Kenya’s embarrassing defeat in the historic African Union elections has lifted the lid on a simmering row among bossom buddies; President Uhuru Kenyatta, President Pierre Nkurunzizza and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.
As details emerge of the entire list of the new officials of the AU Commission, indicating how the East African Community badly lost in the Monday polls, Kenya is on a warpath with the EAC.
Highly placed diplomatic sources told the press that Uganda and Burundi did not actually vote for Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed despite their strong public denial.
“You see, it’s His Excellency [Museveni] who voted. It seems there are grudges and old scores to be settled and I’ll be frank with you, Uganda is relieved that Kenya lost”.
That’s how a top Ugandan diplomat summed up the Addis Ababa fiasco.
The backstabbing is shaping into a nasty diplomatic tiff with Amina terming EAC countries as “deceptive”.
“Are we seen as a friend or a threat?” Amina, who is facing a separate unprecedented onslaught from her PS Monica Juma, posed at a press conference with mainly Kenyan journalists.
For Burundi, the choice of a “somali” became unpalatable, with the country claiming Burundi soldiers have been butchered in Somalia by the Al-Shabaab.
Burundi sources claim Bujumbura believes top Kenyan-somalis within Uhuru regime, including Amina, are trading with the terror group, thus Kenya is keen to unnecessarily prolong the war in Somalia.
Amina lost to Chad’s Moussa Mahamat in the AU Commission chair contest dimming Kenya’s sheen as a regional powerhouse and unceremoniously ending a well-oiled diplomatic propaganda of Kenya being one of the “super-powers” of Africa’s geopolitics.
But in what appears as a tit-for-tat between President Museveni and President Uhuru, Uganda is said to have been yearning for a moment to revenge after Kenya failed to join her in lobbying for Specioza Wandira Kazibwe for the same position in July last year.
Uganda was the first EAC country to present its candidate for the AU top job.
However, the polls held in Kigali in July last year were deferred for six months after none of the candidates garnered the requisite two thirds majority votes.
Uganda then quietly withdrew the candidature of Kazibwe ––the first woman in Africa to hold the position of Vice President –– after Uhuru nominated Amina for the same job.
“Why did Kenya bring in Amina Mohamed when Specioza Kazibwe had already been put fourth by Uganda? Amina was Kenya’s candidate and not EAC, there was nothing binding. Is a Minister better than our own Vice President,” a top Ugandan diplomat told Kenya Today.
Kazibwe, a surgeon turned politician was Museveni’s second in command for a record nine years.
Uganda also cites what they call Kenyan “solitary nature”, specifically, the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.
The deal was initially to be signed by the entire EAC states but Kenya, afraid of import duty if it failed to meet the October 1, 2016 deadline rushed to secure its own deal.
Without the EPA, Kenya was the only one of the five EAC countries that was going to have to pay European import duties on flowers and other products.
The other four countries, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda were already exempt from European import duties as they were categorised as “least developed countries”.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) also questioned why Kenya should complain yet she did not support outgoing AUC Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the time of her nomination.
It is said Kenya supported Jean Ping of Gabon to secure a position for Kenya’s Erastus Mwencha who was elected Vice Chair.
Many Kenyans still question why Mwencha, Kenya’s seniormost diplomat at the AU, was never picked by Kenya.
With South Africa’s decision to pull out of the ICC, many kenyans had been made to believe that amounted to endorsing Kenya which had toyed with the idea of continental mass walkout from the ICC. But even this was not to be as Kenya the pullout from ICC took a backseat soon after President Uhuru and his Deputy ended their cases with the court.
Kenya, it is said, has always surprised other African countries by being the first to clear its financial dues to the Hague-based court
When he visited Kenya in October last year, South African President Jacob Zuma remained tight-lipped about his country’s commitment to back Amina despite a State House spin he had made the commitment.
At the AU, South Africa stuck with a fellow regional candidate, Botswana’s Venson-Moito.
Museveni was Uhuru’s foremost supporter as he fought off the ICC charges.
However, the camaraderie appear to have ended after Uganda disowned a deal to export its oil through Kenya and instead chose to do so via a pipeline through Tanzania.
This now means that Jubilee has lost all its regional allies.
Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli is a close friend of Opposition Chief Raila Odinga, a fact Jubilee insiders are uncomfortable with.
In public, Uganda has of course denied reports that it abandoned Amina.
“Uganda wishes to state categorically that our support to the candidature of Amina before and during elections was unequivocal,” Uganda’s foreign Affairs said
President Yoweri Museveni, the statement said, backed Amina because of the close bilateral ties Kampala shares with Nairobi.
“Uganda wishes to reassure the government and the people of Kenya, and Amina in particular, that we remain a reliable ally and partner given our warm and close relations and our commitment to the EAC integration,” the statement read.
But it has emerged that the Amira Elfadil of Sudan was the only official East African elected AUC official in the Monday elections.
Amira was elected Commissioner for Social Affairs.
Others are Chergi Ismail, Peace and Security from Algeria, Samate Cessouma, Political Affairs (Burkina-Faso), Abouzeid Amani, Infrastrucuture and Energy (Egypt) and Sacko Josefa of Angola.
Deputy AUC Chair went to Ghana’s Thomas Kwesi and the rotational AU chair was taken by Guinea’s Head of State Alpha Conde.
Burundi sources claim Bujumbura believes top Kenyan-somalis within Uhuru regime, including Amina, are trading with the terror group (Al–Shabaab), thus Kenya is keen to unnecessarily prolong the war in Somalia to benefit a small clique of individuals both in Somalia and Kenya to the detriment of many in the East African region.