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TITLE: THE KENYAN FOREIGN POLICY 1963-2007: THE CHANGING NATURE

AND ITS DIPLOMATIC IMPLICATIONS

Submitted to:

Department of Philosophy, History and Religion

Egerton University

P.O. Box 536 – 20115 Egerton

E-Mail: kinunaf@yahoo.com

Cell: +254 720 836179

Attn: Dr. Felistus K. Kinyanjui

Submitted by:

Patrick Leo Kamau Magero, MA.1

Department of History and Archaeology

University of Nairobi

P.O. Box 30197

Nairobi

E-Mail: kamauleo@yahoo.com

kamauleo@amaniafrika.org

Cell Phone: (+254) 724 517 238

1
Patrick Leo Kamau Magero a PhD Candidate at the Department of History and Archaeology, University
of Nairobi for Doctoral Studies and Senior Programme Officer Research at the Africa Peace Forum,
Nairobi.

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THE KENYAN FOREIGN POLICY 1963-2007: THE CHANGING NATURE AND

ITS DIPLOMATIC IMPLICATIONS

INTRODUCTION

Foreign policy is the strategy undertaken by a state or used by the government to

guide its actions in the international arena. Foreign policy spells out the objectives state

leaders have chosen to pursue in a given relationship or situation and the general means

by which state leaders intend to pursue those objectives. It is the whole set of decisions

and actions of a state in the external domain with an aim to secure national interest. Daily

decisions made by various arms of the government that are involved in international

relations are guided by the goal of implementing foreign policy.

Kenya received her independence in 1963 taking rights, privileges and obligation

in the international political system under international law. The inherited system of

governance from the colonial authorities exhibited some gaps in the response to the

national interest of an independent Kenya in the international arena. The change of

regime from Kenyatta to Moi and now to Kibaki has had significant gap effect on the

international relations and diplomacy. Therefore, the three regimes demonstrate their

different approach to the Kenyan foreign policy with implications to international

relations and diplomacy.

Kenyan foreign policy lacked consistent direction in the absence of a

recognizable and written foreign policy document. It is until the Kibaki regime that

Kenya has made an attempt to have a foreign policy document. This challenges the

attempt made by Kenya to respond to its national interest in the international arena. This

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paper presents the historicity of Kenyan foreign policy and its implication in the

realization of its national interest in the globalized and yet globalizing world.

FOREIGN POLICY IN PERSPECTIVE

The role of a state as a significant actor in both the national and the international

arena is enormous. This role continues to be complicated with time by the ever changing

environment, both at local and international level. The increasing complexity in the role

of the state especially in international relations requires the adoption of a rational and

functional foreign policy.

States establish various organizational structures and functional relationships to

create and carry out foreign policies. While the government through its agents seeks to

achieve certain foreign policy objectives, there are other constrains that emanate from the

internal and international arena.2 The constraining factor on the government’s pursuit of

its foreign policy objectives calls for the development of a functional and rational foreign

policy, which takes account of the internal and external challenges.

There are three major debates or models on the foreign policy decisions. 3 First,

the rational model of decision making holds that, officials choose actions whose

consequences best help to meet the state’s established goals and objectives. Secondly, the

organizational process model holds that, foreign policy decisions emanate from routine

administrative procedures the state. Thirdly, the governments bargaining or bureaucratic

politics model holds that foreign policy decisions are as a result of the negotiation among

2
C. Mclelland, Theory and the International System, (New York: Macmillan, 1966).
3
J. S. Goldstein, International Relations, 4th Ed., (New York: Longman, 2001), p. 194. See also, D. K.
Orwa, “Continuity and Change: Kenya’s Foreign Policy from Kenyatta to Moi” in W. O. Oyugi, ed.,
Politics and Administration in East Africa, (Nairobi: Konrad Adeneur Foundation, 1992) p. 298.

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government agencies with different interests in the outcome. While the three propositions

or models are identifiable in foreign policy decision making, it is hard to find a

government that uses a single model. Most of the governments make use of two or three

models at the same time.

