Mutua supports move to bypass Foreign Ministry in diplomatic engagements

Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Alfred Mutua has voiced his support for President William Ruto’s new foreign policy that allows other nations and their missions in Kenya to engage directly with ministries and state agencies, without going through his ministry.

Via a tweet, CS Mutua said the change will remove bureaucratic bottlenecks that hinder completion of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and other important negotiations with the diplomatic community.

“As CS for Foreign and Diaspora affairs, I have been bothered by many pending MOUs & lost opportunities due to traditional & mostly elitist based bureaucracy. After talks with the diplomatic community, I have issued the following notice for Chap Chap interactions. Mbele iko Sawa,” Mutua tweeted.

Mutua communicated the new policy through a memo dated March 2, 2023, which was addressed to all Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, Chief Administrative Secretaries and Heads of State Agencies.

Mutua said he was committed to enhancing Kenya’s foreign relations and promoting its interests abroad. He said he had already initiated several reforms in his ministry to improve service delivery and accountability.

The Trade ministry, led by Moses Kuria, is central to President Ruto’s bid to increase foreign investments in Kenya, which is expected to play an integral role in the latest arrangement. The change in policy has been interpreted by some experts as an attempt to clip the powers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) grants host states the prerogative to determine how to engage with foreign diplomats. However, the tradition has been that those engagements be done through the local foreign ministry.

The memo further states that a copy of the correspondence should still be shared with Mutua’s ministry, and missions should avail reports of their deliberations and decisions within three days of meeting.

If a foreign nation wants to engage more than one ministry at any one time, communication should go through Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

President Ruto’s foreign policy is said to be centered on economy, investments, and export of human capital.


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