19-11-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo
There could not have been a more strategically important time for U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's first visit to Kenya.
During Ethiopia's dramatic internal situation, Nairobi's maritime disputes with Somalia that undermine the country's security with respect to terrorism, the approach of the 2022 national elections, the attack in Kampala last Tuesday claimed by the Islamic State and, last in order of time, the escape from the maximum security prison of Kamiti of three dangerous criminals also linked to Al Shabaab, Blinken's already scheduled trip to Kenya has turned the spotlight not only on the national spotlight on the issues of a nation that has always been very close to Washington.
Flanked by Kenyan Foreign Minister Rachelle Omamo, Gov. Biden's Secretary of State held a press conference after also meeting with representatives of civil society and talking with President Kenyatta, mostly to talk about the Ethiopian crisis, Kenyatta having just returned from Addis Ababa.
"We want to work with the Kenyan government and civil society to ensure that the rule of law and human rights are safeguarded even as legitimate security concerns are addressed," the U.S. secretary of state said during the joint press conference, "it is the best way to restore public confidence in institutions.
If security, transparency and human rights were the key topics, in light of the increasingly close collaborations between the two countries, sealed by the recent visit to the U.S. of President Kenyatta, on the other hand they also discussed the economy, corruption and institutional responsibilities, as well as climate challenges that affect poverty and consequently the restlessness of the people that can turn into riots.
In the joint press release, Blinken and Omamo talk about the "importance of environmental protection and commit to cooperate bilaterally and multilaterally in providing institutional support and building capacity for environmental conservation, climate change, food security, weather monitoring and implementation of multilateral environmental agreements."
Blinken also warned the Kenyan government not to repeat past mistakes that led to post-election violence in past years and called for the government, opposition and civil society to work together to ensure transparent and civil elections that reflect the will of the people."
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