Thursday, 18 July 2013

Uhuru Kenyatta and African Diplomacy

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta seems to be a man on a mission to open up Kenya in the diplomatic circles. When he took oath of office in April 9, 2013, Mr. Kenyatta has conducted his diplomatic business very well (Read my analysis on Uhuru's FP). Unlike the prevision administrations, Uhuru Kenyatta is asserting Kenya's foreign policy and opening up the country to the world especially to Africa. During his inauguration, he stressed the need for fostering the East African Community ties. The East African national anthem was even played during the swearing in ceremony despite many of the Kenyan people not knowing it. He quickly forged close ties with Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania's president and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda who spoke on behalf of the invited Heads of State and Government during the swearing in ceremony. Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi soon after paid President Kenyatta a courtesy visit at State House. Early this month, he also met with Rwanda's Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda. 

When then went on and nominated Amina Abdi as the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Ms Abdi has vast international experience and the UN system in general. This tells you how much importance the president has placed on the foreign relations docket and the image of the country internationally. Despite the fact that he faces "a personal challenge" of the ICC as he put it during the second presidential elections, Mr. Kenyatta has really worked hard to reface the country's foreign relations image. During the African Union's Heads of States and Government in Addis in May, 2013, the President through a combination of proxy factors and government tactic, he persuaded the AU to ask for the deferral of the ICC cases back to Africa. It was deemed a success. His Deputy, William Ruto has also visited a number of African countries in what is he terms as missions to woo international investments.

This week President Kenyatta has visited Nigeria for the African Heads of State and Government two day special AU Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (A.T.M.) at Abuja International Conference Centre. The two nations signed three bilateral agreements to help boost ties. The agreements were signed by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretaries Amb. Amina Mohamed and her Nigerian counterpart Mr.Olugbenga Ashiru. The three agreements signed are on the establishment of a Joint Commission for Cooperation, a Protocol on consultations between Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Kenya and Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and an MOU on mutual cooperation between the Foreign Service Institute of Kenya and the Foreign Service Academy of Nigeria.

He met Kenyans living there and also met Rwanda's Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, where they spoke at length. President Kenyatta also separately met and held talks with Ethiopian Premier Hailemariam Desalegn and Vice President of Ghana Kwesi Amissah-Arthur on the sidelines of the Abuja +12 Summit at Abuja International Conference Center. The talks focused on matters of mutual interest both at the bilateral and regional levels. The President also flew to Democratic Republic of Congo where he met and held talks with his DRC counterpart President Joseph Kabila. The talks between the two leaders focused on matters of mutual interest both at the bilateral and regional level. 

The African diplomacy by President Kenyatta may be interpreted as a shift from the tradition of relations with only Western countries due to the charges he faces at the ICC. But it is quite interesting that he wants Kenya to be pursue an African based diplomacy which I think is the future for Africa. The efforts made by Kenyatta to align Kenya more with Africa is quite impressive and futuristic. The president also travels with a contingency of professionals of whom advise him and make concrete observations. This is what Kenya needs diplomatically. 

Membe speaks on China-Africa Relations

Tanzania's Foreign Affairs minister Bernard Membe has downplayed criticism from Western countries over China-Africa relations. Mr Membe, who was speaking on Monday at the opening of a forum on China-Africa relations at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), noted that some western media and their countries were criticising relations between the continent and the Asian country. The forum, with the theme: “Chinese Dream, African Dream: Achieving Common Development Through Joint Efforts,” was meant to brainstorm on how the two parties could mutually benefit from their relations.

The West has been arguing that African countries would not benefit from the relations because China was not considering promotion of human rights and democracy on the continent. However, Mr Membe reiterated that China-Africa relations provided several benefits to the continent, giving an example of the construction of the Tanzania Zambia Railway (Tazara). The railway had been playing a very crucial economic role not only for Tanzania but also for some landlocked countries on the continent.
Mr Lu  Shaye, the director for African Affairs Department in the Chinese ministry of Foreign Affairs, who attended the event, said development and prosperity were a common aspiration and historical mission of China and Africa. Lu told the two-day conference that China and Africa shared dreams of peace, development, independent efforts and rejuvenation.
“These dreams are ahead of us. The path is under our feet. We must make earnest and hard efforts to realize them,” he said.

The Chinese ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Lu Youqing, said: “We all know about the ‘American Dream’...yet it is not enough to have only the American Dream. There should be a Chinese Dream and an African Dream as well.” The Chinese envoy said both China and Africa were developing economies and shared wide common interests.
He said during the long historic period of struggle for national independence in the pursuit of development and national revival, China and Africa have always been a “community of shared destinies through bad and good times.”