A Facebook post claiming that the United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, issued a statement threatening to revoke President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visa.
The post says this is part of a “raft of sanctions” that the US has threatened to effect should President Kenyatta’s administration continue to ‘curtail’ the freedom of assembly and association. According to the post, the threats made by the US follows government moves to ban public rallies, an act seen as targeting Deputy President Dr William Ruto’s campaigns.
It says Mr Pompeo’s statement, issued on October 8, 2020, expresses concern over the shrinking political space in Kenya, saying repression and intimidation have no place in democracies.
The post gets a number of things right about Mr Pompeo’s statement, which reiterates the US’s commitment to support free, fair and inclusive elections and hails the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression as being important for democracy.
It is also true that the statement says the US will not hesitate to consider consequences — including visa restrictions — for those responsible for election-related violence.
However, it does not specifically mention President Uhuru Kenyatta as claimed in the post.
Further, the statement itself is titled ‘Upcoming Elections in Africa’, indicating that it is directed at countries in Africa that are preparing for elections in the near future.
Several countries are expected to hold elections in the Sub-Saharan Africa region in 2020, including Guinea, Tanzania, Côte D’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, the Central African Republic, and Niger. Liberia is also expected to conduct a referendum and senatorial elections in 2020 while Nigeria will hold gubernatorial elections.
General elections in Kenya are not expected to take place until 2022, when the terms of the current elected officials expire. However, a section of the political elite has been pushing for a referendum to amend the constitution, although no date has been set.
An advisory issued by the chief justice calling on the president to dissolve parliament has also raised the possibility of a snap election despite the fact that the president is yet to pronounce himself on the issue.