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Uganda: President Kenyatta Comes to Uganda

Monday, June 24, 2013

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Uhuru Kenyatta makes his first trip to Uganda as Kenyan president tomorrow, almost three months after his election.

Kenyatta will be here on a three-day official visit, which political observers think is meant to strengthen ties with Uganda and President Museveni in particular, who has emerged as the strongest champion of the bid to have the Kenyan leader avoid a trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Kenyatta may be leading a more economically prosperous country like Kenya, but he needs an experienced ally like President Museveni to support him in dealing with the ICC where his trial is now scheduled for November 12, having been moved from July 9. Kenyatta is accused of orchestrating the violence that killed about 1,200 people and left more than 500,000 homeless after the disputed 2007 elections.

His deputy, William Ruto, who was on the opposite political side in those elections, is also indicted over similar charges and is due for trial in September. Speaking to The Observer at the weekend, Ofwono Opondo, the Executive Director of the Uganda Media Centre, said he had no idea what the two leaders would discuss.

Kenyatta was elected president in March, beating then Prime Minister Raila Odinga by 50.07% to 43.28%. In April, at the inauguration ceremony of the new leadership, Museveni lashed out at the ICC, saying it had been "grabbed by a bunch of self-seekers and shallow-minded people whose interest is to [exact] revenge on those who hold opposing views."

He thanked the people of Kenya for rejecting what he called western blackmail by insisting on voting for the indicted duo despite some foreign leaders threatening dire consequences for such a move. At the African Union conference in Addis Ababa recently, Museveni warned the ICC not to detain Kenyatta when he goes to The Hague over the matter.

"They should give us an explanation if he is going to come back to Kenya because the information we are receiving is different. We will not agree to have him attend if the intention is to detain him. If we don't have a clear picture of the plans by the International Criminal Court, then it means our relations with them will be soured. They should treat us with dignity," he said.

Besides the ICC, the two leaders are expected to discuss economic ties between Uganda and Kenya, including matters of the East African Community to which both are members. Uganda is Kenya's biggest trade partner in the region.

Another issue expected on the agenda is regional security, with both countries having soldiers on African Union duty in Somalia. President Museveni is also expected to repeat the request he made at the swearing-in ceremony, that Kenya should reign in the Pokot, whose cattle-raiding incursions into Uganda's Karamoja sub-region are a source of insecurity in the area.

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