Opposition faulted over doublespeak

Sunday July 26 2015

US President Barack Obama speaks during an

US President Barack Obama speaks during an event with representatives of Civil Society organisations at the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Center in Nairobi on July 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO | SAUL LOEB 

By CAROLINE WAFULA
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By PETER LEFTIE
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US President Barack Obama took a swipe at opposition leaders over double-speak on various issues affecting Kenya.

President Obama, while addressing the civil society, openly criticised a leader, whom he did not name, saying he has been exerting pressure on him to challenge the government, yet he had previously opposed US involvement in Kenyan affairs.

“I had to say to them, I remember when you were in government, you kept on saying, why are you trying to interfere with Kenyan business, you should mind your own business.

“So, everybody wants the United States to be involved when they are not in power and when they are in power, they want the United States to mind their own business,” he said.

VERY IMPORTANT

He further said he told the opposition chiefs that there is a legitimate government in Kenya, which the US would work with, although it will always listen to all segments of society.

The US president spoke while meeting the civil society at Kenyatta University’s Yali Regional Leadership Centre.

Earlier, President Obama had met key opposition leaders at the VIP area of the Safaricom Stadium Indoor Arena in the afternoon after addressing Kenyans at the same venue.

Among them were Cord leader Raila Odinga and his co-principals Moses Wetang’ula of Ford Kenya and Kalonzo Musyoka of the Wiper Democratic Movement, as well as Narc Kenya’s Martha Karua.

Mr Musyoka described the talks, which centred on governance, security and democracy, as very important.

Mr Odinga and the leaders accused Jubilee of rigging the 2013 presidential election.

During the meeting that lasted nearly 45 minutes, the leaders asked President Obama to put pressure on the government to allow electoral reforms.

Mr Wetang’ula said the Opposition also raised the issue of high-level corruption. Mr Odinga has been demanding that Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru steps aside to pave way for investigations into corruption in the National Youth Service. She has, however, protested her innocence.

According to Mr Wetang’ula, the Opposition accused President Kenyatta of practising tribalism and ethnic exclusivity in appointments to top government positions.

The leaders also complained about growing insecurity and the government’s failure to tackle the threat of terrorism.

The leaders raised the issue of Kenya Defence Forces’ presence in war-torn Somalia, saying it partly contributed to the terror attacks.

Mr Wetang’ula said gender issues and ways of deepening ties with the US were discussed.

A statement by Mr Odinga’s spokesman Dennis Onyango said the meeting had also focused on strengthening devolution.