Police receive more tear gas to deal with election violence

A policeman uses teargas to scatter journalists who were covering a protest. [File, Standard]

 

A policeman uses teargas to scatter journalists who were covering a protest. [File, Standard]

Teargas is among the security gear earmarked for distribution to counties to deal with possible election violence.

Officials said lorryloads of teargas canisters have been dispatched to regions that the authorities fear could degenerate into violence.

Some 20 counties have been identified as possible election violence hotspots. Lorries carrying ammunition arrived in Mombasa at the weekend for onward distribution.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery said 20 counties with a high likelihood of violence had been identified and adequate measures put in place to pre-empt unrest.

“We have mapped out security conflict hotspots and developed focus mitigation strategies. Women candidates in those counties will be given security based on the situations obtaining in specific hotspots,” Mr Nkaissery told a meeting in Nairobi last week.

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The counties identified as hotspots are Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Narok, Kericho, Kisii, Homa Bay, Isiolo, Turkana, Bungoma, Kiambu, Kilifi, Lamu, Migori, Baringo, West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, and Meru.

The areas have been mapped because of security concerns that include cattle rustling, terror attacks, protests and riots, ethnic clashes, and agro-pastoralist conflicts.

Other measures include mobilising about 150,000 police officers to offer security during the elections and shuffling of senior police officers to bolster operations.

At the weekend, the Administration Police department made changes to its commanders in various counties and moved 44 senior officers.

Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet said in a Twitter post that his officers were ready to provide security in the polls even as the European Union observer team warned that there could be violence.

Insiders say there is increasing worry among police officers that there could be violence before or after the polls, given emerging events in the country.

Our concern

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“Many people are talking about the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the register and other issues surrounding the commission which are not being addressed adequately and we feel this is preparing ground for violence. That is part of our concern,” said one officer.

Further, the police service is mobilising helicopters from other agencies to help in the response to violence.

The police force has only three working helicopters and would need more from agencies such as the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Kenya Pipeline Company, KenGen, Kenya Power, and the Kenya Forest Service to move troops and other resources to places that need them.

More than 5,000 vehicles have since 2013 been leased for the police and most of them will be deployed for operations during the polls.

Further, several government agencies have been ordered to surrender their vehicles to the police ahead of the polls.

Authorities say they have embraced a multi-sectoral approach to enhance peace and security.

According to Nkaissery, all the security agencies have been sensitised to facilitate the safety and integrity of the elections.

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And as part of the efforts to address the fears, the main security agencies have formed a multi-agency team to monitor and tackle terrorism, civil unrest, and other forms of insecurity in a coordinated manner.

The ministries of Interior and Defence have started a training programme to enable the agencies to address security issues.

Uniformed forces

Officers drawn from the Kenya Defence Forces, the National Police Service, the National Intelligence Service, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Kenya Forestry Service, the National Youth Service, and other uniformed forces are camping at the Embakasi military base for the training.

However, NASA officials have claimed that this is part of a scheme to rig the elections or cause chaos. 

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