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Kenya: Presidential Election

Volume 745: debated on Wednesday 22 May 2013

Question for Short Debate

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they are making to the Government of Kenya concerning the impact within the region of the outcome of the recent presidential election in that country.

My Lords, this is a remarkable year for Kenya. In December, it will celebrate 50 years of independence from Britain, after Kenya’s founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, took over the reins of government as Prime Minister in 1963. A year later, Kenya’s Parliament amended the constitution to make Kenya a republic, with Jomo Kenyatta as its first President.

There was much pessimism during Kenya’s build-up to independence. Kenyatta had been tried, convicted and imprisoned by the British for “managing” the armed insurrection known as the Mau Mau on charges that were widely regarded as spurious. He was described by a former British governor as the,

“leader to darkness and death”.

Yet he was instrumental, even in the sensitive areas of the so-called White Highlands, in calling for peace and unity. When he died in 1978, he was admired—in an era of instability in post-independence Africa—as having presided over stability and economic advance for his country.

Today his oldest son, Uhuru Kenyatta, is the fourth President of Kenya since independence. He was elected in March when, again, there were gloomy forecasts of violence, chaos and political instability. Like his father, Uhuru Kenyatta can take considerable credit for peaceful elections, particularly when elaborate electronic equipment failed and Kenyans had to endure a week of waiting as the votes were counted manually.

Kenyatta and his Jubilee Alliance were clear winners and thus avoided a run-off against his main political opponent, Raila Odinga and his Coalition for Reform and Democracy. The Jubilee Alliance won by just 8,000 votes, a victory confirmed by Kenya’s Supreme Court. Raila Odinga must take credit, too, for accepting the result, which unquestionably kept his supporters off the streets. However, the country remains sharply divided across ethnic lines, which is a major challenge for the new Administration.

In the disastrous 2007 elections, there had been a similarly close result between Raila Odinga and the former President, Mwai Kibaki, which caused appalling intertribal violence and loss of life. This in turn led to the involvement of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, when Kenya’s Parliament decided not to establish a special tribunal. Charges of crimes against humanity were brought against Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate—and now Vice-President—William Ruto for their alleged roles in the post-election violence of six years ago. At that time they were on opposite sides, but to their credit both men have now agreed to attend the hearings to clear their names. However, it has produced an extraordinary situation with no coherent way forward at the present time. Kenyans remember that during the 2008 post-election violence, Kenyatta went to one of the worst-affected areas, the Rift Valley town of Naivasha, and publicly called for peace, showing considerable personal courage in doing so—not unlike his father before him.

His father’s regime had changed the constitution, but Uhuru Kenyatta inherited a radically different constitution from that which had served Kenya for nearly 50 years. For the first time, the country has a two-tier Parliament: the Senate or upper house, with 67 nationally elected individuals, and a much expanded lower house, the National Assembly, comprising 349 MPs, divided into 28 parliamentary committees. The country has also adopted a devolved system of government with 47 counties each with its own governor and supportive county assembly. This takes the place of the previous provincial administration and moves Kenya away from a centralised system of government and domination by the ruling party and Executive. The new system will be a significant challenge for President Kenyatta to deliver.

The British Government describe the modern-day relationship between the United Kingdom and Kenya as one of partnership. With Britain as the former colonial power, there is a special historic and cultural relationship, as well as commercial and strategic linkages that are vital to both countries. For example, Britain has more than £4 billion invested in Kenya and is home to half the top 10 taxpaying companies in the country. British visitors are also vital for Kenya’s tourism industry, while Britain is Kenya’s second-largest bilateral donor, contributing more than £100 million a year. Trade between Britain and Kenya exceeds £1 billion a year, with British exports to Kenya rising by 38% between 2010 and 2011. No small part of Kenya’s trade with the UK are the millions of cut flowers and tonnes of high-value vegetables heading for British homes every year.

For its part, Kenya is a critical regional business hub, with the largest and most robust economy in the region, and the trading gateway not only to the countries of the East African Community but to eastern Congo and central Africa. A new rail, road and pipeline proposal seeks to link South Sudan with a new port at Lamu, opening up new opportunities for investment. Furthermore, there is enormous potential in oil, gas and minerals in Kenya itself, with substantial oil strikes in the north of the country which could transform the economy in the next decade.

