Meru lawmakers lobby to down military deal with Britain

Meru lawmakers to lobby colleagues to say No to deal allowing British soldiers to train in Kenya over miraa ban.

Thursday March 17 2016

Imenti South MP Kathuri Murungi addresses a crowd while holding miraa at Kilili Primary School grounds during a funds drive for Kangulu New Apostolic Church on November 15, 2015. Meru Parliamentary Group said on March 16, 2016 it would lobby lawmakers to reject military agreement between Britain and Kenya over the miraa ban in the UK.  PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Imenti South MP Kathuri Murungi addresses a crowd while holding miraa at Kilili Primary School grounds during a funds drive for Kangulu New Apostolic Church on November 15, 2015. Meru Parliamentary Group said on March 16, 2016 it would lobby lawmakers to reject military agreement between Britain and Kenya over the miraa ban in the UK. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOHN NGIRACHU
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Lawmakers from Meru County have opposed a military agreement between the British and Kenyan governments that is awaiting ratification by the National Assembly over the United Kingdom’s decision to ban miraa.

The Meru Parliamentary Group said it would lobby fellow MPs to reject the agreement reached last December and, which was submitted to the National Assembly last month for endorsement.

“This is total war just like the one they declared against miraa in their country,” Senator Kiraitu Murungi (bottom right) told a press conference at Parliament, Nairobi.

“It is time for us to say No, just like they said No to our lobby for miraa in the UK. We have decided to engage in intense lobbying to ensure that this agreement is defeated in the National Assembly of Kenya the way they defeated our miraa lobbying in the House of Commons,” he added.

Most of the MPs from the region belong to the Jubilee coalition and a rejection of the agreement would embarrass both the British and the Kenyan governments, which were in a deadlock over the issue for the greater part of last year as the deal was being hammered out.

The MPs argued that the agreement, which allows British troops to train in Kenya, mostly in Nanyuki and Laikipia, just north of Meru County, would allow them to continue exploiting Kenya while refusing the entry of miraa into the UK.

KENYA'S INTERESTS

They said the lawmakers would be acting “in the fundamental interests of Kenyans, who include miraa farmers”, by rejecting the agreement.

“The decision by the British Government has greatly affected Kenyan farmers. They have planted poverty at the grassroots and destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of Kenyan farmers. It has been very callous of them,” said Mr Murungi.

He said the group would talk to friends and colleagues, and “do everything possible to ensure this agreement is not passed”.

The lobbying against the agreement is the latest in a series of attempts by the lawmakers from Meru to coerce the British Government into rescinding the ban on khat, a stimulant.

When the ban was announced, a group of Kenyan MPs travelled to London to meet members of the Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons.

Mr Murungi said they were well-received, and convinced them that miraa is not a dangerous drug but a mild stimulant.

But the findings that miraa is not a drug were overriden by a political stand taken by the conservative British Government, which had made the ban a part of its pledges before elections.

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