Foreign policy decisions are influenced by actions of the individual decision

making leaders who are in turn influenced by other factors like their personalities, values,

and beliefs ad interests.4 The Psychology of groups also plays a role in foreign policy

decisions. The struggle between professional bureaucrats and politicians are evident in

determining the direction of foreign policy.5 Public opinion especially in democratic

states influences government’s foreign policy decisions. Since many factors influence the

government’s decisions on foreign policy, a government should adopt a foreign policy

that is functional and rational. Functional and rational foreign policy will be able to take

into account all the relevant actors’ interests and at the same time, reduce chances of the

government’s foreign policy creating friction in the international relations and the

domestic arena.

Foreign policy is essentially a reflection of a state’s quest for national identity and

cohesion.6 Foreign policy emanates and presents national interest. This implies that

foreign policy is the projection of a state’s domestic policy beyond its territorial

boundaries. Therefore, foreign policy defines goals, sets precedents, and puts down

course of action, and actions taken to implement those actions.7 This can be long range or

4
Research Proposal on Understanding Obstacles to Peace in the Great Lakes Region: Actors, Interests and
Strategies, submitted by The Concern for Development Initiatives in Africa (forDIA) Submitted to Peace
Conflict and Development initiative International Development Research Centre Eastern and Southern
Africa Regional Office. p. 8.
5
M. Mwagiru, “The Elusive Quest: Conflict, Diplomacy, and Foreign Policy in Kenya” in P. G. Okoth and
B. A. Ogot (Eds), Conflict in Contemporary Africa, (Nairobi: Jomo Kenyatta Foundation, 2000), p. 181.
6
J. W. Spanier, World Politics in an Age of Revolution, (London: Pall Mall Press, 1967), p. 249.
7
K. J. Holsti, International Politics: A Framework for Analysis, 2nd ed. (New Jersey: Prantice-Hall, 1972).

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short range depending on the state’s particular interest.8 All states seek to succeed in the

conduct of its foreign policy.

KENYAN FOREIGN POLICY

Kenya received her independence in 1963 taking rights, privileges and obligation

in the international political system under international law. Kenya inherited its system of

governance from the colonial authorities. The inherited system of governance exhibited

some gaps in the response to the national interest of an independent Kenya which were

reflected in Kenyan foreign policy. During the first period (Kentatta’s regime), the

country’s foreign policy was guided with the unfolding events particularly facing

territorial integrity and Cold War polarization9.

Kenyatta’s regime demonstrates anti-communist sentiment during Kenyatta’s

regime. During this period defense took a centre stage and was base on a (non) policy of

wait and see. During this time, Kenya was faced with secessionist movements and other

countries’ expansionist policies. The 1961 claim for the Northern Frontier District (NFD)

now North Eastern Province by the Somalis on the basis of historical, cultural and racial

reasons persisted to post-independence. The claim by Uganda on part of the Rift Valley

based on historical linkages was boiling underneath but in 1976 President Idi Amin made

an explicit claim of that territory. Tanzania could have claimed the Maasai territory in

Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia had border disputes with Kenya. On Cold War polarization,

Kenya accepted all foreign aid from Western countries and never severed its diplomatic

relations with Western countries during Kenyatta’s regime. However, during that time
8
J. N. Rosenau, “Pre-Theories and Theories of Foreign Policy” in R. B. Farrell (ed), Approaches to
Comparative and International Politics, (Evanston IL: Northwestern University press, 1966), pp. 32-49.
9
Orwa, “Continuity and Change: Kenya’s Foreign Policy from Kenyatta to Moi” in W. O. Oyugi, ed.,
Politics and Administration in East Africa, op. cit., p. 307.

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Kenya had strained relationship with the Eastern bloc. Kenya rejected foreign aid from

the Soviet Union in 1966, it also developed strained diplomatic relations the People’s

Republic of China in 1966 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Economic adventure together with the pursuance of open market economy

influenced Kenya’s foreign policy during Kenyatta’s regime. Although there were some

industries that produced goods for export most of the exports ended up in Eastern Africa

with minimal returns to make Kenya economically prosperous. Kenya mostly relied on

export of primary products especially coffee and tea whose returns were diminishing with

time. Kenya ended up in economic dependency whereby, it sought to attract foreign

investment and financial assistance without commitment.

