Kenya Airways Suspends Flights To Kinshasa Over DRC Detentions

Kenya Airways Suspends Flights To Kinshasa Over DRC Detentions

By Spy Uganda Correspondent

Kampala: Kenya Airways announced the suspension of flights to Kinshasa starting Tuesday over the detention of two employees by a military intelligence unit in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Two Kenya Airways employees, who work at the carrier’s airport office in Democratic Republic of Congo were arrested on 19 April by the Military Detection of Anti-Homeland Activities (DEMIAP) allegedly because of “missing custom documentation on valuable cargo”, the airline said.

Kenya Airways said its employees were held “incommunicado” in a military facility until 23 April, when embassy officials and a team from the airline were allowed to visit them.

“Due to the continued detention of KQ [Kenya Airways] employees by the Military Intelligence Unit in Kinshasa, Kenya Airways is unable to support our flights without personnel effectively,” the airline said in a statement Monday.

According to Kenya Airways, a military court in DRC had promised their release last week, but they are still being detained. The DRC government has not commented on the allegations and calls to DEMIAP have not been answered.

But the airline’s CEO Allan Kilavuka said last week that the cargo in question, whose contents are not specified, was “not uplifted or accepted by KQ due to incomplete documentation”.

This cargo, whose contents are not specified, “was still in the baggage section being cleared by customs when the security team arrived and alleged that KQ was transporting goods without customs clearance”, he said.

“All efforts to explain to the military officers that KQ had not accepted the cargo because of incomplete documentation proved futile.”

In its statement on Monday, Kenya Airways said the “unlawful detention” had “made it difficult for us to supervise our operations in Kinshasa, which include customer service, ground handling, cargo activities, and generally ensuring safe, secure, and efficient operations”.

“We ask that the military court’s direction that they be released to allow due process to be respected so that our innocent staff can return to their families and everyday lives without harassment.” reads part of the statement.

The incident sparked anger in Kenya, with the head of a powerful parliamentary committee calling it a breach of diplomatic rules.

“This is a serious infringement of the rights of the two Kenyans and a worrying breach of the diplomatic principles upon which… Kenya-DRC relations are founded,” Nelson Koech, chair of a parliamentary committee covering defense, intelligence and foreign relations, said Friday.

The affair also creates further diplomatic tensions between Nairobi and Kinshasa, despite growing economic ties.

In December last year, DRC recalled its Kenya ambassador after former head of the electoral commission, Corneille Nangaa, announced in Nairobi that he had joined forces with the M23 rebels to create a new political alliance.

In recent years, Kenyan banks like Equity Bank and the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) have entered the DRC market while business conferences to spark further Kenyan investment have followed. an accessible web community

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