Diplomats Warned on Overreaching Tendencies

14TH DIPLOMATIC BRIEFING

BY

AMB. MONICA K. JUMA, DPHIL, CBS

PRINCIPAL SECRETARY

MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA

 

 NOVEMBER 7, 2017

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL, NAIROBI, KENYA

 

 Excellences, Ambassadors and High Commissioners;

Members of the Diplomatic Corps;

Colleagues from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;

Good afternoon; 

  1. I am delighted to welcome you to the 14th briefing session for members of the Diplomatic Corps. I wish to thank each one of you for honouring our invitation.
  1. Since our last briefing held on 26th of September 2017, a lot has happened. It is therefore opportune for us to share information on the government position on these issues and exchange views on matters of mutual interest.
  1. In the last few briefings, I have focused attention on our elections. Today, my brief will draw on a cross-section of diplomatic activities because there is more to Kenya than elections. In this regard I shall speak to:
  1. The 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly and its outcomes
  2. Participation at the 68th session of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR programme
  3. Preparations for UNEA-3
  4. Developments in the Region
  5. On-going Bilateral engagements, and
  6. An Update on the post-election context.

THE 72ND SESSION OF THE UNGA

  1. Kenya’s delegation to the 72nd session of the UNGA was led by Amb. Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Kenya welcomed the theme of the session, striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet.   The Sustainable development goals architecture is critical to our growth and development. It is on this basis that his Excellency the President established an SDGs partnership platform that aims to accelerate the attainment of the SDGs in Kenya. We have made significant gains one of which is the drastic reduction in maternal and child deaths. We believe that Kenya’s gains can only be sustainable if we preserve, conserve and mitigate any hazards to our environment.

 

  1. During this session, we also participated in meetings on peace and security specifically related to the Horn of Africa and the African Union Mission in Somalia, South Sudan, and forced migration. We also reaffirmed our commitment to help UNEP deliver on its mandate as the leading global environmental authority and the de-facto parliament on environment. It is desirable that all UN member states support UNEP to achieve its mandate. This can be through the implementation of paragraph 88 of the Rio Declaration, endorsed by Heads of State and Governments that called for the strengthening of UNEPs regional presence and consolidation of its Headquarter functions in Nairobi. We call on each one of you to convey our request to your governments to offer this and give this matter the attention it deserves. 

PARTICIPATION IN THE 68th SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF UNHCR

  1. In light of our commitment to make our contribution in relation to the challenge of forced migration, we participated in the recently concluded 68th Session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner’s Programme. During the session the Government of Kenya announced its application of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) with regards to refugee management in Kenya. Kenya now joins eleven (11) other countries applying the CRRF.
  1. Historically, Kenya has received and continues to receive hundreds of thousands of refugees. Our application of the CRRF is to ensure that Kenya’s capacity to address this shared responsibility is bolstered by the New York commitments to evolving comprehensive response to large movements of refugees, based on the principles of international cooperation as well as burden and responsibility-sharing. We strongly ascribe to the framework currently under discussion, whose key objectives are to: ease pressures on host countries; enhance refugee self-reliance; expand access to third-country solutions; and support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity. If well implemented it would ensure that countries particularly those neighbouring source countries do not shoulder disproportionate burden in relation to refugee assistance and protection.
  1. In this regard, I laud the European Union’s initiative to provide 50,000 new resettlement places for refugees in protracted refugee situations. It is our hope this opportunities will also be availed to protracted refugee situations such as those in Kenya. 

PREPARATION FOR UNEA-3

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen 

  1. As you are all aware UNEA-3 is scheduled to take place between 4th and 6th December 2017 in Nairobi. As a country that has pioneered work on environmental management, this conference reaffirms the place of UNEP and Nairobi as the centre for environmental governance. You will know that since the 1990s, we have had a resolution that reaffirms the place of UNEP passed annually.  We are pleased to confirm that Kenya, as host to UNEP is ready to support the hosting of a successful and memorable session of UNEA-3.  UNEA-3 will be executed under the theme “towards a pollution-free planet”.
  1. I wish to report to this meeting that the UNEP team led by the Erik Solheim, Executive Director-UNEP held a comprehensive briefing with Ambassador Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs on Monday in which the status of preparedness was discussed at great length.
  1. Towards that endeavour, I want to assure all of you that all the relevant government departments and agencies are on board through the inter-ministerial committee co-chaired by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure that all necessary logistical arrangements are in place and on time.
  1. As is customary, the conference will be fully secured. As we draw closer to the Conference, further security reviews shall be undertaken to enhance security around the city, with particular attention to UNON – Offices, all UNEP recommended hotels as well as the major roads.  To ensure smooth flow of the traffic, a comprehensive traffic management plan has been developed. I can therefore guarantee that there will be smooth flow and unhindered movement during this session.
  1. We are expecting to receive a number of high level delegates, including Heads of States and Governments, as well as celebrities. So far, we have received confirmations at the Head of State level from Sri Lanka, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. Three other countries have given a very strong indication that their Heads of State/ Government will participate.
  1. As of 6th November, we had received confirmation from 74 Ministers and over 100 delegations. The President of the UN General Assembly and Heads of UN agencies will be in attendance at this assembly. We are currently finalising the logistical note for delegation, including issuance of visas on arrival and setting up a dedicated desk at the JKIA to facilitation of delegates seamlessly, Kenya will provide transport and security for all the Ministers.
  1. I take this early opportunity to welcome and extend the Kenyan hospitality to all delegates to this conference.
  1. The government will host a reception through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources for the delegates on Monday, 4th December, 2017 at the UN Compound. We welcome all of you to join in this ice-breaking session alongside your delegations.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