While during Kenyatta’s regime the country was struggling to set up its road map

in governance and international relations. Kenya did not construct a clear direction of its

foreign policy. This does not mean that Kenya did not have a foreign policy. However, its

foreign policy was scattered in the independence declarations, KANU manifesto of 1961

and 1963, statement of the president and seasonal papers. Kenya did not craft a rational

and recognizable foreign policy statements or document. Therefore, during Kenyatta’s

regime the country’s foreign policy was in ambiguous motion. The management of

foreign policy and diplomatic service did not stand on a clearly defined principle

statement but was reactionary to unfolding events.

Without a clearly written and recognizable foreign policy, management of the

foreign policy is incapacitated making Kenyan foreign policy to be casually handled. For

example, during the President Kenyatta’s regime, the Kenyan foreign policy was

reactionary in nature to the events in the international system. During this time, Kenya as

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a new state was struggling with principles of international law and locked in the Cold

War divide did not embark on an aggressive foreign policy.10 In this situation Kenya

adopted both realism within Eastern Africa and idealism with the rest of the world in its

foreign policy approach.11 The unfolding events in the world and within Kenya shaped

the country’s foreign policy. Kenya under Kenyatta reacted to events that were unfolding.

In this approach Kenya did not have a shaped foreign policy with a direction. Instead the

(non)foreign policy that existed is that of “wait and see”. Foreign policy under this

regime was personalized and centered on the president.

The change of regime from Kenyatta to Moi and now to Kibaki has had

significant effect on international relations and diplomacy. The three regimes demonstrate

their different approach to foreign policy and implicitly had different national interests.

This is because all along Kenyan foreign policy was personalized lacking a consistent

direction in the absence of a recognizable and written foreign policy document. Orwa

notes that “It is normal to expect that a regime change in a developing country such as

Kenya should mean a significant shift in policy, especially foreign Policy.”12

President Moi’s regime was characterized by the foreign policy of conflict

management. This was a significant step to shape the direction of Kenyan foreign policy.

However, this policy of conflict management was not consistent at certain points

particularly in the 1990s it declined. The reason given for the declining Kenyan foreign

policy of conflict management is the transcendence of similar diplomacies particularly

10
S. O. Kwasa, “Training of Kenyan Diplomats Since 1962” in D. Kappeler (ed), Training Third World
Diplomats, (Geneva: Graduate Institute of International Studies, 1990), pp. 117-124.
11
D. K. Orwa, “Continuity and Change: Kenya’s Foreign Policy from Kenyatta to Moi” in W. O. Oyugi,
ed., Politics and Administration in East Africa, op cit., p. 300.
12
D. K. Orwa, “Continuity and Change: Kenya’s Foreign Policy from Kenyatta to Moi” in W. O. Oyugi,
ed., Politics and Administration in East Africa, op cit., p. 297.

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that of South Africa.13 Kenya lacked an aggressive approach within a proper framework

of conflict management.

During Moi’s regime attempted to exert itself as a heavyweight in diplomacy in

the African region and particularly in the Horn of Africa and the East Africa sub-region

by attempting to resolve internationalized conflicts in the region.14 This was demonstrated

by its attempt to manage the Uganda conflict that was between Tito Okello’s government

and Yoweli Museveni’s rebel group in 1985.15 The same can be seen in the Kenya’s

management of the Mozambique conflict that was between Frelimo government and

Renamo rebel group in 1989.16 Other recent attempts can be seen in the Sudan and

Somalia IGAD peace processes in which Kenya took a leading role.17

Kenya was deeply involved in the IGAD’s peace process on Somalia without

having formulated a consistent foreign policy for Somalia.18 Although this helped in the

management of the Somalia conflict by making Kenya an acceptable mediator, Kenya

found itself forced by situations at one point or another to side either with Ethiopia or

Djibouti which already had a clear foreign policy on Somalia.

