18 September 2012

Kenya: Ongeri Denies Linking Sharif to Mogadishu Blast

Photo: JC McIlwaine/UN
Former President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (file photo).

Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Ongeri on Tuesday denied making remarks in Kisii at the weekend, blaming former Somalia President Ahmed Sheikh Sharif for a bomb attack in Mogadishu last week.

Ongeri said the reports attributed to him by a local newspaper are not true and only meant to portray him in bad light.

"How can I have made such remarks yet the former President of Somalia is among the first people who came to the scene and he was very remorseful... of what benefit are those remarks to us?" the minister asked.

Ongeri spoke at a press conference he called soon after the Somalia ambassador to Kenya lodged a formal complaint about the alleged remarks.

Earlier in the morning, supporters of the former President of Somalia held a protest in Mogadishu streets where they demanded an apology from the minister over the comments.

Sheikh Sharif had told a Somalia-based radio station that he was shocked to learn of the comments allegedly made by the minister.

"I am very saddened by the fact that he could have said that about me," former President Sharif told Mogadishu Radio.

Ongeri however, insists that he did not make such remarks.

"I want to assure Sheikh Sharif that I did not make those remarks at all. I cannot make such remarks, " he said.

Ongeri survived a bomb attack in Mogadishu last week when he led a Kenyan delegation to deliver a goodwill message to the newly elected Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

The newspaper reported that Ongeri had blamed Sheikh Sharif for the attacks because Kenya had turned down his request to support him to recapture the presidency of the lawless country.

"I want to tell you here today that Kenya's relations and are cordial with Somalia and in fact even if Sheikh Sharif came here, he will be accorded all the respect and resources accorded to former heads of state," he said.

The minister is alleged to have made the remarks at his rural home last weekend, barely a week after the bomb attack in a Mogadishu hotel in which four people, including a suicide bomber died.

The three others were soldiers from AMISOM.

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