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Kenya: Praise piles up for Obama visit

Whispering Inn joined other Kenyan bloggers welcoming the visit of Barack Obama, the USA's only black senator, to the country. “[Obama has been] chewing out president Kibaki for State-sanctioned corruption, encouraging folks to fight AIDS by getting tested, advocating media freedom at the Standard Newspapers, touring Kibera, and giving a lecture on good governance at the University of Nairobi,” he summarised.

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  • Kenya has stepped up criticism of US Senator Barack Obama, accusing him of insulting the Kenyan people and trivializing their achievements during a visit to his father’s homeland.Two days after abruptly changing its tone on Obama, who had been welcomed as a returning hero but incurred official wrath with blistering criticism of corruption and ethnic divisions, Nairobi launched a new attack on the lawmaker Thursday.

    Less than 24 hours after the rising US political star left Kenya to continue an African tour, government spokesman Alfred Mutua blasted Obama for choosing “to dwell on non-issues” in a nationally televised speech on Monday.

    “Senator Obama made extremely disturbing statements on issues which it is clear, he was very poorly informed, and on which he chose to lecture the government and the people on how they should manage their country,” he said.

    Mutua said the government would write a formal protest to the junior senator from Illinois who he suggested had falsely claimed his trip to Africa was intended to “nuture relations between the continent and the United States.”

    Noting the government had “spared no effort in making his stay and travel … enjoyable and fulfilling,” Mutua said Obama’s criticism of President Mwai Kibaki’s administration was unfair, unwarranted and unjustified by facts.

    He said Obama was wrong in asserting that Rwandan genocide fugitive Felicien Kabuga had bought protection in Kenya, that graft had plunged the country into “crisis” and that dangerous tribal divisions were on the rise.

    Obama’s comment about Kabuga “is an insult to the people of this country,” Mutua said, adding he had “ignored” accomplishments in fighting corruption and boosting economic growth from near zero to six percent in three years.

    “This cannot be achieved in a country, which Senator Obama says, is experiencing a corruption crisis,” he said, before slamming the lawmaker for allegedly “trivializing” Kenya’s ethnic harmony and “magnifying tribalism.”

    “Senator Obama enjoyed the vibrant freedom of expression and wide democratic space in this country during his tour,” Mutua said. “Instead of acknowledging this… he chose to dwell on non-issues.”

    A day after Obama’s stinging speech at the University of Nairobi, Mutua dismissed the lone African-American in the Senate and potential Democratic Party presidential nominee as “immature” and an opposition stooge.

    But his harsh comments on Thursday marked a new escalation in animosity between the government and Obama, who left Kenya late Wednesday

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