US presses Raila Odinga to drop 'swearing in' plan

Top US diplomat for Africa says forming a parallel government is unhelpful.

Nasa leader Raila Odinga. Top US diplomat for Africa says forming a parallel government is unhelpful. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

IN SUMMARY

  • “Forming a separate or parallel government is really unhelpful,” said Donald Yamamoto, the acting assistant secretary of state for African affairs.
  • Mr Yamamoto noted that President Uhuru Kenyatta has also expressed commitment to bringing about reforms.

  • He said the US enjoys a “very constructive” relationship with both the Kenyan government and the opposition.

The United States on Tuesday reiterated its opposition to Raila Odinga's announced intention to swear an oath as Kenya's “people's president.”

“Forming a separate or parallel government is really unhelpful,” said Donald Yamamoto, the acting assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

But in remarks during a teleconference with reporters, Mr Yamamoto repeatedly praised Mr Odinga's record and his commitment to achieving political reform in Kenya.

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Odinga's legacy

“We've known the former prime minister over the years,” the top US diplomat for Africa said. “He has a great story — the need for political reform.”

“He stands as a model for reform,” Mr Yamamoto added. “He is famous for, noted for, respected for reform.”

Recounting a recent discussion with the Nasa leader in Nairobi, Mr Yamamoto noted that he had urged the 72-year-old politician to focus on his “legacy.”

Mr Yamamoto noted that President Uhuru Kenyatta has also expressed commitment to bringing about reforms. The senior State Department official said it should thus be possible to reach agreement among Kenyans on a way forward for the country as a whole.

He said the US enjoys a “very constructive” relationship with both the Kenyan government and the opposition.

Mr Yamamoto also characterised Kenya as “one of our most important countries in Africa.” Kenya must thus demonstrate high standards of democracy, he said.

Kenya “stands as a model for what could happen and what must be done,” Mr Yamamoto added. “Their success is our success.”

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