Over130,000 police officers to take charge of poll security

More than 130,000 police officers have been deployed to protect voters, electoral officials and ballot materials across the country.

In a new operational plan, police have scaled down the number officers sent to areas deemed calm and deployed additional officers in areas perceived as hotspots.

“Our key consideration is to ensure that our people have the opportunity to exercise their democratic right in a safe and secure environment.

“We are completely non-partisan and we shall be responsive to the needs of our citizens and stick strictly to the law,” Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet said.

PENALTY
Officers on the ground were also asked to arrest offenders and invoke the Penal Code, Elections Act as well as the Public Order Act.

The offences attract up to six years in jail.

“We wish to assure everyone that we are ready to offer policing services for the remaining segment in the national elections calendar,” Mr Boinnet said.

He further appealed to Kenyans who may require police services to call the toll free numbers 991 and 112.

RIOT POLICE
Though the National Police Service has barely 100,000 officers, additional 31,000 personnel have joined from the Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Prisons, Kenya Forest Service and the National Youth Service.

Separately, police spokesman George Kinoti said people who violate electoral laws and regulations will face the full wrath of the law.

“Let them not be surprised when they see parties in full anti-riot gear swinging into action.

“This is a warning to people who are bent on disrupting elections. This time round, there will be a lot of support teams.

“There will be reinforcements in the hotspots and we shall scale down in areas that are not volatile. It is a complete new set-up of the operational plan,” he said.

HOTSPOTS
Officers on the ground will be supported by aerial surveillance teams.

The ruling Jubilee Party led by President Kenyatta has asked its supporters to turn out in large numbers and vote, while Raila Odinga’s opposition Nasa wants the election called off.

Police have also identified electoral hotspots saying some are considered “critical” while others will be under “close scrutiny”.

Heavier deployments are expected in Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, parts of Nairobi as well as Mombasa and parts of the Coast.

CROWD CONTROL
At least two police officers will be posted at every polling station.

Others contingents of police will be on standby for crowd control, evacuations, escorting and protecting ballot materials.

In areas where violence is not expected, the National Youth Service will be used for crowd control.

POLLING STATIONS

In Rift Valley, regional commissioner Wanyama Musiambo said officers had been briefed and deployed to all 14 counties in the region.

“We have covered all polling stations. The officers are already at their respective stations.

“We mapped all of them and at least two police officers have been deployed per polling station. In case there is a need for extra security, we have a standby reinforcement team,” he said.

SHABAAB
In Tana River and Lamu counties security officers said there are additional officers because the counties are prone to Al-Shabaab attacks.

Tana River county commissioner Oningo’oi Olesosion said Kenya Defence Forces, police’s Rapid Deployment Unit, Quick Response Team and General Service Unit will work closely to monitor the situation along the border areas.

“We have permanent patrol teams of KDF, RDU and QRT along Witu-Minjila road. The area is well taken care of,” he said.

BORDER POINTS
Mr Olesosion added: “We have enough security personnel in Kipini because this is part of Tana River that borders Boni forest.

“We have specialised units GSU, RDU, and QRT, and the military. The area is well covered and we don’t foresee any problem.”  

He also said the Boni Enclave Campaign, formerly Linda Boni Operation, has been extended to areas of Tana Delta.
“The KDF operation covers our border with Lamu up to Minjila in Tana Delta, even Minjila road block is under KDF. We also have a GSU camp near Gamba Police Station to enhance security of the area,” said Mr Olesosion.

POLICE ESCORT
The administrator said vehicles plying Garsen-Witu road will be escorted and passengers searched at security checkpoints.

He also warned motorists against travelling without police escorts between Tana Delta and Lamu.

In Lamu, county commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo reassured residents of terror-prone Basuba and Kiunga areas of safety.

He also assured more than 2,000 IDPs living in various camps in Katsaka Kairu and Witu AIC church that their security will be guaranteed to ensure they participate in the election.

PROTESTS
Mr Kitiyo said security agencies have also been deployed on roads, air, water and areas towards Boni forest and the border of Lamu and Somalia.

“We are prepared. We have deployed police and reservists in villages. Linda Boni Operation security officers will also assist us in protecting voters in Basuba and Kiunga areas,” he added.

In Mombasa, regional commissioner Nelson Marwa outlawed demonstrations.

“Tomorrow is voting day, don’t roam around the streets in the name of demonstrating. Give Kenyans their constitutional right to vote. If you are found, you will be met with the full force of law. There must be law and order. The climate must be uniform.”

Mr Marwa added: “Those who do not want to vote should stay at home.”

— Reported by Fred Mukinda, Eric Matara, Steve Njuguna, George Sayagie, Linet Amuli, Galgalo Bocha and Mohamed Ahmed

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