Eleven MPs who flew to Mogadishu for meetings with Somalia’s president and intelligence chiefs were yesterday questioned by police.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was not aware of the trip by the lawmakers from Wajir and Mandera counties. They were grilled by detectives on arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, but authorities said they were not under arrest.
The MPs are Ahmed Kolosh (Wajir West), Ibrahim Abdi (Lafey), Rashid Kassim (Wajir East), Mohamed Hire (Lagdera), Omar Maalim (Mandera East), Bashir Abdullahi (Mandera North), Adan Haji (Mandera West), Kullow Maalim (Banisa), Adan Ali Sheikh (Mandera South), Dahir Mohamed (Dadaab) and Ahmed Bashane (Tarbaj).
Last evening, a senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that the MPs may face treason charges.
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“It’s unacceptable, an affront to the Constitution and treasonable if you go to negotiate with a foreign country in matters of national security,” the officer said.
There were reports that the MPs, who flew from Nairobi on Saturday morning, were chauffeured from the airport to Villa Somalia where they held a meeting with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who is also known as Farmajo, before they were briefed by the war-torn nation’s intelligence chiefs.
“We were distressed that the leaders were in a foreign capital, cavorting with the leader of a foreign nation and thereafter being briefed by the equivalent of the director general of their intelligence service,” said the Foreign Affairs officer.
But the MPs defended their trip, saying it was in the interest of regional peace and stability. They claimed that they did not require authorisation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs once they had been cleared to travel by Parliament.
“Our area has been facing insecurity. We thought it wise to discuss this issue. Gedo and Jubaland are affected. Al Shabaab is the problem. We thought it wise to engage our neighbours. We will go regional,” Mr Kassim said.
Mr Bashir concurred, saying: “The reason we went to Somalia is to meet with President Farmajo to upscale this issue to the top-most leader. Uhuru told us to deal with insecurity in our region. We asked him (Farmajo) to help.”
The Mandera North MP said they asked Farmajo to ease the tensions with Kenya. “We are feeling the pain. The region is suffering.”
According to protocol, once the MPs had obtained clearance from the speaker, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ought to have sent a diplomatic note to Mogadishu, informing their counterparts of the intended arrival of a delegation.
But this was not done, with Kenya’s embassy officials in Mogadishu not aware of the lawmakers’ arrival. Secretary of Security in the Office of the President Moffat Kangi yesterday said they were concerned “that MPs can leave the country without clearance.”
“The MPs had visited a neighbouring country. This requires clearance. The government got concerned they had not gotten clearance. We met and discussed with them. It’s a matter of security concern to know the nature of discussions they had. We are happy with their co-operation,” said Mr Kangi.
He continued: “They need to learn. We have issues in North Eastern region. The area is unstable and those who want to assist must do it in order and go through the requisite processes.”
There were claims that Somalia’s leadership lobbied the MPs to push Kenya to stop supporting President Ahmed Mohamed Islam, better known as Madobe, in Jubaland.
There has been growing tension following reports that the Somali National Army is amassing troops near the Kenyan border in Mandera.
Jubaland borders Kenya, which has troops in the Horn of Africa nation to fight the Al Shabab terror group.