Odinga blocked from airport VIP lounge
NAIROBI – Former Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga was blocked from using a lounge normally reserved for VIPs at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi.
The nation learnt that it took the intervention of top government officials for authorities at the JKIA to allow Odinga to access VIP3 lounge normally used by high-ranking government officials — both past and present.
He was scheduled to fly to Kisumu in the afternoon.
Odinga’s chief campaign manager during the March 4 General Election Eliud Owalo blamed the incident on senior government officials he said were out to humiliate the former PM.
“I am aware there was an incident at the airport. There is a section of government officials who are using intimidation tactics that were used during the dark Kanu era,” he claimed.
Owalo complained that Odinga’s wife, Ida, had been subjected to similar treatment last Friday.
“Security personnel at JKIA claim they are acting on the basis of a letter written by Francis Kimemia, whose contents they have been instructed to enforce ‘to the letter’ at all airports within the country,” he said in a statement.
He demanded that the government makes a public apology to Odinga over the two incidents.
The government moved fast to downplay the incident, blaming it on “over-enthusiastic” civil servants and vowed to take disciplinary action against anybody found to have subjected Odinga to such humiliation.
“That (blocking him from using the VIP lounge) is not an official position of this government that treats Raila with a lot of respect,” said government spokesperson Muthui Kariuki.
An official at Foreign Affairs ministry, which is in charge of VIP lounges at Kenya’s international airports also distanced itself from the incident, pointing fingers at the JKIA security. — nation.co.ke