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Kenya 'fine' about Obama avoiding it on Africa trip

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Kenya said Tuesday it was "fine" with US President Barack Obama avoiding the country on an Africa tour next month, rejecting reports it was due to upcoming crimes against humanity trials of its leaders.

Obama will leave on a first African tour in late June, visiting Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa, but his itinerary bypasses Kenya, where his father was born.

"America, just like Kenya, is an independent country and its president has the democratic right to visit wherever he wants," Kenyan government spokesman Muthui Kariuki told AFP.

"Kenya is moving on with its development agenda and we continue to be part of the league of nations. We are not worried that he is not coming to Kenya. We are fine."

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto, elected in March, both face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for their alleged roles in orchestrating deadly violence in 2007-8 following previous polls.

A US administration official said on condition of anonymity that Kenyatta's election had been a complicating factor in setting Obama's schedule in Africa, but Kariuki dismissed such reports.

"There have been rumours that President Obama is avoiding Kenya because of the ongoing ICC cases," he said. "These are unfounded accusations."

Obama did visit Kenya in 2006, shortly after he was elected to the Senate, but before he announced his 2008 run for the White House.

Obama's step-brother, Malik Obama, who failed miserably to win a county governor's seat in Kenya's March polls, grumpily replied "no comment" to questions on the US leader's visit.

Malik, 54, who shares a father with the US president, won just 2,792 votes -- some 140,000 behind the final winner -- in his bid to claim the seat for his home area in western Kenya where their father was born.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130521/kenya-fine-about-obama-avoiding-it-africa-trip