US lauds Kenya graft war

Wednesday November 3 2010

United States ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger has praised the efforts of the Kenya Government to fight corruption November 2, 2010. FILE

United States ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger has praised the efforts of the Kenya Government to fight corruption November 2, 2010. FILE 

By JULIUS SIGEI and GEOFFREY RONO

The United States has praised the efforts of the Kenya Government to fight corruption.

US ambassador Michael Ranneberger said the fact that ministers and other senior officials were being asked to step aside to pave way for investigations was evidence that President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga were taking the war seriously.

Addressing a town hall meeting at Narok University College on Tuesday evening, Mr Rannerberger said the fight had been given a shot in the arm by the letter and the spirit of the new Constitution.

“The new Constitution has started to reduce impunity and increased accountability, and this is important because development and political reforms work hand in hand,” he said.

He said the US believed the steps being taken by the Kenyan authorities were in the right direction and that vigilance was needed to ensure it was concluded.

“It is the most exciting moment to be in Kenya as real change is underway. It is the priority of the US foreign policy to fight impunity and it is in the interest of Kenyans to do so and expand democratic space in Kenya.”

He said America was watching closely to see if the fight would be sustained and would not hesitate to suspend aid if the onslaught was relaxed.

“President Obama has more than causal interest in Kenya. We withdrew education funds early in the year and we can do it again even though much of our aid comes through non-governmental organisations,” he said.

He said a youth initiative 'Yes We Can’ would empower Kenyan youth through micro enterprises and political mobilisation to ensure more participation in decision-making.

Saying that President Obama was able to overcome racial prejudice and win America’s presidency because he mobilised youth, he urged the more than 1,000 university students and youth leaders drawn from the Narok county that real change was in their hands.

During the meeting, the media was put on the spotlight for not giving enough coverage to the youth who were described as the "engines of change in the country".

The meeting was organised by the National Youth Forum, a consortium of youth movements geared towards a push for peaceful change.