Kenya has declined a request from Ukraine to address Parliament, as Nairobi officials fear being dragged into a conflict with the potential to hurt its bilateral ties with both Kyiv and Moscow.
The details emerged on Monday as Kenyan diplomats in Nairobi argued they have been doing enough already through the UN Security Council.
Ukraine, which has been defending its territory against Russia’s invasion, made the request to address the Kenyan bicameral House in February when Moscow launched what it called a military operation in that country.
But a well-placed source indicated the request was not honoured, with Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs remaining mum despite repeated follow-ups and reminders.
On Tuesday, a senior ministry official told the Business Daily there was no need to allow the speech, adding that Kyiv should make use of the available diplomatic channels.
“Why would they want to address the Kenyan Parliament, for instance? Is there a precedence?” an official asked.
Kenya holds one of the 10 non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council and both Ukraine and Russia see it as critical in deciding issues related to the conflict at the horse-shoe-shaped table in New York.
While Nairobi has used its non-permanent seat on the Security Council to either condemn the invasion or abstain from decisions of both the General Assembly and the Council, it is yet to grant two wishes critical to Kyiv: a top-level meeting involving foreign ministers, and the speech to Parliament.
Well-placed sources on Monday told the Business Daily that for two months, Ukraine’s ambassador to Kenya, Andrii Pravednyk, has been seeking to meet with Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo in vain.
Nairobi on Monday denied it had refused an audience with the Ukrainian diplomat, saying all his requests had been addressed, except the speech to Parliament.
On Monday, during a UN Security Council briefing on Ukraine, under the ‘maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine’, Kenya, once again, condemned the invasion.
Nairobi, however, has been cautious as well, avoiding departing from the African Union’s position, which condemns the invasion but opposes the massive economic sanctions imposed on Russia.
On Friday, Nairobi abstained from a UN General Assembly vote that proposed suspending Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.
The vote eventually passed, but Kenya, South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria were some of the African countries that abstained.
- Additional reporting by Aggrey Mutambo.