Kenya: Anger at waste on Obama trip

barack_obama.jpgKenyans have criticised the planned trip by State officials to attend a party for the inauguration of Barack Obama as US president.

They are angry that the delegation is spending taxpayers' money on the unofficial party at a time when millions are staring starvation in the face.

Former assistant minister Kalembe Ndile says the officials should not misuse taxpayers' money to travel to the US, yet they will watch the ceremony on television sets from their hotel rooms.

Mr Ndile caused a stir at the Foreign Affairs ministry yesterday after he forcefully donated a 21-inch television for the top officials to use to follow proceedings at Mr Obama's inauguration next Tuesday.

However, his gesture was not received well as his donation was rejected. The former Kibwezi MP was also not allowed into the building with the gift. None of the ministry officials was willing to take the TV set, with the minister, his assistant and PS not available to receive it.

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A ministry official, identified as a Mr Waithiru who came out to speak to Mr Ndile said he had not booked an appointment to make the donation.

But this did not stop Mr Ndile from proceeding with his mission. He left the television set, which he claimed to be from his sitting room, at the building's door.

Why should we fund a delegation when it has been made clear that only our ambassador in the US is invited? the former MP asked.

The American embassy in Kenya last week said that only chiefs of diplomatic missions in Washington DC and their spouses will represent their countries at the function.

US envoy Michael Ranneberger said this was in keeping with past practice in the country. Kenya will be represented by its representative Ambassador Peter Ogego.

Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang'ula later said that he would lead a non-official Kenyan delegation to Washington. But the team of ministers and MPs will only attend a grand celebration party on the eve of the inauguration and not the main event.

Among those in the delegation are ministers Najib Balala, Anyang' Nyong'o, Hellen Sambili and Deputy House Speaker Farah Maalim.
It is not yet clear how much the Government will spend on the trip for flights, hotel bookings and the delegation's upkeep.

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