One of the notable achievements of Uhuru Kenyatta’s nine-year term as president was that he strengthened Kenya’s foreign policy.
A year after his 2013 inauguration, his government document In which Kenya’s diplomatic relations and foreign relations were outlined. This was the first written foreign policy of the country after independence.
Its themes can be distilled into four objectives and practices: regional and continental cooperation; promote Kenya’s economic interests; revival of pan-Africanism; and an aggressive approach to foreign policy, including a plethora of high-level visits.
It was a really dynamic performance.
Yet, in my view, based on the country’s mixed results and foreign policy pitfalls, it is clear that the foreign policy of the Kenyatta government was not focused, coherent or effectively coordinated. As a result, it failed to strike a regional balance of power suited to Kenya’s interests.
And while the country became more visible globally and actively engaged in international affairs, the returns from this visibility have been disappointing – save for one. increased debt burden,
regional and continental cooperation
in 2014 Kenya Foreign Policy The document, Kenyatta reaffirmed that Kenya seeks to promote sub-regional and regional integration.
in that opening speech In 2013, he said his government would strengthen regional ties through the free movement of people, goods and investment. He underlined the importance of deepening ties with India east african community and Africa as a whole:
Fulfill the promise of freedom and liberation from our colonial past.
However, critics blame Kenyatta for using a pan-African approach to address the initial global isolation and non-receptivity that Kenya faced from traditional allies such as Britain and the US. This chill welcome from the UK and US elected Kenyatta as president despite facing election An International Criminal Court (ICC) case,
As a result, the President’s policy on global politics was withdrawn to operate through the continental body, the African Union.
In 2015, Kenyatta was elected president of African Peer Review Mechanism, It is a voluntary assessment and monitoring system that evaluates and advises African Union member states on their progress in achieving good governance.
In addition, Kenya was among the countries that contributed troops. African Union Mission in Somalia,
Despite all this activity, Kenyatta failed to effectively exert influence and drive regional integration to the benefit of Kenya.
A notable element in Kenya’s foreign policy under Kenyatta was the renaissance of pan-Africanism. In his first address at the African Union Summit in 2013, he Told,
Pan-Africanism has led to the Kenyan Renaissance.
The president said that he had received training on pan-Africanism from his father, Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president.
Arguably, this pan-African resurgence in Kenya’s foreign policy was driven by the existential threats of global sanctions that the regime faced. Nevertheless, Kenyatta’s election against the backdrop of affairs in The Hague turned Kenya into a symbol of resistance, which was perceived by the ICC as an unfair target of Africa.
Ugandan President Yoweri Musevenik during Kenyatta’s inauguration kenyan praised To reject Western neo-colonialism. This was in reference to a call from diplomats that Kenyans should not elect people with cases to answer in the ICC.
The African Union held an extraordinary summit that declared support For Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, who was also facing charges in The Hague.
Kenyatta’s foreign policy of economic prosperity was followed and achieved through a triple approach.
The first was through encouraging trade relations with traditional allies such as the UK, the US and some countries in Western Europe. The second was through the diversification of economic relations to include new markets as a “look east” policy.
The third was through an emphasis on intra-African trade. Kenya signed trade agreements with states that are not considered traditional allies, such as Nigeria and Ghana. Additionally, the country quickly signed African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement in March 2018.
But questions are being raised whether Kenya has Financial Capability To meet current and future economic obligations.
assertive foreign policy
Kenya hosted a wide range of high level international meetings. Topics ranged from climate change to business. Kenyatta also received high level delegation Reminiscent of the era of former President Daniel Moi, His guests included the Pope and leaders from India, Israel, the US, Britain, China and Japan.
From Africa, Kenyatta hosted leaders from Ghana, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and Rwanda, among many others.
By July 2022, a month after the election, which would end his term, Kenyatta had made 158 official trips abroad, In contrast, his predecessor Mwai Kibaki made just 33 foreign trips under 10 years of leadership.
The country’s foreign policy during Kenyatta’s second term, which began in 2017, was what I would describe as aggressive or outspoken. The country took advantage of any international opportunity that arose to make its mark.
In February 2022, Kenya addressed a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Its envoy to the United Nations, Martin Kimani, came out loud In defense of Ukraine. They said that Charter of the United Nations was fading because of the “relentless onslaught of the mighty”. Kimani compared the plight of Ukraine to the colonial legacy of Africa.
Kenya’s aggressive foreign policy direction earned Kenya a seat on the United Nations Security Council as a temporary member.
But this aggressive foreign policy also portrayed Kenya as a nation that “wants everything”. This earned it some opposition regionally. For example, states such as Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti and Tanzania did not vote for kenya In his bid to chair the African Union Commission.
Kenyatta should have streamlined its priorities and intensified its foreign objectives so that foreign affairs did not appear to be a “jack of all trades”. Many foreign interests were projected with little coordination; Some were completed.
In some cases, the goodwill of the country was ruined in pursuit of selfishness.
The post Kenyatta government needs to accelerate the achievement of the objectives of the East African Community. It needs to support the active participation of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in regional integration. The new Ruto regime should also maintain a non-disruptive relationship with Rwanda and Tanzania.
In the Horn of Africa, Kenya needs to make diplomatic efforts to reduce Ethiopia’s growing influence under the leadership of Intergovernmental Authority on Development,
Under Kenyatta, Kenya’s foreign policy practice within the African Union was more “lone ranger”. The Ruto regime would need to forge closer ties with regional powers such as Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa to make it easier for Kenya to advance its agenda in the African Union.
It will also need to renegotiate and re-examine its foreign debts. Kenya-China Agreement To re-arrange loan repayment.