US alert alarmist, Kisumu security committee says

US Ambassador to Kenya Margaret 'Meg' Whitman when she paid a courtesy call on Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong'o.

US Ambassador to Kenya Margaret 'Meg' Whitman when she paid a courtesy call on Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong'o on August 30, 2022.

Photo credit: Rushdie Oudia | Nation Media Group.

The Kisumu County security committee has described as alarmist a security alert issued by the US Embassy that the lakeside city could plunge into chaos as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on Raila Odinga’s petition challenging the outcome of the presidential election

The statement could cause tension in the region, which was calm before and after the August 9 General Election, said County Commissioner Josephine Ouko.

Ms Ouko said the committee did not expect any disruption to peace in Kisumu arising from the court ruling, which is expected on Monday.

"It is in bad faith that the statement from the US government is coming out while the same has not been shared with relevant authorities," she told Nation on Friday.

Ms Ouko noted that Kisumu did not see any violence after Deputy President William Ruto was declared President-elect on August 15, though the US Embassy had advised Americans in an August 2 alert to watch their movements.

That previous notice, issued only five days before the elections, noted that election-related demonstrations and rallies regularly take place in the run-up to elections and were likely to occur, blocking key intersections and causing traffic jams.

Tired of violence

But Ms Ouko said residents are tired of violence.

“The residents are ready to move on and engage in … economic activities that would not only ensure transformation of the region but also the country at large,” she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, who faulted the US advisory for singling out Kisumu.

“We [reject] the tone of the memo, which singles out Kisumu and suggests that the city could witness violence after the September 5 Supreme Court ruling on the presidential election petition,” he said.

In a statement from spokesperson John Oywa, the governor urged Kisumu residents to remain peaceful.

“We do not expect any change in this state of affairs whatever the outcome of the Supreme Court petition,” he said.

Last week, Prof Nyong’o assured residents that steps had been taken to ensure peace and tranquillity are maintained, saying Kisumu is a multiracial and multi-ethnic peaceful community of people, including American citizens, who care deeply about each other’s welfare.


Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi also described the US security alert as reckless, saying it could undermine Kenya’s effort to maintain peace.

“It is totally uncalled for. It amounts to profiling the Luo community as a violent and intolerant people. It demonstrates bad faith on the part of the US government,” Mr Wandayi said by phone.

“It points to attempts by the US to interfere with Kenya’s internal affairs. The Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs should summon the US ambassador and ask for an explanation.”

He added: “As leaders from the Luo community, we take great exception to such reckless move by the US government.

“It also amounts to open sabotage of the economy of Kisumu and the Western region.”

William Otieno of the Siaya Bunge la Wananchi also noted that cautioning people not to travel to Kisumu ahead of a court ruling means stopping business for the day.

“We are not happy with the move. It infringes the sovereignty of a country,” Mr Otieno said.

The US Embassy on Thursday urged US government personnel in Kisumu to be watchful about their safety.

The embassy cited previous violence during election cycles in Kenya.

The alert came two days after the US ambassador to Kenya, Margaret 'Meg' Whitman, visited Kisumu, which was her first official trip outside Nairobi.

Ms Whitman praised Kisumu as home to US citizens, investors, businesses and embassy programmes.