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No answer on ‘MV Faina’ arsenal query

Updated Wednesday, December 23rd 2009 at 00:00 GMT +3
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By David Ochami

After a year of investigation, Parliament is unable to resolve the mystery behind weapons aboard a ship that had been hijacked by Somali pirates.

The inquiry failed to state who between the autonomous Government of South Sudan and Kenya owns the 33 Ukrainian made T-72 tanks hijacked by the pirates off the coast of Somalia last year but later released, after an alleged ransom payment.

And the House is laying the blame for failure on the Ministry of Defence and archaic laws that impede a comprehensive and objective investigation of Kenya’s military secrets.

A report released by parliamentary Defence and Foreign Relations Committee chairman Adan Keynan on November 22 discloses its frustrations with unco-operative Ministry of Defence officials during the probe.

Consequently, Keynan recommends amendment to the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act or Cap 6 Section 18 that bars Government officials discussing the military without the President’s authority.

"Witnesses invoked the above law when requested for information by the committee," says part of the report. The committee met officials from Ukraine’s parliament and Kenya’s ports and railway officials.

The report does not state if the committee tried to speak to President Kibaki, the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces despite accusing them of withholding crucial information.

Diplomatic relations

The committee was only able to account for six of the 33 tanks taken when the pirates seized the Belize registered MV Faina on September 25, last year despite receiving evidence that Sudan’s intelligence was enraged by Kenya’s apparent supply of arms to Southern Sudan.

The report also discloses diplomatic relations with Sudan were almost severed after Sudanese intelligence officers questioned Kenya’s high commissioner in Khartoum, Mr Robert Mutua Ngesu, according to testimony by Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang’ula.

Keynan proposes the Act could be amended to promote accountability in the armed forces without compromising State security.

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