Deputy President William Ruto was on Monday blocked from flying to Uganda in what his office protested as a sudden change of rules that have governed his trips since he became the second-in-command in 2013.
According to his office, the DP, who was making “a private visit” to Entebbe, arrived at Wilson Airport at noon and spent more than five hours trying to secure clearance from State officials, in vain.
Disappointed, he drove back to his Karen home to end his public humiliation before immigration and airport officials.
However, senior security officials told the Nation that Dr Ruto did not seek the President’s clearance to travel as required by protocol.
According to the officials, neither the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nor the High Commission of Kenya in Uganda was aware of the visit.
While Dr Ruto’s office insisted that the visit was private, the security officials said the Deputy President was not a private citizens.
According to officials, the DP’s office is supposed to get clearance from the Office of the President in case he wants to travel abroad. This is because the DP, courtesy of his office, requires a lot of protocol, aides and State security wherever he goes.
These requirements are not only supposed to keep President Kenyatta’s assistant safe but also ensure that the DP’s movements and whatever he requires are catered for.
On Monday, the DP’s office said the trip had been organised long in advance, and followed all the channels that governed his previous foreign travel, including to Kampala in July.
“We’re surprised the Deputy President was denied clearance to go on a planned private visit to Uganda. It’s our officers who always handle his travel and this time, they were told, that he must get clearance from Immigration to fly out. In all his travels, all these years, this has not happened,” the DP’s office said through his communication secretary David Mugonyi.
A flight manifest belonging to Phoenix Aviation, and seen by the Nation, showed the DP was supposed to use a private jet on flight number Jadestar 12.
The plane he was to use, a Cessna 560XL registered using tail number 5Y WHB, had even been prepared for boarding until its management were told at the last minute that their VIP guest was not going to fly.
When the denial to travel came through, Mr Mugonyi said, the DP was already at the airport.
“He spoke to the Head of Public Service to enquire about the change of rules and the new requirements, who said he was not aware. The immigration officials at the airport told us that they were under instructions from the Ministry of Interior,” Mr Mugonyi told the Nation.
His office refused to confirm whether or not the DP, who met President Yoweri Museveni in July, was to meet the Ugandan strongman in the botched trip.
“This was a private visit. That is all I can say,” Mr Mugonyi insisted.
Also scheduled to travel with the DP were MPs Oscar Sudi (Kapsaret), Benjamin Tayari (Kinango) and Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu). The flight manifest included businessmen David Langat, a Mr Harun Aydin, Dr Eric Ruto and Mr Elija Ronoh.
“It’s alright… tumwachie Mungu,” (we leave it to God)” said the DP on his Twitter handle, presumably about his trip woes.
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