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You must seek our clearance on election matters, diplomats told

ODM leader Raila Odinga met Ambassadors and Heads of Mission from the EU, US, and UN regarding programs for our nation on August 11, 2021.[Emmanuel Wanson,Standard]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked envoys to seek clearance if they want to be involved in the preparations for the forthcoming General Election.

In a letter to all diplomatic missions and international organisations, the ministry said it would engage the foreign entities when it felt it necessary, urging the missions to await such communication.

The ministry warned that previous experiences had shown interference by foreign missions in other nations’ internal affairs.

“Aware of Kenya’s own experience in matters of general elections, the Ministry wishes to affirm that it shares the serious concerns of many countries around such interference which globally undermines democracy and weakens trust among Nations,” says the letter.

Foreign entities interested in supporting preparations towards the elections were asked to use the “official diplomatic channels at the earliest opportunity in order to formalise such arrangements”.

As an effect, foreign entities have been barred from extending financial support that is to be used in preparing for next year’s elections.

“Kenya is however cognizant of recently orchestrated events and experiences meant to interfere and sometimes lead to skewed national election outcomes globally,” reads the letter dated July 12.

The Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) has protested the communique, terming it unnecessary. CMD Executive Director Franklin Mukwanja yesterday said the measures would “certainly contribute to reversals of democratic gains that Kenya has made in the last three decades”.

“The phenomenon is deeply concerning because the vibrancy of organised civil society has a direct bearing on the capacity of citizens to hold governments to account and to protect human rights in settings where the authorities turn too easily to repressive means,” said Mukwanja.

The CMD boss said restricting foreign funding would disadvantage vulnerable groups.

The ministry’s communication comes amidst a concerted push by foreign envoys to meet aspirants in the 2022 presidential election, the most recent being ODM leader Raila Odinga.

On Wednesday, Raila met nine diplomats from Europe and the US at the Nairobi residence of Danish Ambassador Ole Thonke, and reportedly assured them of cordial diplomatic ties.

The meeting came in the wake of similar high-level ones with other politicians, including Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, and Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi.

In the past six months, UK High Commissioner Jane Marriot has met National Assembly and Senate speakers Justin Muturi and Ken Lusaka, Chief Justice Martha Koome, former UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana. Some diplomats have also met Deputy President William Ruto. Last week, Ruto met South Africa’s High Commissioner to Kenya MJ Mahlagu at his official residence in Karen, and in May, he met Romanian Ambassador Julia Pataki.

This is not the first time Nairobi is warding off foreign nations from its internal affairs. A 2018 letter by former US ambassadors, Mark Bellamy and Johnnie Carson, calling for US intervention in Kenya earned the bashing of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A hard-hitting article titled, US intervention in Kenya? No thanks is pinned on the ministry’s website.

In the article, Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau blasts the two former ambassadors for harbouring preconceived notions and stereotypes about Africa.

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