© Getty Images French President Emmanuel Macron (L) shakes hands with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta during an event at Nairobi Central Railway Station in NairobiPresident Uhuru Kenyatta and his guest, French President Emmanuel Macron, on Wednesday pledged to boost business relations between the two countries even though the wider objective of their meeting was on regional security.
Mr Macron, on the first State visit by a French President to Nairobi, told a joint press conference that he will seek to increase his country’s presence in Kenya.
The two spoke amid security concerns, first caused by terror merchants and second the possibility of instability in the region, especially the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Mr Macron’s visit to Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti had been widely seen as seeking a stronger French presence in the region in the face of rising Chinese impact.
But as they met at State House, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi arrived in Nairobi for the third session of the One Planet Summit, a conference on environmental policies where stakeholders discuss ways of implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change.
One issue on the menu for discussion is the situation in the DRC, according to a diplomatic brief seen by the Nation ahead of Macron’s visit.
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In January, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian joined Belgium and the Congolese Catholic Church to seek “answers” on how Mr Tshisekedi had won the election.
Even as countries like Kenya congratulated Mr Tshisekedi and the Congolese for pulling off a peaceful transition of power, the French minister had argued that the results announced were “the opposite of what we expected”.
Mr Kenyatta’s position was that the French government had duty to help strengthen the Congolese administration rather than lampoon it.
“To sustain peace and security in the Great Lakes Region, Kenya envisages the strengthening of government institutions and will seek the goodwill of the French government to support the new government of the DRC,” the brief said ahead of the meeting.
Mr Tshisekedi was expected to hold talks with the leaders in Nairobi, in which the issue of support was expected to be discussed, diplomats close to the meeting told the Nation.
The visit also comes with an announcement of increased security and counter-terrorism partnership as France seeks to join hands with Kenya in the fight against the Somali-based terror group, Al Shabaab.
“I am a firm believer in regional stability,” President Macron said at a joint press conference with President Kenyatta. “We are deeply committed with Kenya on security and terrorism,” he added.
The agreements signed were on higher education, research and health, among others.