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UK issues Kenya travel alert ahead of August polls

UK issues Kenya travel alert ahead of August polls

Kenya

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued a travel alert in respect of Kenya, warning citizens against all but essential travel to six areas in the East African country.

A summary of the alert updated on April 12, 2017, read, ‘’ political primary elections are scheduled to take place from 13 to 26 April 2017.’‘

‘‘In the past, some political protests, rallies and demonstrations have turned violent. You should take care in public places where people gather and exercise a heightened level of vigilance,’‘ the FCO cautioned.

In the past, some political protests, rallies and demonstrations have turned violent. You should take care in public places where people gather and exercise a heightened level of vigilance.

The ‘No Go’ and safe areas

The six areas they are warning against include Garissa County, areas within 60km of the Kenya-Somali border and the Eastleigh area of the capital, Nairobi.

The three other ‘out of bounds’ areas include Lamu County, areas of Tana River County and within 15km of the coast from the Tana river down to the Galana river. Kenya’s tourist locations were however passed as safe for British nationals according to the FCO.

‘‘The area to which the FCO advise against all but essential travel doesn’t include Kenya’s safari destinations in the national parks, reserves and wildlife conservancies; including the Aberdare National Park, Amboseli, Laikipia, Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara, Meru, Mount Kenya, Samburu, Shimba Hills (and)Tsavo.’‘

Beach resorts of Mombasa, Malindi, Kilifi, Watamu, Diani, Lamu Island and Manda Island were also marked as safe as well as airports in the respective areas.

Kenya’s upcoming elections

General elections (Presidential, parliamentary, county and local) are scheduled for 8 August 2017. Party primaries have been set between 13 to 26 April 2017.

Rallies and protests have usually taken place during primaries and in the lead up to, during and after elections in the country.

UK concerns about Kenya’s security

The FCO warns of a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. They cite the main security threat as Somali-based Al-Shabaab, a militant group that has carried out attacks in Kenya in response to Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.

They are also concerned over increased attacks in Kenya in recent years, particularly in Mandera county and other areas close to the Somali border. The Kenyan government introduced a curfew in Mandera County from 6:30 pm to 6:30 am on 27 October 2016. This has been extended until 23 June 2017.

‘‘There is a heightened threat of terrorist attacks in Nairobi and the coast and resort areas of Mombasa and Malindi. The Inspector General of the Kenyan Police has called on the public to adopt a higher level of vigilance and report any suspicious people or activity straight away,’‘ they added.

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