Friday, March 1, 2013

Security and the Elections

We couldn't have chosen a much worse timing for this trip.  The day we leave Kenya is the first election in about six or seven years.  One of the leading candidates Uhuru and his deputy are both going before the Hague in April on charges of Human Rights violations as a result of the last election. They are charged with inciting violence and taking advantage of tribal tensions.  There was a lot of violence as a result of that election and already violence this time.  We do have a friend of a friend at the US Embassy who's been giving us personal advice on where to go and not go.

Kenya is already one of the most crime ridden and corrupt countries in the world.  Expats, including Ella and Ken, live in a double gated community.  There is a gate at the entrance to their neighborhood, low security actually. Then there is a high security gate at the entrance to their apartment compound. Strangers are vetted through the phones to be sure they really are delivering something or scheduled to meet someone and so forth.  Then there are double locks on the doors and more gates, doors and locks inside.  Admittedly, it did make us paranoid at first, but we've settled into it now.

So with elections happening the day we leave, March 4th, everyone is preparing and taking precautions.  They've shopped for extra groceries, water, etc, in case they are not able to go out for a few days. Some corporate and NGOs are either sending their expat employees home for a couple weeks or putting them up in swanky hotels and setting up remote offices so they don't have to travel the streets to work but can just go to the hotel conference center to work.

We may stay at or near the airport that day.  Most likely expats won't be targets but there could be incidents that we would want to stay very clear of. Obviously, we are concerned about Ella but they are taking it seriously and I trust won't take risky measures.

Tourism especially along the Indian Ocean is seriously hurting too.