Monday, June 24, 2013
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.