Ahead of the 2017 Kenyan presidential elections, Upfront’s Mehdi Hassan speaks with foreign minister Amina Mohamed on the repatriation of Somali refugees, corruption allegations, the fight against Al-Shabaab and the International Criminal Court.
“We are not violating any obligations. If we were, the whole world would have come down like a ton of bricks right on our heads,” Mohamed said, addressing a call by UNHCR for Kenya to reconsider its decision to close down the Dadaab refugee camp and repatriate Somali refugees, some of whom have been living there for almost 25 years.
“We have a tripartite agreement [with UNHCR and the Somali Federal Government] that we entered into in 2013, not yesterday, not today, not the day before,” Mohamed explained, highlighting what she felt was a failure instead by the international community to fulfill its own obligations to address residents of the world’s largest refugee camp.
Turning to the broader issue of Somalis in Kenya, Hasan pointed out that many groups, including the U.S. – a key ally of Kenya’s –, are alarmed with what they see as an increase in targeted torture, harassment and detainment of ethnic Somalis. She denied hearing about any of their concerns prior to appearing on Upfront, so could not verify the claims.
“They’ve just made it up?” Hasan asked. “They’re making it up,” Mohamed replied.
On the issue of corruption, Hasan pointed to a World Bank report that praised Kenya as one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, but also to a report by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) which said that Kenya was the third most corrupt country in the world. It is an issue, Mohamed said, the government is being “self-reflective” about. “We are dealing with the issues.” She denied, however, a recent statement by Kenya’s auditor general that around two billion dollars had gone missing. “I respect everybody’s freedom to say what they need to say,” the foreign minister added. However, after being asked several times by Hasan if two billion dollars had gone missing in Kenya due to corruption, she responded, “No.”
In this interview, recorded prior to the attack in Northern Kenya, Mohamed was also asked about Kenya’s ongoing war against Somali armed group Al-Shabaab, which has attacked Kenya numerous times in the last few years. “We’re winning the war in Kenya,” she said.
When asked to explain why Al-Shabaab is able to attack and kill Kenyan civilians and armed forces, she responded, saying, “Tell me who has been able to completely stop these attacks?”
“Who are you comparing us to? Look at what’s happening in Western Europe, what’s happening in the rest of the world,” she added.
Lastly, Hasan pressed Mohamed on the International Criminal Court (ICC), which dropped the charges of murder and crimes against humanity for Kenyan Deputy Prime Minister William Ruto. In its judgment, the ICC said it was unable to acquit or continue with the trial due to what it described as “troubling incidents of witness interference and intolerable political meddling.”
Mohamed argued the premise of the question was wrong and added that: “You don’t keep sentencing people. You allow due process to take place. And when due process has taken place, and people are found to be innocent….” But Hasan countered: “He was not found to be innocent. That is incorrect.”
Mohamed stated that Kenya has supported the ICC and believes in the rule of law, but seemed to question the judges, saying, “There is something already out there about the judges. But I will not go into it.”
This UpFront interview with Amina Mohamed is airing Friday, 7 October 2016 at 19:30GMT / 22:30 EAT. The show will be available through this link: www.aljazeera.com/upfront from 19.30GMT / 22:30EAT onwards and will also be embeddable from YouTube.
UpFront broadcasts on Fridays at 19.30 GMT. Follow UpFront on Twitter @AJUpFront.