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Transition of Uhuru’s Diplomats Paves Way for Ruto’s New Envoys
Transition of Uhuru’s Diplomats Paves Way for Ruto’s New Envoys
| May 14, 2024

Manoah Esipisu, former Kenyan State House spokesperson, assumed the role of High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in 2018. His tenure came to an end on May 13, 2024, upon completing his diplomatic assignment. However, during his time in London, he was unable to bring closure to the case of Agnes Wanjiru, a Kenyan national tragically murdered by British soldiers under the influence of cocaine. Photo: Handout

Kenyan diplomats stationed abroad are in the process of a transition following the departure of their appointing authority, former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Over 27 Kenyan diplomats have begun to wrap up their assignments to make room for the incoming envoys appointed by President William Ruto, who served as deputy to Uhuru from 2013 to 2022.

Envoys representing Kenya in nearly 66 countries and organisations, including the United Nations, have been undergoing reshuffling since President Ruto assumed office in September 2022.

The diplomats returning home had been serving for over a year before President Ruto appointed his own loyalists to take care of the country’s interests abroad.

Kenyan presidential administrations divvy up the list of ambassadorships, handing some to long-serving members of the State Department and others to people who supported the president’s election campaign, such as unpaid policy advisers or donors, some of whom may have no diplomatic or overseas experience.

These political appointees are often assigned to “comfortable countries” in Europe, Africa, Asia, and a few in North America.

Some could also be assigned as ambassadors to organizations like the UN.

High Commissioner to London

Catherine Kirumba Karemu, widow of the late former Nyeri Governor Wahome Gakuru, will take over the prestigious diplomatic post in London, succeeding seasoned communicator Manoah Esipisu, who was retained by President Ruto.

Esipisu, former State House spokesperson, was assigned to the United Kingdom in 2018 and served until May 13, when he stepped down.

During his tenure, coinciding with the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU), Esipisu achieved a milestone by negotiating a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and Kenya.

With the UK’s exit from the EU, direct engagement became imperative for nations seeking to engage in trade with Britain.

Esipisu’s efforts led to a trade agreement that facilitated the export of Kenyan products to the UK.

However, concerns linger over the unresolved murder case of Agnes Wanjiru, a Kenyan national brutally killed by British soldiers under the influence of cocaine in Nanyuki, Kenya, in 2012.

Wanjiru’s body was found in a hotel septic tank two months after her disappearance, sparking outrage.

The case gained widespread attention in the British media following the revelation of a leaked WhatsApp group chat involving soldiers from the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

The chat contained disturbing messages, including mocking memes related to murder, hotels, and septic tanks, allegedly shared by some of the soldiers implicated in Wanjiru’s murder.

Her family continues to seek justice, having filed a lawsuit against the Kenyan government last year.

Ambassador to the US

Upon his swearing-in, David Kiplagat Kerich, President Ruto’s appointee for Washington, will succeed Lazarus Amayo as Kenya’s ambassador to the US.

Amayo, a career diplomat, has been appointed as Kenya’s special envoy for the African Union’s Champion for Institutional Reforms.

Kerich, a former Baringo County Speaker, faced scrutiny during his confirmation hearing in April, with critics raising concerns and allegations of integrity issues.

He was at pains to explain how he will navigate his foreign assignment with integrity concerns and lack of diplomatic experience.

“You don’t have any diplomatic experience. You have not gotten any foreign relations experience, your knowledge of international relations is almost zero, you may be an accomplished lawyer but you are not a diplomat,” said Kamukunji MP and ranking member Yusuf Hassan.

Kerich however defended himself saying his qualification as a lawyer will be handy in handling his new assignment.

High Commissioner to Uganda

In Uganda, President Museveni bid farewell to Kenya’s outgoing High Commissioner, Maj. Gen. (Rtd) George Owinow, on May 11.

“Kenya and Uganda share a longstanding history. I wish him the best in his future endeavors,” Museveni shared on X platform.

Owinow’s final task will be overseeing preparations for Museveni’s state visit to Kenya on May 15, aiming to ease trade tensions, particularly concerning an oil import case.

Uganda previously accused Kenya of stalling its efforts to directly import fuel, leading to strained relations.

Uganda’s case against Kenya at the East African Court of Justice remains unresolved.

Owinow, a former Kenya Army officer has been manning the Kampala station since August 2022, and will be succeeded by former Kisii Deputy Governor, Joash Maangi.

Maangi, despite lingering integrity concerns, demonstrated a strong understanding of his duties as Kenya’s High Commissioner to Uganda.

He notably cited the African Department at the Foreign Office, where he received briefings on the complex dynamics of Kenyan-Ugandan relations, including the contentious Migingo island dispute.

Kenya’s Envoy to UN Geneva

Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Cleopa Mailu, has completed his tenure, retiring from his position.

Mailu, a former Health Minister during the Kenyatta administration, served as Nairobi’s envoy to various international organizations based in Geneva, Switzerland, including the United Nations and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

He will be replaced by Fancy Too, the “first Kalenjin lawyer with a PhD”, and was unaware of the name of the individual to whom she would present her credentials.

More to follow…

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