“I suppose the Ethiopian ambassador to Kenya, knowing it came from a very dictatorial regime, may not comprehend the dynamics of a liberal democracy like we have in Kenya” – Hon. Farah Maalim, Kenyan Parliament Deputy Speaker
By Farah Maalim,
My attention has been drawn to an article published by The Standard On Saturday on March 24 (see below) by Shemsudin Roble, Ethiopian Ambassador to Kenya.
While I initially hesitated to comment and give credence to the commentary by the ambassador on the regional dynamics, I, however, felt it important to clarify certain misinformation and erroneous aspects pertaining to my interview with K24 on March 15 at least for the benefit of Kenyans and other people in the region. I wish to clarify the following issues:
DEMOCRACY IN KENYA:
While Kenya is a vibrant democracy in the region, Ethiopia is certainly the complete opposite.
In Kenya today, any person who decides to offer oneself for public office must be ready to be held to account for his/her acts of commission or omission, be it the President, Prime Minister and other Government officers, including MPs. This surely is a political context that cannot be countenanced in Ethiopia.
I suppose then that possibly the Ethiopian ambassador, coming from a very dictatorial regime, may not comprehend the dynamics of a liberal democracy like we have in Kenya. The Constitution of Kenya is one of the most progressive legal documents in Africa. As a Kenyan knowledgeable in political economy and political history of the Horn of Africa, our Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, even if others may not agree.
It is open knowledge that those opposed to the regime in Addis often find themselves in jail, exile or in the graves. No wonder there is a steady stream of Ethiopians always caught in Kenya as illegal immigrants fleeing the harsh and autocratic practices. For centuries, successive regimes in Ethiopia validated themselves through the barrel of the gun.
Empire builders such as Tewodros, Yohannes, Menelik, Iyasu, Haile Selassie and Mengistu Haile Mariam were killed in wars, executed or forced into exile, save for Emperor Menelik. The current regime in Ethiopia rose to power through a protracted guerilla war using the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF).
Today in Ethiopia with an exception of the Amhara, Tigray and Southern nationalities, all the other regions/nationalities host armed liberation movements that are fighting Addis Ababa. The Afar Liberation Front, the Oromo Liberation Front, the Ogaden National Liberation Front and the Beni-Shangul/Gambela are some of the movements involved in a violent endeavour to change the status quo in Addis Ababa. The regime in Addis Ababa must be prepared to give a chance to dialogue.
OPERATION LINDA NCHI:
I forgive the ambassador for his failure to listen actively to spoken words.
As a patriotic Kenyan leader, I never stated that I am opposed to the operation Linda Nchi. While I fully support the operation in Somalia by Kenya’s Defence Forces to eliminate the threats by criminal gangs, I nevertheless cautioned and qualified my support by expressing the need for a quick withdrawal strategy even as our patriotic forces got in. I raised alarm that we may not have learnt lessons from interventions by other powerful forces that failed in the recent past due to the perception of being viewed as foreign occupation forces.
I would hate a situation where our defence forces are stuck or bogged down in internal political dynamics of Somalia, especially given the goodwill shown by the people of Somalia to our troops. I called for a quick intervention and then withdrawal and not long term occupations. Is this what the ambassador calls opposition to Linda nchi?
Kenya Defence Forces must limit their operations to safeguarding and protecting Kenya’s territorial integrity and creation of a buffer zone along the border managed and controlled by friendly Somali government forces and civil administration. We cannot afford to have a meaningless antagonism with Eritrea or Somalia.
The Ambassador says my discussions were malicious and untruth. Let him say the historical facts to prove me wrong.
– – – – – – – – – –
The writer is Deputy Speaker of the Kenyan Parliament
– – – – – – – – – –
The part of the interview that disgusts the TPLF led regime of Meles Chenawi
MAALIM WAS WRONG ON REMARKS ABOUT ETHIOPIA
By Shemsudin Roble (Ethiopian Ambassador to Kenya),
My attention has been drawn to a number of negative utterances by Mr Farah Maalim against my country. I wish to clarify and discount certain malicious falsehoods made by him.
First, Mr Maalim is a person who occupies a respectful position as Deputy Speaker of Parliament. Yet he keeps making statements which seem to defend and support non-State actors in this region.
For example, during an interview on March 15 on K24 TV station (‘Capital Talk’ programme) touching on several issues, like on military interventions in Somalia; on Eritrea-Ethiopia and Eritrea-Kenya relations; on Igad; on Kenya’s foreign policy. The allegations labeled against Ethiopia by Maalim during this interview were baseless.
They were similar to allegations usually made by Eritrea. Eritrea uses smear campaign to justify its clandestine activities against other countries in the region, including Kenya.
What is more shocking about these allegations is that they were delivered by a senior Kenya Government official.
The utterances made by the Deputy Speaker do not contain an iota of truth and were motivated purely by dislike for Ethiopia.
It is indeed strange to see Maalim unconstructively criticise Kenya’s intervention in Somalia, which is supported by the international community.
Only Eritrea, of course, is the exception. The Deputy Speaker got it wrong on the intervention of Ethiopia in Somalia, too.
The government of Ethiopia has demonstrated that it is a genuine friend and partner of the Somali people in their struggle to rid their country of Al Shabaab, which has openly boasted of being an ally to Al Qaeda.
These efforts of Ethiopia have received the admiration of the international community, again with the exception being Eritrea. The Eritrean intervention has been a negative one.
The country has been accused severally of supporting Al Shabaab. It is a matter of public record that the UN-Eritrea/Somalia monitoring group report of 2011 confirmed that Eritrea, through its Embassy in Nairobi, was providing Al Shabaab with $80,000 in regular cash payments to destabilise Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.
This is the country that Maalim was speaking positively about in his interview. Nevertheless, the price Eritrea has paid for its dreadful actions and its spoiler role in the region has been in the condemnations and sanctions from regional, continental and global organisations, including the United Nations.
We believe Maalim is aware of these facts, but unfortunately opted to gloss over them. In this regard the Deputy Speaker wants us to believe that everyone else is wrong except himself.
Igad, which has won the commendation of the African Union, has proved itself to be a viable vehicle of economic integration in the Horn of Africa region.
It is an organisation of seven member countries, including Kenya. It is, therefore, outrageous to expect to relegate such an esteemed organisation to serving the interests of one member country.
It is pertinent to mention some of the achievements of Igad – among others the signing of CPA between Sudan and South Sudan, and the Somali peace process that resulted in the formation of TFG in Somalia. Regarding Ethiopia-Kenya relations, the two countries enjoy strong relations, contrary to what has been said by the Deputy Speaker.
The relationship that exists between Ethiopia and Kenya has its roots in good neighbourliness, equality and mutual respect. In my view, the criticism made by Maalim about Kenya’s foreign policy to Ethiopia is shameful.
His behaviour is an insult to the people he represents and the Government and institutions of Kenya. Regarding the internal affairs of Ethiopia, the Deputy Speaker has no right to meddle and should mind his own business.
– – – – – – – – – – –
The writer is Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Kenya
– – – – – – – – – –