Kenyan-American Mwende Mwinzi has finally taken up her position as Kenya’s Ambassador to South Korea, nearly two years after her nomination by President Kenyatta.
Mwinzi presented her credentials to South Korea President Moon Jae-in during a ceremony at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Wednesday, marking the beginning of her tenure as Kenya’s representative in the Asian country.
In October last year, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi blocked attempts by MPs to stonewall her appointment to the position.
Muturi stood down a motion in which Parliament's Committee on Implementation wanted MPs to reject Mwende's nomination for failing to relinquish her US citizenship as directed by the House in June 2019.
MPs cited section 31(1) of the Leadership and Integrity Act, which bars persons with dual citizenship from holding State offices unless they renounce one.
But the High Court ruled that Mwende cannot be forced to renounce her US citizenship to take up the post. In a ruling dated November 14th, 2019, Justice James Makau noted that an ambassador is not a State officer, but a public officer and hence is not required by law to renounce one of his or her citizenship.
Justice Makau also ruled that even if the petitioner [Mwende] was appointed to a state office, she is protected under Article 78 of the Constitution.
“No one chooses [his or her] place of birth or parents,” said the judge, adding that being an American citizen by birth, she cannot opt-out.
“Article 78(3) b of the Constitution protects her,” said Justice Makau, adding that “citizenship by birth is an inalienable right which cannot be taken away.”
Mwende was nominated to the position by President Kenyatta on May 2nd, 2019.