US Ambassador to Kenya says Obama skipping Kenya is not a snub

The United States has said it remains committed to its “partnership with the government and people of Kenya”.

In a statement, US ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec said President Barack Obama’s decision to bypass Kenya in his upcoming African tour should not be seen as a snub.

“Since its independence in 1963, Kenya has been one of America’s strongest and most enduring partners in Africa. Our partnership is based on a shared commitment to democracy, security, and opportunity.

“The United States remains committed to our partnership with the government and people of Kenya,” said Mr Godec Tuesday.

He said President Obama “cannot travel to every country”.

“We regret that the President cannot travel to every country; but our longstanding commitment remains to all of our African partners, and to the people of Africa, as we look to deepen our partnership with nations across the region,” Mr Godec said.

He said the President’s trip to East Africa will underscore the region’s economic potential and highlight the US desire to deepen trade and investment ties in the region, Kenya included.

President Obama will go on a first African tour in June, visiting Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa, but his itinerary released on Monday bypasses Kenya.

President Obama disappointed many Africans by spending only a few hours in sub-Saharan Africa — in Ghana — during his first term, but is keen to implement a sweeping new regional strategy, prioritising democracy and economic reform.

Speculation will centre on whether America’s first black president will see ailing 94-year-old South African anti-Apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, on a trip on which he will be accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama.

The White House said the long-awaited visit was intended to underscore Obama’s “commitment to broadening and deepening cooperation between the United States and the people of sub-Saharan Africa” to advance peace and prosperity.

He will meet officials, businessmen, and civil society leaders, including young people, on the trip between June 26 and July 3 — an unusually long journey for a president who normally dashes across timezones on trips abroad.

But early scrutiny will concentrate as much on where he will not go in Africa, as his planned stops, with Kenya, the land of Obama’s late father, where he still has living relatives, a glaring omission.


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