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Uhuru's failed US trip brings more questions than answers

26 April 2015, 09:27 Victor Tinto

Nairobi - The president failed to travel to the United States after a miscalculation of his flight path, according to State House, but others feel differently.

The fact of the matter is that the airspace over Yemen has been under the red zone for three months and commercial airlines have been using a longer route to Dubai, which was the destination for the president on the fateful Thursday.

Why was there still an insistence to use the route?

According to security experts, there either was a miscommunication with the president's travel team on the merits or demerits of using the route over Yemen or there was a threat at the time of their travel or the matter was simply mishandled.

" It could be either of the three but you get the feeling that the main issue is that the matter was handled badly, Johnson Mukai, a Nairobi based aviation lecturer says.

" These things are usually straightforward. There is usually travel advice issued by several international aviation managers as regards routes to use and as far as I know in the past two months, commercial airlines have been urged to stay away from the Yemeni airspace".

" So unless there is something the presidential team knew that others did not, the planning was just wrong," he added.

However, there is the matter of commercial airlines being able to use the route in the last week, with a number of airlines including Kenya Airways using the Yemeni route on the same night as that of the president turning back.

" We have been operating using the Yemen route after it was cleared since last week, Kenya Airways through Corporate Affairs Manager Wanjiku Mugo told News24.

Which adds to the murk of the events of the night. What really transpired?

" It was probably a diplomatic issue," John Ngarama, a diplomacy consultant believes.

" Since it is a presidential jet, there has to be notification to the countries it flies above that it will go through the said places. Maybe that was not communicated in advance, he believes.

" It is an interesting sequence of events and one that we will likely not get to know much truth about, but will put the spotlight squarely on the president's planners," he adds.

The president was to attend the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles, USA but with his trip cancelled, will be represented by Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohammed and Information CS Fred Matiang'i.

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