The US Embassy in Nairobi recently denied visas to at least five Kenyan MPs and senators over their alleged link to drug trafficking and terrorism.
The affected legislators, who included members of the National Assembly and Senate, were seeking to travel to the US to attend the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in Nashville, Tennessee, The Standard reported on Friday.
Five other members of staffs from the parliament clerks’ office and Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) was also denied visas over failure meet tough regulations set by the US, according to the publication.
The US denies visas to individuals if it has information about their involvement in various crimes such as drugs trade, terrorism, and corruption.
A source told The Standard that the number of Kenyan MPs denied US visas were initially high but it was reduced after a high-level intervention.
“Some applications were rejected. We contacted the consular services to lodge a complaint. Some were reviewed while others are still undergoing review,” the source intimated.
An MP from the coast region, who was denied a visa, told senior parliamentary staff that the US authorities linked him to extremist activities of criminal groups terrorizing locals, the newspaper reported.
When contacted for comment on the matter, National Assembly clerk Michael Sialai said he was not aware of any MP or staff who were denied a visa. He, nonetheless, noted that visa application is a personal matter and it is difficult to know the grounds of denial.
Kenya sent the highest number of delegation to the US legislative summit. In total more than 80 delegates including MPs, MCAs and parliament staff attended the conference.
Nigeria was second with 20, while many other countries sent between one and six delegates. For example, Indonesia had one, Portugal (two) and Japan (six).
Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga termed the huge delegation as “scandalous waste of revenue” by Parliament and county assemblies. The Kenyan team was being led by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Kenneth Lusaka.
He said he “finds no justification at all in Parliament and county assemblies sending such a huge delegation on a mission where a handful could come back with a report.”