Uhuru adored abroad but vilified at home


Last Wednesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta was feted in New Delhi where he attended an Indo-African forum on trade and development.

As he was being dressed up in formal Indian regalia, opposition leader Raila Odinga was in Homa Bay, telling him to resign if he was unable fix the financial problems bedevilling the government, including shortage of money.

To get increasingly loved abroad while courting increased criticism at home has become a defining feature of Mr Kenyatta’s presidency.

This, perhaps, is the reason President Kenyatta has already clocked over 37 foreign trips, only two and half years in his leadership.

This is more travels than his predecessor Mwai Kibaki made between 2007 and 2013.

Kenya’s Permanent Secretary to the United Nations, Mr Macharia Kamau, explained that Kenya’s diplomats have had to work extra hard to create the popularity that President Kenyatta enjoys.

“What needs to be understood is that for development, in terms of investment and trade, to take root, the President has to attract the attention of the world. That is exactly what President Uhuru Kenyatta is doing, being sought after by leaders of the world,” he explained early this month in New York.

This was after UK Prime Minister David Cameron and his counterparts from Japan, Latvia, Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Mozambique, South Africa, St Kitts and Nevis, and Tanzania had lined up bilateral meetings with President Kenyatta on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.


Mr Kamau said reports from Kenya that the President was unlikely to travel to New York for the UN meeting, given the teacher crisis in Nairobi, were not believable because of the busy schedule that had been lined up.

Kenya’s diplomats, led by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, had an onerous task to perform following the election of President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, both charged with crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Western countries, led by the United States and UK, warned of serious consequences in case of their election, which meant President Kenyatta, while loved by supporters at home, was feared to become a pariah internationally.

But a combination of factors, including diplomatic campaigns, pressure by the AU and the misfortune of terror attacks worked to soften the hardline positions by the West to slowly accommodate the President in the international community.

The withdrawal of his case last December by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda contributed more to President Kenyatta’s accommodation on the international stage.

Apart from UK’s Mr Cameron, President Kenyatta has either hosted or met a host of leaders of the most powerful nations among them America’s President Barrack Obama.