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Calm after Kenya storm with the US

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 29 – America has assured Kenya that it will observe protocol in its diplomatic engagement and communication, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said on Tuesday.

Mr Wetangula who met the US ambassador Michael Ranneberger on Tuesday morning said the two agreed to avoid actions that would undermine the “friendly relations between the two nations.”

The Minister had summoned Mr Ranneberger over warning letters the US issued to 15 prominent Kenyans it claims are undermining the reform agenda.

“Our discussions were very productive and Ambassador Ranneberger knows and understands – if he didn’t – the need to follow protocol,” he said falling short of saying that Mr Ranneberger apologised for announcing that letters warning of possible travel bans had been sent to 15 government officials through the media and bypassing government structures.

“We did agree there is no room for megaphone diplomacy but diplomacy that is mutual in nature and the channels of correspondence between governments are better used,” he added.

Mr Wetangula said Mr Ranneberger gave him a copy of the list of those who received the said letters but indicated he would not make the names public.

“I promised him (Ranneberger) that I would not make them public. Those who received can come out and declare,” he said.

The Minister summoned Mr Ranneberger on Monday to seek an explanation about what Kenya said was a breach of diplomatic protocol after the US issued letters to the 15 individuals instead of communicating directly with the government.

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Mr Ranneberger revealed details of the letters last Thursday while Mr Wetangula was away on official duty in the US. The Minister was infuriated by the letters signed by the Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson and termed them ‘an act of intimidation.’ He also warned that Kenya could use diplomatic options available “to curtail Mr Ranneberger’s habitual breach of protocol.”

The summons to the envoy followed an official protest letter sent to Washington by President Mwai Kibaki on Saturday over the same issue.  In his letter, the Head of State said the action by the US Government official was considered ‘out of step with international protocols in the conduct of relations between friendly nations.’

Mr Wetangula said Washington was yet to respond to the letter from the Office of the President, but maintained that Nairobi would not stand by and watch the Ambassador ignore protocol.

The American Ambassador has rubbed authorities the wrong way several times for his regular criticism of government actions and policies.


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