Kenya: Turkey Speaks Out About Man in Ruto's Abortive Trip

The Turkish Embassy in Nairobi has clarified the identity of the Turk who was part of the delegation in Deputy President William Ruto's abortive trip to Uganda that is now the subject of a parliamentary inquiry.

Mr Harun Aydin, the man listed on the passenger manifest of the aircraft that was to fly the DP to Uganda for a private visit on Monday, is an investor who had visited Kenya several times, an official from the Turkish Embassy told Nation.Africa yesterday.

Turkish authorities explained Mr Aydin is a law abiding citizen who had travelled to Nairobi legally on a Turkish passport.

The official did not divulge the nature of his investments but disclosed that Turkish authorities had clarified to the Kenyan government that Mr Aydin has no criminal record and has travelled to Kenya on many occasions.

Yesterday, Nation.Africa reported Mr Aydin, 54, who first arrived in the country on May 30, 2018, has been making frequent visits to Kenya.

This year, the Turk, whose mission to Kenya was not immediately clear, has so far made six trips to Kenya originating from Istanbul, Cairo and Addis.

The inclusion in the Phoenix flight of the Turk whose exact role within DP's camp is still unclear reportedly caused an uproar.

Private engagements

Yesterday, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, who was also in the DP's entourage and was cleared to proceed with the trip, insisted Mr Aydin is a fruit farmer looking for opportunities in East Africa.

"If anyone is in doubt about the details of Mr Harun then they can visit the Turkish embassy for more information," said Mr Sudi who made it to Uganda alongside fellow lawmaker, Mr Ndindi Nyoro.

"Their only job description when they wake up is how to clip the support the DP enjoys across the country and especially Mt Kenya. Unfortunately it has been a futile exercise," Mr Nyoro alleged of powerful figures in government.

A tracking of the Cessna 560 XL registration 5Y WHB shows it left Wilson Airport at 5:26 pm and landed in Entebbe shortly before 6:30pm. By this time, the DP who had stayed at the airport for more than an hour had gone back to his Karen residence.

And it emerged the Ugandan government had been informed about the DP's visit to Uganda but his office failed to inform the Office of the President about his intended foreign travel.

Why the DP's office did not inform the Head of Civil Service or the Office of the President on his intended travel and whether it was necessary for him to do so fueled debate yesterday about Monday's drama at Wilson Airport.

"The President has blocked the DP from performing his official duties and now he is blocking him from his private engagements. This is a ridiculous show of deep sense of insecurity and tactlessness," said Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen.

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While no senior government official would speak on record due to the political heat the aborted trip has generated, and given the seniority of the DP, those who spoke confidentially insisted he was blocked because he did not simply follow procedure.

"All government officials can only leave the country, and in fact can only leave their stations, with permission from the Head of Public Service. Just like you cannot leave work without the permission from your boss," a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

As a holder of a diplomatic passport number DK 0220 issued to him in his capacity as the Deputy President, the DP's office is supposed to inform the State whenever he intends to travel outside the country for security and logistical reasons.

Sources said some powerful State officials who had grown uncomfortable with the increasing number of private foreign travels by the DP suddenly decided to enforce protocols on the travel by State officers.

The protocols have been there all along but were not being enforced strictly on the DP courtesy of the seniority of his office. In the last one year, Dr Ruto has been to Botswana, Dubai and Sudan on private visits without raising a lot of eyebrows.

The visits, some of which have had political undertones, specifically seeking international networks and support, have usually included the same entourage of the DP's closest allies like Mr Sudi, his personal assistant Farouk Kibet, David Lagat among other politicians and businessmen.

In the recent past, Dr Ruto has also hosted a number of foreign envoys at his official Nairobi residence, including the US ambassador and the British High Commissioner to Kenya, where he is believed to have raised concerns about the next elections.

Unnecessary conflict

In the National Assembly, Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang' yesterday demanded an explanation as to the reasons for barring the DP from departure at Wilson airport on Monday for what his office has described a private visit to the neighbouring country.

Mr Kajwang' rose on a point of order asking for an explanation from the Speaker. Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi was presiding over the afternoon session.

The lawmaker said what happened to the Deputy President is an embarrassment and brings unnecessary conflict between him and the President.

"I'm standing on a serious matter and I request members who want to be trivial about this issue to please hold their horses," Mr Kajwang' said.

"It's so serious that a whole Deputy can be ridiculed in the manner I saw yesterday just because of protocol issues," added the ODM lawmaker.

The vice chairperson of the Justice and Legal Affairs committee also wants the Speaker to rule whether three MPs who were with Dr Ruto were cleared to travel by the office of the Speaker as required by the House Standing Orders.

Mr Kajwang' wants the Speaker to disclose the reasons advanced by the three MPs on why they were traveling to Uganda.

Proceeded with trip

MPs Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), Benjamin Tayari (Kinango) and Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) eventually proceeded with the trip.

"The members went there in what they call a private visit but there is nothing private about a public officer. It would be interesting to know what these three members went to do there. I want to know if the members notified the Speaker," Mr Kajwang' said.

"This is a very serious issue, we must know why a DP was barred from traveling," said Kisii woman representative Janet Ongera said.

Mr Cheboi directed Mr Kajwang' to raise the matter formerly with his office so that it can be given the attention required.

Frontier Service Group Ltd, run by former US Navy Seal and co-founder of the controversial Blackwater private security firm, Erik Prince in 2014 acquired 49 per cent stake in Phoenix, and its aviation assets, in a deal valued at $14 million.

The airline, founded by the late Bill Parkinson-an Irishman with Kenyan citizenship, has operated from Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Kenya since 1994, offering passenger charter services, VIP transport, cargo flights, MRO operations, search and rescue operations, and air ambulance services.

In its website, it says it flies to over 2,000 destinations worldwide offering air charter services, and not scheduled flights.

Phoenix, with over 40 employees, currently operates a fleet of Cessna aircrafts that boasts of private jets and turbo pops. Its fleet of private jets includes a Cessna Citation Excel C560XL and a Cessna Citation Bravo C550B. It also has a Beechcraft King Air B300, and Beechcraft King Air B200 in its fleet.

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