By Calvin Osiemo
Principal Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Karanja Kibicho has defended Ethiopian Authorities after the Eritrean government accused Ethiopia for not allowing President’s Uhuru Kenyatta jet to use its airspace. The Kenyan government had blamed Eritrea for denying the Presidential jet permission to pass through its territory as the Kenatta was headed for the US via Dubai where he was expected to use a commercial plane to Los Angeles for the annual Milken Institute Global conference.
The PS insisted on earlier statements from the Presidency indicating that the President’s plane was turned back as a result of the heavy military operations in the Yemeni airspace. The PS accused the press for complicating the whole issue by “digging for a sophisticated story where none existed”.
“Why can’t you believe things even when they look simple? Must they be complicated for them to be believed? The story is the Yemen air space. The ceasefire ended unexpectedly. The people planning the trip could not predict this because it was safe minutes earlier,” Dr. Kibicho declared.
The PS said they had all the necessary clearances required for a pilot to fly the plane but the plans were altered by the situation in Yemen.
“We had all the clearances. There is no one who would start a plane without clearances. As the pilot, you would have to make a choice whether you want to take a risk with the President on board or do the right thing,” Kibicho said.
However, documents indicating the routes the Presidential jet was supposed to use included Ethiopia, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in which all had given permits and the routes did not include Yemen as claimed by the Presidency.
Regarding the appearance of the Ethiopian Ambassador to Kenya Dina Mufti in a meeting with ministry officials on Monday, the PS said the meeting was just a normal meeting like any other and is not related to the Presidents’ jet incident.
“When you see an ambassador visit us, does not mean they have been summoned. This is a contact ministry. Whenever they have an issue, whenever they see you reporting something that touches on their country, they will come to this ministry to seek clarification,” he said.
Dr. Kibocho’s statements come even as Kenyans wait for answers and disciplinary action to be taken with regards to the botched trip.