Obama renews call on Kenya to tackle graft

Barack Obama
Barack Obama when he opened the Sauti Kuu recreation and Resource Centre in Nyangoma, Kogello village in Siaya county on July 16, 2018. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA 

Former US President Barack Obama has reiterated his call on Kenya to tame corruption and embrace diversity for the national good on his first visit to his father’s village in more than two decades.

In what appeared to be a direct appeal to President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, Mr Obama said a handshake and reconciliation will only be good for the country if followed with action on graft and equality.

Mr Obama said this in a speech he delivered at the launch of a community initiative in K’Ogelo, Siaya County where his father was born.

The former US leader returned to key issues of democracy, equal opportunities and diversity; the message he delivered when he gave a public lecture at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi three years ago.

"There has been real progress in this amazing country. The good news is Kenya has a new constitution, it has a new spirit of entrepreneurship," he told his audience, among them Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga, Mr Odinga's wife Ida and Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong'o.


"Despite some of the tumultuous times that seem to attend every election, we now have the President and major leader of opposition who have pledged to build bridges and made specific commitments to work together.

"But we know real progress remains addressing the challenges that remain.

"It means rooting out corruption, it means seeing different ethnicities not as enemies or rivals but as allies; seeing the diversity not as a weakness but as a strength.

He spoke a day after meeting the two leaders who recently reconciled and shook hands with the promise of working together following a tense election that saw violence in most parts of Nyanza which is an opposition stronghold.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced tougher action on the corrupt and vowed to implement his Big Four Agenda meant to bring universal healthcare, food security and housing.

Mr Obama, however, called for sustained fight against graft, especially since the national ranking according to Transparency International showed Kenya was still poor in fighting the vice.