Dec 7, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

How Uhuru Kenyatta won over world leaders in well-oiled diplomatic charm offensive

At his last formal meeting with his diplomats in early June, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta told the Nairobi Assembly that he was retiring a happy man.

Kenya, he said, has the seat in the Parliament won UN Security Council, repelled terrorist threats, improved its status and influence regionally and internationally after initial struggles during his tenure.

This was a farewell session and he used it to pursue his diplomacy demonstrate legacy from near-pariah status in early 2013 to the man trying to seek peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We managed to break into non-traditional markets and now we can do agricultural Products are exported there by China and South Korea,” he said. “You should continue to fly Kenya’s flag and be creative to boldly advance our agenda.”

Also read:Kenya “regrets” after Somalia envoy canceled Uhuru event

By law, Mr Kenyatta will step down later this year once a new President is elected and sworn in following the August 9 election. But he has indicated that Kenya will not give up some of his policies.

One of his latest projects is trying to save DR Congo from war. He has proposed a regional military deployment, something his colleagues in the region have advocated.

“As a country, we will continue to support the work of regional, international and multilateral organizations to find lasting solutions to conflict, environmental crises and terrorist activities for a free, safe, culturally diverse and livable world,” he said. “Indeed, during our tenure on the UN Security Council, our contribution has been grounded in an abiding hope and belief that together we can create a better world.”


< p>Read:

strong>US backs regional action to end DRC conflict

This week he co-hosted the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal at the Countries offered a $1 billion pledge to protect the oceans. This was his 158th official foreign assignment.

Raychelle Omamo, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, says President Kenyatta has always sought consensus rather than confrontation.

“Kenya continues to work with like-minded members of the Security Council to advance its four major priorities: peace and security in the region; peace support operations; counter-terrorism and violent extremism; and climate and security,” she said in a bulletin last week.

Some observers concede that the president has improved the country’s image, despite problems at home.

“President Kenyatta has brought a personal charm to the leadership of the country’s foreign relations,” said Leonard Wanyama, regional coordinator of the East African Tax and Governance Network. He has maintained a pragmatic safety stance and ensured continuity in economic diplomacy, sometimes peppering it with things like roses for doctors and nurses in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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According to Mr Wanyama, Kenyatta has managed to market Kenya as a stable democratic state through soft power initiatives such as the Safari Rally, track and field championships and the Nairobi Military Museum.

< strong> Read:Safari Rally-rich part of Uhuru legacy

But he also has spots.

“The mention of the President’s family in the Pandora Papers (about allegedly hiding money abroad) and corruption scandals in his government point to an economic justice deficit in Kenya,” said Mr. Wanyama.

It didn’t always look that way. When he held an ambassadors’ conference in 2013, he only presented and clarified Kenya’s position: “We are neither looking west nor looking east. We will look for partners from all sides.”

The International Criminal Court (ICC) had him along with his deputy William Ruto at the time for crimes against humanity since the election violence. The court later dropped the charges for lack of evidence. But the ICC itself had disrupted the mood ahead of the 2013 election when Western countries announced they would not hire a leader to be prosecuted.

Johnny Carson, then US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, said so “Decisions have consequences,” a warning that Kenyans would shoulder the burden if they elected impeachable leaders. However, Kenyatta used the emotions surrounding the ICC case to get his bloc of supporters to vote to the last man.

However, the ICC remained a thorn in its side during the early years of his presidency. So he mobilized the African Union to fool the court into subjectively targeting Africans.

“The ICC became a painful farce, a farce, a farce that insults the injury to victims . The day it became the plaything of waning imperial powers, it ceased to be the home of justice,” he said in a 2013 address to the African Union Assembly. “The unfair treatment we are being subjected to by the ICC is totally unacceptable.”

The continental federation later formally asked the court to withdraw, or at least shelve, its case. The ICC did neither, but the Kenyatta speech had sown an anti-ICC seed on the continent, especially since Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir had also been indicted at the time. When the courts finally dropped the case in December 2014, it felt like a victory against unnamed foreign enemies.

Kenyatta told the local audience that never again would a Kenyan be tried in a foreign court like that ICC would be indicted. That didn’t stick as two other Kenyans, lawyer Paul Gicheru and journalist Walter Barasa, are still fighting to save their skins there. Mr Gicheru was even taken to court.

Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amina Mohamed managed to get the AU to announce a massive withdrawal from the ICC’s founding law, the Rome Statute, ostensibly around the To weaken teeth of the court in Africa. However, Kenya and South Africa, which threatened to lead the strike, reversed their decisions.

Read:Kenya leads plea for immunity for leaders at World Court

< p >A senior Kenyan diplomat who has served in the Kenyatta government throughout his tenure says the President’s approach has been consistent.

“It’s about Africa first. By putting Africa first, President Kenyatta has made Kenya and himself the country of choice. The ICC shaped that. He did not fight the ICC as an individual but as the leader of Africa. Africa, in turn, embraced him,” he explained.

“He always had this understanding of Kenya’s potential on the global stage and its potential as an anchor nation in East Africa. But most importantly, he refused to let other countries set Kenya’s agenda. The President also loves a fight in which he is seen as an outsider.”

On the external front, Kenyatta faced another challenge: Western countries imposed travel restrictions on their nationals visiting Kenya, citing increasing terrorist incidents . Kenyatta would criticize this labeling, arguing that all of these countries have also been attacked and that terrorism has no home.

Kenyatta is said to have used diplomats with rich networks behind the scenes to convince allies in the West , to seek cooperation rather than blanket condemnation of terrorism.

“The government continued the networks of its key ambassadors such as Catherine Mwangi (who served at the AU during the ICC crisis, now High Commissioner for South Africa), Lazarus Amayo (then High Commissioner for South Africa) a Commissioner in the UK, now Ambassador to the US), Dr. Martin Kimani (then Head of Violent Extremism Programs, now Permanent Representative to the United Nations) and Manoah Esipisu (former Commonwealth Secretariat Speaker and later State House). High Commissioner for the UK.

“These are very polished people who have worked with the ministry in Nairobi, which has been run by women all along.”

Foreign Office officials Die Affairs admit they initially struggled to counteract this, e continued evidence from the US and UK. They say the situation improved shortly after US President Barack Obama’s visit to Nairobi in 2015, the first contact with US leaders since the Carson warning.

Leaders around the world began to loosen up after realizing that Kenyatta could be useful.


However, his diplomats say he has settled on less controversial causes. They cite the education that has global appeal and one he co-facilitated with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They also cite the climate change campaign he championed. They also say that he has chosen peace and security as an existential issue for Kenya.

Kenyatta has made 158 official trips abroad as of this week.