While Kenya is developing as an IT hub with an ambitious new project designed to create an equivalent of Silicon Valley within 60 kilometres of Nairobi, Kenya’s highly articulate and entrepreneurial business class is well placed to lead the regional IT revolution, as Kenya led the world in creating the M-Pesa electronic banking system through the use of mobile telephones. The British-based Eastern Africa Association recently commented that significant numbers of new investors from abroad are attracted to Kenya both as a regional centre and because of its prospects and mineral resources. British investors and expertise are fully behind Kenya Vision 2030, Kenya’s target to become a middle-income country.

The centre of a key region for Britain’s commercial interests, Kenya makes considerable sacrifices in the cause of regional security, including by providing refuge for tens of thousands of Somali refugees. Five thousand Kenyan troops are playing an important role in keeping al-Shabaab at bay in Somalia and in combating piracy along the coast, where anti-piracy activities involve 27 countries, with the result that there are 80% fewer hijacking cases since co-ordinated international action was first taken 18 months ago. The British Army trains 10,000 British soldiers in Kenya every year for active service in Afghanistan and other theatres of war. There are shared values and mutual respect between the Armed Forces of both countries.

In this 50th anniversary year, never have interests between the United Kingdom and Kenya been more important or interdependent. Few in Kenya will forget that while Her Majesty the Queen has just celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, 60 years ago she journeyed to Kenya as a Princess and, while at Treetops, received news of her father’s death and so returned to England as Queen.

Following the decision of the Kenyan Supreme Court to uphold Kenya’s recent election results, Prime Minister David Cameron wrote to congratulate the then President-elect Kenyatta and his team. He stressed that President Kenyatta’s election represented the end of a remarkable process in which more Kenyans than ever before turned out to vote. The Prime Minister urged the Kenyan people to be proud of the strong signal that they have sent to the world about their determination to exercise their democratic right peacefully. He added that the Kenyan people had made their sovereign choice and had resolved disputes through the rule of law and the strong institutions of the Supreme Court and due constitutional process. Despite the delicacy of the International Criminal Court proceedings, President Uhuru Kenyatta was welcomed to London for the Somalia conference and met with Prime Minister Cameron, a recognition of shared interests between Britain and Kenya and the peaceful political transition for which President Kenyatta deserves considerable credit.

One note of concern is over the slowness of the investigation into the death of Alexander Monson at Palm Beach Hospital after being detained overnight in police custody in Ukunda. Over a year since his death occurred, what progress has been made in liaison with the Kenyan authorities with investigations into the causes, and what discussions have been held with President Kenyatta’s office since his election on this point?

There is a strong commitment to the partnership that exists between Kenya and the UK. Our relationship is deep and historic, with a substantial shared agenda of stability, security, development and prosperity that benefits both our countries. We in this House look forward to working with Kenya’s new Government to build on this relationship and to help to realise the great potential of a united Kenya, in line with Vision 2030.

I am delighted to follow the noble Lord. He and I share a common love affair with Africa, along with the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and I agree with all that he has said in his analysis. The elections in Kenya were good news, in part for what did not happen. There was no repetition of the awful events of 2007 and the tribal massacres and there was an ending of what had been a muddle in Africa, where Presidents in uniform had often been the order of the day. That was the case for a number of reasons, including the new constitution, the new electoral commission, the Supreme Court and, as some might more cynically say, because two of the opponents at that time had now become the President and Vice-President. Of course, there were allegations of vote-rigging, but the President received a majority on the first round—the turnout in the elections of roughly 80% puts us to shame in terms of enthusiasm for voting. It was an excellent example of the loser, having first questioned the results, then wholeheartedly accepting it as soon as the Supreme Court had given its ruling.

I need hardly stress the importance of Kenya, as the noble Lord has done, with its internal growth and the extent of UK interests. Externally, Kenya has been a force for good in the region. Like the noble Lord, I think not only about Somalia and Kenya’s assistance against piracy, including with the courts, but also about Kenya as a key ally against terrorism in the region—and, of course, as a good Commonwealth partner.

