Cruise Ship Skips Mombasa as Election Unrest Grips Kenya

The Albatros (file image)

By MarEx 2017-10-31 20:38:14

The Albatros, a small German-operated cruise ship, has canceled a port call at Mombasa, Kenya, as the East African nation struggles with unrest in the wake of two hotly disputed elections. The itinerary change leaves Mombasa without any port calls for the upcoming 2017-2018 season, according to the Kenya Ports Authority. 

A spokesman told local media that the Albatros' agent had not given the reason for the cancellation, but the deterrent to tourism is likely the nation's civil unrest. Incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta won reelection in August, but the electoral process was marred by widespread allegations of fraud and manipulation. Opposition leader Raila Odinga rejected the results, and Kenya's Supreme Court ultimately annulled the vote, citing "irregularities and illegalities." A re-run vote was scheduled for October 26, but Odinga boycotted it, and his supporters attempted to suppress the vote by forceful means – throwing rocks, blocking streets and trying to reduce access to the polls. Turnout was less than 40 percent, about half of the normal level in Kenya. Kenyatta won again with 98 percent of the vote, and Odinga has rejected the outcome once again, calling it a "sham" that "must not stand." 

These are not the first votes that Odinga has lost against Kenyatta. Odinga was Kenya's prime minister from 2008 to 2013, when Kenyatta took power, and he has been the leader of the opposition ever since. 

“The political heat does not augur well with tourism. Since the August 8 disputed [election] the country has been hit by political stand-off. As a result, the wrangles have affected business,” said Seafarers Assistance Programme coordinator Andrew Mwangur, speaking to Business Daily Africa. 

The news will certainly come as a disappointment for Kenya's tourism industry, which has been attempting to bring cruise ships back ever since 2012, the year that Somali piracy subsided. In 2015, Mombasa invested $1 million in a new cruise terminal in hopes of recapturing the volume it saw in years past, when 40 ships and 40,000 cruisers a year would call at East Africa's biggest port.