Obama welcomes Kenyan ambassador Githae to the US


Githae-ambaPresident Barack Obama formally welcomed Kenya’s new envoy to the US, Robinson Njeru Githae, to Washington on Tuesday afternoon when he presented his letters of credence at a ceremony in the White House.

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Mr Githae was among ten ambassadors-designate who presented their papers to President Obama in the Oval Office at a traditional credentialing event, which marks the formal beginning of an envoy’s service in Washington.

The former finance minister in the Grand Coalition government arrived in the US last Wednesday.

Mr Githae’s accreditation marks the beginning of a new career as he becomes the head of a mission, which had been without a substantive ambassador for close to one and a half years since Elkanah Odembo left the post in June last year.

Since Mr Odembo’s departure, the embassy, located on R Street in the US capital, was headed by the chargé d’affaires, Ms Jean Njeri Kamau, who served in an acting capacity and who has since been moved to Bangkok, Thailand, as a full ambassador.


Ms Kamau has, on a number of occasions, had to defend the embassy staff from allegations made by members of the public that they were “inept, rude and unprofessional”.

Many Kenyans in the United States complained in newspapers and on social media that, on several occasions, phones at the embassy went unanswered.

She is, however, credited with the successful rollout and issuance of the second-generation national identity cards in an exercise that is still under way in different US cities.

The envoy also presided over last year’s Kenya–US Diaspora Conference, which was billed as one of the most successful events by the embassy.

In July this year, she played a key role in ensuring and facilitating Kenya’s participation in the Smithsonian Folklore Festival in the US capital.

Mr Githae was among ambassadors and heads of mission who had been undergoing an orientation course in Nairobi after being approved by the National Assembly to take up their postings at various stations across the world.

Washington is considered a key posting owing to the political and economic clout that the United States is perceived to have as well as its standing in the international pecking order.


During the vetting session by a parliamentary committee last month, Mr Githae said if confirmed, his first agenda in Washington would be to make sure President Obama keeps his promise to visit Kenya before the end of his second presidential term.

Observers see Githae’s appointment as President Kenyatta’s man in Washington as a signal that hitherto frosty relations between Nairobi and Washington may be warming up.

President Kenyatta nominated Mr Githae on August 14 shortly after returning from a much publicised trip to Washington.

Those accredited during Tuesday’s ceremony included the new ambassador of Zimbabwe, Mr Ammon Mutembwa.

Others were envoys from Ghana, Macedonia, Mali, Comoros, Angola, Senegal, the Switzerland and the European Union.


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