Three senior Somalia government officials were left stranded at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) after officials denied them entry for lack of visas.
The three, junior Minister of Water and Energy Osman Libah, legislators Ilyas Ali Hassan and Zamzam Dahir, were part of a delegation scheduled to attend a European Union sponsored conflict management programme on Tuesday.
According to reports, the delegation had diplomatic passports with them but government representatives at the JKIA couldn’t allow them in. They insisted that the three should have obtained visas at the Kenyan Embassy in Mogadishu before proceeding.
Nation reports that the officials were directed to travel back to Mogadishu, as their colleagues with foreign passports were allowed in.
Traditionally, under bilateral arrangement, holders of diplomatic passports 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 traveled on a foreign passport, told the media on Monday night.
“The officials learnt this change upon arrival as there was no prior communication regarding this.”
The new developments comes months after the Kenyan government faced diplomatic challenges with Somalia over disputed oil blocks.
This led to Kenya recalling her ambassador to Somalia Lt-Gen (Rtd) Lucas Tumbo, as well as expelling Somalia’s ambassador to Kenya Mr Nur, alias Tarzan.
Barely two weeks ago, the government suspended all direct flights from Somali’s capital Mogadishu to Nairobi over security concerns.
In a report announced by BBC, the flights had been suspended and the planes will now first have to land in Wajir for security checks before proceeding to Nairobi.
It is alleged that the decision to suspend the flights was politically motivated.
Confirming the reports, Director General of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Captain Gilbert Kibe, the decision was “purely for security reasons.”
Captain Kibe noted that the suspension will last until August 9.