The newly appointed United States ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman has today commemorated the victims of the August 7, 1998 US Embassy bombing that claimed over 200 lives.
In her first media address since she arrived for her new role last Sunday, Whitman promised to address the issue of compensating the affected people.
“I am aware of the situation; I am not aware of solutions in progress. I am only six days on the job so I will get back to you with my understanding of the victims and if or when they will be compensated,” she said.
Today marks the 24th anniversary of the terrorist bomb attack that exploded outside the US Embassy in Nairobi and Tanzania.
The dual terrorist attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded more than 4,500 others.
The country’s two leading presidential candidates want the US to compensate victims of the 1998 embassy bombings, inserting a raw issue into the bilateral relationship regardless of who wins the August election.
The renewed focus on the attack came after lawyers for the victims begun lobbying US lawmakers to amend a congressionally established terrorism compensation fund to make Kenyan victims eligible.
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga met with senior partner Philip Musolino of Washington law firm Musolino & Dessel on 25 April during his trip to Washington and endorsed the effort.
“Raila is encouraged that the US Congress will have the opportunity in the next several weeks and months to consider legislation, which will make the Kenyan victims eligible to participate in a United States Congressional fund providing compensation to the victims of terrorist attacks on the United States,” Raila’s campaign spokesman Makau Mutua said.
“The proposed legislation underscores the friendship and mutual interests of Kenya and the United States,” Mutua said.
“Raila strongly urges the US Congress to adopt these amendments, and looks forward to a successful legislative conclusion.”
Deputy President William Ruto also expressed his support for the effort.
“Ruto believes that every violation of a right – especially the right to life, limb and livelihood – must be remedied,” Korir Sing’oei, the legal adviser to Ruto’s office, tells The Africa Report. “As such, he fully supports measures towards reparation for the long-suffering victims of the terror attacks in Nairobi in 1998.”
If the proposed changes go through, somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 Kenyan victims could be eligible for $5 million each, a total payout of $5 billion to $15 billion, according to Musolino.