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KENYA-US

Bill Clinton tours Africa as donation foundation scandal bites Hillary

Hillary and Bill Clinton in Iowa, September 2014
Hillary and Bill Clinton in Iowa, September 2014 Reuters/Jim Young/Files

Former US President Bill Clinton wrapped up a three-day visit in Kenya on Sunday, as part of a nine-day African trip for the family's foundation. The charity organisation is under fire for not declaring tens of millions of dollars in foreign donations. The scandal comes as Hillary Clinton begins campaigning for next year's presidential elections.

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It was a pioneering vehicle that was meant to seal the Clinton's family legacy, but instead the Clinton Global Initiative has turned into a headache for US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, exposing the weaknesses of her cash-making machine.

Revelations that she received staggering amounts of foreign donations while secretary of state have led to allegations that she traded favors for donations, and mired the beginning of her election campaign.

Smelling the danger, Hillary stood down from the foundation's board of directors, but as wife of the charity's founder the scandal hasn't died down and appears to have been the reason why Bill Clinton and Chelsea left for Africa in the first place.

"The best thing they could do for Hillary's campaign was to get out of the country," Hank Sheinkopf, a former adviser to Bill Clinton, told RFI.

"With Hillary tied up with the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primaries, she didn't need the negative publicity;" Sheinkopf explained.

Last week, Chelsea and her former president father landed in Tanzania, where they began their nine-day tour, which will also take them to Liberia on Monday and Morocco after Kenya.

It is an opportunity for the father-daughter team to champion the benefits of the foundation's work, and draw attention away from the negatives.

"The Clinton foundation, regardless of what some may think, does important work. It convenes a conference every year bringing people throughout the world: NGOs and people in high positions of power to come up with constructive answers to the world's problems," Sheinkopf said. 

Despite the scandal, it doesn't seem to have had too much impact on Bill and Chelsea's reception in Kenya.

"Much of the media coverage has been very positive," said Tom Mboya, a government specialist. "The view here on the ground is very positive of the former president and Chelsea visiting. We haven't had many of these high-profile visits from senior officials – and it's clearly a prelude to Obama’s visit in July, that’s where the focus seems to lie."

Beating President Barack Obama to his late father's home country was clearly a "provocation" by the Clintons for foreign affairs analyst Christian Malard. The blow was only softened by US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to the country, an unlikely coincidence.

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