Monday, May 07, 2012
By Joseph Mwenda
Mon 07 May 2012, 12:00 CAT
SOMALIAN ambassador to Zambia Shirwa Abdullahi Ibrahim (right) has blamed Zambia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Friday incident in which another Somali national attempted to unseat him.
And Ambassador Ibrahim has apologised to the diplomatic community in Zambia over what he described as an embarrassing incident which led to police questioning him on Friday. Ambassador Ibrahim named the 'diplomat' who attempted to overthrow him as Muhammad, a member of the Somali community living in Lusaka's Chaisa compound.
Woodlands police on Friday picked up the East African envoy together with Muhammad for questioning after the latter claimed that he had been sent to take over the diplomatic position in Zambia.
In an interview from his office yesterday, Ambassador Ibrahim said the incident had dented the image of his government and the embassy.
"It is a very embarrassing situation that we had to disclose our differences at the police station. As a diplomat, I am very sorry.
That should not have happened. But I do have the right to call on the police and the local administration if I feel there is need," he said.
He confirmed that Muhammad attempted to oust him.
"I called the police to come and take out the person who was causing violence here. So the police came and asked him if he was a diplomat.
Unfortunately, he said 'yes'. He produced… in Somalia but that is not true. I think those documents are forged," Ambassador Ibrahim explained.
He said police did not close the embassy, but merely took them for questioning and that business had returned to normal at the offices.
"The police did not close the embassy. As you can see that flag is flying high and I am here working peacefully," he said.
Ambassador Ibrahim disclosed that the operations of the embassy were being jeopardised by corrupt members of the Somalian community in Lusaka.
"The Somali embassy has been having problems for the past two years because of a group of people calling itself the Zambia-Somali Friendship Association.
These people are murdering the warm relations that exist between the two countries (Zambia and Somalia). They want to take over the embassy and put a member of their group so that they can start using the embassy to facilitate their business transactions with the Zambian government," Ambassador Ibrahim said.
He said he had reported the incident to his government and that a formal response would be made to the Zambian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"My government has been dressed down. It has been hurt by that incident which you published in your journal. They will use the diplomatic channels to clarify our role here," he said.
Ambassador Ibrahim said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was to blame for the problems facing his embassy.
"I want to emphasise that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must stop dealing with individual members of the Somalian community. On Thursday, I went to see the Chief of Protocol there and his secretary told me that he was in a meeting with Somalian diplomats.
I was surprised to hear that because I am in charge of the Somalian embassy in Lusaka. How can individual civilians gain access into a high office like that one without clearance from the embassy? Even for me as a diplomat, I have to make an appointment before I go to see the Chief of Protocol. I cannot just go to see him," he said.
Ambassador Ibrahim claimed some corrupt Somalis had been gaining access to government departments through bribes.
"Right now, the Somalian community in Zambia is more popular than the embassy. We have Somalians all over the world and the largest community in Kenya, but they do not behave the way this community behaves in Zambia," said Ambassador Ibrahim, who reported for duty in Zambia there months ago.
Ambassador Ibrahim said it was not true that the Friday incident was an indication that the Somalian government was week, but proof that the Zambian ministry of Foreign Affairs was tolerating bureaucracy.