The change of government in 2002 raised a significant challenge to Kenyan

foreign policy. The exit of Moi from office negatively affected Kenyan foreign policy.
13
M. Mwagiru, “Issues, Problem, and Prospects in Managing the Diplomatic Services in Small States” in
Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, Vol. 30: 1, winter 2006. pp. 197-198.
14
M. Mwagiru, The International Management of Internal Conflict in Africa: The Uganda Mediation, 1985,
(Phd Dessertation, Rutherford College, University Of Kent at Canterbury, 1994), pp. 280-282.
15
M. Mwagiru, Conflict: Theory, Processes and Institutions of Management, (Nairobi: Watermark, 2000),
p. 159.
16
B. Posthumus, “Mozambique: An End to An Imported War” In M. Mekenkamp, P. Van De Veen (Eds),
Searching for Peace in Africa: An Overview of Conflict Prevention and Management Activities, (Utrecht:
European Platform For Conflict Prevention And Transformation, 1999), p. 416.
17
See O. Kamudhayi, “The Somali Peace Process” in M. Mwagiru (Ed.) African Regional Security in the
Age of Globalization, (Nairobi: Heinrich Boll Foundation, 2004), pp. 107-123. , See also O. I Gamal, The
Challenges of Sub-Regional Organization in Managing Conflict: IGAD Mediation on the Sudan Conflict
(1993-2004), (Diploma Dissertation Submitted to the Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies,
University of Nairobi, 2006).
18
O. Kamudhayi, “The Somali Peace Process” in M. Mwagiru (Ed.) African Regional Security in the Age
of Globalization, op. cit., p. 118.

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Having set a foot in conflict management, Moi knew how to go about the mediation

process. His departure and the entry of NARC government into office with different

vision for Kenya did not take a lot of attention to conflict management. Therefore, during

the initial periods of Kibaki’s regime the IGAD peace process on Somalia went on

recess.19 The Moi regime was more interested in creating Pax Nairobiana and president

Moi’s attempt to assert himself as a regional peace broker20 by hosting peace processes in

the region. The Kibaki regime is more interested in economic recovery with less attention

to conflict management.

The weakening of the Kenyan foreign policy can also be demonstrated in the

management of the Zaire (now Congo DRC) conflict. While Kenya took the first and

leading role to call the heads of states to discus the Zaire crisis in Nairobi, Kenya did not

sustain that initiative.21 The whole process was hijacked by South Africa. Another critical

issue in the Zaire conflict is that Kenya under Moi changed its long policy of recognition

of states to recognition of the government of Mobutu. The Kenyan government curved

out a mediating role in the initial stages of the peace initiative that led to the signing of

the General Peace Agreement on the conflict in Mozambique. Although Kenya did this

with considerable success, where the first direct talks between Frelimo and Renamo were

held in Nairobi in August 1989, Kenyan influence in that peace initiative soon declined.22

Kenya has also been accused of having inconsistence in its foreign policy in apartheid

19
Ibid., pp. 107-123.
20
See M. Mwagiru, The International Management of Internal Conflict in Africa: The Uganda Mediation,
1985, op. cit., pp. 280-282.
21
M. Mwagiru, Conflict: Theory, Processes and Institutions of Management, op. cit., p. 159.
22
B. Posthumus, “Mozambique: An End to an Imported War” in M. Mekenkamp, P. Van De Veen (Eds),
Searching for Peace in Africa: An Overview of Conflict Prevention and Management Activities, op. cit., p.
416.

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South Africa.23 These illustrations demonstrate weakening and declining foreign policy in

Kenya.

While Kenya has developed and pursued its foreign policy since independence, it

did not have a recognizable and written foreign policy. Lack of a foreign policy document

in Kenya evoked a debate on whether to have a written foreign policy document or have a

‘wait and see’ approach to foreign policy.24 While the approach of ‘wait and see’ has

been employed in the past, it can not be projected to continue in the near future as

international relations and diplomacy continue to grow and become complex. In East

Africa, Tanzania pioneered an attempt to draft a foreign policy document. 25 Later, Kenya

followed suit in drafting a foreign policy document.

From independence to the late 1970s, Kenya did not have a long term strategic

vision on its conduct of foreign policy. It embraced ‘wait and see’ approach in its conduct

of foreign policy. This was an ad hoc way in which the Kenyan foreign policy was

conducted. Therefore, the foreign policy was conducted in a reactionary way to bilateral

and multilateral international relations without shaping a consistent and coherent

operational setting.26 Such an approach is a short sighted one and cannot be projected to

continue in the future.

