Banda banned from leaving Zambia

Africa
Zambian ex-president Rupiah Banda was barred from travelling to Kenya for the swearing-in ceremony of Uhuru Kenyatta. Picture: AFP

LUSAKA -  Zambian ex-president Rupiah Banda was barred from attending the inauguration ceremony of Kenya's new president on Tuesday.

Zambian authorities said they stopped him from leaving the country because he was late for the function.

According to Banda's aide, Kennedy Limwanya, he was turned back at the international airport in Lusaka by immigration officials citing orders from "higher up." 

Deputy information minister Mwansa Kapeya said the immigration authorities acted within their rights since Banda "is on the police watch list."

Kapeya said Banda was due to take off from Lusaka at 11am when the swearing-in ceremony was already under way.

"Clearly, Mr Banda was late for the function way before he even stepped his foot on the plane to leave for Kenya," Kapeya said in a statement.

"We wonder the motive behind his desire to fly to Kenya even when he knew too well that he was late and would have found the function long finished," he added.

Banda was recently stripped of his presidential immunity and hit with a slew of graft charges, in what allies say is an attempt by his successor, Michael Sata, to neutralise political opposition.

Banda's lawyer Robert Amsterdam said a court order had cleared Banda to travel to Kenya for Kenyatta's inauguration.

He had permission to travel be outside the country for a week.

Banda's passport, which was in the custody of the courts as part of his bail conditions, was returned to him late Monday afternoon.

Banda, who ruled Zambia from 2008 to 2011, is accused of benefiting from a Nigerian crude oil contract while in office.

He has denied the charges and alleged that the case is politically motivated.  Banda is due back in court later this month.

The former head of state is contesting the lifting of his immunity from prosecution in a separate court battle.

-Additional reporting Sapa

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