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Foreign Affairs PS Kamau scoffs at diplomats call for US to force Kenya dialogue

By Wainaina Ndung'u | Published Wed, March 7th 2018 at 09:58, Updated March 7th 2018 at 10:03 GMT +3
Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau said sentiments expressed by Mark Bellamy and Johnnie Carson were an affront to Kenya’s sovereignty. (File, Standard)

A principal secretary has scoffed at calls by two diplomats for the US to push the Kenyan government to dialogue with the Opposition.

Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau said sentiments expressed by Mark Bellamy and Johnnie Carson were an affront to Kenya’s sovereignty.

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Their pronouncements clearly demonstrated how preconceived notions and stereotypes about Africa - by Western technocrats - overrode any practical experience and knowledge about the continent, he added.

Mr Carson is a former US ambassador to Kenya (1999-2013) who rose to become the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Affairs until 2013. Mr Bellamy served as ambassador in Nairobi between 2003–2006 before he retired after a 30-year stint in foreign service.

“Their knack for getting it wrong on African and Kenyan issues is not only dumbfounding but also a demonstration of why desk research on Africa, with the only source of information being a biased Western media, should be treated with disdain,” said Mr Kamau yesterday.

In a commentary, the two had said the US should intervene to ensure that dialogue, discussions, and political and economic reforms are effected in Kenya. They believe this would break the deadlock between the Jubilee government and the Opposition.

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But Kamau accused the diplomats of being keen to weave the now-familiar narrative of a crumbling African state and the ever-benevolent Western states who were ready to intervene and sort out the mess.

“The fact that Kenya went through the prolonged campaign and electioneering period and emerged peaceful should be reason to celebrate the resilience of her democracy,” he said.

The PS also accused the diplomats of applying double standards when it comes to democratic tenets in Africa compared to America by talking of widening rifts between the ruling party and the Opposition.

“It is not lost on Kenyans that the differences in ideologies between the Democrats and Republicans, especially during the 2016 presidential elections, and the toxic political drama that culminated in the election of President Donald Trump left some social and political fissures in America,” said Kamau.

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He also scoffed at military intervention advocated by the two, saying memories of botched US interventions in countries such as Libya and Iraq, ostensibly to return democracy, were still fresh in the minds of many.

“Any form of interference by the US in a country that has time and again demonstrated her commitment to entrenching democratic principles, rule of law and good governance can only portend danger,” he said.

“Just as Carson was proved wrong on his assertion in the period preceding the 2013 General Election that the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta would have negative consequences, the (US and Kenya) have once again continued on the path of strengthening their bilateral relations and partnerships with a clear understanding of the need for mutual respect.”

He was referring to Carson’s famous warning that "choices would have consequences".