The Government of Kenya's delegation to the state funeral of the late former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa never made it to Dar es Salaam on Tuesday, July 28 for the scheduled function.
Reports that first surfaced in Tanzanian media outlets indicated that a plane ferrying the representatives was turned back at Monduli District in Arusha, about 700 kilometres away from Dar where the ceremony was taking place.
Debates about a brewing diplomatic row was fueled by President Uhuru Kenyatta's address on Monday, July 27 in which he criticised countries not reporting Covid-19 figures, a statement that was widely perceived as a veiled reference to Tanzania and its President John Pombe Magufuli.
Pressed by Kenyans.co.ke on why no Kenyan representatives were spotted at the funeral, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau denied that the plane had been sent back by authorities and instead blamed the early return on "a mechanical issue".Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau in Parliament on February 21, 2018.File
"It's complete nonsense. Why would we put our people on a plane only for them to be sent back? I think there was a mechanical issue with the plane but I'm not sure," he stated.
Kamau further claimed that reports of a diplomatic tiff were being peddled by those hoping to see the two countries fight.
"People are spoiling for a fight where there is none. There are no such tensions," he maintained.
Efforts by Kenyans.co.ke to get in touch with the country's Ambassador to Tanzania Dan Kazungu were futile as the diplomat was unreachable.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, while announcing various measures meant to curb the spread of Covid-19, had stated that Kenya's media was free to report accurate figures on the pandemic unlike in other nations.
“The fact that countries don’t report what happens in their countries does not mean they are fine, we are an open society and we have to tell our stories," he stated.
It was perceived as an affront towards neighboring Tanzania as President Magufuli declared the country Coronavirus-free despite the last report on the virus in Tanzania being published on April 29.
Magufuli has advocated for education, business and sports to continue as usual and recommended the use of herbal cures to protect against the disease.President Uhuru Kenyatta shares a light moment with Tanzanian President John Magufuli during the commissioning of Southern Bypass at Ngong Road-Lenana Interchange in Nairobi in 2019Daily Nation
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