Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Uhuru moves to Sagana Lodge after bungled US trip

Nyeri,Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta has been running government business from Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri since last Saturday.

Officials revealed yesterday the President met security chiefs including Director-General of the National Intelligence Service, Maj-Gen Philip Kameru and Inspector General of National Police Service Joseph Boinett at the State Lodge on Monday.

He also met other officials amid reports he plans to make more changes in his government in the coming days. The President on Monday appointed 302 officials to the boards of 79 State corporations.

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“He decided to work from there (Sagana State Lodge) after the disappointing aborted trip. He is happy there for now inasmuch as it is a bit cold,” remarked an official who is aware of the development.

The official said Uhuru was, however, ready to return to Nairobi if and when needed.

When contacted, State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said there was nothing unusual with the President working from Sagana State Lodge. “The President can work from anywhere. It is a gazetted place and so the President is at liberty to work from there. No issues at all and I don’t see any story there please,” Esipisu retorted.

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“He is okay for now,” added the spokesperson.

Uhuru’s out-of-town business excursion however rekindles memories of his father’s Presidency as Jomo Kenyatta could be out of Nairobi for months, either working from Mombasa or Nakuru. The second President Daniel Arap Moi routinely shuttled, but for shorter intervals, to work either from Nairobi, Nakuru or Mombasa.

The third President Mwai Kibaki was largely a Nairobi President, and his trips out of town were largely official and lasted only for the duration of the engagements on his diary.

The development came as officials started to review the President’s embarrassing trip to Los Angeles, USA, last week, that ended with a detour back home in the Ethiopian airspace. Apparently the President’s jet had no clearance to fly in this space, and the fighting in Yemen had led to its airspace being categorised as a war-zone.

Officials in the Office of the President are investigating exactly why the trip aborted. Sources said action would be taken soon against those found to have bungled the flight.

The House committee on Defence and Foreign Affairs revealed yesterday it would also investigate the reasons that led to the cancellation of President’s trip.

Njoro MP Joseph Kiuna, a member of the committee, explained those who organised the trip would be summoned to explain the circumstances that led to the debacle.

The MP termed the issue a “big embarrassment and a major security breach”, and said those responsible should not be allowed to get away with it. “As a committee, we cannot sit by and watch a situation where the life of the President is endangered through carelessness by some Government officers. We will ensure such a thing does not happen again,” Kiuna said.

The MP said it was shameful that the President’s flight was forced to make a U-turn, exposing the Head of State to danger.

Speaking in Nakuru town, the MP said the committee, after the sittings, will make recommendations on what action should be taken against those found culpable.

Kiuna said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should have ensured the presidential flight got the necessary clearance while in foreign airspace.

An official who is privy to the circumstances that led to the cancellation of the presidential trip revealed the jet was turned back over Ethiopia. “The main problem was actually in Ethiopian airspace because the controller warned the pilots not to proceed with the journey before they arrived at the Eritrean border and made the turn to Nairobi,” said the official.

“We do not know if there was a blunder on our side, if Ethiopia was acting in good faith over intelligence they had ahead of the flight or it was just our mess,” said the official.

Tellingly, Kenya’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Catherine Mwangi was summoned to Nairobi for discussions on Friday morning, giving a hint on where the problem lies.

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