By Vincent Moracha and Mangoa Mosota
Leaders from Western Kenya have reacted strongly to Government criticism of US Senator Barack Obama following his sentiments on corruption and tribalism.
MPs Mr Omingo Magara (South Mugirango), Mrs Ruth Oniang’o (Nominated), Mr Gor Sunguh (Kisumu Town East) and Bishop Bineah Salala of the Anglican Church of Kenya said Obama’s the sentiments were true.
Oniang’o said the outbursts by Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua and the Kenyan Ambassador to the US, Mr Peter Oginga Ogego, were acts of cowardice and a desperate attempt to run away from the truth.
"Why didn’t they respond when Obama was still in the country? They feared a backlash from Kenyans who had been awakened by Obama’s open talk at the University of Nairobi," she said.
Oniang’o said Obama had the right to comment on corruption and tribalism on behalf of a majority of voiceless Kenyans.
"Obama is our son and we will welcome him back to our country," said Oniang’o.
Sunguh said corruption and tribalism were deep-rooted vices that could ruin the country if not checked.
"President Kibaki’s advisers are his tribesmen, who have shown little interest in forging national unity. Corruption in the Government is no secret to Kenyans," claimed Sunguh.
He said because Kenya gets financial aid from the US, its representatives have a right to question how the money is used.
Magara dismissed Mutua as a man who did not bother much about researching before engaging in national debates, adding that Kenyans should not take him seriously.
"He is like a music system for the Government," he said, adding that Mutua’s remarks were inconsequential.
Ogego was quoted in a section of the media saying Obama had made "wild" accusations on corruption and tribalism.
And in a paid-up advertisement, Mutua said Obama trivialised the peaceful co-existence of different ethnic groups in the country.
He claimed Kenya had achieved six per cent economic growth in the last three years, adding that this could not be possible in a country experiencing a "corruption crisis".
Magara said the Government lost the war on corruption "a long time ago". Salala said Obama’s remarks were a wake-up call to Kenyans as corruption and tribalism had resurfaced in senior Government appointments.
"The Kibaki Government has reneged on most of its promises," he said.