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Mon, 06 Jul 2009 11:51 - Updated Mon, 06 Jul 2009 11:51

Obama Scolds Kenya

Kenya

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WASHINGTON, USA — US President Barack Obama has strongly criticised Kenya's leadership, expressing concern about the country's political and economic direction.

Explaining why Ghana was chosen as his first official destination in black Africa, President Obama singled out the slow pace of reforms as a key impediment in Kenya.

In his most pointed comments on the country of his father's birth, the US President tore into Kenya's leadership saying that "political parties do not seem to be moving into a permanent reconciliation that would allow the country to move forward."

After praising Ghana's peaceful elections and government accountability, President Obama added that in some cases in Africa "we're also seeing some backsliding."

Hours after President Obama's statement, the American embassy in Nairobi announced that the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Mr Johnnie Carson, was in the country "to consult and discuss the progress of implementation of the reform agenda with senior government officials".

Mr Carson, a former ambassador in Nairobi, will address a press conference this evening at the ambassador's residence in Nairobi.

In his last visit to the country in mid-June, Mr Carson delivered a message from Mr Obama to President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga that The Hague option would be apt if MPs rejected the formation of a tribunal.

Mr Obama said that there was a direct correlation between governance and prosperity.

He noted: "Countries that are governed well, that are stable, where the leadership recognises that they are accountable to the people and that institutions are stronger than any one person, have a track record of producing results for the people. And we want to highlight that."

Mr Obama's comments come only days after an audit report on the progress of the Grand Coalition Government this week painted a grim picture of the progress made in implementation of the National Accord.

The coalition partners -- ODM and PNU -- are currently working overtime as a deadline to set up a tribunal to try suspected perpetrators of the 2008 post-election violence fast approaches.