NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 4 – Visiting U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday asked President Mwai Kibaki to keep engaged in regional peace and reconciliation efforts even when he retires.
Clinton said the horn of Africa and the region could benefit immensely from president Kibaki’s fifty years in public office and ten years of peace mediation as Head of State.
The US Secretary of State also appreciated the frontline role Kenya continued to play to stabilize Somalia and the horn of Africa, pledging her government support to such initiatives.
Clinton agreed that the US will support Kenya’s efforts to upgrade the UNEP offices, in the spirit of the Rio+20 Conference at the forthcoming U.N. Heads of State Summit set for New York in September this year.
President Kibaki, on his part, told the US Secretary of State that peace and regional stability were key to economic prosperity, an issue that remained close to his heart.
The President and the US Secretary of State spoke during talks at State House Nairobi.
President Kibaki welcomed the decision by the US Congress to extend the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) preferential trade programme by three years, in a move that will secure thousands of jobs for Kenyan workers in the textile sector.
The President said the AGOA extension will lead to an expansion in exports from Kenya and the whole of Africa to the USA markets besides promoting a high-level dialogue on trade and investment-related issues.
The Head of State observed that the Act which was signed into law 12 years ago encouraged economic integration and has stimulated job growth in the country.
During the discussions, President Kibaki welcomed America’s new strategy towards Sub-Saharan Africa unveiled by President Barrack Obama in June this year focusing on the Continent’s economic potential to open up new avenues for strategic partnership for prosperity.
He expressed gratitude to the Obama administration for extending assistance through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief programme that has augmented the government efforts to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
On the forthcoming elections, President Kibaki said the country was readying for the first elections under the new constitution now slated for March 4th, next year.
“So much has happened since you last visited Kenya in 2009. What, however stands out above all other developments is the promulgation of our new constitution in August 2010,” said the President.
He reassured Kenyans and the international community that the process of implementing the constitution is on track as all the necessary laws prescribed for the first two years have been passed.
The Head of State reaffirmed his government’s commitment to ensure a transparent, free and fair election devoid of violence witnessed in 2007/2008.
“The new Constitution offers a lot of hope for our country and we are therefore all committed to its full implementation,” he noted.
On the regional level, The President noted that the insecurity posed by the disintegration of Somalia to Kenya’s economic interests and her people prompted the government to send troops across the common border.
“Tremendous progress has been made in liberating Somalia from extremist and terrorist forces and we are all looking forward to the end of the transitional period this month,” he said.
The Head of State urged US Secretary of State to positively engage the signatories to the Somalia transition road map on the importance of ending the transitional period and putting Somalia on a firm path to a democratic and prosperous future.
President Kibaki acknowledged the assistance of the U.S government at the United Nations enabling Kenyan troops to join AMISOM.
Emphasizing that since the country’s troops moved into Somalia, there has not been a single case of piracy, the President once more assured that Kenya will continue to be at the forefront in the fight against global terrorism and piracy along the Indian Ocean Coast.
The Head of State said Kenyan troops together with AMISOM forces were making good progress to stabilize Somalia to enable the over 700,000 refugees who have posed serious social and security challenges to Kenya, to relocate back to the liberated parts of their country.
He urged the US to play a lead role and mobilize the international community in the re-construction of a peaceful and secure Somalia.
On outstanding issues under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed by Sudan and South Sudan, the President called on the two countries to resolve the outstanding issues to normalize their relations.
The talks were attended by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Cabinet Ministers Prof. Sam Ongeri, Yusuf Haji, Eugine Wamalwa and Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai and Head of Public Service and Secretary to Cabinet Francis Kimemia among other senior government officials.