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Fred Matiang’i identifies threats to election

Terrorism, organised criminal gangs and banditry are among the key threats security agencies are struggling to deal with to ensure the electioneering period is peaceful.

Hateful and inciting statements on social media have also attracted the attention of security agencies.

This emerged as Acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i started a countrywide security inspection tour to assess preparedness for the General Election.

Dr Matiangi started off the tour in Rift Valley where he dispelled fears of disruption of voting in parts of the region.

Accompanied by Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet, Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho and Security and Operations Secretary Amos Gathecha, the CS held a closed door meeting with security chiefs from the Rift Valley at the regional coordinator’s office in Nakuru.

Security agencies, he announced, were on high alert and were combing all insecurity-prone areas to ensure voting takes place smoothly on August 8.

IEBC officials also attended the meeting. Security deployment to areas perceived as hotspots in the Rift Valley region was also mentioned in the meeting.

“The security sector is ready for the General Election including in insecurity disturbed areas of Rift Valley. Our role is basically to support IEBC to deliver free and fair elections. Anybody planning to disrupt the exercise will face the full force of the law,” said Dr Matiangi.

“We will make sure election material has been secured in all parts of Rift Valley from Lokichogio to Oloitoktok. We want an incident free 2017 General Election,” he added.

TO CONTINUE

Dr Matiang’i said the ongoing security operation in Laikipia and Baringo will continue. The security operation is being conducted jointly by the police and Kenya Defence Forces.

Mr Boinett said police are ready to ensure Kenyans are given an opportunity to exercise their democratic right on August 8.

“The government has deployed enough security officers and armoured vehicles to the insecurity hit areas to deter any criminal activity,” said Mr Boinnet.

The Nation has learned that part of the strategy to ensure voting takes place peacefully in insecurity-prone areas could be hiring of helicopters to deliver elections materials in areas where it is unsafe to use roads.

ENGAGING PEOPLE

As the country prepares to go to the polls, which are less than two weeks away, Dr Matiang’i has been engaging top security chiefs, the administration, diplomats, individual elections observers and groups, religious leaders and other groups in consultative meetings.

Over the last few weeks, sources say Dr Matiang’i who assumed office on July 8, has held more than 50 meetings with his main focus being on the possible threats to citizens and property before, during and after the elections.

Of main concern are hate mongers, rogue politicians, porous borders, terrorists and organised criminal gangs.

On Tuesday, before heading for Nakuru, Dr Matiang’i met top police chiefs at the Wilson Airport to launch the newly refurbished MI-17 police helicopter at the Kenya Police Air Wing hangar. He later met with religious elders and the clergy. He will on Wednesday meet diplomats and European Union observers in separate meetings.

LAW BREACH

Under the command of Mr Boinnet, seven disciplined services that will provide special officers will be at the forefront of enforcing measures to ensure there is no breach of law and violators are arrested.

Within the police, undercover of officers as well as uniformed officers will carry recording gadgets to capture statements that may be deemed either hate speech or incitement.

Police have also launched partnership with other government agencies, including the Communication Authority, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission.

They will help police in identifying “misuse” of the social media.

ARMOURED VEHICLES

In volatile areas that are marked terror prone, especially in Mandera, Garissa and Lamu, officers will use armoured personnel carriers to provide protection in the event of attacks. The vehicles will also be used in areas prone to banditry and cattle rustling.

Additional police officers will also be sent in those areas as reinforcements in the event of chaos.

Mr Boinnet will also depend on an extra team of special police officers, whose names he will gazette before they begin their new role.

The officers will come from Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Prisons Service, Kenya Forest Service and the National Youth Service.

The military will also be on standby to help in the event the situation escalates.

Report by Fred Mukinda, Eric Matara, Hilda Anyango and Stella Cherono.

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