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Kenya: Obama Delivers Stern Warning to ‘No’ Leaders

Posted by Admin on Jun 12th, 2010 and filed under Afrique. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Bernard Namunane | 12 June 2010| The Nation (Nairobi) |

Nairobi — The United States is keenly watching certain senior political leaders who have outrightly failed to strongly commit to the passage of the proposed constitution.

This, according to sources, was among the key messages that US Vice-President Joe Biden delivered to the Grand Coalition leaders from President Barack Obama. Mr Biden was on a three-day visit to Nairobi this week.

Those who attended the meeting at State House on Tuesday said the US President was categorical in his intentions that reforms under Agenda Four had to be fully implemented to pave the way for Kenya to make use of its potential as a strategic nation in the East African region.

The session dwelt more on the urgency of a new constitution, the need to entrench the culture of democracy in national politics and the sanctity of the rule of law in government operations.

Perhaps this was the reason that Mr Bidden told a press conference immediately after the State House meeting that Kenya had the potential to develop faster if it could overcome some self-made obstacles such as corruption and tribalism.

“I have never been this optimistic of the country’s ability to move the reform process forward… Kenya’s best days are yet to come,” he said.

To begin with, President Obama said it was the duty of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to rally MPs and the public to pass the proposed constitution at the August 4 referendum.

The new set of laws, a copy of which has been passed to the White House in Washington, is seen by the US as a fresh start for a country that has laboured to develop since independence.

“The message from President Obama was clear — that we should pass the proposed constitution to heal the country and create an environment that will attract more investment,” a source at the meeting said.

Even though Mr Biden said Kenyans were free to vote the way they wanted at the referendum, Washington’s determination to see the government put in place a new constitution was reflected in its readiness to help finance the process through UN agencies involved in the reform process. The US has pledged Sh160 million ($2 million) to support the review.

Mr Biden was said to have told the meeting that President Obama would not like to see Kenya going down the abyss again following the election violence that rocked the country after the disputed December 2007 elections.

And a new constitution, it was said, was the only answer.

“A new constitution will accelerate reforms… Reforms will bring more foreign investments into the country. The power to bring about change in Kenya rests with its people,” Mr Biden said in his address to journalists.

However, the most telling part of the message was that the US was ready to use its sophisticated intelligence network to collect information on some key political leaders suspected to be saying ‘Yes’ during the day while at night they are in the ‘No’ camp.

The information, sources said, would be used to blacklist such leaders as anti-reformists who the US would not work with even if they succeed to take over the leadership of the country in future.

“Those who have been thinking that they can escape by being ‘Yes’ during the day and ‘No’ at night are going to find it very difficult. It is clear President Obama will not work with them even if they happen to rule this country,” another source said.

There have been claims that some leaders in the ‘Yes’ camp are not fully committed to the passage of the proposed constitution and were secretly backing Higher Education minister William Ruto in his bid to rally voters to reject it at the referendum.

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