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Seven Kenyan ambassadors snubbed by host nations

Seth Onyango @SethManex

In what could turn out to be a stinging indictment of the vetting process of State officers, the fate of seven recently appointed Kenyan diplomats is in limbo because host countries have kept their accreditation in abeyance.

Though the government has been trying behind the scenes to resolve the unprecedented diplomatic development on the postings, it would appear Russia, Turkey, Austria, China, Malaysia, Namibia and Qatar have rejected the new envoys.

And six months after being vetted by Parliament and consequently appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the seven; Ndegwa Muhoro (Malaysia), Hassan Wario (Austria), Benjamin Langat (Namibia), Johnson Kimani Ondieki (Turkey), Richard Ekai (Russia), Sarah Serem (China) and Paddy Ahenda (Qatar) have yet to report to their foreign duty stations.   

Other appointments said to have run into the rare diplomatic headwinds include that of  ambassador to the European Union (EU) Phyllis Kandie, who was later replaced by former Cabinet colleague Prof Jacob Kaimenyi.

Contacted for comment, Foreign Affairs Cabinet secretary Monica Juma, who is out of the country on official duties, referred us to her Principal secretary Dr Kamau Macharia. But his office asked us to talk to the Political Desk Foreign Affairs (PDF) and by the time of going to press, we had yet to get a response despite promise to call us back.

A source attributed their plight to their previous assignments in government and questions on personal issues.  During diplomatic posting, the sending state (Kenya) has to inform receiving state of change of ambassador which is followed by providing details known as the Agreem`e to the state.

It is, however, up to the receiving state to accredit them or outrightly reject them — either with or without documented reasons.

Although it is rare, countries usually reject ambassadors because of their own intelligence agency’s advisory and often would employ delaying tactics until the sending country reads between the lines and appoints a replacement.

And for Muhoro, his former position as Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), might have worked against his appointment as ambassador to Malaysia.

According to a source that sought anonymity, the Malaysian government has blocked his appointment citing his alleged blighted record during his tenure at Mazingira House, the DCI headquarters.

During his vetting process by the National Assembly, Muhoro whose first appointment to Israel as an envoy did not materialise, was confronted with allegations of spate of extra-judicial killings and unsolved high-profile murders during his tenure.

It is on that premise that sources revealed to People Daily, the Malaysian government under the new tough Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad blocked the former sleuth’s ambassadorial job.

While appearing before the National Assembly’s Defence and Foreign Relations Committee, Muhoro faced intense scrutiny over his record as the country’s top criminal investigator.  In a memorandum to Parliament, outspoken lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi asked the committee not to approve Muhoro’s nomination, citing alleged threats to his (Ahmednasir’s) life.

Corruption scandals

And in a continued onslaught on Muhoro in April 2017, the lawyer sensationally accused him of planning to kill him, alleging that the ex-DCI boss had assembled a team of five police officers to kill him, among them an individual he identified only as Kamau, who was to lead the execution of the plot.

Muhoro, however, denied the claims even as Abdullahi called on the Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet to form an independent team of officers, excluding the DCI to probe his claims.

Former Sports CS Wario’s appointment may have run into trouble after he was charged together with Olympics legend Kipchoge Keino over the Sh55 million Rio Olympic graft scandal.

His Principal secretary Ekai was also implicated in the same scandal with their cases still pending before the High Court.

It is, however, not clear why former Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) chair Serem has not been accredited.   

She was posted to China but has yet to report to her mission because delays in accreditation, with the populous Asian nation remaining mum on the matter.It is the same case for Ondiek, Ahenda and Langat who are still in the country despite Parliament approving their appointment.

Ondieki, a former commander of the UN’s 12,500 troops in South Sudan exited under controversial circumstances.

It has, however, emerged that  the Foreign Affairs ministry has made spirited attempts to have Langat and Ahenda accredited by Namibia and Qatar respectively. The determination is said to be premised on the presumption the two are not tainted by any known scandals. 

But a source that sought anonymity told People Daily that the government may concede on those implicated in corruption and other social misgivings.

“You don’t appear in court over corruption like Wario and you expect to serve as if nothing happened…the government can’t allow someone with tainted image to represent Kenya,” said the source.

The ground could be murkier for Muhoro who had reportedly been rejected by Israel even before President Uhuru appointed him.

Adbullahi had alleged that he got the information about the plot from a trusted senior police officer attached to the DCI, who “revealed” that Muhoro had planned to end the lawyer’s life.

“I left the country on Friday, March 24 (2017), to attend a Commonwealth lawyers’ conference in Australia, then travelled to Sydney, where I stayed for three days until March 30,” said Abdullahi.

He said he later travelled to Dubai and returned to Kenya on April 2, a day before the call from the senior police officer leaking the information.

“My contact warned me to take the information very seriously,” the lawyer claimed.

But Muhoro took a swipe at the lawyer, revealing that he was under investigation for fraud and forgery.

In his unprecedented shake-up, President Uhuru edged-out long-serving Muhoro at the helm of DCI,   replacing him with George Kinoti.

As CID boss, he was unable to crack the murders of controversial businessman Jacob Juma, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ICT director Chris Musando and Bunty Shah, the only son of  Bobmill Mattresses owner. 

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