Botswana: Why Kenya, Botswana Interests Converged

| July 2, 2016

In 2013, Botswana had no time for Kenya, especially after the contested election of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto who were facing charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In fact, Mr Phandu Skelemani, the minister of Foreign Affairs of Botswana, one of the few countries that supported The Hague-based court, was categorical that his country would not allow the Kenyan leaders to visit the Southern African country if they refused to co-operate with the ICC.

"If he (Mr Kenyatta) refuses to go (to The Hague), then we have a problem. That means that they do not know the rule of law. You can't establish a court and refuse to go when it calls you. If he refuses, he won't set foot here," the minister said, though the statement would later be retracted.

Three years after the Kenyan elections, President Kenyatta made a three-day State visit to Botswana last week where he was hosted by President Ian Khama.

It was a big leap to reset the perceived diplomatic differences, largely linked to the ICC cases which have since ended at The Hague-based court. Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amina Mohammed, however, told the Sunday Nation the tension created by the ICC cases had long been dealt with.

"We had overcome that hurdle at the last AU (African Union) Summit and also at the last Assembly of State Parties(ASP) of the ICC when Botswana changed its position. In fact at the ASP, all African States came together," said Ms Mohammed.

Besides discussions on reviewing the regulations that limit business and employment opportunities, the Sunday Nation has learnt that the impending election of top officials at the African Union Commission (AUC) could also have converged the interests of the two countries. The commission is the secretariat that runs the continental body.

The 27th Assembly of Heads of State and Government is scheduled for July 10 to 18 in Kigali, Rwanda.

Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa will not be seeking re-election. As a result, Botswana has proposed Mrs Pelonomi Moitoi, 65, to succeed her.


Mrs Moitoi is running against former Ugandan Vice President Specioza Wandira Kazibwe 60, and Equatorial Guinea's Mr Agapito Mba Mokuy, 51.

The commission's deputy chairperson Erastus Mwencha of Kenya is also not eligible for re-election having served eight years.

Instead, Kenya is supporting outgoing Intergovernmental Authority on Development Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim for the high-profile position of AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy. The current commissioner, Egyptian Elham Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim, who was first elected in January 2008, will not be eligible for re-election.

(READ: President Kenyatta wraps up his visit to Botswana)

Ms Mohammed, however, denied that the upcoming AU elections were ever discussed at the bilateral meeting though "for us Botswana is a natural partner."

"The bilateral meeting had nothing to do with the elections. Of course we have our own domestic agenda just like Botswana and incidentally this was the most convenient time for both the Heads of State to meet," the Cabinet Secretary said.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Monica Juma also disputed reports of a deal between Kenya and Botswana on the elections.

"There was no deal. As you probably know, the election process includes many consultations. These are on-going at various levels and will continue into Kigali," the PS said.

The secretariat has eight commissioners who are elected by the Executive Council (Foreign ministers) and appointed by the Heads of State and Government at the AU Assembly.

Under Article 6 of the Commission Statutes, the region from which the chairperson and deputy chairperson are appointed is entitled to one commissioner each.

Source: The Nation


Category: Technology

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