Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Obama criticizes Africa

Washington Times:

If Africans welcoming home a native son thought that rising Democratic star Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois came only in praise of the continent of his roots, they were mistaken.

In South Africa last week, he took the government to task for its tepid response to the AIDS epidemic that has ravaged sub-Saharan Africa. He also criticized the government of President Thabo Mbeki for its "quiet diplomacy" with Zimbabwe, demanding that more pressure be put on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Kenya risks losing its status as a model of African democracy if it does not urgently crack down on corruption that has reached crisis levels and stifled development, Mr. Obama said yesterday.

Western nations must ensure they practice what they preach to African nations about graft, said Mr. Obama, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is using the trip in part to polish his credentials in foreign policy.

"While corruption is a problem we all share, here in Kenya it is a crisis -- a crisis that's robbing an honest people of the opportunities they have fought for," Mr. Obama told an audience at the University of Nairobi.

Mr. Obama, born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and white American mother, is on his first trip to Kenya since being elected to the Senate in 2004 and has become an idol to many in the East African country, who see him as a native son.

The senator, who stopped in South Africa last week, also will travel to Djibouti and Chad, to visit refugees from Sudan's Darfur region, on a trip he hopes will bring new focus on Africa's importance.

He scrapped plans to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda at the request of the U.S. Embassy in Congo because of postelection fighting in that country's capital, Kinshasa.

Anti corruption official unhappy with Obama's remarks

Obama ends "feel good" Kenya visit


At 7:44 PM, Blogger hoss_tagge said...

Is there any way we could get Obama to stay in Kenya?

At 9:29 AM, Anonymous GOVERNMENT OF KENYA said...

Senator Barack Obama indicated that he was visiting Africa to help nurture relations between the continent and the United States. His mission, therefore, was warmly welcomed by the Government and the people of Kenya. The fact that he has roots in Kenya endeared him to the people of this country.

However, during his public address at the University of Nairobi, Senator Obama made extremely disturbing statements on issues which it is clear, he was very poorly informed, and on which he chose to lecture the Government and the people of Kenya on how to manage our country.

We would like to make the following facts clear:

a) Kenya is no less vulnerable to terrorism than the United States or any other country. Kenya has in the past suffered incidents of terrorism because of our friendship with the United States and not because as a people, we are less efficient in the management of our security. Indeed, his own country and other countries with higher levels of development, have had more incidences of terrorism despite their sophisticated security systems. Therefore, blaming terrorist attacks in Kenya on possible corruption is highly misplaced and insincere. Using his logic, then, it follows that the terrorist attacks in the United States and other countries are as a result of corrupt border and customs police in his own country and other countries which have experienced incidents of terrorism.

b) The allegation that wanted Rwandese genocide fugitive Felicen Kabuga may have purchased safe haven in Kenya is an insult to the people of this country and negates the fact that Kenya, Rwanda and the United Nations have an excellent track record in collaboration in the search and apprehending of Rwandese suspects. This country has turned over to the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda the highest number of genocidal suspects for trial. For that reason also, this country cannot be a safe haven for any genocide suspect and especially Kabuga. If it was an issue of corruption money, as Senator Obama states, then the bounty of US$5 million (Kshs 365 million) being offered by the United States for the apprehension of Kabuga, would be irresistible to the alleged corrupt police. If anybody knows where Kabuga is, this Government would like to know so that we can apprehend him immediately and hand him over to the tribunal.

c) Senator Obama enjoyed the vibrant freedom of expression and wide democratic space existing in this country, during his tour. Instead of acknowledging this big leap in this country, he chose to dwell on none issues as far as the governance of this country is concerned. He ignored the fact that strengthening of democracy and institutions of Governance has been the strongest thrust of this Government. Today, every Kenyan can openly talk about and address issues of corruption without fear and associate himself or herself to any political party he or she chooses. Bold decisions have made to bring down the rate of corruption with great success. For example, the success in our fighting corruption is evidenced by the fact that Kenya is one of the best performing countries in Africa in the collection of public revenue and the economy has had a turn-around from near zero percent (0%), three years ago, to about six percent (6%) economic growth today. This cannot be achieved in a country, which Senator Obama says, is experiencing a “corruption crisis.”

d) Senator Obama also trivialized the harmony and peaceful co-existence that exists between different ethnic groups and races that live in this country, and chose to magnify tribalism as a major problem in this country.

During Senator Obama’s visit, the Government spared no effort in making his stay and travel all over the country enjoyable and fulfilling. Senator Barack Obama is welcome to come again to learn more about the country, the Government and the people of this country.


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