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Viral US Embassy apology statement on Kisumu travel advisory falsified

A viral statement is indicating that the US Embassy in Nairobi has regretted the release of a statement warning its citizens against traveling to Kisumu ahead of the Tuesday general election is false.

The statement, widely shared on WhatsApp platforms, indicate that the Embassy has withdrawn the alert after realising that a section of politicians were riding on it for political gains.

".... Kisumu hosts NGOs and other organisations with American staff, eliciting this move. We however recognise that sections of Kenyan politicians may have taken opportunity to use our alert for political gains... We unreservedly apologise to the people of Kisumu, any members of the public and political class who may have been hurt by the alert. It is hereby withdrawn,” read part of the statement.

How did it start?

On Tuesday August 2, 2022 the Embassy in Nairobi issued a security alert for US citizens living in Kenya over next week's General Election.

The embassy said Kenya has periodically experienced some pre-electoral violence during election cycles. As a result, election-related demonstrations and rallies regularly take place in the runup to the election and are likely to continue, at times blocking key intersections and causing traffic jams.

“Demonstrations may occasionally be violent, requiring police intervention. Strikes and other protest activities related to economic conditions occur regularly. Out of an abundance of caution, the Embassy has imposed movement restrictions on personnel in Kisumu,” read part of the advisory.

The embassy went on to urge its citizens in Kenya to continue sustained vigilance by monitoring local media for updates, avoiding crowds and keeping a low profile among other tactics.

The statement however received a hostile reception from Kenyans who accused the embassy of what they termed as profiling.

While some demanded to know what criteria the Embassy had used to highlight Kisumu and not any other part of the country, others demanded an apology.

On realising how the Kenyan public had reacted, the embassy issued a clarification over the same.

In a statement attributable to the embassy spokesperson, the embassy said alerts of this nature to American citizens are common ahead of elections throughout the world, and the United States has no information to suggest the security situation in Kisumu, or in any other parts of Kenya, have been adversely affected by election preparations.

“Kisumu hosts a significant number of US Embassy personnel and is a frequent travel destination for American citizens. The U.S. Department of State has no greater responsibility than the safety and security of US citizens overseas and routinely issues Security Alerts surrounding elections, health conditions, and extreme weather, ensuring US citizens have information that helps inform travel plans,” read the clarification.

It is during this period that another statement alleged to have originated from the embassy made rounds on social media.

The Checkpoint Desk reached out to an embassy official who confirmed the statement had been seen and flagged as fake.

Verdict: Having looked at the two statements issued by the embassy, The Checkpoint rates the apology claim as FALSE. The embassy did clarify on the alert and did not apologise or withdraw the earlier alert.