Obama’s Kenyan half brother running for political seat

Updated 18 January 2013
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Obama’s Kenyan half brother running for political seat

KOGELO, Kenya: President Barack Obama’s half brother has hit the campaign trail in his native Kenya in a bid to get a county gubernatorial seat in the upcoming March 4 elections.
Malik Obama, 54, who shares a father with the US president, told AFP that the achievements of his more famous brother have “inspired and challenged” him to get into politics.
“When I look at the success that my brother has had in America, I feel I would have let down my people if I do not follow in his footsteps,” Obama told AFP in an interview in his ancestral home of Kogelo in western Kenya.
Standing well over six feet and dressed in faded jeans and a flowered beach shirt, Obama, who describes himself as an economist and a financial analyst, but who dodges questions about his employers or clients, said he is well-equipped to deal with the “endless cycle of poverty and unemployment that bedevils my people.”
“I can confidently say that I am the best placed candidate ... by virtue of my second name alone, I have the connections to bring development to Siaya,” he told AFP, referring to his home county some 100 km (60 miles) from the lakeside city of Kisumu.
Obama will need his name if he is to stand any chance against the competition, which includes Oburu Odinga, the younger brother of Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the de facto head of the Luo community, of which Obama is also part.
He said his links to Washington will help him clinch the seat.
“Why would my people settle for a local connection when they have a direct line to the White House,” he said as he weaved his way through a group of supporters, the slogan “Obama here, Obama there,” looming on posters.
“You do not have food. You do not have good schools. Life is tough for you guys,” he tells a group of young men before launching into a detailed account of his colorful and successful educational background and the positions he has held in prestigious US companies.
“I am the best placed candidate to deal with the issues affecting the people,” he added.
Government statistics show that in Siaya, the county he wants to represent, poverty is a big problem, with others including the prevalence of HIV and malaria.


Nations defend UN Human Rights Council after US pullout

Empty seats of the United States delegation are pictured one day after the US announced their withdraw during a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 min 28 sec ago
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Nations defend UN Human Rights Council after US pullout

  • Russia’s Foreign Ministry had earlier accused the US of “gross cynicism” and “disregard” for the UN
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US withdrawal

GENEVA: Diplomats from across the globe defended the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday after the US withdrew from a body it branded an anti-Israel “cesspool.”
Slovenian ambassador Vojislav Suc, who currently holds the council’s rotating presidency and has been pushing a faltering reform drive, described the Geneva-based chamber as the best place to trigger action on dangerous rights crises.
“Let me say it very clearly, if human rights issues are not discussed here, in this very room, they have little chance to be dealt with meaningfully anywhere else,” he told the council’s 38th session, hours after Washington announced its pullout.
Suc further praised the 47-member council as the “only intergovernmental body responding to human rights issues and situations worldwide.”
Once he receives formal notification of the US withdrawal, Suc said he would arrange for the American seat to be removed and work with the General Assembly to elect a replacement member. China, which has on multiple occasions voiced support for multilateral institutions abandoned by US President Donald Trump, portrayed the council as “a major body... to promote the realization of human rights.”
“All delegations attach great importance to this body,” said Chinese ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Yu Jianhua.
China currently sits on the council and rights groups have repeatedly criticized Beijing for seeking to stifle criticism of its own conduct.
The EU assured that it “remains steadfastly and reliably committed to the Human Rights Council,” and said it would continue to try to fix the body’s problems despite the US withdrawal.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry had earlier accused the US of “gross cynicism” and “disregard” for the UN.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UN ambassador Nikki Haley announced the decision on Wednesday, making good on a threat Haley made in Geneva a year ago.
They said their calls for change, notably to fix “hypocrisy” and “unrelenting bias” against Israel were ignored.
Membership of the council, established in 2006 to replace the disgraced Human Rights Commission, has long been controversial.
Current members include Burundi, the Philippines and Venezuela — all nations accused of massive abuses against civilians.
But the main US objection was the council’s Agenda Item 7, which mandates discussion of Israel at each of the three annual sessions.
Israel is the only country recorded as a dedicated agenda item.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US withdrawal, experts and diplomats have noted that without US pushback, resolutions approving investigations of Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Palestinian Territories could multiply.