Saturday, July 13, 2013
Kenya’s foreign policy will be geared towards enhancing relations with other African nations.
President Kenyatta on Friday said the most
important part of foreign relations for his government is to develop the
“economic diplomacy” with regional partners as well as expand trade in
“My priority is to see deepening of relations with
our East African Community partners and also with our neighbours in
Ethiopia and South Sudan where I see our potential as a country. It will
be a key area of focus for my government," he said.
Speaking to the editors in Nairobi, Mr Kenyatta
said Kenya was neither leaning towards East nor West but was focused on
conducting relations that would benefit the country.
“What you are seeing is also part of our own strategy and programme because we also have our own priorities as a government.
“There are areas that we want to focus our
attention and you will see us play up those areas much more than maybe
even some of the traditional partners you used to see previous
governments dealing with.”
Kenya has been seen as lukewarm to the West and as warming up to China and other Far East countries.
For instance, last week at the US Independence
celebrations, senior government officials skipped the event at the US
embassy. This was interpreted in some quarters as a power shift.
On Friday, Mr Kenyatta insisted there has been no breakdown of relations with any country, just a shift in concerns.
“You may be seeing the cooling of relations, but
we are not cooling to anybody in anyway, our priorities are different
and our focus is about what will help us deliver our agenda.”
Since he came to power in April, Mr Kenyatta has
toured seven African nations including all East African Community member
states. The President also been to the UK where he attended a
conference on Somalia.
His argument is that he wants to see Kenya trade
more with African countries because that is “where the potential lies”
in expanding intra-Africa trade, and integration.
Despite the open door policy to Africa, Mr Kenyatta argues it is not meant to admit those with ill intentions.
“You will be seeing a more robust stand as regards
foreign policy. We are welcoming them. But those who are coming to
destroy our society and children will not be allowed.”
Last month, 11 Kenyans were detained in Nigeria
for 24 days after deporting controversial Nigerian Anthony Chinedu.
Nigerian authorities claimed the plane had flouted security rules.
Mr Kenyatta said it was Mr Chinedu who lied to Nigerian authorities that Kenya had illegally deported him.
“We had solid reasoning behind deporting that
individual and whether they held the plane for one year, two years or
three years, we were not going to bring him back here.”
“We have nothing against Nigerian and Nigerians. They are great people. They have great business people and we welcome them.”