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Kenya boost security along Somali border to curb terror threats

Monday August 7, 2017

IG Joseph Boinnet inspecting the Kenya Somali boarder 'wall'. /COURTESY FILE

GARISSA (Xinhua) -- Kenyan authorities said on Monday that they have deployed adequate security forces along the border with Somalia to ward off threats from Al-Shabaab insurgents ahead of Tuesday’s elections.

Northeastern Regional Commissioner Mohamud Saleh told journalists in Garissa that the security arrangement will involve all security agencies and military who will enhance border patrols before and after the elections.

Saleh said that security is aware that Al-Shabaab might want to sabotage the elections as this has been their trend whenever the country is carrying out a major national event.

"The Al-Shabaab are known to take advantage of the slightest opportunity presented to them to disrupt the elections and being a national exercise we are not taking chances to ensure that the exercise goes on smoothly," Saleh said.

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Following recent attacks by the Somali-based terror group, there has been concern that the militants may stage attacks to scare away voters and put the government in disrepute.

"Voters should turn out in large numbers to cast their votes and elect leaders that will address their plight. We have put up enough security measures to secure all polling stations in areas that Al-Shabaab have been targeting," Saleh noted.

The regional government official added that all Safaricom mast that were destroyed by the Al-Shabaab have restored and are ‘up and running’.

He said the move to deploy more officers in the areas he described as hotspots was important so as to stop any threat that might be posed by Somali’s Al-Shabaab group.

Saleh said that his office and those of the three counties of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa are in constant contact with all the elections managers to ensure that security issues are properly addressed.

Saleh said security attached to election managers who have received threatening measures have been increased so as to allow them discharge their duties without fear or favor.

The Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) County Coordinator Antony Njoroge recently hinted that in case the Safaricom network will be weak, then the electoral body will revert to use of satellite phones.

Meanwhile, the authorities have beefed up security ahead of Tuesday’s general elections, the second such exercise since the East African nation’s new constitution was approved in August 2010.

A senior police commander told Xinhua on Monday that specific measures have been put in place to ensure that the elections will be the most peaceful that Kenya has witnessed.

The police commander said over 150,000 security agents who will be used in Tuesday’s polls have been deployed to places they will cover for at least four days, making it the highest number of personnel to be mobilized in Kenyan polls.

He said the officers were deployed to the places and briefed how they will conduct themselves for fairness and security, noting that commanders at various levels were asked to take instructions from IEBC at the polling centres.

"The commanders will make their decisions on the ground depending on the nature of issues at hand. We hope for the best," said the commander who did not want to be identified.

He said that police officers have also been sensitized on election regulations in order to strengthen their capacity in handling election offenses.

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.

Many Kenyans are eagerly waiting to vote in the historic polls expected to propel Kenya’s quest to attain a middle-income status.

However, despite the eagerness to vote, fear of election violence erupting in the East African nation is growing as the clock ticks towards Tuesday’s polls.

This is despite police assurances that they are thoroughly prepared for the polls and have come up with concrete plans to ensure security prevails before, during and after the exercise.

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.

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