Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kenyan media voice curiosity over JK, Obama meeting.

President Jakaya Kikwete’s historic meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House last week has caused a political stir in neighbouring Kenya, with that country’s media describing it as a public snub of Nairobi by Obama.

’’Tanzania elbows Kenya to become darling of the US,’’ said a headline in yesterday’s edition of the Kenyan English-language newspaper Daily Nation.

The newspaper article claimed that the honour given to Kikwete as the first African head of state to visit Obama’s White House ’’will further highlight Kenya’s diminished status on the international scene.’’

’’The visit came on the back of a public snub by President Obama, who has opted to make Ghana the destination of his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa,’’ said the paper.
It asserted that the growing estrangement between the US and Kenya would likely ’’pile further pressure on the troubled Grand Coalition government.’’

The newspaper quoted a veteran Kenyan diplomat, Bethwell Kiplagat, as saying that Obama’s decision not to visit Kenya first should serve as a warning to the Grand Coalition to get it act together.

Obama is the son of a Kenyan father and an American mother.
’’The frosty relations between Kenya and a number of its key Western allies represents a sharp turnaround for a nation described by the US point man to the continent Johnnie Carson as the ’keystone’ country in the region,’’ said the Daily Nation.

Another leading Kenyan daily, The Standard, intimated that President Obama held secret talks with Kikwete on the subject of Kenya.
’’And even as the US increasingly lumps Kenya with failed states in the region, the disturbing aspect of the unfolding drama is the country’s inability to tap and take advantage of the US president’s roots,’’ said The Standard in its Sunday edition.

’’The one man who is running away first with possible political and economic advantage from Obama, is Kikwete. Since inauguration as Tanzania’s president in 2006, Kikwete has enjoyed closer ties with the ’Big Brother’. That was also the case during the reign of the 43rd US president, George W. Bush.’’

The newspaper said Tanzania’s ’’clout and fortune have correspondingly risen as Kenya’s plummet.’’
It recalled that in mid-2006, Kenyans reacted angrily when news filtered through that Bush and Kikwete had discussed Kenya during a bilateral meeting in Washington. Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula, then an assistant minister, demanded a public apology from the two leaders.

’’Today, Kikwete still occupies that special and envious place in the eyes of American leadership,’’ said The Sunday Standard.
’’When Kikwete invited Obama to Tanzania, which former president Clinton - like Bush - visited and snubbed Kenya, the new US leader’s response was more than curious,’’ noted the newspaper.

’’He said: ’I would like to visit Tanzania. Last time I saw your country from the other side of Serengeti National Park’, referring to his 2006 visit to Kenya,’’ The Standard article said.


No comments:

Post a Comment