The Star (Nairobi)

21 December 2013

Kenya: U.S. in Dilemma Over Jubilee Government and ICC Trials

AN advisory paper for the US Congress shows the country is in a dilemma about how to maintain a healthy relationship with Kenya.

The advisory paper by Lauren Ploch Blanchard, a specialist in African affairs, states that the March 4 election of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto "complicates the historically strong relationship between Kenya and the US."

The advisory is prepared by the Congressional Research Service that provides policy and legal analysis.

Blanchard said many other foreign governments are concerned about how to conduct diplomatic relations with a head of state and vice president who have been indicted by the ICC.

It said the dilemma would become more acute if Uhuru and Ruto stopped cooperating with the ICC.

"Additional restrictions by ICC member states on trade and aid might also apply, which could place the United States, which is not obligated by ICC policies, in an increasingly challenging position as a key donor to the country," the advisory states.

It says the Jubilee government continued the Kibaki regime's sensitivity to alleged interference by donors in the internal affairs of the country.

The advisory states that China is "increasingly investing" in Kenya where the US has "significant investment." Kenya hosts the largest US diplomatic mission in Africa.

"Terrorist threats, a high urban crime rate, and several high-profile kidnappings have damaged the tourism industry and foreign investment, which took years to recover from the 2007-2008 violence," it says.

The advisory states Kenya's capacity to respond to transnational threats "in ways that support US interests" may be challenged by demographic pressures, corruption, ethnic tensions and "possible shifts in the diplomatic relationship."

The advisory says Jubilee "represents a new generation of Kenyan leadership" committed to pro-market reforms, job creation, expansion of education, and commencement of major infrastructure projects.

"While many of these goals dovetail with US foreign aid priorities, Kenya's ability to fund them is uncertain, and ongoing security risks facing the country may deter anticipated investments," it says.

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