  1. As has been tradition, it is expected that H.E. the President will grace this assembly and deliver the key note address at the opening ceremony. We are also working towards his participation in the leadership dialogues alongside other visiting Heads of State and Government.
  1. On substantive matters of UNEA-3, I can confirm that apart from the assembly there will be a number of signature side events that we hope all our delegations will participate in. Pollution from plastics is a key focus for Kenya. Those of you that have lived in this country for the past few years will attest to the menace caused by plastic carrier bags. In view of this, the Government took the brave step of banning plastic carrier bags, and put in place a hefty fine for the sale, manufacture, use and importation for commercial and household packaging, of USD 38,000 or a 4-year custodial sentence. The ban has been very successful and dividends are already visible.
  2. At UNEA-3, Kenya will host a side event to share her experience on effective implementation on the ban.
  3. Additionally, Kenya together with Norway, China and Brazil will co-sponsor a side event on forests and life on land at the Karura Forest on Sunday 3rd December to highlight the importance of forest management and their role in mitigating the effects of climate change. We look forward to all of you joining this exciting session.

 UN-HABITAT

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

21.   I also wish to brief on the current discussion on governance reforms of UN-Habitat. The G77 and China has tabled a draft UN- Habitat resolution that is currently under consideration by Member States under the 2nd Committee of the ongoing session of the General Assembly. The resolution seeks to respond to the recommendations contained in the assessment report by the High Level Panel on enhancing the efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and financial capability of the UN – Habitat.

22. The resolution being coordinated by Kenya on behalf of the G-77 and China covers the following substantive issues: –

  1. increased financial resources from the UN- regular budget
  2. establishing a coordinating mechanism within the UN- Habitat, and
  3. establishing universal membership/ Executive Board

23.  As Member States, we need to make every effort to ensure a successful conclusion of governance reform of UN- Habitat. We are convinced that the survival and future financing of UN- Habitat in a sustainable and predictable manner is conditional to the changes that will ensure transparency, effectiveness, efficiency and accountability.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

24.  Permit me to take this opportunity to reiterate Kenya’s unequivocal commitment and support to UN- Habitat, and its planned and on-going efforts aimed at strengthening its effective service delivery. I am convinced beyond measure that working together in this partnership, we shall attain our collective objective to make UN- Habitat fit for purpose to assist in providing technical support in growing sustainable global urbanization.

25.  It is in our best interest to conclude discussions on the institutional reforms of the UN- Habitat to get the organization back on its feet as soon as possible. In that pursuit, Kenya will engage constructively with all Member States to ensure a consensual outcome. 

DEVELOPMENTS IN THE REGION

26.  It is clear that the threat of Al Shabaab remain potent. On 14th and 28th of October, shortly after the UNSC Res 2372 (2017) on AMISOM, we are witness to tow of the most tragic attacks on Mogadishu that left more than 400 people dead, and many others injured.  These heinous attacks reaffirm our strong belief of the need for the international community to pay the commensurate attention to the threat of Al Shabaab. Following the attack on Mogadishu, the Kenya government donated 16 tonnes of medicines to the Somalia and evacuated some of the injured persons for treatment in Kenya.  I commend other governments that also extended the assistance to Somalia in response to this heinous crime.

27. The lukewarm treatment of the Al Shabaab threat and the failure of the international community to provide the requisite support to AMISOM is an indictment on our collective responsibility. The threat to Somalia is not for the Horn of Africa alone but a threat to international peace and security. It is our hope that the investment of this region in Somalia will find equivalent commitment in the international community.  As a member of the TCCs, Kenya continues to call for the provision of adequate and sustainable resources for the African Union Mission in Somalia.

