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Compromise Needed Now In Kenya


Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki (L) and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga (R)

Kenya's leaders should set aside their differences over authority to handle corruption cases and focus on helping their country move forward.

Amid the ongoing political stalemate in Kenya, the United States believes the people there deserve a government that addresses the many challenges central to the nation's long-term interests. Kenya's leaders should set aside their differences over authority to handle corruption cases and focus on helping their country move forward.

Under an agreement struck following an outbreak of election violence in early 2008, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga share power. Governing under the coalition arrangement has been a challenge, and progress on a promised reform agenda has been slow as a result. Nevertheless, advances have been made and key reforms such as the process of drafting a new constitution are moving ahead.

Unfortunately, the working relationships in the coalition deteriorated recently when the prime minister moved to suspend two cabinet members whose ministries are enmeshed in corruption charges, and the president stepped in to block their removal. Investigators say insiders were allowed to buy and then sell at a profit subsidized corn meant to help lower food prices for Kenyans, and millions of dollars are unaccounted for in Kenya's Free Primary Education Program.

The scandal charges are serious, and involve the welfare of Kenyans and millions of dollars in aid provided by the international community. Action to ensure accountability is absolutely necessary.

Now is not the time for political posturing, however, or precipitous actions by either side. The U.S. urges Kenya's leaders to work together in a non-partisan spirit to move forward on the reform agenda, including a new constitution, accountability for corruption issues, and strengthening the economy to provide jobs.

Kenya must move forward in a spirit of compromise, its future must not be held hostage to these disputes.

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