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President William Ruto appoints Uhuru Kenyatta as envoy to Ethiopia, Great Lakes region

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) handed power to his former DP William Ruto at Kasarani, Nairobi. [PSCU]

The newly sworn-in president William Ruto has appointed his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta as his peace envoy for the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa, which will make the former president continue chairing regional peace interventions on behalf of the Government of Kenya.

“I have committed that the government of Kenya will support those initiatives that will be chaired by President Kenyatta and I want to thank you Excellency for graciously agreeing to support us and help me in those interventions,” President Ruto said.

The announcement was made by Ruto when delivering his inauguration maiden speech as the President at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi, soon after Uhuru handed over the instruments of power to him.

President Ruto acknowledged his predecessors’ efforts and diplomacy toward the promotion of peace, security and stability in the region, vowing to fully support his peace intervention endeavours.

 He further noted that Kenya will continue to be a dedicated partner to peace, security and prosperity in the East African region, while still playing a critical role in international diplomacy at the bilateral and multilateral levels.

 Under the administration of the former President, Kenya moderated various peace initiatives in the region including chairing the African Union Peace and Security Council- the standing decision-making organ of the continental body for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa.

 Kenya has been representing Africa at the United Nations Security Council since January 2021 for one year and will be succeeded by Mozambique for the year 2023.

 Having been able to speak on behalf of Africa to come up with reform policies that favour the African continent, Kenya assumed the presidency of the global security organ in the month of October 2021.

Ethiopia-Tigray conflict

 Kenyatta’s appointment comes a day after Tigrayan forces agreed to negotiate with Addis Ababa under the auspices of the African Union.

 The rebels have been expressing confidence in Kenya as the chosen host of peace talks with Ethiopia with the former Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta playing a lead role.

 Asked about Tigray agreeing to an AU-led peace process and where this decision leaves Kenyatta- Getachew Reda, Advisor to the President of Tigray and one of the key negotiators named by the rebel forces told the Standard that ‘’he will probably be playing a role in the process’’.

 President Kenyatta has been hailed for his sustained, principled, impartial, inclusive and discreet efforts to broker peace and negotiations with a view to a comprehensive resolution to the Ethiopia-Tigray crisis.

 He has been pushing the neutralist don’t rock the boat policy with the rest of East Africa, especially on issues of peace and security in the region and perhaps this explains why there were more peace meetings held in Nairobi during Uhuru’s presidency than in any other EAC capital, hence complimenting his peace diplomacy policy.

 The former President leaves a considerable legacy on his foreign policy.

Regional and Security analyst Sylvanus Wekesa argues that President Kenyatta having had a successful foreign policy drive boosted by his amiable and charming personality, endeared himself to his peers in the region.

 ‘’His initial attempts to mediate the Tigray conflict earned him trust from both the Abiy government and TPLF. Therefore, it is prudent that President Ruto has granted him the mandate to continue with what he started,’’ Said Wekesa

Wekesa maintains that as a former chairperson of the East African Community, Uhuru possesses a great institutional memory and having brought the regional leaders together to come up with a regional force to fight negative forces in Eastern Congo, the neighbouring heads trusted him to take the lead.

 DRC Mediator role

 Uhuru has been instrumental in trying to broker a long-lasting peace deal between the Kinshasa-led government and the rebels who operate in the mineral-rich eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 The former leader previously hosted regional leaders’ conclave meetings in Nairobi to discuss the deteriorating security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and pushed on the formation and implementation of the regional standby force.

 As he neared exiting the stage, the East African Community Heads of state handed Uhuru a mediator role in the DRC in July this year during the EAC summit in Arusha, Tanzania.

 Uhuru, though retired now remains an influential figure in the region and certainly, the idea of President Ruto having him continue with what he started when he was President places him way ahead.