US envoy: Kenya could face crisis again

2010-12-09 12:18

London - Kenya could descend into violence worse than during the crisis that followed the 2007 election unless reform is sped up and corruption tackled, a US cable released by WikiLeaks on Thursday claimed.

Michael Ranneberger, the US ambassador to Kenya, reported in a dispatch in January that the "old guard" at the highest levels of the political elite was hindering progress.

"While some positive reform steps have been taken, the old guard associated with the culture of impunity continues to resist fundamental change," he wrote in the cable, revealed in Britain's Guardian newspaper.

"Most key reforms are yet to be carried out, and the future of the constitutional review process is uncertain."

Leaders resistant to change

He added: "Failure to implement significant reforms will greatly enhance prospects for a violent crisis in 2012 or before - which might well prove much worse than the last post-election crisis."

The ambassador singled out the country's president and prime minister as being part of the group which was resistant to change.

"Most of the political and economic elite (to greater and lesser extents) compose the vested interests that benefit from and support impunity and the lack of accountability with respect to governance, state resources, and the rule of law," he wrote.

This included President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Rail Odinga - former rivals who signed a power-sharing agreement after the post-election crisis - and most members of the cabinet, he wrote.

The violence which broke out after the disputed presidential poll of December 2007 was Kenya's worst since independence and left more than 1 500 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.