28.  We continue to engage as part of IGAD on the process seeking to revitalise the peace agreement in South Sudan. Meanwhile we, a neighbour, welcome the lifting of sanctions by the United States on Sudan.

29.  The dynamics in the Horn of Africa continue to be of concern. In early October, at the invitation of the African Union, we participated in a Strategic Consultative meeting on the Horn of Africa in Khartoum. The meeting, bringing together the African Union (AU), Inter-Government Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Sudanese Government sought to develop a shared strategy towards addressing the complex challenges in the Horn of Africa.  The meeting examined the long standing and emerging peace and security challenges, strategic trends in the horn and the red sea arena and the prospects for regional integration.

30.  The meeting proposed several interventions in addressing what are complex and interconnected challenges. These included:

  • The imperative to protect and deepen democratization in the region by creating strong institutions;
  • Developing a shared vision that supports a trans-national strategy for implementing all aspects of development and the fight against terrorism;
  • Borrowing on best international practices in relation to experiences on regional integration; and
  • The need to have an interface between the Horn of African within the framework of the IGAD and the Middle East, within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

31.  As Kenya, we believe strongly that the on-going dynamics which are transforming the Horn of Africa into a competitive arena for international actors and interests could negatively impact on-going efforts to stabilize an otherwise politically and ecologically fragile and insecure region.

 BILATERAL RELATIONS

32.  On our bilateral front, I wish to sincerely thank the Governments that have recognised that heightened political activity and rhetoric is normal in electoral periods, and that have continued to deepen our bilateral relations. In this regard, I wish to express our gratitude to the French Government which through its Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the French Ministry of the Economy partnered with our Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperative to convene a successful session of Les Rencontres Africa 2017 in Nairobi.  Between 5th and 6th October 2017, Nairobi was a host to more than 500 African business leaders from more than 20 countries, and heads of 150 French Companies in an encounter that focused on seven major sector specific themes that explored investment opportunities in the East African market, innovative approaches to building a skilled force for Africa, funding solutions to investment and value addition in the agricultural sector, among others.

33.  We are also preparing to receive a number of bilateral delegations from various countries including Ireland and Belgium and wish to reaffirm our readiness to continue deepening bilateral relations.

 POST-ELECTIONS DYNAMICS

Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

34.  On Thursday October 26, 2017, we went to back to the polls for a Fresh Presidential election. As you will recall, and as briefed in our last session, following a petition by NASA Presidential candidate challenging the declaration of H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta as President-elect, on September 1, 2017 the Supreme Court nullified the results of the Presidential election and directed the IEBC to conduct fresh election within sixty days.

35.  The IEBC immediately embarked on preparation. Some of the key changes made by the Commission to address the shortcomings that led to the nullification included: –

  • Installing Safaricom SIM Cards as the primary service provider in all KIEMS kits due to her network reach to increased capacity, and variously Airtel and Telkom in all the Kits as secondary;
  • Candidates seconded two (2) ICT Agents each, who were embedded into the IEBC’s electoral technology team, with defined rights, to participate in verification of the transmission of results;
  • Printing out Forms 34B by all the 291 returning officers and to give copies to all candidates for verification;
  • The National Returning Officer [NRO] would only announce results after physically receiving all Forms 34As and signing a handover of Forms 34Bs.

36.  On October 10, 2017, Hon. Raila Odinga announced his withdrawal from the Presidential election slated for October 26, 2017 citing the 2013 Supreme Court’s Judgement in presidential petition, which, by way of obiter dicta, the Court determined that if a candidate withdrew from the elections, the entire process would revert to nominations. He continued to agitate and lead unending demonstrations under the clarion “no reforms, no election.” Notably, one of his close advisers had, before the ink dried after nullification in press conference stated that “there would no election in Kenya”. Hon. Raila is on record that elections would be held on his own terms, that mutated to “irreducible minimums” etc. Furthermore, NASA was categorical that there would be no election even if the proposed amendment laws were withdrawn as this would not satisfy their demands.

37.  Up to the election date, Hon. Raila Odinga had only written to the IEBC a letter of withdrawal but failed to complete Form 24A as required by the law for any withdrawing candidate.

38. On October 11, 2017 the High Court ordered inclusion of Third Way Alliance Presidential Candidate Ekuru Aukot who had challenged exclusion of his name from the list of contestants in the fresh presidential poll, thus opening an avenue for all the presidential candidates of the election held on 8th August 2017, to participate in the fresh elections.

