Moi attacks 'headmistress' Chalker over reform demands

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The Independent Online

of Reuters

Nairobi - President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya unleashed a scathing attack on Baroness Chalker, Britain's overseas development minister yesterday, calling her "just a woman" with the attitude of a kindergarten headmistress.

"White people see blacks as nothing. See, this British lady, just a woman, comes to Kenya and says, 'do this and do that'," Mr Moi told a group of farmers. "It is as if she is handling kindergarten school kids; she is like their headmistress," he said in remarks relayed on the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.

The British High Commission earlier said it had noted an attack on Baroness Chalker but still regarded Kenya as one of its most significant partners in Africa.

But the 70-year-old Kenyan president said: "We must be respected. God gave us this country, and we must be respected."

A Kenyan government statement on Tuesday criticised Baroness Chalker as being rude, contemptuous and hostile and said Nairobi was angered by her breaching diplomatic etiquette by holding a news conference shortly before meeting the Kenyan president.

The statement also threatened that Nairobi might not continue its reform programme and deepened the row over Baroness Chalker linking bilateral aid to political and economic reforms and respect for human rights.

A spokeswoman for the British High Commission would not comment on newspaper reports that the row could affect a long-standing agreement allowing the British army to train in northern Kenya.

The original agreement allowing thousands of British troops to exercise on large tracts of land using live ammunition expired in March but was extended until last Monday.

Baroness Chalker said on Friday before meeting Mr Moi she would make no new announcements of government-to-government aid until she was satisfied on progress on reforms and human rights.