Kenya denies diplomatic tiff with Tanzania as Kenyan envoy’s plane to Mkapa funeral forced to turn midair

Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya}, Yoweri Museveni (Uganda} and Tanzania’s Pombe Magufuli in a past EAC leaders meeting / COURTESY

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied claims that another diplomatic tiff is brewing between Kenya and Tanzania.

This was after the Kenyan delegation that had been sent to represent President Uhuru Kenyatta to the funeral of former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa returned mid-air in Monduli, Tanzania.

Mkapa was a lead negotiator in the 2007-08 post-election crisis in Kenya.

However, there was conflicting reasons as to why the plane carrying Senate Majority leader and West Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio was forced to turn back.

While Tanzania Foreign Affairs Minister Palamagamba Kabudi said it was due to bad weather, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau said it was a “mechanical problem with the plane”.

Kabudi, however, confirmed at the national farewell that they expected the Kenyan delegation.

“ We were expected to have with us the special envoy representing President Uhuru Kenyatta, Senator Samuel Losuron Poghisio… but we have received information that his plane was forced to turn mid air in Monduli. The information we have is that the plane is expected to land safely in Nairobi,” Kabudi said.

Ambassador Kamau said, “I think there was a mechanical issue with the plane but I’m not sure”.

MFA said Kenya’s High Commissioner Dan Kazungu would represent President Kenyatta.

On Monday, Uhuru fell short of mentioning Tanzania as one of the countries hiding Covid-19 information.

Speaking during the 10th Presidential Address on Covid-19 pandemic, Kenyatta told Kenyans not to think that countries not releasing their coronavirus data are doing better in handling the crisis.

“Some of you are asking why we are doing this [escalating Covid-19] and other countries are doing okay. But we are in a democracy and as I said, we will tell you the truth. We will not hide information to create an impression that we are doing fine,” Uhuru said in Kiswahili.

He further noted that as an open democratic society, Kenya does not suppress what the media reports.

“The fact that countries don’t report what happens in their countries does not mean they are fine, we are an open society and we have to tell our stories,” Uhuru said.

This is what was linked to the supposed diplomatic tiff.

This also comes two months after Kenya and Tanzanian governments moved to resolve their border standoff that has paralysed transport for several days over Covid-19 testing procedure that locked out many Tanzanian drivers.

The stand-off escalated when Uhuru announced the closure of the Namanga border and all other routes to and from the country following increased cases of Covid-19 by drivers from the neighbouring country.

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