In the 1980s, Kenyan foreign policy under Moi’s regime took a different

direction. Kenyan foreign policy centered on conflict management instead of being

reactionary to the unfolding circumstances and events of the international system as was

23
C. M. Katumanga, The Politics of Foreign Policy Executive: Consistencies and Inconsistencies in
Kenya’s Foreign Policy Towards South Africa 1978-1992, (MA Thesis Submitted to the Department of
Government, University of Nairobi, 1995).
24
M. Mwagiru, “Issues, Problem, and Prospects in Managing the Diplomatic Services in Small States” in
Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, op. cit., pp. 196-198.
25
United Republic of Tanzania, New Foreign Policy, (Dar-es Salaam: Government Printer, 2001).
26
K. Orwa, “Continuity and Change: Kenya’s Foreign Policy from Kenyatta to Moi” in W. O. Oyugi, (Ed),
Politics and Administration in East Africa, (Nairobi: Knorad Adneur Foundation, 1992), pp. 359-394.

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the case in Kenyatta’s regime. Realizing that Kenyan national interest in the region

seemed remote in the presence of many protracted and dysfunctional conflicts in the

Great Lakes, Horn of Africa and the East Africa conflict systems in which Kenya is part,27

Kenya sought to address its interest by managing conflicts in these conflict systems. The

conflict management attempts by Kenya in the 1980s also went down to the South

African conflict system as observed in the 1989 management initiative on the conflict in

Mozambique.28 Kenya’s engagement in the management of conflicts in Africa was based

on an attempt to secure outcomes that would serve Kenya’s contemporary and future

interests better.29 In making Kenya appear in the diplomatic map, the period of 1980s

served in bringing Kenya into picture and this period can be referred to as, the golden

period of Kenya’s diplomacy of conflict management.30

While this foreign policy and diplomacy of conflict management took centre stage

although not consistently sustained in the 1980s, it declined during the 1990s. The

declining trend in the 1990s was occasioned by the emerging regional actor with similar

diplomacies like Ethiopia and Djibouti and South Africa after the end of the Cold War.

This can be demonstrated in the management of the Mozambique in 1989 where Kenya

led to initiate the process but soon found its influence declining in the whole process

which led to the signing of the General Peace agreement in 1992. Another declining trend

can be found in the case of the then Zaire (now Congo DRC) conflict in which the

27
M. Mwagiru, Conflict: Theory, Processes and Institutions of Management, op. Cit., pp. 76-85.
28
B. Posthumus, “Mozambique: An End to An Imported War” in M. Mekenkamp, P. Van De Veen (Eds),
Searching for Peace in Africa: An Overview of Conflict Prevention and Management Activities, Op. Cit.,
Pp. 413-421.
29
M. Mwagiru, “Issues, Problems and Prospects in Managing the Diplomatic Service in Small States” in
The Fletcher Forum Of World Affairs, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Winter, 2006), P. 197.
30
M. Mwagiru, “Issues, Problems and Prospects in Managing the Diplomatic Service in Small States” in
The Fletcher Forum Of World Affairs, op. cit., pp. 197-198. see also, M. Mwagiru, “The Elusive Quest:
Conflict, Diplomacy, and Foreign Policy in Kenya” in P. G. Okoth and B. A. Ogot (Eds), Conflict in
Contemporary Africa, op. cit., pp177-189.

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Kenyan government summoned the heads of states to discuss the ways and

methodologies of resolving the Zaire conflict. The declining role is demonstrated in the

fact that Kenya took the first and leading role to manage the Zaire conflict, but the whole

process was soon hijacked by South Africa. Although it has been argued that the

management of Zaire crisis by Kenya did not take place in an institutional framework, it

reflects the declining role of Kenya’s foreign policy and diplomacy of conflict

management. In the years of 1990s Kenya seemed to suffer from the end of the ‘golden

period’ of the foreign policy and diplomacy of conflict management.

With the declining role of Kenyan foreign policy and diplomacy of conflict

management in the 1990s, Kenya started to revitalize its foreign policy of conflict

management. This can be seen in the management of the Sudan conflict from about 1995

and Somalia conflict from 2000. Although Kenya took a leading role in the management

of these conflicts, it did so under an institutional framework contrary to that of Uganda in

1985, Mozambique in 1989 and the then Zaire in 1996. Even though the management of

the Sudan and Somalia conflicts was not strictly a Kenyan affair, Kenya played a

significant role by hosting and providing the chief mediators. With the conclusion of the

IGAD mediation on the Sudan and Somalia conflicts and subsequent signing of peace

accords, Kenya received significant credit in its diplomacy of conflict management

although the same credit also went to IGAD and friends of IGAD, and IGAD and

neighboring states for the Sudan and Somalia peace processes respectively.

