Gration leaves US drug claims unresolved
Posted Saturday, July 7 2012 at 23:30
- Outgoing envoy resigns as debate over sensational allegations made last year rages
As US Ambassador to Kenya Jonathan Scott Gration wraps up after resigning, he leaves behind an unresolved diplomatic quarrel that involves his predecessor, Parliament and the Executive.
At the centre of the dispute are serious allegations made by the former ambassador, Mr Michael Ranneberger, linking the Kenyan military to drug trafficking.
Mr Ranneberger had sensationally alleged that Moi Air Base in Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate was being used by drug barons as a packaging and processing facility for heroin.
In a report tabled in Parliament on February 17, 2011 by then Internal Security minister George Saitoti, Mr Ranneberger also claimed that the heroin was shipped out of the air base in military vehicles.
Before the controversial report was tabled in the House, Mr Ranneberger had earlier reported the matter to the police in a criminal company in December 2010.
Arising from the claim, the Foreign Affairs ministry is on the spot following its declaration that it had sent a protest letter to the embassy and to the former ambassador in particular.
However, persistent demands by MPs for evidence now indicate that the said protest letter may not have been sent after all.
Consequently, the Speaker has directed Prime Minister Raila Odinga, as coordinator of government ministries, to give a statement and set the record straight.
On June 19 and 26, in response to questions from Kilome MP Harun Mwau, Defence assistant minister David Musila told Parliament that investigations into the Ranneberger claims had returned no evidence to support the allegations.
MPs then demanded that action be taken against the embassy because of the false and serious allegations having been made by a representative of a friendly country.
Foreign Affairs assistant minister Richard Onyonka, however, told Parliament that the government responded immediately and sent a protest note.
Speaker Kenneth Marende then directed Defence minister Yusuf Haji to table the said protest letter in Parliament.
But before MPs left for a month’s recess last Thursday, Mr Haji told Parliament that he had written to his Foreign Affairs counterpart Sam Ongeri seeking a copy of the protest letter.
In response, Prof Ongeri said his ministry could not find it.
“We are unable to trace any communication from your ministry (Defence) in line with the above, hence we are unable to trace any record or communication with the USA Embassy on the same,” said Foreign Affairs in a letter tabled by Mr Haji.
“I am at a loss as to what to do. I am not able to produce the letter because the ministry responsible is saying that they do not have that record,” he told the House on Thursday.