, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10 – US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger has issued fresh calls for the government to hasten the reform process and unite Kenyans following last year’s post election violence.
Mr Ranneberger who was speaking during the final day of activism against violence on women on Thursday said politicians should not ethnicise the bid to punish perpetrators of the 2007 post election violence.
He said that politicians should instead communicate the International Criminal Court (ICC) process to Kenyans in a fair and objective manner to avoid derailing them from the truth.
“No one group, no one community or its leaders is being targeted. It is a broad-based process to look at everybody who might have been involved in perpetrating violence,” he said.
He has also hit out at politicians who were trivialising the post election violence adding that they must instead encourage dialogue that would help Kenyans make peace.
“I always get quite angry when I hear Kenyan politicians saying we need to forget what happened. That is nonsense; that’s a recipe for disaster. It is important for senior government officials to get down to the grassroots level to not just talk about reconciliation but to actually make it happen,” he said adding that leaders must be held accountable for their actions.
Mr Ranneberger also advised Kenya to take advantage of the crisis that rocked the country at the start of last year and use the opportunity to avert the possibility of future crises.
“The crisis last year brought to light all the ills of this country whether it’s the extent of violence against women, the culture of impunity or ethnic issues. It is therefore important that Kenya takes advantage of the opportunity created by the crisis to boldly bring about fundamental change in reform,” he said.
He added that time for Kenya to make reforms following the 2007-08 violence was quickly running out and that failure to make reforms before the timeframe expired would be detrimental to the country.
“When such crises happen they present historic opportunities that are quickly lost if not ceased. Kenyans therefore need to pull together and bring about change,” he said.
Mr Ranneberger also encouraged Kenyan leaders to accept reforms and to assist Kenyans adjust to them.
“People are tired, they want change and they know it has to come and so there is a movement building up to push for that change. This is the best thing that could have happened to Kenya because that’s the way in which change will be channeled in a peaceful way to avoid a repetition of violence. This is something that leaders need to embrace not resist,” he said.
He also called on women to push the government to make judicial and police reforms saying that women bore the biggest brunt during the post election violence. He added that Kenya had the worst statistics in East Africa when it came to violence directed at women and the role they played in society.
“Women need to be used as a launch pad for pushing for development and democratic reforms in this country. As we talk about the whole world you see that statistics are very clear; to the extent you empower women there is a direct correlation with the increase in development in those countries and with an increased focus on good governance,” he explained.
Mr Ranneberger added that legal reforms as well as political and police restructuring that were proposed by government be implemented at all levels.
“There is need to pass the relevant laws and implement them. The Sexual Offenses Bill has not been fully implemented in many respects; that needs to happen. There needs to be affirmative action programmes which need to be carried out more effectively instead of paying lip service to them. The women’s fund needs to be administered with great transparency,” he said.