NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 26 – The United States of America announced on Monday that it had revoked the visa of yet another top government official “whom it considers to be a stumbling block in the reform agenda.”
US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnny Carson declined to name the individual concerned but described him as being “too influential” on governance matters and one who travels widely in the US and other overseas countries.
“The individual does have a US visa, travels widely and that visa is going to be revoked. The paper work has moved much more rapidly on this individual than the others and we will find out soon enough who they are,” Mr Carson told a media conference at the US ambassador’s residence in Nairobi.
He later indicated that the individual had been in government service for more than 20 years.
He said the affected person “had obstructed the reform process, failed to end the cycle of impunity and has been an obstacle in the fight against corruption.”
Mr Carson also announced that the US was considering similar action against three other senior officials in government whose names he did not reveal.
“We have focused our attention on individuals we believe are capable of having an influence of change and because they have not used their offices in an appropriate and proper way, we felt that we would focus on them. Not everyone in government is an obstacle to progress,” he stressed.
Mr Carson was accompanied at the press briefing by US envoy Michael Ranneberger who previously announced that at least 15 senior government officials and legislators had received caution letters from the US government over possible travel bans to America.
On Monday, Mr Carson explained that his continued visit to Kenya was a clear indication of the importance President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton attached to developments in the east African nation.
“Specifically, I want to emphasise that the President feels strongly about the need for the current coalition government to implement fully the reform agenda on an urgent basis,” he said.
Doing so, he said, was absolutely essential to ensure the future democracy and stability of Kenya.
“President Obama’s position is clear. We will maintain and steadily increase pressure for implementation and we will not do business as usual with those who do not support reform or who support violence,” he said and pledged America’s support and recognition of implementation of reforms when they are undertaken.
When contacted, Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua said the Foreign Affairs Ministry was awaiting an official confirmation of the travel ban.
“We don’t have any comment at the moment over that matter because we are awaiting official confirmation from the Foreign Affairs Ministry. That is when we will comment on it. So there is no comment for now,” he told Capital News when reached on telephone.
Citing the on-going reforms in the security apparatus in the country, Mr Carson said Washington was pleased with developments in Nairobi but called for an accelerated pace in implementation.
He said he had met with Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti with whom they held discussions on the remaining phase of police reforms.
“I met Minister Saitoti and we discussed plans on further police reforms; the US will look at means and ways of helping in the implementation of the police reforms,” he said.
During the meeting, Mr Carson said he sought to know the government’s position on recent reports that some communities and groups were re-arming themselves ahead of the 2012 General Elections.
“We also discussed the issue of rising ethnic tensions and re-arming of groups around the country and the Minister told me he takes the issue very seriously as well,” he said.