Tuesday, December 9, 2008



By Beauttah Omanga and Isaac Ongiri

A row is brewing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs following a move by some envoys to resist a move to recall them.

A source in the ministry said some of the 16 diplomats who have been recalled have refused to come back home, with some of them insisting they would not give up their stations as ordered.

Foreign Affairs minister Wetangula confirmed that 16 diplomats had been recalled after their tour of duty ended.

Wetangula said plans to replace them had started, adding that President Kibaki would soon name new envoys to take up their places. Following the power-sharing agreement, ODM has been staking claim in the appointment of envoys to achieve portfolio balance as envisaged in the peace accord.

A good number of current envoys were beneficiaries of the Narc regime when it took power in 2003.

"We have recalled over 10 envoys whose contracts have expired and this is to give an opportunity for other Kenyans to serve in the same position," Wetangula said.

He, however, denied that there were diplomats who had refused to come back home.

"If someone refused to come back home, and his term has expired, we would simply send another ambassador to that country," the minister said.

Wetangula also declined to name the diplomats that had been recalled. However, a senior ministry official told The Standard that the reluctant envoys were mainly those based in Europe.

"Some of the protesting envoys are claiming they had stepped down from seeking Parliamentary seats and did a lot in bringing the Narc government to power. The deal then was entered that they serve for at least eight years uninterrupted in their positions," said a source at the ministry.

He said the Government was now contemplating writing letters to host governments directing them to deal with mission officials to be appointed on acting capacities until the stand-off is sorted out.

Ambassadorial appointments have largely been used as a means of rewarding political allies at the expense of career diplomats.

Some of those recalled are said to have failed to meet the Government’s expectations while others have attained the retirement age.

Kenyan diplomats are normally awarded up to four-year contracts, which can be renewable at the pleasure of the appointing authority.

Assistant Minister Mr Richard Onyonka said some of the recalled diplomats would be redeployed since they are civil servants.

"There is no cause for alarm. By being recalled, it doesn’t mean they are likely to be sacked. The Government wants to reorganise the diplomatic missions," said the Assistant minister.

To date, Kenya has 51 fully-fledged missions with multiple accreditations. This brings Kenya’s diplomatic coverage to 100 countries.

The country also maintains eight multilateral missions, four of which are accredited to the United Nations Organisation and its agencies (New York, Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi); Rome is accredited to the Food and Agricultural Organisations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP); Brussels to European Union (EU); Addis Ababa to the African Union (AU) and Lusaka to the Common market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Ambassadorial appointments have largely been used to reward political allies. Some of those recalled are said to have failed to meet the Government’s expectations while others have attained the retirement age.