Envoy defends Somali traders in Kenya

January 29, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – Somalia’s Ambassador to Kenya Mohammed Ali now says there is no influx of huge sums of money believed to be from piracy proceeds into Kenya.

Speaking to Capital News on Thursday Ambassador Ali argues there are no facts to back the accusations.

“The accusations can be there but we need to see the facts and we don’t believe that’s the case. Somali people are business oriented and they will have to do business wherever they go. The piracy issue just came yesterday; it wasn’t there before and Somalis were even doing legal business in Kenya before 1990 and before piracy,” he said adding that such accusations were baseless.

“Saying that they (Somalis) are money laundering is not a good thing to say; there are many other nationalities who live in Kenya. Why aren’t they targeted?” he posed.

He also took issue with sections of the media for reporting that Somalis were dumping dirty money in Nairobi’s Eastleigh area.

“I’ve seen some of the local papers saying that some of the high rise buildings in Eastleigh are as a result of the piracy money and that is not true and it is really unfair. I believe that all the Somalis doing business in this area are there legally, they pay taxes and they should be protected,” he said.

The Ambassador also supported the ongoing government crackdown on illegal immigrants saying Kenya was a sovereign state. He explained that all sovereign states had the right to eject any illegal immigrants if they so wished.

“Kenya is a free state which has its right as every country to check every document belonging to a foreigner. It can also deport any foreigner who is illegally here. We do not support anyone who is here illegally,” he said adding that Somalia would accord the same treatment to any illegal immigrants on its land.

Ambasador Ali however took issue with the crackdown’s subsequent detention of several Somali MPs who were in Kenya legally saying it was insensitive.

“What we were not happy with was the way our MPs were treated. They were here for seminars and meetings and they had their papers right but at least after talking to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the issue was resolved and we were satisfied,” he said.

He further asked all Somalis on Kenyan soil to respect the rule of law and to ensure that they had all their legal documents in order so as to warrant their stay.

“There are Somali business people here and there are also Somali students who go to school here and there are refugees. Business people should look for legal papers, students should look for student visas and if there are any refugees they should go to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) offices to get their refugee IDs so that they can stay here peacefully,” he said of Somalis who were causing anxiety at the Northern border point of Kenya. 

“Kenya is our neighbour and it is where our recovery government was born. We know that in every society there are good and bad people but we do not support any Somali who harasses Kenyan Somalis,” he said.

The Ambassador also commended Kenyans for their hospitality saying: “We really appreciate the way they have received us and how they continue receiving us. Our refugees come to the border almost every other day and we know that some families really opened their doors for our people when the civil war started. We have many refugees at the border camps in Dadaab and it is because of Kenyans’ acceptance to have us,” he said. 


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