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Maalim was wrong on remarks about Ethiopia

COMMENTARY
By | March 24th 2012

Shemsudin Roble

My attention has been drawn to a number of negative utterances by Mr Farah Maalim against my country. I wish to clarify and discount certain malicious falsehoods made by him.

First, Mr Maalim is a person who occupies a respectful position as Deputy Speaker of Parliament. Yet he keeps making statements which seem to defend and support non-State actors in this region.

For example, during an interview on March 15 on K24 TV station (‘Capital Talk’ programme) touching on several issues, like on military interventions in Somalia; on Eritrea-Ethiopia and Eritrea-Kenya relations; on Igad; on Kenya’s foreign policy. The allegations labeled against Ethiopia by Maalim during this interview were baseless.

They were similar to allegations usually made by Eritrea. Eritrea uses smear campaign to justify its clandestine activities against other countries in the region, including Kenya.

What is more shocking about these allegations is that they were delivered by a senior Kenya Government official.

The utterances made by the Deputy Speaker do not contain an iota of truth and were motivated purely by dislike for Ethiopia.

It is indeed strange to see Maalim unconstructively criticise Kenya’s intervention in Somalia, which is supported by the international community.

Only Eritrea, of course, is the exception. The Deputy Speaker got it wrong on the intervention of Ethiopia in Somalia, too.

The government of Ethiopia has demonstrated that it is a genuine friend and partner of the Somali people in their struggle to rid their country of Al Shabaab, which has openly boasted of being an ally to Al Qaeda.

These efforts of Ethiopia have received the admiration of the international community, again with the exception being Eritrea. The Eritrean intervention has been a negative one.

The country has been accused severally of supporting Al Shabaab. It is a matter of public record that the UN-Eritrea/Somalia monitoring group report of 2011 confirmed that Eritrea, through its Embassy in Nairobi, was providing Al Shabaab with $80,000 in regular cash payments to destabilise Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

This is the country that Maalim was speaking positively about in his interview. Nevertheless, the price Eritrea has paid for its dreadful actions and its spoiler role in the region has been in the condemnations and sanctions from regional, continental and global organisations, including the United Nations.

We believe Maalim is aware of these facts, but unfortunately opted to gloss over them. In this regard the Deputy Speaker wants us to believe that everyone else is wrong except himself.

Igad, which has won the commendation of the African Union, has proved itself to be a viable vehicle of economic integration in the Horn of Africa region.

It is an organisation of seven member countries, including Kenya. It is, therefore, outrageous to expect to relegate such an esteemed organisation to serving the interests of one member country.

It is pertinent to mention some of the achievements of Igad – among others the signing of CPA between Sudan and South Sudan, and the Somali peace process that resulted in the formation of TFG in Somalia. Regarding Ethiopia-Kenya relations, the two countries enjoy strong relations, contrary to what has been said by the Deputy Speaker.

The relationship that exists between Ethiopia and Kenya has its roots in good neighbourliness, equality and mutual respect. In my view, the criticism made by Maalim about Kenya’s foreign policy to Ethiopia is shameful.

His behaviour is an insult to the people he represents and the Government and institutions of Kenya. Regarding the internal affairs of Ethiopia, the Deputy Speaker has no right to meddle and should mind his own business.

The writer is Ethiopia Ambassador to Kenya

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