Germany assures Kenya of support

September 29, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 29 – New German Ambassador Margit Hellwig-Boette has said her priorities as she assumes office in Kenya will be to support the country’s quest to implement reforms.

In an exclusive interview with Capital News, she said her government was ready and willing to cooperate with Kenya to ensure underlying causes of the 2007-post election violence were addressed.

"To be a true friend of Kenya, to me it means to support the reforms.  There are many reforms to be implemented, land, judicial, fighting corruption and I will give all the support I can as an ambassador," she said.

"People in Germany were very shocked when they learnt of the post election violence.  Kenya was considered special after the 2002 elections… a sort of model democracy," she added.

She said it was important for the country to ensure the violence does not recur during elections scheduled for 2012.

Mrs Boette also observed it was significant for the Kenyan leadership to dialogue with those supporting reforms amicably to implement reforms.
"I have the feeling that also in the Kenyan government there has to be discussion on how to cope with the new Obama administration," she said.

However the diplomat said she did not want to comment much about the political situation and pressure on leaders to implement reforms since she had been in the country for less than two months.

When she received her credentials on Monday morning, she said she told President Mwai Kibaki that Germany’s and Kenya’s bilateral relations were in a good state and promised to continue guarding the good relationship.

"One of my objectives is to remain like my predecessor – a good friend of Kenya, and to be a good friend is to support the necessary reforms in this country," she said.

She promised her support for projects that promote development such as culture.

The Kikwetu festival is one of the projects started by her predecessor Mr Walter Lindner who handed it over to the Kenyan authorities before his departure.

Mrs Boette promised to support the Loiyangalani festival which was the first German cultural initiative marked in June last year in Turkana.

She said next year a new version of the festival will be realised in a bid to promote and unite diverse cultures in Kenya.

The famous German cultural week to be held in October was also another project she said the Embassy was working on.

Before her posting to Kenya, she was Head of Division in the German Foreign Ministry and was charged with civil crisis prevention.

She said her post also gave her experience in election monitoring and promoting freedom of media and assembly.

The 51 year old has worked as a career diplomat for over 20 years in the Federal Foreign Office and has over 10 years of experience in parliamentary affairs.

Mrs Boette acknowledged Kenya’s rich tourism and development saying the country was way ahead compared to other countries in the region.

Just like her predecessor, she said she already felt welcome.

"Ever since I put my foot on Kenyan soil, everybody was friendly to me; friendly people at the airport, to the President when I met him this (Monday) morning.  It was a nice feeling to come and work here, I have already started to feel at home," she said.


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