Kenya: Whitman Downplays U.S. Travel Advisory on Kisumu, Says It Is Routine

Nairobi — United States Ambassador to Kenya Margaret Meg Whitman has downplayed a recent travel advisory on Kisumu saying "it was a routine security alert".

The envoy who held her first media briefing on Sunday after taking office told journalists that the advisory "does not in any way reflect the U.S views on the outcome of Tuesday's election."

"The reason we issued the alert is that this is the second largest population of Americans outside of Nairobi. We have a very large number of American citizens and a large number of Embassy personnel in Kisumu," she said.

Ambassador Whitman underscored that "if we had a large number of people in another area we probably would have added that county as well."

The U.S embassy in Kenya on August 3, 2022, warned American citizens against traveling to Kisumu ahead of Tuesday's General Election on grounds that election-related demonstrations may occur in the region.

The Embassy particularly pointed out the likelihood of election-related skirmishes.

"Election-related demonstrations and rallies regularly take place in the runup to the election and are likely to continue, blocking key intersections and causing traffic jams," the Embassy said.

The advisory on Kisumu came against the backdrop of increased security deployments in Eldoret, which did not feature in the Embassy's security alert, with the Ministry of Interior citing the possibility of chaos following the emergence of what security officials termed as inciteful leaflets in parts of Rift Valley region.

Police on Tuesday arrested eight people in connection to hate leaflets reportedly warning some communities to leave the Uasin Gishu area of the Rift Valley region

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) - has since mapped out Kisumu County as a potential hot spot for violence.

The peace-building agency that was set up after the 2007-2008 post-election violence has predicted that there is a 53-percent chance of violence after Tuesday's election.

To bolster peace efforts, Ambassador Whitman noted that the U.S government could only do so much and challenged the stakeholders in the election to ensure and facilitate a peaceful exercise.

"We need to follow the Kenyan lead on creating the right environment for this election but we have done everything we can to be helpful to the Kenyan government and the people to running a free, fair, and transparent election," she said.

Close to 22 million Kenyans head to the poll on Tuesday to vote for Kenya's fifth President in what has been touted as Kenya's hotly-contested election yet.

The electorate will also vote for a new set of leaders including Governors, Members of the National Assembly, Senators, Woman Representatives, and Members of the County Assembly.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has since assured that all is set for the election.

The polling stations open at 6.00 am (EAT) and close at 5.00 pm (EAT) to pave the way for the collation of results.

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