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US urged to avoid travel bans on Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 29 – House Speaker Kenneth Marende has asked the outgoing American ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger to advise his government against issuing travel bans to Kenya.

Mr Marende who was speaking during the ambassador\’s farewell party on Thursday argued that the advisories hurt the country\’s economy and undermined its tourism industry.

He urged the American government to allow direct flights to the country to promote trade and tourism.

"You have lived here quite peacefully and I want you to encourage more Americans to visit magical Kenya. You are also welcome to visit that area where people aim high called Emuhaya (the constituency Mr Marende once represented) and we will install you as an elder," he remarked.

He also challenged the American government to support more Kenyan industries to drive the country\’s economy in addition to supporting Kenya’s quest for reforms.

Mr Marende noted that several steps had already been taken towards the implementation of the Constitution and that measures had also been taken by the government to cushion Kenyans against the rising cost of living.

He asked Kenyans to remain patient saying that several countries had been marred by violent protests by ordinary citizens who were demanding better governance.

"An American Ambassador in Poland had this advice to the Polish host; that in America when we protest we don\’t hurl stones at the police, we throw tomatoes and eggs at them. And the Polish host said if we had tomatoes and eggs we wouldn\’t protest," he said emphasising the need for good governance.

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Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai however challenged the government to live by its word and fully implement the Constitution. She argued that the government needed to increase its efforts in sustaining the environment and also protect the ordinary Kenyan.

"We say the right words; the rhetoric is excellent but the actions don\’t match it. Sometimes we lose that focus and behave as if we are transitory mercenaries. This is the time to turn the tide that has been going on for the last 100 years," she said.

Amb Ranneberger, on his part, maintained that the US government was fully behind Kenya and that it would continue supporting the country\’s reform agenda. He reiterated his calls to the Kenyan youths asking them to take part in the leadership structures of their country.

"Fundamental reform and change are essential to ensure the future democratic stability and prosperity of Kenya. I\’m confident that the Kenyan people will achieve this. But I also fully appreciate the serious challenges ahead; powerful political forces that are struggling to maintain the status quo," he said.

Acting Foreign Affairs Minister and Minister for Internal security George Saitoti commended the Ambassador for his zeal and stance in fighting impunity.

He also emphasised the need for promoting the rule of law saying it would fight corruption.

 Others present were Heritage Minister William ole Ntimama, Lands Minister James Orengo, Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa and various heads of civil societies. 

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