American Ambassador Robert Godec has said it’s up to Kenya to decide whether Deputy President William Ruto will meet President Barack Obama this month.
In May Ruto was snubbed by visiting Secretary of State John Kerry because he faces charges of crimes against humanity at The Hague. It’s US government policy to have only “essential contacts” with ICC suspects.
Godec made the it’s-Uhuru’s-choice revelation on Thursday as he dashed hopes of Nyanza residents by announcing Obama will not visit his father’s village in Kogelo, Siaya county.
Speaking on KTN’s Jeff Koinange Live, Godec suggested the US government will not insist on Ruto’s exclusion from Obama’s schedule because the DP faces charges of crimes against humanity at The Hague.
“That [a Ruto, Obama meeting] is a question really for the government of Kenya, so I think we leave that question to them,” the US envoy said
“We haven’t made a final decision about the different meetings that are going to take place and, ultimately, there would be decisions about who is in what session and what’s going to happen, but those questions really have to go to the government of Kenya.
What is clear is that Obama will attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which begins on July 25, and hold talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Godec said.
Ruto faces ICC charges in connection with the 2007-08 post-election violence. Charges against Uhuru were withdrawn.
Ahead Kenya’s 2013 polls, a US State Department official warned Kenyans that “choices have consequences”.
In that year, Obama skipped Kenya and instead visited Tanzania on his African tour.
There is speculation Ruto has been ‘saving face’ with his strident anti-gay crusade since he is unlikely to meet the world’s most powerful man because of the ICC charges. Ruto could then say he was snubbed because he stood up for African values.
Last week he declared again there is no room in Kenya for homosexuality and many leaders have said Obama would be forbidden to try to impose a “gay agenda” on Kenya.
On July 6, the White House said Obama will not shy away from the topic in Kenya.
“I am confident he President will not hesitate to make clear the protection of basic universal human rights in Kenya is also a priority consistent with values we hold dear in the United States of America,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
State House says Obama can say whatever he wants.
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