President Uhuru Kenyatta (has a familiar ring to it, don't it?) lowered the boom on those who were looking forward to an easy ICC prosecution: international relations are based on mutual respect and reciprocity. Obviously, it is easy to presume that this means he will not be co-operating any further with the International Criminal Court. I don't think so. The case against both him and the Deputy President is already collapsing. More significantly, the African Union, the East African Community and other "well-wishers" are already mistrustful of the ICC given its record over the recent past. The fact that the United States, whose waning hegemony must surely chafe, has refused to ratify the Rome Statute reduces its moral authority when it comes to matters dealing with "international crimes". (So too its continued coddling of the Jewish State of Israel as it continues to massacre Palestinians, the crimes committed by its forces and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its continued dysfunctional relationship with the Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Jordan.)
Not since the ascension of Daniel Toroitich arap Moi to the seat of power has Kenya had a dynamic youthful president being sworn (he was fifty-four when he took power). In the twenty-first century, it would have been anachronistic to take on a geriatric for Commander-in Chief. But in Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, Kenya embarks on a journey whose outcome, while shrouded in the mists of time, looks bright regardless the stain of an ICC indictment or impending trial. Their manifesto details the things they will attempt to accomplish in the diplomatic realm. With his declaration that diplomacy will be based on mutual respect ad reciprocity, President Kenyatta is announcing that Kenya will react according to the respect it is accorded and whether the other party reciprocates or not. Diplomacy is not a one-way street where Kenya gives in time and again while the other party just smiles all the way to the bank.
He links his diplomatic agenda to the security and stability of the East Africa region, including in the Horn of Africa, and commits Kenya's diplomatic and other resources to the continued efforts to stabilize Somalia. The President realises that our home economy is under threat whenever there is instability in Somalia's territorial waters in the Indian Ocean and off the Gulf of Aden. Shipping is crucial to the cost of doing business, and cost of imports, and a stable Somalia reduces the costs of both.
The assurances of the Common Market of East and Central Africa and the East African Community as well as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development that they will stand shoulder to shoulder with Kenya in its diplomatic and trade efforts means that we are beginning with goodwill in plenty. What remains to be seen is whether Parliament will play its proper role in advancing the interests of the country while keeping a beady eye on how the government goes about its affairs. In its oversight role, Parliament should not behave like a flower-girl. Nor should it become an undisciplined policeman by constantly taking the Executive to task for every little infraction it imagines has occurred. To advance Kenya's interests, Parliament must ensure that whatever international agreements Kenya intends to enter into are vetted and subjected to the scrutiny required to protect not just our sovereignty, but our interests, especially in world trade.
We await the President's inaugural address to a joint session of Parliament on the in seven days. How he manages his relationship with Parliament will determine the success or failure of his agenda. A clue as to how the relationship will work will be given by the process of vetting and appointing Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and diplomats. If there's even a hint of dysfunction in the relationship, all bets are off.