Kenya accuses US of economic sabotage over alert

By Linah Benyawa

Head of the Civil Service Francis Kimemia and Tourism minister Dan Mwazo have accused the US of economic sabotage for issuing the latest terror alert warning US citizens to leave Mombasa.

The city has been on the edge following alerts from Western nations led by the US, Canada and the UK warning of an imminent terror attack in Mombasa or coastal resorts frequented by foreign tourists.

On Sunday Kimemia said Kenya has written a protest note to America through the US Embassy in Nairobi demanding a reversal of the terror advisory.

Mwazo rushed to Mombasa to calm down fears and arrest flight and tourism cancellations in a region that accounts for 62 per cent of all tourist arrivals in Kenya.

The minister said the Government “is disturbed by the travel advisory issued by the US because it amounts to economic sabotage” accusing the Americans of being malicious and insensitive “to issue such as an advisory, which would cripple the entire tourism industry.”

He claimed the Kenya Government supplied the information to the US “in good faith” but the information was used against Kenyans.

And on Sunday an object suspected to be an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was retrieved when it was washed up the shores of the Indian Ocean. But police said the object, the size of a six kilogramme gas cylinder is a “navigation equipment used by ships”. “There is no cause for alarm as the object is just a navigation gadget used to show direction, it is not a bomb,” stated Likoni OCPD Abaggaro Guyo.

Bomb disposal unit of the Kenya Navy took the device away.

The object bore cell phone numbers telling whoever would find it to ring the number. And to entice people to call the number the inscriptions of the object promise a hefty cash price in US currency: “Whoever finds the object will get a reward of 500 dollars.” There were also contacts left on the reward tag.

“We were scared when we saw the object. We feared it was a live bomb that is why the G4S guards called police officers from the Anti-Terror Police Unit who came and examined the gadget,” said Eunice Nyakoha.

Meanwhile, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has taken issue with the US government for issuing travel advisory to its citizens in the country.

Although Kalonzo acknowledged that it was within the US rights and obligations to her citizens, to issue caution, he pointed out that the approach was not helpful and could hurt Kenya’s interests.

“Before you issue these alerts, you should be kind to Kenyans”, said the VP.

The US embassy in Nairobi announced the pulling out of its staff from Mombasa and warned its citizens of an imminent attack there.

Kalonzo assured Kenyans that the country’s security agents were on high alert and there was no cause for panic. “Our security apparatus are watchful and prepared to deal firmly with any terror threats”, added the VP. The VP urged tourists planning to come to the country not to cancel their bookings since the police were on the ground to guarantee their security.

The VP was speaking at St Severen’s Catholic Church in Mitaboni location in Kathiani.

He was accompanied by MPs Johnson Muthama, Dr Victor Munyaka and Daniel Muoki, and member of East Africa Legislative Assembly, Peter Mathuku. Others were former legislators Mutua Katuku, Dick Wathika and a host of civic leaders led by Machakos mayor councilor Timothy Kilonzo.

Kalonzo assured his supporters that he was keen on taking over from President Kibaki adding “we are have the capacity and will to lead the country.” On the constitution, Kalonzo said the document had won international recognition and any attempts to mutilate it must be rejected.

Rallying VP support

The former Makadara MP, described Kalonzo as a humble leader whose humility and love for Kenyans speak volumes. Wathika urged the Kamba community to rally behind Kalonzo in his bid to succeed Kibaki when he retires.

Muthama regretted that a section of fellow MPs were out to mutilate the Constitution for their own selfish egos. Munyaka and Muoki said the Kamba community were not supporting Kalonzo simply because he is their kin but because he is the best suited to succeed Kibaki.

“We are not being tribal on this matter. Kalonzo is the second senior most leader in this country after Kibaki,’’said Munyaka. The KNUT National Treasurer Albanus Mutisya assured Kalonzo of maximum support from teachers across the country.

 — Additional reporting by Daniel Nzia and Paul Mutua