Video: Uhuru Kenyatta to Britain, You will not intimidate us

Video: Uhuru Kenyatta to Britain, You will not intimidate us
Video: Uhuru Kenyatta to Britain, You will not intimidate us

Video: Uhuru Kenyatta to Britain, You will not intimidate us
Nairobi’s diplomatic relations with London took a turn for the worse yesterday when President Uhuru Kenyatta launched a broadside against Britain, accusing Kenya’s former colonisers of insincerity.

In a rather blunt and brusque manner, Uhuru said Kenya has cooperated in every aspect required by the “faded world power” but instead of reciprocating, they hit the country’s economy hard by issuing travel advisories. He said the reasons given by London last week when it issued new travel advisory to Kenya were untrue. Britain has complained that Kenya rarely shares information on terror with her, a claim Uhuru dismissed.

“Ni nyinyi mwende muulize hao watu wa UK. Muulize hao makaburu (it’s you to ask the British) how Kenya is unsafe. Wamejaa hapa. Maaskari wao wako hapa, wanatrain hapa (so many of their citizens, including soldiers under training, are in Kenya). Every afternoon wanacheza golf huko Windsor halafu wanaenda wanasimama huko wanasema (they play golf here then go back home to say) Kenya is unsafe…

We are tired kupiga magoti mbele yao (of kneeling before them),” he said in response to a question from a journalist. The President accused Britain of playing double standards since they did not issue travel advisories to France after it was hit by terrorists three months ago.

“I have not heard them issue any travel advisory against other European countries which are facing terrorism,” he said, adding that they will not intimidate Kenya. “If they do not want their taxi drivers to come, Obama is coming.” The President, who was speaking at the Diaspora Investment Conference in Nairobi, said Kenya has played her role in fighting terrorism, including sending troops to Somalia.

“The whole world is today under terrorist threat and we must all join and mount a common defence. We have played our role,” he said. Britain last week issued an extended travel advisory asking her citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Kenya and for those in Kenya, keep off several areas including Mombasa.

The latest spat comes in the wake of differences between Kenya and Britain over renewal of an agreement on training of British troops at the British Army Training Unit, Kenya (BATUK), which operates from Kahawa Barracks and has bases in Archers’ Post and Laikipia county.

The defence cooperation agreement expires this month and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond recently held talks with senior Kenyan officials including President Uhuru but no deal was reached. About 10,000 troops train in Kenya annually but Uhuru is unhappy over the travel advisories, which have affected the tourism sector especially at the Coast, leading to massive job losses and closure of hotels.

Kenya Coast Tourist Association chair Mohamed Hersi says some 25 hotels have been shut down in the coastal towns, adding that more are set to close down after the Easter holiday because of the latest advisories.  “The historic ties between Britain and Kenya go way back and we expect far better treatment when it comes to such matters.

Let us not sugar-coat the impact of non-essential travel. It is nothing short of economic embargo and it is devastating,” Hersi was quoted as saying.  Tourism is a major foreign exchange earner for the country. Before the advisories, more than 200,000 British tourists would visit Kenya, bringing in nearly Sh100 billion in revenue.

Kenya’s reluctance to renew the agreement is said to be as a result of previous complaints over abuse of locals, including raping and defilement of women and girls, practising on communal grazing lands instead of designated areas and a clause providing immunity for British soldiers, among others.

However, relations between Kenya and Britain began deteriorating in 2003 when retired President Kibaki embraced a ‘Look-East’ policy shunning the West and instead awarding major contracts to China and Japan firms. The Jubilee administration adopted a similar approach on coming to power in 2013 against the backdrop of opposition to the candidature of Uhuru and William Ruto on account of their cases at the ICC.

Uhuru’s case has since been dropped. While British High Commissioner Christian Turner initially said they will only maintain “essential contacts” with the duo if elected, they like the US made a turnaround after the polls. Uhuru later received an invitation to attend a conference on Somalia in London.

However, Kenya’s ties with the East have continued to strengthen, with Uhuru insisting that while the country will maintain relations with traditional partners, it has the right to seek new partners for her economic prosperity and Kenya’s foreign policy will be guided by the principle of equality and reciprocity. Recently, he visited Japan.

He also made state visits to Russia and China in the early months of his presidency. Meanwhile, Uhuru said the war on corruption—both real and perceived—will be sustained, assuring there will not be let-up. “Unless we tackle corruption convincingly, we won’t achieve our national aspirations. We will tackle it.”

The President warned Kenyans not to ethnicise or politicise the anti-graft campaign. “Corruption affects everyone, either from Jubilee or from any other side.” He said there would be no sacred cows in the war against corruption. “If people are proved to be innocent, I will welcome them (back). If they are guilty shauri yao (let them carry own cross) ,” he said.

“It is not me to adjudge people innocent or guilty. There are judges and prosecutors for that (purpose) but in the meantime people must step aside.” The President took issue with the Opposition, which has criticised his push to clean up the government.

“They (Opposition) were saying the President is doing nothing. And when action is taken they say we should have waited for investigators to do their work! This is an issue that has bothered us for long and we must win.”


Video: Uhuru Kenyatta to Britain, You will not intimidate us

Comment on the article

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More