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Meet us all, Kenyan NGOs tell President Barack Obama

Thursday July 23 2015

US President Barack Obama. Some Kenyan civil

US President Barack Obama. Some Kenyan civil societies have written to him, protesting their lock-out from his meeting on July 26, 2015. PHOTO |  AFP.

SAMUEL KARANJA
By SAMUEL KARANJA
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Some Kenya civil societies have written a protest letter to US President Barack Obama over his decision to meet what they term a “select anti-government NGOs”

They organisations on Thursday said by meeting the selected 17 NGOs that promote human rights, good governance and respect for the rule of law, President Obama will lock out lobbies dealing with education, health, youth affairs among others.

“This being the first time we are honoured to be hosting such an eminent person as the Kenyan civil society, it would be grossly unfair to limit your interaction with the sector into only one specific spectrum of NGOs, especially considering some already have the capacity to engage you in America." said activist Ngunjiri Wambugu, who wrote the letter on behalf of the protesting NGOs.

EXPAND INVITATION

“We urge that you expand your invitation list to include CSOs from other sectors, and especially those who might never have another chance to engage the President of America on what they do,” he added.

The lobbies that sent the letter through US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec are Change Associates, Kenya Citizens Coalition, Terror Victims Support Initiative, Bunge La Mwananchi, and United Muslims Against Terrorism Initiative.

Others are Ukambani Progressive Forum, Independent Christian Leaders Initiative and International Governance Institute.

2013 PETITION

Mr Wambugu also accused the NGOs scheduled to meet with Mr Obama on Sunday of having anti-government stances.

“You might not be aware that most if not all of the 17 NGOs who wrote to you are known to pursue an overtly anti-government stance on virtually every issue or policy that the Uhuru Kenyatta government introduces or seeks to implement,” the letter reads.

He accused some of the groups meeting with the US president of “even directly unsuccessfully” petitioning against Mr Kenyatta’s win at the Supreme Court in 2013.

OPPOSITION LINKS

“This means that if you limit your meeting entirely to this particular group or those NGOs... then you will only be meeting with what is for all intents and purposes the NGO section of the Kenyan political Opposition,” Mr Wambugu stated.

He said the civil societies were perpetuating clear falsehoods by claiming that they and the media had been threatened by the Jubilee leadership.

“The threats these NGOs are speaking about are attempts by the government to call for responsibility in news reporting; something the average Kenyan wants; and which even the American government pursues aggressively with its own media,” added the activist.