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Karua speaks on Visa row

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 27 – Gichugu Member of Parliament Martha Karua has taken issue with the protest letter from President Mwai Kibaki to Barack Obama of the US expressing displeasure and concern about travel restrictions by the US government on 15 prominent individuals.

While expressing support for the action, Ms Karua said that it should serve as a wake up call to the government on the need to fast track reforms.

“Beggars are not choosers. If you are extending your hand to be helped by your neighbour or your friend, you cannot afford to be irritated when he is passing by your home and hears screams and is asking you to please look after one another,” the Gichugu MP stated.

She further stressed the need for the government to heed the advice from the international community to carry out reforms in its key sectors of operation. 

“I would like to tell the government and leaders to behave responsibly towards citizens and you will not hear anybody telling you anything,” she said.

“If you do not, you will invite comments not only from our neighbours and friends, but also from your citizens.”

Meanwhile, her sentiments were echoed by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights which said that the travel bans by the US government should not be taken negatively.

Vice Chairman Hassan Omar Hassan pointed out that it merely echoed the concerns of Kenyans. He urged leaders to use the action to bring the needed change for the benefit of patriotic individuals.

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“All stakeholders are interested to see progress made in this country and I think the pressure towards reforms and governance issue is not necessarily an interest of the United States on its own but is also something that has had the Kenyan people generate the demand for those reforms,”  Mr Hassan said.

He further termed the response by President Mwai Kibaki to the travel restrictions as uncalled for.

“It is wrong for the person at the highest level of the Presidency to try to plead innocence not on the basis of a person but on the basis of technicalities,” he observed.

President Mwai Kibaki on Saturday wrote a protest letter to US President Barack Obama expressing displeasure and concern about letters written to 15 prominent Kenyans.

In a statement President Kibaki said that letters written to some Ministers, MPs and Permanent Secretaries was out of step with the international protocol in the conduct of relations between friendly nations.

“His Excellency President Mwai Kibaki has written to President Barack Obama of the United States expressing displeasure and concern about letters written by a US Government official to some Ministers, some Members of Parliament and some Civil servants in their personal capacity on matters of Kenya’s public policy,” read a statement from PPS.

“The action by the US Government official is considered out of step with international protocols in the conduct of relations between friendly nations.”

Last week US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger announced that they have dispatched threatening letters to the Kenyan officials with possible visa bans.

This was the first time the President had taken action on communications or threats issued by foreign envoys attached to the country.

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The US government has been vocal on issues that touch on Kenyan public including corruption, post election violence and lately the reform agenda.

According to American ambassador Michael Ranneberger, the US will more closely scrutinise any proposals for Kenya in international financial institutions.
He also hinted that the travel bans, if and when enforced, "would likely extend to members of families."


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