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US Vice President Urges Kenyans to Embrace Reform

  • Peter Clottey

Kenya’s foreign minister said visiting U.S Vice President Joseph Biden is scheduled to address a public forum in the capital, Nairobi Wednesday.

Moses Wetangula told VOA that Mr. Biden had a “wonderful” meeting with President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga as well as senior government officials. He said the meeting with Vice President Biden centered on strong bilateral cooperation and issues affecting the East African region.

“Today, in the morning, he is scheduled to meet and address a congregation of several groupings of civil society, NGO’s, academics and other Kenyans of good will from all over Nairobi, and who will congregate at the Kenyatta Conference Center,” he said.

The public forum address forms part of Mr. Biden’s three-day official visit to explain to Kenyans the discussions he held with senior government officials, including President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga.

President Barack Obama’s administration has encouraged Kenya’s coalition government to reform crucial state institutions. This comes after the popular demand for more democratic reforms following the 2007 post-election violence that led to the loss of life and property.

Some key government officials have been accused of corruption and hindering reforms, which led to Washington’s decision to ban Kenya’s attorney general, Amos Wako, from traveling to the United States.

Shortly after holding discussions with senior government officials, Mr. Biden reportedly encouraged Kenyans to move ahead with ongoing reforms.

Vice President Biden was quoted by the local media as saying “putting in place a new constitution and strengthening democratic institutions and rule of law will further open the door to major American development programs ... and will bring about reinvestment by American corporations… Americans want to do business here, they want to travel here and, with the right climate, they will come.”

Foreign minister Wetangula said the country’s reforms are progressing steadily.

“The reforms are on course… we are actually right on schedule on every aspect of reform culminating in the referendum to approve the new constitution scheduled for 4th August. Now, the vice president, of course, indicated in the discussions that President Barack Obama is keen to see that Kenya is able to achieve lasting reforms through the promulgation of our new constitution, which we are doing, by the way,” Wetangula said.

He also said President Kibaki urged Washington to lead the way in efforts by regional and conditional groups to restore peace and security in neighboring Somalia.

Meanwhile, the Interim Electoral Commission has announced its readiness to conduct the referendum on Kenya’s proposed constitution as originally scheduled for August 4.

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