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Uproar After Mwende Mwinzi Assumes South Korea Ambassador Role in Disregard of Parliament Direction

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Kenyans have taken to social media to protest the decision by President Uhuru Kenyatta to affirm Mwende Mwizi’s appointment as Ambassador to South Korea, without parliamentary approval.

Mwinzi presented her credentials to South Korea President Moon Jae-In during a ceremony at the presidential office in Seoul on Wednesday, marking the beginning of her tenure as Kenya’s representative in the Asian country. South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong also graced the ceremony.

She was appointed as Ambassador to South Korea by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2019 but Parliament had reservations on approving her appointment over her dual citizenship status and asked that she renounces her American citizenship if she was to take up the job.

Mwinzi on her part argued that her US citizenship was by birth and as such cannot be renounced.

“My US citizenship was acquired by birth and as such, my citizenship or the process of opting in was a consequence of circumstances out of my control. I did not participate in the decision to be born in the US and I cannot “opt-out” of that decision. Article 78(3) (b) would only be applicable to people who opted in by applying for citizenship and renunciation would be the process ofopting out’,” she argued referring to the law that exempts people who cannot opt-out of dual nationality”.

Section 31(1) of the Leadership and Integrity Act bars persons with dual citizenship from holding State offices unless they renounce one. It’s this legislation that informed the MP’s position on Mwende Mwinzi’s appointment.

Mwende, who is born of a Kenyan father and an American mother, moved to the Constitutional and Human Rights Division of the High Court to stop Members of Parliament from forcing her to renounce her US citizenship before she takes the job, with the court later ruling that Ms Mwende cannot be forced to renounce her US citizenship to take up the post.

In a ruling dated November 14, 2019, Justice James Makau noted that an ambassador is not a State officer, but a public officer and hence is not required by law to renounce one citizenship.

Justice Makau also ruled that even if the petitioner was appointed to a state office, she is protected under Article 78 of the Constitution.

“No one chooses [his or her] place of birth or parents,” said the judge, adding that being an American citizen by birth, she cannot opt-out.

The judge however also averred that Parliament was legally right to question her commitment to defending the country’s security interests, given the ambassador is the representative of the President abroad. Justice James Makau ruled that the court could not force the government to deploy her as her vetting process involved parliamentary approval.

“It is in the public interest that the process should be allowed to be completed,” the judge ruled then.

MPs had earlier vowed to appeal the High Court decision, arguing the ruling had been vague.

Contempt of Parliament

Following the recent turn of events, Parliament has threatened to block the budget for Kenya’s Embassy in South Korea following claims that Mwende Mwinzi has taken over as ambassador despite the outstanding issue surrounding her citizenship.

Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo said it will amount to contempt of Parliament if indeed Ms Mwinzi had been appointed and assumed office as ambassador.

“The public has been made to believe that the High Court overturned the House decision rejecting her appointment. If the House rejects a nomination for appointment as per the Constitution, no other legal avenue can get one to be appointed.”

A section of other Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) were happy for Mwende Mwinzi and congratulated her for the role but some criticized the executive for disregarding the legislature.

Boniface MwangiMwende Mwinzi is officially Kenya’s ambassador to South Korea. We told her story@SemaUkweliKenya. Proud of her.

Donald B KipkorirDearest Mwende Mwinzi, I am so proud that today, you officially became our Ambassador to the Great Republic of Korea … One thing my friend @makaumutua & I see eye-to-eye with Chief Justice @WMutunga is our pure love for you … I wish you all the Best in your Tour of Duty.

#THETACKLEMwende Mwinzi proceeds on her Presidential appointment as Kenya’s ambassador to South Korea without Parliamentary approval. Parliament refused to approve her appointment for varied reasons. Amicus systemae?
Stephen MutoroMy friend Mwende Mwinzi shouldn’t have accepted an appointment without the seal of

. Art 1(3) CoK places a heavy responsibility on Parliament. Hansard is clear: her vetting failed on dual citizenship. Soon she will be up against many Court Orders asking for her recall.

Nahashon Kimemia: Why is Mwende Mwinzi so special that she has to be the Ambassador of Kenya to South Korea? What is so unique about this US citizen that the State can embarrass and disregard the National Assembly and the constitution? Doesn’t Kenya have other daughters? Why must she gain the post?

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