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US issues fresh warning to Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 24 – The US government on Thursday threatened to cut links with 15 senior Kenyans including Cabinet Ministers, MPs and Permanent Secretaries for allegedly being a stumbling block to the country’s reform agenda.

US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger told a news conference that they had dispatched letters signed by Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnny Carson to the affected individuals and some of them will soon be slapped with a travel ban.

“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,” he said.

But in a quick rejoinder, government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua dismissed the threats, terming Mr Ranneberger’s statement “activism diplomacy”.

“We reserve our comment for now. That is what we refer to as activism diplomacy, which we (Kenya) don’t engage in.”

Mr Ranneberger had said the 15 blacklisted officials included members from both sides of the coalition because of their responsibility to implement reforms.

To further push for the implementation of Agenda Four of the mediation talks, Mr Ranneberger said his government would scrutinise proposals for Kenya in International Financial Institutions.

He said more persons will receive the warning letters.

He further noted that the steps taken were in line with a warning issued by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she visited the country last month and announced that her country would act on those not pushing for the reform agenda in the country.

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The envoy further said his message reflected President Barrack Obama’s who had expressed his concern over lack of commitment by the Kenyan government to implement reforms.

“These steps reflect the message that President Obama and Secretary Clinton have clearly and repeatedly delivered: that we are deeply concerned by the lack of implementation of the comprehensive reform agenda,” he said.

“We will not do business as usual with those who do not support reform or who support violence to achieve political aims.”

Mr Ranneberger said he hoped those who received the letters will take the gesture positively and act on the implementation process.

He excused his warning saying the aim of his government was to guard the interests of Kenyans especially to ensure the happenings of last year’s post election violence do not happen in future.

The envoy however said America had no intentions of freezing aid and would continue its assistance of various projects.

On Wednesday, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo said he had given up on requesting for more time from the International Criminal Court (ICC) to allow the country to form a Special Local Tribunal.

He said after Parliament went on recess without discussing the bill, it was most unlikely that the local tribunal will be formed by the end of September to beat the deadline given by ICC.

Political bickering and open competition has been evident with some Members of Parliament advocating for forgiveness, others dismissing the ICC and a few of them saying the perpetrators of the post election violence should be tried locally.

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Meanwhile, time has lapsed as ICC Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo has promised to make a major announcement after Kenya failed to form a local tribunal within the set deadline which is only a week away.


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