NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 22 – The government said on Thursday it was making spirited efforts to ensure Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula, his entourage and other Kenyans in Bamako, Mali are evacuated as soon as possible.
Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Thuita Mwangi told journalists they were in contact with friendly nations around Mali and the Kenya Airways management to help in the evacuation as soon as the airspace in the troubled country is opened.
“As it is, the airspace in Mali is closed and airports there are not operating, the Kenya Airways management has assured us that it has an aircraft in the region which will be able to fly to Mali as soon as the airport is opened to be able to fly them back home,” the PS said.
He however, assured that the ministry was in constant touch with the Minister and officials who accompanied him.
“We have been speaking to the minister and he has assured us that they are safe in a hotel where they are assembled,” he said. “However, the hotel where they are staying is very close to the national broadcaster where shots are being fired.”
Wetangula was caught up in Mali where he had gone to attend an AU meeting before the country’s military took over the government on Wednesday night as he was about to head to the airport to fly back to Kenya.
The Kenyan ambassador in Mali had been attending the same forum but had left Bamako at the time the crisis unfolded.
The PS told journalists the ministry did not have figures of the exact number of Kenyans staying in Mali although several of them who want to travel back home have made contact with Kenya Airways.
“We do not have these details, but we are trying to compile them. There are those who have been in touch with the Kenya Airways and they want assistance back home,” he said.
Reports from Mali on Thursday indicated that the military forces had seized several ministers as soldiers continued to fire indiscriminately in Bamako.
Whereabouts of the country’s president remained unknown.
“It has been confirmed that there is a coup in Mali, and there is a caretaker government. There are several ministers who have been seized,” Mwangi told journalists when asked to comment about the crisis in the West African nation.