NAIROBI, Kenya, July 21 – East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie has reassured that the United Kingdom’s decision to move its visa processing section from Nairobi to Pretoria beginning next year is not motivated by security concerns.
Kandie on Monday echoed the United Kingdom Visa and Immigration (UKVI) explanation that the decision was taken in line with its, “strategic direction to operate fewer overseas hubs.”
“I have since spoken to the British High Commissioner and really there were no linkages between security and the decision to move. I think the major understanding is that it is a rationalisation programme that’s going on and it’s a policy decision of the British government, it’s really got nothing to do with security matters in Kenya,” she said.
She however said she understood why the decision might be misconstrued given the similar staff rationalisation exercise undertaken by the United States Embassy.
“It is implied but I think we’ve heard the Cabinet Secretary Foreign Affairs clarify that last night,” she said.
The revelation that the UK will process all but essential visas originally processed in Nairobi in Pretoria also comes amid a reported standoff between the Kenyan and UK governments over the renewal of an agreement allowing British troops to train in Kenya.
During the Queen’s Birthday celebrations last month however, British High Commissioner Christian Turner assured that while the two governments may have their differences from time to time, relations between the two countries were not in jeopardy.
“The wounds from Westgate are still raw, and the evil events this week in Mpeketoni only harden our resolve to stand shoulder to shoulder with Kenyans to tackle this threat,” Turner assured on June 19.
US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec also made similar assurances during the Embassy’s Independence Day celebrations on July 3 following criticism of their and the UK’s travel advisories against all but essential travel to the coastal region.