US urges sober debate on new Kenya law
Posted Wednesday, May 19 2010 at 09:44
- US ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger appeals for sobriety during debate on the proposed new law and urges politicians not to divide Kenyans.
The United States has urged politicians not exploit Kenya ethnic or political affiliation to gain support for the proposed Constitution.
US ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger appealed for sobriety during debate on the proposed new law and urged politicians not to divide Kenyans.
“All Kenyans need to stand up and refuse to be manipulated based on ethnicity or political perspective. I am particularly confident that young people will do this. I believe the Kenyan people want to see fundamental change and a new constitution is crucial to that,” he said during an online discussion with journalists Tuesday.
Mr Ranneberger said the constitutional review process was a historic opportunity to bring Kenyans together and it would be tragic if the political leadership stoked ethnic animosity to achieve their ends.
He was, however, categorical that a vigorous debate based on the facts is healthy and important for the country.
The US envoy said President Barack Obama is following developments in Kenya “very closely” and wants to see the reform agenda fully implemented.
But Mr Ranneberger was quick to clarify that his government is not trying to tell Kenyans how to vote. He, indeed, said that the US will respect the decision made by the Kenyan people through a transparent and credible referendum.
“Each Kenyan voter must decide how to vote based on his analysis, judgment, and conscience,” he said.
As a sign of its commitment to reforms, the US has provided over Sh150 million for civic education. The money will be channelled to non-governmental groups and the Committee of Experts.
He urged the government to ensure that the CoE receives the funds it needs at the required time.
“I am confident that this will be the case. The process of civic education is already underway and the referendum is on track to be held in early August,” he said.
On the issue of whether ministers opposed to the proposed Constitution should be sacked on account of collective responsibility in the Cabinet, Mr Ranneberger remained noncommittal.
“Leaders of the Coalition Government have made clear the position of the government with respect to the Constitution. I would not presume to say how the President and Prime Minister should deal with specific ministers,” he said.
According to him, a new constitution will strengthen democracy and sharing of wealth by creating structures that protect interests of all Kenyans.
Without such a framework in place, Kenyans will never be able to receive the justice they deserve and the economic development that is crucial to improve their lives.