Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party presidential candidate Raila Odinga yesterday met European Union envoys and promised to strengthen Kenyan ties with their countries should he win in the August 9 General Election.
Mr Odinga met over 15 ambassadors and high commissioners as he looks to enhance his foreign contacts ahead of August elections.
“Kenya is the gateway to Africa. Our relations with the global community impact our region. My administration will enhance and deepen mutually beneficial ties to benefit our people. We had an insightful meeting with ambassadors drawn from EU member states,” Mr Odinga said on his social media handles.
Some of the countries represented in the meeting were France, Germany, Finland, Greece, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Belgium, Spain, Czech Republic, Sweden, Ireland, Netherlands, Romania and Slovania.
Mr Odinga was accompanied by his running mate Martha Karua, and 2013 presidential candidate Peter Kenneth.
Currently serving as the Africa Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, Mr Odinga has packaged his candidature in the August polls as one of reforms, with his presidential campaign spokesperson Makau Mutua also insisting he will deepen diplomatic ties and foreign relations.
The meeting with the envoys came after Mr Odinga met religious leaders drawn from the 47 counties in Kiambu County.
The meeting with the religious leaders, which was also attended by Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, is said to have been focused on peaceful campaigns ahead of the August polls.
Mr Odinga asked the church leaders to join hands to fight bad leadership.
“I have been saying that I want to take Kenya to Canaan. That is what we say in our anthem that ‘plenty be found within our borders’,” Mr Odinga said.
Ms Karua told the religious leaders: “We respect the work of the clergy and the Church. You have a big role of shepherding Kenyans on the right track.”
Mr Odinga dismissed criticism from Deputy President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance over his running mate pick.
“They are here saying I have chosen a woman, and laughing it off. Haven’t they been born by women? And Martha Karua is an accomplished pro-reforms leader who stood on the right side of history when many could not,” Mr Odinga said.
Mr Odinga’s main challenger, Dr Ruto, had on Wednesday last week met Aline Kuster-Ménager, the French Ambassador to Kenya, at his official residence in Karen, Nairobi.
“We agreed to broaden our cooperation to ensure that resources are available to SMEs to boost their access to affordable credit,” the DP said. In February, the DP also met members of the European Business Council Kenya and explained to them what his government will do to create a conducive environment for doing business if he is elected to succeed President Kenyatta.
“The recalibration of our business environment will democratise opportunities to actualise our country’s huge entrepreneurship potential. Kenya Kwanza will establish a just, supportive and affirmative regulatory regime that will facilitate businesses to comply and thrive,” said Dr Ruto. The meeting, he said, was a meet-the-candidate platform with members drawn from 17 European countries.
The DP was, in September 2020, hosted by 13 European Union ambassadors at the residence of Mr Simon Mordue, the EU ambassador to Kenya.
“Delighted to have hosted Deputy President @WilliamsRuto at a meeting today of EU ambassadors. Enjoyed the lively and open exchange of views on the Big4Agenda, and Kenya’s development and political future,” tweeted Mr Mordue after the September 2020 meeting.
Dr Hassan Khannenje, the director of the Horn International Institute for Strategic Studies in Nairobi, argues that the beehive of activities being witnessed between presidential aspirants and the diplomatic corps is meant to build confidence and self-image.
“Interaction with the international community is important in building confidence that those countries’ investments in Kenya are going to remain safe and secure and when the international community does not have confidence in a candidate, it might be challenging once they assume power in terms of working relationship,” Dr Khannenje said in an earlier interview.