Kenyan MPs banned from US
Published on February 7, 2008, 12:00 am
By Jibril AdanTen high profile PNU and ODM personalities have been banned from traveling to the United States over alleged links to the post-poll violence, The Standard has learnt.
With this, international pressure appeared to shift from initial subtle threats couched in diplomatic language to concrete action on a day the crisis in Kenya featured both in the US Senate and the UN Security Council and mediation talks proper started in Nairobi.
But a dark cloud hung over the talks last night when reports that UN-backed chief mediator Mr Kofi Annan’s hotel room in Nairobi had been bugged hit the World Wide Web.
“Detectives have gone there (Serena Hotel) and established that the claims are untrue,” Mr Eric Kiraithe, the police spokesman told The Standard when reached on the telephone.
But an independent source said: “Annan’s security aides found the device while the talks were in session on Tuesday”.
News of the bugging came just 24 hours after skilled South African negotiator Mr Cyril Ramaphosa withdrew as the intended chief negotiator when the PNU made it known that they would not trust the South African’s intervention.
On Wednesday, the US Embassy in Nairobi declined to divulge details of the 10 personalities it has lined-up for blacklisting, only saying that five were politicians and the rest prominent business people.
The 10 have already been notified, the Embassy said.
The caution also covers family members of the politicians, including those studying in the US.
US Ambassador Mr Michael Ranneberger said there was credible evidence linking the personalities to the post-election mayhem that ripped the country apart, leaving at least 1,000 people dead and close to half a million others displaced.
The Embassy said it was only waiting for the personalities to turn up with their travel papers to enforce the ban.
Ranneberger said the Embassy was also looking at information on nearly 30 other leaders believed to have funded the bloodletting.
Previously, a number of top Kenyan politicians have been barred from entering the US and some European countries but largely on account of their alleged links to multi-billion financial scams, notably Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing.
Interestingly, this new crackdown by foreign missions on public figures comes at a time when Kenya exercised its own version of sovereignty by declaring Sir Edward Clay, a British national and former UK High Commissioner in Nairobi, persona non grata (not allowed entry into the country)
Earlier in the day a tough-talking Mr Ross Hynes, the Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya hinted at the seriousness with which his country viewed the political crisis in Kenya.
“The strong message I want to pass to the politicians is that the ban is real and will happen,” Hynes said in Kisumu, which has been laid bare by the violence and which has also witnessed the most brutal police suppression of peaceful protests.
He added: “It’s the Canadian legal system that individuals who subvert democracy and do not respect human rights are denied entry to the country.”
The US Embassy in Nairobi, however, clarified that the travel advisory may not be an outright ban but is an indication that the individuals may not be welcome in the US.
The Mission also said it will not compile an exhaustive list of politicians to be banned from traveling to the US but would deal with applications for visas on an individual basis.
Earlier, an embassy official told The Standard that they were compiling evidence and would not let those who contributed to the post election violence travel to the US.
“We would look at the applications for visas on an individual basis,” the official said.
“Those who supported, funded or in any way aided the violence would not be allowed to travel to the US,” he added.
The US is among the countries that have stated that politicians who subverted the democratic institutions or those who encouraged violence would be denied entry.
Canada has also stated that it would slap a ban on such politicians, while Australia has stated that it would reduce contacts with Cabinet ministers.
This is part of the efforts by foreign countries to pile pressure on Kenyan leaders and push them to resolve the deadly post election conflict.
On Monday, White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said resolving the conflict in Kenya has a “long way to go”.
Hadley, quoted by Reuters, also said that a re-run might not be in the best interest of the country’s stability.
“Many people believe that to go to elections now would not be a prescription for bringing stability.”
Comments by American leaders, however, show that they are not all reading from the same script.
Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Dr Jendayi Frazer had her reference to the violence as ethnic cleansing contradicted by State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack.
The EU has, however, adopted a more clear approach and has called for a re-run of the elections and has suspended budgetary aid to Kenya.