Kenya forced to disown minister's 'invade Sudan' comment

Monday May 15 2023

Kenya's Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria. FILE PHOTO | NMG


Kenya was forced Monday to disown a comment on Sudan made by its Trade minister on “invading” the war-ravaged country, reflecting a tricky balancing act between personal and official views.

On Saturday, Moses Kuria, the Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade and Industry, made a controversial proposal on Twitter to “bomb Khartoum to smithereens” if the country’s warring generals refuse to lay down the arms and surrender to democratic rule.

Known to speak his mind, Mr Kuria’s tweet suggested that the world must respond militarily to the war in Sudan in which the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), who have defied most ceasefire agreements since April 15, continue to fight.

“The community of nations should militarily invade any country where armies overthrow government. Appeasement does not pay off,” he wrote in the tweet.

“Military juntas do not become democrats simply because of the false principle of non-interference. The AU (African Union) can marshal a strong enough army to bomb Khartoum to smithereens.”


Nairobi’s stance

On Monday, Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs said the tweet did not reflect Nairobi’s position on the crisis.

“The personal views expressed by Moses Kuria do not represent government policy on this complex and challenging issue. We continue to work with all parties towards a peaceful resolution of the Sudan crisis,” said Dr Korir Sing’oei, the Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

Read: The many cooks in Sudan crisis spoil the broth

While Mr Kuria’s views reflect his impatience with the warring generals in Sudan, other government officials have privately expressed the same. But this could place Nairobi in an awkward position since President William Ruto has publicly called for dialogue, offered to host a mediation and backed a regional bid to seek peace.

Read: Kenya offers to mediate in Sudan conflict

After representatives of SAF and RSF agreed to enter dialogue last week in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, President Ruto backed the move.

“Kenya welcomes the talks in Jeddah between the warring factions in Sudan facilitated by Saudi Arabia and the USA. We urge the sides to commit to making this engagement successful and a step towards ending the conflict and the destruction it has brought on Sudan and its people,” he said on May 7.

“We join the people of Sudan, the region and peace-loving citizens of the world for measures to fast-track access to humanitarian aid, guaranteed civilian safety and safe passage across Sudan for all, especially aid workers. We hope this marks the return of Sudan towards democracy and normalcy.”

AU stand

Nairobi’s position on Sudan is similar to AU’s - a ceasefire and political dialogue. Sudan was suspended from voting on decisions of the AU after the generals Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his rival Mohamed Daglo Hemedti collaborated to overthrow a transitional civilian government in October 2021.

Under the AU charter, overthrowing a legally installed government violates its charter on democracy, a 2007 document that forbids illegal takeovers.

But the continental body lacks an army and relies on member states to implement decisions. While both the African Union Constitutive Act and the United Nations Charter routinely call on member states to respond to violations of peace and security, the word used is ‘intervene’ rather than invade. And it is often for peacekeeping and the protection of civilians, not bombings.