NAIROBI, November 27 – The government has threatened to withdraw visas for Somali Members of Parliament (MPs) who will defy an earlier demand to leave Kenya and concentrate on finding a long lasting solution to conflict in their country.,
Delivering a ministerial statement in Parliament on Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said despite continued appeals, 178 Somali MPs were still resident in Kenya.
“As I speak, they are still in Kenya, and we will continue encouraging them to go, and if they don’t, then there are alternatives we can take by suspending their visas so that they can go back,” he said.
He continued: “Last Sunday I met the Somali President and his MPs and encouraged them that while we welcome them, it was the feeling of Kenyans that their continued stay was undesirable and unhelpful to their course because they were required to go back to their country.”
He said it was dangerous and unfair for the MPs to continue staying away from their country since they belonged to a vital institution responsible for running of Somalia.
“There is a real danger of the vacuum they have left in their country, they must go and do their work,” he insisted.
Nominated MP Rachael Shebesh however appealed to the government to be careful to the style it was using to persuade them to go back by paying attention to the dangers of spoiling peace in Kenya.
She urged the government to use the African Union to pressure the Parliamentarians back to their country and avoid a clash with Somalia.
“Is the Minister not able to use the African Union to mediate in this issue so that Kenya does not look like it does not want to host Somali MPs. we don’t want to start the kind of problems that Djibouti and Eritrea are having because of Somalia,” she said.
Mr Wetangula said Kenya will still continue helping the region to build peace and also host needy Somalis however paying attention that their presence did not pose any security dangers in the country.
The 178 Somali MPs were part of the 278 MPs invited to Kenya for the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) meeting held in Nairobi last month.
However, only 100 of them returned to their country after the meeting, the rest appealed for the extension of their visas which they have since been granted.