The problem is clear, as the noble Lord said; it is the one posed by the International Criminal Court, especially for us, now that the President and his Vice-President are both indictees. It is something of an embarrassment for us and for the international community. Clearly, the indictees have been properly elected—the first time that that has happened. Do we shun them or have minimum contact? What consultations have there been with our European Union partners and with the Commonwealth? Already the President has been to the Somalia conference in London and I assume that he will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka. The experience of the indicted President al-Bashir in Sudan is quite different. Here we have a good ally, too big to ignore. Is it still the case that the proceedings are scheduled to begin in July or, as some rather hope, is the case collapsing? I suspect that the British Government would want the whole procedure at the International Criminal Court to fade far away so that we can forget it.

This raises a general point about the work of the International Criminal Court. After the series of ad hoc tribunals in the 1980s and 1990s, the Rome treaty on the International Criminal Court was warmly welcomed at the time. Yet, of course, there is not universal membership—I believe that the current membership is about 130 or 140—and there has been only one conviction in the period since 2002. Equally, a number of key countries, including the United States and other P5 members, are not members of the International Criminal Court.

Perhaps philosophically we have here a clash between justice and politics. Some will say, “Let justice be done whatever the result”, yet there is the question of politics. For example, suppose in Syria President Assad were to say, “Yes, my time is up. I will be prepared to go into a friendly country in exile, together with members of my family and entourage, so long as no proceedings are taken against me”. There would be a great temptation in the international community to proceed against him because of the very clear massacres and human rights violations in Syria. However, allowing him to move into a safe haven could save many thousands of lives. This is part of the dilemma that the international community would face.

I refer to the criticisms made at the inauguration of the new President by President Museveni of neighbouring Uganda. He said—and perhaps we should not pay too much attention to this—that it is to be noted that all the indictees thus far have been African. Is there a degree of bias against Africa in the ICC? Is it right that there has been poor evidence-gathering on behalf of the ICC—for example, too great a willingness to collude with Presidents, as it is alleged happened in the Congo and perhaps with Prime Minister Odinga in Kenya? I think that that probably is answered by the fact that the indictees included members of both Mr Odinga’s party and that of President Kenyatta. At least, those criticisms need to be examined.

What is the Government’s view? Do they accept in part the criticisms of President Museveni on the validity? Perhaps it would be helpful if the Minister, in responding, could say specifically how we intend to deal with the President of such an important Commonwealth country. What are the instructions to our high commissioner, remembering that these proceedings may take many years and there will be, as the Kenyans say, a trial by Skype? Do the Government, at least in part, accept the criticism of the conduct of the International Criminal Court raised by President Museveni?

My Lords, this is an interesting subject and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, for introducing it. We can all feel considerable satisfaction with the Kenyan elections. Not only were they peaceful and the outcome decisive, but the electoral process was internationally approved as free and fair. This was a great relief to all who remember the terrible experience at the end of 2007. I was in Kenya with a CPA delegation shortly after that. Having visited Kisumu, where many of the killings took place, I can still feel a chill on hearing first-hand accounts of what had happened.

We cannot simply dismiss it as ethnic violence between Luo and Kikuyu, as we are prone to do when we are talking about Africa. It was on one side armed gangs, stirred up for political and ethnic reasons, but on the other it was the police, with a shoot-to-kill mandate, who simply opened fire. This is still, for Kenyans, a very recent experience. There are still burnt-out buildings and camps for the displaced, who still await proper homes.

Incidentally, I have watched traffic police beating up minor offenders in Nairobi and it is not a pleasant experience. The police in the latest election also used excessive force and even live ammunition against some demonstrators in Nairobi and Kisumu. However, according to the International Crisis Group, they generally showed much more restraint and efficiency this time, as in the rapid deployment to put down further violence in Mombasa.

The election violence of five years ago is of course the reason for the uncertainty surrounding the ICC indictment of President Kenyatta, who is to appear before the court in July. The noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, and I visited Khartoum a couple of years ago, and we are both well aware of the irony of the Kenyan position alongside that of President al-Bashir in Sudan. President al-Bashir has taken little notice of the ICC and, despite the obvious inconvenience of sanctions, he carries on normally and goes on unauthorised visits abroad. At the same time, on the l0th anniversary of Darfur, the Foreign Office happens to have mentioned in its latest report that there has been progress on human rights in Sudan, such as the appointment of an independent commission on human rights, so perhaps good behaviour somehow pays off.

