The United States government has refused to grant visas to three senators who were scheduled to travel to America last night. Amos Wako of Busia, Kiraitu Murungi of Meru and Mohammed Kuti of Isiolo were denied visas although seven others including the controversial Nairobi senatr Gideon Sonko were given visas.
Those cleared include Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro, Clerk Jeremiah Nyengenye, Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki, and nominated Senators Janet Ongera, Fatuma Dullo, Beatrice Elachi and Naisula Lesuuda.
Lesuuda apparently took Wako’s place after the long serving former Attorney General was denied a visa. Yesterday the Clerk of the Senate said he was not aware that the three have been denied visas.
He said he will not travel since there will be a special Senate session to discuss the fate of Embu governor Martin Wambora who was impeached this week by his county assembly on corruption allegations.
“The Senate is set to be recalled. It will come back on Tuesday for the special sitting on Governor Wambora,” said Nyengenye. The American embassy in Nairobi has written to the three senators explaining that their visa requests could not be granted.
The rest of the Kenyan delegation including 18 senators had been due to leave last night. They had been invited to visit the US Senate in Washington DC.
However at the minute the trip was cancelled by the Speaker to ensure that there would be a full house on Tuesday. Some senators were about to board an Emirates flight to Dubai yesterday afternoon when they were asked by the Speaker to disembark.
“The House business and rules committee met today and some people who were already boarding were asked to disembark. The worst thing was that the US Senate was prepared to meet us. Some serious apologies will have to be made because it is very difficult to get such a team to meet us,” said one senator yesterday.
“I don’t understand how the impeachment of an Embu governor has become a national issue,” said the senator. The US senate had asked the Kenya government to pick its delegation for the trip and did not suggest any names.
After being denied the US visa, the three senators are now reportedly considering another trip for senators to Germany scheduled for February. Wako served as Attorney General from 1991 to 2011 and was elected the Busia senator in March 2013. He had served as the AG since 1991.
Wako has always been controversial. He came under attack from the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission who accused him of sitting on its recommendations for prosecutions over the Anglo Leasing and Goldenberg scandals.
In 2009, UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Killings Philip Alston called for the resignation of Wako as the “embodiment of the phenomenon of impunity in Kenya”.
In November 2009, a senior State Department official was quoted by AP news saying that the US was revoking Wako’s travel visa for blocking reform and contributing to impunity. The official said the ban was permanent.
President Mwai Kibaki then wrote a protest letter to President Barrack Obama over its promise to ban 15 prominent Kenyans including six ministers from travelling to the USA.
Kiraitu served as Justice minister and Energy minister during the Kibaki government but became entangled in the Anglo Leasing and Triton scandals.
In 2006, the Public Accounts Committee said it had credible evidence that Kiraitu protected the Anglo Leasing principals – former Internal Security minister Chris Murungaru and former presidential personal assistant Alfred Getonga.
In 2011, Kiraitu denied being part of the Sh7b Triton swindle of petroleum products from Kenya Pipeline Corporation. It is not clear why Mohammed Kuti has been blacklisted although Isiolo has recently had problems with ethnic violence.
In the Kibaki government Kuti served as Youth Affairs minister and then as Livestock Development minister.