Envoys put Kenyan media on the spot

May 25, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya May 25 – German Ambassador Walter Lindner says Kenya’s media is often ‘too polite’ in questioning the commitment of the Executive and Legislature to constitutional and governance reforms under the National Accord.

Mr Lindner said journalists were often “very polite and very respectful” but ought to be tougher on politicians and confront them with the facts.

 “You do your job because you are representing the citizens out there and they are asking the same questions and they are waiting for the answers; so if you don’t ask in the right manner then the citizens won’t get the answers,” he said

He stressed that the Fourth Estate played a crucial role in ensuring national cohesion by agitating for reforms that would avert the political instability that recently rocked the country.

His U.S counterpart Michael Ranneberger challenged the media to put the government to task on constitutional reforms.

“The challenge that the media and Kenyans face today is how you can come together in a concerted way like you did last year so as to force the implementation of these reforms because….these reforms won’t happen unless there is a lot of peaceful pressure,” the American envoy said.

“There are a lot of people who don’t want to see these reforms happen; there is an awful lot of vested interests,” he explained.

At the same time, the envoy dismissed claims by a section of legislators who are accusing him of meddling in Kenya’s internal affairs.

He said allegations by MPs from Central, Rift Valley and Nyanza provinces that he has been mobilising youth groups across the country to pressure Government on constitutional reforms are not factual.

The envoy however says he will continue voicing the concerns of US President Barack Obama’s administration over the slow pace of change.

Mr Ranneberger defended: “We are active because our governments want us to be so; if you say I’m interfering in the internal affairs of the nation, and then let them say President Obama is interfering in the issues.”

“You bet we are holding you to high standards because we cited you as a model of democracy. We want to see change because if there are no reforms there is going to be instability and that is not in our interest or your interest.”

The two diplomats were speaking in Nairobi after opening a two-day German-East Africa Media Dialogue workshop on the role of media in settling conflicts.


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