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States separate fact from fiction on Obama visit

COUNTIES
By Wilfred Ayaga | July 24th 2015
US ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec with foreign affairs cabinet secretary Amina Mohammed and state house communications director Manoah Esipisu during press briefing on the arrival of president Barrack Obama at the office of the President on 23-07-15..Photo Tabitha Otwori

 

Yesterday, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, US Ambassador Robert Godec and State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu held a joint briefing to dispel rumours surrounding President Obama’s visit.

 

Held on the steps of Harambee House at 2.30pm, the press briefing enabled the three officials to respond to speculations that have greeted the trip, which is the first by a sitting US President to the country.

Among the issues raised first was whether or not Deputy President William Ruto would meet the US President.

While Mr Godec would not be drawn into the issue, Mohammed was forthcoming, repeating President Uhuru Kenyatta’s statement earlier in the week that the DP is part of the Government team that will meet the US President.

NOT USUAL

“It has never happened anywhere in the world that a visiting head of state holds separate bilateral talks with a deputy president. That does not happen.

We have a bilateral meeting set for Saturday and we will all be present. There will also be other meetings. The deputy president will also hold an entrepreneurship panel with young people during the course of the three days,” the CS said.

Ms Mohammed reiterated that President Obama’s coming is a show of confidence in the country’ leadership.

“The fact that he chose to come says a lot about the leadership we have. It also indicates that we have the right leadership for the country at this moment,” she said.

With Kenyans expressing concern that the visit will disrupt their daily activities, Godec said there will be no large-scale disruptions of transport and other daily activities.

“The Jomo Kenyatta airport is not shutting down. Schedules may shift, but planes will continue to land and take off,” he said.

On the highly anticipated visit to K’Ogelo, Godec said this is not part of the President’s itinerary.

“This visit holds a deep personal significance for the President. I do anticipate that he will have time with his family in Kenya. But due to logistical challenges involved, he is not planning to go to K’Ogello,” the ambassador said.

On his part, Mr Esipisu dismissed pleas made by Kenyans to declare today a public holiday due to the expected disruptions.

“We have clarification from the Interior Ministry that there will be no public holiday,” he said.

The sensitivity of President Obama’s visit and the secrecy with which the US and Kenyan Governments have handled the preparations have led to widespread speculations.

Some of these include reports that Government installations, including State House, have been taken over by American security agents.

NOT AMUSED

This particular rumour irked Esipisu who said he was not amused with reports that the House on the Hill was no longer under Kenyan jurisdiction.

“I have asked for an apology from the media house that gave this misleading report,” he said.

There is still no indication of the exact time that the US President’s plane will touch down and journalists, who will be covering his arrival, have been advised to be at the airport several hours before the plane’s landing.

They were also informed that thorough security sweeps will be conducted before President Obama’s arrival.

“When the President of the United States arrives, it will be a momentous occasion since he will be the first sitting president to visit the country.

I would like to thank the Kenyan Government for everything they are doing to ensure this visit happens in the safest most efficient manner,” the ambassador said.

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