Saturday events with the participation of the secretary of state were canceled due to his discomfort
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has resumed his visit to Kenya on schedule after events with him on Saturday were canceled due to his “malaise”.
On Sunday, he laid a wreath at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi at a ceremony to commemorate those killed and injured in a bomb blast outside the diplomatic mission 20 years ago..
“As you all know, in 1998 terrorists thought they could demoralize and destroy the Kenyan and American people by attacking the US Embassy here in Nairobi. Of course they were wrong. Nearly twenty years later, we are meeting here to honor the memory of those we lost and the injured, ”Tillerson told the audience, among whom were the victims of the terrorist attack..
One of them was Joash Okindo, who continues to work at the US Embassy after an explosion fractured both his legs. Okindo, who wore a medal of courage at the ceremony, was an embassy guard on the day of the explosion..
“When it gets cold, I feel pain,” he said..
Tillerson canceled events to take a breather from an extremely busy schedule, State Department said.
“The secretary of state felt unwell after a couple of days of long work on such important issues as North Korea while still at home, and canceled events for that day,” said State Department spokesman Steve Goldstein, who accompanies Tillerson on his trip to Africa..
Goldstein added that other Saturday events will take place without Tillerson, and some others may be rescheduled. Tillerson is expected to resume work as scheduled on Sunday, he said..
After meeting Friday in Nairobi with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Tillerson praised the political reconciliation between Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga. The head of American diplomacy called this process “a positive step towards overcoming the ethnic and political division in Kenya,” the State Department said in a statement..
Kenyatta and Odinga met for the first time after a controversial presidential election last summer to embark on joint action to achieve national unity as they characterize them.
At a meeting with Kenyatta, Tillerson emphasized “strong United States support for democratic institutions,” including the media, and expressed concern about “restrictions in the political space.”.
In January, Odinga took the symbolic presidential oath of office in a staged inauguration ceremony. On the same day, the Kenyan authorities closed three TV channels. The government ignored a court order authorizing television stations that planned to broadcast the swearing-in live.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Monica Juma said after meeting with Tillerson that the Kenyan government is committed to a genuine political process based on fundamental values.
“I reaffirm and the President has also reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to the values of democratic governance, constitutionalism, the rule of law and human rights,” Juma said..
Johnny Carson, Senior Counselor at the US Institute for Peace, told Voice of America that a free and independent media fosters public trust.
“The time has come for the parties to move on, but it is the responsibility of the government to take action to protect the rule of law, protect the judiciary, protect free speech and protect the media,” Carson said..
Other topics Tillerson discussed with Kenyatta included counterterrorism in neighboring Somalia, political unrest in South Sudan, and strengthening US-Kenyan business relations..
Tillerson said the US will seek to work with African countries to encourage them to improve governance and achieve long-term security and development goals..
Secretary of State’s tour of five African countries began earlier this week.
On Friday he arrived in Nairobi from Djibouti. His trip began Wednesday with a visit to Ethiopia, where he met with the country’s prime minister and head of the African Union Commission..