U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken opened his first official visit to Africa on Wednesday in Kenya, with an appeal for the preservation of democracy and inclusion in politically and ethnically fractured societies. His message was delivered amid worsening crises in neighboring Ethiopia and Sudan.
Before meeting President Uhuru Kenyatta and other senior Kenyan officials, Blinken spoke with civic leaders about the importance of combatting what he termed “democratic recession” around the world, including challenges in the United States that show “just how fragile our democracy can be.”
Following the diplomatic meetings, Kenya says a political solution will be found in Ethiopia’s crisis pitting the government and Tigray fighters.
Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo said they believe in Ethiopia capacity to find a ceasefire and solution.
“President Kenyatta went to Ethiopia as a neighbour and friend to try to find a solution. We believe in Ethiopia and they will find a solution to the current issues,” she said.
“I believe Ethiopia’s leadership will agree to a ceasefire and that the international community should not lose hope on the fortitude of the people of Ethiopia.”
President Kenyatta met with the Ethiopian leadership on Sunday as part of efforts to find a solution in the country.
She made the remarks during a press conference alongside US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken who arrived in Nairobi Wednesday morning in a planned two-day visit.
Blinken said the US is concerned about the ongoing conflict, urging for an immediate cessation of hostilities and unfettered access to humanitarian assistance to those in need.
He asked US citizens to leave Ethiopia for their safety.
“We are greatly concerned about the escalation of violence in Ethiopia, so it’s our responsibility to ensure the safety and security of American citizens.”
He was welcomed by Omamo and Embassy officials when his plane touched down at JKIA at about 1.20 am.
He later met civil society groups and discussed human rights issues.
“We discussed ways we can work together to address shared challenges, as democracy requires active citizen participation,” he tweeted after the meeting at a Nairobi hotel.
President Uhuru Kenyatta met Blinken who is in Nairobi at the start of his three-nation African visit.
The meeting at State House, Nairobi, was a follow-up of the conversation President Kenyatta had with his American counterpart Joe Biden in Washington DC last month and covered a wide array of subjects among them Covid-19, climate change and, regional peace and security.
Uhuru thanked the American Government for the development support it continues to offer Kenya especially in the health sector and reiterated Kenya’s deep desire to become a regional vaccines production and logistics hub.
On climate change, the President welcomed the American Government’s return to the Paris Agreement saying Kenya was keen on partnering with the US in advancing the climate agenda.
Blinken acknowledged Kenya’s tremendous progress in climate action particularly in the adoption of green energy solutions saying the US was keen on exploring new opportunities for partnership in the subject area.
They also spoke about regional peace and security and explored new opportunities for collaboration in resolving ongoing regional conflicts and achieving sustainable peace in the Horn of Africa.