Transcript of online Webchat with US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger – September 23rd 2009

RannebergerCO.NX Moderator (Tim): This program will begin on September 23 at 15:00 Nairobi Time – (8:00am EDT – 1200GMT).

CO.NX Moderator (Tim): Please post your questions before or during the chat. Once we receive your questions they will turn RED on the screen. Thank you.

CO.NX Moderator (Mark): Hello and welcome to today’s webchat!  We’re taking your questions now.  The live chat will begin at the top of the hour 12:00GMT.

CO.NX Moderator (Tim): Good morning everyone. The Ambassador will be online in less than 30 minutes. Please send in your questions now.

CO.NX Moderator (Tim): From Jeff Martin in Facebook: Just out of curiosity,what,in your opinion,is kenya’s place in the African continent?

CO.NX Moderator (Tim): When we receive your questions they will turn RED. Thank you again.

Jane, Kisumu: does the Amb come on in 7 minutes?

CO.NX Moderator (Tim): The Ambassador will arrive in a few minutes. Thank you for your patience.

Ambassador Ranneberger: Good morning everyone. I am pleased to be here with you today. Please send me your questions now. Thank you.

unity2050: hello

unity2050: i am so happy to be here

tracy: good after Mr Ranneberger

Lucy Muthoni: Hello Your Excellencey

Joseph: Hallo, this is Joseph in Nairobi can I join in?

Djibouti: Excellency, Djibouti represents four reporters from La Nation (French Language News Paper) and Radio Television Djibouti.  We’ll be submitting questions shortly!  Thank you very much!

Ambassador Ranneberger: Welcome and thank you for coming.

tracy: Thank you Sir

BARNET-GILGIL: Thank you

Johnie: Good Afternoon Nairobi, your excellency its afternoon in Nrb

Mina: hi

Nashipai Koima: Good afternoon Sir

Mina: good afternoon

Suzanne: is it possible to extend this time to about 4.30 so that His excellence can respond to all our questions?

CO.NX Moderator (Mark): Hi Suzanne, we’re hoping the Ambassaor can get to as many questions as possible during today’s session but please understand his schedule is tight.

Djibouti: can you describe U.S. efforts to support the TFG in Somalia?

Ambassador Ranneberger: The U.S. is working closely with Kenya to support the TFG in Somalia.  Kenya has been very helpful in supporting a political process to expand support for the TFG, Kenya is trying captured pirates, and Kenya is providing assistance to the TFG.  Kenya has exerted strong pressure within East Africa to stop Eritrean support for the al-Shabaab.  The U.S. is also providing strong support for the TFG politically, and through financial support for the TFG especially for security assistance.  The U.S. is also the largest supporter of AMISOM, and the largest provider of humanitarian assistance to the Somali people.  We greatly appreciate the strong role that AMISOM is playing in Somalia.

unity2050: can i ask you question

CO.NX Moderator (Mark): We are taking questions now. The Ambasador is working on his responses.

Mina: I have a question , it is not directly related to kenya

Ambassador Ranneberger: Feel free to post it.

Mina: but to us as general

brigid koskei 2: brigid koskei from Kenya.us elections have shown us that we can as a country we can go beyond tribal and racial politics.Is this possible with the Kenyan current constitution and institutional structures that are in existence?

Ambassador Ranneberger: In order to be able to achieve what the U.S. did in electing Obama, several things must happen:  1. the Kenyan people need to work much harder to overcome entrenched ethnic attitudes; this involves working at the grassroots level, more leadership at the top, more civic education, etc. 2. there needs to be constitutional change and reform to ensure the rule of law.  These reforms are necessary so that the rights and interests of each ethnic group will be protected; that way, ethnic groups will not regard every election as a ”winner take all” situation.

Ambassador Ranneberger: 3. there must be more equitable economic development to push back poverty and to open more opportunities for all ethnic groups in order to reduce tensions and to eliminate the perception that one ethnic group controls the economy and development.

CO.NX Moderator (Mark): Thanks everyone for joining us.  As you can see there are many of you online and many questions coming in.  The Ambassador is working as quickly as possible to take your questions.  Please be patient.

Lucy Muthoni: Thank you moderator for your assurance

Guest : Does Obama plan to come to kenya

Ambassador Ranneberger: Obama has been to Kenya before, and I have no doubt that at some point he will visit again.  However, he has made clear that he is deeply disappointed by the lack of progress in implementing reforms.  When he went to Ghana, a cartoon in the Nation captured the situation well.  It had a picture of Air Force One flying over Kenya, with a little Kibaki and Odinga looking up at it, and a note was floating down that said ”get your act together.signed Barack Obama.”

Jack KOdera: I thought the Chat was on Terrorism and  Piracy!  Has it now turned to Democratization?

