Kenya: ‘Criminal’ President Invited To UK

Uhuru Kenyatta was elected Kenya’s new president on March 4

Britain has invited a world leader who is indicted by the International Criminal Court to a conference in London next week.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has been asked to attend a conference on Somalia on Tuesday – co-hosted by both Britain and Somalia.

Mr Kenyatta, who won elections for the Kenyan presidency on March 4, is due to go on trial in July at The Hague for crimes against humanity.

He stands accused of orchestrating violence in Kenya after the last presidential elections in 2007 and 2008 during which up to 1,500 died.

Britain has said it has a policy of only “essential contact” with anyone charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

A Whitehall source said that having Mr Kenyatta at the conference “is seen as essential”.

A spokesman for Kenya’s High Commission in Nairobi said the High Commissioner had delivered a letter to Mr Kenyatta.

The commission said in a statement: “Kenya plays a vital role on Somalia, having nearly 5,000 troops in Somalia, and hosting more Somali refugees than any other nation.”

January 2008: Violence broke out in the wake of the election

The statement said Mr Kenyatta and High Commissioner Christian Turner also “discussed how the two countries would work together not only on the shared agendas of regional security and stability, but also prosperity and development”.

It added that London wanted to support Nairobi in its aims to double UK-Kenya trade.

Mr Kenyatta’s election was predicted to pose problems for European countries and America, which are nervous about dealing with alleged criminals against humanity.

Until recently, Kenya had been considered the West’s ally in the war against Islamic extremism centred in Somalia.

Recent gains have been made in pushing back the al Shabaab militant group, which had come to control parts of Somalia after the US withdrawal in the late 1990s led to a power vacuum.

Military victories against al Shabaab have in-part been spearheaded from Kenya, where the US has a base.  Ethiopia has also played a major role.

Britain is also believed to be keen to keep Kenya on side in the fight against international terrorism.

In 2012, The British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) built a new base just outside the town of Nanyuki, about 80 miles north of Nairobi.

The London conference will be the first trip outside Africa for Mr Kenyatta since his election, which was held to be fraudulent by the losing candidate Raila Odinga.

Uhuru, meaning freedom, is the son of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president, who was put on trial by the ruling British colonial powers for inciting rebellion and kept in jail for seven years.

After independence and Kenya being declared a republic, Jomo was promoted from interim prime minister to president.

Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, who also faces trial at the ICC, have both said they will co-operate fully with the ICC. They deny the charges against them.