Sunday, June 23, 2013

Let my record speak, says envoy Odembo

PHOTO | FILE Kenya's ambassador to the United States, Mr Elkanah Odembo.

PHOTO | FILE Kenya's ambassador to the United States, Mr Elkanah Odembo.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By KEVIN J KELLEY

WASHINGTON

Outgoing Kenyan ambassador to the US Elkanah Odembo has cited Kenya’s economic development, security and reform agenda as some of his achievements while in office.

“I shall leave having achieved some important goals, despite the challenges of a coalition government,” Mr Odembo said on Saturday. “I go in peace.”

Relations with elements of the grand coalition government were not always smooth.

As election-related politics grew heated, he was accused by some backers of then Jubilee candidate Uhuru Kenyatta of favouring his main opponent, Raila Odinga.

Mr Odembo was also accused by detractors of having helped orchestrate the Obama administration’s warning of “consequences” for US-Kenya relations if Mr Kenyatta were elected.

The ambassador rejected those charges as unfounded.

“I am not here campaigning for any individual running for any office in the Republic of Kenya,” he told the Nation earlier this year.

The diplomat, who led the NGO movement in Kenya to unprecedented heights in the 1990s, commands the respect of colleagues and of US government officials.

He is the chairman of the African Ambassadors Group in Washington.

Saying he has “several good friends” in the US Congress and State Department, Mr Odembo pointed out that he had been invited to speak at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He cited successes in facilitating the growth of US businesses in Kenya. General Electric has upgraded its office in Nairobi to serve as the African hub.

“IBM has grown from a 10-person outfit in Nairobi, to a regional office with more than 100 staff, serving some 24 African countries,” he said.

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