Deputy President Ruto’s debacle at airport avoidable
Deputy President (DP) William Ruto must have found himself in an awkward position on Monday, when his planned private visit to Uganda failed to materialise.
He had in his entourage Members of Parliament as well as businessmen.
He was stopped from travelling by Immigration officials who said he did not have necessary clearance for the visit.
After hours of waiting and making frantic calls to fix the trip, the DP retreated to his official residence with the visit having aborted.
It was not only embarrassing but also an unnecessary debacle involving a very senior office in government.
Spin doctors have tried to come up with various narratives; some that can only pass for rumour, but given the stature of the DP’s office and the nature of the visit, something untoward must have happened.
Ruto is the principal assistant to the President in whose absence or authority can stand in for the Head of State. He is, therefore, not an ordinary Kenyan and his office is funded by taxpayers.
This means that the position must be held in higher esteem than, say, ordinary legislators.
Authorities in diplomacy and government operations say the DP needs to liaise with the President when visiting another Head of State.
They argue that a senior state officer cannot interact with a President of a neighbouring country, without the concurrence or knowledge of the Head of State of the originating country.
It would appear that this was not done, leading to the embarrassing scenes at the airport. One wonders whether it was deliberate or a genuine omission by the DP.
It is unfortunate that this is happening at a time Nairobi and Kampala are working to streamline trade between the two countries amid the Covid-19 shocks.
It would be wrong for this matter to escalate to a level where it affects relations between the two nations. We, therefore, urge all those involved to resolve the issue amicably.
While doing so, it is important for politicians to appreciate that national interest is greater than private visits scheduled by politicians.
If the right channels were followed by the DP and his entourage, then we condemn the embarrassing acts and call for sobriety in addressing any misunderstanding there may be.
Indeed, the Deputy President’s office must be seen as a unifying position. It is a symbol of authority, not a seat for all and sundry to sully.