UK rejects Kenya’s petition for review of miraa ban
Hopes for Kenya to resume selling miraa (khat) in the United Kingdom dimmed after the British High Commission insisted that the ban will not be reviewed.
In a statement Thursday, the Head of Communications at the British High Commission in Nairobi Stephen Burns said the ban comes into effect on June 24, 2014.
“This decision was in no way targeted at Kenya directly. The UK Government has had a long-standing intention to review the legal status of miraa.
“As the Home Secretary set out in July 2013, this decision was not taken lightly and the UK recognised the economic implications for a number of countries, predominantly in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula,” the statement read.
Mr Burns said the British Government was aware of economic impact the ban will have in Kenya.
He said the UK Government will give Kenya aid to support economic growth.
He said the ban followed the British Parliament’s approval of the Government’s decision to reclassify miraa as a Class C drug.
He said the UK is one of the last countries to reclassify miraa, with the majority of other EU member states already having done so, as well as most of the G8 countries including Canada and the USA.
“That the UK is at serious risk of becoming a regional hub – with evidence already suggesting that the UK is being used as a transit hub for onward illegal miraa trafficking to the Netherlands (where miraa was banned in January),” Mr Burns said.
The stand by the British Government comes days after President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to intervene to have the ban reviewed.
Speaking in Meru County, President Kenyatta said the Government was committed to saving their source of livelihood.
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga also petitioned the British Government to review the ban on miraa.
Mr Odinga wrote to British Prime Minister David Cameron last Friday asking him to extend the deadline.