‘A failure of Kenyan diplomacy’ to blame for Trump call snub

0
30

By BUSINESS DAILY: “A failure of Kenyan diplomacy” is to blame for President Donald Trump’s decision on Monday to place phone calls to the presidents of Nigeria and South Africa but not Kenya, a well-placed source in Washington tells the Business Daily.

 “Nigeria and South Africa have been working this for some time,” said the source who is knowledgeable about the Trump administration’s moves to formulate its Africa policy. “They’ve been in contact.”

“Kenya hasn’t done that,” the source added.

This Washington insider, who spoke to the Business Daily on condition of remaining anonymous, noted that Kenyan ambassador to US Robinson Njeru Githae had been away from the US capital city for some time. Foreign minister Amina Mohamed has been “preoccupied with her failed campaign” to become chair of the African Union Commission, the source added.

Mr Trump’s phone calls to President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa represented his first contacts with African heads of state in his capacity as US President.

Kenya should have realised, the source suggested, that “this president is not all that engaged on Africa, and that you need to take advantage of whatever opportunities do arise to engage him and the key people around him.”
With the administration still in its first month, Kenya does have time to recover from its diplomatic miscue, the source said.

Other Washington analysts contacted by the Business Daily offered a more forgiving view of Kenya’s exclusion from Mr Trump’s first set of calls to African leaders.

“I urge Kenyans not to take this as a slight,” said Witney Schneidman, a former Africa specialist at the State Department and currently a fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank. “South Africa and Nigeria being two largest economies on the continent have always had pride of place in US policy,” Mr Schneidman noted.

Monday’s phone calls should be seen as “an initial outreach to the continent and not necessarily reflective of the Trump administration’s Africa policy,” he added.

Mark Bellamy, a former US ambassador to Kenya, had a similar response to Mr Trump’s omission of President Kenyatta from his call list. “I would not attach too much importance to it,” he said.

Mr Trump’s Africa team is not yet in place, he noted. The president was likely urged by advisers to reach out to some prominent figures in Africa, “so he called the heads of the two largest states,” the US former envoy said.