US to help Kenya probe drug trafficking: envoy

Wed Mar 2, 2011 5:42pm GMT
 

MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration team has been dispatched to Kenya to help investigate four lawmakers accused of narcotics trafficking, the U.S. ambassador in Nairobi said on Wednesday.

Four senior Kenyan government officials and a businessman were permanently banned late last year from travelling to the United States over allegations of drug running.

The Kenyan government later said it was investigating four legislators over accusations of narcotics trafficking.

"At the request of the government of Kenya, we have sent in a team of experts from the Drug Enforcement Administration to help in investigations," Ambassador Michael Ranneberger said.

A senior Kenyan official said Ranneberger, who has in the past angered Nairobi for championing reforms and criticising political leaders, should stop commenting on the matter.

Orwa Ojode, assistant minister for security, told Reuters when contacted that the issue, which has caused angry debate in several sessions of parliament in recent weeks, was sensitive.

"The way he is going publicly and mentioning people's names is character assassination because investigations are yet to be concluded," Ojode said.

"It should not be the business of Ranneberger to remove and include names of perceived drug barons at will. He should respect the security arms of government in such sensitive matters."

<p>A Kenyan detective checks a packet of cocaine on display as an exhibit before a court session in Kenya's capital Nairobi October 13, 2005. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya</p>
 
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