The Star (Nairobi)

9 February 2013

Kenya: I Believe Obama More Than Carson - Kimemia

PUBLIC service boss Francis Kimemia yesterday said that he prefers to believe President Barrack Obama rather than his Africa envoy Johnny Carson on how the United States would react if Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto win in the presidential elections.

On Tuesday Obama said the US would respect the will of the Kenyan people but on Thursday Carson clarified that "choices have consequences."

Yesterday French ambassador Etienne de Poncins reiterated that the outcome of the election will have "consequences" and that the French government will have "limited contact with Kenya" if Uhuru and Ruto are elected.

Uhuru and Ruto are due to go on trial at the International Criminal Court on April 10 and 11, the date also scheduled for a second round run-off in the presidential election.

Kimemia said though Obama and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Carson appeared to have issued contradictory statements, he believes the statement by the President is superior.

"I believe we should go with what the President said. He indicated they will respect the will of Kenyans," said Kimemia during a media breakfast meeting at Intercontinental hotel yesterday.

Kimemia chairs the government Committee on the Assumption of the Office of the President said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been asked to get in touch with the American embassy to find out the exact position.

"We want to welcome the statement issued by the President of the United States of America, I know there has been contradictions since then, with the statement issued yesterday, and I think we shall leave that to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to check which view is supreme. They should get the clarification from the ambassador himself but I believe we should go by what the president said," said Kimemia.

He termed Obama's statement as "very balanced" and said the Foreign Affairs ministry should establish "what that is all about" in reference to Carson's warning of "consequences".

"The choice of who will lead Kenya is up to the Kenyan people. The United States does not endorse any candidate for office, but we do support an election that is peaceful and reflects the will of the people," Obama said on Tuesday.

At a press conference on Tuesday evening, Uhuru and Ruto welcomed Obama's statement saying it showed that they were free to run. They repeated the statement at a rally on Wednesday.

However on Thursday, Carson warned Kenyan voters that "choices have consequences" while re-iterating President Obama's statement that America is not supporting any particular candidate.

In his statement, Carson clarified that Obama's message to Kenyans was not an endorsement of Uhuru and Ruto. He warned in a tele-conference that "choices have consequences" and that Kenya "lives in inter-connected world" where "people should be thoughtful about the impact of their choices on the nation and the world."

Yesterday French ambassador to Kenya Etienne de Poncins also cautioned Kenyans.

"There will be consequences, based on characters elected. Many programmes and international relations will also be determined by who Kenyans choose", said the ambassador.

The ambassador said that if Uhuru and Ruto are elected, France, like any other country, "will have limited contact with Kenya as it is the policy of other countries who are signatory to the Rome Statute."

"It is not a surprise. The choice of leaders to be elected will greatly determine the place of Kenya with other countries within and outside the continent", he said.

De Poncins was meeting with civil society members during his visit to Kisumu to launch of the French cultural and film week..

"We are not going to take sides with any of the coalition. Our concern is free and transparent election process and we will do all we can to ensure that the process is free and fair", said de Poncins.

The ambassador said France supported the stand of the American Government that all electoral disputes should be resolved in court since the judicial system has now reformed.

"It is very difficult to concede defeat but is also democratic to concede defeat as part of moral obligation and the character of the individuals".

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