Netanyahu to Fly to Kenya for Inauguration Despite Controversy

YERUSHALAYIM -
Netanyahu Kenya
Kenya’s Supreme Court Chief Justice David Maraga presiding last month over a hearing on the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta, which the court made official on Monday. (Reuters/Baz Ratner)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has found a replacement venue for his next African trip. He will be going to Kenya next week for the inauguration of President Uhuru Kenyatta, instead of a summit in Togo that was scheduled for October but then cancelled.

Cancellation of the Togo summit was blamed on pressure from the Palestinians, Arabs and certain Arab countries who seek to block Israel’s expanding ties to Africa.

Some 54 countries were expected to send representatives to the Togolese capital Lome, where Netanyahu was to meet with them. The gathering in Nairobi will likely be smaller, in light of the disputed outcome of the elections in Kenya, which some countries have yet to recognize.

A rerun election held by court order due to polling irregularities was boycotted by the opposition. Kenyatta was reelected by 98.25 percent of votes cast, but turnout was only 38 percent and there were claims that it was rigged.

Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday certified the rerun, but many still refuse to accept the results.

Opposition groups say they will hold an “alternative inauguration,” which observers warn could erupt in violence.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu announced a one-day trip to Nairobi to attend the inauguration and meet with the available leaders.

Israel regards Kenya as a key partner in Africa, and the two countries cooperate in many areas, including in the fight against terrorism.