Topical debates — Kenya

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 2:27 pm on 17th January 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Brooks Newmark Brooks Newmark Opposition Whip (Commons) 2:27 pm, 17th January 2008

A simple yes or no will do, rather than equivocation. That is an important message that we need to send to put pressure on the Kenyan Government.

On the nuances of what went on, my experience of what went on in Rwanda is that it was a tribal reaction. I have been to Kenya, and it is important that we do not see the current tensions in a country that is relatively stable compared with some of the countries around it, and which is relatively progressive—Nairobi is a big city—disintegrate into the tribal tensions to which I alluded earlier. What can we do, and what should we do? As an international community, aid is extremely important. I would like to congratulate those from the Department for International Development who are going to Kenya today to give that aid. It is a stressful time, there are tensions and it is not a particularly safe place to go. I know that people from DFID are going out there at the moment, and I want to give them my support.

In particular, I should like to congratulate DFID on the support it gives in relation to HIV/AIDS, which is a big issue in Kenya, as it is, unfortunately, in many other African countries. I know that the Minister was shaking her head earlier; perhaps she can tell me why in her response, and I would also like to ask her about the targeting of aid. One of the criticisms we have heard from experts on the ground in Kenya is that aid is not as targeted as it should be. We are hearing that from independent observers, and perhaps she could address that issue.

In responding to the situation, it is always easy for us in the west to say what we think should be done in Africa, but I am a great believer in the idea that those who are most local to a problem are those best placed to provide a solution. Therefore, I congratulate Kofi Annan, who is leading a panel of eminent Africans organised by the African Union, which includes President Benjamin Mkapa and Nelson Mandela's wife, Graça Machel, to try to resolve Kenya's problems. If Africa tries to resolve things along with its neighbours, we are far more likely to achieve success than we would as outsiders. That is better than us as westerners going in and imposing our views—and our sense of colonialism, as they would perceive it—to try to achieve peace and stability in that part of Africa.

Finally, the overall response should be to try to support the Kenyan Red Cross, which has asked for our support through humanitarian aid. We should provide that assistance to the Red Cross, first of all. Secondly, we should ensure that we protect our citizens. A number of British citizens are there, and the Government have a responsibility to protect them. Thirdly, we must do whatever we can to condemn the Government of President Kibaki, and send a powerful message to him that we do not see his elections as free and fair and, therefore, do not recognise his Government as legitimate.