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US accused of trying to force law on terror
Publication Date: 05/01/2006

A Cabinet minister and the chairman of a parliamentary committee have criticised the American Government for trying to dictate to Kenya what laws to write.

Labour minister Newton Kulundu and the chairman of the committee on the Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs, Mr Paul Muite, yesterday said Kenya cannot be forced to write an anti-terrorism law at America's behest.

Dr Kulundu said Kenya was an independent country and was free to pass laws that were good for it.

"We cannot write bad laws for the country because America wants us to do so," the minister said.

And Mr Muite said his committee would not allow a foreign government to impose a law in the country. He was responding to a report by the US Government that Kenya had registered little or no progress in strengthening the anti-terrorism effort.

The US Country Reports on Terrorism had said that America would continue warning its citizens against visiting Kenya because the country's laws made it difficult to prosecute terror suspects. Kenya, it added, redrafted the Suppression of Terrorism Bill after two years of debate but did not table it in Parliament.

Referring to the US, Mr Muite said: "The Bush administration needs to appreciate that Kenya will no longer accept to be dictated to by Americans on this issue."

He said the American Government should first compensate victims of the 1998 bomb blast that had targeted the US embassy. Most of the victims were Kenyans who were either working in the embassy or were in the nearby buildings. The attack, the Kabete MP said, had cost the country billions of dollars in lost tourism earnings.

He accused the US of paying lots of money to Pakistan when it became the US ally in the war on terrorism.

"It is America, their interests and allies who are primarily the target of the terrorists," he said, adding that terrorists were not targeting Kenya as a country.

The MP said the Kikambala bombing, during which 12 Kenyans were killed, was targeted at an Israeli establishment. He said Israel was considered by fundamentalists as a close ally of the US.

Mr Muite also said the Anti-Terrorism Bill had clauses that went against the Constitution besides other provisions that were unsatisfactory.

He said it was time Kenya addressed its immediate security needs, including cattle rustling and carjackings.

The report also blamed Kenya for disbanding the US-supported Joint Terrorism Task Force, which was set up in 2004 to enhance police and prosecutors' co-operation in the war on terrorism.

It also criticised the Government for failing to convict anyone over the 2003 Kikambala Hotel bombing.

The report published in the Nation yesterday notes that kenya has taken a few positive steps. It cites the Government's willingness to identify terror suspects.

A small number of Al Qaeda operatives based in Somalia continue to carry out terrorist attacks. "Its core leadership no longer has any effective global command," Mr Henry Crumpton, special coordinator for counter-terrorism told a press briefing on Friday.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua defended Kenya's record. "We have done our part, not to please anyone but because we have suffered in the past due to our friendship with some countries," he said.

Source: Daily Nation, May 1, 2006


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