Mwende Mwinzi starts South Korea’s envoy job after two-year battle with MPs

Mwende Mwinzi
Kenya's ambassador to South Korea Mwende Mwinzi; [Photo: People Daily]

Mwende Mwinzi, the Kenyan ambassador to South Korea on Wednesday presented her credential to South Korea President Moon Jae-in.

She presented the credentials at Jae-in’s official residence Blue House in Seoul.

According to South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mwinzi was among eight other diplomats who submitted their credentials to South Korean head of state signifying their start of envoy duties.

Mwinzi was accompanied by the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chung Eui-yong.

Her nomination by President Uhuru Kenyatta triggered a fierce debate over her dual citizenship status leading to a two-year court battle.

The protracted court battle started in May 2019 when Uhuru announced her nomination together with a couple of others.

However, Mwinzi’s turned out to be a big deal as she holds both Kenyan and US citizenship.

The National Assembly through the Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations chaired by Mr Katoo ole Metito upon vetting her said that she meets all the requirement but had to renounce her American citizenship in order to take up the ambassadorial role.

Mwinzi explained that renouncing her American citizenship was not an option because she has most of her life concentrated in Kenya.

As all this transpired South Korea had Okayed her appointment.

She moved to the High Court seeking orders to stop Parliament from pushing her to renounce her American citizenship which was acquired through birth,

The 50-year-old Kenyan enoy in South Korea was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the US to a Kenyan father and American mother.

This gave her both Kenyan and American citizenship by default. In court papers, she argued that it was not in her control to choose her nationality, therefore, MPs had no mandate to choose it for her.

In the first round, she won the petition but the court still held that Parliament’s was right in questioning where her loyalty was given that she is a dual citizen.

However, during her vetting when the question of loyalty came up, she promised Parliament of total commitment to Kenya.

Parliament vowed to appeal the decision but did not leading to her deployment to South Korea.