delicate-balanceKenya’s new president, Uhuru Kenyatta, who was inaugurated yesterday, faces some awkward moments in handling the country’s international relations. Kenyatta is one of the three Kenyans currently being tried by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity alleged to have been committed after the 2007 Kenyan elections, and his election campaigning used anti-Western rhetoric, the argument being that the ICC and Kenyatta’s main opponent were tools of the West.

Now that he has become president, Kenyatta needs to decide whether to court or antagonise Europe and the US, bearing in mind the extent to which Kenya relies on those countries for funding and as major export markets. India and China are the main sources of Kenya’s imports, but they both receive no more than a tiny proportion of the country’s exports. The US, UK and private foundations contribute 100 times as much to Kenya’s health and education sectors as does China.

If Kenyatta decides to cease cooperating with the International Criminal Court, it is likely that Western countries will start imposing sanctions, at significant cost to the Kenyan economy. The country is already facing considerable financial challenges following lower than expected revenue and numerous unexpected expenses in the current budget year, and the level of private investment has been low for some time in anticipation of the elections.

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