Kenya: new law prohibits dual citizens from holding diplomatic posts
Kenya has enacted a new law that prohibits people with dual citizenship from serving in the foreign service.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s assent to the law, sponsored by the Defense and Foreign Relations Committee of the National Assembly of Kenya, means that people who hold two nationalities must renounce foreign nationality before being eligible for be appointed ambassadors.
In the past, controversy has arisen over the appointment of a national double as ambassador to South Korea. The National Assembly in 2019 approved Mwende Mwinzi’s appointment, but imposed a warning that she could not run for work until she renounces her US citizenship.
She then went to court, which ruled that she could not renounce any of her citizenship as it was acquired by birth. The High Court, however, said ambassadorial posts were sensitive national missions. Ms. Mwinzi has since been appointed Ambassador to South Korea.
The new law now appears to have closed the door for any other national double to hold a similar position.
Article 23 of the new law stipulates that heads of mission abroad or consuls general must not have dual or multiple nationalities.
“A person nominated for an appointment… must be a citizen of the Republic of Kenya and must not, during the term of their appointment, be a citizen of any other country,” says the new law.
“The Kenya Diaspora Alliance-USA has expressed concern over the law, saying it is an attempt to undermine the dual nationality of Kenyans in the Diaspora and the Constitutive Act of the African Union .
The Committee said the law will also professionalize the diplomatic service, giving credence to career diplomats while making the service accountable.
The ambassadors, special envoys, consular officials and honorary consuls will constitute the foreign service which will be headed by the cabinet secretary.
Heads of mission will therefore be appointed from a pool of career diplomats with more than 10 years of experience or other professionals with a similar length of experience in public affairs, considered to be part of the larger system. aimed at excluding those named politicians from their positions.
According to the committee, the only way to effectively implement foreign policy is to professionalize the service.