The involvement of Kenya in the management of the Sudan and Somalia conflicts

were based on ad hoc arrangement on which personalities played a significant role than a

clear direction on the Kenyan foreign policy. This lack of consistent direction of foreign

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policy was for example demonstrated in the pressure Kenya received to replace Mboya

and Mwangale as the chairs of the peace processes in the Sudan and Somalia conflicts

respectively to which Kenya yielded.31 Particularly the replacement of Mwangale with

Kiplagat did not arguer well to the Somali leaders during the peace process. The Somali

leaders needed a mediator who had easy access to the corridors of power and Kenyan

state house.32 On the other hand, the replacement process which was not systematic

complicated the Somalia peace process during the start of Kiplagat’s tenure.

In the 1980’s onward centered on conflict management, its foreign policy was in a

state of ambiguous motion since independence. This incapacitates the management and

direction of the Kenyan foreign policy.

Foreign interference also took a center stage during Mois regime. While

Kenyatta’s regime had close tie with western countries in terms of economic and

diplomatic relations, Moi’s regime especially since 1988 had strained relationship with

Western countries for what Moi saw as foreign meddling of internal affairs.33 During

Moi’s regime diplomatic relationship with Eastern bloc improved including the 1980 visit

of President Moi to China and subsequent signing of economic and cultural agreements.

This marks a significant turn in foreign policy and diplomacy. During Kenyatta’s regime,

it was unimaginable severing diplomatic relations with the Western countries. During the

Kenyatta’s and Moi’s regimes there was personalization of foreign policy and diplomacy.

31
See S. M. Kwaje, “The Sudan Peace Process: From Machakos to Naivasha” and O. Kamudhayi, “The
Somali Peace Process” In M. Mwagiru (Ed.) African Regional Security in the Age Of Globalization, op.
cit., pp. 95-123
32
O. Kamudhayi, “The Somali Peace Process” In M. Mwagiru (Ed.) African Regional Security in the Age
Of Globalization, op. cit., p. 111.
33
K. Orwa, “Continuity and Change: Kenya’s Foreign Policy from Kenyatta to Moi” in W. O. Oyugi, (Ed),
Politics and Administration in East Africa, op. cit., p.321.

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However, the personality of the president in foreign policy and diplomacy increased

during president Moi’s regime.

The Kibaki regime desperately seeking resources to implement its election

campaign pledges embraced a foreign policy of economic development. In this regard, it

became more concerned with the attraction of foreign investment to increase employment

opportunities. It also moved around the world shopping for development partners to help

in the reconstruction of the economy. Regional integration, particularly the COMESA and

East African Cooperation have taken center stage. Kenya under Kibaki took a leading

role in fast tracking the East African integration. The hope in this integration process is

that the products from the Kenyan industries would get an expanded market and the

surplus trained personnel could get jobs in the neighboring countries. President Kibaki

himself has taken a leading role in the search for development partners through his

continuous appeal to investors and visits to many countries to promote his development

agenda and seek development partners. The foreign tour of president Kibaki has taken

him to all those countries that showed interest in becoming development partners

including Saudi Arabia. The president has also taken substantial time receiving

international trade delegations and explaining his investment interest.

Kibaki’s regime has also embrace an aggressive reform in the public sector to

enable service delivery. This in turn has improved the image of the country in the face of

prospective investors. Privatization of public enterprises and liberalization of the

economy has taken center stage.

Under Kibaki there has been rationalization of the ministry of foreign affairs to

enable the country to manage its foreign policy. The drafting of the foreign policy

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document has been going on to give the Kenyan foreign policy a direction to avoid ad

hoc and personalization of foreign policy and diplomatic service. However, it is not clear

whether that document will be subjected to the scrutiny of the general public to remove

biased that may lead to personalization and marginalization in serving the national

interest. Currently the civil society and particularly the NGO groups are agitating that the

document be made public.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

The first phase of Kenyan foreign policy was that of wait and see. The

management of foreign policy and diplomatic service was reactionary to particular

situations. The foreign policy and diplomatic service was that of “wait and see” reacting

to the unfolding events in the international system. This approach was challenged by lack

of proper training in the management of foreign policy and diplomatic service. The

management of foreign policy and diplomatic service was fragmented without properly

conceived systematic approach. This kind of implementation of foreign policy is weak to

advance the interest of a state in the international plane. This can be demonstrated by the

Cold War divide that locked tangled President Kenyatta and Oginga Odinga who were

key to the founding and governance of the country.

