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President Uhuru Kenyatta's book to capture ICC tribulations, quest for presidency

By Roselyne Obala | June 21st 2016

Being named as a suspect in crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in 2012 was one of the lowest moments in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s life. Uhuru, then Finance minister, was signing commitments on behalf of the Government with Japan when the dreadful news reached him.

“A call came through. The caller asked me to watch TV instead of what I was doing,” recalls President Kenyatta.
“Here I was, signing a deal and something important, while something touching on a part of my life was being announced,” he added.

His tribulations, emotional turmoil, memories and experiences during his trial at The Hague-based court will be a chapter or two in his planned autobiography. President Uhuru Uhuru's book to capture ICC tribulations, quest for presidency revealed this during an interview with Kenyan journalists in Brussels, Belgium, recently.

By penning his political journey, Uhuru will be walking in the footsteps of his father, who ventured into the world of academia with the publication of Facing Mt Kenya. The only difference is Jomo Kenyatta's book - a collection of essays - was written long before he became president.

Uhuru's book is likely to offer Kenyans a preview of his political journey since 1992 when retired president Daniel Moi nominated him to Parliament. His dreams and challenges on his quest for the country's top job will be laid bare. 

By his own admission, his life as a public figure has not been a smooth ride. It has been dogged with challenges, including his presidential bid in 2002 when he lost to retired President Mwai Kibaki. And though hurt by the resounding defeat, he was gracious.

"I was disappointed with the outcome but I felt happy that, as a first timer, I had done well. But I felt disappointed as anybody would feel, that I had lost," he said.

"I felt it was my responsibility to accept that I had lost and I did. After that, we went back to regroup and I started my life again. Kenya comes first, Kenya is greater than anybody else."

He continued: "I think my proudest moment was sitting with those we campaigned with and agreed that it is necessary to appear before Kenyans and concede defeat. So that was one of the moments I was so proud, a sorry moment but still a proud one.

President Kenyatta was at ease and jovial during the interview. He even joked questioning the intention of some of the questions the journalists were asking.

"I don't know where you are going with these questions, but I welcome you to be part of the team that is working on the book to get exclusives," he told the journalists.

President Kenyatta promises to reveal why he decided to support President Kibaki in 2007 when he was the leader of official opposition. He later gave the presidency another try in 2013 and was successful. "All the intrigues will be captured in the book, I ask Kenyans to be patient. All that questions the journalists have will also be answered in my book," he said.

President Kenyatta said he will only release the book after he retires. He said it is his experience at ICC that motivates him to keep the country on the path of peace and development.

"I am determined to ensure no Kenyan is taken back that route. However, everything will be documented in my book. For now, I can't say much," he said.

The President also spoke about his visit to Belgium, the European Union headquarters, the controversial closure of Dadaab Refugee Camp and the African Mission in Somali (AMISOM) which is part of UN peace keeping mission.

Other issues he discussed included the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) standoff, negative ethnicity, security, the Standard Gauge Railway and the pipeline that is threatening to spark a diplomatic row with neighbouring countries Uganda and Tanzania.

Kenyatta said the violence that followed the 2007 General Election was as a result of incitement by politicians. "This led to clashes between communities and people who live together as neighbours," he added.

"Those who choose to walk that path will face the full force of the law. That is the way it shall be as long as I am president."

The President signed a number of agreements to improve Kenya's ties with Belgium. During the visit, the President met with His Majesty King Philippe as well as the Prime Minister Charles Michel, UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon, European commission President Jean C laude Juncker and World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim.

He said he also met the local business community to improve Kenya's partnership with Belgium and the entire European community; "which is our biggest trading and investment partners."

"During my meeting with the King, we discussed issues ranging from trade to security as well as development co-operation. Kenya and Belgium have a history of co-operation and partnership that can be traced back to the early 60s and 70s. In recent years, these ties have been strengthened through trade with the volume rising significantly over the years from about Sh11 billion Euros in 2004 to more than Sh20 billion Euros in 2015," he said.

"Kenya has been a beneficiary of Belgium's generosity through various projects that have supported development of our IT, infrastructure and capacity, education, renewable energy and our fishing."

Kenyatta said the meetings provided platforms for the two countries to build on an already existing strong foundation of co-operation.

"The European Union has turned out to be a strong supporter of trade development and security, not just in Kenya, but in Africa as a whole. Personally, I am particularly encouraged by the unparalleled support the EU has given Kenya, including in the ongoing peace and stability mission in Somalia," said the President.

"About 80 per cent of the contributions to AMISOM come directly from the EU. That is is an area that we all have an undeniable vested interest in continuing co-operating together as we seek to secure our region."

On the issue of Somali refugees, Kenyatta said: "First, I think it is important for us to know that we already have a tripartite agreement to govern  repatriation of refugees as much as it is about to expire. Kenya is just demanding that this agreement be executed with a clear timeline so that the people who have been refugees can actually be integrated back into their local communities in Somalia."

He said they had agreed in relation to his talks with Moon, to work together and ensure refugees are repatriated safely.

"We discussed how these people can return to their homes in a dignified and humane way. And we shall continue to work together with the EU, our international partners, the Somali government and the regional governments, to ensure this is done in the shortest possible time," he disclosed.

He added: "What we are trying to explain is that Kenya is not shying away from her international obligations. Kenya recognizes her role in welcoming those who are running away from problems. We shall continue to respect that position. Basically, what we are trying to say is that we must move this discussion from being merely about feeding and hosting people to a scenario where we look at these people as human beings with ambition and hope in life."

Kenyatta said the refugees should be repatriated so they can become positive developers of the region and the world, as opposed to becoming a negative force because they have lost the desire and will and the hope to live.

The President downplayed a possible diplomatic fallout over construction of then pipeline and the railway saying: "I don't think there is any threat whatsoever. I am actually excited by the way that, for the first time, we are starting to see major projects connecting the region actually happening. The matter should be approached differently."

"My view is that our region is not in competition with itself, but our countries are complementing each other so we can compete with the rest of the world. I do not see the central corridor as a threat to our northern corridor. I don't see it as a threat at all."

He is of the opinion that the central corridor should be built as Kenya focuses on the northern corridor.

"Let us focus on building the LAPSSET which will link us up with Ethiopia and ultimately up towards Cairo; this Central corridor will link us down to Cape Town, South Africa,' he said.

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