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Kibaki writes protest letter to Obama

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 26 – President Mwai Kibaki has written a protest letter to US President Barack Obama expressing displeasure and concern about letters written to 15 prominent Kenyans.

In a statement President Kibaki says 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.”

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

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

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

The measure was Washington’s most unequivocal expression of anger so far at its top regional partner’s failure to make good on the reform agenda agreed in the aftermath of last year’s deadly post-election violence.

"Letters signed by Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson have been sent to 15 persons making clear that the future relationship of those persons with the United States is tied to their support for implementation of the reform agenda and opposition to the use of violence," Mr Ranneberger had said.

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"The letters we have sent — with more to come — will be followed by some travel bans within the coming weeks," he told journalists during the briefing.
Mr Ranneberger also said Washington will adopt a tougher stance on any international financial deal sought by Nairobi.

"The US is indicating that it will more closely scrutinise any proposals for Kenya in international financial institutions," the ambassador said, without giving further details.

He also hinted that the travel bans, if and when enforced, "would likely extend to members of families."

Thursday’s declarations are the latest sign of Washington’s growing impatience with Kenya’s coalition government, which has made little progress on a number of key reforms in almost a year and a half of existence.

The US letter sent to the incriminated Kenyan officials, a sample of which was distributed by the US embassy, stressed that ample notice had been given by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"They have made clear that, as a friend and partner of Kenya, we want to help, but that we will not do business as usual with those who do not support reform or who support violence," the letter said.

The letter also reiterated the reforms that were expected of the Kenyan government, among others "decisive, bold anti-corruption steps; reforms to ensure the rule of law, including police reform, judicial reform,… accountability for perpetrators of post-election violence; land reform."

Earlier this month the US chided President Kibaki for reappointing a much-criticised anti-graft chief  Justice Aaron Ringera without seeking parliamentary approval.

President Kibaki then sacked the police chief Major General Hussein Ali, a long-standing demand of the international community and Kenyan rights groups.

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US government immediately praised the move but stressed deep reform of the security apparatus was still needed.

Mr Ranneberger made it clear however that there was no plan to cut aid.

More details to follow…


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