Clinton to deliver tough message to Kenya’s leaders

hillary_clintonNAIROBI - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will deliver a blunt message to Kenya's leaders to implement delayed reforms and make greater efforts to stamp out corruption, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday.

A senior U.S. official travelling with her said Clinton would press Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to fully implement a deal that ended bloodletting after a disputed December 2007 election.

“It is important for Kenya to move forward with the constitutional, judicial, police and land reform requirements that were part of the Kofi Annan agreement,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, referring to a deal hammered out by the former U.N. chief.

“Implementation of those agreements has been slow and in some way frustrated. The secretary wants to encourage the full implementation of those agreements, especially those areas of the agreement that deal with impunity,” Carson, a former U.S. envoy to Kenya, told reporters travelling with Clinton.

The United States wants Kenya’s leaders to hold to account those responsible for the post-election chaos last year and expressed “deep concern” on Tuesday at the failure to set up a local court to deal with the perpetrators.

Under foreign and local pressure to catch those behind the killing of at least 1,300 people, Kenya came up with a vague formula last week hinting at solutions through existing judicial systems and a truth and reconciliation body.

That fell short of international calls for a special tribunal, and brought closer the possibility of an investigation and trial by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Corruption “Killing Kenya”

In a speech last month, Carson said corruption was “killing Kenya” and Clinton will make clear that the Obama administration wants this pattern to end.

Kenya was ranked by Transparency International last month as east Africa’s most graft-prone nation with a bribe expected or solicited in nearly half of all transactions.

U.S. President Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, said in a speech in Ghana last month that Western aid must be matched by good governance and African leaders had to do more to end war, disease and stamp out corruption.

Many Kenyans viewed Obama’s decision to visit Ghana as a snub to his father’s birthplace and a signal he did not want to reward Kenya for what he sees as poor governance.

“The United States wants to continue to be a strong friend and partner to Kenya and that is why we remain concerned about the trajectory of the politics in Kenya over the last two years since the flawed elections,” said Carson.

Clinton will also reinforce Obama’s anti-corruption message at the annual trade meeting, established by a U.S. programme that allows countries in sub-Saharan Africa to export more than 6,400 product lines to the United States without paying duties.

Washington is looking at ways to boost trade with the 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for little more than 1 percent of U.S. exports and only 3 percent of imports.

Clinton is set to meet Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed in Nairobi on Thursday, and will pledge continued U.S. help to bolster his shaky transitional government which is fighting against Islamists seeking to overthrow him.

She is also likely to have harsh words for Eritrea for its alleged meddling in Somalia where it is accused of backing hardline rebels bent on imposing their own harsh version of sharia law. Eritrea denies the charge.

Clinton’s stop in Kenya is the first of a seven-nation trip to Africa that includes South Africa, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde. She returns to Washington on August 14.


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