Kenya beefs up security ahead of polls
Sunday, March 03, 2013
The Kenya government on Saturday said that it has
beefed security ahead of the March 4 general elections, the first
exercise since the East African nation's new constitution was approved
in August 2010.
Ministry of Internal Security Permanent Security (PS) Mutea Iringo
told journalists in Nairobi late Saturday that specific measures have
been put in place to ensure that the elections will be the most peaceful
one that Kenya has witnessed.
"I wish to take this opportunity to put on notice all criminals bent
on disrupting the peace and tranquility during the polling exercise that
the full force of the law will be applied without fear or favor," he
said in media briefing attended by the Police Inspector General David
"The government has mobilized over 99,000 security officers
comprising of the police, Kenya Wildlife Service, National Youth
Service, Kenya Prisons Service and Kenya Forestry Service to man all the
33,400 polling stations," he said.
The PS said that police officers have also been sensitized on
election regulations in order to strengthen their capacity in handling
"Police, in collaboration with the National Cohesion and Integration
Commission, have been trained and issued with gadgets in order to
monitor hate speech and incitement," Iringo said.
He added that a special team of Criminal Investigation Departments
(CID) officers has also been dispatched all over the country to
expeditiously deal with election offenses.
"All politicians should therefore desist from making inciting
utterances that trigger violence," he said. The PS noted that the
country has invested heavily over the last five years in peace building
and conflict management.
Many Kenyans are eagerly waiting to vote in the historic polls
expected to propel Kenya's quest to attain a middle-income status and
will be part of the East African nation's 50th birthday successes.
However, despite the eagerness to vote, fear of election violence
erupting in the East African nation is growing as the clock ticks
towards March 4 elections.
Most of those fearing that they may be affected by violence are
people living in presidential candidates' strongholds, where they are
perceived to be supporting rivals because of their ethnic background.
"Comprehensive reforms in the judiciary as well as peace initiatives
have already been implemented to avoid a repeat of the 2008
post-election chaos," Iringo said.
The official noted that every Kenyan has a right to cast their vote in a peaceful environment.
"Therefore, anyone found distributing leaflets scaring other
communities to leave the areas where they are registered as voters, or
warning them not to vote will not be tolerated as the offenders, will be
arraigned in court," he said.
He added that security around the national tallying center has been
tightened to ensure that the election tabulation exercise goes on
without any hitches.
He also noted that the government has mapped out hotspots in all the
counties countrywide. "Already 22 members of the Coast based separatist
group Mombasa Republican Congress have been arrested in the past three
weeks for threatening to cause a breach of peace," he said.
He asked Kenyans living in border with Somalia to remain vigilant of
the Al-Shabaab militia group, even as the government tackles internal
security threats. He also cautioned poachers of wildlife against taking
advantage of the election period.
Iringo said that following government intervention, security has been
contained in the northern part of Kenya that borders Somalia and
Ethiopia, which has been rocked by communal clashes.
"All stakeholders, including the police officers and community
elders, have managed to bring about ceasefire among the warring clans,"
Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo denied allegations of the
existence of armed militias that are currently training in Kenya with a
view of disrupting the elections.
Kimaiyo said he has deployed a contingent of heavily armed police
officers to the country's major hotspots as precautionary measures to
avert chaos following the heated political campaigns in the area.
"The mobilization of 99,000 security officials has begun to all parts
of the country and 85 persons have been arrested for committing various
election offences," he said.