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Win for Mwende Mwinzi in battle to retain American citizenship



The High Court has ruled that Kenya’s ambassador nominee to South Korea Mwende Mwinzi should not be forced to renounce her American citizenship as demanded by Parliament.

Ms. Mwinzi, a dual citizenship holder, moved to court after the National Assembly approved her nomination as Kenya’s envoy to South Korea but on condition that she renounces her American citizenship.

In her petition she argued that her American citizenship is by birth therefore she cannot renounce it since it is out of her control.

“My US citizenship was acquired by birth and as such, my citizenship or the process of opting in was a consequence of circumstances out of my control. I did not participate in the decision to be born in the US and I cannot “opt out” of that decision,” she submitted in an affidavit.

In his ruling on Thursday, Justice Makau noted that an ambassador is not a State officer but a public officer, therefore, Ms. Mwinzi is not required to renounce her citizenship.

“There is no legislation establishing the office of ambassador as a State office but Parliament has powers to enact legislation in that effect. It’s clear that a State officer who acquires dual citizenship shall lose his position,” ruled the Judge.

Article 78 of the Constitution stipulates that a person is not eligible for election or appointment to a State office unless the person is a citizen of Kenya.

However, according to Clause 2 (b)of the same Article, the above law does not apply to “any person who has been made a citizen of another country by operation of that country’s law or without ability to opt out.”

At the same time, the court ruled that Ms. Mwinzi’s petition was premature since the vetting and approval process had not been completed.

The judge said that she should have waited for the process to complete before moving to the court.

“The president is waiting approval of the parliament. The petitioner didn’t not allow the president to make  his decision. The petition is premature, noted the judge.

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