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Thursday, 12 May 2011

Col Kizza Besigye Fails to return home.

Besigye flanked by his wife Winnie addressing journalists in Nairobi
THE return of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president Kizza Besigye yesterday aborted after Kenya Airways refused to carry him back to Uganda from Nairobi.

Besigye, who had been in Nairobi for treatment, was slated to arrive at Entebbe Airport at 9:00am.

However, when he arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and checked in, the airline management stopped him from boarding citing “security reasons.”

Kenya Airways Explains
The airline said its intelligence had received information that the plane would not be allowed to land at Entebbe airport with Besigye on board.

“Dr. Besigye was earlier denied boarding on KQ 410/11th May at 0800hrs following information from Kenya Airways internal intelligence sources that the aircraft would not be allowed to land at the Entebbe International Airport if he was on board,” Titus Naikuni said in a statement.

“Dr. Besigye thus could not board the aircraft as Kenya Airways had to first ascertain this information without inconveniencing the other passengers destined for Entebbe.”

The Airline, however, apologised to Besigye and offered to fly him to Uganda at 5:50pm yesterday. Besigye and wife Winnie Byanyima remained at the VIP lounge until 1:00pm when he told journalists that airways’ CEO Titus Naikuni blocked him from travelling.

Besigye said he had already been cleared for the flight and had been handed a boarding pass.

Besigye later had lunch at the Ole Sereni hotel where he met Kenyan Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka.

Although the airline offered a ticket to Besigye for the afternoon flight, he declined it saying his party officials in Kampala had advised him against a late evening flight.

“My officials said it was not safe,” Besigye told BBC in an interview.

FDC officials accused Ugandan authorities of blocking Besigye . “He was offloaded on the orders of the Ugandans government,” said FDC Vice President, Salaam Musumba.

Musumba also said Kenya Airways told them that Besigye was blocked because Kenya’s former President Daniel arap Moi was on board. Moi is in Uganda to attend President Museveni’s swearing-in ceremony today.

However, Uganda and Kenya governments in separate statements denied blocking Besigye

“The Government of Kenya has noted that Dr. Kizza Besigye missed his flight to Uganda today morning. The Government of Kenya wishes to clarify that Dr. Besigye is free to travel within Kenya or travel from Kenya at any time or day of his choice,” said Alfred Mutua, Kenyan government spokesperson. “The Government of Kenya is not involved in his travel plans.”

Uganda Government also issued a statement distancing itself from the incident.

“The Government of Uganda has nothing to do with Dr. Besigye’s travel plans from Kenya or any other sovereign state,” Fred Opolot, the Media Centre director, said.

“The Government of Uganda through the Uganda Police has made arrangements for the safe and orderly passage of Dr. Besigye from Entebbe to Kampala.”

“The understanding is that Dr. Besigye, as per communication from his party, is on his way from Nairobi and should arrive sometime today.”

The party threatened to drag the airline to court. “This is a violation of international aviation law and we shall take legal action on that,” said Erias Lukwago, Shadow Attorney General.

It was unclear when Besigye
would return. The Police said he would return today aboard the same airline at 9:00am, but party officials were non-committal.

Besigye’s supporters pitched camp at a number of places on the Kampala-Entebbe road . They cheered officials who had gone to welcome Besigye as they headed back to Kampala.

The Police allowed supporters to move to the Nsambya Railway grounds where Besigye had been scheduled to address a rally on his return.

Besigye’s failure to return home generated a heated debate in both Ugandan and Kenyan parliaments.

While Ugandan opposition MPs demanded an explanation from the Government, the Government maintained that Besigye was free to return any time.

A Kenyan lawmaker, on his part, told parliament his country was complicit in blocking Besigye’s return.

“The Kenyan government has denied Besigye his right to go back home, I want to understand under what law can our own government detain Dr Besigye to tell him you cannot go back to Uganda,” said MP, Charles Kilonzo.

Before he travelled to Kenya for treatment, Besigye was involved in a number of confrontations with Police, while trying to stage a Walk to Work protest. Police maintain that the protest is illegal.

The protest has led to a number of deaths and injuries.
source:vision news paper (Uganda)

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