– Should the doors be flung open, police privately estimate that hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic Kenyans will head to the stadium, creating a logistical and security problem on a scale rarely managed by local forces.
– Led by Wiper Democratic Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula, the opposition leaders said they had no intentions of lying to the US president that all was well “when President Kenyatta is presiding over a rotten and corrupt system”.
– MPs in the Jubilee Alliance, while attending a church service at the All Nations Pefa Church in South B, Nairobi, asked their Cord counterparts “not to wash Kenya’s dirty linen in public” during Mr Obama’s visit.
US President Barack Obama’s rally on Sunday is likely to attract a crowd of 300,000 in the unlikely event that it is open to all, according to police estimates.
Mr Obama will speak to Kenyans from the Safaricom Indoor Arena of the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, according to State House.
But the exact format of the US President’s meeting, like most aspects of his visit, is still a closely guarded secret. One school of thought is that it will be an invitations only session, possibly attended by members of Parliament, civil society leaders and other worthies.
Should the doors be flung open, police privately estimate that hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic Kenyans will head to the stadium, creating a logistical and security problem on a scale rarely managed by local forces.
Yesterday, State House said President Uhuru Kenyatta would tomorrow address the country ahead of his bilateral talks with President Obama. He is expected to give Kenyans an idea of the discussions he will be holding with the US President.
At a press briefing on the visit yesterday, State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu, however, did not reveal any details on the meeting between the two leaders, only saying they will hold the talks at State House and thereafter address a joint press conference.
On Mr Obama’s address at Kasarani, Mr Esipisu said: “The US embassy has confirmed that this, in fact, remains the case, and a Sunday speech is pencilled in. But there are no further details at this stage”.
He said US Ambassador Robert Godec and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed would address the subject later this week.
On Saturday, the two presidents will co-host the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) at the UN compound in Gigiri.
Kenya will be seeking to build on the strong relationship and partnership with the US.
Mr Esipisu said the relationship between the two countries was “forged from a deep and relentless quest for democracy, equality of opportunity, the freedom of association and an openness to the world”.
He said preparations for the summit were complete, with visitors expected to begin streaming in any time. The summit will provide an opportunity for young innovators to rub shoulders with renowned global entrepreneurs.
Kenya’s charm offensive will, however, not end with the summit as the country will also host the African Peer Review Forum in September, which brings together the continent’s heads of State and later, the Global Conference for tour operators.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has also confirmed that he will visit Kenya in November, while yet another major conference, the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation, will also take place in the country before the end of the year.
Yesterday, Mr Esipisu hit out at government critics and asked Kenyans to ignore the naysayers, especially as the country waits to host Mr Obama.
He spoke of “political marketeers powered by negative energy” who should be shunned, in what may be construed as a reference to Opposition and civil society leaders who have asked Mr Obama to raise issues on threats to civil freedoms in the country when he meets Mr Kenyatta.
“I invite Kenyans to celebrate our country and treat the Afro-pessimists, who see nothing positive about Kenya, with contempt. This is particularly important at a time when the world is converging in Kenya to celebrate our democracy, innovations and special positioning on the continent,” said Mr Esipisu.
JUBILEE VS CORD
MPs in the Jubilee Alliance, while attending a church service at the All Nations Pefa Church in South B, Nairobi, asked their Cord counterparts “not to wash Kenya’s dirty linen in public” during Mr Obama’s visit.
“Whether we like each other or we criticise each other, let us not wash our dirty linen in public. We do not need to tell our visitors about our fights as a family,” said Nominated Senator Beth Mugo.
Suspended Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu, who was also in attendance, said: “We are meeting with the richest nation, let us make use of it and not wash our dirty linen in public,” she said.
Starehe MP Maina Kamanda said Kenya cannot dictate what visiting leaders from other countries should say. He was reacting to comments by the church leadership that Mr Obama should not broach the gay subject.
Cord leaders, on the other hand, said they will continue to offer “constructive criticism” of the government even during such visits.
Led by Wiper Democratic Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula, the opposition leaders said they had no intentions of lying to the US president that all was well “when President Kenyatta is presiding over a rotten and corrupt system”.
They said it was the role of the Opposition to call for wider democratic space and speak out against corruption.
Mr Kalonzo said President Obama was categorical that he would address corruption and issues of democracy during his visit.
“The Opposition is a recognised institution and we are not doing this (speaking against corruption) because of Mr Obama’s visit, it is our duty”, Mr Musyoka said in a telephone interview.
Mr Wetang’ula said the government was mistaken to think that it could gag anyone.
“The Statement from State House is a panic button because they know they will be confronted by the truth. President Obama’s visit is not going to sanitise them but, it will expose them,” he said.