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Ugandan officials deny claims KQ refused to pick Museveni

KAMPALA,

Government officials on Monday said they were unaware of claims that Kenya Airways (KQ) declined a request to pick up President Museveni from western Uganda and fly him to Nairobi to attend a summit.

The Standard, a Kenyan newspaper, on Monday published a story that Mr Museveni had wanted to be picked up from Mbarara for the 16th ordinary summit of the East African Community Heads of State in Nairobi on February 20, but KQ declined the request.

The report claimed that as a result, President Museveni ended up flying Ethiopian Airways to the summit.

Because Mr Museveni registered his displeasure with his Kenyan counterpart, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, the report claimed, a parliamentary inquiry had been set up.

A State House source in Kampala confirmed that Mr Museveni indeed flew Ethiopian Airways to Nairobi “because the presidential jet was being serviced,” but the source said he was unaware of where the aircraft picked up the President and whether it was a result of KQ’s refusal to pick him up.

PASSING THE BUCK

Spokespersons kept passing the buck when contacted for a comment on the matter, which was compounded by the fact that the ministers were locked up in a two-day retreat.

A spokesperson at the Information ministry said he was constrained to comment because the ministry lacked a minister at the moment.

He said Ms Rose Namayanja, the former holder of that office, has already taken up her new tasks as ruling party treasurer, while Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi, the in-coming minister, is due for vetting Wednesday.

Mr Ofwono Opondo, the executive director of the Uganda Media Centre, referred Daily Monitor to Ms Linda Nabusayi, the deputy presidential spokesperson.

Mr Tamale Mirundi, the presidential spokesperson, in turn referred us to the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Transport, which he said were more suited to comment on the incident.

Mr Fred Opolot, the spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs first denied knowledge of the issue, before pointing out that even if it were true that it happened, it was “too small to cause diplomatic unease between Uganda and Kenya”.

Asked for comment, Mr Ignatious Igundura, the spokesperson Civil Aviation Authority, said, “But how would I know? I am not aware. That could be answered by KQ.”