Long-term African presidents, even elected ones, seem to think that they have earned some impunity because of their long service. In passing, I could also mention the apparent integrity of President Museveni of Uganda, whom we have all admired. This week, he decided to close down the highly respected Daily Monitor and two radio stations simply because they reported disaffection among the generals about his son’s possible succession in three years’ time. When you are high and mighty in Africa, you get away with a lot.

The ICC does appear to Africans to be biased against African states, although I know that our Government would deny that. It is a very contentious issue. The Minister may well say that due process is being followed and that the ICC has merely taken over from the local tribunals. The UK was one of the original backers of the ICC in 2002 and has consistently supported it at the Security Council. It is argued that the extent of violence in Africa justifies a higher level of international judicial involvement, which can take the weight off the courts in the countries concerned. In that direction, much is expected of the ICC’s first African chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, a former justice minister in the Gambia.

However, perceptions also matter, and inevitably there is post-colonial resentment of Britain and other European powers suspected of trying to influence the political scene in Kenya. There was already some feeling during the elections that European diplomats were playing a negative role, although this was denied. People see that, as the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, said, the ICC has an Achilles heel in that major powers, including the US, China, Russia, Japan and India, have refused to join it, so that it therefore has no genuine international standing.

I enjoyed reading the Commons debate about Kenya on 20 March, in which Eric Joyce raised the issue of the ICC’s image. He has a lot of experience of the rough and tumble of life, especially in central Africa, and he analysed—I thought very fairly—the limited status of the ICC as a world arbitrator, showing that in practice it has drawn up indictments only in Africa. Perhaps the Minister could explain how it is that the ICC suddenly seemed to take over from the local tribunals in Kenya, of which much was expected after the last elections. I remember that we debated that. The Mombasa court, of course, has since rightly earned a reputation for its role in the EU-backed Operation Atalanta campaign against Somali piracy and for taking the lion’s share of the prosecutions there.

Because of the high rank of those accused for inciting post-election violence, political pressure was bound to be brought to bear on the Kenyan judiciary in the years after 2007. Witnesses are withdrawing or changing their statements even now for this reason and because of the time that has since elapsed. I gather that William Ruto’s case has been deferred, and therefore there is a real risk that the whole ICC prosecution will be postponed again and, ultimately, cancelled. This would not reflect well on the new Jubilee Alliance Government, who have declared themselves anxious to conform to the new constitution and preserve the independence of the judiciary. Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, as the son and namesake of the founder of Kenya’s independence movement, will want to get on with the business of governing and, we all hope, ridding the country of its worst excesses, many of which lie within government itself.

To begin with, as the International Crisis Group has argued, the new Government need to show robust commitment to the implementation of the new constitution, in particular to devolution, land reform, the fight against corruption, and national reconciliation. Ask anyone involved in wildlife conservation and tourism in Kenya and Tanzania about corruption and they will say it is their worst enemy because it flouts the law, condones poaching and enables very senior civil servants to draw salaries without actually doing anything.

There is always a correlation between corruption, violence and poverty, especially in crowded urban areas such as Kibera. To mitigate this, DfID Kenya has many innovative projects throughout the country; I will not list them all. It concentrates on a whole range of issues, including: improving maternal and reproductive health; increasing school access and the quality of education; and helping Kenya to develop green energy and adapt to a changing climate. Good governance is another priority. Parliamentary exchanges, including training and shared technology, are carried out very effectively by the CPA and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, as I saw for myself in 2008.

I know that the noble Baroness has a human rights brief and is closely associated with the Government’s campaign to join the once-despised Human Rights Council, for which I applaud her. As a younger-generation Minister, she will understand that the UK cannot condemn human rights abuses without accepting its own historic responsibilities. I am thinking of the compensation claim of a limited number of Mau Mau victims of British Army torture following their successful High Court ruling in October 2012, for which negotiations are under way. This case sets a precedent and will have significant repercussions in other Commonwealth countries.

As the noble Lords, Lord Chidgey and Lord Anderson, have said, despite this cloud on the horizon Britain has enjoyed very good relations with Kenya; for example, inviting the President to the Somalia conference. The whole east African region has benefited from Kenya’s growing international trade and the oil boom. Kenya’s success in curbing the power of al-Shabaab in Somalia has won worldwide admiration. The training in Kenya of British troops, which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, seems likely to continue. Our FCO and Trade Ministers have promoted Kenya’s Vision 2030, which involves leading British investors. All that must be to the good. On these and many other fronts, Kenya can be proud of its relationship with Britain, and vice versa.

