NAIROBI, November 21 – The government on Friday threatened to kick out Somali leaders and impose a travel ban on those who are an impediment to the peace process in the lawless country.,
Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said the ban would be extended by all IGAD member countries and also include the leaders’ family members.
“We are faced with an embarrassing situation where Somali Members of Parliament came to Kenya for a meeting and have refused to go back home,” the Minister said.
Mr Wetangula blamed the current upsurge of what he termed as a ‘frightening’ menace of piracy along the Indian Ocean maritime routes to the lawlessness in the war torn country faulting the Somali leaders for failure to resolve the problems in that country.
“They have to go and build their country. They can’t leave it to warlords that are partly benefiting from this criminal enterprise. I think hard decisions have to be made in one way or the other to enable us move to the next level,” he added.
He emphasised that the Kenyan government would never support ransom payments to the pirates saying that would only encourage them to do what they are doing even more.
He noted that an excess of $150 million had been paid out to the pirates in the last 12 months as ransom.
“The plot has been thickening day by day, what started like a simple lawless activity by a few errant Somali nationals now looks like a major international criminal enterprise that is getting all of us affected,” he said.
“I was talking to a colleague from Egypt who told me that ships from India and Malaysia are now going to Mediterranean ports through the cape of good hope avoiding the Suez Canal which is the nearest,” he added.
He revealed that a major international conference would immediately be convened in Nairobi to discuss how to fight the growing threat of piracy following a directive from President Mwai Kibaki.
“Without a coordinated approach, it will be difficult to fight this criminal enterprise…. we need to have a coordinated approach so that we are not all operating at individual country level because this is no longer an individual country issue,” he noted.
“Like we normally say when we are battling the pandemic AIDS, we are either infected or affected, I think here we are all affected and everybody is now frightened to ply the routes through the Indian Ocean.”
“I think sometimes we must take decisions that are harsh, that may cause pain but if they are for the common good of humanity I think they are justifiable…. we must act now not tomorrow,” Mr Wetangula concluded.