Kenya must stress the importance of integrity, in line with governance principles and values of the Constitution
By Gunilla Carisson
My conviction as a politician is that the coming six months will be a defining time for the future. Since independence, 49 years ago, Kenya has been a good friend and partner to Sweden. An expanding Swedish presence in Nairobi is a testament to the importance that Sweden attaches to her relations with Kenya and East Africa.
Development cooperation has been a cornerstone of our relations and a stepping-stone for new areas of cooperation. Trade is increasing as new business and investment opportunities between our countries are explored. Research collaboration, business relations and civic exchanges are forging strong bonds.
This week, our evolving partnership will materialise in a Memorandum of Understanding on innovation, entrepreneurship, ICT and urban development. It represents our commitment to develop commercial relations on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
If Kenya were part of the European Union (EU), it would be one of our least-indebted members. The country’s surplus trade in services and its potential in light manufacturing illustrate how technical innovations and entrepreneurship can benefit development.
The EU, of which Sweden is a member, appreciates Kenya as a pivotal partner for peace and stability in the region. We support its efforts to improve conditions for political stability in the Horn of Africa and manage the challenge of a large refugee population.
Kenya is an important multilateral partner, including as host to the headquarters of Unep and UN-Habitat. Although there is no single blueprint for development, there are factors that we know to be universally crucial for long-term development and stability. These include viable governance institutions, the rule of law, free markets and respect for human rights including gender equality, to name just a few.
I will address these issues in the UN Secretary General’s high-level panel for new global development goals post-2015, of which I am a member. I am profoundly concerned about the recent violence in the Tana River Delta and urge leaders to ensure that peace is restored. As I embark on my fourth journey to Kenya in recent years, I see the opportunities and possibilities that are within reach.
Based on my experience, the challenges facing Kenya, and existing commitments and obligations, this is what I would encourage this country to do: Use the positive experience of the 2010 referendum on the Constitution and pursue electoral reform to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections in March next year and that Kenyans should unite and refrain from negative ethnicity and ethnic politics. This country should implement the Constitution and strive for politics to be policy-driven, offering voters the opportunity to choose ideas and aspirations for the Kenya of tomorrow.
Kenya must stress the importance of integrity, transparency and accountability in line with the governance principles and values of the Constitution; end impunity through continued reform of the justice sector, and full cooperation with the International Criminal Court. Finally, local conflicts should be addressed and reconciliation initiated to prevent further violence.
I welcome the beginning of a new chapter of enhanced partnership with Kenya by inaugurating the Embassy of Sweden’s new chancery in Nairobi this week. It is a demonstration of our commitment to this country and region.