U.S. imposes travel ban on key Kenyan official over reforms

21:36, October 26, 2009      

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The United States announced on Monday that it has imposed a travel ban to a prominent Kenyan official for obstructing essential reforms in the country.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Affairs Johnnie Carson told a news conference in Nairobi that Washington's action is meant to show its commitment to seeing full implementation of key reforms in the country and stand with Kenyans in their bid to end the culture of impunity.

"Highlighting our seriousness on the need for reforms in Kenya, I am announcing today that the U.S. government has taken the decision to revoke a visa of a senior Kenyan government official who has obstructed the reform process, failed to end the cycle of impunity and has been an obstacle in the fight against corruption," Carson told journalists in Nairobi.

The U.S. diplomat, however, did not disclose the name of the person banned but promised to reveal his name soon along with three other government officials whose visas are being considered.

"We are actively considering similar action against three other senior officials in the government. We want to work with the coalition government to ensure implementation of reforms but there has been enough talk what we seek is action," he said.

"This person probably has not been informed yet and will be informed shortly," Carson told journalists after holding meetings with some senior government officials and lawmakers in Nairobi.

He called on Kenyans to express to their leaders the desire for reforms, shun violence and work towards reconciliation efforts to avoid a repeat of last year's post election skirmishes.

"We urge Kenyans to redouble their efforts to promote reconciliation in order to ease ethnic tensions. Kenyan leaders need to listen to the voices of the Kenyan people who are crying out for real change, end the culture of impunity which is rife in this country.. which threatens its future and prosperity."

Carson warned that Washington will continue to monitor the situation in Kenya keenly, saying nobody will be allowed to get away with impunity.

He also warned that those engaged in corruption, obstructing reform process and impunity must be held accountable.

The American diplomat said the latest action by Washington will send a powerful signal that the banned individual would not be able to travel into the United States for business or for pleasure.

"That shows that the U.S. government has seen what they have done and is prepared to take action against them," Carson said, hinting that other Western governments might follow similar suit.

"I might also add that other governments will notice the action that we have taken and also move to try to impose their visa bans on them as well that they will see that they (senior officials) cannot get away with this culture of impunity."

Carson, whose country is Kenya's top foreign partner and regional ally, also said Washington will continue to pay attention to the situation in Kenya to ensure full implementation of the Agenda Four which was agreed on by the Kenyan leaders last year.

"(U.S. ) President (Barack) Obama position is very clear, we will maintain a steadily increased pressure for reform implementation and will not do business as usual with those not supporting reforms or who support violence," Carson said.

He said Washington welcomed recent changes at the police and at the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission but said far reaching reforms are still needed at the judiciary.

"At the same time urgent action is required to curb corruption, to hold accountable the perpetrators of post election violence, to undertaken essential judicial reforms and ensure respect for the rule of law is needed to prevent post election violence."

It was not clear whether Britain which has previously banned politicians linked to financial scandals and corruption will join Washington in slapping travel ban on the political leaders suspected to be obstructing reforms in the country.

Regional analysts say Monday's statement are the latest sign of Washington's growing impatience with Kenya's coalition government, which has made little progress on a number of key reforms in almost two years.

The crisis in Kenya was sparked by President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election on Dec. 27, 2007. Then Opposition leader Raila Odinga said Kibaki stole the vote. International observers said the count was so chaotic it was impossible to tell who won.

About 1,000 people lost their lives while 650,000 were displaced as rival communities fought in towns and villages around the country and protesters clashed with security forces.

Source: Xinhua
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