US warns 15 Kenyans they are blocking reforms

Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:23pm GMT

By Daniel Wallis

NAIROBI (Reuters) - The United States has sent warning letters to 15 prominent Kenyans it says are blocking reform in east Africa's biggest economy following last year's post-election violence, the U.S. ambassador said on Thursday.

Michael Ranneberger, the U.S. envoy to Kenya, declined to name the individuals. But he said they included sitting government ministers, members of parliament and other senior officials on both sides of the country's coalition government.

The United States may also issue travel bans against some of the 15 in the coming weeks, he said, and Washington would now also closely scrutinise all proposed loans and aid programmes for Kenya brought before international financial bodies.

"These steps reflect the view at the highest levels of the U.S. government that implementation of the comprehensive reform agenda ... must proceed with a much greater sense of urgency," Ranneberger told a news conference in Nairobi.

"Doing so is crucial to the future democratic stability of Kenya ... Despite all the rhetoric and commissions and talk and all that, not much has happened"

During a visit last month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Kenyan leaders they must quickly implement long-delayed reforms to stamp out rampant corruption, impunity and rights abuses that were holding their country back.

The 15 letters from U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson warned the recipients that their future relationship with Washington was directly linked to their support for reforms and opposition to violence.

"NO BUSINESS AS USUAL"   Continued...

<p>Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki (R) address the media during the announcement of his cabinet as Prime Minister Raila Odinga looks on at state House Nairobi April 13, 2008. REUTERS/Antony Njuguna</p>
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.