Kenya’s Cabinet will hold talks today on the conduct of U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, less than a week after WikiLeaks published a cable he allegedly wrote that criticized political leaders in the East African nation for failing to curb corruption, a government spokesman said.
Kenya is concerned that Ranneberger is inciting poor young people to bring about a change in leadership through a U.S. aid program that helps them participate in national reform, spokesman Alfred Mutua said today in a phone interview from the capital, Nairobi. U.S. Embassy spokesman John Haynes declined to comment on the allegations.
WikiLeaks published a Jan. 12 diplomatic cable from Ranneberger saying President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga had “vested interests” in failing to curb corruption and that Kenya needs to reform the police and the judiciary. The Cabinet will decide over the next few days what action to take against Ranneberger, Mutua said.
“There’s a disconnect between the reality in Kenya and what the U.S. ambassador is saying,” Mutua said. “He’s been here six years and we think it’s a bit too long.”
Berlin-based Transparency International ranks Kenya as among the world’s 20 most corrupt nations. Ranneberger said that the impunity enjoyed by Kenyan leaders and their failure to curb corruption risks triggering a crisis worse than the 2008 post- election violence that killed 1,500 people, according to the leaked cable published by WikiLeaks.
Ranneberger said in the leaked cable that Kenya needs to take “significant” steps to address “high-level” corruption, reform the judiciary, overhaul the police force and hold perpetrators of post-election violence accountable for their actions. Failure to do so would “greatly enhance prospects for a violent crisis in 2012,” when the next elections are due, he said, according to the cable.
While the WikiLeaks cable didn’t prompt today’s Cabinet meeting, Mutua said the government is “very disappointed” by the alleged comments, which “confirm” that the ambassador was providing incorrect information to the U.S. state department.
The U.S. Embassy said in a Nov. 30 statement that it is spending $47 million on a “Yes Youth Can” campaign that “empowers Kenyan youth to achieve a greater voice in national reform.”