On August 8, Kenya held a peaceful general election. Before the polls, many observers had feared a repeat of the violence after the disputed election 10 years ago.
But last Wednesday, as the election results were being broadcast live by the local television channels showing Jubilee candidate, President Uhuru Kenyatta, leading by more than a million votes, the National Super Alliance candidate Raila Odinga claimed the election commission’s servers had been hacked.
However, international observers, who included former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, said Kenya had conducted a credible election.
Following the hacking claims, Odinga said the results had been falsified, triggering angry protests in Kisumu – an opposition stronghold – and various slum areas in Nairobi. The protestors lit fires on a road in Kisumu sparking running battles with police who were deployed to quell the riots.
On Friday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman, Wafula Chebukati, announced the final results, declaring that President Kenyatta had won after garnering 54.3% of votes against Odinga’s 44.7%.
The announcement did not go down well with Odinga’s supporters, who had claimed earlier that he had won. Kenyatta’s victory sparked fierce protests in Odinga’s home region of Nyanza, where angry supporters took to the streets and clashed with police in Kisumu, Migori, Siaya and Homa Bay. In Nairobi, the opposition supporters’ protests were restricted to slum areas, including Mathare, Kibera, and Kawangware.
No incidents have been reported so far involving international tourists.
A spot check in hotels in Mombasa found that international tourists were unaffected and that the resort city was peaceful. All Kenya’s tourist hotspots remained peaceful during and after the election, including the beach destinations of Malindi and Watamu in Kilifi County, Diani in Kwale County and Lamu archipelago in Lamu County.
In all the national parks, including the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Amboseli National Park, Tsavo East and West National Park as well as the Lake Nakuru National Park, wildlife lovers from around the world enjoyed game viewing without any disturbances. Even Laikipia, which months ago had been hit by cattle invasions in its wildlife conservancies, remained calm during and after the elections.
According to the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast Branch Executive Officer, Sam Ikwaye, all the tourist hotspots in Kenya were safe during and after the polls.
“We are glad to confirm that our international visitors are safe. During the elections and after, we have not had any incident where a tourist’s life was put in danger,” Ikwaye said.
“Tourism at the Kenya coast is key for the economy and creation of jobs. We appreciate that the residents maintained peace during the polls and even now the region enjoys stability,” he pointed out.
Ikwaye assured tour operators, travel agents and potential tourists from overseas markets that Kenya was safe for holidays after conducting a peaceful and credible election.
In the Maasai Mara, Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer manager, Kevin Muendo, said the tented camps had guests from the United States, Europe and Asia, as the game reserve was secure.
“Generally, all the wildlife hotspots in the country are very safe. We have not witnessed any incident as the parks are secured by the security agencies,” he added.
Muendo noted that tented camps and lodges in the Mara were expected to be busy from August 16, as more international tourists were expected to flock to the hotspot for game viewing.
Outside the main tourist areas, Kenyan Human Rights Organisations claimed that 24 people were killed in the slum areas of Nairobi and in Kisumu, but Acting Interior Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang’i, said no protestors were killed.
On Sunday, Matiang’i said calm had returned in Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya, Migori and the slum areas of Nairobi after police contained the unrest. He said Kenya was peaceful, adding that security had been intensified across the country for locals and visitors to continue with their normal lives.
On Sunday, calm returned in Kisumu, after the governor elect, Peter Nyong’o, the father of Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong’o, called on the youth to refrain from violence. In the slum areas of Mathare and Kibera in Nairobi, peace returned after the slum dwellers ended their riots to avert a clash with police.