The Kenyan Weekly Team
Deputy President William Ruto was involved in a nasty hotel drama in New York in what was his first visit to the US since Jubilee’s controversial electoral victory in 2013.
The Kenyan Weekly has established that Ruto was booked at the luxurious InterContinental New York Times Square, a towering and iconic 36-story hotel, during the week–long United Nations General Assembly.
But the DP and the Kenyan protocol team domiciled at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs fell out with the hotel management in what is likely to trigger a fresh diplomatic row.
Kenya and the US had a troubled relationship following the election of Ruto and his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, after the Western superpower publicly warned against the election of ICC indictees.
A highly-placed source said a furious Ruto ordered the protocol team to identify for him another hotel, plunging the Kenyan team into a crisis as most lavish hotels are almost fully booked.
The United Nations was hosting over 190 Heads of State, apart from other high–flying state officials.
In fact, an online spot-check by The Kenyan Weekly indicated that New York hotels were 76 per cent booked with the prices skyrocketing due to the crazy demand.
Troubled started when the hotel management asked for fresh search on all guests and rooms before US vice president Joe Biden walked in.
Biden, President Obama’s second in command was also booked into the prestigious skyscraper.
According to the hotel, the search was a normal security check because of heightened terror threat in the country.
“The protocol team pleaded to be exempted but they [management] was adamant. They said only Heads of State were exempt from the search. But an agitated Ruto could hear none of it,” the source said.
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed made frantic efforts to reach her US counterparts but no help was on sight.
Eventually, the Kenyan team, including Ruto stormed out of the hotel in protest.
It is understood that Amina has already dispatched a protest note to the US government for what they term “mistreatment” of the country’s DP.
It’s not clear whether Kenya was refunded the money paid to the hotel.
However, one night costs a staggering sh239, 500 in one of the luxury rooms they term as “King Bed Manhattan suite.”
The US has been on high alert because of increased terror threats.
On Sunday last week, there was a bombing incident in New York’s Chelsea neighbourhood that injured 29 at the start of the United Nations General Assembly.
The New York trip which was dampened by the hotel altercation was the first trip by Ruto to the US after the ICC dropped his crimes against humanity charges on 5 April, 2016.
Previously Ruto only visited China and Middle East countries as they bashed the West for what they termed as neo–colonisation for supporting the ICC charges.
Initially, it was Uhuru who was scheduled to travel to New York and his advance team had left for the UN General Assembly –– the last for both Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
No reason has been given by State House for Uhuru decision to skip the Assembly, but ironically he has been in Nairobi campaigning for his Jubilee candidates Mike Sonko and Johnson Sakaja for the Nairobi gubernatorial seat.
However, on Monday, White House said Obama had a telephone discussion with him and emphasised the importance of “peaceful, free and fair elections” in 2017.
“The President reiterated the importance of peaceful, free, and fair elections in Kenya in 2017 and his desire to continue our strong partnership with Kenya on a range of issues, including the effort to deliver a lasting defeat to al-Shabaab in Somalia,” read a communiqué on the White House website.
Opposition leaders led by Raila Odinga had petitioned Obama in his historic visit to Kenya to support their push for electoral reforms and pressure Jubilee leadership to arrest run-away corruption in government; and rampant insecurity in the country.
This story appeared in Print on our 44th Edition of the TheKenyanweekly now in circulation.