Switzerland considering travel sanctions against Kenyan politicians

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Switzerland is planning travel restrictions against Kenyan politicians who may be seen as causing the failure of the African Union (AU) mediation talks to end the post-election crisis in Kenya or subverting democracy, a Swiss official said.

“Switzerland supports the mediation efforts of the former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan and the Panel of Eminent African persons mandated by the AU,” the Swiss embassy said in Nairobi on Wednesday.

The Swiss threat to slap the travel ban comes a day after Annan’s briefing to Kenyan parliamentarians caused a stir among the ruling Party of National Unity (PNU) stalwarts, who accused him of making statements that were not agreed upon.

Kenya’s Justice Minister Martha Karua, leading the PNU negotiating team, accused Annan on Tuesday of weakening the government’s negotiating position and causing it embarrassments in the ongoing mediation effort, which has moved to secret location.

“Switzerland considers the mediation in progress to be the only way to resolve the crisis which Kenya has plunged into following the announcement of the contentious results of the presidential elections held on 27 December,” the Swiss embassy said in a statement.

Canada and the United States were among the first of the western capitals to announce visa restrictions against Kenyan politicians they suspect of having links to the post-poll violence that rocked the East African nation.

“If the mediation efforts nevertheless fail to resolve the crisis, Switzerland would consider taking appropriate measures, such as restricting access to its territory to individuals responsible for the failure of the process or for subverting democracy in Kenya or for promoting or engaging in acts of violence,” the Swiss said.

Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) Chairman Samuel Kivuitu said on Wednesday he might consider resigning from the post in early March once ongoing audit of the commission was complete and efforts to rectify potential weaknesses were addressed.

Meanwhile, Kabando wa Kabando, a Kenyan politician allied to PNU, has protested angrily at the US government slapping a visa ban against him over suspected links with militia activities.

“There is nothing for the ambassador to accuse me of participating in the killing of people. This is proof the US government has a plan to silence all those who support the government of President Mwai Kibaki; this is ethnic profiling,” Kabando charged.

“This letter was unreferenced. We shall not accept such sort of stupid, neocolonial and totally unacceptable way of infringing on the sovereignty of a nation through blackmail or ‘whitemail’ of its own citizens,” Kabando said.

The Kenyan lawmaker said he planned to sue the US ambassador for defamation but such a move would require Kenya’s Foreign Minister to lift the diplomatic immunity of US institutions in Kenya to allow such a suit to takeoff.

The US government has issued similar letters to nine other legislators in both government and opposition parties in what is seen as a final push against politicians to stop acts of violence and give international mediation a chance to thrive.

By Panapress

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