Kenya's newly elected president, William Ruto has announced the withdrawal of his country's recognition of the so-called Sahrawi Republic and voiced support for Morocco's autonomy plan for the enclave.
The announcement was made via a tweet from the president after talks with Morocco's Foreign Affairs minister, Nasser Bourita, who met him to present King Mohammed VI's congratulation over his election last month as Kenya's fifth president.
“Kenya withdraws its recognition of Polisario and takes measures to reduce the presence of this entity in the country” Ruto's tweet declared.
A little later, another tweet by the Kenyan presidency replaced the earlier one professing that "Kenya supports the United Nations framework as the exclusive mechanism to find a lasting solution to the dispute over Western Sahara ”.
Despite this corrective tweet, Kenyan President Wiliam Ruto still maintained his decision to withdraw support for Polisario.
According to a diplomatic source, quoted by the Moroccan daily +TelQuel+, the censor of Ruto's publication is due to constitutional constraints.
While making assurances that the new position of the president remains unchanged - in favor of Morocco -, the same source explains that the Kenyan constitution requires the head of state to go through Parliament so that his decision (to break with Polisario) is officially adopted.
This is neither a volte-face, nor a recantation nor also a spectacular reversal, but a constitutional step that must be respected by a country known for its attachment and respect for its political institutions.
For its part, Moroccan diplomatic circles refer to a joint statement from Rabat and Nairobi, not quoting any tweet.
It is clear that Ruto's tweet heralds a profound change of position concerning the Sahara issue at continental level.
A leading country in the Horn of Africa, a traditional bastion and unconditional ally of separatist campaigns alongside Algeria and South Africa, Kenya, which until recently acted as an impregnable citadel , seems for some time to waver, and now looks to be on the verge of definitive retraction.
It is noteworthy that this about-face came with Ruto's accession.
It all began in February 2022, thanks to its rotating presidency of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), during which it tried to introduce the Sahara issue on the calendar of the body.
That the new Kenyan president affirms in a tweet which has not been deleted, that the question of the Sahara falls within the exclusive competence of the UN on the eve of the holding of the traditional October meeting of the Security Council of the UN on the renewal of the mandate of MINURSO, unquestionably constitutes a major turning point in the position of the East African nation on the issue.
In the same vein, the Kenya's veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga put paid to speculations that he was backing Plisario.
"The reports circulating that I challenged the decision of Mr. Ruto (newly elected president) to review Kenya's policy towards the Polisario are wrong. I have never mentioned the Polisario and I am aware of the important and beneficial relations between Kenya and Morocco,” Odinga wrote on his Twitter account.
Odinga who took second place in the August 9th presidential election added: "I question the tendency to make hasty statements on important issues".