Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i has assured Kenyans that security agencies are adequately equipped to ensure that the upcoming general election is carried out in a peaceful atmosphere.
The security measures aim at enabling citizens to exercise their democratic right to vote as enshrined in the Constitution.
Consequently, Matiang’i has called for partnership and support of all Kenyans towards the realization of National Police Service’s mandate of delivering a peaceful and credible elections.
Speaking in Molo Township Tuesday, after chairing a meeting of high-ranking security officers to deliberate on how to prevent and mitigate election-related violence ahead of the August 9 polls, the CS stated that police officers were keeping a detailed record of all activities by politicians or any material of evidential value that can be produced in court.
While ordering for enhanced police patrols in Eldoret, Nessuit, Molo and Kuresoi regions, Matiang’i confirmed that eight suspects were expected to be arraigned in court over alarming leaflets that have been circulating in parts of Uasin Gishu County.
He said police officers from the Air Wing Unit will be on standby during the entire electioneering period to assist in timely responses to incidents.
At the same time, the CS announced the formation of a Rift Valley Regional multiagency command center in Nakuru that will receive information from the public in 14 counties, coordinate security patrols and respond to emergencies reported in real time.
The Center, he added will also coordinate activities of the 14 County Command Centers adding that areas that are prone to violence during elections will be monitored closely to ensure that no cases of violence occur this time.
He also said enough security officers had been deployed and trained in preparation for the polls, and warned politicians against inciting Rift Valley residents into violence, ahead of the General Election.
The CS said that the politicians, whom he did not name, had been crisscrossing the region, especially North rift and misleading Kenyans that the state had withdrawn the National Police Reservists, warning that the government was closely watching the political activities in the country.
Matiang’i, who said the government was focused on ensuring a peaceful election, warned that they will not tolerate any leader dividing locals.
“Our people are wise enough. They will listen to you and make their decision at the ballot. I am pleading with you (politicians) to stop inciting them by abusing their leaders. The government will allow all political leaders to sell their policies without any interference, but they should ensure that law and order is maintained in their meetings,” he said.
However, he said every Kenyan had a right to vote without fear or intimidation, adding that intelligence reports had ruled out outbreak of violence in areas previously mapped up as hotspots.
“Election is a one-day affair. Everyone must be allowed to air his opinion without blackmail, threats and violence. The country has to do everything to prevent election-instigated violence. I have tasked local administrators to walk from village to village and spread peace messages. Don’t fight with the police because they are only here to maintain law and order,” he pointed out.
The CS noted that the maintenance of peace before, during and after elections is a collective responsibility of Kenyans, political aspirants, the police and select government institutions.
He called on politicians and citizens to practice honesty and report to the police whenever they suspected that someone was out to cause trouble. Police, on the other hand, the CS indicated, must act fast without favouring any side, investigate and arrest any culprits.
“That we must have peaceful polls is not negotiable, and everybody must play their part in ensuring the current tranquility is not ruffled. Blame games won’t help, there is need for Kenya to remain peaceful because elections will come and go,” added Matiang’i.
He further stated that all Kenyans and politicians alike should remain alive to the fact that whoever will ascend to the highest office in the land, will be the President for all citizens.
“We must all calm down and embrace dialogue. We need a prosperous nation and not a divided nation after the general election. We need a team of leaders who will take Kenya to the next level. We will have a peaceful voting exercise, only when the political class approaches it with dialogue, decorum, while following the rule of law,” the CS added.
By Emily Kadzo and Hiram Kinuthia