- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 30, 2009

ANGRY IN KENYA

Kenyan officials are angry over U.S. efforts to hold top lawmakers responsible for failing to adopt democratic reforms nearly two years after widespread election violence, but the public is supporting the United States because of President Obama’s roots in the East African nation.

Over the weekend, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki complained in a message to Mr. Obama about U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, who revealed last week that Washington sent warning letters to 15 top Kenyan officials. He added that the State Department is also considering banning them from traveling to the United States.

Foreign Minister Moses Wetengula on Monday asked Mr. Ranneberger to meet him on Wednesday. He accused the ambassador of violating “international protocols in the conduct of relations between friendly nations” and added that the letters set back reform efforts.

“These kinds of letters precipitate the fouling of the mood of reform in the country,” he said in a news conference in the capital, Nairobi.

Mr. Ranneberger refused to identify the recipients of the letters but said they include Cabinet ministers and members of parliament. He said the letters, signed by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, warned the targeted individuals that their “future relations” with the United States are at risk unless they make progress on reform measures that include overhauling the police and courts, creating a permanent electoral commission and fighting corruption.

Violence after the presidential election in December 2007 claimed about 1,000 lives and displaced about 200,000 people.

Despite the official protest, a poll by Kenyan television stations found that 83 percent of the public support the United States in the diplomatic dispute and distrust their own government.

Gitobu Imanyara, a human rights lawyer and member of parliament, said the poll results show that the government represents a “very tiny minority of opinion” in Kenya.

He told the Voice of America in an article Tuesday that Kenyans view the ambassador as the voice of Mr. Obama, whose father was born in Kenya.

“Kenyans look to the … future and identify with President Obama and the American ambassador here,” Mr. Imanyara said.

He added that the people see Mr. Obama not only as president of the United States but “as a person with Kenyan roots.”

SUPPORTING TAIWAN

Taiwan diplomats in Washington expressed their government’s “deepest appreciation” to Congress, after the House last week adopted a resolution mourning the “terrible loss of life” caused by Typhoon Morakot, which struck the island in August.

The diplomats noted that Congress and the Obama administration responded quickly with aid to the victims of the storm, which killed at least 500 people.

The resolution, sponsored by the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, “expresses [Congress’] deepest condolences to the families of the many victims.” It also recognizes the deep ties between the United States and Taiwan and expresss continued solidarity with its people during this time of crisis.”

This year, the United States and Taiwan are observing the 30th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, which established informal diplomatic ties after the United States officially recognized communist China.

CLARIFIED

Embassy Row on Tuesday failed to give the proper credit to the source of an interview with Saudi Ambassador Adel al Jubier.

The interview was published in the fall issue of U.S.-Arab Tradeline, a publication of the U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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