By Standard Reporter and Agencies 10/31/09
The cat is finally out of the bag. Amos Wako is the prominent Kenyan banned from the US, a senior State Department official disclosed on Saturday.
The AP news agency quoted the official as saying “the US was revoking the Attorney-General’s travel visa for blocking reform and contributing to impunity.”
Since the announcement early last week, speculation has been rife over the identity of the official facing the visa ban although there were rumours that it was indeed Wako who still insists he has not received any letter to that effect. He, in fact, promised to call a press conference to react to the ban if it was indeed he who was banned. It seems that he has either not received the letter or has chosen to remain mum.
State Department spokesman Darby Holladay said on Friday the ban was permanent but declined to identify the officer. But another official speaking on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorised to name the Kenyan official, said it was Wako.
|The Attorney General: Mr Amos Wako [File Picture/Standard Group]|
This comes barely three days after Mr Johnnie Carson, the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, announced the ban in Nairobi and just over a month since President Kibaki wrote a protest letter to President Obama over threats to ban 15 prominent personalities, including six ministers, from the US.
And as the US ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger says his country will take additional action if the “the reform agenda does not move forward”, Kenya has accused him and Carson of meddling in the country’s internal affairs and that they had overstepped their diplomatic mandate. Despite Kenya’s pressure, the US has not wavered from its frequent criticisms of the leadership, the slow pace of reform, and impunity among other shortcomings, and seems to have ignored even President Kibaki’s letter to Obama that the US violated diplomatic conventions by writing to his lieutenants and not him as their boss.
Jakoyo Midiwo, George Thuo and Joseph Muthama, the chief whips of the three main parties, ODM, PNU and ODM-Kenya are among those who received the letters. Cabinet Minister Franklin Bett said he did not understand why he was targeted.
The sword could have fallen on Wako because of his critical role as chief legal advisor of government which gives him immense power over legislation. He has been a permanent fixture in the Cabinet since he was appointed in May 1991 to replace Mathews Guy Muli.
Among the accusations facing Wako is the inability to nail perpetrators of post-election violence, masterminds of mega corruption and other lords of impunity.
Efforts to get a comment from him failed on Saturday as his cellphone went unanswered. He also did not respond to text messages.
Ranneberger, who piled pressure on the AG’s office on Friday, could also not be reached for comment but had told a Law society of Kenya luncheon on Friday that the “Attorney-General’s office remains an obstacle to effective anti-corruption effort and thus to reform”.