Former Republican President Rupiah Banda was recognised as one of the dignitaries invited to grace the inauguration of Kenya’s new leader Uhuru Kenyatta at Kasarani Stadium despite being blocked from travelling for the event.
Banda was stopped on orders from President Michael Sata and his gang when he reached the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport to board his Kenyan Airways flight to Nairobi on Tuesday morning.
During the ceremony at a packed Kasarani Stadium where a horde of foreign dignitaries including Presidents from various country’s Banda, who led a 50-member observer mission under the Jimmy Carter Foundation, was acknowledged even ahead of first Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda.
Kaunda was in the company of Vice-President Guy Scott and finance deputy minister Miles Sampa.
The officials at Kasarani, who were oblivious that Banda had been blocked despite a court order to release his passport, said the former Zambian leader was present at the event and asked him to feel well come.
Back home, Banda and his officials were shocked at the authorities’ high handedness in blocking his trip to Kenya. Banda is facing what many now believe are politically motivated corruption charges but the international community see him as a model of democracy for willingly handing over power.
Lusaka Magistrate Joshua Banda had given Banda leeway to travel by handing over his passport but immigration officers allegedly acting on President Michael Sata’s orders blocked him.
Banda’s second administrative assistant Kennedy Limwanya said Banda was shocked at the development.
“We are shocked because Mr Banda was given his passport yesterday. This was done on instructions,” Limwanya said.
Banda headed back home after being stopped from boarding the Kenya Airways plane. Later, the government claimed immigration officers stopped former Banda as he was already late for the inauguration of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Responding to assertions that immigration officers acted on instructions from State House, information deputy minister Mwansa Kapeya said it was improper for Banda to travel when he was already late for the event.
Banda was scheduled to leave for Nairobi at 11:30 hours but was blocked by immigration officers. Kapeya said Banda was on was on the watch list.