Sunday, June 13, 2010

Biden pledges US support for restoration of Mau forest

US Vice President Joe Biden with his wife and daughter arrive at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on Monday. PHOTO/STEPHEN MUDIARI

US Vice President Joe Biden with his wife and daughter arrive at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on Monday. PHOTO/STEPHEN MUDIARI  

By LUCAS BARASA

The US will assist Kenya in restoring the Mau ecosystem.

Vice-President Joe Biden told conservationists at a meeting in the Nairobi National Park the US would help in conservation efforts, according to Hassan Noor, the chairman of the interim coordinating secretariat.

The US, through the USAID, has released $7.2 million (Sh500 million) for the Mau conservation.

“He (Biden) didn’t quantify the assistance but said the US would support the entire process of Mau restoration,” Mr Noor said.

Mr Biden said Kenya would also benefit from the Green Energy Movement and carbon finance schemes.

Mr Noor was among seven conservationists at the Wednesday meeting. Others at the meeting that was preceded by game drive were former head of the Public Service Richard Leakey, athlete Tecla Loroupe, Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai and Kenya Wildlife Service director Julius Kipngetich.

Others were Hellen Gichohi of Africa Wildlife Foundation, UNEP executive director Achim Steiner and US ambassador Michael Ranneberger.
Mr Noor said the US Vice-President also pitched for the proposed constitution.

“He said if Kenya undertakes reforms investments that will be flowing from his own state will be enormous,” Mr Noor said.

Mr Biden is said to have described Kenya as “a shinning star in a region of darkness” but insisted that more financial aid from the US would only come if the country embraced reforms.

He said the country which borders war ravaged Somalia and Sudan is a ray of hope and should be used to stabilize the region and Middle East and that the government should take a leading role in peace efforts.

Mr Biden wined, dined and had a jig with Maasai and Giriama traditional dancers.

“The VP even shouted at one of his security detail after they asked him four times to leave as lions were roaring just 50 metres away. He told the security ‘get off my back and he (guard) ran away,” Mr Noor said.

Meanwhile, retired President Moi has told the US to keep off Kenya’s affairs. Speaking on Sarturday at Kabarnet High School in Baringo District, Mr Moi accused the Barack Obama government of interfering in governance in Kenya.

Pressuring government

“They should know that Kenya is a sovereign state and we can make our own decisions,” he said, adding the visit by the US vice-president was aimed at pressuring the government to ensure the passage of the proposed constitution.

Mr Moi was speaking in a No campaign rally.

“America has no abortion clause in their constitution. Why do they want us to have it in our constitution?”

The former head of state urged the government not to impose what he said was a bad law on Kenyans. “Kenyans should be left to read make their own decisions on the proposed law,” he said.

Additional reporting By Wycliff Kipsang

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