Kenya’s Mudavadi talks trade with Blinken, with eye on Haiti – The East African

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By LUKE ANAMI

Kenya’s Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi held talks with US Secretary of State Tony Blinken in Washington DC, US on Thursday, securing support for the controversial Security Mission to Haiti, even though the agenda was also about trade.   

Mudavadi’s meeting with Blinken comes a few days after Kenya and the US completed another round of negotiations to advance the Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (Stip) in Nairobi.

The two discussed the current trade negotiations, the conflict and security in the East African region among other issues relating to US-Kenya diplomatic issues.

“I held a constructive meeting with US Secretary of State Blinken on peace and security issues, including regional conflicts in East Africa and disruption of global logistics by the Middle East crisis,” said Mudavadi.

Read: Kenya sets up fund for peacekeeping missions

“Our engagement in Washington DC focused on Kenya and US mediation efforts to mitigate the disruptive impact of these crises on the people and economies of the region.”

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Mudavadi also discussed the situation in Haiti, where Kenya has pledged to send its police officers.

“We further agreed to continue plans to better the lives of the Haitian people,” said Mudavadi. The High Court in Kenya last week blocked the deployment of police officers to Haitri, arguing Kenya has no existing bilateral arrangement to make the move legal. The Multinational Security Support (MSS) Mission was endorsed by the UN Security Council last year in October, however. Kenya says the US and China have firmly backed the deployment, now stuck up in legal challenges in Kenya.

President William Ruto is vowing to proceed with a plan to send 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti despite a court ruling that the deployment would be unconstitutional.

“For us, Kenya is a key democratic partner, and we increasingly see our countries working together not only on the bilateral issues and opportunities that we have, but also to deal with regional and global challenges. And we’re grateful for that partnership,” said Blinken.

“The work that Kenya is doing to promote regional peace and security, the efforts that we’re also making together to deepen and strengthen our economic relationship – all of these I think are very important and positive signs of the depth and breadth of the relationship.”

Mudavadi, who is also the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, also met with the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) Administrator Samantha Power and Ms Chidi Blyden, deputy CEO of Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

Read: Ruto signs deal with US firm to acquire electric buses

“I met Power to explore avenues for enhancing Kenya’s economy and improving livelihoods. We discussed leveraging Foreign Direct Investments from the US private sector and the Kenyan Diaspora,” said Mudavadi.

Ms Power on her part commended Kenya’s innovative Ushirika plan, fostering social inclusion for refugees and benefiting host communities.

“USAid remains a steadfast partner in energy, livelihood, health, and climate resilience programs,” said Ms Power.

In a meeting with Ms Blyden, Mudavadi discussed how to expedite implementation of a $60 million MCC grant-funded program to improve urban connectivity and promote economic growth in Kenya.

“My commitment is to facilitate implementation of the threshold program agreement that Kenya and MCC signed in New York in September 2023 at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly,” said Mudavadi.

“This transformative initiative will address the climate-friendly transportation needs of pedestrians and enable us to acquire electric buses for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network in Nairobi.”

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