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Trump invites Uhuru for talks in the White House

Murimi Mutiga @murimimutiga

President Uhuru Kenyatta is scheduled to visit the United States at the invitation of President Donald Trump on August 26.

The two heads of state will use the meeting to cement relationship between the two countries.

Acting State House spokesperson Kanze Dena yesterday said Uhuru and Trump will seek ways of strengthening issues of mutual concerns among them trade, security and investments.

They will also discuss issues of regional peace and collaboration in the fight against terrorism.

Uhuru becomes one of the few African leaders to be hosted by Trump at the White House. Trump first met Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi last year before hosting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in April this year.

Political observers are likely to interpret this as Uhuru’s growing influence both within the continent and across the globe.

His visit to the White House comes in the wake of reports that Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, had  indicated that the Trump administration is scrapping Barack Obama’s policy of promoting gay rights in Africa.

Mulvaney told a religious freedom conference in Washington a week ago that such advocacy amounts to a form of “religious persecution.”

“Our US taxpayer dollars are used to discourage Christian values in other democratic countries,”  Mulvaney said in reference to the Obama administration’s use of financial leverage to discourage discrimination against gay people in Africa.

Uhuru had two years ago won Kenyans’ accolades when he resisted attempts by then President Obama to push him into allowing  gayism in the country.

In a joint appearance in State House, Nairobi, Uhuru rejected Obama’s remark  that “the state should not discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation.”

Uhuru said in response on that occasion:  “For Kenyans today, the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue.”

Addressing a media briefing at State House, Mombasa, yesterday, where Uhuru has been for the last one week, Dena dispelled rumours of an eminent Cabinet reshuffle saying she was not aware of the same.

“I am not aware of the impending reshuffle. I am hearing this from you,” Dena said.

Rumours of a reshuffle were rife yesterday with the press briefing, which was first scheduled to take place at 2.30pm, being postponed several times until 5.30pm.

Dena said the President has been on a working tour of the region.

However, the visit by the President is surrounded by a lot of speculations, with reports of his secret meetings with opposition leader Raila Odinga causing unease with the ruling Jubilee circles and Cabinet.

Dena said the President was visiting projects that he initiated during his visit.

Uhuru last met Trump at the G7 Summit in Italy in May,  2017.

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