2008.06.19: June 19, 2008: Headlines: COS - Kenya: Safety: Scripps News: Prime Minister Odinga welcomes Peace Corps back to Kenya

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By Admin1 (admin) ( on Sunday, July 13, 2008 - 11:11 pm: Edit Post

Prime Minister Odinga welcomes Peace Corps back to Kenya

Prime Minister Odinga welcomes Peace Corps back to Kenya

"You have nothing to fear, because you're safer on the beaches of Kenya, more safer than you are on the (streets) of Chicago," Odinga said during a press conference Thursday in Washington announcing the Peace Corps' return.

Prime Minister Odinga welcomes Peace Corps back to Kenya

Prime Minister Odinga welcomes Peace Corps back to Kenya

Submitted by SHNS on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 17:09.

By DANIEL COLLINS, Scripps Howard News Service

WASHINGTON -- Less than seven months after post-election violence wracked Kenya, Prime Minister Raila Odinga is now welcoming tourists and Peace Corps volunteers back to his country.

"You have nothing to fear, because you're safer on the beaches of Kenya, more safer than you are on the (streets) of Chicago," Odinga said during a press conference Thursday in Washington announcing the Peace Corps' return.

Violence ripped through Kenya following the December election between Odinga and incumbent President Mwai Kibaki. Odinga narrowly lost, inciting riots between the Kikuyus, Kibaki's tribe, and Odinga's, the Luos.

"Kenyans were right on the edge of a great precipice, and looking down at an abyss," Odinga said of the mayhem. "One tried to pull the other down, but the other said, 'No, I'm not going down alone, I'm going to pull you down with me.' "

Odinga became prime minister in April as part of a coalition government. The partnership was brokered by Kofi Annan, former U.N. secretary-general.

Since then, the new Kenyan government has been attempting to repair strained relationships with Western allies. Odinga met Wednesday in Washington with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and also participated in a ceremony announcing the U.S.-Kenyan Open Skies agreement, allowing for direct flights between Nairobi and Washington, New York and Atlanta. Odinga said the deal will benefit tourism to Kenya and also expedite business transactions, building Kenya's power as a trading partner with the United States.

"We don't need to come with baskets to beg," Odinga said.

Odinga hopes that welcoming the Peace Corps back to his country will be one of the first steps to building international confidence in Kenya's security.

The Peace Corps had a total of 144 volunteers in Kenya during the December election. As unrest grew, volunteers were consolidated in safe locations and then slowly transitioned out of the country. In February, the Peace Corps temporarily suspended its Kenyan program, moving its last 58 volunteers.

"It was a very challenging and difficult decision for all of us to suspend the program," said Peace Corps Director Ronald Tschetter. "I'm delighted that it was a very short-term suspension."

The first 24 Peace Corps volunteers to return arrived in Nairobi on June 10. They will work in the areas of public health, small-enterprise development and education.

More than 40 more volunteers will arrive in November and a subsequent group of more than 30 public-health volunteers will arrive in June 2009.

Tschetter said the Peace Corps is in preliminary discussions with the Kenyan government to expand its youth-related programming.

Adrienne Potter, 26, finished a Peace Corps tour in Kenya in November, just before the election. Potter, who lives in Washington, said she's happy to see volunteers return to the country and is confident that they'll be safe.

"The Peace Corps does not put you in a position that is hostile. They know the region very well," she said.

(E-mail Daniel Collins at sintern(at)shns.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com)

Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: June, 2008; Peace Corps Kenya; Directory of Kenya RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Kenya RPCVs; Safety and Security of Volunteers

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Story Source: Scripps News

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