CO.NX Moderator (Mark): Hello Jack, you are thinking about today’s second webchat beginning in about 45 minutes.  Join us immediatelly following this session for a discussion on piracy and terrorism at this CO.NX chat room: https://statedept.conenctsolutions.com/piracy

kadadi: Goodafternoon all, Nice to be here

CO.NX Moderator (Mark): Hello kadadi, welcome!

CO.NX Moderator (Mark): Also, please join us at 14:00GMT today for a webstream of President Obama’s U.N. speech:  https://statedept.connectsolutions.com/unga2009

kadadi: thanks Mark

tracy: Mark dear,does his excellency looked at my question??

CO.NX Moderator (Mark): Hi Tracy, there are more than 100 questions in the queue, the Ambassador is trying to answer as many as possible.

mary Eldoret: Obama presidency has been lauded the world over. What will his policy be on the Kenyan or African political set up?

Ambassador Ranneberger: promote expanded trade between the U.S. and Africa.  In short, you will see the Obama Administration intensively engaged with Africa.Obama has clearly indicated that he wants to expand our relationship with the African continent in order to promote democracy, good governance, development, and conflict resolution.   Thus our policy on Kenya focuses on pushing for implementation of the reform agenda.  More broadly, President Obama has already announced an important new initiative:  the global food security initiative, which will benefit Kenya and other countries in Africa. Secretary Clinton has already visited 7 countries in Africa to highlight our priority to engage with Africa.  A major AGOA forum was held in Kenya to promote expanded trade between the U.S. and Africa.  In short, you will see the Obama Administration intensively engaged with Africa.

Abraham Rugo: Thanks Mark…we will wait

tracy: thanks so much,Mark

Migolo Benjamin: we r totally behind you

Guest Nairobi: What do you think is the most important issue facing Kenyans today?

Ambassador Ranneberger: The most important issue facing Kenyans is ensuring full implementation of the reform agenda.

Dalmas: Good afternoon your excellency

kachwanya: Good afternoon everyone

CO.NX Moderator (Mark): Alphonse: America is made up of different states with people of different background, social economics and yet the country is very united.Learning from the American case,in your view,How can Kenya overcome tribalism based on that context?

Ambassador Ranneberger: Unity in America has been achieved through an appreciation that we gain strength through our diversity, and by ensuring that there are transparent institutions and rule of law which protects everyone.  That is why we are pushing for constitutional and rule of law reform in Kenya.  I talked above about Kenyans’ need to overcome ethnic attitudes.  I am optimistic that Kenya can also achieve such unity, and that the emerging younger generation will make a major contribution to this.  Do not be discouraged.  Keep in mind all the difficulties the U.S. has experienced, particularly in accommodating African-Americans.  But the election of Obama demonstrates how fast change can happen.  I believe that there is a quiet transformation sweeping Kenya and that fundamental change will come more quickly than anyone realizes.

Lucy Muthoni: Dear Mark, in line to your response to Tracy, does it mean that some questions might remain unanswered by the end of this session? If so, when will we have another session like this, so that we can post our questions early enough? Will he first look at the questions which had been posted before this chat session?

CO.NX Moderator (Mark): Hi Lucy, unfortunately there are many more questions than the Ambassador can answer in one session.  We hope he will join us again in the coming weeks.  All of the questions will be collected and we will forward them on to him for review.

amuteru: Good Afternoon Sir, Thanks you for creating this forum, I am Muteru journalist by profession. I wish you would consider sharing this idea with our parlimentarians to facilitate one on one with their constituents. Hope it aint complicated maybe they can start with the social networks like facebook. Straight to my question. I watched your interview with KTN and would you expound what steps your country will take if the coalition government fails on the reform agenda? and two, What is your role in constitutional process?

Ambassador Ranneberger: Great point and I will encourage the parliamentarians.  You should know that I have also started face book and twitter accounts to reach out to ordinary Kenyans.  My twitter is:  www.twitter.com/usamb4reform and my face book page can be found by entering face book and going to ”u.s. embassy nairobi.”  I have also been doing town hall meetings with young people throughout the country, and I am urging parliamentarians to do the same thing and to join me when I do these.  Kenyan leaders are used to speaking at the people, but not have a two-way dialogue with them.

Djibouti: During Secretary Clinton’s visit to Kenya, she visited with TFG president Sheik Sharif and promised US support for the TFG.  What support was promised, and what, if any, of that support was delivered?

Ambassador Ranneberger: The Secretary had a very positive meeting with President Sharif.  I described above the assistance we are providing.

