Is Kenya begging for Uhuru congratulatory messages abroad?
The Foreign Affairs ministry is seeking congratulatory messages from Western capitals after the Supreme Court upheld the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta in last month’s repeat election, the Financial Times reported.
Speculation that Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed had solicited congratulations from her UK counterpart Boris Johnson was fuelled after diplomats from several countries told the Financial Times that Nairobi had sought congratulations from their capitals.
Mr Johnson appeared to be the first senior foreign official to congratulate Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The British Foreign Office confirmed Mr Johnson had spoken to Ms Mohamed, and did not reject the Kenyan version of events.
The apparent endorsement of Mr Kenyatta broke ranks with other western countries that harbour concerns about the manner of Mr Kenyatta’s victory.
The respected London-based Financial Times reported that some diplomats said their governments were holding off sending congratulations until Mr Kenyatta’s inauguration next week.
The Financial Times, in a report on Tuesday afternoon, also quoted an e-mail allegedly sent by Kenyan ambassador to Brussels Johnson Weru that suggested he was pushing other nations to congratulate President Kenyatta after securing a second term following a disputed repeat election after his August 8 win was annulled by the Supreme Court in a petition filed by his main challenger Raila Odinga.
“Following the Supreme Court of Kenya ruling early today and which has upheld the victory of President Kenyatta, I am kindly requesting your indulgence in preparing and dispatching a suitable congratulations message. I am at hand for any quick consultations,” the Financial Times quoted Ambassador Weru as saying in the e-mail sent to senior foreign ministry officials.
But Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Monica Juma said that the congratulatory messages were coming in on their own, unsolicited.
In fact, she said, the messages were expected following what she said was an affirmation of the rule of the law through the protracted elections dispute the country went through, with twice having the courts being asked to determine whether President Kenyatta’s election was free and fair.
“From where we sit, the Supreme Court win is a re-affirmation of President Kenyatta’s August 8 win. Generally, everybody is commending the country for following the course of the rule of law. That is the general reaction. Actually, many of them (countries) are saying: Let’s move on,” said Ms Juma.
Talk of diplomats and foreign governments holding off on congratulating Kenya has been rife, with the government now openly tweeting and broadcasting any congratulatory messages that come in.
“Some of you have asked about how many countries have congratulated the President on his re-election. As of yesterday (Monday), we can confirm that more than 40 countries had done so. The Foreign Ministry will release details in due course. Essentially, these congratulatory messages are normally channelled through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu told journalists during a press briefing at noon on Tuesday.
They include the United Kingdom, South Sudan, Bangladesh and Uganda.
The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta in last month’s repeat presidential vote, paving the way for him to be sworn in on Tuesday.
Chief Justice David Maraga said all six judges dismissed the two legal challenges to the vote.
The court did not detail its reasons. It said it would issue a full judgment within 21 days.
The Supreme Court ordered the October 26 election after nullifying the results of the August election, citing irregularities in the tallying of votes.
The opposition boycotted the poll, which Kenyatta won with 98 per cent of the vote.
This story was first published in the Daily Nation.