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Kibaki declined invitation to visit Britain

By | Updated Thu, April 12th 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3

By David Ochami

President Kibaki declined an invitation to visit the United Kingdom two years ago, Foreign Affair Minister Sam Ongeri has revealed.

Kibaki had been invited by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for talks at No 10 Downing Street and he was scheduled to also meet Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace but Kenyan authorities declined to accept the invitation after concluding it was "not appropriate to execute the visit."

"The President was invited by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The invitation was for March 23 and 24, 2010 and it included a call on the Queen and meetings with Brown," disclosed Prof Ongeri when he appeared before the Parliamentary Defence and Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. But he said the full reasons for Kibaki's refusal to meet the British cannot be said "in the full flare of (media) cameras."

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti and Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Ongeri when they appeared before a parliamentary committee in Nairobi on Wednesday. [Photo: Boniface Okendo/Standard]

Diplomatic relations between Kenya and the UK have declined under Kibaki's regime and he has made few visits to the UK.

Britain's support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and threat to veto postponement of the court's trial of the president's allies has spurred controversy among leaders.

Kibaki visited the UK in February for an international conference on Somalia and only met UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

The parliamentary committee is investigating documents, allegedly written by British officials, purporting to call for detention of ICC suspects Eldoret North MP William Ruto and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and investigation of President Kibaki by the ICC.

Hosted opponents

The British government has dismissed the documents as falsified and declined further co-operation with the Kenya Police on this matter.

MPs Charles Kilonzo and Aden Duale tabled the documents in Parliament on March 8.

On Wednesday, committee member Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni demanded to know from Internal Security Minister George Saitoti if the UK is funding ICC investigation in Kenya.

Prof Saitoti accused the committee of trying to press him, saying "police should be allowed to conclude their investigations on this matter."

Mr Kioni claimed that the British High Commission hosted opponents of Kibaki, including rights and governance activists John Githongo and Wainana Ndung'u and former Mungiki leader Ndura Waruinge to discuss regime change in Kenya on November 28 last year.

Ongeri denied any knowledge of such a meeting but added that although the British have denounced the documents he cannot "buy into that decision" because the denunciation "is their opinion.

Committee chairman Aden Keynan said the Foreign Affairs Minister should contact UK Foreign Secretary William Hague to unlock the diplomatic logjam said to be hampering the investigations.