Uhuru side-steps gay rights, ICC ahead of Obama visit

July 21, 2015 1:18 pm
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Kenyatta came to his deputy’s defence, saying Obama would be holding bi-lateral talks with the Kenyan government and “last I checked the Deputy President was part of the Kenyan Government”/PSCU
Kenyatta came to his deputy’s defence, saying Obama would be holding bi-lateral talks with the Kenyan government and “last I checked the Deputy President was part of the Kenyan Government”/PSCU

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday sought to downplay the charges he faced and that his deputy, William Ruto continues to face before the International Criminal Court (ICC) ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit later in the week.

Fielding questions from reporters, President Kenyatta first ignored queries to do with the ICC but when pressed, described the Kenyan cases as “non-issues,” when asked if the Deputy President’s contact with US President Obama will be “essential only” and if there remained hard feelings over the “choices have consequences” remark ex-US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson made against his and Ruto’s election given the crimes against humanity charges they were both facing before the ICC ahead of the 2013 general election.

The charges against him having been dropped for lack of evidence, President Kenyatta came to his deputy’s defence, saying Obama would be holding bi-lateral talks with the Kenyan government and “last I checked the Deputy President was part of the Kenyan Government.”

The US government has itself so far steered clear of the subject of Ruto’s pending case before the ICC and whether it will mean “essential only” contact with US President Obama when he’s in Kenya.

“That’s a question for the Kenyan government,” US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec said on the Jeff Koinange Live show that aired last Thursday.

READ: US now cautions over choice of Kenyan president

Ruto’s ICC case wasn’t the only “non-issue” or thorny subject the Kenyan Head of State was keen not to put his foot in his mouth regarding.

When asked to comment on the anti-homosexuality sentiment that has preceded Obama’s visit, President Kenyatta said there were “bigger issues” at stake.

It is however a subject that his deputy has commented on, on more than one occasion, making it clear that while the Kenyan government respected the rights of all Kenyans regardless of sexual orientation; homosexuality was not something they supported.

In fact, Attorney General Githu Muigai – who was also present at Tuesday’s press briefing – has challenged the Constitutional and Human Rights Court’s finding of right to registration for groups whose mission is to advocate for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Kenya.

“Those are not terms recognised in Kenyan law,” he argued.

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