President Kenyatta has been left with egg on his face after IGAD Summit roundly rejected his appointment of former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka to head the South Sudan peace talks.
In November, Kenyatta picked Kalonzo to head the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) on Peace in South Sudan.
Kalonzo, the Wiper Party leader, was to replace former Botswana president who had earlier stepped down in August.
Kalonzo’s appointment came in the wake of his new found dalliance with President Kenyatta and as part of the handshake between the Jubilee leader and opposition figures.
NASA leader Raila Odinga had earlier been appointed to a high profile position as African Union special envoy on infrastructure.
But Kalonzo and Cabinet secretary for foreign affairs Monica Juma had to contend with embarrassing rejection when she took the former VP to IGAD Summit for introduction to member heads state.
While local media reports had indicated Kalonzo had taken up the offer and even started working, diplomatic sources reveal he quietly came back a dejected man after the debacle.
There was even a photo of Kalonzo and South Sudan president Salva Kirr circulated to confirm the “appointment”.
IGAD heads of state reportedly rejected Kalonzo on grounds of lack of his lack of stature and also lack of consultation.
According to diplomatic sources close to the issue, the IGAD Summit felt insulted by President Kenyatta’s “unilateral” appointment of Kalonzo.
To make matters worse, President Kenyatta didn’t attend the Summit an instead sent Juma to represent him.
“There was no consultation between Kenya and other IGAD countries before the appointment of Kalonzo,” said the source. “The other heads of state felt insulted by the move.”
According to the source, Juma should be held responsbile for the diplomatic faux pas.
“She (Juma) didn’t advice the president properly leading to the embarrassing situation,” said the source. “Juma should have known the process and protocol of nominating and approving such a person.”
The proper way, the diplomatic source said, would have been for President Kenyatta to individually call all his counterparts to inform them of the appointment.
It also emerged that President Kenyatta, in naming Kalonzo, had ignored an IGAD agreement that the holder of the position must be a person of international stature.
“The IGAD Summit had said the chair of JMEC must at least be a former head of state to be able to monitor a president like Salva Kirr,” the source said. “Obviously Kalonzo did not qualify.”
IGAD also required the JMEC head to be a come from a non partisan country, meaning a candidate from Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia would not qualify.
JMEC was primarily formed to monitor the implementation of the peace deal signed between President Salva Kirr and his arch-rival Riek Machar.