Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Friday, 16 January 2009

TV row over Kenya Obama 'junket'

Barack Obama on TV
Kalembe Ndile wants the officials to watch the ceremony on TV at home

A Kenyan ex-minister has given a TV to officials going to the US for Barack Obama's inauguration, saying they should watch the ceremony at home.

Kalembe Ndile said the trip was a waste of taxpayers' money, especially as the delegation has not been invited and so would watch it from their hotel rooms.

The row comes as Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki asks for international assistance to cope with food shortages.

Mr Obama's father was Kenyan and the country takes great pride in him.

A public holiday was declared when he was elected US president last November.

Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper reports that officials refused to let Mr Ndile into the foreign affairs ministry, so he left the 21-inch TV outside the front door.

The US ambassador to Kenya has said that only accredited diplomats in Washington will be invited to represent their countries at the swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday.

But Foreign Minister Moses Wetang'ula is still leading a sizeable official delegation.


They will attend a party on the eve of the inauguration, not the main event, the Daily Nation says.

Assistant Tourism and Wildlife Minister Kalembe Ndile
Kalembe Ndile is known to court publicity

As well as the officials, some of Mr Obama's Kenyan relatives are also going travelling to attend the ceremonies.

The BBC's Caroline Karobia in the capital, Nairobi, says they have refused to say whether they are attending the main inauguration.

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki on Friday appealed for some $400m to help feed 10 million people - more than a quarter of the population.

Last week, he said he was declaring a national emergency because of the food shortages.

Officials have since denied accusations that corruption in the agriculture ministry were behind the lack of maize.

Our correspondent says former Assistant Minister of Tourism Mr Ndile is known to court publicity.

In 2007, he was one of 30 assistant ministers who said they did not have enough work to do.

"I'm treated like a shadow and only learn of issues in my ministry through the press," he said at the time.

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