NAIROBI, Kenya, May 11 – Kenya airways on Wednesday afternoon rushed to book Ugandan Opposition Leader Dr Kizza Besigye on an alternative flight to Entebbe after denying him space in their morning flight.
The airline’s Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni said KQ had apologised to Dr Besigye for the incident at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Wednesday morning where the leader was denied a boarding pass.
“Kenya Airways would like to confirm to its passengers, customers, investors and the public that Ugandan Opposition Leader Dr. Kizza Besigye is now scheduled to depart on KQ414/11th May departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for Entebbe International Airport at 1750hrs,” he said in a statement.
“The airline has now confirmed and issued Dr Besigye and his wife tickets to depart Nairobi in the evening. The airline takes earliest opportunity to apologize to Dr Besigye for any inconveniences caused,” he said.
He has also given details stating why they refused to allow Dr Besigye to fly on the KQ 410 flight on Wednesday morning.
“Dr Besigye was denied boarding on KQ 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,” Mr Naikuni said.
“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 opposition leader remained stranded at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport\’s VIP lounge where he demanded a written explanation from the airline and Ugandan authorities.
"(Ugandan) state security told Kenya Airways that if Besigye was on board they would not be given landing rights," Anne Mugisha, a leading official in Dr Besigye\’s party said.
The Ugandan government has however denied issuing such a request.
"If we managed to allow him to leave, how can we stop him from coming back? We had all the powers to stop him from going there after all; Uganda doesn\’t have any authority on Kenya Airways flights," Internal Affairs Minister Kirunda Kivejinja told the Daily Monitor newspaper in Kampala.
Seperately, the Kenyan government had denied involvement in the airport saga with a statement from spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua saying the opposition leader was free to travel at any time of his choice.
“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.
”The Government is aware that Dr. Besigye has been booked on a later flight to Entebbe today but he is free to take any flight of his choice. The Government of Kenya is not involved in his travel plans,” said Dr Mutua.
Dr Besigye was flown to Kenya for treatment after he was assaulted by Uganda police late last month following a series of "walk to work" protests against rising commodity prices.