Plan to deny Kenyan governors visa benefits opposed
By Cyrus Ombati and Roselyn Obala
| March 1st 2017
Governors have protested a move by the Government to restrict US visa applications.
Council of Governors (CoG) chairman Peter Munya threatened to move to court and seek orders to reverse the decision he termed a breach of the legal requirement.
In a protest letter to Devolution CS Mwangi Kiunjuri and his PS Monica Juma, which was copied to US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec, Munya demanded to know what informed the decision.
"The council demands that you accord the county officials the facilitation and assistance they require while travelling for official functions in the US and any other foreign nation. Failed cooperation will attract legal challenge by the council in court," warned Munya who is also Meru governor.
He termed the decision by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs discriminatory.
This follows a directive that county officials travelling to the US on behalf of county governments be disqualified from official visas, whether they are travelling on diplomatic passports or not.
The order also says the 'A' visa category, which governors are entitled to, will only apply to officials travelling on behalf of the national government.
From now henceforth, all county officials will be issued with B1/B2 visa category, which do not require a diplomat note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This mean governors will apply for visas and be considered on a needs basis, just like any other Kenyan.
He referred to the Constitution which he argued provides that governments at the national and county levels are inter-dependent and should conduct their businesses with mutual relations on a basis of cooperation and consultation.
"In this regard, county and national governments should work in mutual cooperation to ensure their powers and functions, as outlined under Schedule Four of the Constitution, are fulfilled," said Munya.
"According to the Constitution, a State officer includes governor, deputy governor, MCAs and members of the executives," said the governor.
"When county officials undertake foreign official travels, they are doing so in fulfilment of the Constitution. The Government should therefore facilitate travels by county officials by providing relevant diplomatic notes."
In a letter dated February 14, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the US Embassy in Nairobi had been informed that official status A visa category will only apply to officials travelling to the US on behalf of the national government and their immediate family members (spouse and unmarried sons and daughters).
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