Washington, D.C. – Congressman Howard L. Berman (D­CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today commended the Obama Administration for warning Kenyan leaders that the United States is ready to suspend business as usual with their government unless they move forward on a range of political reforms and hold accountable the perpetrators of the 2008 post-election violence.

“It is difficult to understand why Kenyan leaders who have accepted the principles of democracy and the rule of law, adopting some of the best anti-corruption laws in Africa, are apparently dead set against implementing the reforms to which they have agreed,” Berman said.

In the wake of post-election violence in 2008 that claimed more than 800 lives and displaced 600,000 people, Kenyan officials signed a National Accord concerning a wide range of political and economic reforms to put an end to large-scale public corruption and to hold the perpetrators of the violence accountable. But the Kenyan government has failed to follow up on the vast majority of these commitments.

Last week, Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson sent letters to fifteen key leaders in the Kenyan government demanding bold steps to end corruption, reforms to improve the judiciary and police enforcement, meaningful revisions in the constitution, and the establishment of a permanent and independent electoral commission. The letters said, in part, “I am writing to inform you that your future relationship with the United States is directly linked to the degree of your support for urgent implementation of the reform agenda as well as clear opposition to the use of violence.”

Berman seconded that view. “The Kenyan people are suffering because their leaders refuse to take seriously their responsibilities as stewards of Kenya’s political and economic advancement,” he said. “The United States should not continue to work with a group of government leaders who are squandering Kenya’s future. There is no question that the United States considers Kenya a friend, but for the friendship to endure, Kenyan leaders will have to fulfill their duties responsibly as servants of the people and place the needs of the Kenyan people over their own personal ambitions and gain. The Kenyan people deserve our support.”

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Daily Nation (Kenya)