Daniel, Nairobi: Hello there, Daniel Wallis from Reuters here. How do you respond, Mr Ambassador, to yday’s criticism from Fgn Minister Wetangula re. the raid that killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhanin Somalia? v/r

Ambassador Ranneberger: I believe that the Kenyan government fully appreciates that Nabhan was a terrorist who posed a grave threat to Kenya as well as the U.S.

Lucy Muthoni: Should I sign off, will I be able to see His Excellency’s response to my question(s) later, say tomorrow, if I come to this site?

CO.NX Moderator (Mark): Yes if the Ambassador selects your que, and we will also post a transcript to our co.nx Facebook page at http://co-nx.state.gov

kk: what is US stand on the appointment of Aron Ringera?

Ambassador Ranneberger: The fact is that no minister, assistant minister, or permanent secretary, with few or no exceptions, has been successfully prosecuted for the past 19 years.  Clearly, therefore the key institutions responsible for fighting corruption must be reformed and the leadership of those institutions held accountable.  The scrutiny which Parliament has been undertaking is positive.  It is also important that there be greater consultation with civil society and key stakeholders on such issues.  Please look at the statement we issued regarding Ringera, which remains an accurate reflection of our views.

Djibouti: How does Djibouti figure in U.S. interets in the region?  What role does it serve for US regional interests?

Ambassador Ranneberger: Djibouti plays an important role in the region, particularly in its efforts to support the TFG in Somalia.  We have close cooperation with Djibouti.  We participated in the political talks which were held in Djibouti that led to the election of President Sheikh Sharif.

Migolo Benjamin: Mine is just to offer my support to the US ambasador for keeping on the pressure on our silly politician whose business id to look after each others ass

James: how is the embassys engagement with young people in kenya structured?

Ambassador Ranneberger: I am making it a major priority to expand our engagement with young people.  I am holding town hall meetings throughout Kenya with young people and I am encouraging parliamentarians to do so as well.  We are supporting grassroots independent youth movements to be more effective in pushing peacefully for implementation of the reform agenda.  We are also working to help economically empower youth through micro-enterprise programs.

kachwanya: Can I post  the transcript of this forum on my blog kachwanya.com after the session?

Ambassador Ranneberger: Thanks Kachwanya. Feel free to post this on your blog.

Enoch Opuka 2: Migolo -moderate your language

Jack KOdera: Alot of people have a problem with the US definition of ‘Terrorist’.  How does the US define ‘Pirate’ or does the Medieval definition suffice?

Ambassador Ranneberger: A pirate is essentially just a criminal, but the term pirate refers to criminals active at sea.

Nashipai Koima: How does the U.S plan on implementing the 20 billion donated by your country to aid in food growing?

Ambassador Ranneberger: We are now in the stage of talking with Kenya and other governments to get their views on how we can best implement the food security initiative you refer to.  It is too early to say exactly how it will be implemented.  The purpose, however, is to help increase food production in order to alleviate food shortages and to improve nutrition, all of this also to be done in an environmentally friendly way.

amir khan: can anyone ask a question?

Ambassador Ranneberger: Yes. We have over 300 questions submitted right now.

James: young people are disjointed by the coalition govt lack of goodwill in prosecuting the perpertrators of post election violence and we understand the ICC prosecutor has been talking to the secretary of state (US) on the need to push for tribunal. Are we likely to see the US do more than just saying business will not be as usual. We want assurance as young people that we can go back in 2012 and vote knowing very well we wont be attacked for exercising a democratic right.

Ambassador Ranneberger: You are right to be disappointed.  We continue to push the Kenyan government to set up an independent, credible Special Tribunal to try perpetrators of post-election violence.  However, because the Kenyan government has thus far failed to do so, then we support ICC prosecutions.  We mean it when we say no business as usual.  Within the next couple of days we will be announcing specific  steps.

Nashipai Koima: Thank you Ambassador for your time  and for this forum.

Maisha: Are you only posting questions the ambassador has good answers to?

Maisha: Or are you only posting compliments?

CO.NX Moderator (Mark): We’re posting answers to the questions the Ambassador has time to answer…there are now more than 150 questions. It is simply not possible for him to answer all of them.

Partnership For Change: And finally Sir, how do you respond to those who say re: Daily Nation editorial today that your threats are being ignored by the GOK and that the US needs to stops the threats and act on impunity in Kenya?

Ambassador Ranneberger: The facts speak for themselves.  The U.S. played a decisive role in helping the Kenyan people resolve the  crisis last year, and we are playing a similar role in pushing for implementation of reforms.  We have a very close, frank, and constructive dialogue with President Kibaki, PM Odinga, and other Kenyan officials.  However, at a certain point actions need to be taken, in view of the fact that there we are deeply concerned about lack of implementation of key reforms.  Within the next couple of days I will be announcing some actions, with more to follow.

