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Kenya to open embassies in Angola and Turkey

By | Published Wed, June 22nd 2011 at 00:00, Updated Wed, June 22nd 2011 at 00:00 GMT +3

By David Ochami

Kenya intends to downgrade its diplomatic missions in Ireland and Namibia and open new ones in Angola and Turkey, acting Foreign Affairs minister George Saitoti said on Tuesday.

New missions are also planned in Muscat - Oman, and Doha – Qatar, the minister told the Parliamentary Defence and Foreign Relations Committee.

As he lamented the Sh7.2 billion allocated his ministry by the Finance Minister for the new financial year, committee members questioned the reasons behind the Sh870 million allocated to refurbish or build new missions in Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia and Pakistan.

They asked for the rationale behind the opening of the Dublin mission and why the ministry does not seem interested in upgrading its diplomatic presence in Juba, Southern Sudan.

The budget

Saitoti complained that he had asked for Sh19.5 billion for development and recurrent purposes for the 2011/2012 financial year but was allocated an amount that excludes Kenya’s bilateral assistance to Southern Sudan, Somalia and troubled states in the African Great Lakes among what acting PS Patrick Wamoto described as "soft power instruments" to influence the region.

"Why did we open a mission in Ireland and not Turkey?" Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo asked. Saitoti could also not explain why there is no mission in Uganda.

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Committee chairman Adan Keynan said Kenya has not responded to a Turkish pledge for financial assistance to open a mission in Istanbul despite 19 diplomatic, bilateral and trade exchanges between the two countries.

Keynan said Parliament cannot rubberstamp (refurbishment) projects that do not make economic sense.

The minister said Kenya would deploy more resources in building a new mission in Luanda because Angola "has substantial oil reserves" and added that the ministry would divert resources from the missions in Dublin and Windhoek to strengthen its diplomatic presence in Istanbul and Luanda.

Although Kenya has missions in Windhoek and Dublin, Namibia and Ireland pulled out their high commissions in Nairobi to Dar es Salaam.

Wamoto disclosed that the ministry "will down grade (the Dublin mission) and transfer the money to Turkey" then "down grade the mission in Namibia and transfer some resources to Angola".

Wamoto said the Dublin mission was opened with an expected economic dividend that has evaporated with the economic decline in that country.

Saitoti said he would seek Cabinet approval to "open an embassy in Turkey immediately" but admitted he had no clear knowledge of why Kenya has rented and never purchased properties in Kampala since 1963.

The ministry’s assets manager Dr Margaret Gachuru said the ministry has faced legal and practical challenges in buying properties in Kampala, Uganda.

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