Video:MPs turn down State House invite
MPs from western Kenya have said they turned down an invitation to State House to discuss a trade agreement on sugar imports.
They said the western sugar belt would be hit hard by the deal that allows Uganda to export sugar to Kenya.
On Thursday, 11 MPs in the Western Kenya Parliamentary Caucus said they “politely” declined to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta as details of the trade agreement were scanty.
Led by Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba, the lawmakers also said the invitation was not inclusive as leaders from the coast and Nyanza regions were not invited.
“This is not about politics but the welfare of the people of western Kenya, who are cane farmers. It should be clear that we (the caucus) have never declared our support for either Jubilee or Cord coalitions,” said Mr Namwamba.
Speaking at a press briefing at Parliament on Thursday, Nambale MP Sakwa Bunyasi, who is also the chairman of the caucus, said the lawmakers met and decided not to meet the President.
“We want to state openly that we received the invitation from State House to a meeting at 8am, but we resolved to politely decline the invitation,” he said.
The MPs said they would consider meeting with the President once they know the contents of the trade agreement with Uganda.
“We cannot discuss the contents of an agreement we have not seen. We need copies of the agreement so that we can know what the deal is all about before agreeing to the State House meeting,” said Mr Namwamba.
They said the meeting should include leaders from other regions such as the former Nyanza and Coast provinces, where sugarcane is also grown.
Some of the MPs also said they were reluctant to be seen warming up to the President in the wake of a deal that was seen as a blow to their constituents, and has far-reaching implications on their political careers.
Mr Namwamba urged President Kenyatta to help revive the industry by ensuring no cheap sugar enters the country and all factories in western Kenya are operating at full capacity.
He said the stand by MPs from western Kenya on the sugar deal has nothing to do with politics but the economic welfare of the local people.
Leaders have criticised the trade agreement, with Cord leader Raila Odinga accusing President Kenyatta of sacrificing the national interest to benefit unnamed individuals.
Mr Odinga said farmers and sugar companies stood to suffer losses if the agreement was implemented.
President Kenyatta, for his part, accused Mr Odinga of opposing the government for the sake of it.
Mr Kenyatta said it was improper for the opposition leader to claim the trade pact would flood the Kenyan market.