THE (MYSTERIOUS) UNICEF APPOINTMENT OF UHURU AS GLOBAL YOUTH CHAMPION
In any self-respecting democracy with a nominally free press, this issue would be easily dealt with. The newspapers which very prominently misreported the above appointment (it was the leading story on the Nation’s website), or State House which formally announced it, could say that there had been a misunderstanding and the President had not been in fact been appointed. UNICEF understandably has not entered the fray as it never said it had made the appointment.
As it is, 10 days later, UNICEF is being condemned for an appointment it did not make. And Uhuru Kenyatta is reaping the benefit of international legitimacy from having have been given this high UN honour.
Here is how it went: On Friday 19 January, I excoriated UNICEF for having appointed President Uhuru Kenyatta as its “Global Champion for Youth Empowerment,” and appealed to UN supporters to demand that this appointment be rescinded, as President Robert Mugabe’s was by another UN agency last year (see earlier email below). I have never seen such a such a strong foreign response to one of my statements, including from many former senior UN officials. Condemnation also trended strongly on Twitter under #shameful UNICEF.
On Monday 22nd January, the Spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric, was asked at the daily UN press briefing how Uhuru Kenyatta could have been named as the Global Champion of Youth by UNICEF “given the unrest around the most recent election including the killing of youth by the Government.”
The Spokesman replied that “the UNICEF Executive Director spoke about the need for youth to be engaged, and the President said he would support that. But, beyond that, I’m not aware of any specific appointment.”
I am not surprised that this State House has not done the honourable thing and admitted its error. But it does behoove the media, which is aware of this misinformation it disseminated in good faith, to point out the error it made.
Salim Lone, Adviser,
NASA flagbearer Raila Odinga