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US stokes fury over Ringera

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 3 – The American government has joined the chorus calling for revocation of Justice Aaron Ringera’s re-appointment of as Director of the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC).

United States Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger said on Thursday that the ‘unilateral action’ by President Mwai Kibaki compromises the commitment of the reform agenda in the country. Mr Ranneberger said in by-passing the Advisory Board and Parliament, contrary to the law, the action encourages the culture of impunity which the government badly needs to fight.

“The decision raised profoundly troubling questions particularly given the poor performance of the KACC over the past five years,” he said.

The Ambassador reiterated that the perceived continued lack of political will to reforms was compromising Nairobi’s diplomatic relationship with Washington.

“President (Barrack) Obama has made it clear that our relationship with Kenya depends on the implementation of the reform agenda; and that speaks for itself,” he said.

President Mwai Kibaki through a gazette notice on Monday re-appointed Justice Ringera for another five years while his two deputies Fatuma Sichale and Smokin Wanjala got four more years, attracting public uproar. The terms of the three officials were set to expire next Monday.

Parliament and the civil society have protested President Mwai Kibaki’s move and vowed to sustain pressure on the Executive. More showdown was anticipated in the Parliament on Thursday afternoon between backbenchers and the Executive over the re-appointment.

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs Abdikadir Mohammed was set to move an amendment to the Appropriation Bill to withhold budgetary allocations to the anti graft body in a move meant to intensify pressure on the government.

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Mr Mohammed gave the notice on Wednesday a day that also saw the backbench gang up to shoot down a procedural government motion to send the House on a six weeks recess. Members were enraged by the re-appointment and have vowed to maintain the pressure until the President rescinds the decision. 

“We welcome the efforts to insist on accountability. It is important that Kenyans, Parliament and the civil society make it clear that this is not acceptable and make important peaceful steps to act,” Mr Ranneberger said in his support for the action of the backbench members.

The Advisory Board that had initially protested the re-appointment on Wednesday reported that it would seek diplomatic means to sort out the matter with the Office of the President.

Two MPs went ahead to urge Justice Ringera to reject his re-appointment as a sign of his respect for the rule of law. Kandara legislator Mburu Kamau and his Wajir North counterpart Mohammed Gabow termed the re-appointment as a blow to the war against graft in the country.

They accused the President of overstepping his mandate by not following the laid down procedures and seek consultations from the KACC board and Parliament.

“He should be leading by example by respecting the law of the land. Even if he had the powers, what precedence is the Head of State setting to the rest of Kenyans?” posed Mr Gabow.


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