|NATION Correspondent, NEW YORK
US military assistance to Kenya should be suspended, pending a resolution of the post-election crisis, two Kenyan human rights leaders write in Tuesday’s edition of The New York Times.
“Some of the security forces benefiting from this aid and equipment have been killing Kenyan civilians with impunity,” Maina Kiai and L Muthoni Wanyeki charge.
US military aid to Kenya has risen 800 per cent since the 2001 terror attacks, totalling about $50 million (Sh 3.5 billion) for the years 2002 to 2006, according to a Washington-based monitoring group.
Mr Kiai and Ms Wanyeki also urge Washington to trace and freeze the personal assets of “the hard-liners and the leaders of the violence.”
Mr Kiai, chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, and Ms Wanyeki, director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, add in their published commentary that the recent threat to bar hardliners from the US may have been “a decisive factor in prompting the parties to finally sit at the table.”
The two also indirectly criticise Jendayi Frazer, the State Department’s top Africa official, for suggesting that some of the violence amounted to “ethnic cleansing.”
The Kenyans further urge the US Congress to pressure the International Republican Institute (IRI) to release results of an exit poll conducted during the elections.
“Suspicions that the institute has suppressed its results not because they were flawed but because they showed that Mr Odinga won have fuelled mistrust,” Mr Kiai and Ms Wanyeki write.
The IRI, which sent a team to monitor the voting, said last week it will not publish the exit poll’s findings because of what it describes as major technical flaws in conducting and processing the survey.
Meanwhile, US President George W Bush and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will discuss Kenya’s post-election crisis in talks scheduled to take place in Washington on Friday.
The two leaders are expected to consider “important regional issues such as Darfur, Kenya, the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan,” UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said in New York on Monday.
Other issues affecting Kenya, which include human rights, counter-terrorism and the UN’s millennium development goals are also on the agenda for the White House meeting.