Senator Kagwe in USA,building links with US Senate

Financing for schools and efforts to stop elephant poaching were among the diverse topics discussed by a visiting Kenyan senator in meetings with US Congress members this week.

Nyeri County Senator Mutahi Kagwe said on Thursday that he had travelled to Washington to build a relationship between the Kenyan Senate and the US Senate.

“Your Senate is more than 200 years old, and ours is new, so we want to learn from you,” Senator Kagwe said he had told US lawmakers.

Mr Kagwe briefed his hosts on the political situation in Kenya. “I told them about the success of our election process,” Senator Kagwe said.

The issue of the International Criminal Court’s indictments of Kenya’s two top leaders was not raised in any of his talks on Capitol Hill in Washington, the senator said.

Education funding was the focus of his meeting with Congressman Joe Courtney, a former member of the US House Education and Labour Committee. Because education policy making has devolved to the county level, Senator Kagwe noted, he was especially keen to learn about the US system of local financing for schools.

In another meeting, Senator Jeff Flake, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate’s Africa Affairs Subcommittee, outlined US efforts to prevent elephant poaching in Africa. Senator Kagwe said he in turn expressed hope that the matter could be raised at the current summit meeting between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“To stop elephant poaching, we ought to be tackling the demand for ivory in China and other countries,” Senator Kagwe said.

Because of the importance of wildlife issues in Nyeri County, Senator Kagwe also met in Washington with Iain Douglas-Hamilton, who founded the Save the Elephants group and who has done field work in Kenya for many years.

Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro was scheduled to take part in the talks in Washington, but instead had to travel to London on personal business, Senator Kagwe noted.

He said the Speaker still plans to visit the US sometime this year to establish a framework for relations between the Kenyan and American legislative

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