FORMER PM BARRED FROM VIP LOUNGE III
It all started on Monday just after 2pm when former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, en route to Kisumu, was by his own aides account, barred by Kenya Airports Authority (the KAA) officials from using VIP Lounge III at Unit 3 of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the lounge he had always used when PM and made to sit in VIP Lounge II.
The KAA have said that Raila Odinga and his wife Ida were not denied access to a VIP Lounge, just not given access to the one he was used to using when in office but the CORD leader reportedly told his staff that he was shocked not to be allowed to use VIP Lounge III.
VIP Lounge II, the one Raila was forced to use, is apparently open for the former PM, retired Vice Presidents, senior Government officials, Principal Secretaries and Members of Parliament. (You can see Raila’s point on this one. Who would want to sit with that lot).
ACCUSATIONS AND COUNTER-CLAIMS
Accusations and counter-claims were flying from the outset of the spat.
Eliud Owallo, Raila’s aide, said; the security personnel at JKIA claim they are acting on the basis of a letter written by Mr Francis Kimemia whose contents they have been instructed to enforce “to the letter” at all airports within the country”.
Kimemia had been Head of the Public Service but finished that job on Monday, the same day Raila was having the slight VIP Lounge problem. The KAA said Kimemia had not been consulted on the matter and the latter said he knew nothing of the incident and had “never issued such an order”.
Ida Odinga – Said to have also been ‘subject to similar treatment last Friday’
“ACTS OF INTIMIDATION” – OWALLO
Owallo accused “some people” in the Government were “deploying acts of intimidation reminiscent of the single party era”. (Surely a bit strong Mr Owallo, says the Kenya Forum, being moved from VIP Lounge III to II hardly equates with being tortured in Nyayo House).
Owallo also claimed that Ida Odinga was subjected to a similar embarrassment last Friday.
“Arising from today’s incident, Raila will not take anything short of a public apology from the highest echelons of Government”, read a statement from Raila Odinga’s team.
Now the Majority Chief Whip in the Assembly, Katoo ole Metito has said he will deliver a Government statement on the issue on Thursday.
SO, HOW IMPORTANT IS RAILA ODINGA?
The Kenya Forum is in two minds about this one and seeks readers’ opinions.
At one level we think Raila Odinga, even though no longer an elected representative, is without doubt a ‘very important person’, an influential and leading political figure and former PM of Kenya, so he should be accorded VIP status. But then one comes to the question of what level of VIP is he now?
The alternative view is that Raila Odinga lost the election (okay, in more ways than one he does not accept that as a fact), he is not an elected figure, and VIP Lounge II is there for his use so what’s he complaining about?
So what do you think Kenya Forum readers?
Should Raila Odinga be able to use a VIP Lounge III at JKIA?
Should the Government apologise to him?
Has the incident been blown out of proportion, and if so, by whom?
Is it just political games from the Odinga side, or a planned snub by the Government?
Conspiracy, cock-up, outsize ego, or attempted humiliation?