Kenya protests visa denial for Uhuru’s security chief

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s chief of security was denied a visa to travel to Belgium, threatening a major diplomatic row between Kenya and the European Union.

But the EU embassy in Nairobi later issued a visa to the commandant of the Presidential escort Edward Njoroge Mbugua after protest by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Belgian Ambassador to Kenya Bart Ourvy was summoned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and delivered the visa, with Kenya reversing the cancellation of the trip.

The country also expressed anger over what it termed as EU’s move to “dictate even the security arrangements of African Heads of State”

President Uhuru Kenyatta Tuesday flew out of the country to attend the EU-African Union Summit in Brussels, Belgium, amidst seemingly simmering hostility between the two regional blocs following attempts by the EU to ‘cherry pick’ attendants from Africa.

During a press conference Thursday, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Dr Karanja Kibicho while reading a tersely worded statement said refusal to give a visa to such a vital member of the Kenyan delegation sets “unfortunate precedents in the proper running of international relations.”

“Seen in this context, the refusal of a visa for a vital member of the Kenyan delegation, sent the wrong signal that the EU is in a position to dictate even the security arrangements of African Heads of State,” he said.

“The membership of Kenyan delegations, particularly where it impacts procedurally correct presidential security arrangements is the sole prerogative of Kenyan authorities as is normal practice internationally,” he added.

The PS also revealed the Ministry had summoned Mr Ourvy to receive a formal Protest Note over the matter.

Kenya also expressed concern that EU had refused to extend an invitation to some serving African heads of state, saying that was among the “several unfortunate actions by the EU to shape members of African delegations”.

Mr Kibicho declined to reveal which other African leaders had been denied invitations to the Brussels meeting.

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has said he will boycott the two-day summit in Brussels because his wife Grace Mugabe was denied a visa to enter Europe.

The EU temporarily relaxed a similar Europe-wide travel ban on Mr Mugabe so that he could attend the summit that starts today but the 90-year-old president declined the offer and ordered his delegation to also keep off.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma will also not attend the summit but will instead be represented by International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

Mr Zuma’s refusal to attend the meeting was not explained and it is not known whether it is connected to his Zimbabwean counterpart’s boycott.

The EU-Africa summit will host representatives from 90 nations from the two continents, and 65 heads of state.

EU has injected £20 billion into Africa in the last five years, mostly for development projects and the summit themed “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace,” is likely to dwell on more funding to the continent.

Dr Kibicho said Kenya will hold deliberations with fellow AU delegates to discuss future engagement with the EU and avoid such embarrassments in the future.

He said that despite the diplomatic spat, Kenya was looking forward to a constructive dialogue in the summit on a range of issues with the EU and its member

President Uhuru Kenyatta leaving a hotel in central London, on May 7, 2013. Kenya says it has sent a protest note to the Belgium ambassador over an earlier refusal by the country to issue an European Union travel visa to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s head of presidential security.

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