US presses Raila to drop ‘swearing-in’ plans

Nasa leader Raila Odinga. file photo | nmg
Nasa leader Raila Odinga. file photo | nmg 

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, 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.

“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. He is famous for, noted for, respected for reform.”

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

He said President Uhuru Kenyatta has also expressed commitment to bringing about reforms.

The senior US official added that it should thus be possible to reach an 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. The country “stands as a model for what could happen and what must be done,” Mr Yamamoto added.