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Amina Mohamed’s sterling diplomatic career

By Moses Njagih | January 30th 2017
Amina Mohamed. (Photo: David Njaaga/Standard)

That President Uhuru Kenyatta has a lot of faith in his government's top diplomat is not in doubt.

Six months after assuming power, Uhuru dispatched his Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs to rally global support for the deferral of the International Criminal Court (ICC) cases against him and his deputy William Ruto.

The mission to woo the United Nations into supporting the deferral bid, even as it appeared apparent that Uhuru was on the way to making history by becoming the first sitting president to stand in the ICC's dock, was Amina Mohamed's first major assignment.

And she handled it perfectly.

"In advanced countries, sitting presidents are not hurled into court; it is for the courts to wait for the presidents to finish their terms before proceedings can be instituted," argued Amina as she embarked on a journey, first to Prague, Czech Republic, in October 2013, where she was to make the first contact with the UN "big boys" club.

She would meet delegates from the US, the UK, France, Russia and China - the UN's permanent members - to persuade them to receive positively the application for the Kenyan cases to be put on hold.

The ambassador's wit and lobbying prowess have also been credited for being behind the successes that the Jubilee administration has achieved in convening key international meetings in Kenya such as the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad).

Amina's unique diplomatic approach also came into play when Kenya faced an imminent ban from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) for failing to comply with the requirement of enacting an anti-doping law.

With Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario apparently unable to convince Wada of the country's commitment to enacting the law, and Kenya facing the prospect of missing out on the Rio Olympics, Uhuru unleashed his chief diplomat, who effectively negotiated the country's case.

Even before then, Amina had already scored a major point at the African Union (AU) extraordinary meeting where she convinced the AU to support deferral of the ICC cases.

But even after failing in that particular mission, the CS stood out as an accomplished diplomat and distinguished negotiator for the manner in which she later rallied the AU in its onslaught against the ICC.

It is such diligent handling of duties, coupled with the exemplary performance Amina has posted in the international arena, that must have convinced Uhuru to present her candidature for the AU chairperson's position and mount a massive shuttle diplomacy campaign across the continent to lobby for her election.

Unmatched credentials

While disclosing that his administration was pushing Amina's candidature, Uhuru laid bare the CS's unmatched credentials, which he said made her stand out for the position.

These included being elected President of Unctad 14 for the next four years, chairing the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation and co-chairing the ministerial segment of the first Ticad Summit held in Africa.

"She was President of the Conference on Disarmament, and the first African and the first female chairperson of the Council of the International Organisation for Migration," said Uhuru.

In addition, Amina served as a member of the Executive Bodies and Committees of the World Health Organisation, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, World Intellectual Property Organisation and the United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids.

With such an impressive CV, Uhuru reckoned Amina had earned enough international acclaim and respect to head the AU Commission.

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