Julius Mbaluto: OK

Enoch Opuka 2: I beg to strongly differ about the tribunal. First and foremost we need TJRC – then from there the tribunal. Oherwise in this respect we shall be punishing those who were caught in the violence forgetting those who fanned it in the first place. I am peace worker and have been on the ground

Lucy Muthoni: Good afternoon Kachwanya.

Maisha: Partnership for Change is right.  We look forward to hearing your action announcements in the next few days.

kachwanya: Mr Ambassador when President Obama was campaning to be President he clearly said that he will extend his hands to engage all the Nations even those who do not agree with US, but of late there is a parttern that he doesn’t want to engage Kenya although Kenya can’t be classified as a rogue Nation, why is this while he is the champion of talking to people to solve problems?

Ambassador Ranneberger: Actually, President Obama is very much engaging Kenya.  He is paying a lot of attention to Kenya and sent Secretary Clinton to Kenya as part of that engagement.  We are engaging with the government to press for implementation of reforms, but we are also engaging directly with the Kenyan people to urge them to press peacefully for reforms.  The reason we are engaging so extensively with Kenya is because of the importance we attach to this country and its future democratic stability.  We continue to be Kenya’s largest partner (over 3 billion dollars in resources flow from the U.S. to Kenya every year from all sources, public and private).

CO.NX Moderator (Mark): Everyone, we are staring up a chat on the topic of Piracy.  To join that discussion please go to https://statedept.connectsolutions.com/piracy

Dalmas: The situation in Somalia is very worrying. Do you believe the US has done enough to assist Kenya fight terrorism? The border is still porous. Technological assistance would grartly help.

Ambassador Ranneberger: We are doing all we can to help strengthen the TFG and to fight terrorism.  This includes cooperation with Kenya to improve security along the border.

James 2: Thanks ambassador for engaging us in this chat. We look forward to engaging you more especially us who are working with the young consitiuncy on youth voices in engaged governance

Partnership For Change: Asante sana Ambassador, we appreciate your regular chats with Kenyans and appreciate very much your continued support for the Citizens of Kenya. Have a good afternoon.

Fatma Hyder: Fatma Hyder: Ambassador can we get information on the following:1)Business Volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim majority countries 2)The summit which President Obama promised to host in his Cairo address 3)The new fund to support technological dev in Muslim counties 4)Centers of scientific excellence in Africa M.E etc.5)Global effort with OIC to eradicate polio 6)The president also said that America is ready to join with citizen religious leadres in Muslim communities anything yet in Kenya.Please refe to Obama in Cairo pg 13 thnaks Fatma Hyder

Ambassador Ranneberger: We are following up on Obama’s Cairo speech.  I went to the coast a couple of times following the speech to expand our already extensive dialogue with the Muslim community.  We are working on a number of programs to promote educational, cultural, and business exchanges — and the centers of excellence the President talked about. We are also promoting an inter-faith day of service and will soon provide more information about that.  You can contact the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section for more detailed information.

Jane, Kisumu: thanks for an opp to chat nonetheless.

Abraham Rugo: Hello Sir. Do you think that the health plan that President Obama is vouching for is the right way to go for a country that has for long applied capitalism and free markets? If so, do you think that the US Government will soon be encouraging other countries to follow suit?

Ambassador Ranneberger: I cannot comment on the health plan.  However, I think that the way in which Americans have been debating this issue through public town hall meetings is a great example to countries like Kenya.  I would like to see Kenyans debate the reform issues in a similar open way.

kachwanya: As we know it today there is rampant corruption and with the President stinking with Ringera, what steps will you take to ensure that the money donated by US for food growing is not embezzled by the government officials

Ambassador Ranneberger: I can assure you that we can account for every penny of the assistance we provide.  By the way, almost all of our assistance goes through non-governmental groups and other sources, and not through the Kenyan government.

Johnie: why is it so difficult to get a student visa to the US even with an invitation from the university

Ambassador Ranneberger: Actually, it is not hard to get a student visa, but you do have to meet certain criteria, and a letter of invitation is only one of the requirements.  There are more Kenyans studying at American universities than from any other African country.

CATHY MUTHONI: Hi, is it possible to maintain a green card oiutside the US by paying a yearly fee?

Ambassador Ranneberger: you need to consult our consular section on this issue.

Ambassador Ranneberger: I greatly enjoyed having a chance to chat with all of you.  Please look at twitter (www.twitter.com/usamb4reform) and my face book page listed as U.S. Embassy!!

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One Response to Transcript of online Webchat with US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger – September 23rd 2009

  1. Marc Shaw says:

    Hey, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..I”ll be checking in on a regularly now….Keep up the good work! 🙂

    – Marc Shaw

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