The chairman of Parliament’s Committee on Equal Opportunity Mohammed Affey. PHOTO / FILE
By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU email@example.com
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Ongeri was “careless and reckless” when he accused Somalia’s former President Sheikh Sharrif of being behind last week’s attempted assassination of his successor Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud, an MP has said.
Speaking to the Nation on phone from Brussels, Belgium, nominated MP Mohammed Affey --who was with Prof Ongeri and other Kenyan dignitaries during the attempt in Mogadishu’s Aljazeera Palace Hotel—said the accusations against the former President "were likely to destabilize" the new government.
“Al Shabaab have already claimed responsibility. We all know this was the work of criminals, but when he says the former President was involved, only because of his presence at the hotel shortly after the attack, I think that is irresponsible and careless,” said Mr Affey.
“It is a serious coup to diplomacy,” Mr Affey added.
The MP said Sheikh Sharrif, who had “managed the transition very well” was “concerned about the attack” and that’s why he showed up at the hotel. He added that such remarks ought to be backed up with fool-proof evidence.
“(Sheikh Sharrif) came to comfort us when he heard that there had been an attack at the hotel in which we were meeting the new President. It was very kind of him, and some of us, really appreciate that gesture. Would he have done that if he was involved? The minister should speak more carefully on issues of Somalia,” said Mr Affey.
Mr Affey, who is the chairman of Parliament’s Committee on Equal Opportunity, and who’s worked in Somalia before, said the aspersions cast on the character of former Somalia’s President were bound to backfire on Kenya.
“Yes, Prof Ongeri showed extreme courage, but the manner in which he’s accused the former President is uncalled for, and does not help our diplomacy,” Mr Affey said. “It is such remarks that will undermine the peace process in Somalia.”
The MP noted that Prof Ongeri, who could be privy to classified security information given the stature of his ministerial docket, should have handled the matter more “carefully”, rather than publicly accuse Sheikh Sharrif
“Diplomats, and the minister should know, do not speak that way. Mogadishu is a very unsafe city, and the minister should know that,” said Mr Affey.
When he made the remarks on Sunday to his Nyaribari Masaba constituents in his Omoyo rural home in Borabu District, the minister said the fact that Sheikh Sharrif had asked for Kenya’s help before the elections –an advance which was rejected.
“Before the elections, Mr Sharrif had talked with me for one and half hours, requesting that Kenya support him capture the presidency. But I told him that Kenya did not want to support any candidate as it wanted a free and fair elections in order to restore peace among Somali people which they had missed for the last 22 years,” Prof Ongeri said.
The minister said he was surprised when he saw the former President Sharif at Aljazeera Palace Hotel soon after the incident occurred and who appeared unshaken by what had happened.
“Although Al-Shabaab has accepted responsibility of the incident, I don’t know whether it was by coincidence that Sharrif came to the scene soon event as we held our breath waiting in the room for a bomb to be detonated,” Prof Ongeri said.