The second phase of Kenyan foreign policy was characterized by attempt to

engage in regional conflict management. Conflict management and particularly cases of

those that are protracted is a complex undertaking. Kenyan attempt to manage conflicts in

the region did not deliver much as observed in the case of Uganda, Mozambique and

former Zaire (now Congo DRC). Kenyan foreign policy of conflict management declined

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during President Moi’s tenure. President Moi did not effectively engage competently

trained personnel to manage the foreign policy of conflict management. Instead, Moi

personalized the whole process of managing foreign policy and diplomatic service. 34

Conflict management mostly utilized politicians until later in the 1990s that Ambassador

Bethuel Kiplagat as a career diplomat entered into scene as a principal negotiator.

Without well trained personnel in conflict management and a rational foreign policy,

Kenya ended up declining in its foreign policy of conflict management. The management

of foreign policy and diplomatic service was declining during Moi’s tenure due to lack of

or under utilization of professional career diplomats, lack of rational and recognizable

foreign policy document. Instead, Moi personalized the foreign policy of conflict

management resulting to poor performance in the face of emerging regional powers that

were more aggressive. It was easy for the president to change foreign policy from its

traditional orientation. President Moi easily made a shift from recognition of states to

recognition of the government as was the case with Mobutu’s regime in Zaire.

The third phase of the Kenyan foreign policy entered with the entry of the NARC

government in power. The wining of NARC in the 2002 general election characterized

the declining role of personalized government affairs. The demand for performance in

delivering to the electorates became compelling. This demand by the citizens requires the

relevant ministries to engage competent personnel who can perform instead of having a

large work force that is poorly prepared to handle the responsibilities assigned to them.

The ministry of foreign affairs in this situation has no choice but to address its

performance in delivering the fruits of diplomacy.35 The cutting of the costs and regional

34
M. Mwagiru, “The Elusive Quest: Conflict, Diplomacy, and Foreign Policy in Kenya” in P. G. Okoth and
B. A. Ogot (Eds), Conflict in Contemporary Africa, op. cit. 177-189.
35
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Strategic Plan 2005-2010. pp. xi – xii, (art. 5); p. 23 (art. 68).

16
representation requires an effective utilization of personnel engaged in the management

of foreign policy and diplomatic service.

Kibaki’s regime also benefited from the lack of a rational and recognizable

foreign policy statement. Kibaki’s regime opted to make a significant shift from the

foreign policy of conflict management that was dominant during Moi’s regime to the

foreign policy of economic development. During president Kibaki’s time economic

restructuring to attract foreign investment took a centre stage. Regional integration and

diplomatic relationships that seemed to facilitate economic development for Kenya are of

keen interest. President Kibaki has been visiting different countries to market the country

a destination of foreign investment and opening markets for Kenyan products. The

regime has also sought to increase its development partners. The compartmentalization of

the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and giving prominence to the economic department

fragments the country’s foreign policy that should instead balance all departments.

During Kibaki’s regime many Ambassadors and High Commissioners have been

appointed to replace those who served during Moi’s regime. However, there has been

rationalization of the ministry of foreign affairs operation with the drafting of the

strategic plan.36 However, the strategic plan was not centered on a rational and

recognizable foreign policy statements or document but on the basis of the current

government’s inclination and preferences. The challenge with this approach is that, any

regime that comes to power can adjust the operations of the Ministry to its interests and

inclinations.

There is a needed reform to have functional, rational and recognizable foreign

policy and even representation in diplomatic relations would deliver the fruits of
36
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Strategic Plan 2005-2010. pp. xi – xii, (art. 5); p. 23 (art. 68).

17
international relations and diplomatic engagement. In this way, the country will be in the

right track in responding to its current call to be result oriented. This will untie foreign

policy and diplomacy from the hands of few people who are self-seeking and self-

serving.

While Kenyan foreign policy has made strides in history it has continued to be

ambiguous in nature. The change of regimes implies a significant approach to foreign

policy including the changing of the foreign policy itself. The changes of foreign policy

in the independent Kenya have also made a significant impact on diplomatic relations.

