NAIROBI – President Uhuru Kenyatta will on Wednesday head to Botswana after the two-day SADC meeting in South Africa beginning today, Monday. The official state visit is on the invitation of President Khama Ian Khama of Botswana.
It is a big boost to a president who early in March had been warned by Khama of failure to attend his trials at the Hague, a diplomatic spat which made Botswana’s foreign minister to ‘apologize’ and clarify that his country would only have issues with the Kenyan president if they don’t honour the ICC.
â€œIf he refuses to go (to The Hague), then we have a problem. That means that they do not know the rule of law. You canâ€™t establish a court and refuse to go when it calls you. If he refuses, he wonâ€™t set foot here,â€ Â foreign minister Skelemani had said in March. (READ: Khama Ian Khama: President who wants Uhuru, Bashir and other African Despots tried at the Hague)
Unlike Uhuru’s usual allies Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia, his new bet on Botswana, a staunch pro-western country and supporter of the International Criminal Court, will definitely boost his chances at fighting off a longer deferral of his case than the current commencement date of February.
The invitation to Botswana also comes at a time the Kenyan delegation to the United Nations Security Council failed miserably, with Foreign secretary Amina Mohammed not being able to convince the 15 member body to invoke article 16 of the Rome Statute to defer the case against President Kenyatta.
Already, the veto welding USA, France and Britain have all indicated they may not support the pull-out bid, leaving Russia and China as the only members sympathetic to the Kenyan case.
President Khama is a diplomatic ace in the global stage. It is instructive to note that Botswana recently supported Uhuru’s postponement of trial after the Westgate terror attack.
The Wednesday meeting, according to observers following the relations between the two countries, may see Botswana, the only country which openly opposed the AU bid to halt Uhuru case, rejoin her other continental states.
According to sources in Gaborone, the meeting by the two leaders will be on ‘bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest’.