18 September 2012

Somalia: Ex-President Sharif Criticizes Kenya Role in Somalia, Condemns Its Foreign Minister

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

Mogadishu, Somalia — The former president of Somalia Sharif Sheikh Ahmed criticized the Kenyan Government's role in Somalia and condemned media comments attributed to Kenyan Foreign Minister Prof. Sam Ongeri, Garowe Online reports.

Speaking at a press conference in Mogadishu on Tuesday, ex-President Sharif said the Minister Ongeri's comments were irresponsible.

On Monday, Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation quoted the country's Foreign Minister Ongeri insinuating that former President Sharif might have been behind the attempted assassination of Somalia's new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Al Shabaab terrorist group claimed responsibility for the Sept. 12 suicide bombing attack on President Hassan's hotel residence in Mogadishu, while a Kenyan delegation led by Minister Ongeri was meeting with him.

Daily Nation newspaper broke the story quoting that Minister Ongeri said before elections former President Sharif lobbied for Kenyan support to reelect him as President of Somalia.

"Before the elections, Sharif had talked with me for one and half hours, requesting that Kenya support him to capture the presidency," said Minister Ongeri, adding that the Kenyan government had rejected the idea and promoted "free and fair" election for Somali president.

A newcomer in Somali politics, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, won the majority vote of the new Somali Somali Federal Parliament the night of September 10.

The Kenyan Minister and new Somali President Hassan and many foreign and Somali dignitaries escaped unharmed following a suicide attempt at Mogadishu's Hotel Jazeera where the dignitaries were meeting two days after President won the election.

Although Al Shabaab claimed responsibility of the assassination attempt, Minister Ongeri raised suspicions that ex-President Sharif had arrived at the bombing scene minutes later and was not in shock.

Ongeri denies comments

Minister Ongeri told a press conference in Nairobi that he did not make such remarks and denied comments attributed to him by the Daily Nation. He claimed that former TFG President Sharif was "remorseful" and came to help the situation.

Kenya's foreign minister indicated that Sharif will be accorded the privileges of any "former head of state" visiting Kenya.

A day earlier, the controversial statements were called "careless and reckless" by Kenyan MP Mohamed Affey who added that the statement by Minister Ongeri, " is a serious coup to diplomacy," according to Daily Nation report.

MP Affey, who was part of the Kenyan delegation that survived the bombing attack, said that Sharif was concerned about the dignitaries' safety and to comfort the shaken government officials.

Sharif criticizes Kenya, condemns Ongeri's comments

Former President Sharif responded to the implications by Minister Ongeri saying that the Kenya government was not playing a neutral role in the political process and had tried to eliminate him from the presidential elections.

"How could Kenya help with my presidential candidacy? I don't need their money and they are not Somali so they can't vote," said former President Sharif at the Mogadishu press conference, adding: "I came to help the new president move to the presidential palace which is my duty."

"I have already shared my concerns with some countries that Kenya is not being neutral in Somali affairs. Al Shabaab already claimed responsibility for this bombing so there's no reason to blame me. This shows that the Kenyan Foreign Minister has deep enmity towards me," said Sharif, adding that he "condemns" Minister Ongeri's comments.

Diplomatic sources say Sharif had strained relations with Kenya Government during his term as TFG President, noting Sharif's publicly declared opposition to Kenyan troop's deployment into Jubba regions of southern Somalia, but he later retracted his comments.

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