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Opposition leaders' request angers US President Barack Obama

By Rawlings Otieno and Geoffrey Mosoku | Updated Mon, July 27th 2015 at 00:00 GMT +3
Opposition leaders led by Raila Odinga (C), Kalonzo Musyoka (leftt) after meeting US President Barack Obama

 

US President Barack Obama met Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leaders to discuss various issues affecting the country but also took them to task on their performance when they served in government.

Obama held discussions with the Opposition chiefs led by CORD leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetangula and NARC-Kenya leader Martha Karua.

The leaders are said to have discussed the runaway corruption, electoral reforms, tribalism and ethnic exclusivity.

The meeting took place at the VVIP Lounge at the Safaricom Sports Arena and lasted more than half an hour.

But minutes after the meeting, the US President lifted the veil of hypocrisy of some of the leaders.

Obama told a civil society forum at Kenyatta University that one of the Opposition leaders pleaded with him to press the Kenyan government harder on some undisclosed governance issues.

He did not, however, disclose who between the four leaders made the request.

"I won't tell you which one," he said before complaining, "Everyone when they are not in power want the US Government to press the (Kenya) Government in power on this or that issue, but I remember when you were in power you told us (the US Government) to mind our own business..."

Obama said he told the Opposition leaders that the US government will deal with the "legitimate government" which is in place but will also "listen to everyone else", including opposition groups.

CORD has been critical in the manner in which President Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee administration has been handling the dragon of corruption.

CORD co-principal and Senate Minority Leader Wetangula disclosed that their meeting with President Obama also centred on insecurity brought about by the Al-Shabaab extremists, profiling of communities and individuals in war on terror and gender issues.

Even though he failed to divulge in details about the issues they discussed, Wetangula confirmed that 2017 General Election was critical to the country and said they also discussed rigging of elections.

"We discussed runaway corruption, electoral reforms, tribalism and ethnic exclusivity with President Obama," said Wetangula.

The Opposition has of late been critical about the fight against corruption and has censured Jubilee administration for allegedly shielding some suspects while others are being prosecuted.

CORD's spokesman Dennis Onyango said the Opposition leaders presented Obama with a memorandum of the issues the US should support Kenya to deal with comprehensively. He said they will reveal details of the memo to Obama tomorrow.

While addressing a gathering at Safaricom Indoor Arena-Kasarani, Obama hit out at leaders over ethnicity and corruption.

Last names

He said, "People should not be judged by their last names, ethnicity or race but the content of their character," advising Kenyans on the effect of such negative actions." and summed it up with the phrase: 'Tribalism is a failure of imagination.'

Obama said making strong laws and failing to enforce them will not not help to fight corruption.

"Every shilling that is paid as a bribe could be put in the pocket of someone doing a good day's work. Making strong laws which are not enforced is not the way to fight corruption," he said.

This he said this as some MPs-it is Parliament that voted to disband the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission-sat nearby smiling.

While addressing the Civil Society at Kenyatta University, Obama told them that he had met the Opposition briefly and called on them to help fight corruption in their own way.

Obama is also said to have challenged the Opposition and the Civil Society on the values they profess in the fight against corruption.

"Everybody wants the United States to be involved when they're not in power but when they are in power, they don't want USA to be involved," said Obama during the meeting with Civil Society.

Obama's visit revolved around freedoms, dignity, ownership, equity and equality, culture change, hope, entrepreneurship, trade and partnership geared towards fighting terrorism.


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