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Hillary Clinton Arrives in Kenya Tuesday 


Expectations are high as Kenyans await the arrival Tuesday of the U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the capital, Nairobi. Clinton's Kenya visit forms part of a seven-nation African trip that is set to depict Africa as an important part of President Barack Obama's agenda.

She is expected to meet President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga as well as other government officials.

But human rights groups hope Clinton will pressure Nairobi to commit to punishing the masterminds of the 2008 post-election violence that led to the death of at least 1300 Kenyans.

Gitobu Imanyara, a Kenyan lawmaker told VOA that Clinton's visit shows that President Obama did not snub Kenya by visiting Ghana last month.

"Kenyans are very happy the Obama administration is sending the top most diplomat to Kenya. Because there had been disappointments as you know when President Obama didn't stop over in Kenya. And now we see Hillary Clinton's visit together with another cabinet minister and a huge delegation… and that the visit to Ghana was not a snub on Kenya," Imanyara said.

He said Nairobi has traditionally enjoyed warm diplomatic relations with Washington.

"The friendship between Kenya and the United States, as long as Obama is the president of the United States it remains very, very strong," he said.

Critics of the government demanded that the masterminds of the human rights infringements after the 2008 election, allegedly including several sitting ministers in the Kenyan government be forced to face justice.

Imanyara said the secretary of state should be tough on the government.

"In fact we don't expect her to be hard, we expect her to be at her hardest because the culture of impunity in this country that has ruled this country for 40 years has just been confirmed by the Kenyan cabinet led by President Kibaki," Imanyara said.

He said Kenyans want the masterminds of the violence to be punished.

"The topic on Kenya today is about what to do with those who are responsible for the murders, the orgy of violence that led of 1300 or more Kenyans and whether they are going to get scot free or whether they would be brought to justice," he said.

A recent Steadman poll shows over 60 percent of Kenyans support the prosecution of the perpetrators at The Hague based International Criminal Court. But President Kibaki announced that a local tribunal would used promising to overhaul the judicial system.

Imanyara said Kenyans rejected President Kibaki's choice of using the local judiciary to prosecute those alleged to be masterminds of the violence.

"All Kenyans are united against President Kibaki's cabinet in the decision to let the perpetrators of violence get scot free," Imanyara said.

He said Kenya risks falling out of playing a significant role in Washington's newly strengthened partnership efforts with Africa.

"It is not possible as long as the current administration in Kenya or call it a regime if you want is defensive about how they got to power…as long as these people remain in office then Kenyans cannot play the rightful role particularly with regards to the issues that Hillary Clinton will be talking about," he said.

Clinton's 11 day Africa trip will take her to Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde.

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