In Kenya, the native country of Barack Obama’s father, Kenyans are furious that Obama has eschewed visiting their country while he is traveling through Africa. Obama’s June 27th trip includes visits to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.
Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes defended Obama’s exclusion of Kenya by asserting that despite Obama’s “deep, personal, familial connection to Kenya … it just wasn’t the best time for the president to travel to Kenya.” Rhodes continued, “The Kenyan people hold a special place in the president’s heart. We respect the sovereign right of Kenyan to choose their leaders … We also as a country have a commitment to accountability and justice.”
In March, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was elected; he has been charged with crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court. The crimes attributed to him include including rape, murder, and inciting violence after the 2007 election. The ICC has named him as an indirect co-perpetraor in the post-election violence that killed roughly 1,200 people and displaced more than 500,000 more. The U.S. agrees with the charges.
Obama’s excuse doesn’t wash with Kenyans, who fired of remarks on news station Capital News blasting Obama. One teacher said, “We elected our president and whether the ICC comes or goes he is our president. We have already seen what is happening to the ICC case.” Another said, “A time will come when he (Obama) will need Kenya and he needs to remember that Kenyans’ lives were still going on even before he took over office from George Bush.”
On Twitter, the hashtag #WhyObamaWillSkipKenya featured numerous suggestions, including:
#WhyObamaWillSkipKenya because the prodigal son never went back to his father till all his money got finished
#WhyObamaWillSkipKenya He cant stand being in a country where a president will make a better speech than him without a teleprompter
#WhyObamaWillSkipKenya he’s afraid that chipukeezy will hit on Sasha and Malia
Rhodes said that Obama is only visiting countries that have strong, prospering democracies. Obama is scheduled to be at the G-20 summit in Russia in September.