Friday, February 2, 2018

US backs Kenyatta as Kenya's president, rejects Raila Odinga


The United States has rejected Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga's "inauguration" as "people's president," and declared that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was validly elected as the president of the country in accordance with Kenya’s constitution.

The U.S. Department of State in a statement said it was gravely concerned by Odinga’s self-“inauguration” on Tuesday.

Odinga, 73, had held the swearing-in ceremony in Nairobi with thousands of supporters in attendance, another challenge to President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election last year following two votes that the opposition claims were rigged.

The U.S. government criticized the authorities' crackdown on broadcasters that tried to cover it live.

Three of the country's main private television channels had their live feeds of the event cut or blocked, but the country's High Court allowed them to temporarily resume service on Thursday.

The statement issued by Ms Heather Nauert, Department Spokesperson, read in full: “The United States is gravely concerned by Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga’s self-“inauguration” on January 30. We reject actions that undermine Kenya’s Constitution and the rule of law. Uhuru Kenyatta was elected as President of the Republic of Kenya on October 26, 2017 in a poll that was upheld by Kenya’s Supreme Court. Grievances must be resolved through appropriate legal mechanisms.

“We commend the restraint shown by security forces and urge them to continue to refrain from any unnecessary or excessive use of force. Any arrests and prosecutions must be made in full accordance with the rule of law and demonstrate transparent due process. We urge all Kenyans to reject violence and hatred. Protesters have a right to assemble peacefully, to express their views freely, and to hold opinions without interference.

“We are also deeply concerned by the Government’s action to shut down, intimidate, and restrict the media. Freedom of expression, including for members of the media, is essential to democracy and is enshrined in Kenya’s Constitution. We urge the Government and all Kenyans to respect freedom of expression and implement court orders calling for the restoration of television broadcasts.


“We again urge Kenyan leaders and citizens to begin a national conversation to build cohesion and address long-standing issues. The United States continues to support efforts by religious, business, and civil society leaders to begin this conversation in the near future and calls on everyone to participate in this endeavor. The United States stands firmly with the people of Kenya; it is only Kenyans who can find a way to resolve their differences and chart the destiny of this great country.”

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