Nairobi — The Office of the Deputy President has denied claims by the Moroccan envoy in Nairobi that Deputy President William Ruto is supportive of a plan which proposes to grant semi-autonomy to Western Sahara in a bid to deescalate tension over the region's agitation for self-rule.
El Mokhtar Ghambou, Morocco's Ambassador to Kenya, in a statement detailing a meeting with Ruto in March suggested Ruto was in favour of the plan.
According to the Moroccan envoy, Ruto had during the said meeting maintained that Kenya should remain impartial and support a UN peace initiative on the matter.
"Kenya should never give up its neutrality and should rather work directly with the UN to support the peace process on the Sahara issue," the envoy quoted Ruto as saying.
"As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, it is in Kenya's interest to support the UN peace process regarding the Sahara issue in compliance with the Heads of States Decision 693."
Ken Osinde, Ruto's Chief of Staff however wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday refuting the claims published by Moroccan agencies and a number of regional news outlets.
"It has come to our attention that on 24th March 2021, through an article published in a Moroccan news agency MAP, that certain claims were attributed to the Deputy President. These claims were repeated during a TV interview on 26th March 2021... Note that the clip played during the interview is from a different event attended by the Deputy President and has nothing to do with the claims made by the Ambassador," Osinde explained in a letter addressed to Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo.
"This communication is to inform you that these claims are false and urge the Ministry to deal with the matter in accordance to Government Protocol," he appealed.
Kenya which currently chairs the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU-PSC) has over the years supported Western Sahara's quest for self-determination while calling for an end to a protracted conflict, a proposed backed by the AU-PSC.
Morocco presented the Western Sahara Autonomy Plan to the United Nations Security Council in April 2007. It received the backing of USA and France.
The Western Sahara question has threatened to destabilize the Kenya-Morocco ties in the past, the most recent resulting from the opening of a Western Sahara embassy in Kenya in February 2014.
Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro was at the time dispatched to Morocco in a bid to resolve the emerging tiff.
Morocco was readmitted back to the AU in January 2017 after a 33-year absence after Member States agreeing to resolve the outstanding Western Sahara matter through further dialogue.