Arms vessel reaches port after 4 month drama

33 Russian made tanks finally arrived at the Kenyan port of Mombasa after a dramatic voyage marred by 4 months of captivity as the world waits to see the final destination of the weapons.

As predicted here at the Nairobi Chronicle, the Kenyan government has only been too willing to grant access to the media, in order to prove that the weapons really were meant for its army. For months, the Kenyan government has denied that it was helping the government of Southern Sudan break a United Nations arms embargo.

The MV Faina was met at Mombasa by Kenyan and Ukrainian officials amidst heavy security (there are no pirates in Mombasa). The sailors seemed exhausted from the ordeal, though they were cleared as healthy by US Navy doctors who examined them following their release from captivity on February 5.

The Faina and its crew were released after the ship’s Ukrainian owner paid the Somali pirates a ransom of US $3.2 million. The Faina was captured in September 2008. Many other ships remain in captivity off the Somali coast, some for much longer than the Faina.

According to the Itar-Tass news agency, all the crew of the Faina vowed to fly back home immediately they got to Mombasa. The ship’s captain died of a stroke in captivity and the acting captain has promised to accompany the body to the captain’s home town of St Petersburg.

The saga has been extremely scandalous for Kenya, which played a key role in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that brought peace between the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army and the Khartoum government. It may appear that Kenya is arming the south, who are preparing for possible secession from the Arab dominated north.

After its release last week, the Faina got fresh supplies of food, fresh water and fuel from the US Navy. The ship took a week to reach Mombasa due to faulty engines.


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