Kenya ambassador Githae faults US security law criticism

Kenya ambassador to the United States Robinson Njeru Githae has said recent criticism of security law by Barack Obama-led administration may be based on the legislation before it was amended

Mr Githae defended the controversial new security law in a 45-minute interview with the Nation at the Kenya embassy in Washington on Monday.

“Look at the actual Bill signed by the President (Uhuru Kenyatta) and you will find all the concerns have been taken care of by a number of amendments.

“There is a big difference between what was reported in the press and what was passed by Parliament,” he said.

The envoy noted that the US has in the past said it understands the scope of the terrorism threat facing Kenya and has pledged to continue assisting in the fight against Al-Shabaab militants.

“We want to draw from the experience here. The US had a major terrorists attack. “We would like more sharing of intelligence because we don’t have the equipment the US government has,” he said.

One month after presenting his credentials to President Obama Mr Githae also outlined his agenda on strengthening Kenya-US relations.

Mr Githae said his main aim is to “strengthen, deepen and widen” partnership between the two countries.

Top on his list is getting clearance for direct flights from Kenya to the US.

The 57-year-old former Finance Minister said he will try to convince US authorities to approve direct flights to the US by Kenya Airways.

He said the Kenyan government has rectified 90 per cent of roughly 100 concerns raised by the US regarding security at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

A direct air link to the US would boost Kenya’s economy by facilitating tourism and allow export of cut flowers to the US market, Ambassador Githae said.

He said he is also focusing on discussions to ease State Department travel advisories that have affected tourism.

Mr Githae said he recently pointed out to a senior State Department official in “a very frank exchange of views” that most parts of Kenya, including safari destinations, are safe.

The Kenyan embassy is also keen to help arrange a visit to Kenya by Mr Obama.

“If he says he will come tomorrow, we will welcome him,” Mr Githae said.

He said the US President promised to visit Kenya before the end of his term in January 2017

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