US congressman criticises pace of Kenya reforms - Daily Nation

US congressman criticises pace of Kenya reforms

Wednesday October 7 2009

Last week, Assistant Secretary of State in charge of African Affairs Johnnie Carson sent letters to 15 key leaders in the Kenyan Government demanding bold steps in the reform agenda. Photo/FILE

Last week, Assistant Secretary of State in charge of African Affairs Johnnie Carson sent letters to 15 key leaders in the Kenyan Government demanding bold steps in the reform agenda. Photo/FILE 

By NATION Correspondent

WASHINGTON DC, Wednesday

United States congressman Howard L. Berman has criticised Kenyan leaders for the slow pace of reforms. The chairman of the key House Foreign Affairs Committee supported his government’s position that relations with individuals who should be pushing for reforms would not be the same unless the pace was speeded up.

His views are crucial because the committee he chairs influences American financial, military, diplomatic and other support to foreign countries, including Kenya.

“It is difficult to understand why Kenyan leaders, who have accepted the principles of democracy and the rule of law, adopting some of the best anti-corruption laws in Africa, are apparently dead set against implementing the reforms to which they have agreed,” Mr Berman said.

In the wake of the post-election violence in 2008, Kenyan officials signed a National Accord concerning a wide range of political and economic reforms. But the Kenyan Government has failed to follow up on the vast majority of these commitments.

Last week, Assistant Secretary of State in charge of African Affairs Johnnie Carson sent letters to 15 key leaders in the Kenyan Government demanding bold steps to end corruption; reforms to improve the Judiciary and police enforcement; meaningful revisions in the Constitution; and the establishment of a permanent and independent electoral commission.

Reform agenda

The letters said in part: “I am writing to inform you that your future relationship with the US is directly linked to the degree of your support for urgent implementation of the reform agenda as well as clear opposition to the use of violence.”

Mr Berman seconded that view. “The Kenyan people are suffering because their leaders refuse to take seriously their responsibilities as stewards of Kenya’s political and economic advancement,” he said.

“There is no question that the US considers Kenya a friend, but for the friendship to last, Kenyan leaders will have to fulfil their duties responsibly as servants of the people.”