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Uhuru voices concerns against unilateral decisions by EU targeted at OACPS countries

By PSCU | June 22nd 2021

President Uhuru Kenyatta with the President of the European Council Charles Michel in Brussels.[PSCU]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has voiced concerns by the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) regarding the increasing number of unilateral decisions by the European Union (EU) targeted at the multilateral institution's member nations.

President Uhuru who is the President-in-Office of the Summit of the 79-member institution since 2019, regretted that the EU doesn't sufficiently engage the OACPS before taking some of its decisions, contrary to the provisions of the Cotonou agreement.

"The revised Cotonou agreement maintains the scope of the Groups’ engagement with the EU to include conflict prevention and good governance under political dialogue. However, the unilateral application of measures, including sanctions, by the EU as imposed on Eritrea and Burundi, has created sensitivities and concerns within our Group," President Uhuru noted.

The head of state who is on a two-day Official Visit of Belgium and the European Union spoke on Tuesday in Brussels when he addressed a meeting of the OACPS Committee of Ambassadors.

On the blacklisting of OACPS countries on grounds of deficiencies in anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism, the President said his office, as the President-in-Office, had unsuccessfully raised the matter with highest levels of the EU's hierarchy.

"However, despite the high-level intervention including by my Office, the list was adopted by the EU in May of 2020. I share the concern of affected OACPS that the unilateral approach adopted by the EU is against the spirit of the post Cotonou Partnership Agreement,” he said.

He added, "I have raised our concerns with high-level EU interlocutors in our meetings, including with the Presidents of the EU Council and Commission as well as the European Parliament.”

At the meeting also attended by the Deputy Speaker of Kenya's National Assembly Moses Cheboi, the President spoke about the measures OACPS was taking in the fight against Covid-19 saying, there was a need to convene a Heads of State and Government summit to discuss post pandemic recovery strategies.

"You may recall in June, 2020 during the Extraordinary Inter-Sessional Summit of OACPS Heads of State and Government, we deliberated on the effects and consequences of COVID-19 pandemic to the members and regions of the OACPS; and paid particular attention to identifying opportunities for global solidarity and action,” Uhuru said.

He said, "I note that there is need for a follow-up Summit whose focus should be on post-Covid-19 recovery strategy to tackle the effects of the pandemic and reposition our countries towards the path for sustainable socio-economic development," he said adding that, the follow-up Summit should aim at securing more Covid-19 vaccines for OACPS nations.”

The President rallied OACPS nations to continue advocating for multilateralism and solidarity despite the changing geopolitical realities fueled by new global challenges such as climate change and Covid-19.

Uhuru said the world is witnessing a new cycle of geopolitical realities, an emerging multi-polar world and global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, biodiversity loss and effects of climate change, which is an existential threat to OACPS members.

"Despite these challenges, however, we must continue being advocates for multilateralism, promoters of global solidarity and remain reliable, respected and engaging partners on the global scene," the President said.

Uhuru urged OACPS nations to participate in the Global Partnership for Education, an initiative through which Kenya and the United Kingdom seeks to raise USD 5 billion needed to support an estimated 1.3 billion children whose education was interrupted by Covid-19 to resume their schooling.

"In a bid to address these challenges, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is holding a 4th replenishment campaign, which aims to raise at least USD$ 5 Billion for the 2021-2025 cycle. The GPE is a multi-stakeholder funding platform that was established in 2002 to mobilize additional resources for education.

"The process will culminate in a High-Level Summit that will be co-hosted by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and I on 28 and 29 July 2021 in London," the President said.

Shortly after his address to the OACPS Committee of Ambassadors, the President who was accompanied by Cabinet Secretaries Raychelle Omamo (Foreign Affairs), Adan Mohammed (EAC) and Betty Maina (Trade), participated in a press briefing during which he fielded questions on an array of subjects.

On Tuesday morning, President Uhuru participated in a business forum convened by the Belgian Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (CBL-ACP) where he addressed investor concerns and highlighted the various reforms being undertaken by the Government to improve Kenya's business climate.

The President was joined at the business forum by a Kenyan business delegation that included Chairman of the East African Business Council Mr Nicholas Nesbitt, Chairperson of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance Ms Flora Mutahi and the President of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mr Richard Ngatia.

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