France Embassy in Kenya accused of flouting Kenya’s guidelines on coronavirus

French Ambassador to Kenya Aline Kuster. [Photo Talk Africa]

A row is simmering between Kenya’s Ministry of Health and the French Embassy in Kenya over what the fight against coronavirus in Kenya.

This follows the evacuation of nine French nationals who tested positive for COVID-19 in Nairobi on Sunday night via a KLM flight. MOH now claims that such a move goes against the set measures for lockdown.

Of the nine French nationals are diplomats who arrived in Kenya recently or were in contact with already infected people.
A source at the French Embassy in Kenya explained why the mission is at loggerheads with Kenyan authorities.

The source intimated that two French nationals who tested positive last week at a Nairobi-based private laboratory did not have their tests verified by the government as is the protocol because the French Chancery negated this. This means that they were not part of last week’s statistics.

Further, the source adds, Kenya is unhappy with France because some of her diplomats who are suspected to be positive went ahead to shelter at the French Chancery putting more lives at risk. Their results, too, cannot be validated by the Kenyan government as is required.

“The director-general has been in talks with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in an effort to find a solution to this because it is a delicate balancing act for Kenya as it tries to abide by international regulations while containing this virus,” the source told Daily Nation.

However, a Spokesperson at the French Embassy in Kenya denied these claims saying that “The Embassy of France respects Kenyan directives regarding coronavirus and has no comment about these allegations.”

In a raft of measures by Mutahi Kagwe led Ministry of Health, diplomats in Kenya are required to quarantine at their official residence and their tests be validated by Kenyan authorities.

However, going by the Vienna Convention of 1961, Kenya has no legal mandate over the French Embassy unless with authorization by its ambassador meaning Kenya cannot do anything in enforcing its set down regulations on the embassy’s staff.