Allegations of US interference in Kenyan constitution referendum

By Ecumenical News International
May 20, 2010

Allegations by Kenyan churches that the administration of US President Barack Obama is funding the government-backed 'yes' campaign for a constitutional referendum in the East African country are being raised by American lawmakers writes Fredrick Nzwili.

In a letter to inspectors general of the US Department of State, the US Agency for International Development, and the US Government Accountability Office, legislators Chris Smith of New Jersey, Darrell Issa of California and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida have outlined their concerns.

The three US legislators are calling for a probe into the issue, Kenya's Star daily newspaper reported on 16 May 2010. The report follows two week of allegations by Kenya's churches, which are advocating a 'no' vote in the referendum scheduled for 4 August.

"We do not understand if all Americans agree with Obama that he can use American money to fund a 'yes' campaign in Kenya," said the Rev Peter Karanja, the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, on 30 April in Nairobi.

Karanja said that many American Christians were standing with their fellow believers in the East African country.

Anglican, Evangelical, Protestant and Catholic churches have said they will oppose the draft law, which they argue entrenches 'Kadhi' courts, as the Islamic courts are called. They also say it will encourage abortion and reduce freedom of worship.

"In America there are lobbies fighting for increased worship space. Those will not be pleased to see a law passed that contradicts their values. It is imprudent for the administration to use their money to fund what they do not agree with," said Karanja.

The US lawmakers wrote: "The Obama Administration's advocacy in support of Kenya's proposed constitution may constitute a serious violation of the Siljander Amendment and, as such, may be subject to civil and criminal penalties under the Antideficiency Act."

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]


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