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Kenya: US envoy in constitution debate

Summary & Comment: The "No" camp in the constitution debate is calling on Obama to recall the US envoy claiming he is meddling in Kenya’s affairs. He is said to have urged Kenyans to support the proposed constitutional changes, even though he has no vote or citizenship of Kenya. DH

Author: Alphonce Shiundu, Nairobi Date Written: 14 July 2010
Primary Category: Kenya Document Origin: Daily Nation, Kenya
Secondary Category: -none- Source URL: http://www.nation.co.ke/
Key Words: Kenya, constitution, United States,

African Charter Article #25: States shall have the duty to promote and ensure through teaching, education and publication, the respect of these rights and freedoms. (Click for full text...)

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'No' MPs ask Obama to recall envoy


Six Kenya MPs allied to the No camp have asked US President Barack Obama to recall his envoy in Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, for "engaging in political activism".  They termed the envoy's decision to attend two Yes rallies on Tuesday as "demeaning and wanting behaviour that does not befit the status of a diplomat". The MPs said Mr Ranneberger's push for the proposed constitution was a confirmation of the No camp's claims that the proposed constitution was geared to 'serve the interests of foreign masters'.

"We condemn in harshest terms possible any attempt by foreign forces to impose a document on Kenya that does not answer to the needs and aspirations of our people," said Peter Kiilu, Makueni, ODM-K). The MP said the envoy ought to be recalled so that "he goes back to America where he's free to practice political activism". "Ranneberger is neither a Kenyan nor a voter and he has no right to tell Kenyans which constitution benefits them," said Mr Kiilu.  "Kenya is not a colony of the USA and we are not about to be recolonised by the same."

Election date

Mr David Koech (Mosop, ODM) cited the August election date in the proposed document as one of the changes that the Committee of Experts put in the document following pressure from foreign governments. "Which Kenyan suggested that we should have elections in August?" he posed. He alluded to a move to affect the regional economy, given that the elections will come just two months after the reading of the Budget within the East Africa Community. Two months to election date, the MP said, was poor timing given that at this time MPs are normally engaged in election campaigns and therefore scrutiny of the Budget by Parliament will suffer.

The MPs spoke at a news conference in Parliament Buildings. They were flanked by their colleagues Daniel Muoki (Mwala, ODM-K), Sammy Mwaita (Baringo Central, ODM), Julius Kones (Konoin) and Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town, ODM-K). The MPs stuck to the No mantra saying the document was "divisive" and if violence erupts "Ranneberger has a home to run to. Kenyans should be wary of the machinations of the western powers lest we sell the freedom, liberties, and independence that our founding fathers dearly fought and died for," said Mr Kiilu. The MPs said the presence of the envoy in the rally "receiving stage-managed defectors" abused Kenya's sovereignty.  "The constitution-making process and the aims it stands to serve should be left to Kenyans," added Mr Koech.

The US envoy told the Kitale crowd on Tuesday that all MPs had agreed to the National Accord, part of which was a new constitution for the country; so they should not turn around and oppose the document. The envoy has been engaged in a war of words with Higher Education minister ,William Ruto, the de facto leader of the 'No' camp, following Mr Ruto's stance to oppose the document.

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