Kenya: US warns Kisumu over potential chaos ahead of Supreme Court ruling

Nairobi — The US embassy in Nairobi has imposed movement restrictions on US government employees in Kisumu ahead of Monday’s Supreme Court decision on the outcome of the Aug. 9 presidential election.

The embassy said the move was a precautionary measure in a security alert issued Thursday, arguing that Kenya has experienced occasional post-election violence during election cycles.

“After elections, election-related demonstrations and rallies take place regularly, temporarily blocking important intersections and causing traffic jams,” the guide says in part.

The embassy warned that the protests could turn violent at times and would require police intervention, and urged its citizens to remain vigilant as Kenyans await the final decision of the country’s Supreme Court.

As part of the safety precautions, the US embassy advised its citizens to avoid crowds, review their personal safety plans and be aware of their surroundings.

On Aug. 3, the embassy issued a similar travel advisory, urging American citizens to avoid traveling to Kisumu ahead of the now-concluded general election.

US issues safety warning in polls, urging citizens to avoid Kisumu

On Tuesday, US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman commended Kenyans for holding peaceful elections on August 9 while reaffirming the US government’s neutrality.

“We’ve been incredibly impressed with the Kenyan process so far,” Whitman said.

Whitman, who made her first tour outside of Nairobi to visit US embassy staff leading critical US programs and investments in the seaside city of Kisumu, said the US had not interfered in the elections in all countries with its presence mixed up by the host.

“The election in Kenya was peaceful and the US followed the process,” she said.

Whitman said neutrality implies they don’t dictate the outcome of the country’s elections, but only remain as observers.

Answering questions from journalists on Tuesday, while paying a courtesy visit to Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o, the ambassador said the ability to appeal by the loser was a commendable step towards democracy.

“The filing of a case to deal with the complaints in the Supreme Court was peaceful,” she noted.

Whitman asked Kenyans to wait patiently for the Supreme Court’s outcome on Monday, September 5.

She defended the earlier travel warning to Kisumu issued by the embassy ahead of the election.

“What we’re doing is investigating the safety of embassy staff as well as US citizens in every country where the US operates,” Whiteman said.

The ambassador said the advisory was not specifically aimed at Kisumu but was issued in the best interests of US citizens and investments.

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