US says it respects but regrets Raila’s withdrawal


National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga (centre) addressing the media at Okoa Kenya offices in Nairobi yesterday where the coalition announced its withdrawal from the October 26 repeat presidential election. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

A US State Department official has said that America respects but regrets Nasa leader Raila Odinga’s intention to not take part in the October 26 repeat presidential election.

Responding to queries from the Nation, the official also clarified that Mr Odinga is welcome to visit the US.

This comes after unsubstantiated media reports earlier this week that Mr Odinga had been denied a visa to travel to the United States, a claim that was attributed to State House Director of Digital Communications Dennis Itumbi.

“It is our understanding that nothing prevents Raila Odinga from getting on a plane and flying to the United States,” the State Department official said,

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Mr Odinga left Kenya on Wednesday night for a brief visit to London, where he is planning to give an address on Friday at Chatham House, Royal Institute of International Affairs.

The Nasa leader will return to Kenya on Saturday, according to party spokesman Dennis Onyango.

In its email message to the Nation, the State Department reiterated that the US does not back any party or candidate in Kenya.

“We remain committed to supporting a free, fair and credible election that is consistent with Kenya’s Constitution, current laws, and institutions,” the official said.

“We respect the right of Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga and deputy presidential candidate Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka to withdraw from the Kenyan election scheduled for October 26, but we regret their decision to do so,” the official added.

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