Kenya has refuted claims that its soldiers are involved in sugar and charcoal trade in Somalia’s port city of Kismayu in collaboration with the Jubbaland administration.
Defence Minister Ms Rachel Omamo told the media in Nairobi yesterday that the allegations were untrue and was a misrepresentation of facts.
While responding to the report published by the campaign group, Journalists for Justice, JFJ which alleged that Kenya’s forces, KDF colluded with the Jubbaland administration in a racket which saw the two pocket up to $400m a year, the CS said there was a ‘cynical smear campaign’ bent on disparaging Kenya’s military.
“The report alleging KDF’s involvement in the charcoal and sugar trade in Kismayu is misplaced and ill-intentioned. KDF is not in control of the sea port nor are they charged with the management of the Kismayu port,” she said.
The Cabinet Secretary, Omamo instead said Kenya had made several appeals to the international community to resolve the charcoal issue in Kismayu but the efforts had not borne any fruits.
Her response followed a rejoinder by Jubbaland President Ahmed Madobe which vehemently denied any such dealings as authored by the JFJ.
“There is no way I can do business with my enemy. “This is a direct insult to me and my administration. We are at the forefront in fighting al Shabaab militia and there is no way we can be working with them,” said Madobe in Nairobi.
Madobe said the allegations were a fabrication by a British citizen who did not understand the working of AMISOM in Somalia noting that KDF have been professional in their work since they entered Somalia four years ago.
“As far as I am concerned, KDF continues to be a professional force since its entry into Somalia in 2011, and its presence in Jubaland has contributed towards the peace and security we are currently enjoying,” Madobe said.
The report, which Mogadishu has not responded notes that an estimated 150,000 tones of illicit sugar is transported to Kenya annually via Kismayu. Around 3000 tones ferried by 230 trucks of 14 tones leave Kismayo for Kenya, the report adds.
Kenya Defence Forces, KDF and Jubbaland officials whose forces jointly control Kismayu port with KDF levies a tax of $2 per bag on imported sugar, netting an income of around $25,000 a week or $13 million a year, the report adds.