AFRICANGLOBE – The United Kingdom and the Uhuru Kenyatta government appear to have finally struck a deal to work together again. President Kenyatta has agreed to attend the Somalia donor conference in London next week.
Uhuru finally met the British High Commissioner Christian Turner on Tuesday after keeping him waiting for over three weeks. Besides presenting a letter of congratulation from British Prime Minister David Cameron, Turner invited Uhuru to attend the Somalia conference.
Uhuru was angered by Turner’s statements before the March 4 election that the UK would only have “essential contacts” with him if he was elected president because he is an ICC indictee.
A senior Kenyan official indicated that the government had asked for Turner to be recalled to London “because the new government was not comfortable with him”.
Yesterday the British High Commission denied that London would be recalling Turner at some point as part of a backroom deal. “That’s completely untrue,” said British High Commission spokesman John Bradshaw yesterday.
Uhuru reportedly refused to meet Turner after his inauguration on April 9. The High Commissioner had wanted to deliver a congratulatory message from David Cameron.
The UK then made repeated unsuccessful attempts to secure an appointment with the President during April. The Tuesday meeting only took place after London intervened and made some concessions, according to the senior Kenya government official.
As a result, Uhuru agreed to travel to London next Tuesday to attend the one day Somali conference where 50 countries will be present.
“They dispatched a senior intelligence officer who met with his counterpart in Kenya to discuss the difficulties Turner was having in getting the appointment,” said a veteran politician.
“It was during the meeting that the official was informed that Uhuru would meet Turner on condition that London recalled him because the Uhuru administration does not want to work with him,” said the veteran politician.
The official then flew back to London and briefed Prime Minister Cameron and relevant ministers. The Kenya government now believes that a decision has been made to recall Turner, according to a senior official.
Yesterday, the British government announced that it had invited President Kenyatta to attend the Somalia conference on May 7. Turner invited Uhuru during a courtesy call to State House on Tuesday evening. He was accompanied John Murton, Deputy High Commissioner, and David Hall, Political Counsellor.
The High Commissioner told Uhuru that the UK recognises that Kenya plays a vital role in Somalia, having deployed 5,000 troops there and hosting 600,000 Somali refugees in Kenya.
Turner reiterated the UK’s commitment to continued cooperation with Kenya to stabilise Somalia. Before the election, the UK and Europe had said they would only deal with Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto on an “essential” basis if they were elected.
This will be Uhuru’s first trip to Europe, apart from travelling to the Hague, since he was charged with crimes against humanity by the ICC in December 2010.
His trial is due to start on July 9 although there is widespread speculation that it may delay because of the election and the alleged weakness of the witnesses against him.
Europe, the United States, and the United Nations had a policy of not meeting ICC indictees except on “essential” matters. The UN has now changed its policy to only restrict contacts with indictees who are not cooperating with the ICC.
The EU countries now appear to be broadening their definition of “essential.” In February, assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Johnny Carson warned of “consequences” depending on who was elected. Carson, 70 years, retired at the end of March, although he had announced his intention to retire in January.
Carson spoke just after Obama had said the US would support a democratic election in Kenya, which was interpreted by Jubilee to indicate an acceptance of their possible victory.
On April 5, the day after he requested a meeting, American ambassador Robert Godec met Uhuru to deliver a congratulatory message from President Obama,
During the campaigns, Jubilee accused Britain and the EU of supporting Cord leader Raila Odinga for the presidency. On February 11, Foreign Affairs minister Prof Sam Ongeri gave the EU ambassadors a verbal roasting for their alleged interference in the Kenyan election.
The United States and EU countries did not congratulate President Uhuru after the IEBC declared him winner of the presidential election on March 9.
They only congratulated him after the the Supreme Court confirmed his victory on March 30. Turner had to wait for over three weeks to meet Uhuru and deliver the UK’s congratulatory message from British PM David Cameron.