Ruto to meet with neig*bours after diplomatic tiffs

Thursday, January 18th, 2024 05:43 | By
President Willliam Ruto with his Tanzanian counterpart Samia Suluhu during a past meeting in Kampala, Uganda. PHOTO/Print
President Willliam Ruto with his Tanzanian counterpart Samia Suluhu during a past meeting in Kampala, Uganda. PHOTO/Print

President William Ruto will today come face to face with regional leaders in Kampala, Uganda, in the wake of deteriorating relations with the neighbouring countries in recent months.

Ruto will be in the neighbouring country to attend the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) Heads of States’ meeting to discuss the conflict between Addis Ababa and Mogadishu over Ethiopia’s recognition of Somaliland as a sovereign state.

During his two-day visit, he will also attend the 19th Non-Aligned Movement Summit (NAM) that started on Monday.

Ruto will come face to face with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, Somalia’s Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Tanzania’s Samia Suluhu and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi or their representatives.

Diplomatic spats

The meetings come at a time Nairobi has been caught in diplomatic spats with Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Sudan, DRC and Somalia over one reason or the other.

The Igad meeting will discuss the conflict between Addis Ababa and Somalia.

Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Musalia Mudavadi who is in Kampala confirmed that Ruto will grace the meeting of heads of states tomorrow.

“President William Ruto is expected to join the summit at the Heads of State and government level on Friday,” said Mudavadi in a statement released by his communications team.

Ruto who has been using senior government officials such as Mudavadi to calm diplomatic storms ignited by the actions of his administration, will meet his counterparts who have accused his government of unfair play in trading matters regionally.

For instance, he will meet Museveni over the botched oil deal that saw Kampala sue Nairobi at the Arusha based East African Court of Justice.

East African Community and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary Peninah Malonza last week confirmed the plans for high-level talks between Ruto and Museveni.

She said the purpose of the meeting is for the two leaders to diplomatically iron out the tiffs and thaw relations.

“There is a scheduled meeting between the two presidents to discuss the impasse and Kenya will also seek to explain her position during the next East Africa Community Heads of States Summit,” said Malonza.

The NAM summit is held every few years, usually in a different continent. The last meeting was held in Baku, Azerbaijan last year. Igad has organised a meeting in Kampala tomorrow in a bid to solve the diplomatic war between Addis Ababa and Mogadishu over a deal that makes Ethiopia recognise Somaliland as a sovereign state.

However, the Kampala meeting might not achieve its purpose following boycotts from Ethiopia and Sudan respectively.

Sudan has suspended its involvement in mediation efforts. Igad had offered to mediate between the heads of the Sudanese army and the Rapid Forces (RSF), including hosting a meeting – to which both men had agreed.

Regional group

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that dealings with Igad were suspended after the regional group added Sudan to the agenda of a meeting scheduled for 18 January in Kampala, Uganda, and invited RSF leader, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, to attend.

Hemedti recently emerged from months under cover to visit several African countries such as Kenya and meet Sudanese pro-democracy political figures, a move that saw Khartoum recall its Nairobi ambassador.
Kenya Kwanza administration has brewed numerous diplomatic tiffs with neighbouring countries raising concerns over Ruto’s foreign policy and engagement with its foremost neighbours.

Mudavadi was on Monday evening forced to reach out to Tanzania for swift resolution of a diplomatic dispute over Dar es Salaam’s ban of passenger flights between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam before rescinding the decision.

“We have jointly agreed that our respective civil aviation authorities will work together to have the matter resolved amicably within the next three days. There should therefore be no cause for alarm,” said Mudavadi after discussions with his Tanzanian counterpart January Makamba.

In its recent diplomatic spat with DRC, Kenya was forced to “strongly disassociate” itself from a Congolese opposition figures who forged an alliance with rebels in Nairobi, spurring a diplomatic row with Kinshasa.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would investigate the political-military alliance after the DRC recalled its ambassador in protest.

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