27.11.07

Kenyan Airport Security in a Diplomatic faux pas with Ghana's Defence Minister

Defence Minister, Albert Kan-Dapaah yesterday fought Kenyan security operatives when they tried to have him undergo a body-search at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, from where he was to emplane for home.
At Gate 8 of the airport, the Minister, who was returning home after an official duty in DR Congo, was stunned when a young Kenyan security operative asked him to submit himself for a search before boarding the Kenyan Airways aircraft, his diplomatic passport notwithstanding.It was the Minister’s Military Assistant, Wing Commander Appiah Agyekum’s angry response to the diplomatically incorrect search demand which attracted the attention of some Ghanaian passengers at the airport.
“You cannot search my Defence Minister. I am his Military Assistant,” he said.Upon discovering what they considered disrespect to their minister, the Ghanaian passengers rallied round the Minister in solidarity, showing interest in the progress of the standoff.One of them even said, “Ye be ye dede”, to wit: “We will make noise”. The Minister told the young Kenyan security man that he was not going to allow himself to be searched.
“If we had an ambassador here, would you have treated me this way?” he asked.Not even the security man’s decision to exclude the Minister’s shoes in the search could convince him to succumb to the Kenyan’s demand. One of the operatives retorted, “We would search even the Vice President. The only person we would not search is the President”.Another security operative, who sought to calm the nerves of the Minister, pleaded with him to allow the search to go on but the Defence Minister stood his ground as the standoff continued. Hon. Kan-Dapaah stood aside as the security men continued taking other passengers through the routine checks.
At a point however, he sought to go and sit outside the search area since he was not ready to be searched. He sat calmly at the passenger-waiting area of Gate 8 as a flurry of diplomatic activities went back and forth until he finally had his way and boarded the aircraft without being body-searched.A member of his entourage pleaded with some Ghanaians who wanted to stay behind and see the outcome of the standoff, to calm down as according to him, “It would be alright.”
There was relief on the countenance of the Ghanaians on board the Boeing 737-800 when the Minister finally made his way to the cabin after what appeared to be a diplomatic horse-trading.When Daily Guide asked him for a reaction, he showed the expected diplomacy by saying “that’s alright”, with a smile. When the flight landed in Accra and the Minister stepped out to the waiting arms of olive-green clad military personnel, who saluted in turns, the sharp contrast to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport diplomatic faux pas some five hours away by air, was crystal clear.
Source:Daily Guide

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