Obama: I will visit Kenya before my term expires
Written By:Rachael Nakitare,
Caption: Obama said he planned to visit Kenya before his term expires
US President Barack Obama has urged Kenyans to take advantage of the constitutional review process to ensure sound governance and robust institutions in the country.
In the first ever exclusive interview with KBC the US President said Kenya has immense potential to grow into an African powerhouse but blamed corruption and bad politics for the wanting state of affairs in the country.
President Obama also talked of his plans to visit Kenya and the scheduled visit by vice president Joe Biden next week.
President Obama urged Kenyans to participate in the referendum scheduled for August 4 calling it a "singular opportunity to put the government of Kenya on solid footing beyond ethnicity violence, corruption and towards economic prosperity".
He hailed the leadership of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in having brought the review process this far and urged Kenyans to"take advantage of the moment".
The U.S president was speaking to KBC's Rachael Nakitare in an exclusive Oval Office interview on June 1st.
He said the new constitution could help establish the rule of law, protect human rights and reduce the kind of ethnic violence that erupted throughout the country in 2008 following the disputed results of the 2007 general elections.
"Regardless of whether they vote Yes or No I just want to make sure that they participate," President Obama told Nakitare.
"I don't think it's any secret...to people I've talked to, including my family members, that there's been frustration over the years, about the constant corruption that is preventing economic development," President Obama said.
"I think people are frustrated about the continuing ethnic rivalries that exist in Kenya, when we all know a country only succeeds when it pulls together. People are frustrated when it comes to the rule of law, or how the police operate, which is not as transparent as it should be. This is an opportunity to fix many of these things," he added.
Obama said he was sending his top emissary, Vice President Joe Biden to Kenya to convey his support for the constitutional process.
Biden is scheduled to visit Kenya the week of June 7, when he will meet with key leaders in Kenya, including Kenyan President Kibaki and Kenyan Prime Minister Odinga.
Obama whose father was a Kenyan has documented his visit to the East African country where he met his relatives in his memoirs, Dreams from my Father.
In her 12-minute interview, Nakitare also questioned the President about U.S. immigration policy, the oil spill and why the United States has not ratified the Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
On the question of whether the President would be visiting Kenya once they enact a new constitution, Obama promised that he would visit Kenya "before my service as President is complete".
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