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Western envoys to attend Kenyatta’s inauguration

The United States and several other European nations are expecting to send ambassadors to attend the swearing in next week of Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s president-elect who is indicted for crimes against humanity at The Hague.

Reuters/ Daily Nation

Western diplomats said this level of attendance was in line with their policy of having only “essential contacts” with indictees of the International Criminal Court. A European Union official also said EU envoys were seeking to meet Kenyatta.

Western nations have to strike a delicate balance, adhering to their oft-stated policy that will limit contacts with Kenyatta while ensuring a trade partner and a nation seen as vital to stability in a volatile region does not swivel towards China and other Asian states as they expand their influence.

Kenyatta, charged with helping orchestrate the bloodshed that followed the disputed 2007 election, is due to be sworn in on Tuesday.

His election victory was confirmed on Saturday after a court dismissed a legal challenge to the March 4 vote result.

“We expect to be represented by Ambassador (Robert) Godec,” Christopher Snipes, spokesperson for the US Embassy in Nairobi, said in a brief statement.

Diplomats and officials said Germany, France and the European Union delegation in Nairobi also expected to send ambassadors.

A diplomat from another European state said his ambassador was likely to go, but declined to be identified.Kenyatta’s aides and many of his supporters were angry when the United States and European officials spelled out their policy of limiting contacts during campaigning, saying it smacked of intervention. Diplomats denied any such intention.

US Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Washington’s top diplomat to Africa, cautioned before the vote that “choices have consequences” – widely seen in Kenya as a clear hint about America’s preferred outcome.

Mwai Kibaki never called Willy Mutunga’s hotline

When Chief Justice (CJ) Willy Mutunga took up office in June 2011, he was promptly notified of the existence of a red telephone placed on top his office desk.

At first glance, he thought the telephone was just like any other. But this was not the case. The person showing him round the office had information that startled him.

The little red telephone was a direct line to State House and would only ring when the President wanted to issue instructions to him. Said the CJ: “The person who showed me the hotline, pointed at President Kibaki’s photograph hung on the wall and told me hii simu ni ya wenyewe (this phone has its owners).”

As members of the Judiciary, led by Mutunga, hosted a farewell luncheon for President Kibaki, the CJ revealed that the hotline never rang even once since he took up the office.

“I congratulate you Mr President for not picking up that telephone regardless of how you felt about the way matters were being handled at the Judiciary,” said Dr Mutunga.

He went on: “This is because of the cordial relationship between the Judiciary and the Executive. This relationship has never been one of instructing one another but pulling together when national duty demands.” The supreme court judges gave the President a golfing set comprising a bag, golf clubs and a tie.

Mutunga said more than once, the Judiciary made several decisions that were not so favourable to the government and praised President Kibaki for accepting them.

“On these occasions, you felt that being the statesman, with the ability to see that there was democracy in the country, was more important than engaging in unnecessary contest on who is right or wrong,” he said.

The CJ said it was unusual for any head of State to see their power questioned as happened in the events that preceded his appointment to office.

“It is equally not common for a president not to take offence when he is reminded by a court to carry out a constitutional obligation such as happened with the gazetting of the National Lands Commission.”

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