39.  On October 18, 2017 one of the Commissioners fled duty, having been sent to inspect the final status of ballot printing. Upon departure, she travelled to the USA from where she announced through the media, her resignation based on numerous unsubstantiated claims.  The following day, the IEBC Chairman addressed the press and while confirming the departure of the commissioner assured Kenya that this would not affect plans to hold the elections as planned. He further underscored the value of consolidating and strengthening institutions to support the democratization agenda.

 Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 40.  Despite the atmosphere created and threat to violence and intimidation promised by the opposition, Kenyans submitted to the decision of the Supreme Court and went ahead to express their sovereign will on Thursday 26th October, 2017 in numbers well within any curve of a repeat election anywhere in the world.

 41.  The voting process proceeded smoothly with the opening and closing of polling stations as well as the counting processes. However, due to adverse weather elections in five constituencies in Turkana and Fafi were held on 28th and 29th October 2017. Regrettably, elections in 25 constituencies in four Counties in Nyanza (Siaya, Kisumu Homa – Bay and Migori) were postponed owing to violence unleashed on the electoral process including attacks on IEBC officers, obstruction of electoral materials by opposition followers, who were acting in response to calls from their leaders.  It is instructive to note that notwithstanding the threats and active violence by the opposition, and the purported call to boycott the elections, only two counties –Siaya and Homa Bay, had nil-return.

42.  H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta was re-elected, having met the constitutional threshold of more than half of the total votes cast (7,483,895) votes accounting for 98.26 % of the votes cast) and at least 25% in at each of more than half of the Counties (The President met this threshold in 45 Counties of the 47 Counties in Kenya). On October 30, 2017, the returning officer of the Presidential election, who is the chair of the IEBC called the election and announced President Kenyatta, President elect.

43.  In line with our Constitution, any dissatisfied party is allowed to approach the Supreme Court within seven days of this declaration. Yesterday, we are informed some private citizens submitted a petition at the Supreme Court seeking the nullification of the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

44.  As we await the outcome of the petition filed last night, I wish to reiterate the Government’s commitment to the rule of law, preservation and strengthening of independence of institutions.

REACTIONS TO OUR ELECTION

 45.  When I made my first briefing on the elections on December 13, 2016, I urged members of the diplomatic community to engage during our election period within the acceptable diplomatic conduct, underscoring that the matter of the social contract in any society is determined by the citizens of the country. I take this opportunity to commend the conduct of the diplomatic community during this period. However, we have observed a creeping of interest in our electoral process that could be termed as an overreach from some quarters.

46. Of concern to us has been a creeping skewing towards what we believe to be a deliberate effort to create an appearance of a crisis. The formulation of this context, driven from the opposition propaganda, is a concern to us. From where we sit, the government is fully operational, all activities are on-going – examinations are in session, movement on our roads in on-going, businesses are open, there is no state of emergency or any sense of anxiety.  We have not seen an increase in unusual activity – so we are concerned about the murmurings going on in some quarters that suggest that there is need for negotiation because of a presumed crisis.

47.  We are aware that some members of the diplomatic community were canvassing for the postponement of the elections less than 48 hours to the October 26, 2017. While we think this was regrettable on a number of fronts, it is now behind us. As we await the outcome of Supreme Court, it critical for me to remind us all that the matter of determination of leadership in any country is not a diplomatic endeavour. It is therefore important that the diplomatic community operates within their scope of work and leaves matters internal politics to Kenyans. This is the practice the world over and Kenya is no exception. In view of this, I wish to underscore that the manner in which Kenyan emerge and evolve and determine how they govern themselves is a preserve of Kenyans.

48.  Having stated this, I wish to also remind that Kenyans in their 2010 constitution framed the manner in which they wish to govern themselves, and also outlined the modalities for dealing with any disaffection. It is not the place of any ambassador or representative of another government to determine this for Kenyans. In the light of this, I convey the government’s strong displeasure at reports appearing in our media today that a group of diplomats were in discussion on matters secession of a territory of the Republic of Kenya, and marginalisation or lack thereof of sections of this country. Having served as a diplomat myself, we know that we are accredited to central governments and every diplomat presents credentials to the Head of State. As far as I recall every diplomat in this room presented credentials to the Head of a unitary state. It is therefore not appreciated that any diplomat would hold discussions with anyone that touch on the territorial integrity of Kenya.

49.  I wish to end with a recall of my first briefing on election preparedness in Kenya that I referred to earlier in my statement. During that session, I made, and I quote, “a direct appeal to all of you to send positive messages that inspire the confidence of our citizens, in the established institutions, as well as to your countries, in order to minimise misconstrued signals that sometimes could lay fertile grounds for exploitation.”  I wish to reiterate that call today.

I thank you for your kind attention.

MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

NOVEMBER, 2017

 

 

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