The electoral commission and the Supreme Court must win back the confidence of Kenyans ahead of next year’s elections, US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec has said.
Mr Godec also expressed concern over corruption, saying more needs to be done in line with agreements reached between Kenya and the US during President Barack Obama’s visit to Nairobi last year.
“Corruption is undermining the future of Kenya. For a long time, this country has faced this problem and it is slowing down economic growth, undermining prosperity, damaging security and it’s a huge risk to the future of the country,” he said.
The ambassador said the US would continue denying visas to Kenyans linked to corruption.
He also lamented that African states want to withdraw from the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court when there are no reliable alternative mechanisms.
Mr Godec, who spoke to the Saturday Nation in Iten on Thursday, also urged the State not to withdraw troops from Somalia despite the recent deadly Al-Shabaab attack in El-Adde, noting that Washington had voted $160 million (Sh16 billion) for Kenya’s security services.
The envoy said the US would continue supporting Kenya and the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), noting that recent US air strikes against Al-Shabaab leaders was part of such support.
During the interview, the envoy, who is in his third year, praised steps made in devolution and warned leaders against making inflammatory remarks ahead next year’s elections.
He further said the US would soon announce significant funding for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to help it run successful elections, while expressing satisfaction with the commission's plans to launch voter registration next week.
Also, Mr Godec expressed concern over corruption claims in the Judiciary.
He said it was important that the allegations be thoroughly investigated and those found guilty properly punished.
Justice Philip Tunoi is due to face a tribunal investigating allegations that he received a Sh200 million inducement to rule in favour of Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero in an election petition in 2014. Justice Tunoi has since denied any wrongdoing.
“We already have funds towards the elections. I can’t give you a precise amount today but it will be a significant amount of money, certainly millions of dollars,” he added.
Mr Godec was on a tour of US projects in the North Rift.
"In the last couple of years, things have been great and I’m particularly pleased that in less than a year, we have had President Obama and six of our Cabinet Secretaries visiting Kenya, starting with the Secretary of State John Kerry and then recently, just a couple of weeks ago, the Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell," he observed.
Ambassador Godec added: "We also signed agreements related to big projects, particularly on infrastructure, and there are a number of negotiations going on and I hope they will be productive. We had an agreement to extend visas to five years and we have done that, and it actually took place in September. We are working on the anti-corruption commitments, but we still have some way to go on some of these commitments."