US backs new Constitution for Kenya

June 8, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 8 – The United States government has said it supports the passage of the proposed Constitution and pledged more aid under the new law.

Vice President Joe Biden who is in Kenya on a three-day visit said Washington was keenly following the developments in Nairobi, particularly on the reform agenda which will deepen democracy and strengthen the rule of law in the country.

“The upcoming constitutional referendum is the singular opportunity to put Kenyan governance on a most solid footing that can move beyond ethnic violence and move beyond corruption and move the country towards economic prosperity,” Mr Biden said, quoting President Barack Obama.

“Putting in place a new Constitution and strengthening your democratic institutions in the rule of law will further open the door to major American development programmes such as the Millennium challenge and will bring about re-investment by American corporations and international organisations in Kenya,” he said.

He added that the reform agenda “can provide millions of dollars in the assistance in grants through the Millennium challenge as well as begin to further build the economy of this great country.”

Mr Biden who jetted in Kenya on Monday night spent the better part of Tuesday morning in closed-door meetings with President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga as well as Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and five Cabinet Ministers.

“As I told the President and the Prime Minister, Americans want to do business here in Kenya. I can tell you, when these reforms take place, you will find a completely different atmosphere about investment in this country,” Mr Biden said.

“Americans want to travel here, do business here and with the right climate, they will come,” he stressed and added that the US was willing to increase funding to Kenya once the proposed Constitution is passed.

In his address to journalists, President Kibaki re-affirmed that a new constitution would herald the most important reform initiative for the Grand Coalition Government.

During the occasion, President Kibaki appreciated the keen interest that President Obama had shown in Kenya and thanked him for his support, goodwill and cooperation.

“We have also expressed our appreciation for the US support in many areas of cooperation, especially in health, agriculture, and security,” the Head of State said and revealed that he and the Prime Minister had “requested that assistance be extended to other sectors, including transport, housing, energy, and water.”

President Kibaki noted that the Coalition Government was keen on attracting American investors to take advantage of the enlarged East African Common Market poised to become in force next month.

He said: “The single market will allow free movement of people, goods, services, and capital throughout the five member countries that comprise Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.”

On regional matters, the President stated that there was urgent need to prioritise the stabilisation of Somalia in order to secure regional peace and stability.

“This matter must be addressed with greater urgency. We have asked the US Government to provide leadership to forge a concerted international effort to stabilise Somalia,” said president Kibaki.

Mr Biden arrived in Nairobi from Egypt on his first visit to the homeland of President Obama\’s father since taking office. He flew in from Sharm El Sheikh, where he discussed the crisis sparked by Israel\’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid convoy last week.

Kenya is America’s top ally in East Africa and has come under intense US pressure to implement reforms called for by the international community following deadly post-election violence two and a half years ago.


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