Minister Should Apologise for Diplomatic Gaffe
The remarks attributed to Foreign Affairs minister Sam Ongeri on Somalia’s former President Shariff Sheikh Ahmed are in bad taste. This stemmed from an attack in a Somali hotel that was viewed as an assassination attempt on the newly elected President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, at Mogadishu’s Hotel Jazeera where he was meeting Kenya’s delegation led by Ongeri.
The minister was there to deliver a goodwill message from President Kibaki after the first democratic elections in 21 years. If the authenticity of a local daily newspaper is anything to go by, Ongeri had said that before the September 10 elections, former President Shariff lobbied for Kenyan support to re-elect him.
But Ongeri reportedly told a press conference in Mogadishu that the Kenyan government had rejected the idea and said Kenya promoted “free and fair” elections for Somalia president.The minister did not stop there.The newspaper quoted him assaying that former President Shariff might have been behind the attempted assassination of President Mohamud.
Although al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt, Ongeri raised suspicions that former President Shariff had arrived at the bombing scene minutes later and was not in shock. How on earth can you judge a person’s expression. Personally, I can enumerate about three prominent Kenyans who even when they are overjoyed, they don not show it at all.
So how did Ongeri know that the former President was not in shock?As indicated earlier, Ongeri was not alone. He was leading a delegation that included Ambassador Mohammed Affey, whose diplomatic credentials speak for themselves, having been the ambassador in Somalia who operated from Kenya because of the civil strife in Somalia.
Affey, a nominated MP, has since termed Ongeri’s statements as “careless and reckless” and “a serious coup to diplomacy,” according to the paper. According to Affey, Shariff was concerned about the dignitaries’ safety and to comfort the shaken government officials.It is noteworthy that Kenyan people are making a lot of sacrifices in the war against terrorists in Somalia, which has made this country a target of the al Shabaab attacks.
And, make no mistake,we are not going to relent in this resolve.It is therefore worrying that the minister decided to throw common decency and diplomacy out of the window and make such remarks in which I beg to share Ambassador Affey’s opinion that they were “careless and reckless”and “a serious coup to diplomacy”. This should not however soil our relations with our neighbour.
Kennedy Epalat comments on topical issues.