Big win for Mwinzi in battle for ambassador job

The High Court has declared that ambassadors are not state officers and that a person with dual citizenship cannot be barred from holding the office.

Justice James Makau’s decision is a big win for Mwende Mwinzi (pictured), Kenya’s ambassadorial nominee to South Korea, who has been battling parliament’s demands that she renounces her American citizenship before taking up the post.

The judge said an ambassador is an appointee of the president and falls under public office. An ambassador, he said, is not bound by constitutional demands for state officers who must not hold dual citizenship.

“There is a clear distinction between state officers and public officers in the Constitution. The office of the ambassador is not one of the listed state offices thus not bound by requirements that the appointee should not hold dual citizenship,” ruled Makau.

He said it is only in state offices where the law demands that a person holding dual citizenship must renounce the other country before taking up the position.

Justice Makau ruled Ms Mwinzi is eligible for appointment as ambassador since her US citizenship is protected by law.

“It is clear she was born in the US and became a citizen of that country by birth. She cannot opt out of her place of birth. She did not choose to be born there since no one chooses their parents. Citizenship by birth is inalienable right that cannot be taken away,” ruled Makau.

President Uhuru Kenyatta nominated Mwinzi as the country’s ambassador to Seoul on May 2 but after vetting, MPs recommended that she renounces her American citizenship before taking up the position.

Mwinzi, in her affidavit, stated she is a dual citizen of Kenya and the US having been born in Milwaukee, US in 1971 to American mother Mary Christine Geil and Kenyan father Maluki Mwinzi.