these reforms,” Amb Ranneberger said.
While regretting the resignation of Justice Minister Martha Karua early last week Amb Lindner urged that her replacement be a reformist.

“Nobody is irreplaceable of course but she was a very good fighter for reforms and we hope the new appointee will be equally up to the task,” Amb Lindner said

The two diplomats said the coalition government should serve its full term to allow for the completion of the reform process.



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