The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya Protests EU Visa Denial

Nairobi — A DIPLOMATIC row is brewing between Kenya and Belgium over an earlier refusal by Belgium to issue a European Union travel visa to President Uhuru’s head of presidential security.

The refusal by Belgium almost caused the official visit by Uhuru to Brussels canceled before it was reversed.

Speaking during a press conference in Nairobi yesterday, Foreign Affairs PS Karanja Kibichu said: "The refusal of a visa for a vital member of the Kenyan delegation, sent the wrong signal that the EU is in a position even to dictate even the security arrangements of African heads of state".

"These actions in their totality make for unfortunate precedent in the proper running of international relations," he said.

Kibichu said 'last minute interventions by Kenyans officials and their Beligium counterparts' have reversed this 'unfortunate action'.

"But its import, in the context of other negative actions by the EU directed at African delegations, has been met with strong disapproval by Kenya," he said.

The secretary said the membership of Kenyan delegations, "particularly where it impacts procedurally correct presidential security arrangement is the sole prerogative of Kenyan authorities as is normal practice internationally".

He said the ambassador of the Beligium to Kenya, Bart Ouvry, has been called to the Foreign Affairs ministry and handed a protest note.

"The government notes that if indeed the EU-Africa Summit is intended to advance mutual interets, such a worthwhile goal must be rooted in the recognition that Africa and EU countries are meeting in Brussels as partners and equals," he said.

"It is unfortunate that this summit has been marked by several unfortunate actions by the EU to shape members of African delegations,even extending refusal to extend invitaion to some serving African heads of states," he said.

Brussels has already denied Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Sudan's Omar Al Bashir EU travel visas to the EU-Africa summit running for three days beginning today.

Kibichu failed to explain why Beligium had to deny visa to the said head of presidential security as he ducked questions from journalists. The name of the security head was not immediately available.

He said Kenyan delegation intends to hold brief deliberations with the African Union Commission Chairperson, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania.

It is believed the spat is pegged on Kenyatta's pending ICC trial that is due to start in October.

The Belgium ambassador Ouvry could not be immediately for comment.

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