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US, UN in a wait-and-see approach to Kenyatta's win

Tuesday March 12 2013

Kenya's president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta during a

Kenya's president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta during a church service at Gatundu Catholic church on March 09, 2013. PHOTO / CORRESPONDENT 

By Kevin J Kelley

New York

The United States and the United Nations said separately on Monday that they are taking a cautious approach regarding their respective relations with Kenya's president - elect Uhuru Kenyatta.

Spokespersons indicated that their earlier omission of specific congratulations to Mr Kenyatta on his tentative election as president should not necessarily be interpreted as an indication of a shift in relations with Kenya.

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a written statement on Saturday congratulating Kenyans on the peaceful polling and offering congratulations to "all those elected to office."

Asked at Monday's State Department press briefing whether the omission of Mr Kenyatta's name had been deliberate, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, "I wouldn't read too much into that statement."

She noted that Prime Minister Raila Odinga has challenged the results, and she added "so that process obviously needs to move forward, and we’ll go from there."

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In New York, a UN spokesman told the Nation that the secretary-general typically withholds congratulations to a newly elected national leader until that person has been inaugurated.

Like Mr Kerry, UN chief Ban Ki-moon had not mentioned Mr Kenyatta in a statement on Saturday that commended Kenyans on a peaceful election.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky added on Monday that the United Nations intends to maintain normal relations with Mr Kenyatta and Deputy-President-Elect William Ruto as long as they continue to cooperate with the International Criminal Court.

Mr Nesirky said UN protocol dictates that only essential contacts can be made with a national leader who defies an ICC indictment.

That has occurred in the case of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Mr Nesirky noted.