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Kibaki skips UK summit on family planning

By Kenfrey Kiberenge
Updated Thu, July 12th 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Kenfrey Kiberenge

President Kibaki was missing in action on Wednesday as British Prime Minister David Cameron played host to regional heads of state in London, in what could underline the souring relations between the two countries.

Cameron shared a stage with Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzanian), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Paul Kagame and Burkina Faso’s first lady Chantal Compaore during a high profile summit on family planning held in London.

Malawi’s president Joyce Banda joined the panel through a video link. It is not clear why Kibaki did not attend the summit that was jointly convened by the UKaid and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where donors and countries made commitments towards access to family planning methods by women and girls.

At the summit, several Kenyan examples were cited including by a woman who was born at Korogocho slums in Nairobi who narrated how her mother’s advice to delay child birth helped her acquire proper education that rescued her from the jaws of poverty.

Melinda Gates also cited the story of a Kenyan woman as her driving force.

“She told me ‘I want to bring every good thing to one child before I have another’. I have always remembered that quote as I do my work,” said Melinda.

Under the current regime, relations between Kenya and UK have been deteriorating as Kibaki embraces China at the expense of the West.

With four Kenyans facing charges at the International Criminal Court over the 2008 post election violence, coupled with a failed promise of zero-tolerance to corruption, Western countries, including US president Barack Obama, have worked to distance themselves from Kenyan leaders.

A few months ago, it emerged that Kibaki had turned down an invite to the UK in 2010 where he was scheduled to meet then Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the Number 10 Downing Street and Queen Elizabeth at the Buckingham Palace.

Media reports indicated that the president refused to honour the invite after his handlers felt the itinerary was “shallow” as well as reluctance to answer to questions about reform path and the post election violence.

The authenticity of a document showing that Britain was pushing for detention of two of the ICC suspects and indictment of Kibaki after his retirement has also not yet been determined.

World affairs

Earlier in 2012, French ambassador Etienne de Poncins complained that Kibaki had become extremely difficult to reach.

Kibaki snapped up the moment of frustration to explain that his diplomatic policy was being guided by Kenya’s present view of changing geo-political dynamics, which entail an understanding of the West and East convergence on world affairs in an ever-changing environment.

“The President has been strategic and has not been unreachable to any nation that works for the good of the Kenyan people and appreciates the role played by external partners in endeavours to uplift the lives of Kenyans and citizens of neighbouring states," read a dispatch from the PPS.

Kibaki will, however, be in UK from July 27 attending the opening of the Olympic games and thereafter host a Kenyan investment summit on July 31, dubbed “Kenya at the 30th Olympiad”.

The summit will be held at the Mansion House, the official residence of the mayor of City of London and it is not clear if he will have a parley with other UK government officials.

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