As we are having an African debate, I will close by commending Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the receipt of the Templeton Prize. I gather he is in this House today. I witnessed the ceremony yesterday. Of course, he accepted the prize with his usual humility.

My Lords, I start with an apology. I intended no discourtesy to the Committee but an urgent family medical problem delayed me. I hope that no one will take offence. I am very grateful that I am able to contribute, and have been advised on what has been said so far.

In the disputed election of 2007, approximately 1,200 people lost their lives. The conflict was glibly and inaccurately described in much of our media as “tribal”, whereas the complexity of the land grievances, separatism issues, corruption, ethnic tensions and a culture of impunity all contributed. Kenyan state institutions, including regional bodies, had not and still have not addressed the sharp socio-economic inequalities which fed the events of 2007. Our Foreign Secretary at the time, David Miliband called on,

“Kenya’s political leaders and democratic institutions to work together to address those concerns, seriously, in a spirit of unity”.

Together with the then Secretary of State, my right honourable friend Douglas Alexander, he said the election marked a “pivotal moment for Kenya”. They emphasised, quite rightly, the democratic processes have,

“to be seen to be fair in the eyes of the Kenyan people”.

Through the next two years, the Government of this country provided aid to support democratic reform and the work of civil society institutions and offered strong support for the role taken, with his customary energy, by Kofi Annan in the reform process. I extend my appreciation—and probably that of all of us—to him. Six years on we have seen an election which tested Kenyan democracy before polling day on 4 March and the declaration of the result on 9 March by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. The election was tested by a number of attacks on security forces on the coast and Somali border areas, principally launched by separatists. But the enormous queues that formed, the desire of people to vote, and even the bane, which we all suffer from, from time to time, of computer glitches, did not change the fact that the outcome was immeasurably more peaceful than it had been at the previous election.

Uhuru Kenyatta was declared elected on the first ballot, and his election was immediately challenged by former Prime Minister Odinga who immediately challenged his victory in court. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the declaration of Mr Kenyatta’s victory rejecting claims of electoral rigging. Mr Odinga held a press conference immediately—and it was helpful that he did—to accept the decision and acknowledge defeat.

A process that involved a ballot box and a full court hearing demonstrated what the chief justice declared had been a,

“free, fair, transparent and credible”,

election. It had taken massive levels of policing to achieve, but it is of the greatest significance to Kenya and to sub-Saharan Africa as a whole that the process was vindicated. Mr Kenyatta was sworn in, as noble Lords know. I rehearse these facts only because the issues which should now focus our attention have to be understood against that backdrop.

For me there are three sets of issues upon which I would welcome the Minister’s view. The first is that the new president is currently charged with crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. He may well be the first person who has been elected as head of state while facing such charges. Inevitably, these circumstances produce a real diplomatic difficulty in calibrating our relationship with Kenya and its new president, a difficulty all too evident when he recently visited the United Kingdom for the Somalia conference. That was handled very carefully and sensitively in all the circumstances by the Prime Minister. The charges relate to allegations, which he has consistently denied, that he choreographed inter-communal violence after the 2007 presidential election. He has repeatedly said that he would work with the court to clear his name. Since we are clear that there should never be impunity, it must follow that the legal process must be completed satisfactorily to yield a decision in one direction or another. He appears to share the view that that is what is desirable, which is in my view to his credit.

Let me be plain that when I have read criticisms, particularly from President Museveni of Uganda, that the ICC process constitutes “blackmail”, to use his word—an unfortunate word in the circumstances—or demonstrates why Africans should distrust the ICC generally, I do not accept that view at all. Where it has acted, as it acted in Africa with Charles Taylor, in events with which I was directly involved as a Minister, or seeks to act with respect to the president of Sudan over Darfur, there has always been, or is currently, a case to answer. These are cases about crimes that have been committed in Africa. But the proposition is also true for President Milosevic, and General Mladic in Bosnia. No impunity in my view means no impunity, and that has been the attitude that, generally speaking, the ICC has taken, and which I believe that Governments of all persuasions in this country have systematically supported. The notion that it has been directed specifically at Africa seems to fly in the face of almost all the recent evidence.

