Was Ruto left out of Kerry visit over ICC case?

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DEPUTY President William Ruto is the only top government official and
political leader in this country who was excluded from meeting with US
Secretary of State John Kerry.

Ruto, according to diplomatic
sources, is also unlikely to meet US President Barack Obama when he
visits the the homeland of his late father, due to the crimes against
humanity charges facing him at the International Criminal Court.

On Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta met the top US diplomat at State House, Nairobi – without Ruto.

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Previously
the Deputy President has been with the President at most such high
level meetings, including visits of presidents and prime ministers.

Instead,
President Kenyatta was accompanied to the meeting with Kerry by, among
others, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, Foreign Affairs CS
Amina Mohamed, Defence CS Raychelle Omamo and Attorney General Githu
Muigai.

Also present was Civil Service chief Joseph Kinyua.

While
the President met Kerry on Monday, Ruto was at the Intercontinental
Hotel, Nairobi, officiating a World Press Freedom Day event.

He
was later in the afternoon driven to Kiambu county, where he presided
over the laying of the foundation stone for the Safaricom M-Pesa
Foundation in Thika.

“The DP did not meet Kerry. That is a fact.
Whether it’s linked to his case at the International Criminal Court, I
cannot tell,” a source familiar with the details told the Star.

Ironically, it was the DP who received former US President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea on Friday last week at JKIA.

Yesterday
Ruto’s spokesman David Mugonyi confirmed that Ruto did not meet Kerry,
but dismissed speculation that this was due to the “essential contacts”
policy of the US government hinted at in diplomatic circles in 2013 when
both the President and the DP were newly in office and had cases at the
ICC.

President Kenyatta’s ICC case was terminated in December 2014.

Mugonyi
maintained that Kerry and his boss were not scheduled to meet anyway,
adding that Ruto had to represent the President at the Press Freedom Day
event, where Uhuru himself was initially scheduled to officiate.

“There is nothing like essential contacts here,” he told the Star yesterday.

“Was
it not the DP who received former US President Clinton last week? The
US ambassador has also been to the DP’s office,” Mugonyi said.

Ahead
of Kenya’s 2013 presidential election, the Western world powers sent
out strong signals against electing two suspects who faced trial in real
time at the ICC and warned it would have “consequences” for the country
internationally.

“Choices have consequences,” the then US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson said.

Ruto’s ICC case continues, with the last prosecution witness expected to take the stand on May 26.

The
ICC factor is likely to place Ruto in a more awkward position with
Obama’s planned visit in late July. Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary
Karanja Kibicho did not answer our calls when we phoned for an official
perspective on the protocol implications.

After meeting the
President on Monday, Kerry was driven in a convoy of cars to the Serena
Hotel, where he met the opposition chiefs, led by Raila Odinga.

Flanking Raila were former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula.

On
Tuesday, Kerry met a number of civil society organization operatives,
including activist Boniface Mwangi, who is loathed by the Jubilee
administration for his frequent spectacular anti-government protests.

Kerry later left for Mogadishu, Somalia, becoming the first incumbent US Secretary of State to visit the strife-torn country.

– the-star.co.ke

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