Kenya celebrates 50 years of independence

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Kenya celebrated 50 years of independence in a ceremony that was held at the Safaricom Stadium in Kasarani, Nairobi on Thursday.

President Uhuru Kenyatta graced the occassion that was attended by leaders from Africa and beyond. Deputy President William Ruto was also at the stadium.

The heads of states present were: Democratic Republic of Congo Head of State Joseph Kabila, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his first lady, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and Gabon’s president Ali Bongo.

Also in attendance were President Ian Khama (Botswana), President Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Goodluck Jonathan (Nigeria), Joyce Banda (Malawi) and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Others included former President Mwai Kibaki, Former first lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta, Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The visiting dignitaries joined an estimated 60, 000 people at the stadium. Millions of Kenyans are also following the proceedings at the stadium from home through live radio and television broadcasts.

On Thursday Morning (midnight), President Uhuru graced the hoisting of the Kenyan flag at Uhuru gardens, an occasion akin to another one on December 12, 1963, which was presided over by his father, founding President Jomo Kenyatta.Uhuru planted a tree close to another one that was planted by the founding President at independence 50 years ago.

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Kenyans evicts UK diplomats from hotel amid ICC row: THINGS ARE CHANGING FAST

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Three UK diplomats have been evicted from a hotel meeting in Eldoret in Kenya’s Rift Valley by a local politician for “violating protocol”.

They were also suspected of interfering in the International Criminal Court cases of Kenya’s leaders at The Hague.

Eldoret is the home of Deputy President William Ruto, who has denied charges of crimes against humanity.

The UK says their High Commission officials were in the area to discuss a sports event to promote peace.

The charges against Mr Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta relate to violence following the disputed 2007 election, which left some 1,200 people dead.

The BBC’s David Okwembah in the capital, Nairobi, says diplomatic relations between Kenya and the UK are at an all-time low because of the ICC cases.

Last week, the UN Security Council rejected an attempt to suspend the trials at the ICC for a year.

The resolution fell short of two votes needed to pass it, with the UK, US and France abstaining.
‘Proud partner’

Daniel Chemno, the deputy governor of Uasin Gishu county, stormed into a meeting on Thursday at a hotel in Eldoret where the British officials were meeting civil society groups.

“How can you come here without having the courtesy of notifying the county government of your presence and purpose of your visit as diplomatic protocol demands?” he said.

Their presence had raised suspicion that they were on a mission to collect new evidence and recruit additional witnesses to testify at The Hague, he added.

The UK foreign office said in a statement that the British High Commission had informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the visit prior to travelling, and had separately sought to arrange a meeting with the governor’s office.

“The officials later met the deputy governor and separately members of the county assembly,” the statement said.

The officials also met a “range of individuals and organisations involved in efforts to build peaceful relations between different communities in the region, including a council of elders, church leaders and peace activists”.

“The UK is a proud partner of Uasin Gishu and Kenya, and has a long history of partnership that we wish to develop even further.”

This week at an annual meeting of ICC member states, there has been a discussion about whether the treaty setting up the court should be changed to allow heads of states immunity from prosecution, prompted by Kenyan and the African Union.

The ICC trial of Mr Kenyatta, who denies the charges he faces, is due to start in February.

European diplomats wrote a letter printed in Kenyan papers earlier this week raising concern that several ambassadors – including those from France, Germany and Italy – have been waiting for months to present their credentials to President Kenyatta.

State House has blamed this on the president’s “busy schedule” and not a snub linked to the ICC.

bbc.