Kenya facing a defining moment, says Biden

June 9, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 9 – Visiting US Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday urged the government to ensure the ongoing reforms are fully implemented.

In a 26-minute speech at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Mr Biden said the focus should be on strengthening governance issues and the fight against corruption.

He talked briefly about the constitutional and judicial reforms and said meeting Kenya’s leaders made him more optimistic about the prospects of the reforms.

“Your coalition government has agreed to a reform agenda which will bring about the change that Kenyans are seeking if implemented fully. The Judiciary and police force will place the pursuit of justice above that of personal gain; land rights and ownership will be governed by rule of law not by the whims of leadership,” he told a public forum attended by members of the public, civil society leaders and university students.

He said the constitution review process was a historic opportunity to bring Kenyans together and it would be tragic if the political leadership stoked ethnic animosity to achieve their ends.

Mr Biden said President Barack Obama was following developments in Kenya very closely and wanted to see the reform agenda fully implemented but was quick to clarify that his government was not trying to tell Kenya how to run its affairs.

"This is your decision, the people of Kenya must make this choice; and as you prepare to write a new constitution resist those who may try to divide you based on ethnicity, religion and, above all, fear. For too long opportunistic politicians have created an all or nothing system; your group is either in or out,” he said.

“As President Obama said, Africa’s future is with Africans. We can’t dictate it but you can; it is virtually unlimited,” he said.

Also at the function, former PCEA Moderator Timothy Njoya raised the issue of funding from American Non-Governmental Organisations and evangelicals to frustrate passage of the new Constitution.

He said: “How do you reconcile yourself with the fact that forces attacking (the review process)are funded by the American right wing evangelical system and you (US government) are pouring in less than what those people are pouring to mesmerise our own retrogressive forces both religious and political?” 

Mr Biden however disowned the groups, stressing that the Obama administration supported democratic reforms of crucial state institutions following the 2008 post-election violence that led to the loss of life and property.

“The government of the US – President Barack Obama, Vice President Biden, the US Congress – the political establishment is not giving sustenance to the right wing, they are part of my problem” he said. 

Mr Biden is in the country on a three-day visit and is due to leave on Thursday for South Africa to attend the opening of the World Cup.


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