Govt denies lobbying Africa to boycott C'Wealth summit
23 October 2013, 15:47
Nairobi - The government on Tuesday denied reports that it was lobbying African countries to boycott the 23rd Commonwealth Head of State Summit to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from Nov. 15 to 17.
A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said Kenya has already embarked on preparations for the summit and no doubt will be represented at high levels of government.
"The ministry, therefore, wishes to confirm that Kenya takes its membership to the Commonwealth very seriously and would not do anything that would jeopardize that relationship," the statement said.
Local newspaper, The Star, reported Monday that the country was quietly lobbying the continent over the Commonwealth's failure to take a decisive stance against the prosecution of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The report said Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia have already been roped into the plan and may miss out in the meeting.
South Sudan and Burundi which had launched bids to join Commonwealth have suspended their bids indefinitely.
The Commonwealth is composed of 53 member states, mostly former colonies of Britain. Member states have no legal obligations to one another.
"Kenya is determined to force in a favorable and decisive action against the ICC trials against its president and deputy president. The Commonwealth miss would be part of this bigger agenda which the world must appreciate has been forced on Kenya by the court," The Star reported, quoting sources.
However, the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs refuted such a move, terming it a fabrication and speculative.
"The ministry would like to categorically refute, in its entirety, the content of the article. The story is to say the least, speculative, malicious and lacks any iota of nationalistic approach to news analysis," the statement said.
"The alleged move would be outrightly contrary to our aspiration as a country and contradicts our engagement in multilateral relations, and in particular the Commonwealth," said the statement.