Dual citizenship holders locked out of envoy jobs in new law
Career diplomats will be required to have served within the Foreign Affairs ministry for at least 10 years. The National Assembly has been grappling with the dual citizenship question in the appointment of Kenya’s ambassador to South Korea Mwende Mwinzi. Kenyans who hold dual citizenship will not be appointed as high commissioners, ambassadors, diplomatic and consular representatives in new laws to streamline the Foreign Service.
The proposed Foreign Service Bill, 2021, states that a person nominated by the President to such posts will not be citizens of another country during the period of their appointment.
The Bill, which is awaiting the First Reading in the National Assembly, says nominees will also have to be of reputable character and standing within the country.
Career diplomats will be required to have served within the Foreign Affairs ministry for at least 10 years.
Where one is not a career diplomat, the Bill sponsored by Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito spells that they will be required to be suited for training or have at least 10 years’ experience in public affairs.
The National Assembly has been grappling with the dual citizenship question in the appointment of Kenya’s ambassador to South Korea Mwende Mwinzi.
Mwende’s assumption of the post sparked outrage as the august House had rejected her appointment on grounds she refused to renounce her US citizenship.
MPs led by Mosop’s Vincent Tuwei questioned why the Executive ignored recommendations of the House to rescind the appointment.
Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo said there can be no other way around provisions of the law that require that an appointment takes effect with the approval of the House.
The concern is that having dual citizenship holders as envoys exposes the state as it is difficult to know where one’s allegiance lies.
Mwinzi maintains that one cannot change the place they were born, as place of birth gives one an inalienable right to citizenship of the particular country.
It is these issues that the Metito-backed Bill, drawn by the government, seeks to address in a substantive law that also stands to change the terms of Foreign Service.
“The object of the bill is to provide for establishment, management, administration, accountability, and functioning of a professional foreign service,” Metito said in the Bill’s memorandum.
Envoys appointed prior to the commencement of the proposed law will serve the remainder of their unexpired term in office unless recalled or removed as per the law.
The staff of the ministry prior to the commencement of this Act shall be the staff of the Foreign Service (to be created by the Bill),” the proposed law reads.
Among other provisions is that envoys of any rank will serve a term of four years, but can be reappointed by the President in line with the previous approval by the National Assembly.
“The reappointment of a high commissioner, ambassador, diplomatic or consular representative shall not require the approval of the National Assembly,” the Bill reads.
When not reappointed, career diplomats will be recalled to the MFA headquarters to be assigned roles by the principal secretary. “In any other case, he or she [envoy] shall be recalled but shall not continue to be employed by the ministry.”
Also proposed is a Foreign Service Academy to undertake training and programmes aimed at “enhancing skills, capacity, and professionalism of officers in the service.”
The academy would also undertake foreign policy research and disseminate information on Kenya’s foreign policy as well as advise the national government on foreign policy.
It would also establish a databank of all present and past Foreign Service professionals, the same law providing for reimbursement to the ministry for cash used to evacuate Kenyans abroad.
Mission or their respective heads, the proposal says, may be accredited to one or more states and international organisations.
It also provides for the appointment of Honorary Consuls by the President – being persons of independent means, high standing in their country, and with contacts beyond the host country’s government.
The lot would be required to actively pursue the country’s foreign policy objectives and act as official representative of the republic at official functions in the host country.
The Foreign Service will be responsible for maintaining good relations between the republic and other states and governments. – The Star