Britain, Leaks and those Awkward Tanks

November 8, 2008

The manifest from the Faina obtained by Reuters and the BBC

If this ever gets out it will not be good for UK-Kenya relations, the latter never slow to accuse the former of meddling in Kenyan affairs, maintaining a colonialist mentality and forgetting that the East African country has been independent for more than 40 years.
Remember the tanks on board the MV Faina, the pirate ship with a cargo of arms and ammunition destined for South Sudan via Mombasa despite Kenya’s increasingly hysterical denials that any arms embargo was being broken? Well the BBC and Reuters managed to get the proof everyone was looking for last month, a manifest with the letters GOSS in bold print. Military sources told them GOSS did indeed stand for the usual abbreviation, “Government of South Sudan”.
Kenya’s government spokesman reacted with characteristic outrage, pointing out that GOSS was a well-known abbreviation for “General Ordinance and Security Supplies”. So well-known in fact that it took him 24 hours to come up with this excuse.
This is a hugely sensitive issue for the Kenyan government. Andrew Mwangura, who monitors piracy from his base in Mombasa, has already been arrested for making inflammatory statements – ie saying what everyone knew, that the 33 T-72 tanks were on their way to South Sudan. So imagine Mutua’s fury when he eventually finds out that the military sources briefing Reuters and the BBC were in fact doing so at the behest of the British High Commission.
Anyone remembering Sir Edward Clay’s time as British High Commissioner here will tell you that the Kenyan government doesn’t take well to the Brits raising questions about corruption, good governance and accountability. So I just hope Mutua doesn’t ever find out who leaked the manifests.