US non-committal on Raila Odinga's election concerns

Tuesday November 14 2017

Raila Odinga

Kenya opposition leader Raila Odinga speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on November 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. PHOTO | MANDEL NGAN | AFP 

By KEVIN J KELLEY
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The State Department's top Africa official has declined to say whether the US accepts or disputes Raila Odinga's contention of rigging and unfairness in Kenya's presidential election process.

Donald Yamamoto, acting Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, mentioned in a conference call with reporters that he had met with Mr Odinga during the Nasa leader's recent visit to Washington.

“That conversation — we can't go into great detail,” Mr Yamamoto said in response to a question regarding the US' assessment of the Nasa leader's complaints.

Issues

Mr Yamamoto noted that both President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga “have stated there are issues where they need reform of the electoral process.”

“It is a work in progress,” Mr Yamamoto said in regard to democracy in Kenya. “It is something we will continue to focus on.”

He added that, “the US remains firmly committed to moving the democratic process forward not just in Kenya but across the continent.”

The teleconference was intended to call attention to a November 17 conference in Washington involving the foreign ministers of 37 African countries and senior officials in the Trump administration.

The talks will cover the broad topics of economic growth, democratic governance, and peace and security, Mr Yamamoto said.

One day prior to that ministerial meeting, US officials are scheduled to engage in an annual “high-level dialogue” with African Union officials.

Mr Yamamoto billed the two sessions as “the start of an expansive, continuous dialogue” between the Trump administration and African leaders.