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Spat with US draws mixed reactions

By | September 30th 2009
By | September 30th 2009

By Standard Team

As Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula met US envoy Michael Ranneberger, mixed reactions continued over travel ban threats.

Sources told The Standard Ranneberger left in a huff after the morning encounter that lasted close to two hours at Wetangula’s office.

Wetangula declined to comment on the meeting, which centered on the letters written by US Assistant Secretary of State in charge of African Affairs Johnnie Carson to 15 Government officials.

Reached for comment, Ranneberger said: "I would not wish to give you the details but what I can tell you the meeting was candid."

But sources said the ambassador gave Wetangula the list of the 15 who had received the letters.

International law

The sources said Wetangula took the envoy to task as to why the US had ignored international law and practices regarding the sovereignty of states by breaching protocol by directly communicating to the individuals.

"The ambassador is said to have requested to consult Washington before meeting the minister again on Thursday," added sources.

Wetangula and Ranneberger are expected to meet again tomorrow.

And yesterday, PNU condemned the US action on Kenyan officials.

"US should cease employing bullying tactics and gun-boat diplomacy as these are contrary to international protocol," said secretary-general and Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi.

In the press statement, PNU maintained they would continue fighting for reforms but the US should stop lecturing Kenya on the same.

At another function, House Speaker Kenneth Marende and Internal Security Minister George Saitoti called for speedy reforms.

Speaking at the 60th Chinese Independence celebrations, the leaders said reforms were key to unlocking the country’s development potential.

"The Government must fight corruption and enforce the rule of law to attract investors," Marende said.

At the same time, the civil society and the Law Society of Kenya accused President Kibaki of protecting individuals indicted for promoting impunity. The group said Kibaki’s actions to defend the 15 individuals issued with ban warnings indicated he has no intention to stem impunity.

"We support the international community for the targeted visa sanctions against individuals. We also urge them to freeze their assets," said LSK Vice-Chairman James Mwamu.

But as Ranneberger met Wetangula, donor countries, religious, and human rights activists challenged the Government to face up to the reality on reforms instead of engaging in diplomatic spat with the US.

Dragging feet

Japanese ambassador Shigeo Iwatani said development partners supported the US concern that the Kibaki administration was dragging its feet in the implementation of Agenda Four of the National Accord.

"As foreign missions, we are all concerned just like the American administration that the implementation of reforms as agreed is too slow, making us all worried," said Iwatani.

The ambassador spoke yesterday at the embassy.

Eldoret Catholic Bishop Cornelius Korir, Co-ordinator of Centre Against Torture David Koros and Director of Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Ken Wafula said sentiment of the US were in order.

Bishop Korir said the Government should concentrate on reforms.

However former Mwatate MP Major (rtd) Marsden Madoka defended Kibaki, saying he was justified to protest the ban threats.

Reports by Martin Mutua, Beautah Omanga, Lucianne Limo, Maseme Machuka, Anne Kanina, Anderson Ojwang’ and Renson Mnyamwezi

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