Despite risks, Netanyahu to attend Kenyan presidential inauguration

After Uhuru Kenyatta wins two consecutive elections within two months, both suspected to be fraught with irregularities, Netanyahu plans to attend his inauguration, despite fears of violent outbreaks.

By: Jack Ben-David, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled attendance this week at the inauguration ceremony of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to take place under heavy security amid fears of violence and disorder stoked by the latter’s election in October.

Netanyahu will touch down in Nairobi on Tuesday morning to attend the ceremony in the city’s  Kasarani Stadium.

Kenyatta decisively clinched a presidential election victory for the second time this year at the end of October, bagging close to 7.5 million votes.

Just two months earlier, Kenyatta emerged victorious with 1.4 million votes. However, his victory was challenged by the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, who questioned the credibility of the electoral process and prompted the country’s Supreme Court to cast aside the results amid concerns of irregularities.

Days after Kenyatta won the second election, Netanyahu wrote a letter congratulating him on his “landslide victory.”

The inauguration ceremony will also be attended by multiple African leaders, and Netanyahu is expected to hold a series of meetings while he’s in the country.

Among those on his list of meetings is Rwandan President Paul Kagame, with whom Netanyahu is expected to discuss fleshing out details of an agreement that will enable Israel to deport illegal African refugees there.

In July, Kagame met with Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem to discuss cooperation between the two countries.

The Prime Minister’s Office refused to elaborate on the details of Netanyahu’s trip. Furthermore, it was reported that the Shin Bet did not sanction his appearance at the inauguration, emanating from fears that the “alternative inauguration” to be held by the opposition could rapidly escalate into violent outbreaks.

The Israeli premier’s decision to attend Kenyatta’s inauguration comes on the heels of a whirlwind visit to a host of African countries earlier this year, during which Netanyahu set out to begin and consolidate ties by signing a series of bilateral agreements.

Kenya was one of the African countries visited by Netanyahu, where he also met with African leaders from seven different countries.

Speaking to a Christian audience in Nairobi, Netanyahu extolled their friendship with Israel, repeating the mantra that had accompanied him throughout his trip: “Israel is coming back to Africa. Africa is coming back to Israel.”

“We appreciate this friendship and we’re expanding it to the continent of Africa.   I had a remarkable meeting in Uganda hosted by the President of Uganda, six other African leaders including President Kenyatta,” he told his listeners.