The controversy surrounding the training of British soldiers in Nanyuki escalated Saturday after Kenya and the United Kingdom gave conflicting information on the matter.
The Kenyan government, through the Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Mr Karanja Kibicho, denied reports that it has refused to clear a new battalion that was to replace one that is departing.
Mr Kibicho said the clearance letters were sent “at the right time” but added that “there was an issue of pressure that some people want to exert on others”.
He did not expound on who was exerting pressure.
“Yes, clearance is done by this ministry and we have cleared everyone. Go to Nanyuki and tell me if there is anybody who has not been cleared,” he said by telephone.
“We have no reason to hold the British soldiers in the country or refuse others to come. All these are fabrications being peddled around which is funny.”
But in response, the British High Commission spokesperson Stephen Burns said he had not seen the letters.
“(I) haven’t seen anything to confirm this yet. (I) can’t comment until I do. Thanks,” Mr Burns told the Nation via SMS.
On Friday, Mr Burns told a local newspaper that there is "a small diplomatic issue that he hoped will be resolved soon in regard to the soldiers' training".
"The UK has a longstanding, mutually beneficial, defence relationship with Kenya and we hope that the delay in receipt of diplomatic clearances from the Kenyan authorities will be resolved shortly," he said.
British newspapers reported on Thursday that 700 soldiers have been stuck in the country for several days after completing infantry training because the Kenyan government has delayed “diplomatic clearance” for their replacements to take over from them. The soldiers were set to depart last Thursday.
Quoting sources, the Telegraph said Nairobi was delaying clearance for troops from 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, to fly into the country, in what diplomats believe is a rebuke for Britain tightening travel advice to Kenya.
The delay means troops from the 3rd Battalion, The Rifles, who have finished training and were due to fly out on the planes delivering the Paras, have been stranded.