News 2008


The Swiss deny minister visa to travel to Geneva

Published on March 2, 2008


By Sunday Standard Team

A Cabinet minister has been denied a visa to travel to Geneva, Switzerland, on official assignment.

The minister, who is a member of PNU and was to leave on Saturday night with a ministerial team, cancelled the trip on Thursday after being informed of the visa ban.

Sources said the ministerís visa application alongside that of a Permanent Secretary and a legal officer in the same ministry were submitted to the Swiss Embassy in Nairobi on Tuesday. While the other two were approved, the minister got a letter from the embassy, saying the visa had been denied.

The letter did not explain if the ministerís visa ban extends to other European Union countries, but the trend with such bans is that other countries and the US take the cue.

Once the letter was delivered, the minister instructed accounting officials in the ministry to cancel a Sh123,000 imprest, which had been filled out for travel expenses.

The minister and the team were to attend a three-day workshop, which starts in Geneva tomorrow.

The PS and the other officer left last night aboard a Kenya Airways flight, via Amsterdam.

A Kenya Airways reservations officer said the other two names were on the confirmed passenger list but the ministerís was not.

Phones to the Swiss embassy in Nairobi were not answered, being a weekend. But the country issued a warning two weeks ago that it would take measures against leaders seen as subverting the peace process.

A statement from the Swiss Embassy consular, Mr Arthur Mattli, on February 19, said his country would take measures against leaders seen to have held back the talks. Also included were those seen to subvert democracy or promote violence.

"Switzerland considers the mediation the only way to resolve the crisis into which Kenya has plunged, following the announcement of the contentious results of the presidential elections held on December 27," said Mattliís statement.

The statement, similar to others issued by the US and some EU countries, were seen to target several top politicians, including Cabinet ministers.

Government spokesman, Dr Alfred Mutua, on Saturday denied any knowledge of a ban on a minister to travel to Geneva.

"There is no such thing. I donít know where you got that from," said Mutua by telephone.

The statements and the ban threats were made before the Thursday breakthrough, in which President Kibaki and ODM leader, Mr Raila Odinga, signed a power-sharing deal.

Only Mukurwe-ini MP, Mr Kabando wa Kabando, has openly admitted having been asked by the US Embassy to explain in an essay how he has promoted peace in the country.