I make no inference in saying this about President Kenyatta or what happened in 2007, but I am encouraged by his willingness to answer the charges and his intention to clear his name. His intent may also be signalled by some of the appointments he has made to his Government, because they could hardly be said to be people who are desirous of avoiding legal consequences or proper processes. I mention particularly the appointment of Mrs Amina Mohamed as Secretary for Foreign Affairs. She is a world class diplomat and has an outstanding legal reputation. Her work in international organisations has been first class.

The Minister may be able to tell us by how much the position has altered since the election campaign, or if it has altered. During the campaign, the EU and the United States limited themselves to what they described as “essential contacts” with ICC indictees, but that, I suspect, can be only a short-term position. We must balance such a policy with fostering close ties with Kenya. It is a vital ally in sub-Saharan Africa and, I think, across Africa more generally, both in economic terms and in the regional battle with militant Islam. It would be a mistake to abandon political or trading influence in Africa, and certainly not in east Africa, to the commercial interests of China or some of the other major Asian powers. How will the Government strike this balance and how rapidly will they do so? Does the Minister agree that the earliest possible attempt to grasp what I think is a new opening in relations with Kenya would be prudent?

Secondly, local commentators, including Mr Kenyatta, have suggested that the United Kingdom interfered in the elections by deploying abnormal numbers of British soldiers to Kenya both before the polls and since, and have claimed that our high commissioner, Dr Christian Turner, who I believe is an excellent diplomat in the FCO, had somehow taken part in what was described as a “rather animated involvement” in Kenya’s election. Let me be clear: I do not believe the allegations. I know the people involved and I have thought about it, and I repeat that I do not believe them. However, it might be as well to put on the public record through Hansard the statement of the Government that these were not interventions of that kind, and they should not disturb our relationship with Kenya.

Finally, let me turn briefly to the Kenyan economy at this new juncture. There are different assessments of the prospects for the Kenyan economy. I have read papers by the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Many see the prospect of significant developments in what is a very entrepreneurial economy that involves significant numbers of the Kenyan people, not least the women who run so many of the small businesses in Africa generally, and certainly in east Africa. Equally, if the country were to become more isolated and it was impossible to create the kind of relationship that I have tried to describe, it may well be that rather than moving upwards and becoming more successful, the economy will drop through several layers. In my view, it is hard to get on to the first rungs of the ladder of economic development and to take the steps towards prosperity that we all desire for sub-Saharan Africa. It is very easy to fall off those first rungs and find yourself back where you started. I would be pleased to hear if the Minister takes a view on the Kenyan economy and what steps might be taken by the United Kingdom and, indeed, by the European Union, which is no small player in this, to ensure that the 44 million people of Kenya receive their entitlement; that is, to look with optimism to the future.

My Lords, I start by thanking my noble friend Lord Chidgey for proposing this debate.

As noble Lords are aware, in March the Kenyan people elected their fourth president since independence. Last week, nominees to the new Kenyan Cabinet were confirmed by the Kenyan Parliament. Kenya now has a new senate and new devolved administrations. It is therefore a timely moment to take stock of what this means for Kenya, for our relationship with Kenya and for the region.

At the outset, I echo much of what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Triesman. I also echo his support both for the ICC and for our general relationship with Kenya. Our partnership with Kenya is both deep and broad. We enjoy a shared history that has given us strong personal links. Some 20,000 British nationals live in Kenya and some 200,000 visit Kenya each year—more than from any other country. The noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, referred to this.

I assure the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, that the modern-day relationship should be, and is, viewed as a partnership. We have a mutual interest in strong trade, defence and security co-operation. Britain is, for example, the largest commercial investor in Kenya. Last year, DfID’s Kenya programme was worth more than £92 million, and this year it is forecast to rise to £143 million. The UK trains 10,000 troops in Kenya each year and we work together closely on regional security issues, such as Somalia and counterterrorism. We look forward to building on this substantial shared agenda in our partnership, including on the economy and in trade.

