Kenyan banned from U.S. calls ambassador a “bully”

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Kenyan banned from U.S. calls ambassador a “bully”

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NAIROBI (Reuters) –Kenyan banned from U.S.: A Kenyan banned from entering the United States over corruption accusations lashed out on Friday at Washington’s envoy to Nairobi for abusing his diplomatic status in a “callous and wild” attack.
U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger last week said a prominent Kenyan had been made permanently ineligible to enter the United States. In an interview, he later named the man as Joshua Kulei, an aide to former President Daniel arap Moi.
Corruption flourished in east Africa’s largest economy during Moi’s 24-year rule, and has continued under his successor President Mwai Kibaki’s administration, prompting action from Western donors including bans on entering their countries.
In a statement, a lawyer for Kulei said he was neither involved in corruption nor post-election violence last year.
“The ambassador’s announcements … are made for the sake of cheap publicity and the ego of a diplomat at the end of his career arrogating and assigning himself the role of a prefect and supervisor of Kenyan citizens and Kenyan institutions.
“The announcements he has now made are callous and wild … an appalling misuse of diplomatic immunity to orchestrate and propagate falsehoods … Mr. Ranneberger’s conduct is in bad taste, theatrical and cowardly.”
The ambassador was not immediately available to respond, but had last week said the travel ban was intended to help curb a widespread culture of impunity in Kenya.
Investors cite corruption as a major deterrent to doing business in Kenya, which otherwise has been one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most attractive spots for foreign money.
London and Washington have banned a handful of Kenyan politicians or former officials, but seldom name them.
Kulei, who was a personal aide to Moi and is a wealthy businessman, said through his lawyer he had no interest anyway in traveling to the United States.
“The USA is clearly the most powerful country in the world but in good conscience should not be a bully through its diplomats,” said a full-page statement in Kenya’s main dailies.
Surveys show a majority of Kenyans are disillusioned with Kibaki’s coalition government — created last year with former rival Raila Odinga as prime minister — for failing to curb rampant grant or improve their lives.
Government officials, including ministers, acknowledge corruption is still a problem, but say they are doing their best to clamp down and would welcome evidence to facilitate prosecutions. They accuse critics of exaggerating the issue.
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