Why did Italian Prime Minister wear body armor to meet with Kenya's President?

What not to wear when meeting a President: Body armor
What not to wear when meeting a President: Body armor


    What not to wear when meeting a President: Body armor


What not to wear when meeting a President: Body armor 01:00

Story highlights

  • Italian PM Matteo Renzi concealed a bullet-proof vest under his suit as he met Kenya's President Kenyatta on Wednesday
  • Kenya's State House is heavily guarded and watched over by CCTV cameras
  • A government official claims the decision was due to a 'tight schedule'
  • Negative reaction on social media

(CNN)We expect an Italian prime minister to wear a well-cut suit in a meeting with a world leader. But not accessorized with body-armor.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi raised eyebrows among Kenya's social media users this week when he appeared to be sporting a bulky flak-jacket in a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta in his visit to Kenya's State House on Wednesday.
The images became a parlor game of 'did he or didn't he?' with red circles highlighting the unusually bulky suit jacket.
Kenyans mockingly asked whether Renzi took the adage 'security starts with you' a step too far.
In recent years, Kenya has been hit by a series of horrific terror attacks, mostly blamed on Somali militant group Al-Shabaab.
But the colonial-era presidential palace is arguably one of the safest places in the country.
State House is barricaded by fences, guarded by heavily armed paramilitary officers and surveillance cameras are always keeping a watchful eye.
Speaking from experience, it is not even wise to attempt a u-turn in front of the gate.
At first, Italian Prime Ministers' office would not comment on the matter.
But an Italian government official later confirmed to CNN that Prime Minister Renzi wore a bullet proof vest during his visit to Kenya because of security concerns.
However, the official, who did not wish to be named, said that Renzi wore the protection inside the Presidential Palace because of a 'tight schedule', not because of security.
Apparently, he didn't have time to take it off.
Manoah Esipisu, presidential spokesman told CNN: "We don't have a formal comment on the matter."
In the lead up to President Barack Obama's trip to Kenya later this month, it is sure to raise questions on security protocol.
President Obama, whose father was Kenyan, is hugely popular in the country.
In recent months, Kenyan papers have repeatedly run articles emphasizing that the U.S. president would still be coming despite the security risks.
"It's incredibly unusual for there to be circumstances that would justify a head of state actually wearing body armor, and especially to a dignitary or a VIP meeting," says Will Geddes, a security analyst, on viewing the footage of the meeting "and one has to question what decision-making was made within the security detail that would necessitate presenting this option to the Prime Minister."
CNN's Robyn Kriel and Ingrid Formanek contributed to this report.