US Government Piles Pressure on Kenya’s Reform Agenda

Ambassador Michael Ranneberger

Nairobi,Kenya 16th Feb ,2010..The U.S. Government has welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to order certain officials to step aside while investigations into the maize and education scandals proceed. As an essential first step to address corruption scandals. In a media statement sent to newsroom by The US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger said that Kenyan people and the international community are waiting to see whether the government’s actions taken so far signal a new decision to take bold actions to fight corruption at all levels with respect to these cases and the other major corruption scandals.

The statement further urged for transparent, and independent investigations to be carried out expeditiously, and vigorous prosecutions be taken as warranted by the evidence and government officials at all levels be held accountable for their actions. Ranneberger urged the leaders of the coalition government to work together to ensure that all appropriate steps are taken so that justice is served and the rule of law is respected. “The signing of the National Accord and formation of the coalition government was a watershed which ended the worst crisis in Kenya’s history. The coalition leaders, therefore, have a responsibility to act in a unified way to move forward the historic reform agenda,” the statement further added.

The statement from the US Embassy in Kenya was as a result of deep division the emerged over the weekend between President Mwai kibaki and Prime Minister over the suspension of two Minister involved in mega scandals. On Sunday, the PM announced the suspension of Cabinet ministers William Ruto and Prof Sam Ongeri for three months to pave way for investigations into two separate scandals.

One scandal involves the loss of an estimated Sh2 billion in the irregular allocation of subsidized maize in 2008 but the figure is disputed by the parliamentary committee on Agriculture which alleged the exact figure is ksh.6 billion, Maize under the national grain reserve, meant for the hungry, was sold to profiteers who made millions, while consumers had to pay high prices for the product. The second scandal concerns fraudulent deals in the Ministry of Education which cost the government Sh103 million meant for the Free Primary Education scheme, where top ministry officials drew inflated impress for seminars.

While suspending the Prime Minister quoted a section of the National Accord which he said gave him power to suspend the ministers over the graft allegations. The National Accord was signed in 2008 as a power-sharing deal that ended the post-election violence sparked by the disputed 2007 General Elections. But President Kibaki later said the PM did not have powers to remove ministers from office and therefore, “constitutionally the two ministers remain in office.” The President added he had not been consulted over the matter, and he too, quoted the National Accord and the Constitution, that ministers can only be removed by the President after consultations.

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