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Kenya summons US envoy over travel ban threats

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MusesNAIROBI — Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said Monday he had summoned the US ambassador over warning letters written to top Kenyan officials Washington accuses of blocking reforms.

Nairobi is angered by ambassador Michael Ranneberger’s announcement last week that 15 Kenyan officials — including ministers and lawmakers — had been sent letters threatening them with travel bans if they fail to support reforms.

“I have summoned him here to explain why diplomatic protocol was disregarded in issuing the letters to Kenyan leaders,” Wetangula told reporters.

“I will also expect that ambassador produces the list of the leaders who have received the letters because this is an act of intimidation.”

The two are to meet Wednesday.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said Saturday he had written to US President Barack Obama to protest at the action which he described as “out of step with international protocols in the conduct of relations between friendly nations.”

Ranneberger’s announcement during a press conference last Thursday was Washington’s strongest show of displeasure at the pace of reforms in Kenya, a country emerging from a devastating post-election unrest.

The envoy refused to name the officials, but warned that if and when the threats were enforced, they would extend to the individuals’ families.

He also said his country will closely scrutinise Kenya’s funding proposals to international financial institutions.

A power-sharing deal between Kibaki and then opposition leader Raila Odinga that ended weeks of violence in early 2008 called for wide-ranging reforms to avert a relapse into the country’s worst crisis since its 1963 independence.

But the unity government in which Odinga became prime minister and Kibaki retained his job has been criticised for failing to fulfill their pledges, notably institutional and legal reforms as well as ending corruption.

 Source: AFP

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