Kenya: Somali Minister, MPs Blocked at JKIA as Diplomatic Row Gets Messier

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Three senior Somalia government officials were refused entry at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi for lacking visas.

The officials were part of a government delegation scheduled to attend the launch of an European Union-sponsored cross-border conflict management programme on Tuesday.

Those denied entry are junior Minister of Water and Energy Osman Libah and legislators Ilyas Ali Hassan and Zamzam Dahir.

The three were, however, holding diplomatic passports.

According to the Somali officials, Immigration officials at JKIA told them that they should have obtained visas at the Kenyan embassy in Mogadishu before proceeding.

RETURN TO MOGADISHU

The three later told Somalia-based Radio Dalsan that they were told they would have to return to Mogadishu, even though some of their colleagues travelling on foreign passports had been allowed in.

Traditionally, under a bilateral arrangement, diplomatic passport holders are granted entry visas at ports of entry.

"The Kenyan authorities at the airport informed these guys that such plan has changed, and now everyone has to obtain visa from Kenya's Mission in Mogadishu," a senior Somali official in the delegation, but who travelled on a foreign passport, told the Nation on Monday night.

"The officials learnt this change upon arrival as there was no prior communication regarding this."

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