Kenya’s general election in March was the most complex in its history, with voters electing candidates in six separate votes. It was also one of the most peaceful. We congratulate the Kenyan people on this achievement, and we congratulate President Kenyatta on his victory. After the terrible violence of 2007-08, in which more than 1,000 people were killed, this outcome could not have been taken for granted. It means that Kenya is now in a position to build on the reforms started under the previous Government and described in its 2010 constitution. Kenya is well placed to achieve a more secure and more prosperous future.

The UK played an important role in supporting successful elections. We provided £16 million in funding to support peaceful and credible elections, some of it delivered through the United Nations Development Programme. This helped to ensure that a record 14 million Kenyans were registered to vote and had greater confidence that their vote would count.

The noble Lord, Lord Triesman, referred specifically to the election process. The assistance that we provided was designed to achieve credible and peaceful elections. The UK provided £16 million to fund a range of projects to support free and safe elections, including support to the electoral commission. Our support contributed to the production of a more accurate voter register, using separate optical mark technology and putting in place an independent parallel vote counting system. This helped to ensure that more than 14 million Kenyans were registered to vote and therefore had greater confidence in the vote. I utterly reject any allegations of interference by the UK Government and the British high commissioner. We have always said that the election was a choice for Kenyans alone to decide, and we did not endorse any one candidate over another.

Turning back to the issue of the International Criminal Court, which was raised by all noble Lords, President Kenyatta, alongside Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang, are facing charges at the International Criminal Court. Of course, there have been recent changes and concerns in relation to witness statements. However, we support the court as the cornerstone of international justice. As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said in July last year:

“We have learnt from history that you cannot have lasting peace without justice, accountability and reconciliation”.

We believe that the ICC process has already served peace in Kenya by providing access to justice for both victims and accused and by encouraging responsible campaigning in the recent election.

We must let the ICC process run its course. It is for the court to run the trials, and it goes without saying that we will respect its decision. We have no role in that judicial process. We welcome President Kenyatta’s commitment to respect Kenya’s international obligations, and we welcome the fact that he continues to co-operate with the ICC. We believe that the suspects must be considered innocent until proven guilty before that court. Our engagement will reflect this and we will judge our approach according to the issue. This approach is consistent with that taken by the EU and many other international partners. In the mean time, we do not think that the issue should dominate our bilateral relationship.

The noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, asked whether the cases would still be heard in July. That is for the ICC to manage. The trials, including setting trial dates, will be a matter for the ICC and we will respect the decisions that it takes.

The noble Lord, Lord Anderson, asked broader questions about the ICC, including the question of bias against Africa. I echo the words of the noble Lord, Lord Triesman. The ICC is an impartial, professional and independent court. It is a court of last resort which is complementary to the national legal system, and it gets involved only when national authorities are unable or unwilling to prosecute. Kenya and 121 other countries are state parties to the Rome statute of the court, including half the countries in Africa. That is a positive sign. There are more parties to the Rome statute from African states than from any other region.

The noble Lord, Lord Anderson, also mentioned the criticism of the ICC by the Ugandan President. Of course, the ICC is a young institution and has a long road ahead. It is the first organisation of its kind; it breaks new ground with every case and ruling, and is required to cover most of the globe, often while conflict is still occurring. It is only 10 years old and criticism is therefore inevitable. But I know from my own dealings with, and policy responsibility for, the ICC, it is a system that we must continue to support. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, asked how the ICC came to take on the Kenya cases. Initially we encouraged a local process but it was the Kenyan Parliament’s decision not to establish a special tribunal that led to the ICC taking on the cases.

Returning to Kenya’s broader relationships in the region, we are pleased that President Kenyatta was able to attend the Somalia conference. Kenya is one of Somalia’s most important partners and has a vital role to play in bringing stability to Somalia. It has nearly 5,000 troops in Somalia and is actively engaged in discussions on local administration arrangements. It is also host to more than 500,000 Somali refugees, more than any other nation. It was therefore important that Kenya was represented at the conference at the highest level.

My right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary met President Kenyatta at the Somali conference, and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, for his warm comments about the way in which that conference was handled. As well as co-ordinating our approach to Somalia, those meetings provided a valuable opportunity to establish the basis for a future working relationship on a shared agenda, from regional security to prosperity and development. Following the conference, we will continue to engage with the Somali Government to deliver lasting change in Somalia.

