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Why Banda was barred from Kenyatta's inauguration

10 April 2013, 17:58

Lusaka - The Zambian government has defended immigration officials who blocked former President Rupiah Banda from traveling to Kenya for the inauguration of that country' s fourth President Uhuru Kenyatta, a statement released by a government spokesperson Wednesday said.

Banda, who was invited by Kenyan authorities to be among dignitaries to attend the inauguration ceremony, was blocked at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport by immigration officials when the former president and his entourage wanted to board a Kenyan plane.

Banda, who is facing corruption charges, was turned away at the airport by immigration officials who cited orders from 'higher authorities'.

Authorities returned Banda's passport which was in the custody of the court as part of his bail conditions late Monday so that he could travel after his lawyers applied to the court.

But Deputy Minister of Information and Broadcasting Mwansa Kapeya said in a statement that there was no ill motive on the part of the government to block him from traveling as evidenced by the release of his passport.

According to him, Banda was booked on Kenyan Airways flight KQ724 which was due to depart at 11:00 a.m and was supposed to have arrived in Nairobi around 16:00 hours p.m.

"Meanwhile, the inauguration ceremony in Nairobi started at 09: 30 hours East African time and ended at noon. Clearly, Rupiah Banda was late for the function way before he even stepped his foot on the plane to leave for Kenya. We wonder the motive behind his desire to fly to Kenya even when he knew too well that he was late and would have found the function long finished," he said.

He further said immigration authorities were within their rights to stop Banda from traveling following his questioning by investigative wings on alleged corruption during his rule.

Banda's immunity from prosecution was last month lifted by lawmakers, a move that has seen him appearing before a joint government investigative team for questioning on various charges.

He has since been arrested on one count of abuse of authority in connection with a Nigerian oil deal.

Last week, he was warned and cautioned on allegations that he breached the country's laws in acquiring a prime piece of land in the Zambian capital Lusaka.

Banda ruled Zambia from 2008 to 2011 when he peacefully handed over power after losing to incumbent Michael Sata.

- Xinhua


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