Uhuru to have private dinner with Obama
President Uhuru Kenyatta and first Lady Margaret will have dinner with US President Barrack Obama next month at the White House. The White House has invited President Kenyatta and 46 other African leaders to a summit in August. All of the invited leaders are on generally good terms with the United States and have not been suspended from the African Union.
Uhuru’s trip to the US had been in doubt because relations have been somewhat ?awkward?? over Uhuru’s indictment by the ICC and US travel advisories against visiting certain Kenyan coastal areas.
Washington has not confirmed whether Obama and his wife Michelle will dine alone with Kenya’s first couple or whether they will be joined by other African leaders. However, sources at the Kenyan Embassy in Washington told the Star yesterday that the four will share a private meal.
“We have been informed that President Kenyatta will have an exclusive dinner with Obama on the sidelines of the summit. At dinner, President Kenyatta will invite Obama to visit Kenya. Only then will we have a clear idea of when Obama will visit his father’s land,” said the source, declining to be identified.
Obama has made two official visits to Africa but both times he has skipped Kenya. On his Africa tour last year, he visited Tanzania. After the Westgate terrorist attack last September, Obama spoke to Uhuru over the telephone.
US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec yesterday confirmed that Uhuru had been invited to the White House but did not say if the dinner would be exclusive.
“Our partnership is unchanged and unwavering. We can see that all around us. It is in our excellent government-to-government relations. We work together to strengthen security, improve health care, educate children, assist farmers, and build prosperity. What binds us together is deeper and more enduring than any passing issues that separate us,” Gordec said at July 4 celebrations to mark American independence.
Before Kenya’s last elections the US had warned Kenyans that “choices had consequences”, a statement understood to mean that America did not want Kenyatta elected.
Uhuru has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague over his alleged role in 2007-08 post-election violence, although there is widespread speculation that his delayed ICC trial is about to collapse. Deputy President William Ruto is currently on trial for crimes against humanity. Yesterday Godec also denied rumours that the US government was backing Kenya’s political opposition.
“The United States has excellent relations with the government and people of Kenya. We do not support any political party or any particular politician in Kenya. We support the ideals and the principles set out in your Constitution and ours. Our actions and programs work to strengthen our relations,” Godec said.
Since his return from the United States last month, Cord leader Raila Odinga has been holding rallies across the country, demanding dialogue with the government on pressing issues.
Some Jubilee MPS and senior members of the government have claimed that Raila is being funded by foreigners based in the US where Raila stayed for three months on a sabbatical at Boston University at the African Presidential Centre.
Yesterday Godec dismissed assertions that the US was engaged in economic sabotage by issuing travel advisories against visiting coastal areas where attacks have taken place.
“Our travel warnings summarise the security situation in Kenya to allow American citizens to take informed decision about travel. They do not tell Americans to avoid Kenya. Informing citizens and protecting them is the first obligation of all governments. The US Embassy in Nairobi is open for business and we have no intention of closing it. So ignore the rumours. Focus on the facts,” the ambassador said.