- The AU Special Envoy will, among other series of meetings, engage the Commonwealth Secretariat between March 15 and 16.
- He will also meet representatives of Kenyans living in the UK.
ODM boss Raila Odinga is set for a five-day tour of the UK, immediately after his crowning as the Azimio La Umoja presidential flag bearer.
Raila will fly out soon after Deputy President William Ruto returns from a 12-day trip abroad.
The trips underscore the importance of the international community in the August 9 State House race.
They also are coming at a time when Kenyans in 12 diaspora countries are expected to vote.
Voting for the first time are Kenyans in the US, UK, Canada, South Sudan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Germany.
The seven countries join Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Africa that participated in the last election in 2017.
Raila is expected to fly out next Monday, two days after his presentation as the Azimio coalition’s joint presidential candidate at a mega political event in Nairobi.
“Baba (Raila) will leave for UK on March 14, for five days after naming of the presidential candidate,” a highly placed source privy to his itinerary revealed to the Star.
Raila, during a rally in Nakuru on Wednesday, disclosed the fledging coalition will unveil its presidential candidate at a grand rally at Jacaranda grounds on Saturday.
However, during the ODM National Delegates Convention, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the presentation of the Azimio candidate will take place at the Kasarani indoor arena.
Uhuru, whose Jubilee party has welcomed majority of fringe parties in Azimio, is widely expected to preside over the installation of his handshake partner.
While in the UK, the AU Special envoy for Infrastructure will, among other series of meetings, engage the Commonwealth Secretariat between March 15 and 16.
The secretariat is the intergovernmental organisation that supports the 54 member states to achieve the Commonwealth’s aims of development, democracy and peace.
The Africa Union High Representative for Infrastructure and Development will also meet representatives of Kenyans living in the UK.
He will also meet top British businessmen.
ODM chairman John Mbadi, who isRaila’s close ally. told the Star he was not privy to his boss’s travel plans but maintained it would be in order for the former Prime Minister to take a leave after his endorsement.
“Probably he could be leaving after being unveiled to have a rest or have some engagements outside the country," Mbadi said.
"That will be in order if he wants to but I am not privy to that yet."
The ODM boss is currently leading back-to-back robust campaigns across seven counties as a build-up to the Jacaranda crowning.
The trip comes barely three weeks after the former Prime Minister returned to the country from a 10-day tour of Ethiopia, India and Dubai.
He attended the 35th ordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union heads of states and government in Ethiopia.
He was in India for his daughter, Rosemary’s eye treatment. Raila also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Raila’s UK visit comes at a time the country is experienced heightened political campaigns billed as a two-horse race between Odinga and Ruto.
Raila’s journey will happen days after Ruto jets back from 10-day trip to the US and UK.
The DP landed in the UK, Sunday, morning after a week-long stay in the US where he met, among others, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, delivered lectures and met Kenyans living there.
In the UK, Ruto has been scheduled to meet senior government officials, give talks at the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House).
One Kenya Alliance principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Gideon Moi are also away in Uganda on a diplomatic mission.
On Sunday, the duo met and held ‘lengthy and deep’ discussion with President Yoweri Museveni in State House Nakasero-Kampala.
The discussions centred on the current situation in South Sudan and particularly the planned retreat between President Salva Kiir and his first Vice President Riek Machar.
Also discussed in the meeting were bilateral issues between Kenya and Uganda, a statement from State House in Kampala read.
Observers say the role of the international community goes beyond providing financial and technical support to the validating of an electoral process.
Peter Mwencha, an international relations and diplomacy expert, cited at least three factors motivating presidential hopefuls to travel abroad around election time.
“Everyone wants to be seen to be having the networks or able to wield support not just locally but internationally,” he said.
Mwencha added that the significant diaspora vote and the need to discuss a private or sensitive matter with partners far away would require them to travel.
“Lastly, the diaspora's financial or other kind of support has a very huge contribution to the economy. They have significant resources and they would want to tap into,” he said.
Ahmed Hashi, an international relations expert, said that travel abroad for a presidential candidate is largely geared towards demonstrating foreign policy knowledge to the international community and development partners.
“It's a way of telling other countries that the foreign policy will not change substantially and the normal diplomatic channels will continue as they are, even if there will be a change in the leadership of the country,” he said.
The international community sometimes plays a role in supporting planning, delivery and entrenching of elections within the context of support to political systems and engraining democracy.
The trips also reveal the apparent fierce battle for the crucial diaspora vote ahead of the high-stakes presidential election.
The UK, US and East Africa – Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda – countries account for the highest number of diaspora voters.
(Edited by V. Graham)