In their words
No ICC suspect has bothered to travel to the West because they know they will get hostile treatment. Given Kenya’s position, a number of countries would be willing to touch base with the other three candidates with untainted reputation internationally. It is not easy support because they know African politics is volatile and anything can happen
— Dr Daviid Kikaya, former Permanent Representative at the UN E
By Juma Kwayera
Presidential aspirants are increasingly reverting to foreign travels to sell their candidature, opening debate on how foreign policy will be a major factor in the polls.
A string of recent events, top among them the military incursion against Al Shabaab in Somalia and role in counter-terrorism, are making it necessary for President Kibaki’s would-be successors to marshal regional and international support by playing the foreign policy card.
The latest to travel is Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, who flew out of the country last week for the United Nations General Assembly, where he will be a keynote speaker.
The trip also rekindles debate about whether Mudavadi is being groomed to succeed Kibaki and underlines how international connections will provide the necessary motto in the race to State House. Significantly, it escalates competition in the race to State House as those with international connections seek to use them to attain power.
The foreign policy question comes on the back of reports that the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) presumptive presidential candidate Raila Odinga has settled on Aldai MP and Agriculture Minister Sally Kosgei as his running mate because of her high profile in diplomatic service and former Head of Civil Service, which enabled her to establish a strong network of friends the party can count on for support.
The criminal charges Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto face at the International Criminal Court narrows competition for international recognition and by extension Diaspora vote to three aspirants: Raila, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Mudavadi. Gichugu MP Martha Karua and Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth have in recent months toured the US and Canada to sell their ambitions.
Tours are official
Communication Director at Raila’s Presidential Secretariat, Barrack Muluka, denies the PM’s forays abroad have anything to do with his candidature.
Muluka says the tours are official and have nothing to do with campaigns or seeking financial support abroad.
“We engage foreign nations to the extent that they understand what we stand for, not to lobby for support. It is not intended to look for sponsorship for his candidature,” he says. As a matter of fact, he adds, he is not aware of any candidate who is shopping for foreign support.
“There could be the possibility of candidates going to look for external support. Even nations with an interest in the geopolitics of the region would by extension be interested in Kenya. These considerations are important and only one can pretend they do not matter. However, I am not aware of anybody who is engaging externally,” he says.
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