Thursday, November 13, 2008



November 13, 2008
By Obadiah Ayoti

UNITED States President–elect Barrack Obama telephoned President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday night and discussed issues of mutual interest and future plans of engagement. During the conversation, Obama asked Kibaki to convey his thanks to the people of Kenya for the overwhelming moral support they accorded him during his campaign for the White House and also expressed satisfaction with efforts being taken by the Kenyan leadership to return the country to the path of democracy.

He however noted that Kenya has a big chance to prosper as a growing democracy only if the culture of impunity ends. In this regard, a source told Kenya Times that Obama might have expressed his interest in having the Waki report on post-election violence implemented and reiterated his commitment to the issues he raised in his 2006 speech delivered at the University of Nairobi.

Mr Obama visited Kenya, a country where he traces his paternal roots, in August 2006 where he called upon Kenyan youths to take a lead in shaping the future of their country and called on the political leadership to be sincere in the fight against corruption, uphold fidelity to the rule of law and respect institutions of democracy.

The source which spoke to Kenya Times through telephone said President Kibaki assured Obama that Kenya was looking forward to strengthening cooperation with the United States and also extended an invitation to the president-elect to visit the country at his pleasurable will.

Following Obama’s victory, there has been heightened optimism that Kenya is set to benefit significantly from his presidency owing to his paternal roots. His father, Barack Hussein Obama Snr hailed from Kogelo village, Siaya district. According to a press dispatch from the Presidential Press Service, President Kibaki pointed out that Kenyans clearly understood that Obama owes his allegiance and responsibility to the American people first, but were confident that "Kenya would always have a special place in the President-elect’s heart."

President Kibaki conveyed the country’s best wishes to Obama, noting that his historic victory which resonated well in the country had been received with immense pride and gratification. The telephone conversation which came a day after Obama met outgoing United States President George W. Bush at the White House to discuss the country’s economic situation and its foreign policy, clearly underscores his firm links with his historic roots. The call to President Kibaki was also the first to an African leader since Obama won the bruising election.

The United States President-elect is believed to have impressed upon President Kibaki to ensure that the Kriegler and Waki reports which are a product of the African Eminent Personalities headed by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan are implemented. Most of Obama’s surviving relatives are in Kenya among them his paternal grandmother Sarah Obama who hails from Kogelo village, Siaya district, Nyanza Province.

Barely a week after her grandson was elected President, Sarah was appointed a good-will ambassador against malnutrition by the New York-based Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-Algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition (IIMAM).

Obama’s last visit to his father’s homeland was in 2006 when he lashed out at the government for failing to walk the talk on the war against corruption and tribalism. The comments attracted the wrath of Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua who said they were based on his misinformation about Kenyan affairs.

The President once again congratulated Obama for his historic and well deserved victory over the Republican candidate John McCain and wished him well during his tenure as United States 44th President Obama’s call to Kibaki comes at a time when the Kriegler and Waki reports are under sharp scrutiny from the political class, religious groups and civil society over the effects of their full implementation. ECK commissioners have since moved to court to block the impending disbandment of the electoral body as recommended by the Kriegler report. More In Print Edition