DEFENDER OF THE KENYAN REALM OR JUST A BUFFOON – YOU JUDGE
(Posted 22nd November 2013)
One participant of a planned workshop at the Sirikwa Hotel in Eldoret sent in his own version of events, which has made the way into the Kenyan mainstream media overnight as well.
At least three staff from the British High Commission in Nairobi, who had come to Eldoret, where they attended a meeting with local sports administrators over Kenya’s participation in the next Commonwealth Games were sent packing by an enraged county government official. Notably had Kenya’s President Kenyatta snubbed the just concluded Commonwealth Summit in Colombo / Sri Lanka, reportedly the first time that a Kenyan Head of State has not been present at such a summit since independence. This, together with a very public spat in the Kenyan media over the UK’s position on the pending ICC cases against both the President and the Deputy President, had clearly fueled the emotional fire yet more, already burning at high heat since the Brits were accused ahead of the March general election to have tried to unduly influence the outcome by taking a position against the UhuRuto team, which in the end won the general election and the two now serve as President and Deputy President of Kenya.
The Eldoret Deputy Governor of the local county government, one Daniel Chemno, was however accused by the source to have behaved like an uncultured buffoon, when he reportedly stormed into the meeting venue, accusing the three diplomats of breach of diplomatic protocol for not having paid their respects to the local governor, in itself a highly contentious matter as the new breed of governors, elected under the rules of the new constitution, had upon their swearing into office en masse demanded titles like ‘Your Excellency’ wanted to fly the Kenyan flag on their official vehicles and apportioned themselves trimmings of office similar to almost the President of the Republic. This latest incident will go a long way to lend credibility to suggestions that in particular this governor has overstepped his marks on issues of diplomatic protocol, and in the words of the source, who demanded strictest confidentiality – no wonder considering the controversial comments made – arguably will next demand that ‘these foreign diplomats should be accredited to our county governments also, which is absurd as they are accredited to our central government in Nairobi as it is required by international convention’.
From comments sources in local Kenyan media it became however soon apparent that there was nothing secretive about this meeting as the function had been openly booked, paid for and confirmed by the hotel and at least one British diplomat on the scene was quoted to have said that they had in fact tried to get in touch with the Governor himself but that calls and texts went unanswered. The source in Eldoret did not rule out that this was perhaps in hindsight done with the very purpose of creating such an incident as a form of revenge on the British for how their government in Westminster had handled matters surrounding the pending ICC cases, in both the UN Security Council last week as well as ahead of the ICC Meeting of State Parties which is ongoing now in the Hague.
This rather unprecedented incident shows how low the relations between former colonial power Britain, or rather their present government and Kenya have sunk and it will be interesting to see if more such incidents will take place in coming weeks or if the central government asserts their authority and lets accredited diplomats get on with their work. Watch this space.