NICOSIA, Nov 15 – Kenya has requested Cyprus to use its upcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union to marshal support for Kenya’s efforts aimed at stabilising peace and security in Somalia.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka in talks with President Demetris Christofias at the presidential palace in Nicosia said it was the expectation of Kenya that Cyprus with whom they enjoy a long history of friendship will use its role to seek understanding and assistance within the EU for Kenya’s operations in Somalia aimed at rooting out militants and extremists.
Responding, President Christofias told Musyoka that peace and security in the Horn of Africa was a vital factor for world trade and that Cyprus understood that Kenya was not harbouring any expansionist designs but was only keen to secure its borders from attacks.
“We know Kenya has peaceful intentions and is only assisting the Transitional Federal Government to stabilise the country and the leave Somalia. We therefore support your efforts,” he said.
Musyoka said Kenya bore the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from Somalia and could not tolerate the constant attacks and kidnappings of citizens and visitors anymore.
“Constant attacks by militants from across the border have not only threatened the security of Kenyans but also affected our tourism sector, that is why we had to act,” Musyoka said.
The VP who presented a message from President Kibaki to his counterpart, lauded the existing good relationship between Kenya and Cyprus which dates back to the days of the founding president Jomo Kenyatta and Archbishop Makarios.
He thanked the government of Cyprus for providing scholarships to Kenyan students and through the Orthodox Church and the provision of health facilities and schools.
President Christofias said he was looking forward to visiting Kenya soon where he expects to sign protocols and agreements for trade, tourism cooperation, scientific and cultural exchanges.
He particularly singled out Musyoka for praise saying he had maintained close links with Cyprus ever since his days as a student at the Mediterranean Institute of Management in Nicosia.
Musyoka said Kenya supported the UN Security Council resolutions aimed at resolving the Cypriot problem which is hoped will eventually lead to the reunification of Cyprus, bringing together the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots.
The Vice President and his delegation also held discussions with the President of the Cyprus parliament Yannakis Omirou where he was briefed that the parliament has a greater role in the scrutiny of budget proposals presented by the executive akin to the provisions of Kenya’s new constitution on the same process.
At the Cyprus Tourism organization Musyoka and his delegation learned of the diversification efforts by the small island nation of her tourist products, leading to a situation where they now receive over 2.4 million tourists annually compared to their own population of under one million people.
The VP who is in Cyprus at the invitation of President Christofias is accompanied for the three day official visit by Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi, Assistant Ministers Kabando wa Kabando, Asman Kamama as well Mathira MP Ephraim Maina and several businessmen.