NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 2 – United States Ambassador Michael Ranneberger has confirmed that Attorney General Amos Wako is the Kenyan government official handed a travel ban by Washington a week ago.
In his twitter page, the ambassador confirmed weekend media reports that Mr Wako was the latest official prohibited from setting foot on US soil for allegedly hindering reforms in Kenya.
His twitter posting says: "Still wondering which senior Kenyan official has been banned from the U.S. for obstructing reforms? The answer is…," he said referring to a Saturday newspaper headline that said “It is Wako”
United States Assistant Secretary of State in charge of African Affairs Johnnie Carson who announced the travel ban during a visit to Kenya last week declined to name the official only saying a letter would be sent to the banned individual. Since the announcement, speculation has been rife in local and international media over who the individual might be, with most fingers pointing at the country’s serving Chief Government Legal Advisor after Mr Carson said the person “had been in the government for two decades.”
Mr Wako has been the country’s chief legal counsel since 1991 and has survived two regimes including the NARC administration when most senior officials were sent packing.
Besides the latest ban, Mr Carson said Washington was considering similar action against three more prominent Kenyans, but again he declined to name the officials.
Mr Carson’s announcement stoked a diplomatic storm between the two countries with Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula “vowing to retaliate.”
President Barrack Obama’s administration has been persistent on reforms in Kenya and has kept consistent pressure on the coalition government. In September, Washington threatened to cut links with 15 government officials including Cabinet Ministers, MPs and Permanent Secretaries in Nairobi for allegedly being a stumbling block to the country’s reform agenda.
To further push for the implementation of Agenda Four of the mediation talks, Mr Ranneberger said that his government would scrutinise proposals for Kenya in international financial institutions including the IMF and World Bank.