Capital FM (Nairobi)

18 December 2012

Kenya: No Crisis in Kenyan Embassies - Thuita

The government has played down a parliamentary report that claimed 13 Kenyan diplomats were working with expired contracts while several other Kenyan embassies including Britain and China do not have ambassadors for several months now.

Speaking to Capital FM News on Monday evening, Foreign Affairs PS Thuita Mwangi dismissed the claims saying the argument on expired contracts was illogical because Kenyan diplomats do not work under any contracts.

He argued that the envoys were presidential appointees and only leave office when they got recalled, died or resigned.

"They are representatives of the president. Their contracts cannot expire because they do not have contracts to begin with. They leave office when they are recalled. And who determines expiration anyway?" he asked.

Although the committee had included UNICEF and UN-HABITAT as part of the agencies that had diplomats with expired contracts, Mwangi argued that they were just departments under the United Nations and did not need Kenyan diplomats.

Mwangi added that all Kenyan missions had chargé d'affaires in the absence of substantive ambassadors and business would go on as usual.

The parliamentary Foreign Relations and Defence Committee chairman Adan Keynan had also told journalists that Kenya's interests were not being represented well in about a half of the 51 foreign missions that Kenya had, including the Netherlands, Pakistan, Somalia.

The PS was scheduled to accompany his Minister Sam Ongeri and the Acting Head of Public Service Francis Kimemia for the committee meeting but were a no-show.

Asked why he and his colleagues did not show up Mwangi said: "They did not confirm to us if there was a meeting."

The Wajir West MP also said he would table the report without the government's input. The committee has held other meetings with the government officials but wanted to get more clarification.

"Now that they have not come we will add an addendum to this on their failure to come and allow Kenyan tax payers to get value for their money as far as some of these issues are concerned because we are greatly concerned," he said.

The matter was first raised by Gichugu MP Martha Karua in Parliament as she sought to find out how Kenyan missions were fairing.

Keynan and his team wanted the government to give a list of vacant positions of ambassadors and high commissioners, a list of envoys who are in office with supposedly expired contracts, justifications for the extensions, reasons for the delays in filling the vacancies and a report on how much the government had spent on each of the diplomats with expired terms of duty.

"Take for example a country like Turkey. Turkey is an emerging economy and they have had a mission here for the last 20 something years. We opened one sometime back as we did in Oman but without a substantive Ambassador," he claimed.

Keynan had also alleged that the country lost billions of tax payers' money annually to maintain the diplomats' salaries and allowances with each taking home Sh1.5 million per month without renewed terms of service.

"In some instances you find that the contract was for three, four years but an individual is in office for nine years without any extension of the contract. My term as a Member of Parliament expires on January 14 and until it is renewed any earnings after that are illegalities," he argued.

Keynan, who was accompanied by Sigor MP Wilson Litole and nominated MP George Nyamweya, also asked the government to speedily fill the vacancies.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been grappling with the appointments and renewal of terms with reports indicating that there is a challenge of sharing the vacancies.

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