This has resulted to strain and even severing of diplomatic relations especially during the

Kenyatta’s and Moi’s regimes. The changing nature of Kenyan foreign policy leading to

the subsequent rearrangement in diplomatic relations demonstrates the lack of a serious

long-term strategic vision on the Kenyan foreign policy. Lack of consistent and coherent

foreign policy since independence has only acted to the interest of the few (political

elites) as opposed to the large population of Kenyan citizens. There has not a serious

effort to define national interest that is all inclusive. One of the tests for defining an all

inclusive national interest is the development of a foreign policy document that receives

its legitimacy from the citizenry as opposed to few political elites.

CONCLUSION

The state’s involvement in diplomacy is to influence international relations and

politics for its own maximum advantage, but also, with an international responsibility that

such state’s policies are in the interest of world harmony.37 Foreign policy serves the

interest of the state, while diplomacy implements a countries foreign policy. Foreign
37
R. G. Feltham, Diplomatic Handbook, 5th Ed. (New York: Longman, 1988), p. 1.

18
policy and diplomatic service are concomitant realities. Foreign policy guides the type of

diplomacy a state adopts in international relations. Through diplomacy, foreign policy

finds its expression and implementation. This means that, there is need for a coordinated

approach in their management, without which foreign policy and diplomatic services can

perform far much below the expectation in terms of delivering the benefits of

international engagement in the globalized and yet globalizing world.

While the debate over the importance of retaining permanent missions in the

contemporary international relations is relevant, it is important to note that for the

effective management of foreign policy and diplomacy, permanent missions are important

even though they are very expensive especially to poor economies like Kenya. Economic

constraints facing Kenya and other poor states necessitate the need to have fewer

diplomatic missions that are representational and cost effective. In this way, multiple

accreditations remain an option for Kenya in the management of foreign policy and

diplomatic service.

While multiple accreditations may pose its challenges in the management of

foreign policy and diplomatic service to Kenya, it is important for the managers of

foreign policy and diplomatic service to device ways in which they can sell the idea of

multiple accreditations to other states such that it does not look like downgrading

diplomatic relations. This can be done effectively by incorporating this strategy of

representation in the strategic plan for the ministry of foreign affairs. When the

representational policy is incorporated in the strategic plan of the ministry of foreign

affairs, it may be relatively easier to convince the other states that multiple representation

is not in any way downgrading diplomatic relations but a matter of policy.

19
In the world that is already globalized and continuing to globalize, diplomacy

should be able to deliver its fruits. The direction that Kenya as a poor state needs to take

is that of evaluating the performance of diplomatic missions. This calls for a continuous

review of the diplomatic mission and their location. This can be done periodically

especially during the drafting of every strategic plan for the ministry of foreign affairs.

This should be done in such a way that there is a consideration on the performance of

diplomatic mission in terms of delivering its fruits in the face of the changing foreign

policy.

Therefore, in the management of foreign policy and diplomatic service, it is

important that the utilization of the staff involved in the Foreign Service is optimal.

Diplomatic missions should also be optimally located, that is, it can be in one state or one

mission can be utilized for representation of Kenya in several countries within a

particular region. The reason for doing all this is to manage foreign policy and Foreign

Service in such a way that there will be optimal performance in terms of delivering their

fruits at a minimum cost. While there is an entire need for effective diplomatic relation in

the age of globalization, the rationale for the management of foreign policy and

diplomatic service is to take into account the limited resources facing small or poor

economies like Kenya without compromising the quality of international relations and

diplomacy. Therefore, Kenya needs to change significantly from the approach that

involves the quantity of diplomatic representation to that of the quality of diplomatic

representation. This will salvage Kenya from resource deficit in its diplomatic conduct

against the delivery of the diplomatic fruits.

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There is a needed reform to have functional, rational and recognizable foreign

policy and even representation in diplomatic relations would deliver the fruits of

international relations and diplomatic engagement. This is the best direction for the future

of Kenyan foreign policy and diplomatic service, which is quality and result oriented as

opposed to quantity in the delivery of diplomatic fruits. Therefore, in so doing, Kenya is

likely to develop and sustain not only a rational but also a functional, coherent and

consistent foreign policy and diplomatic service.

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