Monday, October 13, 2008

Kenya won’t pay ransom, says minister

Minister for Foreign Affairs Moses Wetangula

Minister for Foreign Affairs Moses Wetang'ula. Photo/FILE 

By MIKE MWANIKI

Kenya will not give in to ransom demands by pirates holding the Ukrainian ship carrying arms off Somalia’s coastline, a Cabinet minister has said.

Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula said on Monday that Kenya would not pay the $10 million (Sh700 million) ransom the hijackers are reported to have agreed on.

He said paying “would be tantamount to encouraging piracy on the high seas”.

The pirates had on Friday threatened to blow up the vessel carrying 33 tanks if ransom was not paid.

They had earlier agreed to discuss freeing the mv Faina they hijacked 19 days ago, but later refused as they are not happy with some of the local mediators.

Blow up vessel

On Monday, Mr Wetang’ula remained optimistic that the pirates would not blow up the vessel.

“Continued piracy is not a threat to Kenya alone but is a scourge that threatens all of us...Kenya and other countries such as the US, UK and France are therefore working out on a rescue mission,” the minister told journalists without elaborating the plan.

Mr Wetang’ula was speaking during the Spanish Day celebrations held at the ambassador’s residence in Nairobi.

The function was attended by a cross-section of leaders, including Tourism minister Najib Balala.

He said that a new constitution would be ready within one year.

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