US Travel Bans Irk Kenyan Officials
US plays more power games with new Kenyan travel bans
(eTN) - After the travel ban for US Embassy and associated organizations staff to the Kenyan port city of Mombasa last week, which had caused outrage within Kenyan government circles over both content and the devious manner in which the prohibition orders were announced, a fresh controversy is now brewing with the US Embassy yesterday declaring Kenya’s North Eastern Province off limits under a similar ban.
A broadcast to American citizens and US government personnel living in Kenya, in part read: ‘As a result of recent events and threats, US government employees, contractors, grantees and their dependents are PROHIBITED from traveling to the province, including the towns of Wajir, Garissa, Mandera and Liboi.’ Also included in the ban are the areas from Lamu’s Pate Island to Kiwayu and beyond, and also the areas of Moyale and Isiolo that were described as ‘unsafe from time to time’.
Non-government employed American citizens were warned off with similar strong words not to visit, prompting at least one regular source from Mombasa asking tongue in cheek: ‘Does that mean the Americans are also withdrawing all their CIA and FBI and other secret agencies staff from these areas? Our American so called friends speak in forked tongues and it is clear they have an agenda here which is not clean. I think the Obama administration is a huge disappointment to Kenya. For one he did not bother to visit the homeland of his father when he had the time. He gave us the cold shoulder and now that he is fighting for survival to get a second term he is sure not coming between now and the elections in America. Second, they pushed Kenya into complying with their embargo on Iran and that is costing us a lot. Are they compensating us for such losses or think we are just fools to be ordered around? Third I think with their arrogant attitude they are only pushing us to look for other allies and partners and those will be from China and Russia now that their own status as the single world power is again challenged by those two. There are a lot of sentiments about such issues like these travel bans and their embassy shows contempt for us the way they treat us. We have no issues with Americans but we have a lot of issues with their embassy and the way their government is treating us.’
Other sources from Kenya concurred and all agreed that friendly relations should include a better behavior from official American organizations like the embassy, and use less confrontational styles and methods, causing less panic and damage to the Kenyan economy, while also accusing sections of the media for sensationalizing such statements for the sole purpose of selling more newspapers or commercial space.
With elections in Kenya now only 8 months away, tourism in particular is already in a jittery mood ahead of the campaign now underway. The announcement by the International Criminal Court yesterday, that the trials against two presidential contenders at The Hague will only begin on 10th and 11th April 2013 respectively has given the two of them the chance to compete in the Kenyan presidential election without known restrictions, opening the spectrum of a bitter contest with yet greater fallout for the country’s hugely important tourism industry. At the same time Kenya is engaged in military action as part of AMISOM to drive militants out of Somalia and possible faces more terrorist threats and future attacks, which should lead to greater cooperation between Kenya and America and not such public spats, unless truly caused as part of ulterior motives.