Home Diplomat's Corner Azimio senators tell off US ambassador over ‘insensitive’ 2022 election remarks

Azimio senators tell off US ambassador over ‘insensitive’ 2022 election remarks

Say they believe Kenya's electoral system is fundamentally flawed, and Kenyans are being taxed to poverty and death. 

by Michael Mureithi
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ELDORET – Azimio senators have criticised US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman over her comments on the 2022 election, terming them insensitive and eroding the little trust they are building through the bipartisan talks.

Speaking in Eldoret on Thursday, the legislators led by Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua said they believe Kenya’s electoral system is fundamentally flawed, and that they believe Kenyans are being taxed to poverty and death.

Äs long as Kenyans are talking, we expect our foreign friends, and especially the United States of America, to be sensitive,  mature, and to avoid making comments that are likely to erode the little trust that we are trying to build for the sake of our motherland,” Senator Wambua said in the press address.

Nominated Senator Oburu Odinga,  who is also the elder brother to Azimio leader Raila Odinga, said he felt pained by the remarks made by Ambassador Whitman during her presentation at the opening of the eight devolution conference in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu county, on Wednesday.

US Ambassador Meg Whitman makes her presentation at the devolution conference in Uasin Gishu county on August 16, 2023/ US EMBASSY

Ambassador Whitman enumerated a list of factors she believes makes Kenya the number one destination for investments in the region. 

Among the factors the envoy highlighted was that Kenya is the most stable democracy in Africa having held what she termed as remarkable election. 

“What I witnessed is nothing short or remarkable. Kenya held what many analysts say was the freest, fairest and most credible election in Kenyan history,” Ambassador Whitman said. 

The envoy noted that the polls were observed by local and international observers and upheld by the Supreme Court, and power transferred orderly and peacefully. 

However, Oburu said he found it too insensitive for the US Ambassador to talk about democracy in Kenya when the Ruto administration has criminalised legitimate rights of Kenyans: To demonstrate, to picket and to assemble.

“This is a right enshrined in the Constitution and it is even borrowed from the American Constitution. I really felt hurt when the US Ambassador is dancing and praising democracy in Kenya when such rights are being criminalised and described as destruction of property and riots,  which shows the current regime is slowly this country into a dictatorship” Oburu said.

Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ further noted that the envoy’s  remarks were prejudicial to the ongoing the national dialogue discussions.

“The national dialogue discussions are premised on the three things that she [Whitman] spoke about in a very insensitive manner. One was on electoral justice, two was on the burden that has been visited on Kenyans by the Finance Act 2023 and corruption, which is an existential threat to the well being and future of this country,” Kajwang’ said, adding that they would not want foreign partners to get involved in such domestic conversations.

In her speech, Whitman noted that the controversial Finance Act 2023 would help lure investors in to the country.

“A lot of work has to be done, but the Finance Bill had many changes that will make Kenya’s tax policy more consistent and, therefore, more bankable by foreign direct investments,” she said.

Whitman also said Kenya needs to address corruption, noting that although it is a thorny issue, efforts must be made to tackle it.

“Corruption leads to misuse of public resources, slows economic growth and job creation and damages investment climate, as well as undermining equal participation,” the ambassador said.

She, however, commended President William Ruto for cracking the whip on corruption, saying he had taken action on government officers linked to graft.

On this  Senator Wambua said they expect the US to be the consistent partner they have known in fighting corruption.

“The conversations at the devolution conference have revealed the true nature of the Kenya Kwanza administration. As long as they have the praise and worship of foreign nations led by the US, they don’t care what ordinary Kenyans feel,” Wambua said.

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