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US will not name banned Kenya official

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 30 – Four days after imposing the latest travel ban on a Kenya government official, the US government says it will not name the individual.

Addressing at a meeting with Kenyan lawyer’s on Friday, US ambassador Michael Ranneberger said they had delays in delivering the letter to the undisclosed official due to a holdup in drafting by the State Department Office in Nairobi.

He said the concerned individual had also not been informed of the ban.

"Here is the problem.  We have taken that decision but we can’t release the name publicly until that person has been informed.  The State Department lawyers are still working on how to write him the letter and all that so it will be unfair to talk publicly."

"But at some point we will be talking publicly about the names and things," said the American envoy.

At the same time, US ambassador said the Obama administration would not relent on increasing pressure on Kenya to follow through on political reforms agreed to after last year’s post-election violence, in which some 1,300 people were killed.

"Our President, a son of Kenya wants to see a stable and prosperous democratic future for this nation.  No true friend of Kenya; no true Kenyan patriot can want anything less.

"Failure to grasp the historic opportunity Kenya now has in its hands would be unconscionable," he added.

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He urged Kenya to strengthen its institutions and eradicate corruption to avoid more violence after the next election in 2012.

The US has said it wants Kenya to make greater efforts to stamp out corruption, overhaul the police force and judiciary, create a permanent electoral commission, and bring to justice the organisers of last year’s electoral violence.

Mr Ranneberger said the reforms yet to be implemented were key to avoid a repeat of the skirmishes that rocked the country following the disputed general elections.

He said: "Kenya is at a crossroads. The window is fast closing… there is no more time for commissions, rhetoric, obfuscation and half steps.  Kenya’s leadership must listen to the voices of its people and undertake the key reforms, with much greater sense of urgency."

He said reforms would not be realised in the absence of concerted efforts from the Kenyans and other concerned parties.

The US ambassador has been involved in various outreach activities with MPs, youths and women grassroots organisations aimed at promoting implementation of reforms.

The American Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson announced the travel ban on Monday saying the senior official had obstructed the reform process, failed to end the cycle of impunity and had been an obstacle in the fight against corruption".

The US said it was considering bans on three other officials – but declined to release any names.

Last month Mr Carson sent letters to 15 prominent Kenyans threatening them with travel bans for blocking political reforms agreed after last year’s post-election violence.

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