We are grateful to Kenya for providing protection and assistance to refugees from Somalia and will continue to support it in shouldering that burden. But the Somalia conference also recognised the importance of scaling up efforts to create the security, political and developmental conditions inside Somalia to make the voluntary and sustainable return of refugees viable. We also endorsed the tripartite dialogue initiated by the Somali and Kenyan Governments alongside the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which we hope will lead to a framework for refugee return.

Another facet of UK-Kenya co-operation in the region concerns piracy, which again is linked to Somalia. Encouraging progress has been made: 12 May was the anniversary of the last successful hijacking by pirates off the coast of Somalia. Pirate attacks in the waters off Somalia have fallen. Kenya is on the front line in responding to this reprehensible practice. It currently holds 130 suspected or convicted pirates in its prisons and has previously accepted the transfer of 14 suspected pirates from UK vessels for prosecution. However, it is important that we continue to co-operate closely to sustain this progress. We are in discussions with the Kenyan Government to renegotiate a memorandum of understanding that would facilitate the future transfer of additional pirate suspects to be brought to justice in the Kenyan courts.

Kenya plays an important role in other regional issues, such as Sudan. Kenya facilitated negotiation of the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement that brought to an end the long-running civil war in Sudan. We look forward to Kenya encouraging both countries to continue implementation of the Addis agreements.

Kenya is also a regional economic hub, with the biggest economy in the region. The IMF estimates that GDP growth will be 5.8% this year. Other East African Community countries rely on its infrastructure, as we saw at the end of the previous decade, when the crisis in Kenya resulted in a quadrupling of oil prices in Uganda. Through TradeMark East Africa, the UK is supporting regional trade and infrastructure integration. The programme aims to see a 15% reduction in transport time, above-trend increases in intraregional trade and exports, and a 60% reduction in non-tariff barriers.

Supporting regional integration and better infrastructure is also good for UK business. Britain remains the largest cumulative investor in Kenya and bilateral trade amounts to £1 billion each year. UK firms are leading the way in helping Kenya to develop its resources in the energy sector. These efforts are supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UKTI. My honourable friend the Minister for Africa is leading a high-value opportunity programme that highlights opportunities for British businesses in the oil and gas sector in east Africa and helps them to access these markets.

My noble friend Lord Chidgey asked about the case of Alexander Monson. It is now more than a year since his tragic death, and I am heartened that Lord Monson has found our assistance helpful. We have been active on this case at both ministerial and official levels. My colleague, the Minister for Africa, raised the case with the then Minister for Internal Security in Kenya in October last year. Officials in Kenya have raised it with the Police Inspector General, the Attorney-General and the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary, and we will continue to raise this matter. Regrettably, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority currently reviewing the police investigation has not offered an assessment of progress to date, or given us an indication of when the investigation will be completed. We continue to urge the Kenyan authorities to conduct a thorough and urgent review of the case and to keep the Monson family informed of developments. I am sure that this is not the best news that the family would like to hear, but I can assure them, through the noble Lord, that we are doing all we can. The prospects of a public inquest into this case are unclear, at least while the investigation remains ongoing, but we are committed to supporting the noble Lord, Lord Monson, in his search for answers and stand ready to support him and his legal team in their calls for a public inquest if the investigation fails to demonstrate that a full and transparent investigation took place.

The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, raised the Mau Mau issue. We believe that there should be a debate about the past. It is an enduring feature of our democracy that we have to be willing to learn from our own history. We understand the pain and grievance felt by those on all sides who were involved in this divisive and bloody event of the emergency period in Kenya. It is right that those who feel that they have a case are free to take it to the courts. Our relationship with Kenya and its people has moved on and is now characterised by close co-operation and partnership, building on the many positives of our shared history. The parties exploring the possibility of a settlement in this case are Kenyan clients of Leigh Day and are currently in discussions. In these circumstances, it is possibly inappropriate for me to comment further at this stage.

In conclusion, we agree that our relationship with Kenya is important and that we have a wide-ranging shared agenda. Regional security issues and trade are areas of particularly active co-operation and we want to strengthen our links with Kenya across the board. The appointment of a new Kenyan Government committed to upholding their international commitments provides an opportunity to work together on our mutual interests with renewed vigour.

Sitting suspended.