Since 1902

Imenti North MP Silas Ruteere withdrew a censure Motion against US ambassador Michael Ranneberger after the enthusiasm it had generated among MPs appeared to die down.

The Motion was popular at the end of last year, when he moved it to hit back at the envoy over his unflattering assessment of Kenya’s leadership and his activities to empower youth, which infuriated a section of politicians.

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, whom Ranneberger had described as beneficiaries of impunity in secret US diplomatic cables to Washington that also termed Kenya a swamp of corruption, had reacted angrily to the ambassador’s statements leaked by whistle blowing website, WikiLeaks.

Yesterday, Acting Foreign Affairs Minister George Saitoti said any complaints against an ambassador should be handled through diplomatic channels instead of publicly "washing dirty linen" that could strain ties.

Severing ties

Prof Saitoti recalled how in the 1990s the Kanu regime bungled the handling of its displeasure with a Norwegian envoy, which ended up severing ties with Norway.

Saitoti, who served as Vice-President then, regretted the envoy was ejected out of the country after the Government had declared him persona non grata and Oslo responded by cutting off aid.

He cautioned it would be reckless to strain Kenya-US ties when President Obama, whose ancestral home is in Kenya, is in office.

"The relationship between the US and Kenya is special since a son to a Kenyan is President of America. Why do we want to do that," Saitoti asked.

Assistant Minister Kilemi Mwiria, MPs Danson Mungatana and Eugene Wamalwa opposed the Motion appealing for sobriety.