Ministry of Foreign Affairs Warns Envoys over County Contacts

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AminaDiplomats have been instructed by the government to make any appointments with county and parliamentary officials through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ministry sent the ‘note verbale’ on July 1 to embassies, UN offices and international organisations.

The note advised them that “appointments with officials of country governments and parliamentary officials shall be processed through appropriate diplomatic channels of the ministry.”

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The ministry said that it was “committed to ensure effective coordination of such appointments and to support the authorities of the country governments to better interact with diplomatic missions.”

Although the note appears to be targeted mainly at preventing county governmentslinking up with donors directly, it could also stop diplomats from meeting MPs and other officials without government permission.

The letter to diplomats said that it was following the Vienna Convention that “all correspondence and coordination with the host government at various levels shall be undertaken through the ministry in charge of foreign affairs.”

The note said it was a “reminder” to earlier notes on June 12 and 13y. Article 27 of the Vienna Convention says “the receiving state shall permit and protect free communication on the part of the mission for all official purposes.”

However Article 41 says official business “shall be conducted with or through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” Diplomats based in Kenya appear divided over the issue. It is not yet clear whether a private meeting with a governor or MP should be interpreted as “free communication” or as “official business.”

“Personally I am not against it but several of my colleagues are quite upset. They feel it is too controlling but we don’t know yet how strictly it will be enforced,” said one EU ambassador yesterday. “Some embassies are reading too much into this,” said another EU ambassador.

“The ministry only reminded us of a standing practice which many embassiesseemed to have forgotten. It’s fair for a new government to remind us and the governors who are new in the system,” the diplomat added.

– The Star

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