National Assembly on Wednesday rejected Mwende Mwinzi’s nomination as Kenya’s envoy to South Korea citing refusal to renounce her US citizenship.
Mwinzi’s name was taken back to Parliament after the court ruled Kenyans who have acquired citizenship by birth in foreign countries cannot be forced to renounce the same to take up public offices.
Justice Aaron Makau further ruled that an ambassador does not fall under the category of State officers, who are barred by the Constitution from holding dual citizenship. He ruled they are public officers.
The National Assembly Committee on Implementation had given conditional approval for Mwinzi — to renounce her US citizenship before taking up the position.
The committee, however, said the conditional approval was not open-ended.
Mwende, who went through the procedural orientation for diplomatic nominees without rescinding her citizenship, went ahead and sued the MPs over the recommendation that she renounces her US nationality before taking up the Korea envoy job.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nominee for ambassador to South Korea Mwende Mwinzi / COURTESY
Mwinzi argued that the condition was unconstitutional since “an ambassador is not a state officer as provided for in Article 60 of the Constitution”.
“Article 78(3) (b) would only be applicable to people who opted in by applying for citizenship and renunciation would be the process of ‘opting out’,” she argued in her petition.
The committee in September recommended that the approval made on June 6 by the Defence and Foreign Relations committee be expunged from the report.
“The committee recommends that the House rescinds its resolution made on June 6, 2019 which approved the nomination subject to her renouncing her citizenship to the United States of America before taking up the appointment,” Moitalel ole Kenta, who chairs the committee said in a report to the House.
The committee also recommended the House to expunge recommendation 7 of the report by the departmental committee on Defence and Foreign Relations that approved Mwinzi for appointment.
However, in the ruling on her petition, Judge Makau said the appointment was not an event but a process and the move to file the petition before the process was completed was premature.
“It is in public interest that the process should be allowed to be completed,” he said.