* He has not been able to meet the Foreign Minister since his arrival in Nairobi
* His letters have not been responded to.
* His invitation for President Kenyatta to visit India was not acknowledged and gone unanswered.
* His daughter cold not get a residential visa.
* Indians pay for work permit12 times more than Chinese citizens
Kenya and India are reportedly locked in a diplomatic row over issues which the Indian High Commissioner to Kenya, Yogeshwar Varma, is yet to be formally informed about. The envoy Thursday showed up at the National Assembly and sought the intervention of Speaker Justin Muturi to access top officials of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration.
In a discussion between Muturi and the Indian High Commissioner, it emerged that for the five months that the envoy has been in Kenya, he has been unable to meet the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amina Mohammed.
“I have been trying to meet with Amina for the last three months after I presented my credentials to the President, but all my letters have not been responded to. I don’t know what it is, but surely, the ministry blocking the Indian ambassador here is definitely sending some signals,” said the High Commissioner.
The High Commissioner said there was no official policy or bad blood between his country and Kenya in the 50 years that the two countries have done business together. “I meet people at senior levels of government, so I don’t think this is an official policy against India,” the envoy told Muturi.
Varma asked Muturi to contact the Cabinet Secretary and find out why he has been given a cold shoulder. “It is so important for an ambassador to work with the ministry because that is the point of contact between diplomats and the Government,” he said, adding: “The worry is that India, the world’s largest democracy, and Kenya, East Africa’s commercial hub, have been doing business together for a long time. Many Kenyans troop to India for medical help in what is now known as medical tourism.”
He revealed that he had also invited President Kenyatta to India for the India-Africa summit through the ministry, but his letter was not acknowledged and his reminders have also gone unanswered. He noted that the whole idea was to have Kenyatta visit India before the end of this year. “We just have a few months left. If there’s anything you can do, Mr Speaker, please convey to us a confirmation of the presidential visit to India,” said Varma.
The envoy also expressed dissatisfaction with the Immigration department, noting that he wants to meet Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku.
He told Muturi that his daughter was denied a residential visa. “My daughter used to work as a corporate risk analyst. I don’t understand why she cannot be given a residential visa, yet she is in my family. It is just me and my wife who were given. There’s a very tough officer in the ministry who simply told me that my daughter cannot get a visa because she doesn’t qualify,” said Varma. The envoy said every time the daughter travels, she has to pay Sh4,500 for a visa to Kenya.
He added: “There are certain rigidities in your Immigration department, but I have to see the Interior CS to find out if there is some flexibility.” Varma also complained about the way work permits were awarded to foreign nationals.
“Indians in Kenya pay Sh200,000 for a work permit for six months or Sh400,000 for a year; yet the Chinese pay Sh30,000 per year. What is happening?” posed Varma. The envoy however said India had no problem with Chinese investments in Kenya. He gave Muturi an open invitation to India and 16 fully-paid slots for parliamentary staff to be trained on bicameralism.
Muturi promised to find out what had delayed the meeting between the High Commissioner and the foreign ministry officials. “We’ll look at the issues you have raised and see how best to resolve them,” he said.
* Originally published on Standard Media.