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UK supports reform agenda in Kenya

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Foreign Office Minister Baroness Kinnock, is visiting Kenya on 13-15 January for wide-ranging discussions on bilateral and regional issues with members of Government, Parliament and civil society.

President Mwai Kibaki

On the first day of her visit she met President Kibaki and other members of the government, including Minister for Foreign Affairs Moses Wetangula, for discussions on constitutional review in Kenya, the mutual value of trade and investment between the two countries, Kenya's primary education programme and other political and socio-economic developments in the country.

Later in the visit Baroness Kinnock is due to hold bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Odinga as well as the Somali President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

This visit follows on from her visit to Sudan earlier this week.

Ahead of her arrival in Kenya, Baroness Kinnock said:

"My visit to Kenya comes at an important time in the country's history as Kenyans seek agreement on a new constitution. This is a critical part of the reform agenda agreed to in the National Accord brokered by Kofi Annan in February 2008 to end the post-election crisis.

As a close partner of Kenya, the UK was deeply concerned by the events that followed the 2007 Kenyan election. We are strongly committed to supporting the Kenyan Government's efforts to implement the reforms to ensure there is no repeat of the terrible violence. Addressing the underlying causes of that violence - like inequality and unemployment - and tackling impunity and institutional reform remains vital to ensuring long-term prosperity for all Kenyans and the stability that is needed for development.

I look forward to learning at first hand how the reform agenda is progressing and the Government's plans for implementing the recommendations of the various Commissions on areas like electoral and police reform. The UK has already provided over =A32.6million to support the National Accord process, including these Commissions, and we will continue to look at ways we can support further reforms.

I am also pleased that I will have the opportunity to meet the President of the Transitional Federal Government while I'm in Nairobi. We have been working hard with international partners to help Somalis build a peaceful and stable Somalia. Consistent engagement by all countries remains critical. Instability in Somalia caused by extremist insurgents has led to huge suffering to the Somali people themselves and presents a serious threat to regional and international peace, security and development . Kenya in particular knows only too well the challenges ongoing instability in Somalia presents to its neighbours. They and other countries in the region have a key role to play as part of the international community.

While the situation in Somalia remains extremely difficult, there were some encouraging signs of progress towards the end of last year.

We welcomed the TFG's strategic vision and plans for 2010 presented at the International Contact Group meeting in Jeddah in December and progress on the budget and on key institutional appointments. I look forward to discussing the TFG's plans for transition and further reconciliation. I will also be looking at how the international community can best co-ordinate its support to the TFG and of course to the African Union peace-keeping mission, AMISOM.

The UK remains committed to supporting AMISOM operations to which we contributed over =A315 million last year. AMISOM is providing essential security in the most difficult circumstances. We will also continue to work with partners and the TFG to help reduce conflict and improve governance and democracy to make Somalia a place where people can live and return to safely. Our development assistance budget for 2009/10 stands at =A325 million for the provision of humanitarian aid and delivering critical services in areas like health and education to the Somali people."